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Need help understanding the adult power structure of a troop. Sources requested.

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TLDR; besides the COR, who has the ultimate authority to decide patrol meeting agendas? The CC, the scoutmaster, or the committee? Does the committee have the authority to override the SM and/or the CC? Any official links/resources that spell this out? Backstory follows…

I am having an issue with the troop we recently joined. The CC and SM are insisting that the new scout patrol completes certain tenderfoot requirements before the patrol has had a chance to earn Scout rank. Specifically, they want the patrol to complete cooking, first aid, and knots. It’s been 4 months since the first patrol meeting, and none of the 6 scouts have earned Scout rank thus far. The CC is actually leading all our patrol meetings for the first 6 months. Yes, I know the CC is not supposed to be a scout-facing position. I’m just giving you the facts.

My suspicion is that this unusual progression is designed to help older patrols satisfy some leadership requirements. An older patrol was present and “instructing” our fire safety meeting and our pocket knife safety meeting some weeks ago. I know the older scouts will be present again at our cooking patrol meeting next week.

It feels like advancement for the older scouts is being prioritized at the expense of the younger scouts.

I came up with a simple solution: appeal to the troop committee. My plan was to merely explain how it's unreasonable to delay the new patrol’s advancement for the sake of other patrols. I was going to suggest re-arranging the schedule to get back on track. I would propose to postpone the tenderfoot stuff until most of the patrol has earned Scout.

I’m a pretty convincing speaker and I’m pretty sure the rest of the committee would sympathize with our case.

I politely asked the CC to add an item to the next committee meeting agenda, so I could address our concerns (and vote to adjust the calendar).

The CC forwarded my email to the scoutmaster, who responded with a long-winded email about why it’s important for the scouts to be prepared for cooking, first aid, and knots, asap. He gave some far-fetched examples of what might happen if they went on a campout unprepared in those areas. (The food could taste terrible and no one would eat it. A rain fly could fly away during a rainstorm if the scouts didn’t use a taut line hitch, etc.)

The SM then shut down my request to speak to the committee, saying he is in charge of the program and it’s his responsibility to train the scouts so they will be successful in the troop. He continued with language along the lines of ‘this is the way we’ve always done it and it works for us, etc.

I’m pretty sure what they’re doing is wrong. Feel free to confirm that, but what I really need to know is which entity has the last say when it comes to planning patrol meeting agendas, the committee, the SM, or the CC?

I remember reading that besides the COR, the committee has the ultimate authority on such matters. The problem is, I’m having difficulty finding an official source to back it up. I’m not finding it in the Guide to Advancement or in the Troop Leader Guidebooks Vol 1 & 2. I suspect this info may be found in the Troop Committee Guidebook, but I don’t have a copy yet. I will try to get a copy next week.

In the meantime, can anyone point me to any official materials that explain the power structure of troop adult leadership? Does the committee really have no authority over the SM? TYIA

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I'm burnt out on the discussion of same age / new scout / mixed age / etc for patrol design. I wanted to add though ... the worst mistake our troop ever did was rebalance the patrols where the SP

Patrol meetings should be led by the Patrol Leader, supervised by the SPL, who is mentored by the SM/ASM.  The Committee has no role in this.  It is permissible to work on rank requirements concurrent

I understand your frustration. I also really appreciate your honesty and trying to see both the good and bad. A suggestion: let your son decide whether to move. For one, boy led? Second, it seems

Patrol meetings should be led by the Patrol Leader, supervised by the SPL, who is mentored by the SM/ASM.  The Committee has no role in this.  It is permissible to work on rank requirements concurrently, however a rank cannot be awarded until the previous rank is earned.  Are you a trained, registered adult?

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@Scoutcrafter, welcome to the forums!

For anyone following, the Troop Committee Guidbook and other resources may be found here https://www.scouting.org/programs/scouts-bsa/troop-resources/adult-publications/

But please don’t think you can talk fellow scouters out of a situation you don’t like. You can’t find a statement in definitive sources supporting how you think the committee should be able to push the SM (or any ASM) into a particular program strategy. What does that tell you?

I think the flaw in your logic lies in that there is no reason to rush the advancement of first year scouts. And the SM’s not wrong. Good food and the ability to make a decent shelter are critical skills. (I loved it when son #1 came back from summer camp able to make pancakes for us on he weekends.)  Your scout is being prepared to be a good citizen. I’d call that a win.

There are some things in scout rank that are critical you go over with your son … specifically the protection from abuse requirement (#6). Youth face a constant barrage of bullying and sexual propositions, and parents still continue to worry me about the way they set up boys to be vulnerable it.

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Again, welcome to our campfire ring.

Used to be,  back in Paleo Scout time, one could not "work" on a given rank until one had "earned" the preceding one.  That changed when TPTB realized that there is no harm in LEARNING a skill or knowledge prior to DEMONSTRATING it for rank requirement passing. This led to the allowing of passing a rank requirement whenever it can be done.  Sign off in the book....

Much of Scout rank is classroom stuff, yes?  Learn the Scout Promise, etc. That can be passed on (earned) whenever ready. 

No harm in learning knots, fire safety, camp cooking early on.... More time to practice and get good at them.  Would you deny a Scout the ability to ID POISON IVY just because plant ID is not in his next rank requirements? 

I knew a Scout in our home Troop, really nice kid,  led, taught, went on adventures, did not receive his second class OR first class until he was corraled by the Scoutmaster and ASM , and sat down to earn and sign off all the in between stuff.  At one CoH, he was awarded (at age 15) (in proper order)  Second Class, First Class and Star.... He did eventually earn his Eagle...

More importantly, is your Scout ENJOYING his time in Scouts?  

Personally, I do not favor "New Scout Patrols", I would rather see the newbies absorbed into the regular Patrols (traditional Patrol Method) for the older Scouts to then take under their wing. Natural progression of serving as a patrol member, then being a leader in any and all capacities, but that's just me. 

Stand back and watch that Scout soar.

See you on the trail....

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@Scoutcrafter, I second @scoutldr's comment. The scouts should have some say in what they're doing. Also, they should be having some fun.

So, I'm not sure you're asking the right questions. Does it really matter what adult has the final say if the scouts have no say?

That said, you're right that the SM shutting you down is not helping. I'm also not sure what you can do to change that culture. Is it worth looking for a different troop? Are they having fun?

What's important to you?

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15 hours ago, Scoutcrafter said:

TLDR; besides the COR, who has the ultimate authority to decide patrol meeting agendas? The CC, the scoutmaster, or the committee? Does the committee have the authority to override the SM and/or the CC? Any official links/resources that spell this out? Backstory follows…

  • COR vs CC vs SM vs committee? 
    • That's really about who appoints who? BSA's troop structure is different from a business structure where each level up owns / approves the lower level work.  BSA's structure appoints people to roles.  Then, once they are appointed, they own that job.  The only caveat is that the ASMs work under the direction of the SM and the committee members work under the direction of the committee chair.  
    • @qwazse had it right with the above link to the troop documentation.    Look at Troop Committee Guide.  Here is a PDF link to a fairly recent version.  Look at description of the charter org rep on page 7 and the committee chair job definition in chapter 4.
  • Who chooses the patrol mtg agenda?
    • The patrol leader.  The SPL should suggest topics such as preparing for camp outs or troop activities.  With the suggestions, the PL leads the patrol.  The patrol will hopefully have some patrol unique stuff and then also what the SPL suggested the patrol prepare.   By patrol unique, I love hearing patrols that also do their own monthly activities and events.
    • The SM is the lead person working with the scouts.  The SM sees that the scouts are trained to do their jobs, such as the PL being comfortable running patrol meetings. 
  • Scout Badge
    • Yeah.  I'm frustrated with the original post, too.  The Scout Badge is  to be a quick win.  Scouts experience working on requirements, being tested and getting recognized.  Scout Badge is exactly setup to be awarded at the first court of honor after joining the troop.  No need to camp.  No need for time sensitive skills.  It's to be a quick win to start the advancement trail.


13 hours ago, SSScout said:

More importantly, is your Scout ENJOYING his time in Scouts?  

That's the important question.  You will never find the perfect troop.  In fact, the "ideal" troops may be troops you want to avoid, depending on how much the adults bicker on the interpretation of what's the right way to do things.  

Is your scout growing and benefiting and having fun?  If so, smile and plan how you will slowly improve the program when you become scoutmaster.  If your scout is not having fun and growing, look for another troop.

Edited by fred8033
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Various thoughts: a scout should only be required to complete the BSA requirements to obtain a rank - no more/no less. 

The SPL runs the troop under the SM 

The Troop committee should not be directly involved with the troop program except through the SM.

You should get trained and registered and decide where you can be most helpful to your son and his troop.


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I'm going to first try to answer the question you posed.  In a follow up post I'm going to comment on your specific situation.  This explanation is an abbreviated version of the guide we provide to all our families, especially the newest crossover families.

Change from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts

Both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts teach Scouting’s time honored values, but the way the scout experiences the program changes dramatically when a young man crosses over into the troop.  In Cub Scouts, the parents organize and provide the activities.  In Boy Scouts, it is the boys who plan and carry out their own program, and in doing so gain independence, self reliance, leadership experience, and maturity.  The adult leaders are merely facilitators who provide assistance and guidance.   


The Troop is first and foremost a boy-led organization.  

The Troop is led by the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), who is elected by the boys in the troop.  The SPL presides over troop meetings, and working through the Patrol Leaders guides the scouts through their campouts, meetings, and other events.  The SPL appoints one or more Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders (ASPLs) to help him and to fill in when he’s absent. 

The Troop is divided into patrols comprised of six to eight scouts.  Each patrol elects its own Patrol Leader who leads and organizes the individual patrol with the help of his Assistant Patrol Leader.  The patrol is especially important during outings because this is the unit that works together to take care of and provide for themselves: tenting, cooking, cleaning, etc.  We refer to this structure as the “Patrol Method”. 

All of the boy leaders of the troop, elected and appointed, meet monthly for a Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) where they plan the activities for the upcoming meetings and organize upcoming campouts.   

To support the boys there are many adult leaders actively involved in our Troop.   

The Committee Chairperson assures that the Troop adheres to BSA guidelines, and recruits adults to oversee the Troop through the Troop Committee and Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster positions.   

The Scoutmaster, working through the scout leadership, manages the Troop at meetings and outings, and with the help of the Assistant Scoutmasters, Committee Members, other leaders, and parents, provides the most direct guidance to the Scouts. 

Assistant Scoutmasters generally are the adults working most closely with the scouts; they undergo the same training as the Scoutmaster, and can step in and take his place when needed.   

The Troop Committee consists of the adults, both parents and other volunteers, who help the Scoutmaster and the scouts carry out the Boy Scout program by supporting them with policy direction, planning help, recruiting, fundraising, and other ancillary functions. 


Parents are encouraged to help with the troop in whatever way they feel they are best suited.  We invite any parent who is interested to become a registered adult leader either as an Assistant Scoutmaster or a Committee Member. 


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@ScoutcrafterHave you read Lord of the Flies by William Golding?  The patrols should sort of work like that.  Though I would suggest to try to avoid the Scouts dropping boulders on the other Scout's heads.

Truly the SCOUTS run (or should run) the program.  In the case of the new / crossover Scouts it is tough to have one them be the patrol leader due to lack of experience.  In our unit the crossovers are in the new scout patrol / program and older scouts from the troop are their "patrol leaders" for the spring and their first campout.  First meeting in the fall they get rolled into the regular patrols.

The bestest new scout gets to keep the replica of Piggy's glasses to start fires with.  SPL keeps the conch

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On 7/30/2022 at 6:52 AM, Scoutcrafter said:

I’m pretty sure what they’re doing is wrong. Feel free to confirm that, but what I really need to know is which entity has the last say when it comes to planning patrol meeting agendas, the committee, the SM, or the CC?


I'm afraid I can't confirm that they're wrong and what you are proposing is correct.  I think you may have a misperception about how advancement works at the troop level compared to Cubs. 

The biggest difference between the programs is that at the troop level advancement, not necessarily training, but advancement, is an individual rather than a group endeavor.  Patrols simply do not advance together the way dens advance together.  So while it's true that a patrol might do training together, translating that training into a signed off individual advancement component is the responsibility of the individual, not the patrol, not the troop, the individual. It's the norm not the exception that individuals in a patrol, even if they started at the same time and have been to all the same activities, will not have the same individual requirements or ranks completed.

To your specific situation, the goal of training is not necessarily advancement, it's preparing the scouts for the activities they're going to participate in.  Because 80% of scouting is outing, it doesn't seem unusual to me that scoutcraft like cooking or fires would be prioritized.  Requirements and advancement are themselves not linear, you can be working on many requirements and and ranks simultaneously.  For much of the time between joining and earning First Class a scout will have multiple requirements in multiple ranks completed, even if no one rank is complete.

What I would suggest is that you ask the SM or other adult leaders how advancement does work in the troop.  The are four steps in scout advancement: a scout learns, a scout is tested, a scout is reviewed, a scout is recognized.  The important things that you and your scout need to know at this stage are things like who signs off on requirements, who does a scout approach when they're ready to have a requirement signed off, when a scout completes all the requirements for a particular rank how do they request a Scoutmaster Conference (the final requirement for each rank).

A final couple thoughts about Scout Rank and then about older scouts.  Most of the requirements for Scout Rank are pretty basic; if a scout was a Cub they probably know all or almost all they need to now already.  If YOUR scout has mastered some or all of those Scout Rank skills they should be able to have them signed off now.  They don't need to wait for the other members of their patrol. 

The very best troops have all or nearly all the training that's conducted performed by the older scouts, not because they need to do it for their own advancement, but because that progression is key to the development of the scout as a citizen and as a scout.

Good luck to you and your scout, when you've gotten more information about advancement in your troop feel free to check back for more comments or insights.

Edited by T2Eagle
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On 7/30/2022 at 5:52 AM, Scoutcrafter said:

I’m pretty sure what they’re doing is wrong. Feel free to confirm that, but what I really need to know is which entity has the last say when it comes to planning patrol meeting agendas, the committee, the SM, or the CC?

Committee has no business in planning patrol meeting agendas.  The committee is there to take care of the "business" side of things.  The CC should be mindful if the SM is doing something stupid/dangerous because they aren't or wont read GTSS, but otherwise the CC needs to stay out of it too.



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By the way, now that we have 13 scouts in their 1st year, signing off each and every scout rank requirement is an exhausting proposition. Kudos to our troop guides who have accomplished that for most of the boys. The ones who completed it quickly had earned AoL and it was a matter of an older scout having a relatively quiet moment to go over those requirements.

One scout told me he was having trouble memorizing everything, and asked if we could let him skate on requirement #1. He's very active and bright, definitely a fly-before-you-can-walk type. I made it clear to him that there are scouts --  much older than him -- whose brains cannot memorize things. He's not one of those, so on their behalf, he has to put in the work. Meanwhile, he's welcome to make it a priority mastering the skills for the other ranks until he is ready to rattle off the Oath and Law and Outdoor Code on his own.

It might just take us another few months before every boy in the troop is at or beyond Scout rank. But, based on the skills that I've seen them accomplish, those who earn it later will probably be in a good position to earn Tenderfoot immediately.

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What's this "new Scout Patrol"?  My troops just had patrols growing up.  Size was determined by different things.  In my first troop, it was friends - three of us were one patrol and the other 5 were another.  My first troop in England was just one patrol of 6 kids.  The second was 2 patrols of about 10 with assignment being based on when you arrived.  Balancing the room was the primary goal.  The younger Scouts were trained by the older.  My handbook has my SPL's signature in my requirements for the various skill awards.  I liked this method because the older Scouts built leadership skills and there's no better way to solidify what you have learned than to teach it.  

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