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Committee overriding PLC plans

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I'm looking for some advice on how to best handle a minor situation with our troop committee. First, a little background. We have a relative new troop (1 1/2 years), we are aggressively moving to being truly a boy-led troop. Things are going well. The PLC takes their job seriously and are getting better at making plans and running the troop. We have very involved, supportive parents and an active troop committee. However, the members of the troop committee are struggling to understand their role.


The PLC planned a trip on the last weekend before Christmas break. It's a 5 hour trip, and they'll be staying overnight, they'll get to see some cool stuff at a museum and work on a Merit Badge. The boys are pretty excited about it. The trip is relatively expensive, but not extraordinary for the financial status of our members.


The plans were presented to the committee two months ago, and have been discussed now at three committee meetings. While there was a little discussion about the timing and cost, no one was adamantly opposed to it.


While polling the families to get a hard count for reservations, a couple of families started pushing back. They started giving suggestions for alternative weekends and such. I also think some think it's too expensive. I believe that if we end up going, at least 75% of the troop will go. Which is fine. We usually have nearly 100% at all activities, so it may seem low to some of the parents.


My opinion is that the committee's job is to approve or disapprove the PLC's plan, not to edit, re-write or otherwise change the plan. If they don't want us this trip at this time, they should simply tell the PLC that and why. Then, throw it back to the PLC to adjust its plans. Am I correct in that assumption? Have any of you had similar situations?

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Yes, the Committee should either approve or disapprove the plan, not alter it. Ideally, what the PLC should have done is annual planning and have the whole years events approved or not by the committee. Then, when specifics for yor December outing come up, the committees job is to "make it happen" from a financial point of view. It should support the troop, not be a road block.

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There will always be 1 or 2 or 3 families that will have a problem with the date or the cost or the details. What I have learned is that making changes to accommodate some people will create conflicts for others. The date has been set and approved. Go with it. Even if everyone would agree to the changes, you set a precedent. People will come to expect that you will alter the troop plans if they have a last minute conflict.

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The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many? 75% want to go? The PLC planned this and committee wants to change it? you're not longer moving towards a boy-run troop they just shot down their plans. They'll be hesitant next time to come up with an outing next time. If they want to plan a beach outing for November let them do it and learn from their mistakes.

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Acco -


Thanks, I agree wholeheartedly with your statement. Being this was the first time the PLC presented a plan, we didn't follow through as well as we should have. That's a learning for us during our next planning cycle. We never formally received a committee decision on approving or not approving. We informed them of the plan, and asked for their feedback.


I think part of the problem is that they don't want to tell the boys "no". They would rather second-guess and tweak their proposals. This is part of the growth the committee needs to go through.


FS - I agree. I've finally convinced them (in the past few months), that we can't schedule things around any individual. As we get larger - and the boys get older - we'll have more conflicts. Our first year, we had 100% participation on all outings. This year, the percentage has been closer to 90%. It's still great, and doesn't bother me at all.


Thanks for your comments. Any more advice?

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I've experienced a VERY similar situation in my troop. Sadly, this situation hasn't very much improved since we've begun to make the transition into a boy-lead unit (which has been in action for the past 2 months or so).


Often there have been times when the PLC would plan a trip to "Camp A," about 6 or 7 months in advance, and then a week before the trip the committee/scoutmaster would say NOPE, WE'RE NOT GOING TO CAMP A, WE'RE GOING TO SCOUT CAMP B. Then, if worse comes to worst, the trip is cancelled due to a lack of adult leaders available to go on this trip. I can see this happening once in while with extenuating circumstances, but last year this happened about 5 or 6 times, and the troop had only gone on about 2 camping trips.


The scouts (the PLC in particular) have now come to resent the committee's "disrupting of proper BOY-LED planning," but they're a determined group of scouts and they're never afraid to tell the committee what they think the committee is doing wrong and why the program isn't being delivered ideally. Slowly, but surely, the committee has begun to entrust the planning of the troop to the PLC, and the near future looks promising.


What I'm saying is that the most effective method of making the transition into a boy-led unit may just be the boy's voices themselves. Assuming the responsibility of planning the year's activities and meetings is what the boys are to do for the troop, but it's not quite what they're expected to do. The committee needs to understand the boys' committment to the troop, and eventually they'll come to entrust most of the responsibilities to them.

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It's better to acknowledge and try to correct the problem now while the troop is still young than to let it go and be run this way for a couple more years. My troop has been run the same way for 20+ years and several of the troop "veterans" are the ones causing the difficulties I've mentioned.

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I feel your pain. Our Troop (unfortunately) operates in much the same way. We have some great parents/involved Committee Members, however... they seem to be uneducated as to the performance of their support role in the Troop, to include our Committee Chair. For some time now the Committee has been operating some sort of 3rd Year Webelos program as opposed to a Scout Troop.


We recently had a SM turnover and the new SM is trying desperately to educate the entire Troop about what they are supposed to be doing, instill the Patrol Method and Boy-led troop. It's a struggle to say the least. I am the one person on the Committee that is constantly butting heads with my peers on why we can't use Troop meetings for merit badge sessions every week, why we don't break up a New Scout patrol and put older scouts in it, why we don't interfere with Patrol Leader elections, etc., etc. I find myself constantly educating others on the very basics of Scouting! It is frustrating!


Hang in there...

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Hi EagleIn KY,


I've got to ask you a few questions.


1. How many boys are in the troop?


2. How many committee members do you have?


3. Who presents the plan to the committee? (Is it the boys, or the SM?)


4. Either way, does the committee know that the plan has the backing of the PLC, the SM, and the ASMs, and that they have already reviewed it and approve of it?

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I would suggest a calm conversation, one-on-one with the CC over a slice of pie and a cup of coffee at a local restaurant. Say to the CC, "here is what I am trying to do, here is what I am willing to do to get there. What do you want".


Then listen, really listen, don't say a word until he finishes with everything he has to say.


Once he is done ask yourself, does it follow the program, can we make it work, can we negotiate some middle ground. If you cannot then you need to shake hands and say "you selected the wrong person, I want to give the boys a scouting program and that means we train them, we trust them, and we let them lead. If that is not what you want then you need to get someone else. Thank you for the opportunity. If you change your mind, let me know." Remind yourself you did the best job you could.


Hopefully that is not what will happen. What I hope will hapen is you will find the common ground you need to serve the scouts. But that will be up to the two of you.


I wish you luck.


By the way which of you have taken Leader training and which has not?


(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Hi All


EagleKY. This is not really a PLC problem, it's a SM problem. I'm assuming you are the SM. The SM by design is the philosophical head of the program. While the committee supports the program, the program is basically the SM because the SM is the one adult in direct contact with the boys both physically and philosophically


It's not that the committee or even the parents are wrong; they just havent been completely educated yet to the benefits of letting the boys run the program.


Use these situations (struggles) to strengthen your understanding of the power of boy run. How you get through this situation will make you stronger as a boy run Scoutmaster. How you deal with it will also determine how the scouts and parents learn your role as the philosophical head of the program.


Bob is right that you should listen to both sides. But I believe the compromise is teaching the adults how to give the scouts the fears and concerns of the committee and asking them to deal with them. Let the scouts find the solutions. With your guidance, the scouts will find the compromises if they are required.


For the families who can't go, there will always be families who can't go on every activity for all sorts of reasons. Your program will grow to a time when nobody could possibly go on every activity. But at the same time, listen to the folks. If money is an issue, provide enough fundraisers so everyone has a chance.


Start learning how to paint a vision of the future when you talk about your troop. Every time something like this comes up, you have an opportunity to explain that the more the scoutsget to work with, the more they will learn their limitations. Explain that its better to let the scouts figure out what they can and cant do because they learn that for life. IF the adults limit the scouts, then nobody knows just how much the scouts could have done. They are very creative, so them create. If an activity has to be changed, let them figure that out and how to do it. Just give them the facts and concerns of the adults then let them run that through their PLC machine and see what comes out at the other end.


As for you, you will build strength and confidence as you learn to guide both the scouts and the adults. I learned that Scoutmastering is 50% scouts and 50% adults. This will not be your first challenge. If you are truly going boy run, you are going to run into those parents that want less boy run and more Eagle mill. Get ready, what are you going to say?


Good luck with this. But remember it is just a natural growing pain of a boy run program. Sounds like youre a pretty good SM. Your scouts may not realize it yet, but they should be thankful for someone like you. They have a lot to look forward to in their future scouting.


I love this scouting stuff.




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Thanks for the good advice all. I'll answer the questions and give you an update.


Size of troop - 15

# of SM/ASM - 1 SM & 2 ASM

# of committee members 10 (representing most of the other families (not the SM/ASMs).


I presented the plan as the SM. I wish I had brought the PLs in to do it back when they developed it. That's one of my learnings on this.


A little more about the troop. We began 18 months ago. We stated from the beginning that we were going to work toward a boy-led troop. But we knew we couldn't start that way "out of the gate". So, we instituted two patrols with their own elected leaders. The ASM and I performed some of the duties of the SPL, while the PLs rotated or shared the other responsibilities. We always made sure to point out what were SPL responsilities, to help prepare them for the day we would have one. In August, the troop elected it's first SPL, who appointed his ASPL.


Yes, the plan had the backing of the PLC, SM/ASMs and the Committee Chair. Actually, I think that's actually been part of the issue. Even though - personally - I didn't like the plan 100%, I came in defending it, because it is what the boys wanted to do. Therefore, some of the committee members felt I had my mind made up before ever talking to them. They don't understand that I'm there to support the will of the boys.


Bob, I had a conversation similar to the one you described (only it was over the phone). He and I are very much aligned. I'm going to talk to him again today, hopefully he'll be able to reign things in.


As for training, I've had it all, except Woodbadge (which I start at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning!). The ASMs have had Fast Start, YP, NLE and LST. A couple of the Committee members have had NLE, YP and SM LST. None have had Committee training (our district hasn't offered it in years). That's one of the things we really need to do. (Sounds like a potential ticket item to me - not to jump the gun, though).


Quick update - I've tried to get everyone to just calm down and wait for the next committee meeting. They can make their decision there, and then we'll go with it - whichever way it turns out. Some feel that I forced my will without listening to them. My take on this is that they interpreted my support for the boys plans as having my mind made up. Part of this is my business background compared to those who might not be used to situations where people express their opinions openly and want to have open and honest discussion about it. I also think they don't want to openly "shoot the plan down" because they are not comfortable with the idea of telling the boys "no".


Thanks for all the sage words of advice. I love this place! And to steal Barry's line, "I love this scouting stuff".

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I think I must be playing this game to a different set of rules!!

I see the role of the Troop Committee as supporting the PLC.

Not Editing. Not doing anything but helping make what the PLC decided become real.As for you forcing your will? Poppycock!! It was the will of the PLC.

If you don't stand up for what these Lads have come up with why bother having a meeting.

Don't you think that you might be a bit top heavy in the Troop Committee department? Parents supporting the troop is great but it seems that every family has a vote? Just a thought.


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"They don't understand that I'm there to support the will of the boys."


Hi EagleInKY,


Unfortunately, your committee doesn't realize that they are also there to "support the will of the boys." In fact, supporting the Troop Program is THE PRIMARY function of the Troop Committee.


I have to agree with Eamonn. It sounds like the you are very rich in committee. Dare I say to the point of it being diffucult to arrive at decisions of any kind in a voting "School Board" type atmosphere or mentality as BW has suggested.


The Troop Committee is there as a "Checks and Balances" for your Troop Program to make sure that there are not any potential violations of BSA Policy or safety concerns on the way to their support, but they are really not there to decide what that program will be, as long as the Aims and Methods are being utilized properly.


If you decide to give this another shot with the committee, I'd have your PLC or at the very least your SPL along at that next meeting to plead the case for the boys. In the mean time, I'd make sure that the PLs are accurately representing their patrols, in their desire to make this event a reality.


Hope this helps some.


(This message has been edited by silver-shark)

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