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Is Boy Scouting Too Loosey-Goosey?

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Hi All


>>The ideals moving out of front-and -center and the slack in uniforming corresponds most directly to the dramatic improvement in the use of the patrol method and further improvements in the leadership method brought by the current SM.

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Actually, Barry, I bragged about being Loosy Goosey because the group-think here (and the level of animosity displayed toward those who werent group-thinking) was so profound.


Our SM does a great job. He has many strengths and a few weaknesses. So do I as CC. Well keep the weaknesses under control, but were not going to harp on them. Were going to work with his strengths. In so doing, weve built the largest and most active program in our district. And from my service on Eagle Reviews, were doin just fine on Ideals and Uniform where they count in the heart, not on the sleeve.


CNY writes:

You say that your Troop is good about leadership and the patrol method. These two methods are closely related. You will not have good success in using one without the other. You also say that you are weak in Uniform and Ideals method. Arent these two methods closely related? Isnt one reason we wear the Uniform to show that we follow the Ideals.


Horse hockey. There are lots of youth programs that are great at leadership development without using groupings/competition. There are lots of programs with great teamwork that teach nothing about leadership. There are plenty of people who live the Ideals deeply without the uniform, and plenty in uniform that do not follow the ideals. Besides, the Uniform Method is not about clothing.


Da point? The Methods are related but independent. And dey aren't Gospel.


I know its much easier to concentrate on the strengths but a good leader understands that to grow you must spend the time working on areas where you are weak.


NONSENSE. I would never put a person who believed that in a leadership position. A good leader knows that to grow as a team he must build on the strengths of the individuals he has, not harp on their weaknesses. Never try to make an artist into an engineer. Help him to be a better artist.


If you find yourself in a mediocre unit, build on its strengths, dont harp on its weaknesses.


At least thats the advice of someone with a lot more than 3 years of experience in scouting, and a lot more years working wit young people.



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A couple of thoughts on this.


First, I don't think it should ever be one or the other -- build on strengths and simply "control" weaknesses, or work on weaknesses and simply maintain the status quo on strengths. There have to be efforts across the board. A brand new leader comes in to the unit with no Scouting skills, knowledge, or experience, but lots of enthusiasm: Do you just build on his strength -- using his enthusiasm? Do you just work on his weaknesses -- getting him to training? Of course not; you engage on both fronts.


Second, there is a real difference between "groupthink" and widespread agreement on certain principles by folks who have lived and tested them.


Third, while there are certainly lots of successful youth programs that teach lots of great things without using the Methods of Scouting, they aren't Scouting. Scouting's Aims (citizenship, character, fitness) are shared in one way or another by many organizations, and they do not make Scouting unique. Rather, Scouting is defined by its Methods -- a unique combination of practices and operating principles designed to achieve the Aims. Very simply, if you don't use the Methods, you aren't running a Scouting program. You may have something that looks like a Scouting program from certain angles, but that is true for many groups -- 4-H, Boys and Girls Clubs, Outward Bound, etc. The Methods ARE Gospel if you want to operate a Scouting program under the auspices of the Boy Scouts of America. As discussed earlier in this thread, Beavah's troop does a great job with most of the Methods, and seems to do a passable job on the others, and that is fantastic.


That does NOT mean that the Methods and BSA's program are _infallible_ -- mistakes have been made and more will be made in the future, and how we implement the program, and even the Methods themselves, change over time in a constant effort to improve the program and correct problems.


More importantly, and getting us back to the focus of this thread, BSA doesn't have "Method Police" or inspectors or enforcers (except self-appointed ones). Quite the opposite -- BSA is pretty flexible about how its program is implemented, and lets leaders do lots and lots of things that aren't in the model. But, through its training and publications, BSA does offer and advocate a particular structure and sets of practices. Why? Because its 95 years of experience and the best thinking of volunteers all over the country tell it that a particular structure and certain sets of practices WORK. They work. Will other things work? Yes, of course. And lots of other things DON'T work. If units follow BSA recommendations, they are far more *likely* to have a good program sooner than trial-and-error and non-BSA practices will get them.


And that gets us to the bottom line -- the youth. Scouting units aren't about how smart or skilled or innovative the leaders are. They are about reaching boys with the Aims in just the few years we have them in our care. Therefore, it makes sense to follow the tried-and-true path, even if we don't like some things about it, than to take our boys bushwacking through the backcountry of non-BSA practices. It might be a fun adventure, but it risks not only losing boys along the way, but never accomplishing the mission. (The mission is NOT to give the boys lifetime memories.) And yes, we will hear war stories of the adventurous leaders who did things totally contrary to "the book" yet produced scores of Eagle Scouts who went on to become Senators and CEOs, which will inspire yet another generation of Scouters to ignore the program. But all you have to do is follow forums like this to hear endless war stories about leaders who threw away the "map" (or never learned to read it) and brought countless problems to their units and needlessly lost Scouts and families from the Scouting program. And the failures far outweigh the successes.


There is plenty of challenge and adventure for leaders on the trail laid out by BSA, with a well-supported likelihood of success. BSA's model is a good plan. To throw away or ignore pieces of it just because we don't happen to like them is a disservice not only to the Scouts in our own units, but to other units and Scouting generally. Why? Because every boy and every family we lose because a unit or a leader did "it's own thing" is evidence against us that gets magnified every time the tale of woe is told. Every poor unit that doesn't follow the Methods hurts Scouting and hurts our mission of reaching boys with the Aims.


Dan Kurtenbach

Fairfax, VA

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Scouter 9933,(HG-Chicago ) I am sorry to hear that you are losing boys. That sort of proves that there is some sort of problem in your unit ?. Instead of asking the SM to resign, maybe you should consider leaving the committee ? This is one way, that the present SM ,can choose people for his committee ,who would be amiable to his concepts and ideas of making his troop grow.? It seems to me that all the training of the "Aims & methods" will not work unless you have the subtantial numbers of boys in the unit.


I am sorry ,I am not 95 years in Scouting, but only 38. Otherwise you can call me " Baden Powell" (ha,ha,) Juris,www


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BW, I am amazed that anyone who is such a stickler for the rules as yourself (and one who is generally correct about what such rules are) would tell a COR to replace a Scoutmaster. That isn't how it works. The committee and only the committee is responsible to select the Scoutmaster. The COR can fire the whole committee, or with the agreement of the Institution Head, close down the unit. He cannot and should not micromanage the unit's affairs. That is black letter rules.

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"That is black letter rule"


I do not agree. The CR is the Head of the Scouting depdepartment for the CO, and the CO owns the unit. The CR is one of two signatures that sign ALL other leader applications. The other being the CC who is chosen by the CR, and in fact the CR can make him or herself the CC.


We seem to be forgetting that the unit is a function of the CO just as a choir at at church. The scoutmaster however is not the choirmaster the CR is.


Once established a committee can help to select a leader but the committee has no authority to approve any leader.


If you look at the Troop Committee Guidebook, The Cub Scout Leader Book or attend New Leader Essentials you will find I am correct.








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I haven't read those books, but I have attended the National Executive Institute and I can read about it on the BSA website. The relationship between a CO and it's Scout Units is not the same as that of the church and the choir. The choir is a wholly owned (or maybe holy owned) part of the church. The unit and it's committees are owned as a partnership with the BSA. As I said, the COR can fire the committee and the CO can terminate the partnership, but they cannot fire the SM. The do sign the application, it's true, and they can refuse to sign a charter renewal application if they so desire, but I say again, they cannot and should not micromanage the unit by picking and choosing leaders. That is the committee job.


BTW, the reference to BSA Website is: http://www.scouting.org/nav/enter.jsp?s=mc&c=fs

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I do not know what the curriculumm of the executive training institute was. The training and the manuals I gave you are directed to the topic. Your opinion of what should be and what really is the case are not the same. Read the Committee handbooks and you will see I have given ty=you correct information.


I will agree the CR should not micro-manage. The rpogram is not designed for anyone to micro-manage. The question at hand was who had the authority to effect change. In the case of leader selection at the unit level The authority and the responsibilty rests with the CR.




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The chartered organization, through the COR and it's troop committee selects and recruits the Scoutmaster. The CO approves or disapproves the selection. If the Scoutmaster is not meeting the needs of the chartered organization, as is the case Scouter9933 related here, they can replace him. The committee is not autonomous to the CO. The unit and its committee are owned by the CO. BSA owns and provides the program the CO uses. Through it's troop committee, selection of adult leaders is one of the primary responsibilities of the CO.


The Troop Committee Guidebook #34505 discusses this in detail.

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I'll have to take your word for what the book says. I don't own a copy. I do know how the partnership has worked from time immemorial and if the books say something other than what I said earlier, it is incorrect.


I can assure you no troop I ever worked with operated as you suggest.


Having said that, I find I have nothing more to say on this topic.

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