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TAHAWK

Scouting (magazine) article on "The Scout-Led Troop"

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One Mark Ray and Scouting have graced us with an article on "The Scout-Led Troop."

 

Mr. Ray makes some good observations about the value of leadership training, but that is after he stumbles at the very threshold:

 

When a troop tries boy leadership in Fall, 2012,

the boys didn't immediately start humming like a fine tuned machine...,"
This justified, in Mr. Ray's view, delaying youth leadership of the troop until Fall, 2013..

 

This illustrates Mr. Ray's understanding as follows:

[M]any Scouters mistakenly think a troop is either Scout-led or its not. Instead..., being Scout-led is a spectrum, not a condition; the level of independence given to the boys is dependent on the maturity and cultural personality of the troop."

 

The article even has an illustration of two Scouters taking over from the Scouts for the critical task of erecting a tent.(with a ratio of 4 adults to 6 Scouts)..

 

So if the first experiment with boy leadership does not produce a well-oiled machine, we are OK with a reset to adult leadership for a year.

 

And what in the name of Bill Hillcourt is "cultural personality"? It's a term unknown to other Scout literature seems to be in the the realm of parlor psychiatry.

 

Patrols are not discussed.

 

Seems more like the troop is either Scout-led or it is not yet a Boy Scout troop.

 

I thought better of Scouting.

 

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I think that the two illustrations in the article are there for comparing and contrasting. The first illustration appears to be adult lead - the adults putting up the tent (pole in nose and all that) and the second illustration appears to be boy lead (an adult helping as directed by an older scout).

 

I'm not sure that the article is implying that it is OK to revert back to adult-led but that the troop realized that they hadn't done the groundwork and nobody (adults or scouts) knew what they were doing. I'll give credit where it is due, they didn't give up on boy-lead but decided to do it in a way that would work for their troop.

 

I think that the article is pointing out that boy-lead requires: 1) the boys to be trained before being asked to lead -- not just thrown in the deep end and told to learn to swim; 2) the leaders to be properly trained so they know their role; and 3) the parents to be educated on and indoctrinated into the boy led culture.

 

I also agree with the article that boy-lead is a continuum. In theory, all troops should be boy lead. In practice, a lot of troops that say they are boy-lead are not.

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You know, the 3rd ed. SMHB written by Green Bar Bill covers the situation where you have a new troop, or are instilling the patrol method in en established troop. Don't have it in my possession, but if memory serves, the SM and ASMs actually run things for the scouts, modelling how things are suppose to be done, and then over a 6 month period, the scouts take more and more resposnibility, while the adults start stepping back more and more. By the end of 6 months, Scouts are completely running things.

 

SM models the job of SPL or PL depending upon size of the troop, and the ASMs model PLs or APLs, again depending upon the size of the troop. I want to say the adults do everything for a month or so, then slowly start stepping back.

 

I will say this, it's hard letting go, even if you know better. Trust me on that one ;)

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Let's stop trying to infer from pictures (for all we know, the boys were busy practicing for an arm wrestling competition and suddenly noticed their SM's needed help assembling a new tent that one of them just puchased!), and boil this down to brass tacks:

 

There are times when

A: adults are fine with youth leading, and the youth are confident that they can do it.

B: adults are fine with youth leading, but the youth lack self-confidence.

C: adults are uncomfortable with youth leading, in spite of the youths' confidence.

D: adults are uncomfortable, and youth lack the confidence to lead.

E: adults are uncomfortable in their own leadership as well as the youths'.

 

I would argue that this is not a continuum, take a snap-shot of any unit, Pack, Troop (girl scout or boy scout), or Crew and they will be getting one of these grades. Just like school, once you start making A's you get it, they tend to self-perpetuate.:cool: The right mix of adults and youth and this you have a Grade-A unit every minute of every day in the life of your unit. But ...

 

B's happen. Most adults know when the unit is coming home with B work. If your unit generally makes A's , most youth probably know when they are slipping too. It takes a little coaching/cheer-leading to get away from those B's. And sometimes on the youths' side it takes asking for help. (I find the latter problem with my crew a lot. It is very hard for a teen to admit they need help.) On the other hand, it's all too easy to be satisfied with a 3.0 average.:confused:

 

C's are where most packs and dens are by design. You have boys who think they can do anything, and adults who have spent a decade pulling them back from the brink of disaster. So, we've built a program where crushing defeat is unlikely (except perhaps during the pinewood derby:rolleyes:). But at some point that mentality has to end. Jr. high's mature very quickly, and their confidence begins to be well-placed. Even if they will take multiple tries to get that fire lit, you have to let them try.

 

D's are a bad place. And many of us look at a snapshot of a troop at its worst and give their entire program that grade. I think that's because if the sampling is representative, a unit isn't long for this world. A D-average unit is full of youth sitting on their hands, adults who are distant and unapproachable, and a bully or passive-aggressive manipulator (youth or adult) can run the program straight into the ground. :( Just like parents should be in panic-mode with a report card like this, a unit needs to scramble and get help. A few years before I joined my troop, my SM had an SPL donated to him from another troop so that his program could be revived. It seemed to be a fairly common occurrence. Not sure how often that happens now, but I haven't seen it in my district.

 

E's also happen. Some of the posts in this forum refer to scouters who were called to their position by their church, or the poor den leader who just had the job dumped on them because everyone else took one step back! Training and teamwork can remedy that quickly, but an E doesn't even have to be due to anybody's fault. A fatality can put a leaders in a serious funk, as can repeated failures because of circumstances (increased expenses, job-losses in the community, adults spinning off new units to avoid personality clashes). In situations like this, the CO might need to scramble to change leadership. Or, God bless them, the youth dig deep and remind us of what we're all striving for.

 

What seems like a continuum is really folks failing to make straight A's all the time. Now there are many don't like calling anything short of perfect marks a failure. Personally, I'd rather know my shortcomings and receive unconditional love, rather than a pablum of "Don't worry honey, nobody's perfect."

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I would argue that this is not a continuum, take a snap-shot of any unit, Pack, Troop (girl scout or boy scout), or Crew and they will be getting one of these grades. Just like school, once you start making A's you get it, they tend to self-perpetuate.:cool: The right mix of adults and youth and this you have a Grade-A unit every minute of every day in the life of your unit. But ...

 

B's happen. Most adults know when the unit is coming home with B work. If your unit generally makes A's , most youth probably know when they are slipping too. It takes a little coaching/cheer-leading to get away from those B's. And sometimes on the youths' side it takes asking for help. (I find the latter problem with my crew a lot. It is very hard for a teen to admit they need help.) On the other hand, it's all too easy to be satisfied with a 3.0 average.:confused:

 

To me, the bouncing between A's and B's is part of the continuum of being boy-led. Actually, I tend to see each year start out with a B and the boy leaders grow into those roles. The other part of the continuum is what aspects of the Troop are boy-led. The more aspects the better.

 

​For example, taking just the running of the weekly meeting, is your (in the generic sense, not directed at Qwazse) troop boy-led to the extent:

 

1. The boys lead the weekly meetings, meaning they are up front covering everything and have done all the planning on their own and the only adult is sitting in the back of the room watching quietly.

 

2. The boys lead the weekly meetings, but an adult reminds them to make certain announcements regarding upcoming activities and is there to guide them if the scouts need help (this is probably where our Troop is)

 

3. The boys lead the weekly meetings, but an adult makes announcements and is there to give them instructions if things aren't going as planned.

 

4. The boys lead the weekly meetings, but an adult advises them when they are planning the activity by asking questions and providing guidance (I tend to do this with the scouts)

 

5. The boys lead the weekly meetings but an adult has to approve the activity and is required to be present to make sure everything goes as planned.

 

Another example is outings... is your troop boy-led on outings to the extent that:

 

1. The boys figure out what they want to do, find the place they want to go, ask an adult to make the reservation, plan the activities, type up the permission slips, collect the checks, arrange for drivers, coordinate cooking and buying of food, prepare and pack the necessary troop gear, unload gear and set up camp, camp away from adult leaders, handle everything that needs to be done for the trip to be a success.

 

2. The scouts come up with the idea of where they want to go and the adults find several options for the scouts to go and the scouts make the final decision. The adults make the reservation, print the permission slips, collect the checks, arrange for drivers. The scouts arrange for cooking and buying of food. The scouts pack the gear with an adult making sure everything that is necessary is packed (preferably by coaching the scouts in advance of the day of departure). The scouts unload gear and run everything once they get to the destination. (This is where our Troop is).

 

3. The scouts list ideas of what they want to do, the adults decide where they will go to do several of those activities, The adults handle all the paperwork. The adults appoint a scout to do the shopping and cooking. The adults direct the senior scouts regarding how to supervise packing the gear and remind them what gear needs to be packed. The adults direct the senior scouts regarding how to supervise the younger scouts in setting up camp and regarding what needs to be done once everyone is at the destination.

 

All of the situations in the meeting and outing could be called "boy-led' but there is a significant degree of difference in how much leading the boys are doing. The difference could be from one troop to another, one adult leader to another in the same troop or even dependent on the boy leader.

 

 

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According to B.S.A., this article aside, the aspects of the troop that are to be boy-led are planning the program and leading the program for the patrols and the collection of patrols..

 

“It is necessary to point out at the start that the Patrol System is not one method in which Scouting for boys can be carried out, but that it is the only method.†(Frequently misquoted by B.S.A. and incorrectly attributed to Baden-Powell)

 

"A patrol is that small group of boys and friends under their own leadership who plan and carry out troop and patrol meetings and activities.†[emphasis added]

 

“The boys themselves develop . . . program, then take responsibility for figuring out how they will achieve their goals.â€Â

 

“While the Patrol Method is primarily about patrols, it is also about how those patrols, working through the Patrol Leaders’ Council, operate the troop created from those patrols – the ‘Youth-led Troop.’â€Â

 

“Empowering boys to be leaders is the core of Scouting. Scouts learn by doing, and what they do is lead their patrols and their troop.â€Â

 

“Patrols elect their own leaders, and through these patrol leaders, Scouts have a voice [in the PLC] in deciding what activities the troop will put on its calendar.â€Â

 

“The patrol leaders’ council is responsible for . . . conducting the troop’s activities. … They plan the program, conduct troop meetings, and provide leadership among their peers.â€Â

 

“The Scoutmaster and other adults with the Troop act as non-voting advisors and resources for the Scout leaders in their program planning.â€Â

 

"The formalized proposed annual troop program is presented to the Troop Committee by the Senior Patrol Leader, accompanied by the Scoutmaster, who asks them to support the program. The Committee considers that question in light of the policy of the Boy Scouts of America that the responsibility for planning program rests with the Scouts.â€Â

 

“Our goal is not to get things done, but to create a safe and healthy environment with the training and resources that the Scouts need, and then let them do it.â€Â

 

“Except as to matters of safety, neither adults not Junior Assistant Scoutmasters directly supervise Scout work. Instead, they work THROUGH the leaders by teaching, advising, counseling, educating, and example.â€Â

 

"We just have to remember that our business as adults is not the same as the business of the boys. It is up to them to get things done.

 

It is up to us to make sure they have what they need, but (within the bounds of health and safety) not what they do with it.â€Â

 

“It can be a very messy business, and painful to watch. Meetings where the boy leaders are in charge can be very chaotic. And it can be very tempting for adults to jump in and sort things out, because that is what adults do. But we have to remember that that is the process of Scouting. That is how they learnâ€â€even from disorganization and failure.â€Â

 

 

Not a word in those statements by B.S.A. about the "well-tuned machine" requirement or the correct "cultural personality." "Maturity," one assumes, is understood to be the maturity of children. Maturity "to a boy's standard," as Bill would say.

 

The article clearly approves of delaying boy-leadership for a solid year because the boys, finally given a chance, did not produce a "well tuned machine."

 

The "continuum" is the range of success of boys leading. It is our job, through training, coaching, and mentoring, to help them get to the "A" end, not to replace them as the leaders of the troop. That is what B.,S.A. has said, with varying degrees of clarity and skill, since 1930. What is it about "non-voting" that is unclear?

 

Safety is the only exception.

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...

 

Not a word in those statements by B.S.A. about the "well-tuned machine" requirement or the correct "cultural personality." "Maturity," one assumes, is understood to be the maturity of children. Maturity "to a boy's standard," as Bill would say.

 

The article clearly approves of delaying boy-leadership for a solid year because the boys, finally given a chance, did not produce a "well tuned machine." ...

 

TAHAWK, all of that double-speak in the article is a PC way of saying "If your troop is making steady C's (adults uncomfortable in spite of youths' confidence), here's one possible strategy to change that ..."

 

I agree that (lacking some real obvious behavioral disorder) adults replacing them as leaders is the wrong way to go. It is, in fact, allowing D grades (both adults and youth lose confidence in youth leadership) in some instances in hopes that they will make A's in other areas ... and maybe after they take remedial classes like ILST will they make high marks in those problem areas.

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So, let me get this straight. Over the past year or two we have had regular rants and such about how National does not support and encourage "boy led". Now, when they have published in Scouting an article doing just that, we continue to complain.

 

Granted, there is room for clarification and fine tuning, using some of the material earlier developed by B.P. and GBB; but, just the fact that the idea of "boy led" is being nationally recommended should be celebrated.

 

Maybe we need a bit of instruction on taking the positive and making it grow, rather than finding the proverbial "half empty" glass. Just a thought.

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I know for me, the issue of boy-led vs adult is a symptom of a troop-method vs patrol method. In the article the writer discussed the problem with transitioning to a boy led troop. Instead the focus should be on a boy-led patrol. Until the patrols are boy-led using the patrol method, a boy-led-troop is a pipe dream.

 

Thanks skeptic for pointing out the irony and for making me look in the mirror.`

 

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Why do I get Scouter a week after the rest of you? Grandpa always complained about the Grand Ol' Opry not getting here until Tuesday morning. Maybe this is what he meant.

 

(For those who aren't aware, the Grand Ol' Opry was broadcast live on Saturday nights. If you didn't receive it until sometime Tuesday you must live WAY back in the country.)

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So' date=' let me get this straight. Over the past year or two we have had regular rants and such about how National does not support and encourage "boy led". Now, when they have published in [i']Scouting[/i] an article doing just that, we continue to complain.

 

Granted, there is room for clarification and fine tuning, using some of the material earlier developed by B.P. and GBB; but, just the fact that the idea of "boy led" is being nationally recommended should be celebrated.

 

Maybe we need a bit of instruction on taking the positive and making it grow, rather than finding the proverbial "half empty" glass. Just a thought.

 

 

My point, right or wrong, is that the article supports - by rationalization - adult leadership instead of the required boy leadership unless the boys produce a "well tuned" troop and there is the proper "maturity and cultural personality" (whatever the last is).

 

I see no such requirements in official BSA literature over the last 84 years. Nothing new to celebrate. Widespread ignoring of the official words noted,

 

BSA needs to make a clear statement of what it means to use the Patrol Method. Then BSA needs to move past words - quoted verbatim above - unless those 84 years of words are meaningless.

 

BSA also needs to disavow rationalizations of ignoring the Patrol Method 'cause some adults get their pants in a wad over kids not running a well-oiled machine.

 

Having trouble selling the "Product"? How about the genuine article?

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Our troop is in a similar position that the article describes. New, small, young troop with 2nd class being the highest rank. We are working on getting them to lead themselves. With their age and having very little to no leadership skills at this point we feel its better to step in and at least provide some sort of program teaching them the skills they will need as the troop grows and they get older. As opposed to letting them falter, having them lose interest and quitting the program altogether.......

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The patrol method is suppose to be "organized chaos" because it give the scouts a chance to fail and learn in a safe environment. Only time I encountered "well oiled machines" were those troops that are either A) 100% adult led or B) have been around so long and have older scouts who pass on their knowledge to the younger Scouts. Some of the problems I've seen with 100% adult led were 1) folks Eagle and leave and 2) once the leader steps down, the troop folds.

 

In regards to young troops, yep you may need to model what the expectations are, and you definitely need to work with the SPL. I know when my 11 year old son was elected SPL and was at his first PLC as SPL, the SM did take over the meeting when my son failed to do his job of running it. BUT he also said, "[sPL], I just showed you how a PLC is suppose to be run. I expect you to run the next one." Three weeks later my 11 year old ran the entire PLC meeting on his own with only a few minor interruptions from the adults.

 

"Train 'em. Trust 'em. LET THEM LEAD!"

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The things that make me very nervous are 6-month or longer transitions. Really? Ask your son now what kind of mathematics he'll be able to do by the end of May. Betcha he could do it now if he tried.

 

It doesn't hurt to tell your troop (adults and youth) they are at grade C. Just let them know what it will take to be grade A.

 

E94's SM saw there was a problem, covered for it, then basically told the SPL "never again." Honestly, the boy's age made no difference. I've seen this happen to a 15 year old SPL. There's no way of knowing in advance who has the skill and who doesn't. You gotta give them that one shot.

 

D01, long leash principle. Let your boys know that you want to let the leash out quickly. That way they can herd sheep while you just whistle from the opposite hillside.

 

The whole "spectrum not a condition ..." rhetoric is a quote from one troop. I wouldn't blow it out of proportion. The title should have been "So, your troop fails at scout-led?" because it basically suggests how to get back on track. It's not really about how scout-led might look for 11 year-olds on their first campout vs. 15 year-olds gearing up for next year's super-activity.

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