Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
ParkMan

Who manages the ASMs in your troop?

Recommended Posts

that question "Is the program the SM is running beneficial/harmful to the scouts." is an interesting one....

something I have struggled with going back and forth for a long time.  

I read a while back in something that BP wrote that went something like this...

  every boy can get something out of scouting as long as the SM does no harm.

​I've flipped and flopped on the idea that "harm" is being done by not putting on the theoretical best program.... scouts are leaving, scouts don't get the full experience....

but 

I've settled on this statement form BP to mean that even without the most perfect program imaginable, the boys are getting something good from scouting...as long as there's not some "abuse" happening....and it's better for them to be able to experience scouting on some level than not at all.  they all won't stay....but then again they all never would anyway.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...

As I write this, I think you all really answered my question - even if I used the wrong term and maybe the wrong question.  It's the SM's job to lead the ASMs.  If he's not doing it, then it's probably because he doesn't find those functions all the important.  We've offered time and again to help, but since he never really accepts the help, then he perhaps really isn't that interested in it . I suppose I could try to come up with a scheme to make it work, but in reality - if the SM doesn't think those functions are important enough to do them, then it's probably a futile effort to try to make those happen....

I don't think I offered to help much at all. It's more like, "I'm doing ___. If the boys would like to see how it's done, they can stop by." I guess I was a mousetrap ASM (build it and they will come).

 

I do think the things you can do are limited:

 

Point out to the SM when you think he's brushed someone off that you'll no longer countenance complaints about lack of help.

Get ASM's to roundtables, encourage training like Powderhorn or Wood Badge or volunteering to organize camporees, etc....

Have ASM's scout out good places to go camping, things they like to do with their family, etc ...

Provide adults the campfire where they feel they can talk about life the universe etc ...

Recognize ASM's who do haul boys to camp or demonstrate something cool.

 

See if the committee will underwrite the cost of training (University of Scouting, NAYLE, NYLT) for boys who the SM/SPL recommends for it. Put that offer in writing on the table at a PLC, BoR, or troop meeting -- not in terms of "hey here's another leadership course", but in terms of "hey here's a cool camping opportunity with complete strangers."

 

Given the style of your SM, you are rolling the dice counting on there to be a few self-starters among the adults and youth. But, I think at the very least, you're using your position to give everyone a chance to get the most out of their membership. Even if it doesn't go off like gangbusters (-builders?), at least you'll feel better about how you fulfilled your role as CC.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I admire CCs who value the program because they are more responsible for program quality than most realize. Basically the CC is responsible for bringing in the right volunteers to support the vision. Mot CCs just fill in vacancies, but the good ones recruit specific talent for specific responsibilities.

 

That being said, volunteer sources are limited. Most units do the best they can with the resources they have. When I was at my prime as a "boy run" "Patrol Method" leader of a very successful program, I in my arrogance and immaturity believe every troop should be like ours and that any troop that wasn't like ours was a failure.

 

Then I was recruited to volunteer for district where I was responsible for membership and unit quality. I learned over the years that if the families are satisfied with the program and believe they are getting their monies worth, the unit was as high quality as mine. It just had a different style that match the style of the fine adults leading it.

 

I don't know your resources or the quality of your program, but I think you as the CC are asking the right questions to understand your situation better. Good job and I hope you find a way to work your concerns. Lots of us are here to help, but your the one on the ground and your unit is better for you.

 

Barry

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For my money an ASM that needs the SM to direct him is not worth much. An ASM should take his training and then dive in to the program to see where he can help. He can and should ask the SM where help is needed but shouldn't wait around to be directed.

 

For example, if I am a canoeing expert I might ask the SM when the canoe trip is. I might take the time to put together a proposal for the PLC (through the SM of course) for a cool trip, with plans to teach canoeing skills during troop meetings. I might work with the Instructors to train them first, then have them train the troop. I'd look up outfitters and other special vendors, maybe arrange a few guest speakers.

 

But I wouldn't wait for an SM to direct me to do anything. A good ASM is self motivated and a self starter. They don't wait to be directed. Who needs someone like that? That's not helping or helpful.

 

I strongly disagree.

 

Using your example, I'd view that more as a committee role.  Scoutmaster tells committee that the scouts want to do a canoe trip on this date and asks the committee for an experienced canoe person to look at trip plans and provide him information so he can support the scouts and their planning.  Maybe, the SM would ask the committee member to mentor the instructors.  Maybe serve as an expert for training.  But that's 100% through the SM.  

 

Beyond that, a good ASM shouldn't do squat.  It defeats the scouts taking initiative and defeats the SPL working with the SM.

Edited by fred johnson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyway, he had a few podcasts and maybe some blog posts that talked about how there really isn't need for a lot of ASM's.  His perspective was that all communications should be with SM, and if he was unavailable then the ASM would be his surrogate but the ASM was only to repeat what the SM said...nothing more.  Maybe 2 ASM's was all...and one of those would be the "#2" sort of in grooming to take SM eventually.

     Now this is how I remembered it, so it could be off a bit

 

At first I thought this sounded very odd and off putting even....but I do admit I see some logic in it.

 

Anyway, it might be worth it to you, to do a little digging around over there for podcasts and posts re. the roles of ASM's.

 

I went ahaed and did a little digging.  here's one to get you started.  not sure if this is the one I'm remembering or not.  Think ha had a few things on the topic...

http://scoutmastercg.com/podcast-284-assistant-scoutmasters/

 

I agree with the idea.  IMHO, you need way more on the committee than you do as SM / ASMs.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I strongly disagree.

 

Using your example, I'd view that more as a committee role. Scoutmaster tells committee that the scouts want to do a canoe trip on this date and asks the committee for an experienced canoe person to look at trip plans and provide him information so he can support the scouts and their planning. Maybe, the SM would ask the committee member to mentor the instructors. Maybe serve as an expert for training. But that's 100% through the SM.

 

Beyond that, a good ASM shouldn't do squat. It defeats the scouts taking initiative and defeats the SPL working with the SM.

I think you missed the part where the BOYS learned a new skill and then taught it to the boys under the supervision of an expert..who just happens to be an ASM. As B-P would say, "Never do. for a boy what he can do for himself." Why on God's green Earth would I want the Troop committee involved?

 

"A good ASM shouldn't do squat?" Then what is the position for?

Edited by Col. Flagg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again for all the thoughts - especially the words of encouragement.  It's been a frustration road to say the least.  I've got a couple of items I'll follow up on after work.  I wanted to jump in quickly on the last two posts as we get hung up on this too.

 

My view is that the committee should limit it's trip planning role to some logistical/equipment support.  Seems like trip planning is a scout (or perhaps patrol) function.  The SM should explain the process.  Maybe he recruits a parent to teach a class on trip planning.  But the actual trip planning is the scout's job. The SM asks questions at the right time to keep the boys oriented correctly - but other than that, the adults stay out of it.

 

Now, I'd have no problem with an ASM who worked across multiple trips and was the person who scouts went to as they planned trips.  He'd explain it, answer questions, guide the scouts.  But, the committee is pretty much not involved here.

 

Is this what you see?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@ParkMan, our committee pretty much reacts to stuff planned by the PLC. They will handle finances. They will execute the logistics planned by the PLC (make reservations, payments, etc). They process applications. They work with the PLC on fundraising. They take care of the back office stuff. They don't get involved in program unless it's to support the execution of the program plan AND it's an area the boys can't legally or realistically manage.

 

ASMs are self starters who take their orders from the SM, BUT they don't need every little detail spelled out for them.

 

It took us a while to reach this level of operation and a few ASMs still get through the cracks, but they don't stay ASMs for long if they can't keep up and be autonomous.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again for all the thoughts - especially the words of encouragement.  It's been a frustration road to say the least.  I've got a couple of items I'll follow up on after work.  I wanted to jump in quickly on the last two posts as we get hung up on this too.

 

My view is that the committee should limit it's trip planning role to some logistical/equipment support.  Seems like trip planning is a scout (or perhaps patrol) function.  The SM should explain the process.  Maybe he recruits a parent to teach a class on trip planning.  But the actual trip planning is the scout's job. The SM asks questions at the right time to keep the boys oriented correctly - but other than that, the adults stay out of it.

 

Now, I'd have no problem with an ASM who worked across multiple trips and was the person who scouts went to as they planned trips.  He'd explain it, answer questions, guide the scouts.  But, the committee is pretty much not involved here.

 

Is this what you see?

 

"Is this what you see?"  Similar, but there is a significant nuance.  The idea is the troop committee is involved to make the scoutmaster's job lighter.   The committee does NOT interact with the scouts.  They interact with the scoutmaster to lighten his load.  Similar, ASMs do not ever "guide the scouts".  The SM coaches the scouts through asking supporting questions and ASMs support and defer to the SM.  

 

IMHO, troop committee and ASMs are very similar.  It's just one is behind the scene and the other is visible to the scout (activities, camping, etc).  But all interaction with the scouts is funneled through the SM.  

 

Trip planning is absolutely a scout role.  The issue is having ASMs who jump in because they are experts and/or feel entitled by the moniker "ASM" that it's their job to interact.  IMHO, that's absolutely not how it's supposed to work.  When working with the scouts, everyone defers to the SM and his guidance with the troop.  If adults are experts or can lay out the trip, they do it through the scoutmaster.  Maybe the scoutmaster will ask a committee member or ASM to present or talk or other.  

 

The issue is keeping the adult interaction with the scouts small.  If it is well funneled through the SM, then it's easier to promote the patrol method and the PL/PLC/SPL chain of command.  Otherwise, scouts will jump to the nearest adult for questions.  

Edited by fred johnson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you missed the part where the BOYS learned a new skill and then taught it to the boys under the supervision of an expert..who just happens to be an ASM. As B-P would say, "Never do. for a boy what he can do for himself." Why on God's green Earth would I want the Troop committee involved?

 

"A good ASM shouldn't do squat?" Then what is the position for?

 

ASMs are self starters who take their orders from the SM, BUT they don't need every little detail spelled out for them.

I didn't miss anything. I know what you are saying.  And yes at some point, an expert needs to teach the teaching scout so the scout can teach other scouts.  I challenge though that it should be an ASM.  It could be just an expert parent.  It could be almost anyone.  

 

The issue I have is referring to ASMs as "self-starters".  Perhaps the SM and one ASM have agreed that that ASM helps pick up the trailer from storage, drives it back to storage, locks and unlocks it each night.  Beyond that though, there is no need for "self-starters".  You need knowledgable people so that if a SM is busy dealing with one issue, an ASM can temporarily step in his shoes.  When the SM returns, the ASM needs to defer back to the SM.  Beyond that, ASMs are not "self starters" that drive anything.  It's a bad practice as it strongly infers adults that will grab the ball and interact with the scouts when they think they need to interact with.  It subverts the SM and it subverts the patrol method.  

 

The simple fact is you don't need that many adults.

Edited by fred johnson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you missed the part where the BOYS learned a new skill and then taught it to the boys under the supervision of an expert..who just happens to be an ASM. As B-P would say, "Never do. for a boy what he can do for himself." Why on God's green Earth would I want the Troop committee involved?

 

"A good ASM shouldn't do squat?" Then what is the position for?

I see the main job of an ASM as driving and drinking coffee, and    being an example for the boys.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used the phrase "guideing" the scouts in the sense of the EDGE method.  On things like setting up tents, making dinner, figuring out how to run the troop election, I'm there with you that ASMs sit in the background.  If a committee member is around, they are on the other side of the room carrying on with adults talking about troop finances or something like that.

 

In the case of something like organizing a camping trip, there would be enough of a skill base that the SPL & others could organize that.  But, in the case they do not, it would seem to me that a SM/ASM would have some sort of role.  Ideally, it's just to ask the occasional question - check status, etc..  But, if you've got a bunch of scouts who's idea of trip planning is to send out an email to the troop saying - "come to my camping trip", it would seem there's mode EDGE involved here.

 

I'd think in this case, the SM/ASM would meet with the scout, talk about the process, give him some pointers about getting started, and then check in from time to time.  if the scout picks is up quickly, then maybe it's just an occasional question.  But, if not, I'm thinkinthe SM/ASM would have to do some more prodding.  i.e., perhaps he coaches the scout to put together a timeline of when he needs to get things done.  perhaps he asks the scout to show him a schedule for the weekend.  If the schedule looks weak, then perhaps he points the scout to some resources to take a look at. When I say guide, that's what I'm thinking.

 

But, the troop committee should not be organizing trips for the scouts to attend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used the phrase "guideing" the scouts in the sense of the EDGE method.  On things like setting up tents, making dinner, figuring out how to run the troop election, I'm there with you that ASMs sit in the background.  If a committee member is around, they are on the other side of the room carrying on with adults talking about troop finances or something like that.

 

In the case of something like organizing a camping trip, there would be enough of a skill base that the SPL & others could organize that.  But, in the case they do not, it would seem to me that a SM/ASM would have some sort of role.  Ideally, it's just to ask the occasional question - check status, etc..  But, if you've got a bunch of scouts who's idea of trip planning is to send out an email to the troop saying - "come to my camping trip", it would seem there's mode EDGE involved here.

 

I'd think in this case, the SM/ASM would meet with the scout, talk about the process, give him some pointers about getting started, and then check in from time to time.  if the scout picks is up quickly, then maybe it's just an occasional question.  But, if not, I'm thinkinthe SM/ASM would have to do some more prodding.  i.e., perhaps he coaches the scout to put together a timeline of when he needs to get things done.  perhaps he asks the scout to show him a schedule for the weekend.  If the schedule looks weak, then perhaps he points the scout to some resources to take a look at. When I say guide, that's what I'm thinking.

 

The issue I have is with "SM/ASM".  It's a minor issue, but key.  It's not an interchangeable either/or.  "The SM would meet with the scout..."  .... "If not, the SM would have to do more prodding."  ... It's only when the SM is not available that an ASM needs to do this and even then it's in the exact same mode and same content.  And the moment the SM returns, the ASM defers to the SM.  The key I'm trying to point out is all leading, prompting, coaching is funneled through the SM whenever possible.  I've seen whole weekends where 20 or 30+ scouts only work through their SPL with the SM and the rest of the ASMs play cards and relax.  That's how it's supposed to be.  Scouts with scouts.  Adults with adults.  SM & SPL is the bridge.  

 

I say this because I've seen so many troops with 5+, 10+, 20+ ASMs that it just defeats the concept of it being a youth program.  It's often these troops that emphasize their "youth led" or "patrol method".

 

But, the troop committee should not be organizing trips for the scouts to attend.

 

BSA documents troop committee as having an outdoor / activities coordinator.  The coordination is within the committee and to the scoutmaster.  The scoutmaster represents this planning to the scouts.  

 

From BSA --> "Outdoor/Activities Coordinator:   The troop outdoor/activities coordinator is appointed by the committee chair to secure tour and activity plans and permission to use camping sites, serve as transportation coordinator, and ensure a monthly outdoor program.

  • Help in securing permission to use camping sites.
  • Serve as transportation coordinator.
  • Ensure a monthly outdoor program.
  • Promote the National Camping Award.
  • Promote, through family meetings, attendance at troop campouts, camporees, and summer camp to reach the goal of an outing per month.
  • Secure tour and activity plans for all troop activities.
  • Work with the secretary to assemble the medical and insurance binder for the Scoutmaster to take on each outing.
  • Report to the troop committee at each meeting."
Edited by fred johnson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Got you - I'm following you now.

 

My guess is that your scouts are a lot further along the boy led spectrum. We seem, for whatever reason, to require more adult involvement. I'm trying to break the reliance of scouts on committee adults for that. I've been getting a continual stream of requests from the SM - an adult to advise the scout organizing the backpacking trip, and adult to advise the canoeing trip, etc. Instead of recruiting committee members for that, my push is leverage the 10 ASMs you already have for that.

 

But it sounds like the real goal ought to be to figure out how we rely a lot less on adults in general.

Edited by ParkMan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suppose you have to work with the style of adults who you have. When son #1 crossed over, I came into troop as a self-starter. Me and another dad were all about backpacking. We did not waste time being asked. We told whoever came near us about whatever good camping place we knew. We did our minimal impact routine in front of the boys. Except in sideways rain, tent flaps were always up. If I went fishing, I laid my tackle box and two extra poles against a tree and announced that I didn't mind where they wandered, but expected to see them back with lines untangled but hooks straightened by big fish.

Another couple of dads were all about their Taj Mahal tent style and camp gadgets. They eventually hunted up a trailer. None of this was asked for by the scoutmaster.

 

I got assigned to the committee. It didn't matter. I just did my thing. Eventually an older SM asked why I'm not wearing an ASM patch. I said I didn't care, but if someone filled out the paperwork, I'll sign for the position. (The SM's wife did.)

The SM was largely inconsequential to what we did. He focused on fitness and first aid. But, SPLs and PLs caught on pretty quick that if they wanted something else, they could come ask at the camp site with the espresso pot were the adults were likely to be cooking shrimp scampi with fettuccini Alfredo served on a bed of lettuce. Eventually the SM learned to ask us anything, and we'd bend over backwards to make it happen.

 

This sounds a whole lot like adult led. And, truly, we never were great with patrols that held together long term. But, the boys caught on quick that if you want stuff, do what it takes to get it. If you don't know what that is, ask one of the ASMs. Eventually they became their own wood-choppers, hike planners, deep fry gourmets, tarpologists, sharpshooters, etc ...

 

You could have that, just takes one bunch of dads crossing over who don't mind camping with the boys and forgoing alcohol ... but be careful what you wish for. Self starters can also be divisive my-way-or-the-highway types. That may be why your SM keeps them at a distance. He's bound to have seen something of the sort in 25 years.

 

So I guess the real goal is balance. If your people need a little prodding, and your SM isn't confident about that, figure out a way to do that efficiently so as to manage your time. Don't sweat the ASM-MC boundary all that much. If your SPL is up to it, give him the names and numbers of the adults who can guide his boys. One of the first steps in increasing youth leadership is acting like the youth are leaders.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×