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Committee overriding PLC plans

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I do not agree that the SPL ought to attend the Troop Committee meeting.

We have meetings for the adults that are adult meetings and we have the PLC and Patrol meetings. If one of the roles of the Troop Committee is to support the PLC is their a need for the SPL to attend the Troop Committee meeting. If the CC is unsure about something he can talk to the SPL and the SM at a Troop meeting.

Many of the items that might be on the Agenda of a Committee meeting are not suitable for youth members.


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To have 75% attending an outing is great! At times we have had less than 10% attend a campout in our troop. Our PLC has suggested activities that cost lots of money, and not really related to "Scouts" But they are allowed to list everything. As a committee, we tell them why certain things really can't be done: whether it is too expensive, date interferes with something else, it isn't safe, etc. They are never told it is "stupid," but that it just isn't appropriate and we tell them alternatives. In our case, we live in a small town. Most people don't make a living minimum wage. My kid gets sent to wonderful expensive camps and activites because we can afford it, but when it comes to Scouts, he has to learn to do as the rest do. I believe that putting too much money into campouts throughout the year goes against teaching the boys to learn to live using their own skills.

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Speaking as an Eagle experienced with over-controlling parent committees:




You are in a great situation. %75 participation is low? Your committee is afraid to say no? Your scouts are turning in plans for camping trips four months in advance? Wonderful! For the next few years the enthusiasm of your scouts should take your troop to places you had not imagined. I left a troop completely ruled by one scoutmaster who had no parent support. It was dead. The troop I then joined was started by a church full of conservative homeschoolers as an inner city outreach. The troop was half ghetto urchins and half sheltered churchkids. What resulted, once the boys took over, was phenomenal. T287 grew in two years from twenty kids to about 75, with a waiting list. We won special awards for spirit at camps, and camp administrators sent us thank you notes for coming to their camp and livening things up. Eagles came out of the woodwork. Projects included replanting indigenous plantlife in damaged ecosystems, helping more than 10 precincts get out the vote, and constructing and directing a 40 voice choir for convalescent hospitals, and the whole troop participated. No exaggeration.


It all went wrong when the committee became political, and controlling. Parents got mad at the PLC, and the other scouts, all the time. They overrode everything. They turned some boards of review into four hour interrogations. Sadly, this is normal. One of my best college friends from Alabama, thousands of miles away from my California troop, had an almost identical scouting experience. Both of us are just glad we were out by the time things got bad, but sad to see a great thing destroyed.


I would say that you, as SM, should control for this as much as possible. If there is a disagreement about something, give the issue some time to cool down before it is discussed again, if at all possible. You are the sanity mediating between parents, each defending their own calendar or kid, and the scouts who would probably love a camping trip with a "fire, explosives, and pointy, sharp objects" theme.


The SPL should NOT be asked to sit in the Committee meetings. This can quickly turn into an interrogation about "whose ideas these were." He is suddenly pressured by parents' ideas about things from all sides, too. It was a bad idea in our troop for sure. Besides, that's what the SM is for.


The committee should NOT tell the PLC "how things should be done if they are to be approved." The PLC should come up with an annual plan of outings, which should be reviewed as a whole by the committee. It should be approved or disapproved, not tinkered with. The committee is not there to come up with ideas, or even necessarily veto bad ones. The scouts have to be able to make their own plans. They should only be denied the opportunity to learn from their own failures and successes when safety or BSA policies are a concern.


If the PLC plans a trip that parents cannot attend, they may not get to go on that trip--or at least some won't. Maybe next time they will think twice about scheduling a trip so close to Christmas.


Just a thought: our troop skipped December for camping trips. Only daytrips at the beginning of the month. That made it easier on everyone. Run it by the PLC next year, see what they think.

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Happy Friday All


>>The SPL should NOT be asked to sit in the Committee meetings. This can quickly turn into an interrogation about "whose ideas these were." He is suddenly pressured by parents' ideas about things from all sides, too.

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Adults sometimes forget that their role in Scouting is not to ensure perfectly planned and executed campouts and activities. The adult committee, with their collective knowledge and experience, can certainly do a better job at planning and executing, but in doing so the boys learn nothing. One of the purposes of the Scouting experience is to give boys opportunities to demonstrate leadership, and to plan and execute their own activities. This is real life practice for what they will encounter as adults. Let them learn and improve now, and give them a running start on adulthood.

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Hi Committee Chair,

I can't help thinking that if we were in the same unit that there would be fireworks. That is if I were the Scoutmaster and you were the Committee Chair.

I if I was the Scoutmaster, would be at the PLC meeting to guide and support the members of the PLC. When and if they came up with the trip to Hawaii. I would question the wisdom in such a decision. As the Scoutmaster I would have and would be training the SPL, and the PL's in the art of representing the group.

As for you "Telling them" I would in the politest way that I know tell you to "Butt Out". I sure as heck don't want a Committee Member telling the Scouts what they can and can't do. Even as Scoutmaster I wouldn't do this unless it was something that the something was an activity that the G2SS stated was not allowed. I am sorry to say that I would see your telling the Scouts as interference. As for the timing of events and activities, I would hope that I would have taken care of avoiding clashes when the PLC met to do the annual plan.

When I look at the vision statement of the BSA I see that is talks about Fun and adventurous activities. This to my way of thinking leaves a very wide field open for the PLC to choose from. I would I hope have during the time I spent training the members of the PLC, covered the promise that we make to each and every scout as stated in the Boyscout Handbook and would have suggested to them that this might be their guide when it came to planning activities.

While the Patrol Leaders will have held Patrol meetings and would at a meeting of the PLC be representing the members of their Patrol, the boys from the poor families and the boys from the wealthy families, the PLC would I would think be made up with Scouts with a group that was a diverse representation of the troop membership.

I see your role as a committee chair as supporting the PLC. If you started turning down the activities that the PLC had met and agreed on, and offered them a list of alternatives. You would have my resignation that night. How could I ever Train them, Trust them and Let them Lead. If at every turn you were Telling Them?

I am not saying that everything that they do will be 100%. I will bet my last dollar that you and the committee could do a wonderful job. But my job as Scoutmaster is developing leadership. Scouts learn to lead by leading. We can after the activity reflect on what worked and what didn't. Scouts can't fix things that went wrong if they weren't the people responsible for doing it.

It comes down to trust. If you don't trust the Scoutmaster to do his job, when it comes to rechartering time replace him or her. I know that if this over riding the PLC was going on I would doing my up-most to replace the people that were allowing it to happen.


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No surprise here I am in total agreement with Eamonn. The role of the committee is not to say "you can't" to the decision of the PLC, but to say "How can we make that happen?".


Too expensive? How can we reduce the cost or raise more money.


Not safe? How can we make it safe?


The role of the committee is to help the scouts succeed not to say no.


And the person responsible for controlling that is the Committee Chair.


This is spelled out in the Troop Committee Challenge training course, which is BASIC traing for troop committee chairs and committee members.


It goes towards proving the point of other threads. You cannot have a quality program without trained leaders.





(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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The only instance I can think of where the committee would say "No, you can't" would be if the activity violated the Guide to Safe Scouting. Even then, they should say instead, "Yes, you can, if you address these G2SS issues." Can you think of any other reason to say "NO"?

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Eamonn and Bob White are on the money. Very insightful comment on the purpose of the committee. The only other time I have seen a possibly appropriate "no" was when there was a representative on the committee from the sponsor church. One planned activity was one the church did not feel comfortable sponsoring, but otherwise innoccuous. The committee asked the scouts to chaneg the activity. Other than that, committes have grounds for veto based on safe scouting, and pretty much nothing else.



I respectfully disagree, from experience with three different occasions, involving three different SPL's and three almost completely different parent committees.


The best explanation I can give is as follows. When the SPL appeals to the committee, the parents become a board to which boys must appeal. As a result, the committee becomes, at least in their own minds, the advisory board for the boys' activities.


The SPL knows he is supposed to have the power to make these decisions, with very little interference from the committee. So when the parents begin to advise, with the idea in their minds that their wisdom and years allows them to plan outings much better than the boys can, it puts the SPL in an incredibly awkward situation. Now we have a young man placed before a committee of his elders, trying to defend his prerogative to run the troop his way, without being disrespectful. Parents are expected to respect the decisions of a 15 year old. If he challenges their ability to give guidance, or even tries to explain that he likes the PLC plan better, he suddenly looks like the whippersnapper. (Now the parents whose children lost the SPL elections are beginning to question him more...)


It all starts very innocently, but when you bring a child to match his wisdom against protective, wizened parents, it can get messy quickly. The moderation of committee behavior when a boy is present does carry merit. But this is only when the committee realizes that its opinion carries little to no weight. Many parents cannot understand this.


My point is, it is unfair to put that kind of pressure on the SPL. It is just not his job to answer to the committee.


It appears that EagleDad's committee is a very good committee, judging by the way they react to the presence of a scout in the room. I also agree that EagleInKY's board seems to be making a well-intentioned, harmless mistake, easliy corrected by the wealth of advice having now been lavished upon EagleInKY by the gentlemen here.

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One of the duties, as so many have mentioned, of the Troop Committee is logistic supportability (can we get the Scouts there in the first place)?


To the specific trip at hand, I think the Committee has a legitimate duty to the SM and the PLC to ask: "What is your inclement weather destination? One week before Christmas is NOT a good time of year for a five hour drive to an overnight." [[AS AN ASIDE: I've been driving in Winter (vice Southern California where I grew up) for 20 odd years, and I still don't like to contemplate more than one hour driving in stormy conditions.]]


At the same time, I have to compliment EagleinKY ... there is certainly enough lead time for the Committee, and individual parents, to consider a five hour drive in wintertime.


The other key here is COMMUNICATION between the Chair and the SM.


SM "The PLC is considering a trip to X."


CC "That's a five hour drive. Are they building a plan B?"


SM "No"


CC "Is your intent to use a bad weather cancellation as a teaching point?"


SM "Yes"


CC "We can sell it to the Committee."


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Greetings one and all. I haven't been ignoring the posts, I've been at Woodbadge for the last few days. The first weekend was great (I used to be an Antelope, one of the rarer breeds, I do believe).


So many questions and thoughts. Is the committee top-heavy? I don't think so. Each member has a specific responsibility. Most are reasonably involved. Some will probably not re-up this year, but there will be some new ones coming in from next year's crop of new scouts.


SPL at the Committee meeting. The SPL doesn't attend the entire meeting. He joins for the portion where we're talking about activities. I do most of the talking, but that will probably vary from one boy to another. I think it's a great opportunity for them to deal with adults in a more professional environment. They also get a chance to see what types of questions come up. This only helps them better plan for the future. If the questioning or the pressure on the SPL ever became "out of line", I would put a halt to it.


Regarding the 75%, you would have to understand that this would be the lowest turnout we've ever had. But, we're a small troop. We average probably 90-95% over the long run, and have had many campouts with 100% participation. We've always said that we knew it would drop as our numbers grew. There's just greater opportunities for conflicts.


Regarding weather concerns. While there is a remote chance of weather being a problem, it is pretty slight. We should look at the cancellation policies just in case.


The concerns are more around the timing than anything else. We have a few families that essentially leave town every time there is a day off of school. They're gone during every break, they're gone during a large portion of the summer. Therefore, if we ever schedule anything on a 3 day weekend or during a break, they complain.


Barry - you're polar bear swim example is - I believe - an excellent example of how this should work.


Gabe - I don't see the SPL presenting the plans to the committee as a "seeking approval" process as much as it is an informational process. His (and my) job is to inform the committee of the plans and answer any questions that may come up. If there are any obvious points we missed, we can take those away for follow-up. If there are any concerns or debate, I would see that happening more with the SPL out of the room.


Thanks for all the great comments and ideas!

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Hi All!


Awesome info! Here is my 2 cents:


1. We don't let the SPL at our comm. mtg.


2. We schedule the event, and those who have other plans, don't attend. They decide on an individual basis whether to change their other plans or not, the troop doesn't reschedule for a few. The annual planning calendar is the best defence for this. If you plan ahead, less conflicts.


3. We have 100 % at some activities, and 40% at others, also with a small troop (12 active boys). YP guidelines are always followed.


We are also trying to become a boy-led troop. Former leadership did it all, boys had to follow. SPL position was a figure head who did what SM wanted. Only 5 boys left in troop when my son crossed over. We are making baby steps. Thanks for all the info posted here!



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