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Any hope for a dysfunctional committee & troop?

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Hello, I am new to the Forum. This seems like a great place to get ideas and help, and exchange information. Here's our situation:


My son's troop is dealing with a controlling personality, she's the advancement chair. She and her husband have been able to oust THREE Scoutmasters over the last 6-7 years and we've lost many Scouts due to her meddling.


Our problems vis-a-vis organization are similar to many others in this forum. Our CO (Presbyterian Church) is in the middle of a pastor search, and is bogged down in that church's national argument about human sexuality (congregational split is likely) - so even if they were involved with us (they aren't at all) they have many things demanding their attention right now.


We have no COR (advancement chair rejected the last one). No UC. (My DH was UC, but they didn't want to hear what he had to say and ran him out.) The SM has had only the minimal training he could get at Summer Camp. No other adults have taken any training other than YP, and were very hostile to my husband and a former ASM when they tried to get people to training.


This advancement chair basically decides how she wants things to be throughout the troop, and if the committee or scoutmaster stray from that agenda, she tells them why it won't work, or makes up some policy or rule. Many times we've double-checked and found the rule or policy she is "quoting" to be completely different or non-existent. The CC and SM figure since she's been doing this for some years she must know what she's talking about, and they do what she says to do.


Her current target is our son. He and her son had an argument a couple of years ago (yes, YEARS) and the boys have long since made up their differences and moved on. Apparently, the adults in the situation aren't as mature. Anyone who doesn't jump when she says jump is basically harassed until they leave the troop voluntarily, or she sees to it that "charges" are brought against the Scout so that he is removed. The charges pending against our son, according to the SM, are 2nd and 3rd hand reports. It should be noted that (1) no Scoutmaster conference with our son has EVER taken place to discuss these allegations; and (2) we weren't notified of any problems until several weeks after they allegedly occurred.


The CC and SM will not stand up to her, and have refused to get any real training. The SM has told us for the past 2.5 months that he "is deciding on the punishment" for our son, even though he hasn't followed anything resembling Scouting guidelines so far in the entire situation. My husband is fighting cancer, and we are stunned that this can even occur given our life situation right now, but people are strange sometimes. Last week I insisted on a meeting with the SM and my husband and I - SM agreed, then in a last-minute e-mail said the CC would have to be present. We replied that if he wasn't able to meet with a Scout's parents without someone else present, then there wasn't enough trust to meet at all without someone from Council present to mediate. So we have a time scheduled this week with the DE coming in as mediator.


The troop meetings have been poorly organized and boring - the new SPL has one meeting under his belt and is doing a much better job, but it's still an adult-led, lecture-style meeting. We parents are just as bored as the kids! But since no one has any training - no one knows how great the program can be.


Is there any hope here? My son's Eagle project is approved, and he is about to start construction, but he is hesitating because he's afraid the Committee will stall his progress to Eagle BOR. He likes the kids in this troop and doesn't want to switch.


We are hoping that this week's meeting will be a major eye-opener for the DE, so he'll finally know the extent of this dilemma.


Any ideas or suggestions? We have been Scouting devotees since our son came up from Webelos, but this kind of melodrama sure takes the fun out of it.


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"We have no COR (advancement chair rejected the last one)"


You do have a COR...it's a requirement to be chartered. And the "advancement chair" (whom I assume is really a "committee member" who happens to be in charge of advancements) doesn't have that authority.


Since your son is about to begin executing his Eagle project and doesn't want to leave the troop...I don't think there's any advice we can give you. If he were a Tenderfoot or Second Class, I'd say "move on, you can't win this one".


Tell your son to proceed and don't worry about the politics. Tell him also to document every conversation with this person, and follow up with a polite e-mail, such as "just to follow up on our conversation, this is what I understood you to say"...

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Hmmm, I wonder who the CC submitted as COR on the new charter? Those of us who have read through the Troop Committee Guidebook and other BSA references know she doesn't have authority to approve or disapprove such things, but she does it anyway. People who have stood up to her in the past have found their sons' advancements getting held up, so no one stands up to her any more.


Thanks for your info. We've told our son to make sure he keeps his nose exceptionally clean and obeys the Scout law to the letter. We've also told him over and over, as long as you've done the right thing, always tell the truth and obey the Scout law, you're in the clear and don't need to worry about other peoples' issues. Easier said than done, of course.


We are thinking that the DE will get quite an earful at this meeting this week - hopefully it will effect some change.



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As mentioned already, she has no authority to "hire and fire" unles she is 1) the Institutional Head or 2) Charter organization rep.


As for the Eagle Project, once it's approved it's good to go. According to the 2003 Life to Eagle Workbook, no where is a unit's advancement chairman authorization is needed. You need the approval of the organization benefitting, the unit leader, a unit committee member , and the District advancement chairman.


As for the eagle application, you need the unit leader's signature, unit committee chaiman's signature, and a council representative.


now if she sits on the EBOR and doesn't pass him, then she need to have a written explaination AND he can appeal it. I have never heard of an appeal being rejected, and the appeals process gives the benefit of the doubt to the scout.


good luckin this toxic situation.

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I'm not addressing the issues of the Troop. They're big, and they need to be dealt with on the ground by the Unit Commissioner and the District Executive.


As regards your son, he documents everything. I don't care if he sneezes in her presence, or he sees her at school and says 'Good morning.' Document everything.


Remember also that any rejection by an EBOR requires the Board to follow up in writing with the reasons the Scout was deficient, and his path of recourse in an appeal (FYI... that runs through the District Advancement Chair (a volunteer), not through the unit.


Please, keep us informed. Many of us here want to see how this comes out.

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Welcome to the forum. You have posed an issue that touches such a chord that I don't think anyone bothered to say hi. You have already gotten some good advice and I don't disagree with any of it.


I recently heard of a similar situation in our district. A scout at his EBOR was blindsided with something he had done two years before. Our council uses the district guest method for EBORs and the BOR did not pass the scout. The District advancement committee went ballistic at the troop as they had ignored an incident for years seemingly waiting to nail him at the Eagle board. Raised questions about how the troop leadership was running to troop. I don't know what the incident was but I understand that not addressing it could have been seen as a safety issue. The whole thing raised a huge red flag about the unit. I don't know how it turned out in the end but the sense I got was it would be a slam-dunk on appeal because of the way the troop had handled it.


Good luck,


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What exactly are the "charges" against your son? And are they true?


Assumin' they're not that big a deal since the troop didn't feel it necessary to do anything, I think if your lad is already near Eagle, yeh just encourage him! No point in gettin' involved in adult ego contests, and he's plenty old and mature enough to fight his own battles. Just be good parents, do your volunteer jobs and let your son have his space, eh?


As others have mentioned, if there's some issue after the EBOR, there are appeal mechanisms. And then further scoutin' opportunities in Venturing :). But I wouldn't assume problems before they happen, eh?


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Beavah, the charges are some squirrely behavior at a troop fundraiser last December. SM asked the boys in January to tell him in private if they were responsible and it would be kept in confidence and handled. My son - whose conscience is apparently in good repair, thank heavens! - went to SM immediately after the meeting, said he was responsible for part of it, and asked to make repairs immediately. He has not been given an opportunity to make the repairs (a key is required).


Unfortunately, SM did not keep the confidence, and the advancement chair got wind of it at the next Committee meeting. That has basically led to a rash of 2nd-and-3rd-hand reports, all of which my son has denied. I am not sure how these reports surfaced.


We told his teachers at school to let us know if anything was amiss, given that his dad is fighting cancer. No problems at school, and his teachers had glowing reports at the end of the term. So we are skeptical that any of this troop drama is true - but we want the air cleared so the boys can work to build a better troop. They are really trying, and the new SPL is doing a good job - now the adults just need to get out of the way!


Thanks for your thoughts and advice. We'll see how tomorrow's meeting goes.

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Difficult situation.


You asked, is there any hope for a dysfunctional committee and troop?

I say yes.


You asked, any suggestions or ideas?

Yes, start the Eagle Scout Leadership Service Project. You stated Its approved.


The only hope for a dysfunctional committee and troop is if they get training. Either attend training or self study. Then comply with the handbooks. Its fairly easy; I don't see why everyone (every Scouter) doesn't do it.


I've said before. (and I was joking with a fellow ASM just last night) Its amazing how Scouts may fight and argue during one campout; then a week later, they (most of them) are best buddies at the next Scout troop meeting. But adults, we come together as a committee, and somehow we hold grudges, anger, disappointments, and resentment. Its amazing how some troops survive with the parents constantly arguing and disagreeing.


It sounds like your family has a personal disagreement with a member of the committee. But this committee member has not yet stalled or impeded your sons trail to Eagle.


Hopefully your son's Trail to Eagle Scout will not be impeded by any adults or committee. Many project workbooks need to be clarified for safety, leadership, schedule, and communications. It should not be stalled out of anger or spite, but may be returned till the Life Scout (any Life Scout) complies with the project workbook, Eagle scout rank application and advancements handbook.


Your son's project is approved, but he is not starting because he is hesitant of the committee. That is only speculation. The committee or the advancement chair has not stalled anything yet. Your son has to start his project, for them to actually stall it.


Unfortunately, your son has gone to his Scoutmaster to admit he was partially responsible for doing something during December. By your own posting, it appears your son has done something he should not have done. And may jeopardize his own Eagle trail.


Demonstrate Scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life. Between Tenderfoot thru Life this same requirement applies. Then for Eagle Scout Rank, Demonstrate that you live by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law in your daily life.


Although your son should be able to earn this signature from the Scoutmaster, your son sounds like he has not yet earned Scout spirit. "We've told our son to make sure he keeps his nose exceptionally clean and obeys the Scout law to the letter. We've also told him over and over, as long as you've done the right thing, always tell the truth and obey the Scout law, you're in the clear and don't need to worry about other peoples' issues." It sounds like your son has not obeyed the Scout Law, as recent as December.


This Scouter.com forum had an earlier discussion a few months ago, about Scouts which misbehave and can they earn Eagle. I say yes, they can be redeemed, earn Scout Spirit and earn the rank of Eagle Scout. The Trail to Eagle is still there, but maybe a little steeper and more difficult to climb.


It sounds like your son has not yet started his trail, he is about to start construction, but he is hesitating because he's afraid. It may be a very steep trail, but he needs to start it.


Sometimes cleaning the slate can be as easy as I'm Sorry, sometimes not. Sometimes, a simple "I'm sorry" or I was partially responsible is not so easy to fix damages (like your son needs to do) and earn the Scout Spirit so easily.


The Scoutmaster should determine when he/she signs the Scout Spirit.


Your son, should determine when he is ready to start the approved project.


The Advancement committee member, should comply with the advancement handbook. Doing a professional job, disregarding personal feelings. The Committee Chair may select someone else willing to do the job of Advancements correctly, if your Advancement committee member is refusing to do the correct job.


Further, I am sorry about your husbands cancer. It can make life difficult; it can make recreation difficult, and can add stress to daily chores. But his cancer and your sons Trail to Eagle are two different issues. Is your son excused from taking test in school or taking semester finals? Im sure the teachers and school administration are concerned about the welfare of their student and the students family situation, but the school has to be fair to the entire student body.


Hopefully your son gets back on track, begins his project, and starts on the trail to Eagle.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!


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Crew 21, thanks for your response. You bring up important points. I agree that our son threw his own rock in his Eagle road, and he must deal with that fallout. I think he should definitely be held to a high standard of showing Scout spirit before he's able to submit for EBOR.


Of course, I'd like to see all the boys in the troop treated the same. How the SM handles issues is spotty and varies widely from Scout to Scout.


Our son has behaved very well at Scouts (at least by our observation), and apparently this incident in December was unknown to everyone until all the supplies were removed from the onsite shed to go back to the Scout shed at the CO property. So that's why we're confused as to these other incidents, that only surfaced after SM broke confidence about our son's actions. The SM hasn't been willing to give us specific details, but has only made vague comments about "I'm deciding what the punishment will be". Problem is, he's been saying that for 2 months. So it's really now blown way out of proportion.


My hope is that we can clear the air and assess the situation with the DE present and just move on. Unfortunately, because it's been allowed to go on so long there are some pretty hard feelings floating around, so we do have a tough task.

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Greetings again!


Good.. Hopefully your son, will quickly overcome his misbehavior from the Scouting Oath and Law. Of course, no one is perfect. Some boys and some Scouts do error in judgment on occasion. But hopefully your son repairs any damages and is quickly forgiven.


But he should start onto his project as soon as he is ready.


If he has paid any debt for previous errors, and has been deemed to display Scouting spirit. Then there should be no stalling by the members of the committee. Questions, confirmations and observations certainly. But no stalling.


If the advancement committee member then begins any trouble, then he or she is doing the Scouts and troop a disservice. The COR/IH should immediately concur if they can clearly see that satisfactory progress is not occurring. Similarly, the District Key Three, or DE/SE should work to correct the disservice. Even, if it leads to firing a volunteer.


After a committee member stalls your son for no other reason that out of spite. I would support your and expect most of the forum to concur with your concerns. But we can't really concur, if action (or no action) has not yet taken place. It is awaiting your son to begin his trail to Eagle by beginning his leadership project.


In NYLT and Wood Badge, one of the first lessons is Communications. If the world nations could communicate better, the would be fewer wars. Equally, if Scouts, Scouting leaders, parents, and committee members would communicate better, there would be fewer dysfunctional packs, troops or crews.


Hopefully your son can begin the communications. Start his project, and really get going on the trail. It would only be then, that any concerned third party or mediator could identify an actual disservice or work not to shorten your sons trail to Eagle. It will still be a steep climb and solo hike of his own journey, but tough obstacles, road blocks, can only be smoothed if they can truly be witnessed and identified.


Good luck to your son!! And hopefully he gets started soon! Additionally, I hope the Scoutmaster and advancement committee member do their job and assist every Scout on their trail.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!


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We and our son had a very, very helpful meeting this afternoon with the SM, CC, and the DE.


The SM presented us with all the information he had either collected or been given about the incidents. Much of it was conflicting, some of it was hearsay, and some was misinterpretations. The DE deftly guided us to look at the allegations, hear what our son had to say, and find a resolution. Our son does have a couple of things to do so as to make this into a learning experience. The DE suggested that our son be the one to start off an instructional series in the troop - he will give a short talk on "some things have happened recently that don't comply with the Scout Law" and teach the Scouts what they SHOULD do in certian situations. I like this approach - it kind of turns things on their head (a typical adult would ask is this the right person to be saying this?), and I think our son will be respected for standing up to say it.


We also talked about issues with how things are handled in the Troop, and the DE offered lots of suggestions on getting people involved and ways to handle discipline. He mentioned having the boys put together their own code of conduct, based on the Scout Oath and Law - they decide the rules, they are the first line of enforcing the rules, and they end up with more ownership of the whole process - and by extension, move a little further down the road to a boy-led troop.


The DE also suggested that if the SM or CC couldn't get to the Roundtables, then send a parent or other leader. We all came up with the idea of having this be a rotation - someone different goes each month, and hopefully that will plant some seeds for folks to get more involved.


All in all, it was a very productive meeting. The SM and CC agreed to keep the discussion confidential - the Committee need know nothing more than the matter is settled. They won't be told the details of anything that was discussed. We all agreed that the gossip mills were out of control and this would be a good way to stop them.


So our son will do these "acts of service" and start on his Eagle project construction. I feel good about the SM's and the CC's cooperation and commitment to helping our son; if the advancement chair makes any trouble, you have all given me great ideas on how to keep track of things and to whom we might speak if necessary.


I know our son feels much better and at ease, and is ready to get started. Thanks for your help!!

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