Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
ChristianDad

Asking an SPL to Resign?

Recommended Posts

Hi:

 

I'm a father, not a Scoutmaster. There has been a recent question and I would like opinions as to whether I'm making the right decision/giving my son the right advice.

 

My son has one month left in his role as Senior Patrol Leader. He's in a very active troop that does a ton of events. He also worked as a paid (barely) employee at a Boy Scout summer camp for 5 weeks this summer.

 

The last event of the year is scheduled for 2 weeks from this weekend, and he was scheduled to be the event's leader. Since the time he made that commitment, something else has come up. He has been given the opportunity to take a leadership position in a local parish's youth group. He has been an active participant in this youth group for years. This particular youth group is very spiritual and full of holy leaders that I want my son to have the opportunity to work with. (Sidenote that I somewhat think influences this situation, although not the main issue: we are the one of the few Catholic families in the troop and although very respectful of our beliefs I don't think the SM understands the importance of them; they trump Boy Scouts everytime and although this retreat is not "obligatory," my wife and I see it as very important to our son's spiritual development). The dilemma: the youth group retreat is the same weekends as the Boy Scout event. My wife and I want him to go to the youth group retreat. One of the biggest reasons for this is because my wife has terminal cancer, and I want to ensure my son is as close to the Church as he possibly can be. I know his relationship with God and His Church is what is going to keep him going through and after his mother's illness.

 

My son asked the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader to take over for him at the event. The ASPL has agreed. My son is doing as much of the planning as he can. He has had very good attendance and after a discussion with the SM, the only other deficiencies in his leadership have been normal 15-year old boy learning how to lead type of stuff. E.g. allowing some of the more forceful boys to take over too much, not reigning in some boys cussing at an all-night event, etc. 

 

Cutting to the chase, the SM wants my son to resign. He came to our house yesterday and told my son he is violating the Scout code of loyalty and trustworthiness by not keeping his committment to lead this event. My stance is that he is not because he is ensuring that his ASPL is prepared and my other son (younger brother who is a patrol leader) is also stepping up to make sure the event goes smoothly. To date, my son is declining the request to resign and the SM wants to hold an election to determine if my son should be replaced. 

 

We've always liked this troop and its SM but I strongly disagree with this decision. I guess I'm here asking. Am I all wrong about this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is common for a SPL to speak to his PLC and troop about an upcoming event and the need to go with Plan B. Hopefully they will understand and continue to support your son's leadership.

 

My $0.02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ask the SM to consider the Scout Promise.  What is the first promise a Scout makes?  His duty to God comes first, his duty to others is second and his duty to himself is last. 

If the Scout had a true emergency to meet (health, death, fire, you name it), would the SM really insist the Scout lead the Scout event?   Every adult I know is asked to make choices.  Things "come up".  It's not a choice between his Scout Troop and a video game tourney. 

 

Ask your Scout . He knows what you want of him. He knows what the Troop expects of him.  He knows what the SM is guilt tripping him about.  In order to assure the event comes off successfully, he has organized and trained his ASPL (what a blessing to have such a friend, from your description !) , personally, I think he is being very responsible. .  It may mean as Schiff suggests. The PLC may have to come to agreement to support their SPL .  Teens at very aware of "fairness" and their stand might be the way to allow the SM to make the right decision.  . 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with SSScout, my Scoutmaster tells me it comes School, Religion, THEN Scouts. In my opinion, it is wrong to just leave without any notice, out of the blue. But, if you talk to the PLC, Scoutmaster, ASMs, etc. and have another plan and make sure the ASPL can take over I don't see what is wrong. I've had friends who joined religious youth groups too, my troop supported them. It depends on the Scoutmaster I guess as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We give SPLs a lot of latitude. That said, Son #2 saw that he needed to shift priorities for a season, and asked the boys to accept him ending his term early and ask another worthy scout, who was due to age out around the next election, to serve as SPL in the interim.

 

But, I also happen to have a Son #2s buddies freeloading off of us this weekend. A couple were scouts from different parts of PA, so I floated this question by them.

 

One young man expressed that he felt that SPL, executed well, is a behind-the-scenes kind of job. Mentor the ASPL and the PLs, get them working like a well-liked machine. Wind the clock let it run, let them know you'll be chilling at your hammock if there's a problem. The SPL is acting responsibility in actively delegating.

 

The other fellow said his troop elected SPLs for one year terms - starting at the end of summer camp. Those two months until the fall were pretty quiet. However, the entire year as SPL was credited to him. Given that in his position, he got two months "down time", he felt this SM should cut an otherwise active scout a break. (This assumes that the scout was only missing the activity and could show up at meetings and preside over one last PLC.)

 

So, yes, it seems that pushing a boy to resign is unnecessary; however, it is a wise boy who recognizes his term should end early, and for the good of the troop passes the mantle for a season.

Mom is job #1. If that means he gets recognized in a position of responsibility for one month less than planned, that seems to be a small sacrifice. He can take this opportunity to find other ways to serve the troop. Or, he can pick off where he left off once this season passes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a Scouter who has had many a scout I was counting on pull out at the last minute, for a date,a track meet, a game of D&D... I can understand  the SM being frustrated.   But this seems to be a very different situation indeed.   Is he aware of your wifes condition?   As my friend SSScout has noted the Duty to God  and family is far more important than any duty to his troopmates.  If it does come to a vote I strongly suspect they will understand,  The scouts in my sons troop did when my wife was gravely ill.  As did every scouter I spoke to when I told them I needed to step back from scouts and the OA for a few years to take care of my family even though I had no one ready to take my place.

 

Oldscout

Edited by Oldscout448

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your SM is bang off on this one. Your son is showing his duty to God and respecting the wishes of his dying mother. If he's transitioned his duties for the event to his ASPL he need only meet with the PLC to get their agreement. He should lay his cards on the table and note he's obeying the Oath and Law AND still making sure the event is covered. THAT TOO shows leadership...not just his presence there.

 

I'd also start looking for a new troop. Your SM sounds like a complete pratt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While I disagree with the SM request to have the scout resign his position as presented, I also disagree that this is a duty to god first issue. It seems to me, and I could be (likely am) completely wrong, that it is more of another opportuinty has come up and he would rather do that instead of the activity he said he would with scouts.

 

I also can see dad recognizes his own influence here, and it is quite possible the boy is doing what dad wants not what he wants.

 

All that said, the preparation, communication, and leadership demonstrated by the boy to make the transition is laudable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"On my honor I will do my best, to do my duty TO GOD and my country..."

 

Looks to me like God *is* the first priority. One takes an Oath to do their best to do their duty to God, then country. We say this every week. How is it NOT clear that duty to God is first?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the responses so far. I am very appreciative. I'll try to clarify the best I can in response to a couple of the comments.

 

I've considered my son wants to attend this retreat because of his parents' prompting. I would prefer he attend the retreat for the reasons stated above and my wife feels so even more strongly. Her biggest fear about dying is how me and her 7 children will do afterwards. (Side note: my wife grew up in and loves the Boy Scouts -- her father was a Boy Scout professional during her whole childhood). I've told my son as strongly as I can, and in the presence of the SM, that it is my son's decision and please don't do this because it's what his parents' want.

 

Yes, the SM knows of my wife's condition. My son had to miss one meeting earlier this year with rather last-minute notice when my wife had to go to the hospital and there simply wasn't transportation to get my son there. Everyone was very understanding. He personally called me at the time to offer any assistance he could. I think the issue here is that it isn't directly related to her illness and it isn't technically "obligatory" in our faith. I don't think the SM is actively involved in his church, and I can't seem to make him understand how we view opportunities for spiritual growth. If this were some youth group that simply ate pizza and played flag football, I wouldn't encourage my son to do this. But this youth group, while doing all those fun things also, is very God centered and led by some of the holiest people in our diocese. It's a grest opportunity to grow closer to God.

 

I probably also should point out his 13 year brother is on Council in the Troop and has also agreed to help the ASPL during the event.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a similar situation and my SPL assured me he would make sure the event he would be fine without him because he was working hard with the team that was running the activity. I was concerned because this Scout had a past. But the activity when off very well and I was very proud of him.

 

It seems odd the SM wants him to quit at this point. It sounds more like a temper tantrum than mentoring wisdom. Scouting is all about boys learning about themselves from their choices. Maybe the SM has some investment in the activity and is blinded by the opportunity for your son's growth.

 

Frankly letting your son deligate the troop activity is a risk for the SM. The results are far bigger than your son learning from the experience. Especially if your son fails. A lot of folks don't do well with risk. But Scoutmastering at its best is risky because allowing Scouts to succeed (or fail) for the Scouts growth requires understanding the dynamics of the scout program and values.

 

If it were me, I would tell the SM that I see an opportunity he for my son to learn greatly from the experience. I would desire, if not beg, for his understanding and help in giving my son a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a better man that both of us would be proud of. Of course I would guide and mentor my son of his experience, but wisdom coming from his SM would have much greater impact.

 

I envy your son's opportunity and hopes it is the life lesson it could be.

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think the new information changes my thinking.

You have an otherwise good SM who doesn't share the scout's priorities.

Unfair or not, the next step is to help the scout respond to that.

If the scout weren't doing much behind he scenes to be sure the activity was a success, then handing over his SPL patch to he next in line would definitely make sense.

If the scout is still fulfilling his position in all but a couple of areas, he should find out from the SM if that is acceptable. Being self-critics and asking for feedback is part of the leadership development process. In this case, the SM beat him to the punch.

If the scout thinks he should still hold on to his patch he should respectfully disagree with his SM, but be willing to face elections if he SM sticks to his ground.

But then, there's that whole Christian thing ... being a peacemaker, give the shirt of your baceven if only your jacket had been demanded, etc ... the boy needs to consider the significance of his witness in the face of an unfair request

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your SPL son is doing the right thing.  He's working with the ASPL.

As a practical matter, it's Sep 3, the event(s) are Sep 16-17 and his term ends at the end of Sep...

Any election advanced with nil notice to the Scouts before Sep 16 is a farce.  And wat are the prospect of new SPL doing a decent job with a week's notice compared to ASPL?

In summary, SM is an ass. 

If not already done... your SPL son should get the Patrol Leaders to decide and announce date of upcoming election so potential SPL candidates are aware.

  • Upvote 1

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  

×