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Plugging Away

Unpleasant Youth Leader

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I am a fairly new Venturer leader (although I've just had a son become Eagle this past June, so I've been a Scouter for 8 years).  My daughter is in the Crew.   My eldest daughter graduated from the Crew 5 years ago. Both girls loved Venturing.

 

My issue; the Venture president is an accomplished "doer" who is well liked by the youth, and good friends with my daughter.  She does not seem like a bad kid to her peers. However, she is unpleasant, and often rude, to the adult leaders.  Basically, she thinks we exist to annoy her with bureaucracy.  She is curt and uncommunicative.  She makes it clear that she wants to have as little interaction with the adults as she can. She often says insulting things like "that requirement is stupid and redundant."  

 

Yes, there is a certain amount of bureaucracy, but we err on the side of too little, rather than too much.  This Venture Crew is pretty active, but the long-term philosophy has been that the Venturers like the adventure and comraderie, but are not interested in rank advancement or the hierarchy of the affiliated Troop.  Some additional structure is needed, because the Crew has grown, although we understand that if we try to impose too much on the Crew, some of the members will just participate less and maybe quit. 

 

More than anything, it would be good if the adult leader experience was enjoyable.  We are volunteers, after all.  However, every interaction with the youth leader leaves me grinding my teeth.

 

Any words of advice? 

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Have you sat down with the crew president, explained what your job is as advisor, and what kind of communication you need from her to do your job?  (And you could sneak in there a comment about how she probably does not realize it, but some of her communications to you come off as curt and even rude.)

 

If that doesn't do the job, you might explain to her that you are there as a volunteer to support the activities she is leading, and that without adult leaders there is no crew.

Edited by NJCubScouter
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Time to pull out the potato exercise from VLSC.

Someone is carving into (rather than respecting) someone else's potato.

 

You may need the thickest-skinned adult to come along-side the youth, and bring her around gently ... all the while listening to see if some past adult interactions or life in general paved the way for bad behavior. Adult association being a method of venturing, there is every intention that every venturer master it.

 

I had a conduct-disordered scout like this. It does require patience. Often we worked on the rough edges during "forced" marches in bear country.

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First - Welcome to the Forum.

 

You say you're fairly new to Venturing as a leader but have been a Scouter for 8 years.  Have you had a chance to take any training for Venturer leaders or read any of the literature so that you know how things are somewhat different for Crew Committees and Advisors than for Troop Committees and Scoutmasters?

 

Just to play a bit of a devil's advocate here (and not to defend rudeness) but there were a couple of things that caught my attention.

 

One is that the Crew President apparently is saying things such as "that requirement is stupid and redundant" - that must have been a memorable line.  My question is where did that stupid and redundant requirement come from?  Did it come from the Crew Committee and was announced to the Crew? 

 

The other is that the Crew needs more structure, especially since it's growing.  Who has determined that it needs more structure - the Committee or the Crew?  Is the Committee trying to build more structure (even if its minimal) without participation from the Crew?

 

See where I'm going here?  A Crew is a different animal from a Troop - it is not just Advanced Boy-led.  In a lot of ways, a Venturer Crew is like to Order of the Arrow - it is fully youth-led - the adults are advisors.  Other than BSA policies and following the policies of the Chartering Organization, it is the Youth that develop the policies of the Crew.  It is the Youth that decide on any additoinal "structure"  The Chief Financial Officer of a Troop is the Treasurer, a Committee Member.  In a Crew, the Chief Financial Officer is the elected Treasurer, a youth member of the Crew - the Crew Committee Treasurer is a Mentor and Advisor to the Crew Treasurer. 

 

In a Troop, even a boy-led Troop, it might not be uncommon for an announcement to be made that comes from the Troop Committee that, for example, might be "From now on, all Scouts must sign up for outings 2 weeks before the trip.  In a Crew, the Committee shouldn't just announce it as a new policy of the Crew.  Instead, it's the Advisor's job to suggest to the Crew President that it might be a good idea to do, and lay out the reasons for doing so - and letting the President run it past the Crew for the Crew to decide if they want to do so.

 

Perhaps this young lady is unpleasant and rude, but take a step back for a bit and think about why that might be a bit more.  If she were truly rude ad unpleasant to be around, do you think she would be well-liked by her peers?  Your daughter?  Have you experienced the same kind of interactions outside the Crew?  I''ve no way of knowing, of course, but could it be possible that there has been a change in the way the Committee has operated - perhaps trying to bring more structure and policy from the "top" down, and it's noticeable by the Crew?  At their age, people aren't always able to tell adults to back-off, but they can make the point known by appearing to be rude, uncooperative and unpleasant. 

 

If your daughter has been in the Crew for a while, maybe take her out for a frozen custard and ask her if she has noticed any changes in the Crew lately.

 

Please don't be insulted by this last thought - I give it with experience:  Maybe it's her but maybe it's you - or maybe it's both of you.

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As I told the President of our Crew, the magic words are, "Mr. Hedgehog, I've got this."

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Did she have a bad experience with BSA (or GSA) bureaucracy before? 

 

I saw this happen - my son was the Crew President and he and the advisor did NOT get along. The Advisor was going down one path, he and the Crew were going down another. 

 

Result: The Crew dissolved as an official organism, and instead became a group of boys who did all of the things a crew could and should do. They raised money, went on adventures, scheduled and booked their own trips, etc.

 

To a youth, the payoff of bureaucracy is hard to see, and in some cases might be non-existent. So you COULD be up against that.

 

Teach her the WHY of the safety / forms / etc. that are required. 

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