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Joe MacDoaks

New Scout Master

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I have been a Cub leader for the last three years and I have been asked to be the new SM for the troop that my son is in. My son is in school with most of the kids in his patrol. My son is youger than most of the kids he crossed over with, many people in our area hold boys back a year for sports. Some of the kids in his patrol don't treat my son well, they make fun of him and they act like sharing a tent with him is a punishment.

 

When I was my sons Webelos leader many parents would ask me why my son got more pins than their kids, I explained that I was familiar with the book, having done Webelos II the last two years, and that if we were going to do something as a family that would allow for him to get a pin we would complete the requirments for the pin. I also explained that they could do the same thing with their sons, only one parent ever did.

 

I have a problem in that I don't like the way some of the other scouts treat my son. I believe it will be hard to correct this behavior in scouts when the child that is being picked on is my child. I also have a concern that parents will think that I am just signing off stuff in my childs book. I haven't signed off a thing in my sons Boy Scout book so far even though the SM has given me permission to do so. My son still has more stuff signed off than any of the other kids he crossed over with.

 

I am reluctant to take the SM position because of these concerns. Our SM is retireing in about a year and a half. No one else seems interested in taking this position. Moving to another Troop is not an option, we live in a small town and we have only one Troop.

 

Does anyone have any advice?

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Tough dealing with parents, isn't it. Welcome to the forums, I think you'll find some good advice here.

 

There's a number of ways to reduce the appearance of favoritism of your son. It sounds like you are already doing the basic one, that of not signing off any of his requirements. To take it a step farther, don't do anything outside of the troop setting that you wouldn't do with any other scout. This may sound harsh, but I don't push my son to advance, nor do I sit him down and force him to work on his Eagle project plans. Now, if he asks for help, that's fine, but I don't push.

 

I've had the issue of my son being the one that often advances first. I don't do anything deliberately to slow him down, but I don't try to push him to be first, either. We've had the issue of a fellow scout that seems to live to one-up my son. He's declared that he's going to be the "first" to make Eagle. I've encouraged my son to not try and race him to Eagle. Take his time and do it according to his own schedule. Don't let this other scout mess with his head. If he doesn't put up a "fight", then the other scout has a shallow victory.

 

As for taking the job or not. It really depends upon whether you are really cut out for the job. SM can be the most rewarding job in all of scouting. It can also be the most frustrating at times. I thoroughly enjoy the adventures and watching young men grow. I get frustrated at times with teenage attitudes and that general "who cares" attitude that seems to hit them around 13 or 14. But overall, it's a great time and I love to see them pull things together.

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Welcome.

 

You ask a very good question in your first post.

 

Who asked you to take the Scoutmaster position?

 

Take it only after you feel there is a consensus of the leadership. This includes getting a clear idea from the parents of the new scouts how they feel about it.

 

Hang back for a while and let this jell in its own time.

 

You will probably be scoutmaster, but get a consensus before you actually say "yes."

 

The job of recruiting a new scoutmaster ideally belongs to the chartered organization and the troop committee, even if that doesn't happen often in the real world.

 

Let us know how this turns out.

 

Have fun scouting.

 

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I was asked by the SM, CM, and the CO to take the SM job. While I was a Cub Leader I did two groups every year. My kids sold the most popcorn and had a good time. I also encouraged us to spend more on the kids and the Cub Program has improved during my time as a Cub Leader. Our SM says that the kids he has gotten from Webelos have been the most prepared kids he has ever had. Eight of the eleven kids that I had as webelos have earned the arrow of light, and I mean earned it. I have also been kind of a bridge between the CM and the SM who don't get along. I enjoy working with the kids but, I get a little tired of their attitudes also.

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Joe,

 

Welcome to the campfire. Pull up a log, and have a pull of water from your Nalgene.

 

Lots of comments here.

 

First, I assume you have New Leader Essentials, but otherwise, are you fully trained to be a Scoutmaster: Fast Start, Scoutmaster Fundamentals, and Outdoor Leader? If not, strongly urge these courses upon you at the first opportunity.

 

Second, leverage both the Patrol Method and the Adult Association Method in getting mutual respect amongst your Scouts. Your PLC is a tool there, hone it well and use it properly :) ... That your son is being picked on may or may not be the tip of the iceberg. Let one of your ASMs supervise discipline for a while.

 

Third, get the PLC in gear. What do they want to do? Are their ideas within the bounds of reality?

 

Fourth, as SM you are concerned with Scouts advancing (advancement is a Method) but the details are less important than the growth of the Scouts. Do you have an advancement coordinator on the Committee who can feed you quality information about where each Scout is? If not, that's support you need from your CC!!

 

We're glad to see you here.

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Joe,

 

Boy, this really hits home with me! I have been in this situation now for about 20 months and there are no easy solutions. My son does not have a lot of social ability, is not athletic, is rather geekish, and has A.D.D. Waking him up in the morning takes me nearly 45 minutes on a normal day, keeping him on task and having him willingly contribute is like pulling teeth!! He is an outcast in the troop. I have to stay on top of him all the time to get anything done...and I HAVE to do that because the minute he does something wrong or forgets something a certain group of boys take glee in making comments (loud enough for him to hear!) about how he gets away with everything because he's the SM's son!!..unfortunately, most of these comments come from my current SPL & ASPL!! They pick on him at school..on the bus and any possible chance they get and go around LOOKING for reasons to put him down and complain about him. It is VERY difficult to separate yourself as a parent and a SM when these things happen because no matter how hard you try, is sounds like you're taking sides! Recently there were some incidents on the bus involving my SPL and another boy and my son was coming home miserable every day. I told my son to try and ignore it as much as he could and if he couldn't, to just tell my SPL that his behavior was very unscoutlike. So he did that one day and the boy's answer was "So what!! I don't care!" I discussed the situation with a couple of my ASM's to help me figure out how to handle the situation and we decided that I needed to address it as the SM. So I pulled the boy aside and said to him "Another scout has come to me and told me that you are picking on him" and approached it that way. His response was "So...it didn't happen at SCOUT's!!" Then he proceded to tell me that HE was not the one who was doing the picking..but the other boy and I asked him if he did anything to step in and stop it and he said no, which led into a discussion about living by the scout oath and law and doing the right thing. I'm not sure it made much of an impression on him. This boy has been a headache in the troop from the get go. I don't know one adult leader in the past 5 years who has not wanted to give him the boot! When we try to address anything with him, all we get is arguement and told that we are "singleing" him out. He is a natural born leader, but usually in the wrong direction! When he became SPL at least it gave me the ability to remove him from SOME of the problem situations and put him more under my direct "control" so that I could perhaps start to try and teach him how to lead in a more positive way. However, he's usually so busy arguing with me about everything I'm trying to teach him, that we're not making any progress..it's VERY frustrating!!

 

In short..when you're the SM and your son is in the troop, there is ALWAYS going to be SOMEONE who is going to think you're showing favoritism to your son no matter what you do. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't most of the time. We try NOT to disclipline our own children at camp, etc. but if I don't do it to my son, then I hear that I let him get away with everything and if ANYTHING, I'm harder on him than I am with the other boys because of that.

 

Good luck and as the BS motto says "Be Prepared"!! It's not going to be easy!

 

Sue M.

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From your post I take it that you are not currently serving as an ASM, is that right? Does the troop have other ASMs (and if so, how many and are they really involved, or just decorations, so to speak)? Assuming that there are at least a couple of ASMs, and given that your SM is looking at retiring in about a year and a half, I'd recommend that you sign on as an ASM now and then do all the training (as John suggested), without making a definite commitment to stepping up as SM down the road. A lot may change in a year and a half.

 

As for the discipline issues: are the current SM and CC aware of this? Is the SM doing something about it? If not, why not? It shouldn't be up to you as a parent to have to address behavioral problems in the troop as a whole. And even if you are an ASM, if there are other ASMs, they should be working as a team to help address these issues - it shouldn't fall on your shoulders just because it is your boy being picked on. The team approach reduces the appearance of "favoritism."

 

And what about those other parents who perceive that there is favoritism, are they registered leaders in any capacity? Have they been to training? If not, maybe the troop leaders need to encourage these folks to get registered and trained - or else, to sit back and quit grousing.

 

At any rate - welcome to the group. I hope your son is able to enjoy scouts even with the issues you described.

 

Lisa'bob

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I'm with Lisabob on this one. Wait and see before you take the SM position. Get the training you need and get some experience with the Boy Scouting program first.

 

I seems like the existing SM is looking to step down and you look like a good candidate based on your success with the cub scouts. Tell them that you are interested, but you want to get you feet wet first. Let them know that you have concerns about your son.

 

I was an ASM when my son was a scout. I avoided signing off in his book, but I was not afraid to wear my dad hat and encourage him when he needed it. He was not the most popular boy in the troop or in school either, but scouting gave him the confidence he needed to cope with it and he made Eagle at age 16.

 

 

 

 

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I echo L'Bob... why is your SM not addressing this issue? I'm all for a boy-run troop, but sometimes they just don't have the necessary skills when complicated and difficult issues such as harrassment/hazing come up. The SM needs to step in and put a stop to this immediately.

 

I do not allow ANY harassment in my troop. Nothing, ever. I set a standard for behavior and enforce it agressively and immediately. I do not wait for the PLC to step in if I see something amiss.

 

 

You don't state WHY your son is being picked on... do you know?

 

 

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Hi Joe,

Welcome.

Reading your post, I really think that both you and your son are in the wrong Troop.

I get the impression that he really can't be happy. I know I wouldn't be.

Get outta there find a Troop that works for you and junior.

Eamonn.

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I echo Eamonn, for I got the same impression. Sadly, this sounds an awful lot like a situation our son was in at one time. He is no longer involved in that troop, and the new troop is not in our town. In fact, it's not even all that close to home, but it's been a good move. If it's at all possible, it seems a good idea to look into other options. Welcome to the forums, and I hope Scouting begins to look up for your son and for you.

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I have to say that a Troop out of your local twown can be a good thing. We only have one Troop in our County and my son chose not to join it. We went to an adjoining county and drive 25 miles to meetings. but it is worth it for my son. He is in a Troop of boys that he really gets along with.

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I have a comment on SueM's problem. If the SPL and ASPL is picking on other scouts this is a serious problem. This is not displaying "scout spirit". You may need to have a talk with the boys and remind them (and maybe their parents), at some point they will have to come for a BOR. At the BOR they will be asked "do you display scout spirit?" It doesn't matter if it was my son or another scout they would not pass review if they were picking on other scouts. Very poor example of boy leadership and a black eye for the troop...

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I have not completed any SM training but I am fully trained as a Cub Leader. I am filling in as an ASM during the summer and I am going to Camp. At camp I will take outdoor leader training and I will get most of the indoor training during the year.

 

We have one other ASM, the SM's adult son, he is also an Eagle. Several parents are partially trained and act as ASM's or Cub leaders with sons in the pack and the troop fill in as ASM's at times.

 

My son probably gets picked on by his peers because he is a year younger than most of his peers and a little more imature. He is also small for his age and not very athletic. He has a very good attitude and he doesn't complain about the other kids picking on him. My son being picked on concerns me and the wife more than it does our son.

 

The older Scouts in the Troop like my son, he went on several Boy Scout Campouts with me as a Webelo when I went along to provide two deep leadership. He listens to the older Scouts and he knows what to do.

 

Our SM will stop bullying if he sees it. My son won't complain about it so the SM has to see it.

 

I am more concerned about how I would have to handle discipline / bullying when the object of the bullying is my son. I am also worried about people making negative comments about my son advancing faster than some other boys since I have heard comments about his advancement when he was a Webelo. Right now I don't have to sign his book but as the SM in a small troop it would be difficult to never sign his book. I wouldn't want to hold up advancements because I wouldn't do something for my son that I would do for another boy.

 

My son will probably advance fast since he is more interested in scouts than in sports. Most of the other boys are more interested in sports. The boys that bully my son the most are not going to summer camp and I am sure that my son will make first class before they make tenderfoot. That may solve all of my problems. Those boys may drop out if they fall behind.

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Joe,

 

Good feedback from you, helps us give you input!

 

Several items: You're an ASM, and the SM "heir apparent." Over the next year, sooner than later, ask to work into being the adult mentoring the SPL/ASPL. Let those two young people know in no uncertain terms that you expect their comportment to be better than anyone elses'. They set the standard.

 

Encourage your other adults to move from partial to trained. The Scouts deserve us making the effort to be trained. We are guiding and mentoring the young folk who will lead our nation when we're old and feeble.

 

If there is a 16 year old in that "older Scout" group, he can become a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. As a peer who is "more than just a peer", he can enforce a "you are the standard" of the youth leadership, as well as set a role model example.

 

Consider looking hard at the older Unit JLT package (if you can still find it out there). I know there is some debate, but I've had educational psychologists (K-12 types) look at both it and the new Unit Y LT and they say the older package is developmentally better! Plan, coordinate, and do junior leader training. Very, very few of us are born natural leaders, and the skills are invaluable for a lifetime.

 

Finally, I'm concerned about the last paragraph. We're here to instill great things in young people. Planning for youth to drop feels counterproductive. These are the young men who need mentorship the most, because Coach is going to give them technical skills and competitive spirit, not the citizenship values we instill. Visit with parents of these young men as well.

 

Above all, have fun. This Scouting stuff is fun!(This message has been edited by John-in-KC)

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