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The correct answer is none of the above.  The Patrol Leaders Council should be discussing, approving, and planning all activities.  The SM's job is to guide that process to ensure the activities are feasible and safe.  The CC's job is to fund it and monitor against the CO's goals for its youth program.

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And a single Patrol can participate in their own activity. A troop activity is (ideally) when the patrols get together to participate in an agreed upon joint activity.

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The CC shouldn't have any role in determining whether an activity is participated in by the scouts unless it requires funding beyond that which the scouts can provide on an immediate basis.  The SM's role here shouldn't be thought of as "approval" but rather the option to exercise a "veto" if an activity is inherently unsafe or in violation of scouting principles.  And even if a veto of the exact plan proposed is necessary, the SM should be guiding the PLC as to how to modify a vetoed plan in order to make it safe enough to act on.

Beyond that, the only other control any scouters should have over troop activities would simply be in the provision of adult leadership.

If the PLC plans a camp-out that requires driving 6 hours on Friday, and returning on Saturday night, the SM doesn't need to "veto" the plan, they can simply say "OK, you have a plan, no go make sure you can find at least 2 adults willing to drive".  Then when they find out that there aren't 2 adults willing to drive a 12 hour round trip for a  16 hour event, the PLC can reconsider.

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Further example:

  • Scouts want to do an aquatic activity.
  • SM says, "Review Safe Swim Defense, tell me what you have and what you will need."
  • SPL/PL reports "We have youth with guard certifications and Fox 40 whistles, Med forms on 30 of 36 scouts, swim checks from summer camp on the 24 who attended. We need adult supervision, floats, and some way to track buddies."
  • CC makes calls to (or better yet, provides phone #s of) adults with a solid track record of supervising scout aquatics, resources for safety equipment, and any roundtable/Powderhorn notes he/she may have accumulated regarding supporting activities like the one the SPL suggested.
  • Together, SPL/PL, SM and CC set up a timeline for when and by what means the scouts can fulfill this particular vision of the pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with their mates.

So PL, SPL, SM, and CC don't have final approval authority they way most people think of it. They have an obligation to say "Yes, but safely."

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Great replies all. I will add my 2 cents because my ego requires some attention....😎

39 minutes ago, elitts said:

The CC shouldn't have any role in determining whether an activity is participated in by the scouts unless it requires funding beyond that which the scouts can provide on an immediate basis.  The SM's role here shouldn't be thought of as "approval" but rather the option to exercise a "veto" if an activity is inherently unsafe or in violation of scouting principles.  And even if a veto of the exact plan proposed is necessary, the SM should be guiding the PLC as to how to modify a vetoed plan in order to make it safe enough to act on.

Elitts explains it very well here. Additionally the SM should strive to never get to a veto, but instead guide the decision process to where the scouts eventually come to a  the conclusion that the SM would agree.

Veto is generally only used by lesser experienced troops. Generally when either or both the SM and Scouts haven't developed the skills for scouts making complex independent decisions. What I learned is that as the SM gets better at scoutmasting, and the scouts get better with the process of making independent decisions, vetos eventually go away. That is the goal.

Personally I find any envolvment for planning scout activities from the committee can make the process clumsy and time consuming. But that may be because we were a big troop with lots of adult resources at the ASM level. And, I believe the role of the main role of the  CC is to ensure the program is going the direction of the CO's vision. CC is quality control of the SM's methods for working toward the vision.

27 minutes ago, qwazse said:

So PL, SPL, SM, and CC don't have final approval authority they way most people think of it. They have an obligation to say "Yes, but safely."

I have never been a fan of the idea that adults are the safety check valve for the scouts. Why can't the scouts learn to do that?

Adults are accustom to being the check valve for safety and judge of ideas based from their life experiences as parents. What they have to learn to do is think of themselves as resources for the scouts. Some parts of planning just may require an adult, so the adult needs to see themselves a providing a service to the scouts. Adults tend to judge scouts ideas, and that is dangerous because I have watched scouts loose their enthusiasm for ideas simply from an adult interjecting a differing opinion. I have also seen scouts plan amazing trips even while the adults felt the scouts bit off more than they could chew. Trips to Alaska and Montana come to mind. The scouts made it happen even though the adults doubted their plan.

If the CC feels they need to be part of the approval, then as qwazse points out, they are part of the team and a resource. Not the judge or check valve to say no. The scouts should learn and get the chance to become the check valve based from the resource information provided to them. We taught this process at NYLT (JLTC).

And it's fun to watch once everyone understands their roles. Scouts can do amazing things that adults don't even imagine.

Barry

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2 hours ago, elitts said:

... the SM doesn't need to "veto" the plan, they can simply say "OK, you have a plan, no go make sure you can find at least 2 adults willing to drive".  ...

LOL ... We've had to do that before.  Scouts were very aggressive in their plans.  I was impressed with their vision.  I just didn't want to be the guy driving.  ... but they did find the needed leaders.  

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I often wonder if this has to do with the terms we use.  Scoutmaster implies "master" as in-charge.  Committee chair infers "overseeing".  But the scoutmaster is more a coach or even a friendly mentor.  He is only "master" when safety is the issue.  Committee chair implies focal point OVER the SM and scouts.  But in reality, the CC is more a logistics focal point.  He's not in charge of any scout, the SM or any ASM.

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I agree with @fred8033, that sometimes folks read the wrong thing into their titles.

Any CC/SM who sees themselves as "gatekeeper" also needs to be very aware of the competition. Using different words, TL/USA is positioning itself as able to deliver on the promise of scouting to boys in ways that they claim BSA can't. My relatives are having a grand old time because they hear more "yes" from their TL/USA adults than they did from their former SM.

I suspect some of that will change as the organization grows, and lawyers see the cash value of that target.

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5 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I often wonder if this has to do with the terms we use.  Scoutmaster implies "master" as in-charge.  Committee chair infers "overseeing".  But the scoutmaster is more a coach or even a friendly mentor.  He is only "master" when safety is the issue.  Committee chair implies focal point OVER the SM and scouts.  But in reality, the CC is more a logistics focal point.  He's not in charge of any scout, the SM or any ASM.

Hmmm.  I never thought of it as "in-charge". 

I always thought the term Scoutmaster implied one who had mastery of the skills and wisdom needed to successfully navigate the outdoor and advancement program.  More along the lines of a teacher or mentor than an authoritarian figure. 

Like a young padawan following the teachings of the Jedi master....(but without light sabers, since those are not allowed by G2SS).

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6 minutes ago, qwazse said:

I agree with @fred8033, that sometimes folks read the wrong thing into their titles.

Any CC/SM who sees themselves as "gatekeeper" also needs to be very aware of the competition. Using different words, TL/USA is positioning itself as able to deliver on the promise of scouting to boys in ways that they claim BSA can't. My relatives are having a grand old time because they hear more "yes" from their TL/USA adults than they did from their former SM.

I suspect some of that will change as the organization grows, and lawyers see the cash value of that target.

What is "TL/USA"?    Never heard of it...

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7 hours ago, karunamom3 said:

Who gives final approval on your Troop's activities the SM or CC?

The final word belongs to the Chartered Organization. 

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20 hours ago, qwazse said:

... TL/USA is positioning itself as able to deliver on the promise of scouting to boys in ways that they claim BSA can't ...

Never heard of TL/USA.  ;)  

@qwazse ... I keep re-thinking your comment.  It's always been in the back of my head.  "the promise of scouting".  I fear we, as adults leaders, get so focused and passionate about the BSA aims and goals that we forget why the scouts choose to be in scouting.  Personally, I think it's ridiculous to think scouts show up to scout meetings to learn leadership, develop character or become better citizens.  Even to learn skills is a big stretch.   

BSA's "Why scouting?" talks to parents and charter org representatives, but it does not talk to the scouts who are the main audience of the program.   https://www.scouting.org/discover/why-scouting/    I fear that we also forget the why of scouting.

Scouting offers the scouts

  • A structure to build friendships
  • A program to try new things and get new experiences
  • A home away from home

KEY POINT - We as adult leaders need to spend way more time and energy discussing and planning how to help the scouts meet their aims and goals.  We already obsess on BSA's aims and goals.  Let's help the scouts achieve theirs.  

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3 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

... It's always been in the back of my head.  "the promise of scouting".  I fear we, as adults leaders, get so focused and passionate about the BSA aims and goals that we forget why the scouts choose to be in scouting.  Personally, I think it's ridiculous to think scouts show up to scout meetings to learn leadership, develop character or become better citizens.  Even to learn skills is a big stretch.   

BSA's "Why scouting?" talks to parents and charter org representatives, but it does not talk to the scouts who are the main audience of the program.   https://www.scouting.org/discover/why-scouting/    I fear that we also forget the why of scouting....

I think the Cub program actually gets it down to simplest terms in their marketing materials. "Build your Adventure." Pretty simple. I think that's why kids want to join. They see these posters and fliers we put out there showing pictures of kids their age camping, hiking, building PWD cars, firing off model rockets, etc. It's an adventure, that's what kids want.

One of the things that frequently comes up at our committee meetings is the challenge to deliver on the promise of adventure. I actually make it a point in my presentations to the Pack on recruiting that our single greatest asset for recruiting is that promise, and our single greatest asset for retention is repeated delivery of that promise.

It's also one of the hardest things to do.

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