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Back to the Scoutmaster Issues Again.....


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After a very rocky start with the new Scoutmaster a few years ago, we managed a decent working relationship, but here we go again.

I just found out from our Committee Chair that the SM told her a particular ASM would be taking over as the next Scoutmaster.  Is this the way it's supposed to work?  That the SM just picks someone and informs the rest of the Troop, including the CC?  The CC told me she assumed he had talked it over with the ASMs, but one of the ASMs is my husband, and he said there was no discussion.  In fact, my husband and I had privately discussed whether he had any interest in being Scoutmaster, or whether the third ASM (not the one "selected") might be willing to step into the position, as he's been very good in the role of ASM.

I really like this person, and he and my husband are good friends, but he's frequently away for days at a time with his job, he backs out of plans all the time, he hasn't been on a camping trip in forever, he comes to maybe one or two Troop meetings a month...  I don't know.  He's a really great guy, he has some great ideas and has helped organize a VERY cool aviation day in the past.  He's an Eagle Scout.  But coming off of three years of 'managing a decent working relationship'... I'm concerned.  How much say do the Committee Chair, the committee in general, and the troop parents have in who leads the Troop?

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I think I might hijack this thread again. The topic of trailers is a type of hot button issue for me. It's not the trailer so much as the mindset it creates. I'm fine with a trailer to make it easier

Always entertaining discussion on towing the trailer.  Have run across units held hostage by the Trailer Haulers that are able to dictate when and where the troop camps due to their "contribution"

Mostly, the adult leader application gives unit leader "approval" powers to the charter org (or representative) and to the SE (or representative) to approve leader positions.  Those two signatures def

That stinks. Well, why not have this same conversation with the CC? Adult volunteer staffing is the CC’s role. If I had a SM say this, I’d hope I would say something about not hearing it discussed with the CC yet. 
 

Don’t assume it is final. Talk it over with the CC and committee. 

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I was in a similar boat years ago.  The outgoing SM choose the successor.  The outgoing SM was an extremely experienced 50 year scouter.  Using that experience, the SM circumvented me.  To be honest, it was fine.  The next SM did a great job. 

In hindsight, the CC (me) failed to set expectations.  I had three years to have those discussions and establish transition expectations.  In lieu of establishing those expectations, the SM did what he thought was best.   I forgot that other leaders did not live and die the words in the BSA documents.  Heck, it's extremely rare for a troop committee member to have read the BSA Troop Committee Guidebook.

https://www.scoutshop.org/troop-committee-guidebook-647783.html

I'd ask ... did the unit leaders (SM, ASM, CC, COR, etc) have those discussions.  

Ongoing, long-term transition planning is key to keeping a scouting unit healthy.

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To answer your questions, no, that's not how it should work.  ALL unit adults are selected and approved by the COR/Institutional Head.  Nominees can self-nominate or the Troop Committee and/or current SM can suggest candidates.  Parents who are not registered do not get a vote.  This should all be covered in adult leader training, so there is no question.  Some units impose term limits, but that's not in the "rules".

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10 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

That stinks. Well, why not have this same conversation with the CC? Adult volunteer staffing is the CC’s role. If I had a SM say this, I’d hope I would say something about not hearing it discussed with the CC yet. 
 

Don’t assume it is final. Talk it over with the CC and committee. 

I had a conversation last night with the Committee Chair.  I was shocked when she said this particular ASM was going to be our new Scoutmaster.  She was shocked when I told her there had definitely NOT been a conversation with the other ASMs (nor any other registered adult, as far as I can tell).  And it wasn't discussed with her.  

So next question, since the outgoing Scoutmaster has tried to do an end-run around everyone involved, aside from the person he is trying to appoint: can you give any advice as to best way to tell them both that there needs to be a different process here?  Just say, "There needs to be a different process here"?  

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2 hours ago, scoutldr said:

To answer your questions, no, that's not how it should work.  ALL unit adults are selected and approved by the COR/Institutional Head.  Nominees can self-nominate or the Troop Committee and/or current SM can suggest candidates.  Parents who are not registered do not get a vote.  This should all be covered in adult leader training, so there is no question.  Some units impose term limits, but that's not in the "rules".

Mostly, the adult leader application gives unit leader "approval" powers to the charter org (or representative) and to the SE (or representative) to approve leader positions.  Those two signatures defines who has authority.  Both signatures because any adult leader becomes a representative of both BSA and the charter org.  

At the same time, BSA documents the job to appoint unit leaders with the committee chair.  

https://troopleader.scouting.org/committee-chairman/#:~:text=The troop committee chair appoints,are delegated%2C coordinated and completed.

IMHO, the key is it's the CC's real job is to build agreement with all the unit adults (COR, CC, ASM, MC, etc).  That includes how transitions are done and who will be filling those roles.  It's one of the CC's most important jobs.

 

Edited by fred8033
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1 hour ago, swilliams said:

So next question, since the outgoing Scoutmaster has tried to do an end-run around everyone involved, aside from the person he is trying to appoint: can you give any advice as to best way to tell them both that there needs to be a different process here?  Just say, "There needs to be a different process here"?  


QUESTION ... Did someone tell the scouts and their parents that this person is the next SM? 

QUESTION ... So, is the next SM the right choice or close to the right choice?  

I'm asking as it's a delicate situation.  More damage could be done.  The CC needs to judge the right course.  The CC needs to smooth the feathers / nerves of all involved no matter the decision. 

The key is the CC needs to build agreement on how transitions happen.  The question is whether this specific transition needs to be reversed.   Much of that really depends on the personality, skills and quirks of all the people involved.

Edited by fred8033
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45 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Mostly, the adult leader application gives unit leader "approval" powers to the charter org (or representative) and to the SE (or representative) to approve leader positions.  Those two signatures defines who has authority.  Both signatures because any adult leader becomes a representative of both BSA and the charter org.  

At the same time, BSA documents the job to appoint unit leaders with the committee chair.  

https://troopleader.scouting.org/committee-chairman/#:~:text=The troop committee chair appoints,are delegated%2C coordinated and completed.

IMHO, the key is it's the CC's real job is to build agreement with all the unit adults (COR, CC, ASM, MC, etc).  That includes how transitions are done and who will be filling those roles.  It's one of the CC's most important jobs.

 

I also found the following, saying the CO selects leaders, which seems a little weird, only because our CO has next-to-nothing to do with our troop.  18-981.jo (scouting.org)  It makes much more sense that the Committee Chair is responsible.   

I have new info to add...  no one else wants to do the job, apparently.  My husband said 'no way', and said the third ASM had indicated to him in the past that he had "zero desire" to take on that role.  As much as I would love to, I firmly believe the boys need a male in the role.

If this particular ASM is the only one willing to step into the role, then the maybe the focus needs to shift to how best to make sure he gets the needed training - which has been lacking on all fronts for a few years, including committee, SM, ASM, and PLC - and that he gets the support to build the troop back to where we were when our boys first joined. 

It also seems that we're still struggling to get back to a 'normal' level of activity post-Covid., so that's not helping.

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40 minutes ago, swilliams said:

I also found the following, saying the CO selects leaders, which seems a little weird, only because our CO has next-to-nothing to do with our troop.  18-981.jo (scouting.org)  It makes much more sense that the Committee Chair is responsible.   

BSA's documents are not always the most clear or contradict each other.  Even in your linked document it does say ...

  • "Existing troops or teams should already have a troop or team committee in place to assist with this process."  ...  fyi ... drop the word "team" as that version of scouting does not exist anymore.  We have troops, packs and crews.  
  • "For existing troops or teams, the committee chair should set the meeting date and time, and notify the troop/team committee members."

I wish I could quote directly from BSA's Troop Committee Guidebook.  ... Like virtually all committee members, I no longer have a copy.  Mine was 15 years old and I purged it.  It really should be online and freely available.  It hurts units to not be readily available as a resource. 

Edited by fred8033
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As SM, I saw it as my role to help (NOTE: "help") recruit new ASMs, and then oversee their training and development.  When my self-imposed term limit was coming up, I made a recommendation to the Committee of the top three who I thought would be the best for the Troop.  I reminded the CC it was their job to recruit the new SM, discuss and get "advice and consent" from the committee, and then get COR approval of the change (as they would be the one signing the application). [It depends on the mood of our registrar as to whether we have to fill out a new application or not...check with your registrar...your mileage will vary 😜 ]

Sadly, none of the three would take the position.  We wound up will a suboptimal volunteer, and it has hurt our unit over the past year.  As things have spiraled downwards (because I say "No" to things that are not my responsibility), everyone sees the decline, and now one of the three will take over at the beginning of summer.

 

 

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I can only tell you what my troop does. Decades ago we wrote a document explaining the process of selecting a new SM or CC. We've followed that ever since. If that doesn't exist take this as a learning experience.

Since there seems to be only one person willing to take the job, as seems to be typical anymore, most of this is moot. However, if the new guy is not acceptable to enough people then the committee should have a discussion about how to go forward.

This all said, the behind the scenes talking to people to figure who is interested is the unofficial part that's going to happen.

Best of luck in these tough times.

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1 hour ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

As SM, I saw it as my role to help (NOTE: "help") recruit new ASMs, and then oversee their training and development. 

I'm betting at the same time you were talking with the CC about your plans with potential ASMs.  SM and ASMs are a team in themselves and SM has a right to good working team.  Even then, coordination with the CC is key as the CC/COR might have other plans or might have concerns about any specific individual.

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59 minutes ago, MattR said:

I can only tell you what my troop does. Decades ago we wrote a document explaining the process of selecting a new SM or CC. We've followed that ever since. If that doesn't exist take this as a learning experience.

Great answer.  Units don't need much of a unit handbook as BSA's documents are generally enough.  ... Some limited documents are key though.  Standing calendar (meeting dates/patterns, campouts, etc) ...  accounting (dues, when, money policies, special rules, ...) ... on-going records ... 

Volunteer recruitment is so important I can see it needing an explicitly written and agreed guide.  Don't trip and fall into good practices.

  • Volunteers to give X months of notice.  Or at least as much as possible
  • Volunteers to start thinking about their replacement as part of getting up to speed
  • Committee meetings should review volunteer tenure and coming open slots
  • Specific expectations.  ... Does troop committee vote on a volunteer taking a new position?  Or which positions?
  • Position specific expectations
    • Does the candidate SM have a trailer hitch that can pull the troop trailer?   :)

 

59 minutes ago, MattR said:

This all said, the behind the scenes talking to people to figure who is interested is the unofficial part that's going to happen.

Well said. 

 

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4 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Primary qualification 🤣😝😎

Can confirm. We are the only family besides the SM who can pull the trailer, and my husband has done so for the last five trips. This past trip, our newly-licensed daughter needed our trailer-pulling car to get herself to Venture Crew while we were camping. Our only other vehicle is a stick shift. 

We ended up having to load patrol boxes into a couple cars. Parents now have a new appreciation for our towing abilities. 🤣

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