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Oldscout448

Impeach an SPL?

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As a former pastor of 3 congregations with about 450 members of those churches, I new everyone by name and a whole lot more than what they wanted their neighbors to know.  It is possible to get to know every scout in very large troops.I knew which kid was in what family.  I knew what grade in school they were, I knew the connection they had between the grandparents and grandkids.

Getting to know boys by name isn't key, the key is bringing out the individual character in each. It's not hard to learn the names of people. It's not hard to learn details of their private lives, especially when one is in a position of authority (e.g. a pastor). What is hard is helping form boys into men without taking away what makes each one a unique individual.

 

B-P was a humble man and I'm sure he was more than capable of bringing out the individual character in 32 boys or even 40-50 boys at a time. But I don't think there are many men, if any, who can do the same for 70, 80, or 100 boys.

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Getting to know boys by name isn't key, the key is bringing out the individual character in each. It's not hard to learn the names of people. It's not hard to learn details of their private lives, especially when one is in a position of authority (e.g. a pastor). What is hard is helping form boys into men without taking away what makes each one a unique individual.

B-P was a humble man and I'm sure he was more than capable of bringing out the individual character in 32 boys or even 40-50 boys at a time. But I don't think there are many men, if any, who can do the same for 70, 80, or 100 boys.

 

Exactly!

 

But one minor point of clarification.  BP wrote that he felt that he could handle 16 Scouts.  NOT 32.

32 was allowing for an assumption that most folks could handle twice as many as him.  

That's a suggested troop size of sixteen (16)

 

Now, my assumption is that this was a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, to make a point.  Still, that IS the point.

 

Sorry, @@blw2, that simply isn't true.  As a former pastor of 3 congregations with about 450 members of those churches, I new everyone by name and a whole lot more than what they wanted their neighbors to know.  It is possible to get to know every scout in very large troops.I knew which kid was in what family.  I knew what grade in school they were, I knew the connection they had between the grandparents and grandkids.

 

When I was a programmer, I knew what program was associated with what person and/or process, I knew all the IT people in the 25 different divisions the company had.

 

When I was the Administrative Assistant to the general manager of a large manufacturing operation, I knew most of the people in operations as well as the hierarchy above.

 

How often did I associate with these people.  At least once a week in the parish, once or twice a month as a programmer and maybe once every couple of months with the people in operations.

 

To think that a SM can't get to know 100-150 boys who gather once a week or more is rather foolish.  One would be surprised how much more a SM could get to know his boys if he wasn't spending all of his time doing the things they were supposed to be doing.  If a SM hasn't the time to know 200 boys in his unit, he's not focused on his role as SM.

 

While I may only have 2 active boys in my troop right now, I do know at least half the 30+ Webelos boys in the three feeder packs that potentially could be joining up with us this spring.  I also know about half of those boys' parents, too. 

 

A boy comes for the winter camp outing to visit from the Webelos program.  He gets introduced to the SM, Hi, glad you could make it.  Spends the weekend sledding, eating pizza, having fun with the boys, 3 weeks later he walks into our AOL prep class because one of the packs doesn't have a WDL and another WDL is marginally effective with the boys, and the SM welcomes him by name, and remembers what pack he is from and when he raises his hand to answer questions the SM keeps remembering his name.

 

It's interesting how life has changed.  We can remember everyone on our contact list on our cell phone, but do we remember any of their phone numbers?  :)    A kid can remember every Pokeman character ever created, but he can't remember where his necker is?  We remember things that are important to us.  It's the job of the SM to remember his boys.

Perigrinator stole some of my thunder on this one!

adding to what they wrote

You even mentioned knowing more than what they wanted neighbors to know....

Still the same thing.... these are Jeopardy Show trivial facts.  I'd invite you to go back and read some of BP's writings, such as Aids to Scoutmastership.  No doubt you have read some of this stuff in the past, but take another look.

What I was referring too, he wrote about really getting to know the boy.  The individual.  To learn what is inside him and to be able to figure out how to bring out the good in him.  I take it to mean stuff that you would really need to spend quality time with a person to know.  Serious time as in having significant and frequent conversations.  Hanging out together and spending significant time with or at least near each other.  Sharing mealsat camp, watching how a scout interacts with other scouts..... stuff like that.

Not trivial facts, but understanding.  It's different.

 

 

Oh, I might be acting foolish. I might be naive.  I'm certainly not perfect and omniscient.  But throwing out stuff like that isn't usually very helpful in conversation.

 

A story to illustrate how useful our modern tools of communication are: I called a PL a week ago and left him a message to please call me in the next two days. I just wanted to know what his patrol was doing at the next meeting. Three days later I called him again. He answered. I asked if he was going to call me. He said he did, twice. No record of this on my phone. Think think think. I then asked him if I answered the phone. No. I then asked if he left a message. Pregnant pause. No. :) Honestly, I'd prefer, when trying to communicate with scouts, that there was no email or sms so the scouts would be forced to learn how to make a phone call. It's kind of like writing. Scouts don't do that anymore and so their handwriting is horrible. Same for communicating an idea. These modern tools are not making it easier.

 

As for troop size and or splitting. When we were at 70 scouts I wanted to split the troop but we had the same problem as Sentinal described. We're above 40 now and I like it a lot more. At the same time, I will never tell a scout no. I had a scout join once and I was ever so close to saying no, but didn't. Without getting into details this scout needed scouts in a huge way and he was a perfect fit in our troop. It would have really been a loss if I had said no and this boy hadn't looked elsewhere.

 

You bring up a really great point about communication!  

 

Maybe we should all consider that now, it's perhaps more critical than ever in history, for a group to be crystal clear and all on the same page, regarding

what the preferred method of communication is

when exactly you might want to go the 2nd most preferred method. and so on...

when to leave a message

etc...

IN your example it could be that this scout in question wasn't clear on that... maybe didn't understand that you think of him important enough to call, leave a message, etc...  OR maybe he thought that what you wanted him for must not have been all that important.  Maybe he's really not all taht motivated for some reason or another....

Who knows why?  One thing is certain... there was a breakdown in communication somewhere.

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@@blw2 and @@Peregrinator

 

First of all one is assuming that all the really important stuff is to remain in the hands of the adults.  Getting to know the boys, etc.  If that be the case that this is the responsibility of the SM, then I would suggest tossing out the Patrol Method because all that does is provide babysitting service run by a supervised PL.  To go with the argument that the SM is the sole keeper of the known, means there is no need to any other real leadership to take place and that the PL who knows his boys and takes care of them really isn't necessary in the long run.  After all they can't be trusted with something as important as SM being able to effectively handle/control 16 boys.

 

Nope, Sorry, I've seen it work otherwise.  28 boys, 4 patrols, 1 SM, 1 ASM and we had a fairly smooth running operation.  I have to admit that running that light on the adult end of the supervisory stick meant that more of the leadership had to pass to the boys which in my book is what it's all about anyway.  Worked fine for us.  Your mileage may vary.

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After all they can't be trusted with something as important as SM being able to effectively handle/control 16 boys.

 

Nope, Sorry, I've seen it work otherwise.  28 boys, 4 patrols, 1 SM, 1 ASM and we had a fairly smooth running operation.  I have to admit that running that light on the adult end of the supervisory stick meant that more of the leadership had to pass to the boys which in my book is what it's all about anyway.  Worked fine for us.  Your mileage may vary.

With respect, I think you are either missing the point or deliberately choosing not to address it. The chief concern is not handling/controlling or having a smooth-running operation. I'm sure an SM can handle/control scores of boys and have a smooth-running operation with a hundred boys or more. But consider whether in doing so the SM is bringing out the individual character or the boys or suppressing it.

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In Real Life, school teachers professionally handle kids in the manner described for a SM.  Bring out their best, challenge them, etc. and after 4 years of education and certification these people say that 20 students per class is quite a challenge and those with 30 kids per class are often overwhelmed.  Well, these are PROFESSIONALLY TRAINED people who do this as a FULL TIME CAREER and we have SM's out there with maybe a total week's worth of training handling 16 boys and he/she's going to be be "bringing out the individuals' character"?   Good luck with that.  I'm not missing the point, nor am I being obtuse about it either.  A reality check will surly point out that it is a very rare SM that can pull that off.  Instead troops rely on multiple talents of a few leaders who develop leadership characteristics in a few of the boys who are then responsible for developing leadership characteristics in yet more scouts.  It's a team effort, not the sum total responsibility of a single SM. 

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From the beginning of the scouting program, the foundation of existence has been to develop character. Over the years the founders have approached the objective of character in many ways, mission, vision, ethical and moral decision making, but in simply boils down to "character". If one where to poll the community of the one main objective of scouting, the one word would be "character". If the parents are polled to what they expect from the scouting program for their son, that one word would be character.

 

And since the beginning of the program, the troop program was designed specificaly for guiding boys to practice habits of the desired character within the bound of the Oath and Law using the patrol method. The "Scoutmaster" has always been given the responsibility for a program intended to develop character. The requirements for the position of Scoutmaster have never, until this discussion, suggested that only the rare person could have the responsibility. 

 

It is believed by some of us here that it doesn't take the rare exceptional SM to build a program that gives boys the opportunity to enrich their character. They simply use the program provided and build around the patrol method.

 

However,in the readings of founders of scouting, even they admitted the frustration of adults who ignored the primary of objective of building character and pushed a program different from the plan and drove a program that was shaped more for the SMs own personal desires. And generally those SM's will seek a team to help direct the scouts toward the vision of that particular SM, instead of the vision given by the founders.

 

Even here on the day to day discussions, it is not hard to point out programs that woddle through because the adult leaders that not only don't understand the vision, some simply don't care. They discard what have been given to them and steer off in their own vision. Or many times no vision at all. In it's simplicity from the founders, character is the vision and the SM is responsible for the scouts working toward the vision.

 

Of course the SM can and should build the team to drive toward the vision. But it is very rare that any other adult has the responsibility to manage  the program toward the vision as the SM. When the program goes off track, it will always be the SM who is held responsible, not the team. It has been that way since the beginning of the scouting program. One only has to look back on struggling or failed troops in the district or even on this forum note that the SM gets all the blame and the credit, not the team.

 

So lets not trivialize character as an archaic catch word that has little application in today's scouting program or the Scoutmaster who has been held responsible for the vision since the very beginning. When it comes down to the very basics of scouting, the SM and character are the heart and foundation of the patrol method. 

 

Barry 

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