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Scouter4Family

SM dividing the troop in need of opinion

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This is a very interesting topic, because I can see in the original post a little bit of what might be happening in our troop.  It started this year.  The older boys, the SM, and both ASMs went to Philmont, while the remaining Scouts went to a standard summer camp with a very dedicated committee member.  I looked at it as a special circumstance because obviously Philmont is a fantastic experience for the boys who get to go.  However, at the very next meeting after camp and the trek, a suggestion for doing a high adventure camp at Summit Bechtel next summer was brought up by the SM's son and an ASM's son.  It was VERY clear that they'd been planning this for some time, and I wonder how much the SM and ASM were involved.  I raised my hand and asked where the first and second year Scouts would be going, and was told, "oh, well there's a regular camp ... they can go to there." 

I don't love this idea of splintering a troop's summer camp every year, although I do understand the older boys (of which my son is one) wanting to do older boy stuff.  I'd sooner it was maybe an every-other-year thing.  I'm a huge supporter of the traditional Boy Scout summer camp experience, and I think that experience is better for the younger Scouts when they've got some older Scouts around.

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LOL, "traditional" for my Aunt who was a Campfire Girl during the depression era was multiple weeks under canvas, with hikes in the Catskills.

In general, I'm not a fan of big ticket scouting. That said, on our big-ticket years, I also ASM'd summer camp. This year with world jamboree was the exception, but that was because there were plenty of ASMs to step in, so getting myself "out of the way" seemed like a good idea.

My strong preference is for older boys to take what they've learned at an HA base and apply it locally. Home-grown trips are far more cost-effective, making summer camp and the super-activity affordable for the cost of one Summit week.

But, even then American youths' schedules are all over the place. So even if they can afford more time, they might not have it.

If this sort of thing persists, ask around other troops and see if you all can buddy up your younger scouts for summer camp. Just because you are dividing an conquering, it doesn't mean you are divisive.

Edited by qwazse

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I think it's great if older scouts want to peel off and plan some summer HA outings. After a certain number of years, many of them are bored with traditional summer camp, which some of them have been doing for years. Neither of my sons are HA types but I support any scout that is. I see too much HA as a good problem to have, not a bad one. 

 

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3 hours ago, SteveMM said:

This is a very interesting topic, because I can see in the original post a little bit of what might be happening in our troop.  It started this year.  The older boys, the SM, and both ASMs went to Philmont, while the remaining Scouts went to a standard summer camp with a very dedicated committee member.  I looked at it as a special circumstance because obviously Philmont is a fantastic experience for the boys who get to go.  However, at the very next meeting after camp and the trek, a suggestion for doing a high adventure camp at Summit Bechtel next summer was brought up by the SM's son and an ASM's son.  It was VERY clear that they'd been planning this for some time, and I wonder how much the SM and ASM were involved.  I raised my hand and asked where the first and second year Scouts would be going, and was told, "oh, well there's a regular camp ... they can go to there." 

I don't love this idea of splintering a troop's summer camp every year, although I do understand the older boys (of which my son is one) wanting to do older boy stuff.  I'd sooner it was maybe an every-other-year thing.  I'm a huge supporter of the traditional Boy Scout summer camp experience, and I think that experience is better for the younger Scouts when they've got some older Scouts around.

"it was very clear" ... I would not infer hidden planning or subverting efforts.   When my sons did high adventure, ... as they left the high adventure ... they wanted to do more high adventures.  They started planning and discussing during the hours of driving and flying.    Wanting to do the next big thing is a natural result of a successful high adventure.  I think they did something similar where they found the next big thing even before they got back.  

"every other year" ... From what I've seen of a successful older boy program, that's just not acceptable.  That will give each scout one chance for high adventure.  You will lose the older scouts.  IMHO, the successful older boy program is more "every few months".  A big summer event / trip (aka high adventure).  Moderately big fall, winter and spring events.  The real challenge is managing cost and adult time for these events.  

My view of a reasonable position ... The SPL and SM have responsibility to the troop as a whole.  That is a commitment they make by having the role / title.  Any single patrol can make alternative plans (aka older boys planning high adventure) ... BUT ... the SPL, PLC and SM have responsibility for the troop as a whole.  IMHO ... you could have a 14 year old SPL and a older boy patrol that wants to focus on high adventures.  There is no rule saying the SPL must be one of the older boys.  

Edited by fred8033
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Thanks for all the input and advise.  After thinking about it and reading post I have decided that the root problem is that most of our scouts don't understand that they have SO much control of their scouting career.  I need to work on getting them to understand that and truly let them create their adventure, let them become leaders.  The communication block between SM and other leaders would be very nice and make everything so much easier but it is not needed if the scouts are empowered.  There is a lot of good things happening in our troop (credit to SM mostly) to focus on and I would hate to jeopardize that.  

 

Thanks again and Happy Scouting!! 

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On 9/10/2019 at 10:48 AM, Scouter4Family said:

Thanks for all the input and advise.  After thinking about it and reading post I have decided that the root problem is that most of our scouts don't understand that they have SO much control of their scouting career.  I need to work on getting them to understand that and truly let them create their adventure, let them become leaders.  The communication block between SM and other leaders would be very nice and make everything so much easier but it is not needed if the scouts are empowered.  There is a lot of good things happening in our troop (credit to SM mostly) to focus on and I would hate to jeopardize that.  

Thanks again and Happy Scouting!! 

Good luck !

I do want to make a comment on ... "The communication block between SM and other leaders would be very nice and make everything so much easier but it is not needed if the scouts are empowered."

I hugely disagree.  There is nothing worse in a troop than mixed messages from different leaders.  All adults in the troop need to be on-board with the SM vision, especially the ASMs.  If you want to help "empower" the scouts, work with the SM and make sure he understands, agrees and shows some "buy-in".  

This may not be your situation, but I've seen adults clash and future problems develop because one or two adults are pushing change without good coordination with the SM and CC.

The key point is ASMs are NOT junior SMs.  The SM is the mentor / coach to the scouts.  ASMs help the SM succeed at the direction and coordination of the SM.  You wrote "I need to work on getting them".  Actually, no you don't.  That's the scoutmasters job.  

Build a relationship / friendship with the SM>  It will make life easier.  

Edited by fred8033
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On 9/11/2019 at 11:24 AM, fred8033 said:

There is nothing worse in a troop than mixed messages from different leaders.  All adults in the troop need to be on-board with the SM vision, especially the ASMs.  If you want to help "empower" the scouts, work with the SM and make sure he understands, agrees and shows some "buy-in".  

Agreed. 

 

On 9/11/2019 at 11:24 AM, fred8033 said:

Build a relationship / friendship with the SM>  It will make life easier.  

Yes sir, I agree....and have tried for 3 years.  The troop is 40 scouts strong now, to much for 1 person to handle.  If I see a struggle in one section of the troop, I will do what I can to assist, to make it better. A solid relationship and effective communication is something that I will remain hopeful for but at the end of the day it’s all about the scouts. 

 

On 9/11/2019 at 11:24 AM, fred8033 said:

This may not be your situation, but I've seen adults clash and future problems develop because one or two adults are pushing change without good coordination with the SM and CC.

Part of the root problem is that 15 of the scouts came from my wife’s and I pack and the rest from SM pack, so I feel an obligation to them.  SM and CC are married. Both good people and handle their roles well but it does take a certain aspect out of the equation. For me this is a non issue because the benefit outweighs that aspect.   There is parents that just show up or drop off their scouts, I am not one of those parents, I show up wanting to help anytime that work doesn’t get in the way. So to be treated like a parent that “just shows up” is hard....so for me personally I don’t want a public thanks when tasks are done, all I want is basic respect in the form of effective communication....and I think this goes for most Adult Leaders. 

 

This is post has gone a lot deeper than I intended, but I have gotten a lot out of from you alls experience. Thanks again. 

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5 minutes ago, Scouter4Family said:

"The troop is 40 scouts strong now, to much for 1 person to handle.  If I see a struggle in one section of the troop, I will do what I can to assist, to make it better. A solid relationship and effective communication is something that I will remain hopeful for but at the end of the day it’s all about the scouts."

Well, if the troop is being run properly, there shouldn't be just one person handling it. The Patrol Leader Council, under the leadership of the Senior Patrol Leader, should be running things, and they in turn are supported and assisted by the Scoutmaster and at least one but ideally two or three ASMs. It sounds to me like your Scouts still operate under the firm thumb of the adults involved, and have not been given any remotely like the autonomy with which Scouting is supposed to empower them. As is almost ALWAYS the case, the adults need to back off and let the boys run their own program.

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34 minutes ago, The Latin Scot said:

Well, if the troop is being run properly, there shouldn't be just one person handling it. The Patrol Leader Council, under the leadership of the Senior Patrol Leader, should be running things, and they in turn are supported and assisted by the Scoutmaster and at least one but ideally two or three ASMs. It sounds to me like your Scouts still operate under the firm thumb of the adults involved, and have not been given any remotely like the autonomy with which Scouting is supposed to empower them. As is almost ALWAYS the case, the adults need to back off and let the boys run their own program.

You are reading into it wrong. The issue outlined in this post is such a small aspect of what happens in the troop as a whole. Yes, the troop is scout ran, the adults stay behind the scenes.  But a lot of logistics happen behind the scenes as it does in all troops.   I was only looking for opinions on pertinent topic. 

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Hi @Scouter4Family

I agree fully that you ought to watch what else is going on and talk with the Scoutmaster before acting too much here.

But, your premise makes sense here.  In an ideal world, a troop of 200 could be run by the SPL with guidance from the SM.  ASMs would simply help with spot tasks as needed.  But, I've found that very often, Scouts benefit from a bit of friendly adult guidance.  So, if the Scoutmaster is more interested in working with the older Scouts, then it makes a lot of sense for someone to work with the younger Scouts.

At 40 Scouts, it is not unreasonable to see some individualized activities for the different age ranges:

  • ages 11-13
  • ages 13-15
  • ages 16+

Each of these could have an ASM who spends some time with the patrols at that age range to help nudge them towards asking the right questions. 

Of course, this all needs to be coordinated with the SM and SPL.

Also - it sounds like your troop has gone from about 25 to 40 scouts pretty quickly.  With that, it's not unusual for their to be challenges to the system.

One thing I would suggest - when the SM does retire - break the practice of having a married CC & SM.  While it may work for you - its not a very good idea.

Edited by ParkMan
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I am going to preface this with a disclaimer, I have never been a SM or ASM, but I have been SPL, ASPL, and gone through similar to this circumstance,  where the SM was focusing on his son's patrol and their needs rather than the troops, it is part of the reason I never never made eagle.

My suggestion is that you confirm weither or not the SM is on the way out, and if the other ASMs are planning on staying on after their boys are done, if the SM is on the way out, see if he will pass some of the duties off onto you or another ASM if they are staying on, as it will both acclimate his replacement to the job and smooth the transition process when he leaves. If his tenure is not ending, see about getting more authority in leading the younger scouts. During my last year as a scout, an ASM did such with the younger boys, taking myself along as an experienced, NYLT qualified scout(I still remember the Announcement Song), to help him, the younger scouts, and their parents on camping trips.

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