Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
smaster101

Patrol elections

Recommended Posts

Anyone have any helpful suggestions for how successful patrol leader elections should be conducted?

 

We just had PL elections for the first time about a month ago, and I thought it went OK (the previous SM picked the PL's). I just told each patrol to get together and elect a PL, and then the PL would select his APL.

 

But now I'm hearing some complaints that the elections wern't conducted fairly because it was more of a popularity contest within the patrol. Should patrol elections be more structured, maybe using secret ballots?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What else id it? The one who is more popular, or can persuade the boys to vote his way, gets the job.

 

We just had our elections, too. We have grown from one small patrol to two.

 

I did give my speach that they should elect someone because they will do the best job as the PL or SPL, not because they are popular. But it was thier choice.

 

The popular one got the job (again).

 

The New Scout Patrol consists of boys who are not well aquianted with each other and only had 4 boys show up. Two boys raised their hand for patrol leader and the patrol elected the boy who's hand went up first.

 

I have always done secret ballot even though it ended up pretty obvious who voted for who. But you might get a boy who will vote differently with a secret ballot that he would with a show of hands (less peer pressure that way.) And have an adult tally the vote then destroy the ballots without leting the boys see them. That way they won't recognize the handwriting.

 

Also, I know the SM Manual says to appoint the Assistants, but the SPL and PL's ends up appointing thier best friend. We ended that by having the 1st runner up in the election become the APL. We also force new leadership each election by not allowing consecutive terms as PL or SPL.

 

$0.02

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very common problem, smaster101!

Some SMs take a very hands-off approach -- simply remarking that it's the boys decision and if they make a bad one, they'll learn from it and vote smarter next time. I think more often a poor PL will cause the entire Patrol to flounder and lose interest. I put forth the hypothesis that poor Patrol leadership is one of the top 5 reasons why kids drop out. I'll take this another step and say that in our desire to spread around the leadership and give everybody the chance to be PL (many before they're really ready), we are creating turmoil and instability at the Patrol level that is hurting our program and ultimately driving down our retention.

 

OK - that's off my chest - now what to do about it?

1st - You have the authority to set some minimum requirements that a boy must meet in order to be eligible for PL. The specifics will vary by Troop situation. Consider the following to get you started:

All PLs must be at least Star (or whatever is appropriate for your mix). (Nudge the more advanced boys into stepping up to the plate, instead of letting the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th most senior boy be PL.)

All PLs must be at least 15 yrs old. (Same logic.)

All PLs must have attended at least 75% of the Troop activities over the last 6 months. (You want your PLs to be active. Past participation is a good indicator of future.) (Expect complaint: "But Johnny needs his 6 months of leadership for Star/Life!" Yes he does, but he's also expected to be an active part of the program.)

 

2nd - Consider NOT forcing a leadership turnover every 6 months. In many cases the boy is finally just getting the leadership thing under control about that time. If you've got a good one, he's willing (even if it takes some encouragement and very gentle pressuring), and the boys want to re-elect him -- for gosh sakes, let him lead!

 

Now - about that boy who is not currently the obvious best choice, but the boys elected him... Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be learned. You and especially the SPL should become either the wind under his wings or the thorn in his side. SET VERY CLEAR EXPECTATIONS and HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE TO THE LETTER. Follow up after every activity. Quick PLC tagup after meetings - identify any discipline issues in his patrol that he needs to deal with, ask about missing members (does he know why), etc. At regular PLCs, discuss problems/challenges in more detail, status of advancement for his boys, etc. SPL or ASPL can attend some of his patrol meetings as a guest, then discuss it with him after the other boys leave. Eventually, at the best, he'll surprise you (and maybe even himself) at the great job he does. At the worst, he'll decide after a while that he doesn't want to be PL any more...

 

Good luck!(This message has been edited by Mike F)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have stated in other posts that mine is a new troop. All the boys in the "experienced" patrol are the same rank (tenderfoot), have pretty much the same leadership training and are all 11 to 13 years old. The new scout patrol is another matter. Everyone is a first time leader (except the SPL) so none of them have been able to show much leadership. Along with that, all of the adult leaders are also new with onlythe minimal training so far.

 

No older scouts, No higher ranks, none with more experience, and none more mature than the others (at least not remarkably). And we are doing the best we can. Right or wrong. So, we are trying to train the leaders that are elected, that the boys wanted as their leaders and give them the chance to do their best. If things don't go to well, then another boy can take the position and see what he can do. If the patrol or troop falters or fails, then I guess I will shoulder the "blame" and deal with it the best I know how.

 

I have found, in my reading of this entire forum and from the few posts that I have made, that many of you tend to forget that some of us don't have the adult scouting experience, youth scouting experience, and training (yet), than it seems most of you have and that we are here trying to learn something from those of you who do.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scoutmaster424,

Congratulations, the student has become the teacher. The method s you describe are far closer to the methods taught in the Training syllabii and in the scouting handbooks.

 

MikeF raises some common complaints but I'm not sure where in scouting he draws his solutions from. Mike if you could help clarify your resources it would be helpful. Here is where I'm confused.

 

1. "1st - You have the authority to set some minimum requirements that a boy must meet in order to be eligible for PL."

 

I know of very few things in scouting that scout leaders have authority over. there are are number of things we have responsibility for, but setting guidelines for patrol and troop elections is not one of them. I am curious to know what BSA material lead you to this conclusion. If anyone has the authority to set election criteria it is the Patrol Leaders Council, and they do not have "authority" within the patrol. Who can be a patrol leader is determined by the vote cast by the patrol members. Then the patrol Leader selects or assigns the other patrol offices (according to the SM handbook and the Patrol Leaders Handbook.

 

2. "2nd - Consider NOT forcing a leadership turnover every 6 months. In many cases the boy is finally just getting the leadership thing under control about that time."

 

The BSA recommends that elections be done on a regular basis. "usually 6 months", according to the SM handbook, the Boy Scout Handbook, The Patrol Leader Handbook and the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook. So you are not "forcing it" Also keep in mind that the time period of service and method of election is not about the troop running smoothly. it is about learning our form of government and the responsibilities of being part of a community.

 

3. " Fortunately, leadership is a skill that can be learned. You and especially the SPL should become either the wind under his wings or the thorn in his side. SET VERY CLEAR EXPECTATIONS and HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE TO THE LETTER.

 

Remeber when I wrote that scoutleaders have several responsibilities. The number one job of being a Scoutmaster is to Train Junior Leaders.

 

Nowhere does the BSA train adult leaders to be a thorn in a boy's side. We need to set a positive example and use positive training methods to get positive results. Even adults don't hold other adults accountable to the letter (if they do you can expect both parties to be miserable). These are kids for pete's sake, and they are learning from you how to lead. If they are not learning then look to the teacher for the fault. The methods you suggest Mike are not found in any scouting material I have ever seen.

 

 

Scoutmaster424 wrote "So, we are trying to train the leaders that are elected, that the boys wanted as their leaders and give them the chance to do their best. If things don't go to well, then another boy can take the position and see what he can do."

 

That sounds to me like the scouting program.

 

Bob White

 

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)(This message has been edited by Bob White)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scoutmaster (s)

There was a thread here a while ago about leaders trying to change the troop to boy lead troop. It seems to be gone now. It discussed that trying to change to boy lead from leader lead and how diffcult it was trying to get the older scouts to change, they wanted it the old way, where the leaders did all of the planning and work. This is just a heads up to you!

I am also a relativly new leader 1.5 years. I have learned a lot through this site, but question many things you may read here, get out the scout handbook and the scoutmaster handbook, and you will find most of your answers.

IMHO it is eaiser for a scoutmaster to run a non boy lead troop. It is easier to do the work than lead them down the correct path!

I am a asm and watching and learning.

There is a real art in getting the scouts to also follow the BSA way, but well worth it.

Training is good, but it is not your only tool, use the handbooks, ask question here and verfiy them in the handbooks.

Remember it is for the boys and have fun.

After a rough meeting or outing look at the boys that you are helping to grow into men and smile!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm back on my medication (just kidding), but I have calmed down and I must go on record as retracting some of the over-the-top points in my last post.

 

All,

 

After "HOLD HIM ACCOUNTABLE" please delete "TO THE LETTER". Bob White's right-on in slapping me over that one -- it's an unbearable approach with adults and especially kids. But do hold the PL accountable. Too often the kids get the training, but nobody keeps tabs on them to make sure they're on the right track until they've drifted into the ditch. If we don't touch base on the items covered in training, we're sending the unintentional message that it's not really important. Discovered early, it's an easier course correction. What I tried (ineffectively) to communicate with "BY THE LETTER" was, for instance, if you told the PL during training that he was expected to hold a Patrol Meeting once a month outside of the regular Troop Meetings, then you (or better, the SPL) need to ask him how those meetings were going after a month or two. If he hasn't met the expectation, it's time for a reminder about the importance of those meetings, but you don't have to beat him with it, which leads to my next mea culpa.

 

Don't strive to be a "thorn in his side". Although he may look at it that way when you're talking to him about stuff he really doesn't want to do, you've got to do your best to be encouraging and inspiring -- they can do great things and have tremendous fun in the process when things are running well.

 

SM424,

 

Please forgive the miscommunication -- I addressed my note to SM101, who I understood to have a larger, more mature troop. His situation and options will be different from yours because of this. You're in a tough position and I do feel your pain, having started my first troop from scratch over 20 years ago. From what I read, you're definitely on the right track. Hang in there -- it will get better!!

 

I do have one idea for you, if I can get it out without stomping on any toes. The hardest part of a new start-up is the lack of experienced, capable leaders for your future leaders to model. When they see adults running all significant parts of the program, the words about boy leadership have a hard time taking root. What about borrowing some older boys from another troop for a while to help model that behavior? Right now, my troop has sent 6 hand-picked boys over to another brand-new troop for a minimum of 6 months to help them get started. The boys are all from our Venture Patrol, ages 14-17, Star-Eagle, and have a proven track record as leaders with First Year Patrols, PL, ASPL, Guides and Instructors. This takes a tremendous commitment, but our guys were excited about the opportunity and are having a blast. You might consider asking around. If you want more details about how we pulled this off, please feel free to email me directly.

 

Bob White,

 

I hope my mea culpas above cleared up your point #3. Let me address the other two.

 

1. Requirements for PL position. I gave my newest edition of SM Handbook to one of our new leaders a few weeks ago, so I cant quote chapter and verse, but if you say its not in there, I honestly have no doubt about you being right. But I didnt make this one up myself and maybe it should be in there. To back that up, I dust off my 1981 version of SM Handbook. Page 70, under Patrol Organization, The patrol has one leader. He is the patrol leader, elected by the membership of the patrol, from the patrol. He must meet the qualifications for age, rank, tenure in the troop, or whatever requirements are established by you, the troop, and your troop committee and installed into office. In a new troop, these qualifications would have to be low or no one could qualify. As the troop becomes experienced, the qualifications can be raised. The minimum term of office for patrol leader should be 6 months.

 

I have no idea what history could have led them to omit this concept in recent years, but it has been used in the past and may be an effective tool for a troop in dealing with a particular situation.

 

2. Not forcing a leadership turnover every 6 months. I failed to communicate my point some troops enforce term limitations a boy is not eligible to be PL after serving a term as PL even if he is an outstanding leader and the clear first choice of every boy in the patrol. Thats what I meant by forcing a turnover even if the boys all want the same PL again, theyre not allowed to. Then the new PL, whos not really their first choice, has the daunting task of leading a group which contains the favored natural leader as one of the members. If they chose to select a new PL, the turnover wasnt forced, it was a part of the normal process. In an older troop with mixed age patrols, one of the older boys is usually the PL of choice. The others will get their chance to hold the reins when he moves up or out and they will (hopefully) have had the benefit of a good model to emulate.

(Disclaimer: For First Year patrols or very young troops, I can see where some forced turnover could help guys test the leadership waters. I just dont think its a good idea with an older mix.)

(As a matter of interest, are term limitations in the new SM Handbook? Theyre not in the old one. If so, Ill do my best to shut up, understand the benefits, and get with the program.)

 

Good discussion! Thanks for holding me accountable to the letter on some of my mistaken ones!!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike do your scouts a favor and give that book to a garage sale. You can't operate today's scouting from a 21-year old handbook.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I should also be a little less "thin skinned" Mike, but I took your comments to sm101 to be about me.

 

As for the books and resources, I get chastised by the wife because I sit and read and read and read and that it seems I think of nothing but scouting (as if there is anything else, LOL). It's an old story from what I understand.

 

When we first started the troop, we were "pushed" into it when we were not ready by a fairly new DE that seemed to want to use us to "get his numbers up." We were "attached" to a nearby troop that I was told had a very good program. This went on for about 4 months. That relationship ended unfortunately due to conflicts with their CC. I lost three boys because of it.

 

That SM of that troop is our Unit Commissioner and a member of our troop committee. He is also a good friend. But still my troop won't do activities with his because of the situation before. Also, I have had the good fortune of becoming friends with a new scoutmaster of a 6-boy troop who has leadership problems too and we are doing joint activities, so I guess we can learn together. Enough said about this.

 

Back to smaster101's original question. Should patrol elections be more structured...?

 

To make my point more clearly, I don't think it matters much how the up to 8 boys in the patrol vote. Be it secret ballot, a show of hands, voting booths, someone will always complain about fairness, it being rigged, or whatever because they (or their son) did not win. Oh, I guess you could make the candidates leave the room during the vote, assuming they would vote for themselves anyway. They can be told the outcome after the vote and the ballots are gone (wouldnt want them to recognize handwriting). But I would bet they would know who voted for whom in the first 5 minutes back in the room.

 

By the way, 10 minutes after or elections were over, the grandmother of the boy who didn't win the SPL election complained to me that the winner talked all of the other boys into voting for him (Isn't that called a campaign? Getting the voters to vote for you?). I told her that I couldn't do anythng about it. What I didn't tell her is that I knew why he wasn't elected (he is a bit spoiled and has a bit of trouble getting along with others) and hopefully, I can do something to help that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scoutmaster101,

in response to your original question. I have alwys found that voting by ballot is the least confusing and the most educational way to do scout elections, whether on a patrol or troop level.

 

Have simple typed ballots prepared ahead of time with the names of the patrol members on them. Have the patrol Leader or patrol Scribe distribute one to each patrol member. The members put a single mark next to one persons name to cast a vote. The ballots are collected and counted to make sure the # of ballots match the # of voting members. then the ballots are counted in front of the patrol members.

 

We do the samew for SPL. Any scout who would like to run is given equal time to (about 3 minutes to tell the troop why he wants the position. The scouts then are put on a ballot and the following week the ballots are distributed, the votes cast and the ballots counted in front of everyone. (remember secret ballot only means no one has to know who your voting for it doesn't mean the counting is secret.)

 

We have never had anyone complain. By the way, for someone to complain that the vote was a popularity contest shows an uncanny grasp of the obvious. All elections are popularity contests. have you ever voted for someone that you did't want to win?

 

Bob White

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×