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PLs and SPL - How do you do it?

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Yah, the Appointed POR's thread was gettin' off into squabbling about theory, so it seemed like a breather and some just plain campfire sharin' was in order.


For your troop, how exactly do you determine SPL and PL's? How long is a "term"? How about other positions? Do you use elections? Do you put any restrictions on who is eligible (ex. rank requirement, SM approval, etc.)? How 'bout requirements to stay in a position? (recall elections? removal for non-performance?). If you use elections, how do you actually conduct the elections (speeches, one night, many nights, what if few patrol members show that night, etc.)? If you do something else, tell us about that, too.


Please, as a courtesy, before you begin "dialog" about another person's post, share exactly how your unit handles things, and your own reflections on where that's worked well and what the challenges have been. And include anything about your troop (size, makeup, etc.) that you feel is relevant.


That way we all know where we're coming from, eh? And some as may be struggling might see some new ideas.




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We have elections. Candidates must submit a permission slip from their parent, so both know there is a commitment to the position ( i.e.. parent has to drive the kid around some more ). We have each candidate make a speech, usually its about 20 seconds ( i.e. 'vote for me' ), but it gets them out of the chair... this year, the SM staff asked some hypotheticals about troop policy, how would you react if this happened, etc... Term is one year, eligibility for SPL is First Class, PL you must be breathing. Yes, we have SM approval but I've never denied anyone.


This year we did the PL elections on one night, and the SPL the next week. Yes, we have notified the troop this year that non-performance may be cause for removal from office. We had several underperforming leaders last year so we felt we had to take a stand for the good of the troop. We also put together JLT training and mandated that for the new leaders.


This has been the method for longer than I've been associated with the troop, and it seems to work pretty well.



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"For your troop, how exactly do you determine SPL and PL's?"


SPL/ASPL - appointed for a 1 year term, nothing says he couldn't continue beyond the 1 year.

PL/APL - NBP appointed for a 1 year term, the rest elected by the patrol membership every 6 mo's.


"How about other positions?"


Most other positions are appointed for 6 mo. terms. Den Chief is appointed for 1 year term and during that time they are expected to earn the DC Award. They must commit to the whole year with the Cub Den they are serving.


"Do you use elections?"


We announce the 6 mo's are up and each patrol needs to run an election. Turn your results into the SM. They can vote verbally, by consensus, secret ballot, whatever, we don't tell them how to run their patrol.


"Do you put any restrictions on who is eligible (ex. rank requirement, SM approval, etc.)?"


Nope. Our SPL is 14 yo Star, should turn Life in next month or so. the Honor Patrol (HP) has the SPL and 2 Den Chiefs (both 12 yr old) all Star ranked.


"How 'bout requirements to stay in a position? (recall elections? removal for non-performance?)."


That's up to the patrol. If they don't like their leaders they are free to change them at any time.


"If you use elections, how do you actually conduct the elections (speeches, one night, many nights,"


Our elections usually take about 5 minutes to run. The boys know each other and how they operate and so they have a pretty good idea who's going to be PL even before the vote is taken.


" what if few patrol members show that night, etc.)?


Bummer, if you are worried about who's going to lead you, better show up.


"If you do something else, tell us about that, too."


Appointments are based on a number of different factors. For example, last Tuesday's meeting: A boy (1st Class 13 yo) approached me about being the TG for the NBP that formed last month. I asked him if the patrol wanted one. He didn't know. I figured the conversation would end at that point, it didn't, the boy went over to the NBP meeting and asked if they wanted/needed a TG. After a discussion the NBP PL came over (2nd Class 12 year old) and told me the NBP would like to have a TG. I said OK, did they have anyone in mind? He said the patrol would like to have the boy to brought up the issue in the first place. I said ok, but he needed to talk with the SPL because this is not a patrol position and the patrol need/want would be taken under consideration by the PLC. The TG candidate was a member of a different patrol and this interpatrol issue would need to be addressed there. PLC with SM held an ad hoc 5 minute meeting and figured it was to everyone's benefit. The TG candidate really did not need to be doing that position for POR he was already Troop Scribe. I dug out a TG patch from my records box gave it to the SPL who presented it to the new TG. The only problem I had with the whole process was my involvement. Hopefully someday this will happen without having to ask if being leaders on their own had to be ok'ed every step of the process.


Up until 2 weeks ago we had 5 patrols. Two patrols merged due to loss of membership. We as adults kinda masterminded this. The patrols were struggling but were hanging on. Not the best situation to be in, but not the worst either. What we did was take the PL from one patrol (2nd year scouts) and made him APL of the NBP, and took the APL from the other patrol (older scouts) and made him PL of the NBP. The patrol then merged to strengthen their position in the troop and reestablish their patrol leadership staff. They came up with a totally new name by which they will now operate.


Another patrol is the Honor Patrol which operates quite different than any other patrol. They are the #1 support group for the other patrols. The SPL is the PL of the HP. Every member of the HP has to hold a POR all the time. They need to be Star rank of any age to be considered for an invitation by the patrol to join. The 2nd Class Scout who took on the NBP PL position and is doing a fantastic job and the 1st Class Scout to stepped up to the TG postion are two prime candidates for the HP once they have fulfilled their responsibility to the NBP and advanced to Star. The membership of the HP is based on demonstrated merit and scout spirit, not popularity.


While we banter around a lot about the patrol method we aren't there yet, but we're getting closer. The patrols are pretty autonomous, but we have troop support both boy led and adult led there whenever they need it. Sometimes we "interfere" with the process, i.e. the merging of the patrols described above, or sitting in on a patrol meeting to see how things are going, kinda followups. We have been an adult led troop for many years and it's difficult to make the necessary changes, but some great things are happening because we are.





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We have elections bi-annually.

The night of the election, the troop nominates candidates (must be at least First Class). Those candidates give a short speech on why they should be SPL. A vote is taken. Winner becomes SPL, the next two runners up become ASPLs. SM has the right to reject nominees but has never exercised it. After the general election, patrols break off and elect a PL and APL from within. The new PLC then assigns other PORs like QM, Scribe, etc.

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In our troop, the SPL is elected to a one year term. We have not done speeches, but we are considering this for this year, as there is no one candidate who stands out over the others. It should be a close election!


Patrol leaders are appointed and are reviewed yearly. We can and have removed patrol leaders and SPL's for non-performance and a lack of judgement issues.

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We hold elections every six months. The SPL candidates declare ahead of time, and give their speeches the week before the election. They put some thought into the speeches and take several minutes each. The SPL appoints his ASPL. The SM (me) has approval rights, but I haven't vetoed anyone. There are no rank requirements on the SPL, but I don't think anyone under First Class has ever run. The patrols split up and elect their PL and he appoints his APL. Then the SPL appoints the rest of the positions out of the Scouts who have indicted an interest in them. We use progressive elimination elections for the SPL, until one candidate receives a majority of the vote. We don't tell the patrols how to do their elections.


I appoint any JASMs or den chiefs on a more independent basis. Our den chiefs have to be First Class, and they do not have a defined term of office, but more or less match the Cub Scout year. Most of them have the default plan of sticking with their den for a few years until they cross into the troop.


We don't have any explicit stated methodology of removal, but if it were to need to happen, we'd deal with each situation individually.


Oak Tree

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Our SPL and PLs are elected. The SPL for one year and the PLs for 6 months.


Elections are held twice a year. The process is made up of four parts.

-Nominations. Any scout may be nominated by his peers and must be seconded by a show of hands by his peers to appear on the ballot.

-Speeches. A prepared short speech of approximately 2 minutes informing his peers who he is and why he should be elected.

-Town Hall. The candidates sit before the troop and answer questions concerning their past and their plans of the future. This is M.C.ed by the current SPL.

-Voting. The troop votes by closed ballot and can vote for as many Pls as there are positions in the troop or as few as zero votes if they do not feel any are worthy of the position. The candidates with the most votes win. In the case of a tie there is a run off election following short speeches. If a second tie occurs the SPL breaks the tie.


Our patrols rebuild every six months following elections. This is the process:


The patrol leader with the most votes picks first. The Patrol name is selected first followed by its members. Scouts being selected can turn down their selection by not accepting, but they can not turn down every PL. If a selection is turned down, the selecting PL gets to pick again until that spot is filled. Patrols must be even, so not accepting a selection does not ensure that a scout will not be in his desired patrol. (If there are 3 patrols and 24 scouts to be placed into patrols, the patrols must be of 8 each.)


Patrol members may have to be moved around during the 6 month period. To do so one must have the approval of the SPL, the PLs involved, the SM and the scouts involved. If any of these parties have a solid objection and state their case clearly, then the change can not be permitted.


The Staff Patrol consists of a Senior Patrol Leader, his assistant and several other scouts in Leadership Positions such as troop Quartermaster and Troop Scribe. The SPL is elected and then appoints scouts into their respective duties pending Scout Master approval. The terms for the Staff members are not specified. They remain on staff as long as the SPL and the Scout Masters all feel they are performing their assigned duties or until the SPLs term is up and a new SPL is elected at which time staff is reselected.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Elections every six months, we encourage SPL & PL to serve for two consecutive terms, but it's up to the boys to decide.


No rank requirements, but we "prefer" 1st Class for PL and Star for SPL. That said, we have a 2nd Class PL in one of our older patrols right now and just had a First Class for SPL. We also prefer the SPL to have experience as ASPL, PL or Troop Guide.


Our process spans the better part of a month. But doesn't consume the whole program. Here's an overview:


Week 1 - The SPL and an adult explains the process. This is mainly done in August, when you have a bunch of new scouts. It's a pretty quick overview in February.


Week 2 - Boys turn in self-nominations forms to express interest in the positions. These are done on a simple form that allows the scout to pick PORs of interest (in order of preference). I have veto rights on any boy wanting to run for SPL.


Week 3 - SPL & PL elections. If we have no one running or need additional boys to run, we open the floor up for nominations. We've had boys "talked into" being PL by their peers. I think that's great for a boy that doesn't have a lot of confidence to have his peers tell him he should run. The SPL election is run by an ASM who is not related to anyone running for the position. After the SPL election, the new SPL usually goes ahead an announces his ASPL(s). Then the Patrols have their elections. Patrol elections are overseen by the SPL or ASPL.


Week 4 - Troop POR appointments by SPL and patrol appointments by PL.



This has worked pretty well for us for the past couple of years. The formality in the election process was introduced a couple of years ago after a parent-interference fiasco. We worked with the PLC after that incident to put together a more formal process. It's worked a lot better since (but have still had some challenges).

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Unit Leader elections


SPL - elected to 6 month term. Must meet minimum troop requirements with reguards to rank, pre requisite POR, and training. Must be approved by SM

ASPL - Appointed by SPL with advise/consent of SM. Must meet minimum troop requirements with reguards to rank, pre-requisite POR, and training.

PL - elected to 6 month term. Must meet minimum troop requirements with reguards to rank, pre-requisite POR, and training. Must be approved by SM and SPL

APL- appointed by PL. Must meet minimum troop requirements with reguards to rank and training.


We have our elections coming up in 2 weeks. We have 6 month terms to allow for all youth to experience the joys of leadership. Most are very happy to pass the torch, we make them do their jobs (ha!)


The SM typically askes the current SPL to read the requirements for the JOB of SPL, ASPL, PL and APL. He assures that everyone understands how the election/appointment is done. At that time, the SM is asked to make any recommendations (the fix is in). If there are youth that need to serve in a specific POR, such as SPL (we want every prospective Eagle to have served as SPL for a term) the SM's recommendation carries a huge amount of weight. If there are multiple eligible youth, they are polled verbally if they would accept the position and perform the duties. Yes = enter election, No = decline to enter election.


If there's a youth that doesn't quite get the program and needs some help with his leadership skills, he's not recommended (has happened). If he's voted into office anyway, he's asked to take the roll of ASPL for the term with another more qualified youth, and follow him into office the next time with the recommendation of the SM.


Troop POR's (Scribe, quartermaster, grubmaster, etc) are appointed for the 6 mo term by the SPL, with concurrance of ASPL and advise/consent of SM.


Patrol POR's (same as above at patrol level) are appointed by PL for 6 mo term with concurrance of APL, and advise /consent of SPL and SM.


the weeks following the elections we try and have a training workshop to instruct the new leaders how the troop should run. We use adults and youth leaders to run the workshop.

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Our terms are for six months, the required amount to fulfill the leadership requirment for Eagle.


We do Troop elections for all of the "lesser" positions like scribe, quartermaster, etc etc. The scouts are elected by their peers. For the SPL position, our SM will nominate 2-3 (usually 3) scouts who he believes are best qualified to run for the position, and its usually the life scouts who are on their way to Eagle. In the past, the troop has voted for the SPL, and the SPL then got to choose his ASPL personally. The chosen ASPL was almost always the person who was also running for SPL.


Well, when it was my turn to run for SPL, I also ran against a friend, and another scout. Well, our SM knew that if one of us were to win, we would choose the other as ASPL, so he made it so that the second place scout gets ASPL. Well that fell through, as I won by a blowout and my friend got second place, making him ASPL. After our term, the second place vote wasn't used again.



As far as duties go, its pretty simple. You show up to the meetings, lead the flag ceremonies etc, etc. Pretty standard stuff. Oh, and if there is an Eagle Court of Honor during the term, you get to MC the ECOH, something I've been able to do. As far as planing goes, we have our SPL meeting at the end of the month, where we go over and discuss the current month, and get ready for the next one. The SPL always runs it, but basically the PLs and all the other leadership positions do all the talking. I've gotten an earful at one of these meetings for something stupid that I'd rather not get into, but thats about the only trouble I've encountered.


Now I also got to be SPL for summer camp, and I'd say I did a pretty darn good job. The upcoming first years were in a word, babies. Its probably because most of their parents are over protective, so they weren't ready for some of the things that we all love about summercamp. I knew that these scouts were going to get picked apart by some of our older scouts. Its not that we have bullies in our troop, no, but they just like to tease, and sometimes teasing can go too far.


So when the first years were off to get medical checks or something, I gathered the troop and basically told them "Remember what it was like when you were a first year" and something along the lines of "if you want to pick on them, you have to go through me first." I guess that worked, because we didn't have any problems.



I left out some stuff, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

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