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pchadbo

Need help with a "good" problem

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I've been through this split-and-remerge cycle and it can amount to wasted time and missed opportunities. Unless you have other COs in the neighborhood clamoring to launch a program for their boys, one of the troops will be under-supported ... only hurting those boys. It really is a second-best strategy.

 

Better to get the existing guys into four patrols and maybe a venture patrol/leadership corps. Slap some JASM patches on those former SPLs. Give them the stats on the pack and ask some of them to consider, upon turning 18, being the kind of ASM who can coach crossover adults about "what it was like." Basically, "brace for impact" by having a couple of decent and stable patrols with the goal of being the example of the new scout patrol, and possibly recruiting from them as their patrol members move up.

I was in a troop that doubled in size and it was a mess. The adults struggled to manage 100 scouts and then just tossed it at me as SPL. If they couldn’t run the troop effectively what makes them think at 15 I could. It was too much so we effectively broke down the Troop into two sub troops. I ran one and the past SPL ran the other. We had to plan around each other because our facilities weren’t big enough for all of us at once. In our case doubling our size just doubled our problems. Two smaller groups made more sense.

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@@jwest09 -- yes bad choice of words. perhaps, "help the SPL to get more breathing room to run the program with less SM control" would have been a better phrasing. I know I am treading in very dangerous waters here, which is why I came here for advice on the next steps. Yes, I am planning on having the conversation with the SM about the SPL's concerns, I am just looking for the advice of how to walk into this minefield without blowing everything up.

 

Edited to add:

I have also noticed the slow ebb of boy leadership since the SM has taken over, just did not realize until the conversation with the SPL how far the pendulum had swung

 

Yes, you are treading in very dangerous waters here. My advice is to stop doing it. It is not just a bad choice of words. It is a bad choice of actions.

Edited by David CO

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Yes, you are treading in very dangerous waters here. My advice is to stop doing it. It is not just a bad choice of words. It is a bad choice of actions.

Yeah, I understand what you are saying, but to "stop doing it" means to say no to the SPL who asked for help and advice. Not a good option either. I am caught is territory that I should not be in, I did direct the SPL to speak to the SM, but he also asked for help. I am just trying to figure out how to do that without upsetting the apple cart.

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So, one question: how did the SPL come to discuss this with you?  Did he seek you out based on your role as UC?  Did you know each other through prior Scouting contact?  I think that's an important to establish which "hat" you're wearing in this situation - a Unit Commissioner, or a Scouter counseling a Scout.  

 

If the SPL sought you out as a sounding board, or simply looking for advice from an experienced Scouter, then I think your role should be limited to allowing the SPL to talk through his concerns, and provide some suggestions and guidance.  And, I think your guidance should be in the form of helping the young man learn how to work effectively with his Scoutmaster - not how to work around him.

 

If in your role as Unit Commissioner, you think its appropriate to have a discussion with the Scoutmaster, then your point of contact with the troop should be the Scoutmaster.  Not the SPL.  And I'll reiterate previous reminders about your roll being to support the Scoutmaster, and help him be successful.

 

Your job is not to be a middle man between the SPL and SM.  It is not to "run interference" or undermine the Scoutmaster.  It is not to give the SPL implicit or explicit permission to run things in a way his Scoutmaster hasn't approved.  No matter which hat you're wearing, your role is to be a mentor, a sounding board, an adviser.  That may mean that you need to explain those boundaries to the SPL if he is hoping for you to go beyond what is appropriate for your position.

 

As I'm sure you know, the relationship between an SM and an SPL is very, very important.  And, quite honestly, its not an awful thing for an SM and SPL to disagree on how the troop should be run.  It can be a powerful growth opportunity for an SPL to get some push back from his SM, and need to learn how to effectively present an argument, how to pick his battles and decide what hills are worth dying on, how to be responsible and accountable if his plans don't go well, and even how to loose an argument and support a decision that he does not agree with.  But what's key is developing an honest and effective communication channel between the SPL and SM.  That's how trust is built between the two.  Your job needs to be to strengthen that communication channel between the SPL and SM - not to get in the middle of it, or interfere with it.

 

I'll tell you why I feel strongly about this: I was once a 16 year old, very motivated SPL who did not see eye to eye with my Scoutmaster at all.  I wanted more boy led, patrol method practices.  My SM was resistant to a lot of those ideas.  In terms of resolving that conflict, a lot of mistakes were made by all involved parties, and it was one heck of a learning opportunity for me.  But it really reinforced the importance of being open, honest and direct in communication between the SM and SPL.  There should never be any efforts to distract, deceive, "run interference," or any of that.  Its not Trustworthy, and it will harm the relationship between the SM and the SPL, and in term harm the troop.  

 

You said you want to "help the SPL to get more breathing room to run the program with less SM control" -- There's no scenario where you, as a UC, have that level of influence into this troop's program.  You need to refine your goal to be more compatible with your position here.

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Yeah, I understand what you are saying, but to "stop doing it" means to say no to the SPL who asked for help and advice. Not a good option either. I am caught is territory that I should not be in, I did direct the SPL to speak to the SM, but he also asked for help. I am just trying to figure out how to do that without upsetting the apple cart.

 

Yes, that is exactly what it means. Say no to the SPL who asked for your help. It is your only good option.

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So, one question: how did the SPL come to discuss this with you?  Did he seek you out based on your role as UC?  Did you know each other through prior Scouting contact?  I think that's an important to establish which "hat" you're wearing in this situation - a Unit Commissioner, or a Scouter counseling a Scout.  

 

If the SPL sought you out as a sounding board, or simply looking for advice from an experienced Scouter, then I think your role should be limited to allowing the SPL to talk through his concerns, and provide some suggestions and guidance.  And, I think your guidance should be in the form of helping the young man learn how to work effectively with his Scoutmaster - not how to work around him.

 

If in your role as Unit Commissioner, you think its appropriate to have a discussion with the Scoutmaster, then your point of contact with the troop should be the Scoutmaster.  Not the SPL.  And I'll reiterate previous reminders about your roll being to support the Scoutmaster, and help him be successful.

 

Your job is not to be a middle man between the SPL and SM.  It is not to "run interference" or undermine the Scoutmaster.  It is not to give the SPL implicit or explicit permission to run things in a way his Scoutmaster hasn't approved.  No matter which hat you're wearing, your role is to be a mentor, a sounding board, an adviser.  That may mean that you need to explain those boundaries to the SPL if he is hoping for you to go beyond what is appropriate for your position.

So first, the topic came up sitting around with a group of Scouts and Scouters which included the SPL, and during the conversation, he brought up to the group his concerns, he asked me some specific questions, which I answered, but the tone and tack of his questions had me raising an eyebrow.

 

Second, I know my role as UC, hence the reason for me being here seeking advice, and I know I cannot, and will not "get between" the SPL and Scoutmaster.  However, that being said, my role as UC is to see if the Troop is healthy and offer suggestions and guidance if it is not.  This is what I am seeing the beginnings of, with a looming membership explosion on the horizon.

 

lastly, a question for you:

 

In your experience going through what you did, what would you have liked to have seen done, or could anything have been done by a (mostly) neutral third party to help your situation?

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In your experience going through what you did, what would you have liked to have seen done, or could anything have been done by a (mostly) neutral third party to help your situation?

 

What I would have liked, and what I actually needed, are two different things.  If you asked me at the time - yes, I'd have loved if another more experienced adult Scouters could have explained things on my behalf, told my SM the "right" way to do things, and "run interference" so that I could do it my way.

 

But that's not the right thing to do, is it?

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It would be really nice if there were a well done bit of training that a UC could point the SM to that described how it should be done. That way we could avoid this discussion about over stepping boundaries. Unfortunately, such training doesn't exist. What's left is the UC trying to find the right balance. I think it's great. Rather than perfection the goal should meerly be improvement. Just a hunch but the SM, if he has a vision of what boy led means, isn't sharing it.

 

There's nothing wrong with anyone having that discussion with him. I think what people are worried about is the tone of that discussion. If it's confrontational than of course it will not work. But if it's more along the lines of I see problems and your leadership is needed and what is your vision, plan, goals so the adults can best help then it's quite possible the SM will welcome the help.

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It would be really nice if there were a well done bit of training that a UC could point the SM to that described how it should be done. That way we could avoid this discussion about over stepping boundaries. Unfortunately, such training doesn't exist. What's left is the UC trying to find the right balance. I think it's great. Rather than perfection the goal should meerly be improvement. Just a hunch but the SM, if he has a vision of what boy led means, isn't sharing it.

 

There's nothing wrong with anyone having that discussion with him. I think what people are worried about is the tone of that discussion. If it's confrontational than of course it will not work. But if it's more along the lines of I see problems and your leadership is needed and what is your vision, plan, goals so the adults can best help then it's quite possible the SM will welcome the help.

 

Perhaps. But I am quite certain that he will not appreciate the "help" if he hears secondhand that the UC has been speaking to the SPL and COR behind his back.

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As I see it, the UC is a trusted advisor to the troop's adult leadership - particularly the key three.  

 

In this case, I think you need to find a way to engage with the SM & CC to let them know what you heard from the SPL, what you see in terms of the upcoming growth, and a recommended solution.

 

Put differently - I think you could find a way for the unit to function a bit better by going around the SM.  However, the real improvement is in getting the SM & other adult leaders on board with the real changes that need to happen.

 

Doing that is hard - but some quick thoughts:

1. Start with the SM & CC.  The SM because you need to get him aligned around the larger prize.  The CC because he's got the ability organizationally to help align other adults. 

2. Think of here is the phrase "strive to create a positive present rather than focus on a negative past".  The point here isn't that the SM is doing something wrong or needs to let go.  Instead, there's an opportunity here build for the future.  From what you see coming up, the troop needs to support a larger structure.  The SPL indicates he is ready to take on a larger role.  So - here's the opportunity to take a step in that direction.

3. There is probably a reason the SM is this hands on.  Figure that reason out.  I doubt it's because he's just relishes control.  I'm guessing that as a fairly new SM, he's trying to accomplish something  Figure out that reason - and then help guide the SM to a way to accomplish that through the SPL.

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Follow up note:

 

Apparently procrastination and delay are valuable tools.  While we were debating this topic, the SPL and the SM sat down at a PLC meeting that was called at the alst minute, where they were the only ones to show, and had an hour and a half long discussion. .

so those who voted for the SPL and SM to talk (me included) were right

and those who voted leave it alone were right!

I love this Scouting stuff

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