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Tgauchsin_Memsochett

Corrupt Leaders?

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Hey everyone,

 

I just wanted to get everyone's opinion on a matter. In order to illicit an appropriate response, I feel like I should tell you the whole story from the beginning.

A little over a year ago, our Troop Committee seated a new chairman and a new Chartered Organization Representative (COR). From the beginning, there was always tension between the Committee Chair and the Scoutmaster. This tension eventually culminated to the point where the Committee removed the Scoutmaster on the basis of boys not receiving advancement quickly enough, because they wanted the Scoutmaster to give away rank advancement, regardless of whether or not the boy knew the skills required to advance. They were wanting to turn the troop into an "Eagle factory."

More recently, there emerged on myspace.com a page for all the members of the troop to communicate more effectively. After an argument and a refusal to take down the web page, the following statement was issued:

 

Ladies/Gentlemen of Troop XXX Committee,

 

Recent events have illuminated some of the leadership issues that we have in our scouting program. One of the problems I see is the use of young men that recently graduated from the program as adult leaders. Even though these young men have the scouting skills, they lack the judgment that comes with age and the experience/wisdom of being a parent. These boys tend to be peers of boys in the program and not adult leaders in the program. This concern became self evident last week during the web page debate.

 

Therefore, after some painful conversations with church leaders/elders, the following is the policy of the Chartering Organization

 

"Adult leaders in the scouting program will be parents of boys in the program." In the event that an exceptional adult leader candidate is available that is not a parent, the policy can be waived if the candidate is at least 25 years of age or at least 8 years older than the oldest boy in the program. Approval of a non-parent candidate meeting the criteria above will use the following process:

 

1) Open discussion of the troop committee

2) Troop Committee vote to recommend candidate to SJUMC

3) SJUMC COR approval and recommendation to minister

4) SJUMC minister final approval

 

The use of non-parent adult leaders will be kept to a minimum and will only be considered for exceptional candidates.

 

Respectfully,

 

COR

Troop XXX Chartered Organization Representative

The Church sponsoring the Troop

 

[end]

 

I understand that the myspace debacle was wrong, but were they overreacting by removing the Scoutmaster, myself, and two other Assistant Scoutmasters, two of which were Eagle scouts, as well as eliminate any possibility of using any more alumni of the troop as leaders? I would like to know where they plan to obtain the personal experience and scouting skills. Am I the only one that feels this way?

 

P.S. The COR does not have a child in the troop

 

 

(Moderaor OGE here, we can talk about this situation if you like, but not with people names and the location of the Troop and name of the CO. I have no idea what you mean by Facebook debacle, but we really dont want a Scouter.Com debacle either

 

(This message has been edited by a staff member.)

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I'm sorry that there are problems in your troop. Ultimately, the CO has the right to approve and fire leaders as they own the troop.

 

I wondered if there is more to this than is mentioned in the post. I googled your troop and I see that there was a leader arrested for child abuse within the last two years. Not a young scouter but still I wonder if that incident might be coloring the CO's attitude toward the troop leadership? Did this happen on your watch as SM? Has the CO tarred you all with the same brush? Were there reasons that it might have seemed a prudent approach to clean house? Was there any connection between the "MySpace debacle" and issues surrounding the arrest of the leader from your unit? Is this really about advancement issues or is it the natural fallout from a really bad youth protection issue.

 

I also question whether it is appropriate or ethical for you to post the name, CO and unit number of your COR? I have not used the name of the arrested leader as I do not know the status of the case and whether he has been tried or if he is guilty or innocent. I trust that you are not the leader in question.

 

 

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It may have been an ethical question to post their names.

 

I am not and was not the SM, I am only a 19-year-old alumnus of the troop who was unceremoniously removed. However, my best friend's father was the SM who was removed, and after discussing with them, I am pretty sure that the removal was solely based on the advancement issue.

 

As for the adult leader, my father was the one who was arrested. The myspace debate could quite possibly have rooted from this, but I still feel that the removal of four leaders was a desperate overreacton

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I misread your post and thought that you were the SM. I am sorry for the situation your father's issues have put you in.

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I am very sorry to hear about your father. That can not have been easy for your family.

 

Regarding your Troop's Charter Org, they own the Troop. While they might have very well been over reacting (bad things can happen even when the volunteer is over 25 and does have a child in the Troop), it is still their call to make.

 

Time will tell how good, or bad, a decision it was.

 

Meantime, your profile shows that you are involved in a Crew as President, I would concentrate on that for now, and not stew over something you have no control over. Perhaps you can recruite the SM, and ASM's who were let go from the Troop to join your Crew.

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There aren't enough details for us to render an opinion, however our opinions don't matter. As others have pointed out, the CO is free to impose whatever additional criteria they want when selecting unit leaders, as long as they don't conflict with BSA membership criteria.

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This is a very difficult picture that you paint. I am also sorry that you've had to go through what you've described thus far.

 

However, you need to understand how this may all look to the charter organization, and to other parents of boys who are still in the troop. As someone who recently graduated from the troop, your perspective is probably very different from theirs. So I'm going to spell out some of the types of concerns that I think a lot of parents might have. Without knowing you or your troop's situation I cannot be sure these all apply perfectly, and none of this is in any way an attack on you. It is simply my effort to ask you to see another side to the matter.

 

1. Probably many parents in the troop are aware of the troop's difficulties from a year or two ago, regardless of how or if those difficulties were eventually resolved. That leads to hyper-awareness because parents do not take youth protection issues lightly.

 

2. Whatever the recent myspace debacle was, it might have been a red flag that current leadership isn't showing serious enough understanding of such issues, for the tastes of some parents in the group. Even if it was a fairly minor incident, you appear to want to view it as an isolated matter, while some adults are probably connecting it in their minds to previous incidents of youth protection problems. (fairly or not)

 

3. Probably some parents are concerned that young adults in their late teens or early twenties do not have the maturity and judgment required to keep their children safe. At the very least, many parents will feel uncomfortable leaving their children in the care of barely older individuals who are "adult" by virtue of BSA rules alone (increasingly, many adults do not consider age 18 to be the magic number at which people join the ranks of adulthood. 21, maybe. 25, probably. 30??) That does not mean you are immature or incapable. It does mean that perceptions matter. And sometimes life isn't 100% fair.

 

4. Probably the CO is still troubled by past allegations of impropriety and has a hair trigger about such matters now. Anything that has even a whiff of controversy to it is likely to bring on a strong reaction (maybe an over-reaction) as a result. You may be the unintended victim of such an over-reaction.

 

5. Possibly some people do not want certain adults to come back to the troop, or would like to see certain families leave the troop. I hate to say it but maybe your family is one that some troop parents would like to see leave. This rule effectively accomplishes that while using other justifications for doing so.

 

6. It really is difficult for many 18-19-20 year olds to make the transition from youth member to adult leader, especially when a week or a month or a year ago, they were simply buddies with the other older boys in the troop. Are you sure you really can pull that off? The two roles - adult and youth member - are vastly different and require very different skills to do well.

 

Let us suppose that you are mature beyond your years, that you are crystal clear on the line between youth and adult membership and roles, and that you are nothing short of a 110% excellent mentor to youth.

 

In that case, your troop's CO still has the right to have this policy. No amount of discussion on a message board or with the (now ousted) SM will change that, and some of that could even backfire if you live in a small town where word gets around when people complain about things.

 

If you want to challenge it, the best way to do so is probably to have a respectful discussion with the Institutional Head of the Church that sponsors the troop (probably the pastor). Ask for a formal meeting, just you and the IH - not a group meeting. Let the IH explain to you why they have this rule. Really listen. Respect and reflect upon what they say. If you feel you must respond right away, don't try to refute, point by point, whatever they tell you - this just looks like arguing to a lot of people, and that's immature. That's a trap that will only confirm their judgment about young adults. Instead, you might ask what you could do to help the pastor see you in a different light. Are there some programs for young adult men in the church that you could join? In short, ask for what you could do to build your adult leadership skills, in the eyes of the church.

 

And then, as long as the answer is not "nothing, sorry" do what the pastor tells you to do! Do it as well as you can, as cooperatively as you can. Learn from the other adults in the church. Let them mentor you for a while.

 

Maybe down the road a short distance, they will be so impressed with your dedication and maturity, that they'll reconsider.

 

But, get bitter and argumentative about it, and they'll likely (figuratively) shut the door in your face.

 

In the meantime, if an adult scouting position is not immediately in the cards, there are a LOT of other good opportunities out there for someone in your age range. Are you a student? Consider getting involved in some groups on your college campus. If you are not a student, look for civic groups like the Jaycees or the Lions that you can join to help you stay connected to your community and develop good mentoring relationships. Join a local hiking group or environmental club. Join the local sport shooting range, or whatever it is you are interested in, and for which there's a local adult group. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity or your church's mission group or the local library or something. There are many ways to serve your community that might fit your current circumstances. The scouting door will always be open again in the future, even if it isn't right now. And of course, there are other troops, too.

 

I wish you all the best in your endeavors. I hope that you will continue to enjoy and learn from scouting as your Crew's president, and that you'll find ways in the future to be involved again as an adult in a troop.

 

Yours in Scouting,

Lisa

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I too am sorry you & your family are going thru these times. I agree with Lisabob comments about the CO's viewpoint, but the fact is you will probably never know what prompted the CO's reaction.

 

I want to add one additional point, if you maintain your membership in your crew, you can also maintian your membership in your local OA chapter. As you may guess from my username, I have been involved in the OA a long time, both as a youth & adult. One of the interesting nunaces of the OA is that youth membership is too the age of 21. This allows young men over the age of 18 to take thier leadership skills to a different level. It is true that this role is mentored, but this IMHO only further encourages leadership growth.

 

I hope for your sake that whatever happens in your former Troop, please do not take it personally, which will be hard not too.

Your comments : "I would like to know where they plan to obtain the personal experience and scouting skills. Am I the only one that feels this way?" make me feel that you feel as if only you & your fellow ASM's have Scouting skills. That fact is that BSA has some great training programs, and the CO is willing to step down on the Troops activity level until new leaders are trained.

 

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Once the conflict reaches level 5, there's nothing anyone can do about it in terms of resolution. Let it go and move on to a more beneficial and rewarding scouting experience. It's difficult to move on with emotional ties, but it can be done. This is a great opportunity for you and the other SM/ASM's. There are a ton of other scout troops out there that are seeking qualified leadership, it's a great opportunity for you if you look ahead at this point and not behind.

 

Best of luck in your scouting.

 

Stosh

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I too would advise our OP to gracefully let things go. Go talk to the pastor, not as an angry ex-ASM, but an upset soul. He may have insight for you on many things.

 

Enjoy your crew and OA time. Reach out to the district committees who always need help with camporees, PWD, day camp, etc. They would love to have an enthusiastic young man to help.

 

And, get on with your personal life. Go to school, find a job, travel, have some non-Scout outdoor fun. Just don't let this gnaw at you.

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Yah, hmmm...

 

Yeh say your dad was arrested on abuse charges relatin' to scouting?? Holy smoke! Yah, I think that's da sort of thing that's like manure. It sticks to everyone around who was friends with or had contact with your dad. Includin' you, your former SM, your friends. Not always fair, but understandable.

 

I think da CO has opted for a fairly extreme policy solution, but this is not somethin' you're goin' to be able to change. After a bit, hopefully this troop will get wise and revisit their policy response.

 

I'm wonderin' what they're goin' to do when they go to summer camp, and realize that everyone from da program director on down are under their age limit for leaders? ;) One can only imagine what these folks do when their lad gets a 23-year-old teacher in school!

 

Beavah

(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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If you are 19, I would recommend you join a Venturing crew and stay involved in the OA. This should give you plenty to do for a couple years, and you'll get to see some of your old friends and meet new ones.

 

Personally, if I was the COR and I was going to allow ASM's under the age of 21, I would definitely want some limitations on what they could do. They could not drive other scouts, for example. There is a reason that car insurance is very expensive for young men under the age of 21. There's no point in arguing with the insurance companies on this. They know their statistics.

 

Of course, limiting leadership to parents would not have fixed the child abuse problem as that person was a parent. However, as a parent I can totally understand the trust issues that are involved. There are also big security and other issues with myspace, so I can understand people not liking a troop to use it.

 

Regarding kicking out the Scoutmaster, if he refused to take down this myspace when the CO told him to, that is pretty much gross insubordination, which is certainly grounds for getting canned.

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While COs can set whatever leadership standards over and above the BSA's, I think they are shooting themselves in the foot. I was one of those "Gray Area" Scouters (GAS): 18-21 yos who are Adults for BS activities , but youth for OA and now venturing activities. Yes I had challenges getting respect from older leaders from other troops, But never within my troop, nor the otehr leaders i worked with on the district and council level.

 

Some of the most dedicated, experienced, and inspiring leaders have been GASs i've met and worked with. let's face it they have X number of years behind them in the program, so they have the KSA to mentor youth. PLUS if they've worked summer camp, they have additional training, sometimes even NCS, that other older leaders do not have.

 

I also have been active as an adult for the past 17 years and have not had a child in scouting until last night when oldest was invested as a TC (OK so SCOUTNET won't register him until June 1, he's doing the Memorial Day service project with the pack, is registered for CSDC, etc. He's a TC ;) ) I've been able to help units getting started going. I've helped a unit briefly fold restart. So I have lots of experience. Heck I had 3 open invitations to join packs, 2 of which were to be CM, and my oldest hadn't joined yet! But I wouldn't meet the parent requirement for this CO. Again I think they are shooting themselves in the foot.

 

Thinking about it, Lem Siddons, at least the movie character, wouldn't qualify as SM with this CO since Vida couldn't have kids.

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"Perhaps you can look into joining the Commissioner Staff for your District"

 

Still a bit young for that, you have to be 21.

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