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benny

Looking for some advice on patrol leader elections

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Recently our patrols conducted an election for new assistant patrol leaders. After the voting was complete and after the new assistants were announced two boys from one patrol came up (seperately) and said that their new assistant was bribing the younger scouts with candy to vote for him.

 

I have not spoken to the assistant patrol leader about his actions yet and was planning on using an upcoming scoutmasters conference as a forum to discuss this issue. My intention is to discuss the ethics of his actions and see if he brings up the idea of a re-election. If he does not then the election would stand and hopefully those that were bribed would see the errors of their ways.

 

There is a lot of wisdom on this forum and I would appreciate any suggestions on how to handle the situation.

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Well, you've recognized that the fault(s) lie in more than one place. But these are just kids we're dealing with here, and they're subject to that kind of thing. That's why we do what we do as leaders to help instill values that might eliminate the need to discuss these things with them as they grow.

 

That having been said, I guess I'm kind of old school. I've had similar experiences, and have always felt that I'm not doing the kids a favor by leaving things alone. Those who bribe will definitely think they've gotten away with something. Not necessarily a good message to send or a good tone to set out for the younger ones watching and falling prey to the offer of the bribe. Not necessarily a good message to send or tone to set out for the younger ones by not explaining to them, in terms they can handle, that the principles by which elections are handled in Scouting, and in their future, should not have a foundation on candy or other gimmees, and making that obvious by doing things over again. And not a good message to send by not sitting with the 'offender' and, as you've indicated, trying to make him see the error of his ways by having him make the admission that his actions weren't entirely Scout-like. They were, indeed, kid-like, and we have to expect that. But letting it lie without further guidance and mentoring, even to the point of forcing a re-election yourself, might set a tone that may only grow with time. Maybe it won't, but might it not be better to err on the side of making sure the message got through? The earlier these things are corrected, the better.

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I would be more concerned about what the entire troop should learn from this experience, rather than the one boy. In other words, if it can be confirmed that boys were bribed, I would nullify the results of the election.

 

However, having said the above, I never realized that troops had assistant patrol leader elections. In my troop, the elected patrol leaders hand pick their assistant patrol leaders (pending approval of the SM).

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If in fact this is true, I would convene the PCL & let them hammer it out. that's their job.

 

I was also under the impression this position was appointed by the PL?

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Our approach has been that the patrols would elect their assistanat patrol leaders and every six months we would do a change of the guard and the assistant would be the new patrol leader. That way you ahve some development time for the patrol leader as the assistant. I honestly don't recall this being covered anywhere. I would be interested in how others do it.

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The only elected positions in the troop are SPL and PL. Each should choose their assistants. Some one they feel will be able to do the job and can work with. If they were elected, the PL or SPL might find himself trying to work with someone he can't get along with or can't handle the job. It might be a good time to start this practice. This problem would not have occurred, but it could still occur from the patrol members wanting the APL position and bribing the PL. The APL position, not being a required leadership position for advancement, might keep them from doing it. As far as the APL being the next PL, he would have the chance as the APL to prove his leadership skills and to improve them, making him more desirable at the next election.

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While I agree with ASM7, we elect the ASPL, too. We don't use APL's.

 

I have never bought into the "If they were elected, the PL or SPL might find himself trying to work with someone he can't get along with or can't handle the job." The Scouts need to learn to work & play well with others.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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>>Well, you've recognized that the fault(s) lie in more than one place. But these are just kids we're dealing with here, and they're subject to that kind of thing. That's why we do what we do as leaders to help instill values that might eliminate the need to discuss these things with them as they grow.

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My vote is with ASM7 the best way to remedy the situation is to follow the program. The patrols elect their own PL and then the PL selects his APL. Without an APL who leads the patrol in the PLs asbsence? True, we want all the scouts to work together, but not everyone has the same idea of what that means, how to lead, and what a leaders job is. The patrol functions best with continuity and allowing the PL to choose an assistant that works well with them is a good step toward that continuity.

 

When problems arise you will find more success by stepping toward the recommended scouting methods not by stepping further away.

 

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

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Be that as it may, Bob, and you're probably correct, I wonder if the discussion here might be worthwhile considering that this scenario could occur with almost any election, in almost any troop, for almost any position. Kids will be kids, and for most young ones, the election is still only a game.

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>>When problems arise you will find more success by stepping toward the recommended scouting methods not by stepping further away.

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The way Benny has described it, after 6 months, the elected APL automatically becomes PL. So what they are really doing is electing the PL, just having him serve 6 months as APL first to learn the job. That makes some sense, but it also deprives the PL (and the patrol) of the benefits of having the PL choose his own assistant. The working-relationship issue has been mentioned, and also, learning to pick the right person for the right job is part of learning how to be a leader. The BSA gives a boy embarking on what is most likely his first elected leadership position an immediate opportunity to evaluate and select the right person for a job, in a situation that will cause only a minor amount of difficulty if he makes the wrong decision. Otherwise, the first opportunity the boy would get to appoint anyone to anything would be when (if) he is elected SPL. Then, the first people he ever appoints to anything will be ASPL, quartermaster, scribe, troop guide, etc. Sounds to me like giving him a "practice shot" in appointing an APL is a better idea.

 

As for the "bribery," that seems pretty simple. If it is proven, you need to have new elections. Whether the "bribers" are eligible in that election is an interesting question. Maybe they need to "sit out" one 6-month cycle to learn the consequences of their actions. At that point the troop should probably change to having the PL's elected directly anyway. That decision, I believe, belongs to the PLC. I am not sure about the decisions to re-do the election and who is eligible, whether those are made by the PLC, SM or troop committee.

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