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So one  of the parents that caused problems wants to know if it was true I left because of her. I wrote a letter and was going to send it to her. Just typing the letter was closure. I am now debating whether to actually send it. Not because I am concerned about any confrontation or what not. But because I do not think it will make any difference. I do not think she will read it, and if she did, she would ignore it anyway. But I am going to share for your thoughts.

XXXXXXX,

Leaving a troop is never easy. You invest so much blood, sweat, tears, time, and treasure. Invaluable friendships are made. And you are leaving youth you have worked with for some time that you know are going to grow into self-reliant, productive men. This is the fifth time in my 36 year Scouting career I have had to say “good bye,” and it was the hardest choice to make. I feel like I am letting my friends down, who like me have put in tremendous amounts of time, energy and treasure to support the youth. I feel like I am letting [LATE SCOUTMASTER}  down since I made a promise to him before he died not to let the troop die out again. And I feel like I am abandoning my Scouts in their time of need. That is the worse feeling. I’ve known many of them since they were Cub Scouts either in Pack XXX or attending day camp. But my number one concern is my sons. No matter how I feel about a situation, I need to look after their best interest.  I also needed to look after my own health, and my wife’s. Sadly our best interest was to transfer to another troop. You see after five years of ups and downs, the troop took a turn for the worse and when I left there seemed no end in sight. The problem the troop was having was affecting everyone Scouts, Scouters, me, and my wife. I had to leave. But I am hoping that the policies that {CHARTER ORGANIZATION} implemented will solve the problem.

 

The problem is adults with no knowledge, skills, or experience in the Boy Scout program interfering with the Patrol Method.  Since their only experience in the Scouting Movement is Cub Scouts, they are seeking a continuation of Cub Scouts. They want adults to be “leaders” doing things for the Scouts that the Scouts need to do themselves. These adults after repeated discussions and counseling sessions still do not understand that the reason for allowing the Scouts independence is so they can can grow in confidence, knowledge, and experience, not only in camping, but in life. Adults should only intervene for safety issues, because Scouts learn not only from their successes, but also from their failures. When adults interfere, they are taking away those learning opportunities, and causing the Scouts to rely on the adult. This hurts the Scout in the long run. Again this is Boy Scouts, soon Scouts BSA, and not Cub Scouts.

 

Best example of a Scout learning from his mistakes would be my oldest son. As a Webelos, I gave him some cold weather camping advice, specifically do not sleep with your coat on, you will be miserable when you wake up. He didn’t follow the advice, and was miserable when he woke up the next morning. He has never slept with a coat on again.

 

 In Boy Scouts, we use the Patrol Method. Patrols are the building blocks of a Boy Scout troop. A patrol is a small group of boys who are similar in age, development, and interests. Working together as a team, patrol members share the responsibility for the patrol's success. The also learn the importance of keeping their word, being dependable and being held accountable. They gain confidence by serving in positions of patrol leadership and having assigned tasks. As the Scouts progress, troop level positions of increased responsibility occur: Senior Patrol leader, Quartermaster, etc.

 

So when the adult interfered with the Star Scout Patrol Leader (PL) trying to teach the new Scouts how to cook and KP, it was a major problem. When the adult took over cooking and KP, he not only took away a leadership opportunity from the Star Scout, but also an opportunity for his son to grow in maturity and independence. That Star Scout was so infuriated over the situation, he had to walk away and vent. 

 

Another time an adult interfered and almost caused a problem was during a fundraiser. A First Class Scout Patrol Leader was following the instructions of his Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) gave him, when an adult told him to stop what he was doing and do something else. The PL had no idea who was contradicting the SPL because he had never seen him before, nor was the adult in uniform. Thankfully I ran into the PL, and asked what to do. I told him to follow the SPL's instructions.

 

A third time adults interfered that I know about was the last camporee with two incidents. First incident was when I ran into the SPL walking away from the troop. He did that to remain calm and vent. He told me every single instruction he gave on setting up camp was being contradicted by two adults. He stated the adults were not letting him do his job. As a result of their interference, it was taking twice as long to set up because of the confusion. Also gear was getting wet that could have remained dry if the SPL’s instruction would have been followed. I could not only understand why it was taking so long to set up camp, but also his frustration with the situation.

 

The second situation I heard about after the camporee.  Adults took over the Quartermaster (QM) duties. In stead of allowing the QM to follow the SPL’s instructions and distribute the patrols’ gear to their members, two adults took over. This deprived the QM of a chance to take on responsibility and grow in experience. Further the adults didn’t even follow the Patrol Method of each patrol only using their assigned gear and no other. These adults were giving out gear with no care as to who is was suppose to go to. The irony is that one of the adults once commented that “Once you get your assigned gear, you are responsible for it. If you break it, you are paying to fix it.” Apparently the previous two trips the gear was used, it was distributed in a similar manner by these adults. When a patrol QM and an Assistant Patrol Leader inspected their assigned gear prior to camporee, on patrol was missing two tents, with the remaining tents having tears, mildew, and even missing poles. The other patrol had tents with mildew and tears. So both Scouts organized their patrols’ gear and had slated what needed to be repaired. So when the Patrol QM asked where was his patrol’s tents they selected for use, he was told not to worry about it, just set up the tents he was given. This discouraged the Scouts from doing preparation in the future, and also took responsibility for tents away from the Patrols. After all if there is a problem with their tents, they can just use another patrols instead of accepting responsibility and dealing with the consequences. A great life lesson lost.

 

Another area that is causing problems is Advancement. Advancement is not only the process of going from rank to rank, but also the way to encourage the ongoing involvement and commitment that keeps members coming back for more. While learning the skills is important, the primary goal is personal growth through age-appropriate surmountable hurdles. From these challenges they learn about themselves and gain confidence. Success is achieved when we  develop a Scout physically, mentally morally. We know we are on the right track when we see youth accepting responsibility, demonstrating self-reliance, and caring for themselves and others; not when they become and Eagle Scout. And the Boy Scout is suppose to plan his advancement and progresses at his own pace. 

 

Sadly Troop XX has adults who are still stuck on the Cub Scout model of advancement: advancement as a group with the standard being “Do Your Best.” This standard is completely different from the Boy Scout model of advancing at your own pace, “master the skills,” and “The badge represents what a Scout CAN DO, not what he has done” (sic). They are pushing and pushing both their sons and the Scouters in the troop to advance. This is hurting not only their own Scouts but the other Scouts in the troop. It hurts their Scouts because they are earning advancement without having the confidence of actually mastering it. Again the “badge represents what a Scout CAN DO, not what he has done.”  If a Scout does not have the confidence to do a skill, when it is needed, potentially in a life threatening situation, can that Scout be deepened upon to do what is needed?

 

I’ll give you an example. A First Class Scout and above should have the knowledge, skills, abilities and confidence to not only take care of themselves, but also others in the outdoors. When I got hypothermia in Canada, it was a Star Scout who recognized I had hypothermia, and began treating me. While the adults were informed and did visit me, they did not do any additional first aid because that Star Scout and the other Scouts did everything by the book: got a fire started, helped me remove wet clothes, got shelter up, wrapped a dry sleeping bag around me, and gave me hot fluids. Those Scouts saved my life. Unfortunately I do not think some of the First Class Scouts in the troop today have the confidence to save a life.

 

And the push for advancement is affecting the other Scouts in the troop. One Scout lost all interest in advancement because “it doesn’t matter if you know it or not, they will just give it to you.” This was made after a Scout, whose parents pushed and pushed to get their son get advancement, yet the Scout would sneak off when work was to be done or sneak out and sleep with his parents instead of camping with his patrol. Another Scout was losing interest in the troop because he saw Scouts advancing beyond their capabilities.When they were suppose to do things they have already done, that Scout could not rely on them to do the assigned work in the patrol.

 

The continued demand for Cub Scout style family camping was determinant for leaving. Adults who understand that they need to leave the Scouts alone and let them go through the Patrol Leader to Senior Patrol Leader to Scoutmaster chain of command I do not have a problem with. But adults who are constantly meddling in the affairs of the patrol is a problem. It is not Scouting. The Scouts learn nothing except to depend on adults. And when it is time to be on their own, they are unable to cope. Even with adults observing changes patrol dynamics. Scouts are less willing to try new things, gain new experiences, and they rely to much on the adult to intervene. Yes, Scouters are there for emergencies, but out of presence, out of mind. By not being visible they Scouts are willing to try new things, and learn, even through failure, in a safe environment.

 

Further the Cub Scout style family camping, and adding siblings, is a problem. Not only does it increase the adult interference as I stated above, but also it limits the places the Scouts can go and activities they can do. Further it hurts the sibling in the long term. Scouts want adventure, they do not want the same thing over and over again. They want to go to new places and do new things. By having family camping, the Scouts end up doing what families want, not what they want. And having siblings causes problems. On one campout, a sibling was interfering with the patrol breaking camp. When the First Class Scout Patrol Leader told the sibling he needed to go back to his parents, the sibling yelled “NO!” and proceeded to ignore the PL. Which is when I had to intervene. On another camp out, the sibling was all over the catapult the Scouts built as they were preparing to fire. The Range Safety Officer had to intervene in that case. As I mentioned, taking siblings hurt the sibling in the long run. Twice I have seen this. First time was when and ASM was constantly taking his Webelos son camping with the troop. This led to the Webelos accompanying dad on a 64 mile canoe trip in the Canadian wilderness with us. While the Webelos was fully capable of handling the situation, when he did became a Boy Scout, he got bored with the routine trips, and quit within 6 months. My youngest son is the second case. He has been doing Cub Scout family camping for so long, he has no interest in the Cub Scout family camp outs the council has put on the past 3 years. And currently he is impatient to become a Boy Scout next month.

            Finally the drama the inexperienced adults were creating caused me to leave. I was getting frustrated trying to mentor them, work with them and being ignored. Also being given the choice of doing it their way or they would leave on camp outs showed me that I could not depend upon them to honor commitments they made. That threat to leave when the troop was depending upon them was made several times, and did occur once. Having to deal with that is a major distraction to my primary job: providing the best possible Scouting experience to the Scouts.

 

            At the committee organization meeting after (LATE SCOUTMASTER) death, one adult implied a lawsuit should anything happen to his son. He wanted the Scouters to give a 100% guarantee that nothing will happen to his son. There is no way anyone can give that 100% guarantee: not teachers, not coaches, not Scouters, and not even parents. All of the Scouters on trips have taken the minimum training, and most have taken advanced training. The current Scouters  in the troop have current, or very recently expired first aid, wilderness first aid, first aid instructor, Safe Swim Defense, Safety Afloat, both Aquatic Supervision courses, Climb On Safely, and health care professional level certifications. I know the SM not only has Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills, but staffed a course. Another Scouter was the district training chairman. The Scouters will do anything and everything to protect the lives of the Scouts. I am reminded of that commitment every time I get out of the shower and look in the mirror. I have a six inch scar that reminds me of the time I was coming back from a successful rescue and became a victim myself. That successful rescue caused me to have 3 months of pain, a surgery, and 5 months of physical therapy. The Scouters in the troop were the ones who took care of not only the Scout, but also myself. I know they do everything humanely possible to provide a safe environment for our Scouts.

 

            And having to deal with the unexpected  is why we want the Scouts to be challenged, we want them to “master the skills” instead of a “one and done” or Cub Scout “do your best” standard. We want them to be able to handle themselves if they were to get in an accident. so they can avoid situations and take care of themselves and others. Scouts have a long history of dealing with emergency situations. You can  read about some of them in SCOUTS IN ACTION cartoons in Boys' Life magazine.

 

            So that is why I left Troop XX, the interference and drama adults were causing. My job as an ASM is to support the Scouts, not deal with the drama adults are causing.

 

Now regarding your question about advancement. Your son, not an adult, needs to contact the SM about taking a MB. The SM will  give him a name to contact and some type of record keeping instrument, whether a Blue Card or telling him to download the workbook, so that the counselor can sign off on requirements as your son completes them, Once completed, he gives the completed records to records to the SM. And I advise that he makes a copy as a back up.

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Eagle94-A1,

If you send it to her, I think she will read it, get fired up and retaliate. Maybe she'll just continue to mess things up in your old troop, but she'll find a way to respond.

If writing the letter brings closure, then close it. I know you won't, but it was a thought. Your letter was eloquent, detailed, and masterful. But you still won't let it go. For the sake of your sanity, put all of your scouting time into the new troop. They really do need that passion that you show for scouting. Don't shortchange your new troop.

sst3rd

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I largely agree with @sst3rd.  

My letter would be something like:

Quote

Leaving a troop is never easy. You invest so much blood, sweat, tears, time, and treasure. Invaluable friendships are made. And you are leaving youth you have worked with for some time that you know are going to grow into self-reliant, productive men. This is the fifth time in my 36 year Scouting career I have had to say “good bye,” and it was the hardest choice to make. I feel like I am letting my friends down, who like me have put in tremendous amounts of time, energy and treasure to support the youth.

My sons and I enjoy participating in a Troop that follows the intent of the patrol method.  As much as I love this troop, I feel that over time we are becoming less patrol method oriented and increasingly focused on adults doing things for the Scouts that the Scouts need to do themselves.  It was really hard, but we all decided to start again in a more patrol method oriented troop.

I wish you all the best in the troop as you all continue your journey in Scouting.

Best of luck!

Edited by ParkMan
clarified an idea.
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Thanks folks. Yes. I don't think she would get it. And yes. she is the type to retaliate. But just writing the that out was cathartic.

 

Edited by Eagle94-A1
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You never have to lie or mis-represent, but neither do you need to explain things in detail.  The best separations are short and gracious.   AND, even more so if you are upset with each other.  

If you feel the need to share, do it face-to-face.  Use it as a chance to heal and to re-build a connection with the other person.  But if your intention is to not heal and re-connect, then just don't do it.  

 

Edited by fred8033
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Even shorter than @ParkMan's, I would say ...

Quote

Leaving a this troop is never easy  became a no-brainer. You invest so much blood, sweat, tears, time, and treasure. Invaluable friendships are made. And you are leaving youth you have worked with for some time that you know are going to grow into self-reliant, productive men. This is the fifth time in my 36 year Scouting career I have had to say “good bye,” and it was the hardest choice to make. I feel like I am letting my friends down, who like me have put in tremendous amounts of time, energy and treasure to support the youth.

My sons and I enjoy participating are now having a snot load of fun in a Troop that follows the intent of the gives the boys the long leash that is needed to experience a patrol method in the true sense of the word.  As much as I love this troop, I feel that over time we are becoming less patrol method oriented and increasingly focused on adults doing things for the Scouts that the Scouts need to do themselves.  It was really hard, but we all decided to start again in a more patrol method oriented troop. Nobody is stressing out over advancement, and recognition is based strictly on skills acquired. Heck, if my sons never earn another merit badge but go out and come home with smiles on their faces like what I saw this weekend, I'll be a happy man. 

I wish you all the best in the troop  the very same free-range experience for your son. as you all continue your journey in When you are interested in seriously delivering on the promise of Scouting., look me up. I'll be at the campfire a hundred yards away from the nearest patrol.

This is definitely one of those "less is more" situations.

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I think it is an eloquent explanation of what we should strive for in Scouting.  I am not so sure I could do as well. 

I like the way you made it as anonymous as possible.  I am sure the folks involved would recognize themselves, none the less.  I would go thru it and remove even veiled references  ("... his son.." make it "another Scout..." ). 

Personally, I would add a short introduction, and say " You asked me if you were the reason I left the Troop. There were several reasons.  " and go on from there.

I think I would send it.  Some people need to be reminded of their own humanity.  You might shake some dross from their cabinets.  And save the son.  

 

The downfall of democracy ?   Velcro shoe fastening...… 

 

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Great explanation. 

You don't owe her that explanation, and as others mentioned, it likely will not change anything. Feedback is a two way street and the receiver in this case has shown no signs she's willing to receive that feedback. 

Again, you do not owe her an explanation, no matter how much she demands one. You don't owe anybody from the troop an explanation unless you like them enough to let them in on it. Do not worry about the Troop dying. Almost no institutions last forever. You made attempts above and beyond to help that troop, and the committee nor the Scoutmaster, or the COR were willing to do what you believed was necessary. It was time for a split to happen. Don't look back. 

Enjoy your new trip, your Sons enjoying Scouting again, and reclaiming your sanity. You put up with way more than I ever would have. 

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I share a great deal with your perspective on how things should be.  A lot of echos on things I saw going on in my sons previous troop.  It took about a year for me to really see that no one else really cared for any feedback and the majority of the adult leadership were still Cub oriented and I was the minority.  I just took to clamming up and keeping myself as much at a distance as I could from the adults, while still trying to be helpful to the youth.  I endured another two years of it, and would have gone longer, but thankfully my son came to realize that how the troop was operating just wasn't how it should operate, and what he had missed along his journey to Eagle because of it.  Today, he's regained some of his lost enthusiasm, and splitting time between his new troop and new crew has given him some of those experiences that were lacking (with more to come) to just enjoy scouting.  When I have been asked by some of the adults that are (or previously were) with the old troop, I just point out the decision to leave was my sons, not mine, but I support his feelings.  As much as I would love if the Key 3 would want to sit down for a coffee talk to explore the details and what can be learned from them, it isn't going to happen, and forcing it doesn't feel to be the right thing to do for me.  

I respect your need to get it out.  Thankfully there is an adult in the new troop that is friends to adults in the old troop that knows some of the things that go on and that they are not really as wonderful and fantastic as that troop makes them out to be, so he and I could swap stories when I first got involved there.  That gave me a good "vent" period, but I'm over it now.  My son moved on and was clear from the get go with his friends in the old troop that he was only going forward, not backward- so I took my lead from him and did the same.  It sounds from your various posts your sons have the same attitude of my son, and that might be because of the good example they have absorbed from their parents :)  Take strength in that.  If you feel that you need to even address this person in any manner, take some of the suggestions from @qwazse and @ParkMan and just make it about the positives of what your sons are experiencing now.  All the rest is the past, and there's no need to dwell in it.  Yeah, it hurts that the youth left behind will never get all that they should, but focus now on being part of helping the new troop deliver to their youth.

  

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Great letter, but, as you said, it was probably more helpful to you than to the intended recipient.  Thanks for sharing it. I think we can all see snapshots of some things we as adults in Scouting have experienced.

 

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I'm glad you got it all off your chest, but If i was the recipient, I don't think I would even bother reading the entire email.  Talk about a long winded response. 

 

You are no longer a leader of the old troop, it is not your responsibility to explain yourself to anyone in that unit.

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Even shorter....

Her: “I heard you left the Troop because of me, is that true?”

You: “Yes”

The letter was great, but probably better for the SM and CC vs a parent; however, I think I remember you already talked with them and they have responded.

For her, you can simply say the Troop was not aligned with the primary mission of Boy Scouts, even after attempting to change it, so you sought out a Troop that was.  I am concerned that there are many others like her (both men and women) joining scouting....

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After reading this and taking a bit to think it over, I sense your frustration on the entire situation.  This has been building up for some time it seems.  I can relate to much of what you mentioned as I spent 30 years in scout units supported by the military.  Many adults tried to apply military standards and discipline into the troops.  Luckily, there were always a few of us that could reel them in.  We were lucky that way.  With military-supported units, we had turnover of leaders and boys every few years to refresh the unit.  

    If you are going to send this letter, it should be kept at the professional level and not personal towards anyone.  I copy to the unit commissioner, chartered org rep, and committee is not whistleblowing, but each has an interest in the health of the unit and adult leadership assigned.  As a commissioner, I would really take note of this and anytime a leader feels like you do and is not leaving scouting, but leaving a unit is a concern. 

    With your departure, I don't see much change going to happen unless something or someone happens to look into issues.  I think the adult patrol, if there is one of old gray beards and curls, could benefit of a scout-o-rama or camporee where multiple troops are close and they can see how other adult patrols and youth patrols do things.

No easy solution to this problem that has plagued scouting since the beginning.      

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Did the person ask you directly?  In email?  Face to face?  Through someone else? 

I think that short and vague is the way to go, if you choose to reply at all.   Something like, 

"My family has had X great years with Troop XYZ. Recently we've had struggles with campouts and other activities. (or other brief but not-too-specific or accusatory phrase of your choice) It was a difficult decision, especially with our long history and many friends in the troop, but it was the right time for us to move on and we are satisfied with that decision.  We wish everyone in Troop XYZ all the best. " 

 

"Recently we've struggled with some issues related to the patrol method, advancement, and camping"

 

Edited by WisconsinMomma
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