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If You Were the New Scoutmaster What Would You ask?

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This is spun off from the thread about a boy thrown out of a Scout Troop and applying for membership in a new Troop:



How is this boy likely to apply to a new Troop?



Is he likely to apply with no notice of any kind of problems in his previous troop?



Is the District Executive or other Council Representative likely to have a chat with the Scoutmaster?


Have you had experience with similar kinds of things yourself with boys who had troubles with their previous unit? How did you handle that?


Suppose you called the previous Scoutmaster and got the simple information that the boy had belonged to the troop for a period of time and "left." Or perhaps that he was "expelled" and you got no further information.


Or perhaps you got an earful of lurid details over the phone.


What might you do? What should you do?

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First, I'd have a sit down with the Scout. Not an interrogation, not a test, but a simple chat on what he expects to get out of Scouting, why he choose "our" troop, why he left "his" troop, etc. I'd keep most of the questions on my end open ended.


The fact that he wants to remain in Scouting is a good sign. I may talk to his parents about the same topics but really wouldn't care as much about their input.


I would then contact the Scoutmaster and simply ask for the Scouts advancement records stating that the Scout had an interest in transferring troops. I leave an opening for the Scoutmaster to comment but would not try to otherwise get any other information from him.


In other words, I'd give the kid a clean slate and see what happens. We do that with Webelos every year, why not other Scouts?

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While one wants to give a fresh start to a boy in this situation, I would probably initiate a discussion with the prior scoutmaster, but a carefully controlled conversation. It is important to know if the reason for departure was any behavior that created dangers to other scouts and adults and I think the new unit is entitled to know of any such behavior. In fact one would be negligent not to seek such information.

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Hello eisely,



So you call the other Scoutmaster. You are told that yes, the boy was a member of the troop between certain dates.


He was expelled from the troop because of serious violations of Scout rules. The District Executive and council were aware of this action.


No other information will be provided because the records of the boy have been sealed by the troop.




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Nobody said what the boy did.


I would want to know:


IS this boy a DANGER to the boys who play by the rules?


What "leadership challenges" is he going to give me(a volunteer part time person who is not a child shrink)?


What "leadersip challenges" is he going to give one of my 15 year old young PL and my SPL's if he tries his crap again?


What kids am I liable to lose?





This kid and his parents have to realize that your reputation follows you where ever you go.


Reading some of the answers here is is easy to see how Catholic Priests are shuffled from town to town and given a new crop of lives to ruin.


I only hope your daughters don't date the local Vandersloot wannabee's and you sit around a hospital waiting room asking "how did this happen", wake up! evil exists and it thrives in a society where people are unwilling to see things as they are.

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First, there is no such thing as "sealing" the boy's records. Volunteers (like the former SM) may choose not to discuss the matter but that's of their own accord. And yes, you have a right to contact them if you want to.


Second, let's keep in mind too, that there may have been nothing more than a bad fit between boy/family and troop and that may have led to bad feelings, friction, disagreements, even arguments. Not every boy who transfers, does so because he committed some kind of horrible act.


Third, ASK THE BOY and his parents "Why did you choose to leave the last troop you were in?" Ask them separately if you want (hey, most parents don't hang out at the troop meetings and most don't go camping). If you get concerned, or have a strange vibe, keep a closer eye on that new boy for a while until you feel you have a better sense of things.


But again, there is no such thing as "sealed" records for a youth in scouting, unless you are coming up against the juvenile justice system - and that raises the bar a bit, doesn't it.



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Hello Lisabob,


True "sealing" records mostly just sounds good. But there's no reason you couldn't seal the records to your hearts content and give them to the chartered organization to hold in a file if you wish.


Do that and they are probably pretty well sealed.

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So there are multiple parts to this question, and SeattlePioneer, I'm not sure what your point is. You ask a simple question in the topic, people answer it, and then you tell them that they can't get the information they are asking for.


The questions I would ask are:

Why was he expelled? Here I'm looking for things like - dangerous behaviors, sneaky behaviors, illegal behaviors, or something else that I might want to take some action on ahead of time.

What might you recommend I do to head off any similar problems? There might actually be some relatively straightforward answers here that could be implementable - "Don't let him tent with someone he doesn't know", or "Don't let him bring a knife", or "Check his backpack for alcohol", or "Try to avoid having an adult yell at him."


I would also try to listen closely to see if there are beliefs on the part of the Scoutmaster or troop adults that exacerbated the situation.


What would I do if the Scoutmaster wouldn't tell me anything? Probably nothing. I'm not going out on some type of witch hunt here. But the more indication that something is seriously wrong, the more I might look into it. Records are hardly ever "effectively sealed" among volunteers, in my experience. It's another local troop? I likely know some of the other leaders. I might know another parent. I might mention it to someone while chatting at roundtable and see what they say.


But really, if the other SM doesn't want to talk about it, it's not a huge deal. We'll probably figure out the problem for ourselves soon enough, if it's relevant. If the problem does not reoccur, then we're ok anyway.

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I don't understand the rationale behind how you would respond, SP, but if I ask about a transferring Scout and you tell me he was expelled, the troop has sealed his records and refer all other questions to the council, I'm not going within 100 miles of this boy! Are you kidding me?


First of all, I can only imagine what levels of hell this kid has dragged your troop through. Secondly, you make it sound like six lawsuits waiting to happen.


I guess I don't see the firewall between units maybe other folks do. Within out troop, we have a written policy that information will be shared with other leaders on a need-to-know basis, but there is a very broad need to know. We never know which leaders will be around when an issue (medical, discipline, behavioral or otherwise) arises, so we want all our leaders aware of what's going on with a Scout. I don't see a whole lot of difference between an ASM in our troop and the SM of the one down the street.


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You can find out all you need to know about the youths advancement by requesting an transfer form the council the youth came from. If the youth is in the same council all one needs to do is go to the Council office and ask for a print out of the boys records. Nothing else matters due to the fact what council has is the official record.


Then go to the YM Scout Handbook to see where he is on the rank he is currently working on. If its signed off in the book then it done if its not then he has to do it again even if he says he has done it. Not signed off not done.


No need for any reports from the past troop. No need for any conversation with the past troop on the YM performance. There is no need to even talk with the past unit. What happened there is not important at all when it comes to how the new unit should treat the YM.


What is important is that the SM welcomes the YM with loving caring open arms. Letting him know that you care about him as a person. What happened in the past is unimportant to what should happen in his future.


We are trying to build men here from boys. Men who are can have a positive impact to their family, community, nation and world. We have to remember that boys will make mistakes, some more server than others. Its all about growing up and learning from our experiences, and choosing right over wrong. Sometimes we choose wrong. When we do there are consequences for our actions. Its what we learn and do from those consequences that make us better people.


If we are always being looked at and judged for our past mistakes and sins. Then there is no way we can ever improve as our mistakes and sins will alway be with us.


I don't think this is what our Heavenly Father had in mind when Jesus Christ suffered for the sins of all man kind.


Repentance isn't it a wonderful principle.





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Haven't had this with a scout, but we did with an adult volunteer that was asked to leave. When the SM of the troop this adult joined after us called me, I told him anything he wanted to know. It wasn't a long discussion because the SM already saw the problem, he was just verifying it. The SM of the troop after him also called. The SM of the troop after us didn't ask the adult to leave, but it was coming.


I do think safety is important and its good to learn the history of troubled folks, or if there is even a troubled history. I am not sure of the fear of imformation here, but scouting is hard enough without mistory clouding the job.



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My SM and I recently decided, "we take bad kids."


So hearing dish on a boy transferring isn't an issue. Sometimes its the boy who politely transferrs from troop X that will cause more grief than the boy expelled from troop Y.


Regardless, our advancement committee chair would ask for the boys troopmaster records. Why? Because it saves typing and she's a nice lady so she's good at getting stuff like that.


Regardless, the SM or an ASM would look at the boys handbook and ask him about the identity each person who signed on it. Why? Because we frown on requirements signed by relatives (or other adults) and want to see if the boy really knows the skills needed to earn his next rank.


We may ask the boy up-front what kind of trouble he's going to cause us. Why? Because that way the boy will know that we do "cheerful" and "friendly" even when we know it might not be easy.


We won't have much else to ask, because my experience is that anything bad that can be said about a boy will make its way to us faster than we could request it.

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Making a few legitimate inquiries is not the same thing as denying the transfer. If I were in the position of the receiving SM, I would be more concerned if the leadership of the transferring unit did not want to talk about it all, as another poster has noted.

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I agree with this as well - I'm starting to suspect that TwoCubDad is somehow channeling my thoughts into a more effective writing style.


The more the other SM acts like there is something to hide, the more concerned I'm going to be. Especially saying that they won't talk about it - that really does make it sound like they're concerned about a possible lawsuit. It's much easier to give some minimal description - "He was really tired one day and one of the adults pushed him pretty hard to do his part of the chores and he finally lashed out and smacked the leader." I just don't get the firewall either. Why wouldn't you pass on the information? I can see why some troops might decide they don't want the information, and want to give the kid a fresh start, but I just don't see the justification for not describing the situation to someone who has a reasonable "need to know."

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