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My husband is a new scoutmaster who finished his first year.  He was an ASM for 5 years prior. An event was cancelled because of schedule conflicts and lack of volunteers, only one kid was signed up. My husband received two angry texts from the former scoutmasters this morning criticiizing him for it.

Big picture, the Troop has made it through a rough pandemic year,  had many virtual meetings,  had some good outings and is developing two young leaders as SPL and ASPL.  Most of the troop is 14 and under, with two 16 year olds.  They have a good participation level overall and for summer camp.  So one event bombed but the troop is not in bad shape.  

Thankfully there is a good CC and very good activities director and my husband is confused but does not feel bad.  He called to apologize to the former scoutmaster who cussed him out via text message. 

I think I am just venting.   

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Rules to live by:

1) The work is done by whoever shows up.   Show up. 

2) Train'em, trust'em, turn'em loose.

3) Ye canst not please everyone all the time.  You will have three possible "bosses".  Please these three and you will be doing good:

       a) Your God, however you perceive him/her /it.

         b)  .Someone, somewhere, sometime, will ALWAYS be telling you what to do. A teacher, your spouse, a traffic cop....  At what peril do you NOT please THEM ? 

           c)  The fellow who pays you for doing what you do to get paid.  Ethical?  Legal? Satisfying?  Fun?   

 

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4 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

My husband is a new scoutmaster who finished his first year.  He was an ASM for 5 years prior. An event was cancelled because of schedule conflicts and lack of volunteers, only one kid was signed up. My husband received two angry texts from the former scoutmasters this morning criticiizing him for it.

I think I am just venting.   

It can be hard for folks who hang it up to watch other people in the job and not be critical. If the Scouts, their parents and the CC are happy with your husbands performance as SM, he should take the old cranky SM's opinions with a huge grain of salt. 

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I am sorry this happened.  Try to ignore them.  It is hard to see people doing things differently than how you did it.  They probably mean well but went about it badly..

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I’d tell anyone who would dare cuss me out via text that my flip phone lost  their message before I could read it. They can find me at a campfire 3 miles into back country if they want to come and discuss anything. Just bring dessert.

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Thanks everyone.  My husband on the one hand says that he is ok and it's not a big deal, and on the other hand, he's confused and hurt.  Our CC has very good people skills so hopefully she can help navigate this one.  It also feels like the loss of a relationship as my husband is not eager to interact with the former SM after this and that's too bad.  The former SM did a fine job and is good with kids and the abrupt criticism coming from them is sad.  There was a whole set of famiiles whose chidren have all grown up and moved on and most of those parents ceased their roles in the last two years or so and my spouse has inheirited the troop and all the newer families and the newer volunteers and perhaps that shift is part of the issue.

Camp is going to be a little different this year too.  Our last camp two years ago was struck by a derecho (a special kind of wind storm like a tornado that travels in a straight line pattern) with our kids in it (lots of damage, everyone got out safe) and last year's camp was skipped because of Covid-19 concerns.  This year it is great that we are going back to camp, but it is a different camp than before, and so we won't have some of the same traditions.  People can't come in and out of camp to visit due to continuing Covid concerns.  We won't be able to invite the troop's Eagle Scouts alumni for a special ceremony due to that restriction.  We are also giving up most patrol cooking at this camp for this year, and that's hard but it has been discussed with the parents whose kids are going and it's understood why.  The big picture is that we are going to camp, the new camp seems like it has a fantastic program that the scouts will enjoy. I feel like the parent committee is overall supportive and the CC is supportive and we just want to give these kids a good year.  I think it's very exciting that as these younger scouts grow up, more and more will be available to them.  It's really a nice group overall.  I am extremely thankful for the parent support and the great kiddos.  I have seen a lot of really nice moments from the kids in the last six months and I have nothing but high hopes for these boys and their families. 

Anyway, I shared some of the comments with my husband yesterday and you have lifted his spirits.  I will share the rest today. Thank you for your help.  

 

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13 hours ago, qwazse said:

I’d tell anyone who would dare cuss me out via text that my flip phone lost  their message before I could read it. They can find me at a campfire 3 miles into back country if they want to come and discuss anything. Just bring dessert.

Yep. Even if there was some value from the old SMs comments, it lost any integrity by the way it was delivered. 

Changing scoutmasters is tricky because the new scoutmaster has to find their footing without the heavy shadow of previous SM hanging in the air. Yet, the old SM  can be a great resource.  But, it’s tricky.

At the request of my replacement, I took six months off from the program. And when I did give advice, it was in person or through the CC. Actually, the CC was the person who sought out most of my advice with some of the challenges the new SM found himself in. 

I think one year is enough time for a new SM to get their program under their feet. The old SM needs to make the next move if he still wants to participate in the new scoutmasters program. 
 

Barry

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I would also add that a SM should not feel any guilt about (and it was unfair of the old SM to criticize) the need to cancel activities when there is insufficient scout interest.  We are a small troop and have found ourselves on the cusp of making the decision to cancel an event because we can’t get confirmed participation (or frankly get scouts… or even their parents… to respond to scheduling emails yay or nay.).  We’ve been close to having to cancel things because of leader coverage, both just coverage overall and (since we are a female troop) female leader coverage.  We haven’t had to cancel things yet, but our last event was very close (since there were fixed costs with the program associated with the campout where, if we didn’t have enough participants, it would end up being very expensive for the few that did commit to go.). 

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1 hour ago, BAJ said:

 

I would also add that a SM should not feel any guilt about (and it was unfair of the old SM to criticize) the need to cancel activities when there is insufficient scout interest.

 

I totally agree. Over the last 2.5 years we canceled a Polar Bear where their would have been 2 adults and 2 Scouts. We decided the turnout was too low to justify the effort (4 days before). The other time we canceled due to not having the second registered adult. The old SM should shut their mouth on any such decisions. Their time has passed. They may also no longer be privy to the whole story. How rude of them to weigh in at all! 

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16 hours ago, Eagledad said:

I think one year is enough time for a new SM to get their program under their feet. The old SM needs to make the next move if he still wants to participate in the new scoutmasters program. 
 

Barry

Starting in the SM role under Covid was challenging for him and the troop activity almost ground to a halt in the Summer/Fall of 2020.  I thank God that the troop was able to start meeting outside again in Spring 2021.  I personally think that it was very good for kids to have activity again.  Virtual meetings were very hard but the kids were getting pretty darn good with working in Zoom meetings and patrol breakout rooms.  We are now back in person outside while the weather is nice, and having meetings outside at a park shelter is extremely  nice (when the weather is good).

Anyway, I think that half of his first year was Covid compromised. 

I had a conversation with the CC about this yesterday and I will send her copies of the angry texts.  She is extremely good with people, and she will help to improve communication if that's what is part of what's falling apart here.  We have a nice group of kids and parents and we want to keep it positive. 

Onward to summer camp!

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 6/12/2021 at 4:46 PM, Sentinel947 said:

It can be hard for folks who hang it up to watch other people in the job and not be critical. If the Scouts, their parents and the CC are happy with your husbands performance as SM, he should take the old cranky SM's opinions with a huge grain of salt. 

One of the things the CC wants to figure out is if this is just the former SM or if there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction among a small group of the parents.  It was such a rough year.  Our CC is new, our SM is new, our ASMs are new, our Advancement Chair and Activities Chair are also new to their roles.  It's a near total turnover of leadership.  All these new people are pitching in and helping. In the Troop, Scoutmasters have had short terms of service, averaging maybe 2 years?  My oldest already had 3 Scoutmasters before his dad in his first 6 years.  Through that, he was able to work with a variety of adults, but I know that many troops have longer serving leadership and every troop is different.   I don't really know if anyone else is chomping at the bit.   It does not seem like that, families are so busy.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

One of the things the CC wants to figure out is if this is just the former SM or if there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction among a small group of the parents.  It was such a rough year.  Our CC is new, our SM is new, our ASMs are new, our Advancement Chair and Activities Chair are also new to their roles.  It's a near total turnover of leadership.  All these new people are pitching in and helping. In the Troop, Scoutmasters have had short terms of service, averaging maybe 2 years?  

Sounds like the unit is starting with a good CC. That is a step forward many units don't have. I've been in your shoes; a new unit with new adults. There are two important contributors to a new unit starting in the right direction; vision and humility. 

I was assigned to working with struggling units and the one contributor that just about all these units had in common is lack of vision. The adults didn't know where they were going, so they didn't know what part to take in the team. Instead, they all tried to just fill in where the program appeared to need help, It was chaos.

There is usually one dominant leader among the group. Most folks assume that person is the SM and try that position to lead the program. But many times it is the CC. Some times the dominant leader is an ASM or committee member. Once in a while it is the COR. Regardless of who it is, that person usually drives the program program, either toward success or failure.

When I coached the struggling units, I pulled the adults together and showed them the BSA Mission and Vision. In short, building moral and ethical decision makers. In most cases, the Mission and Vision was new to them. They thought camping was the goal and character development just kind of came a long somewhere. Then I asked them to discuss what the BSA mission and vision means to them and how this group adults feel about that as the goal. Form there, I showed them how the program is direction toward building moral and ethical decision makers through the process of Aims and Methods. The adults are responsible for the Aims part of the program and the Scouts are responsible for the Methods. The thing is, adults don't have to make it up as they go along, the BSA has given them the goals and direction. They only need to take a task and follow the BSA guidelines for the expectations of their tasks. 

The humility contributor is evaluating the progress of the program based on the Mission and Vision and making changes that steer the program back on course when it appears to veer off track. I've often said that I made far more wrong decisions than I did right, but we corrected the wrong decisions.  Making changes required the humility to admit that parts of the program aren't working. Humility is require so the team feels like an important contributor to the team and buys in to the vision. Humility is required so that the team has patience to listen to the contributors.

Eventually the dominant leader is going to standout and take the unit by the reins. That is important because the dominant leader directs the team. But, if the adult team is strong, the leader will be one who encourages and maintains a balance team where each adult has clear expectations. The leader should have a clear understanding of the goal and vision because there will conflict as the program grows and the stresses of growth create different approaches to solutions. Old SM vs New SM. 

I think every SM will agree that the hardest part of driving a successful unit is managing the adults and their expectations. Once the unit agrees on the vision and the program process going toward the vision,  the dominant leader must continually evaluate the program with the team and remind the team where they are going. Most adults just want clear expectations so they know what to do. Some adults want to give their advice to the vision, and that is where the dominant leader listens and then explains why they are doing what they are doing. Let me just say that understanding how the program works took us years. So, as I said, sometimes the advice from others was good. Many times it was not. 

Sounds to me that your adult team is on the right track. Managing a new program is strenuous and teaches us a lot about ourselves. It's not for everyone and hopefully those adults bow quietly out without causing pain. On the other hand, running a successful troop program will be one of the most rewarding experiences of you life. Well worth it. 

Good luck getting through this little bump and move on toward fun adventures.

I used to sign off with "I love this scouting stuff". I faded away from that when I retired from scouting, but it is still true. I hope it will be for you as well.

Barry

Barry

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4 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

... In the Troop, Scoutmasters have had short terms of service, averaging maybe 2 years?  ...

Well, if somebody is sending a scouter angry texts, that could explain shorter-than-average terms.:ph34r:

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