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When to Announce that you are stepping down as Scoutmaster

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I have determine that this will be my final year as SM. My tenure will have been relatively short at 4 years but I served for many year at the Cub level too.


I would like to complete one more calendar plan sept-may and then step aside for others to lead. The question is do I go into the Committee meeting in August and announce this or wait until later in the year to do this?



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I agree with perdidochas that you should have your replacement in your back pocket by now. Whether you do or not, this is a great time (9 months out) to begin preparing your committee for the change. As for your scouts, I would keep that under wraps for the moment. They will either become nervous about your change or they will be anxiously awaiting it. Either way even if you don't intend it to, the anticipation of the change may have a negative affect on your scouts. But then again, you know your scouts best.

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The SM can have a heavy say in the matter, if they see someone who goes on events and has a good relationship with the youth of the troop. So, if you have an suggestion that would help, but either the COR, or the committee should have a say in the matter.


That's the problem with our troop, the outing SM. I wouldn't say he didn't care. But, thought he was doing us a favor, by finding a new SM for us. Walked into the committee and said "I'm leaving, You want the position.. No? You want it. ? Great.. I got you your new SM.."


Our COR had recently passed away, and for some reason our CC didn't stand up. (I think he was also thinking about stepping down soon.) Probably some of us at the table should have said something, but how do you on a minutes notice figure out what to say about this not being the right way to pick a SM, without the guy who grabed the position taking it personnally?


So we got someone who doesn't work well with the scouts, and finds silly excuses to cancel the events (after little prep work..) because it's an inconvience for him.


So work with the COR & Committee, but definately let those who are still involved once you step down, have a say in who to ask. That way, if they make the wrong choice the finger is not pointed at you. They have to take the blame.


But, yes do it soon, giving them plenty of time to figure out the right way they want to decide on the new SM. They don't need to feel pressured into making a quick, emergency decision.

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If you have a strong "inner circle" of adult leaders you work with (ASM's, CC, etc.), then I would talk to them first and let them know what is happening. You may have one or two potential successors waiting to take the position but didn't want to step on your toes. A couple of years ago, our long time committee chair (11 years) made an off hand comment about how she would step down if someone else wanted the job. As SM, I knew that one of our other adult leaders wanted the position, but didn't want to push her out (she did a solid job and hadn't had a son in the troop for almost ten years). He approached her in private and said he'd be willing to take on the position. She was more than happy to pass it along. Apparently, she had been wanting to step down for the previous 2-3 years, but didn't want to abandon the troop.


No matter what happens, make sure of two things. One, the transition is orderly and there isn't a feeling of panic when you step down. If you've done your job well, the troop will prosper without you.


Secondly, once you step down, make sure that your successor has your full confidence and that you show that support to the troop. Better yet, you should make yourself rarely, if ever, seen for the next year so that the new SM can make his/her mark on the troop outside of your shadow. When I first became SM of my troop about nine years ago, my predecesor stayed on as an ASM and made it very hard for me to make the changes necessary to move the troop forward.

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I can relate... this is my 7th and last year and I've already informed the Committee. I've got 2 ASM's who are capable and have shown some interest, so I think I've got that covered. I haven't made an announcement to the Scouts yet but I think they probably have a clue.


Son aged out last year, new job responsbilities taking up all my time, and Mrs CA_Scouter needs more face time.


I'll probably hang around on the Committee so I can visit once a month but will stay out of the way of the new SM just as my predecessor did...


So to directly address your question, I announced to the Committee at the beginning of Jan that this would be my last year.







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My advice is to discuss the matter privately to the committee ASAP and then start looking for a replacement, if you haven't already done so. make sure they get trained and start workign with the PLC ASAP. then start easing out.


Please do me a favor though, when one of your scouts has his ECOH, please attend and make it known you will atttend. My SM stepped down between my EBOR and ECOH. He was not planning to attend, and my mom had to call him and beg him to come b/c he meant that much to me. Luckily he showed up.

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I agree that the committee should be made aware early in the process. Hopefully they will help in the transition process.


As for my own experience, this is how I became a Scoutmaster:


I was looking to get involved again after a break with college and work. Had a friend from church approach me. He and his son were with a troop at another church. T was told they were looking for someone to help with paperwork. No problem. I went to a meeting and met all of the leaders. There were about seven, besides the Scoutmaster. I only knew two and about three of the youth.


A little over half-way through the meeting, the Scoutmaster said he had an announcement. He stepped up and said that he would like to introduce the NEW Scoutmaster - ME. Then he left the room and never came back. Everyone was looking at me. I had a choice - leave with him or step up. I stayed and was with the troop for 16 years.


There was an assistant that apparently wanted the position and he was supported by some of the other leaders. For whatever reason, the committee decided to get someone else. Needless to say, there was some tension over the next couple of years, but all in all things went well.


Found out later that the commiitee and the gentleman who approached me - the Committee Chairman- had no idea that the Scoutmaster was going to do that at the meeting.


While things did work out, the beginning is not what I would wish on anyone.

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As you may have seen mentioned in other posts - this is definitely one of those topics that you don't want to "spring" onto members of the committee - this is where that cup of coffee with your key ASM's and CC comes in handy. Let the CC circulate the information - it may still be a surprise to some people, but it shouldn't grind the meeting to a halt and ruin any planned agenda.


My troop is going through this now. The SM that replaced me has done wonders, growing the troop from literally 1 scout (the other 3 had aged out) to 3 full patrols in 2 1/2 years time. But, life happens, and he needs to step down. He told me, the CC, former CC and another ASM personally, with the other ASM hopefully willing to step up. With you having a whole year, it should be an even smoother transition. Just realize that if ANY of the scouts know, they all will know, so going back to the "you know your scouts" comment, it may be best to wait until it's the last 3-6 months of your tenure to let them know, to avoid confusion in their eyes as to who's leading the troop.


Best of luck,



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I've seen two SM transistions (the advantage of my oldest being 6 years older than my youngest). I agree with all of the above, but would think in terms of a 1 month rule:


Month 0 - let your ASM's know

Month 1 - make a formal announcement at the next committee meeting. Let them know you will be reccommending your replacement to the CO. Let the COR know that it is ultimately their call.

Month 2 - let your boy leadership know - especially the ones approaching Eagle, let them know if you will be available to assist them, or if after X months you'll have left town.

Month 3 - let the rest of the troop know and begin letting your chosen ASM start leading meetings, campouts etc...


In fact if your gut says it's fine to make speed that schedule up and do everything in a matter of weeks, go ahead.


If a decent set of ASM's has your back, don't worry about the boys knowing long in advance. Kids are really flexible. They can sort out the difference between future and current SM's.

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