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Eagle94-A1

Messed Up Patrol Method

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Instead of putting this in Helicopter thread, starting a new one based on as specific issue, and one that will be raised at the upcoming adult meeting: troop elections.

Here's background. currently the Scouts can have 1 six month term of office, and then cannot run for again for that position for six months. So I  Sammy Second Class is PL from January to June, he cannot run for reelection until the next January. That was the rule before my son joined, and I've been told it is to spread the leadership roles around. Several ASMs and committee members are complaining that the same Scouts keep getting elected over and over again. They want to place term limits i.e. you can only hold a position twice.

This has been mentioned before, but one of the MCs was complaining about it last night. Said her Scout is frustrated that the same people keep getting elected, and that he has never been elected PL or SPL, only appointed to another position. He ran for SPL, and didn't get it. He ran for PL, AND VOTED FOR THE OTHER PERSON! (emphasis) I know this because he wrote his ballot, gave it to the SM, and had to leave due to family issues. Again HE VOTED FOR THE OTHER PERSON! (emphasis). I mentioned this to the MC, and was told "he didn't want PL, he wanted SPL or ASPL, because no one listens to the PLs." (not listening to the PLS is another issue, focusing on the election one first.)

Now here's the deal. I've talked to my sons to get a feel for what is going on in the troop. Regarding this particular Scout, my younger son told me who he voted for the PL who wanted the position, and that the Scout above doesn't seem to want to be PL. He didn't know about the absentee vote. Both sons stated they voted for the ones who they thought not only wanted the job, but would be good at it. And they commented  on the entire slate of candidates. Some they didn't think would do a good job, The SPL elected had been SPL before and did a good job, so they voted for him. One is involved with sports, and they were concerned his sport would interfere as it had in the past when he was SPL. One they were concerned about his lack of expereince. And the Scout above they thought was not really interested in the job, and therefor would not do a good job.

My thoughts are that the Scouts know who will, and who will not do a good job. I think they know better than the adults honestly because they are in the patrols with them and know them better. I also think expereinced Scouts know better than to make elections a popularity contest. The NSP that failed miserably had a popular PL, who was not truly interested in doing the job, and complained about it the entire term of office.

 

So to prepare for this discussion, I want your thoughts, times you've been in this situation, and how you countered the arguments for adult interference. I am one of those who cannot think fast on my feet, but rather need to think ahead and come up with points deliberatively. So your help is welcomed. Thanks in advance. 

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Yes, parents are always, "concerned."

My response is something in the order of:

Adults don't interfer with the scouts elections. 

If the position is truly respected as a leadership position, then scouts generally want the right person, not the popular person.

As scout has to earn respect. They can earn it simply by volunteering for outside responsibilities like leading the COHs, organize and lead service projects and offer to help out in program setup. That generally separates the wonna-be's from the gunna-be's.

I found that troops where the elections are just popularity context are generally programs where the adults have low expectations of the scouts' performance. 

 

Barry 

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To me leadership was always involved a few key elements.

Natural Leaders: These are the guys who will run for various positions because they are just natural leaders. These types need little encouragement to step up and lead.

Shy Leaders: These are the guys who can lead, but just not in the obvious positions like PL or SPL. Oh they *could* do it if they wanted to, but it is so far outside their comfort zone it paralyzes them. Odd thing is they have no problem being an Instructor to 15 guys or running a QM session for the troop. They just don't want the weekly attention in front of their patrol or troop.

Non-Leaders: These guys don't have the natural ability of the first group, nor the hidden ability of the second group. They can be taught to lead, but they are better followers. This is probably the largest group of guys. They will take a position but find it easier just to let other people do it.

As SM, I thought it my job to make sure mentoring and training were in place for all of these guys in order to teach them how to be leaders. All of this was based in the Patrol Method.

How Does This Relate to the OP?
Leadership cultivation by the SM is KEY!!! You have to be able to recognize the various leadership types and qualities early AND you have to cultivate them early. For example, our current SPL was a wild child when he joined with few friends, however, he proved to be gifted in adhering to process and procedure, as well as able to synthesize decision-making issues faster than his holder peers. I knew he would be SPL one day, it just took some development.

This is where SMs (or their delegates) come in. Have a program in place to mentor young leaders. Actively make that part of your program. Identify guys early and do away with arbitrary restrictions (e.g., have to be Second Class or 13 to be a Den Chief, or other rubbish like that). Encourage rotation of positions. Develop NEW positions or responsibilities for senior Scouts (e.g., JASM). I can tell you I trusted my JASM corps with 90% of what most SMs would use ASMs for...and they got it done better and faster.

Didn't mean to pontificate...just offering my experience.

EDIT: Re/Adult Interference...If I can paraphrase something I have seen @Stosh write a few times, "Invite them to have a seat in the back of the room or around the campfire and give them a cup of coffee." Unless the kids are running with scissors or about to offer a sacrifice, the adults belong observing. If opinions or advice needs giving, it should be agreed upon through with AND through the SM how/who will delivery that information.

Edited by Col. Flagg

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21 minutes ago, Eagledad said:

Yes, parents are always, "concerned."

My response is something in the order of:

Adults don't interfer with the scouts elections. 

If the position is truly respected as a leadership position, then scouts generally want the right person, not the popular person.

As scout has to earn respect. They can earn it simply by volunteering for outside responsibilities like leading the COHs, organize and lead service projects and offer to help out in program setup. That generally separates the wonna-be's from the gunna-be's.

I found that troops where the elections are just popularity context are generally programs where the adults have low expectations of the scouts' performance. 

 

Barry 

 

I agree. Especially on that last sentence.  Unfortunately the troop is very adult led. I got a compromise of sorts last year, and with the Scouts having more responsibility it was working.

Regarding  earning respect, THAT IS KEY! We have one Scout who is also complaining about not getting elected. But he has not earned the respect. In the past he has complained about duties and work. And the Scouts remember that stuff.  They want someone they can depend upon.

14 minutes ago, Col. Flagg said:

 

Leadership cultivation by the SM is KEY!!! You have to be able to recognize the various leadership types and qualities early AND you have to cultivate them early. For example, our current SPL was a wild child when he joined with few friends, however, he proved to be gifted in adhering to process and procedure, as well as able to synthesize decision-making issues faster than his holder peers. I knew he would be SPL one day, it just took some development.

This is where SMs (or their delegates) come in. Have a program in place to mentor young leaders. Actively make that part of your program. Identify guys early and do away with arbitrary restrictions (e.g., have to be Second Class or 13 to be a Den Chief, or other rubbish like that). Encourage rotation of positions. Develop NEW positions or responsibilities for senior Scouts (e.g., JASM). I can tell you I trusted my JASM corps with 90% of what most SMs would use ASMs for...and they got it done better and faster.

Didn't mean to pontificate...just offering my experience.

EDIT: Re/Adult Interference...If I can paraphrase something I have seen @Stosh write a few times, "Invite them to have a seat in the back of the room or around the campfire and give them a cup of coffee." Unless the kids are running with scissors or about to offer a sacrifice, the adults belong observing. If opinions or advice needs giving, it should be agreed upon through with AND through the SM how/who will delivery that information.

 

That's part of the problem. IMHO they are not being cultivated. We do not have regular PLCs, meetings before and/or after meetings, etc. Adults tend to jump in and take over instead of mentoring and having the Scouts learn from their mistakes.

I've tried to talk and advise. but part of the problem is the frustration the Scouts feel due to adult. Give you a good example. SPL was working with new Scouts, when a parent took over the job. SPL just walked away and started goofing off.

 

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59 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

He ran for PL, AND VOTED FOR THE OTHER PERSON! (emphasis) I know this because he wrote his ballot, gave it to the SM, and had to leave due to family issues. Again HE VOTED FOR THE OTHER PERSON!  

First of all, I am surprised and disappointed to hear that the SM shared that information with you. A secret ballot is supposed to be secret.

When a boy runs for a POR he doesn't really want, it is often because the parent is pushing him. It is no disgrace for a boy to enjoy scouting without holding a top leadership position. POR's and rank advancement are voluntary, and not every boy wants to do it.

I think it is sad that a boy would put himself up for a POR to please his parents (or anyone else), and then try his best to lose the election. 

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18 minutes ago, David CO said:

First of all, I am surprised and disappointed to hear that the SM shared that information with you. A secret ballot is supposed to be secret.

Only reason I know is that I was told by him to count the ballots. When i counted the ballots initially it was a tie, and I went to him for clarification. I am use to the SPL no longer being a patrol member, and thus not being able to vote for a PL. That's when he mentioned the absentee vote and gave it to me to count.

Personally I wish the SPL would not have voted with the patrol, excuse was he is still a member until next week, and that the SPL, or outgoing PL, counted the votes.

 

22 minutes ago, David CO said:

When a boy runs for a POR he doesn't really want, it is often because the parent is pushing him. It is no disgrace for a boy to enjoy scouting without holding a top leadership position. POR's and rank advancement are voluntary, and not every boy wants to do it.

I think it is sad that a boy would put himself up for a POR to please his parents (or anyone else), and then try his best to lose the election. 

Agree completely. I know dad is pushing him to get Eagle, and I beleive he is really the one that wants son to be SPL or ASPL. My impression from working with him as a MBC is  that he has fun with his buddies, but is only advancing to please dad. And the impression he is giving the Scouts is he doesn't want the POR.

BUT back on topic, how can we get the adults to realize that the kids know who the better leaders will be and that they will vote accordingly?

Piggy backing on David CO's comment, how can we get adults to realize that there is nothing wrong with a Scout not holding XYZ position?

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

Piggy backing on David CO's comment, how can we get adults to realize that there is nothing wrong with a Scout not holding XYZ position?

You can't. 

My troop knows how the CO feels about over-emphasizing the importance of ranks, patches, and POR's, but that has never stopped some people from doing it.   People will believe what they want to believe.

There have been times when I have been tempted to disqualify a boy from an unwanted advancement or a POR (just to get the parent off his back), but I really couldn't do that and still have a good scout program. It would upset the whole apple cart.

I have seen it done in sports, when a boy asks the coach to cut him from a team because he doesn't really want to play, but we couldn't do that sort of thing in scouting.

Edited by David CO

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2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

That's part of the problem. IMHO they are not being cultivated. We do not have regular PLCs, meetings before and/or after meetings, etc. Adults tend to jump in and take over instead of mentoring and having the Scouts learn from their mistakes.

I've tried to talk and advise. but part of the problem is the frustration the Scouts feel due to adult. Give you a good example. SPL was working with new Scouts, when a parent took over the job. SPL just walked away and started goofing off.

 

That's a real problem @Eagle94-A1. IMHO, only the SM can help the boys drive regular PLC meetings and other youth-oriented/led meetings. It is also up to him to institute the leader training and mentoring. If he isn't/doesn't want to do this would he be open to someone else (you, maybe?) doing it? Maybe the adults jumping in can help design and develop the training and leadership mentoring programs? We developed an annual troop leadership training curriculum, as well as process-based training for various roles (think: old style JLT). We did this for instructors, PLs, SPL, QMs and even scribes. By the time they were done with training they knew (and had checklists for) their jobs just fine.

To address the adults getting involved one of my former SPLs came up with this: Have a "code word" between the youth leaders and the adults that means "Please leave and let me handle this." In our unit the phrase was "I've got this!" After that was instituted, any time a Scout came to an adult and said, "I've got this." the adult HAD TO step aside, go get a cup of coffee and let the Scout handle things. The only time this DIDN'T take place was in the event of a health and safety issue.

To this day, this process has worked GREAT. It took about 18 months -- and a few ASMs leaving -- to get this accomplished, but it works. 

 

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2 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

#1 BUT back on topic, how can we get the adults to realize that the kids know who the better leaders will be and that they will vote accordingly?

#2 Piggy backing on David CO's comment, how can we get adults to realize that there is nothing wrong with a Scout not holding XYZ position?

Well, for your first question, I would always remind folks it's called BOY Scouts. It does not matter if the boys vote for the All-American SPL or for the class clown. It's THEIR decision! Period. It is just a matter of the SM and TC Chair buying in to this approach AND making sure any adult leader buys in to this too. If they don't, invite them to find another troop. We did this and only lost two  ASMs...and they were not guys we cried over losing.

For the second question, the only adult's opinion that should matter on this issue is the SM. If Bobby does not want to be JASM then everyone has to trust that Bobby knows how to manage his own schedule, demands, needs, etc. The SM (or the training ASM) should know each Scout's strengths and weaknesses, and be able to work with him to determine what's best for them. Others may not agree. If they don't, have THEM step up and run the program to train and teach and mentor these guys OR have them be SM.

Sounds like you have some ASMs that are either too impatient to let boys learn, too frustrated to watch them learn, too uninformed to know how to help the boys or a combination of all of these. Keep doing what you are doing. You know what to do. Don't give up on the boys (I know you won't). 

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1 hour ago, Col. Flagg said:

It's THEIR decision! Period. 

Not entirely. All members of a unit, youth and adult, serve at the pleasure of the Chartered Organization. The CO has the final word.

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22 minutes ago, David CO said:

Not entirely. All members of a unit, youth and adult, serve at the pleasure of the Chartered Organization. The CO has the final word.

Are you saying a charter org can tell the boys who to elect and how to elect their leaders?

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10 minutes ago, Back Pack said:

Are you saying a charter org can tell the boys who to elect and how to elect their leaders?

That's not exactly how I would put it. The CO has the final authority to ratify or nullify any or all unit decisions. The CO owns the unit.

Edited by David CO

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2 hours ago, Col. Flagg said:

To address the adults getting involved one of my former SPLs came up with this: Have a "code word" between the youth leaders and the adults that means "Please leave and let me handle this."

 

Sadly we have had Scouts point blank say "we got this" and were ignored. In one instance the Scouts left the adult to do their jobs. And in all honesty, I don't blame them

We got a combination. Some do not know what they are doing, despite being 'trained" Some are too impatient, and jump in.And we got some that get frustrated and cannot back off. I admit there was one time That I got frustrated at the situation, that I jumped in when seeing the SPL get ticked off dealing with the situation. Thankfully when he calmed down, he got me to back off and took back over.

 

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2 hours ago, David CO said:

That's not exactly how I would put it. The CO has the final authority to ratify or nullify any or all unit decisions. The CO owns the unit.

If any CO micromanaged a unit like that they’d have no guys in the troop. If my unit elected someone and the church said sorry you’d see guys leave the troop for another one next day. That’s just stupid if they do that. 

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2 hours ago, David CO said:

That's not exactly how I would put it. The CO has the final authority to ratify or nullify any or all unit decisions. The CO owns the unit.

Like all authority, a light touch goes the longest way.

The COR could try reading the riot act to imposing ASMs. That might work if his words are backed with years of experience and a solid understanding of how much the CO wants a by-the-book scouting program under its roof.

Otherwise, we're left with the SM trying to find opportunities where the boys can operate at a distance from adults, and the CC running interference while the COR fields "complaints."

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