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Junior Assistant Scoutmaster - Revisited

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In the recent "adult-lead troop" and other topics there's a discussion about ASMs who can't take step back from the youth management of activities. And their was a little debate about if this behavior is more likely among former scouts since their entire career had been fully engaged with the youth and now a switch needs to be flipped.

 

Well, maybe that's why we need to move some boys into a JASM position. Maybe if they spend that last year "stepping back" and helping to do some adult tasks: possibly advising a few Eagle projects, helping the treasurer balance the books, maybe even a little promoting scouting at the district level. Maybe they'll be better prepared to serve as ASM.

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In our unit we didn't use JASM for a while. Over the last ten years it has usually been given to former SPLs or other well-deserving older Scouts who really embodied the role of a youth leader. Every Scout who has gotten this honor has not only become more active in the program than they might have otherwise been, but have been leaders on which the SM could fully rely.

 

When we have young men turn 18 and stick around as ASMs we have a separate training class for them, specifically on why they cannot act and talk to the Scouts like they used to. We always make sure that whenever they are with Scouts that they are accompanied by an older adult ASM. Further, we introduce this new ASM as "Mr. FormerScout" so that the troop knows that he's not "Tim" anymore, but rather Mr. Smith.

 

This has worked for us and for our younger ASMs. 

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In the recent "adult-lead troop" and other topics there's a discussion about ASMs who can't take step back from the youth management of activities. And their was a little debate about if this behavior is more likely among former scouts since their entire career had been fully engaged with the youth and now a switch needs to be flipped.

 

Well, maybe that's why we need to move some boys into a JASM position. Maybe if they spend that last year "stepping back" and helping to do some adult tasks: possibly advising a few Eagle projects, helping the treasurer balance the books, maybe even a little promoting scouting at the district level. Maybe they'll be better prepared to serve as ASM.

This sounds like the plan my SM followed back in the day.   Long story short, after I did my stint as SPL (about 2.5 years) I was given a JASM patch.   My attendance and input was requested and expected at troop committee meetings, district RT, etc.   Camped/cooked with the adults.   Mentor to the SPL.  

 

It helped me transition from the visible SPL role, so I didn't upstage the new guy.   The adults treated me like a peer and expected me to conduct myself as such.   Plus, it gave me more flexibility as school, sports and social life ramped up my senior year of HS.

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Never used JASM position.

 

Only for a short time ever used an SPL (when we went to 4 patrols. 25+ boys).  When that boy aged out, the membership dropped as well and the SPL position was done away with.  PL's picked up SPL duties as needed as they decided.  The boys always figured that with a functional APL, there was really no need for an SPL. 

 

My Eagle scouts always tended to stay in the PL position, one of my Eagles became a permanent TG for the new scouts.

 

Why get these boys all trained for a job and then not let them have at it? 

 

It is also important to note that the boys who are Eagle AND PL's are there and stay there at the directive of the patrol, not because of their rank, honor or prestige.  They earn it and they have to keep earning it to keep it.  Over the years I have found that PL replacements come from the patrol APL, QM or Scribe POR's, and not because of rank.  It's kinda interesting to see how the boys made the decisions regarding leadership when the patrol method is implemented and the adults don't have a say in it.

 

I don't think the boys even know what a JASM is supposed to do and working with the SM instead of being with buddies isn't much of an honor in their book.  :)

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We found that if the program is progressively maturing, scout growth starts peaking around age of 16. That is when they have mastered most of the skills, leadership development, and character development that a normal program can provide. They are typically better than the adults at the scouting game. So to keep their growth continuing, we start giving them more adult type responsibilities. JASM works perfect for that and they typically do very well.

 

Barry

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We found that if the program is progressively maturing, scout growth starts peaking around age of 16. That is when they have mastered most of the skills, leadership development, and character development that a normal program can provide. They are typically better than the adults at the scouting game. So to keep their growth continuing, we start giving them more adult type responsibilities. JASM works perfect for that and they typically do very well.

 

Barry

@@Eagledad

 

I'd love to chat sometime about what role JASM's in your Troop play. It's a sorely underused aspect of our troop. We've really struggled to identify roles and responsibilities for that position. 

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We found that if the program is progressively maturing, scout growth starts peaking around age of 16. That is when they have mastered most of the skills, leadership development, and character development that a normal program can provide. They are typically better than the adults at the scouting game. So to keep their growth continuing, we start giving them more adult type responsibilities. JASM works perfect for that and they typically do very well.

 

Barry

 

EXACTLY!!!

 

Just made a young man, who was starting to lose interest, a JASM two months ago. He's been to every event since. Showed up to one event where he was not supposed to "just to help out". I put him in charge. He ran the whole thing perfectly, allowing the PLs to do their job and kept the adults in the coffee tent.

 

JASM is a great role to keep the 15+ crowd engaged and leading.

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EXACTLY!!!

 

Just made a young man, who was starting to lose interest, a JASM two months ago. He's been to every event since. Showed up to one event where he was not supposed to "just to help out". I put him in charge. He ran the whole thing perfectly, allowing the PLs to do their job and kept the adults in the coffee tent.

 

JASM is a great role to keep the 15+ crowd engaged and leading.

 

@Krampus 

 

What are some of the meeting to meeting roles your JASM plays? What is the positions working relation to the SPL and the SM?

 

The BSA's description is painfully vague.

 

  • Functions as an assistant Scoutmaster.
  • Performs duties as assigned by the Scoutmaster.
  • Sets a good example.

     

    What ASM functions does your JASM's perform? What kind of duties? 

     

    Sentinel947

Edited by Sentinel947

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@@Eagledad

 

I'd love to chat sometime about what role JASM's in your Troop play. It's a sorely underused aspect of our troop. We've really struggled to identify roles and responsibilities for that position. 

More often than not, JASM responsibilities are smaller roles used for temporary situations. Our troop was a patrol method based troop of around 90 scouts. Anyone who understand patrol method understand the challenge for a big troop. One of our mottos was "Put the adults out of business" so that if the adults didn't show up, nothing changed. It is tempting to fix new problems with adults, but we strived to use scouts instead.

 

One 16 year old approached me because he could only attend the first 30 minute of a troop meeting and was unreliable for campouts. He really enjoyed our troop and really liked working with younger scouts. He had no desire for Eagle, but was a really sharp scout. He ended up meeting new Grub Masters and Cheer Masters 30 minutes before the troop meeting and help them get up to speed with their job. He was really good too, he showed them how to search for cheers, songs, skits, recipes and so on. But more important he coached them how to communicate with member of the patrol to delegate and organize. Typically the new scouts get the Cheer and Grub Master, so it worked very well. And the new scouts really grew fond of him. He was typical of how older scouts are important models for the young scouts. The older scouts don't even see it.

 

One Scout took on verifying troop first-aid equipment and policies. Another scout researched and wrote guidelines for drivers who pulled the troop trailer. Our Quartermasters typically do that job, but the JASM took it a step farther to insure a firm troop policy.

 

When our troop received 27 new crossovers one year, a 16 year old scout took on the job to help the Troop Guides organize with schedules and training. The troop was trying a new new scout program and it was complicated with three NSPs. It was too much for Troop Guides to work with scouts and their parents, and plan their patrol meetings. JASM was the perfect job to help because he could help manage issues as they popped up and not take the Troop Guides away from their scouts.  The Troop Guides like him so much that a permanent position was created. But the SPL killed it two years later because we had developed the new scout program well enough that a JASM was nolonger required. However, the lessons learned and guidelines developed by that JASM stayed with the Troop for years. It was honestly an adult job that we didn't want an adult doing because we wanted the new scouts to see a true boy run troop in action. 27 scouts is overwhelming for most troops. That scout did great.

 

Scouts who volunteer are not looking for POR credit for advancement. As I said, they have peeked with the normal program. They are looking for non typical responsibilities to serve. Not all scouts stay in the program to serve the troop, some like the outdoors, some like hanging out with friends, some like service projects. So even though a scout may have the maturity, they aren't looking for servant responsibility that we typically give the JASM. 

 

I will try to add jobs as I remember them.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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I need to add that while these positions are assigned by the SM, I never did anything without the SPLs input and permission. Really these jobs came up as the both of us looked for solutions to situations. 

 

As for meeting to meeting, well look at your adults and see what they are doing from meeting to meeting. It may be almost nothing at all because their responsibility is required in other places at other times. 

 

Barry

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Thanks. So it's really on the SPL, PLs, SM, ASM's to identify needs. Perhaps even those JASM's can identify needs as well. Just have to ask them. 

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In the 30 years I have been working in the Boy Scout end of scouting, I have never met or even seen a scout wearing a JASM patch.

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Thanks. So it's really on the SPL, PLs, SM, ASM's to identify needs. Perhaps even those JASM's can identify needs as well. Just have to ask them. 

Anybody can identify the need. Generally what happens is a situation occurs and after some discussion a JASM turns out to be the best solution at the time. Everyone from patrol leaders to adults were scratching their heads when we got 27 new crossovers all at once. 

 

I think you might be looking for a long term responsibility that can go from JASM to JASM. That isn't how we used them. It's a good idea, I just can't think where would use them in a patrol method troop. Our longest lasting JASM position was the Troop Guide helper and that only lasted two years because we tweaked the New Scout program to be manageable by the Troop Guides.

 

Barry

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In the 30 years I have been working in the Boy Scout end of scouting, I have never met or even seen a scout wearing a JASM patch.

That's fine, you do you. When somebody pitches an idea that engages and involves those 16-17 year olds who have kinda done everything, it perks my interest. 

 

 

Anybody can identify the need. Generally what happens is a situation occurs and after some discussion a JASM turns out to be the best solution at the time. Everyone from patrol leaders to adults were scratching their heads when we got 27 new crossovers all at once. 

 

I think you might be looking for a long term responsibility that can go from JASM to JASM. That isn't how we used them. It's a good idea, I just can't think where would use them in a patrol method troop. Our longest lasting JASM position was the Troop Guide helper and that only lasted two years because we tweaked the New Scout program to be manageable by the Troop Guides.

 

Barry

 

Yea. I've always looked at it from a consistent set of responsibilities, but I'm thinking you are correct that it's better to build the position to each individual scout and the situations at the time. 

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@Krampus 

 

What are some of the meeting to meeting roles your JASM plays? What is the positions working relation to the SPL and the SM?

 

The BSA's description is painfully vague.

 

  • Functions as an assistant Scoutmaster.
  • Performs duties as assigned by the Scoutmaster.
  • Sets a good example.

     

    What ASM functions does your JASM's perform? What kind of duties? 

     

    Sentinel947

 

 

JASMs function like ASMs. They do everything an ASM would do. Mostly it is reinforcing the patrol method and making sure processes and procedures are followed. They may sit in to be part of SMCs. They may be the SM that is out in the garage monitoring activities outdoors. We train them like we train the ASMs. We've taken the policy and procedures part of SM-Specific training and made it JASM-friendly. We (the adult SMs) guide the JASMs in their roles.

 

From their perspective I have one JASM that explained his role like this: "We're kind of 'silent SPLs'. We know what the PL and SPLs should be doing. We know what the boys should be doing. We know what comes next, but we don't lead the activity. We 'suggest' to the SPL and PLs what they should be doing and guide them to their own conclusion."

 

When I showed this Scout the definition of "guided discovery" he said, "Wow, I never knew I was THAT philosophical." ;)

Edited by Krampus
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