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Do you count Librarian & Historian as RESPONSIBILITY?

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Look at the list of duties/responsibilities for the youth PORs, and it's obvious that some are more complicated than others. I like it that way. It gives me flexibility in assigning Scouts to less demanding positions, based on age, rank, experience, training, time available, whatever.


There's really no dilemma here, in my opinion. If you have the intro to leadership session with them at the beginning, and give them a copy of the job description, they can make margin notes that localize their duties to their unit and clarify your expectations. If they measure up, you and they both know they met your expectations. On the other hand, if we do nothing up front, and they in turn do nothing, they also met your expectations...


Every POR doesn't necessarily include Troop leadership. The Green Bars certainly do, others may episodically. However, every POR can teach leadership skills, even if only in the sense that the lad has to lead at least one person -- himself.



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So then even "born leaders" are actually "trained leaders". They have been trained in fact through their nurturing and environment. Their passion could as likely come from the quality and qualtity of their nurturing could it not. How can the origin of passion be determined?


Whether the skill is taught early or late in life it is still taught. Whether it is learned easily or through great challenge it is still learned.


Since the skills of leadership are identifiable and teachable, then must in fact be learnable.


I would venture to say that there are more people who learned to lead through experience and teaching then came from the womb with the ability to lead.





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Bob White,


Nurture vs nature is the base of all arguements. Without getting all religious, I sometimes think that people have skills they are just born with, and it takes something to bring it out; be it a tramatic situation, a golden opportunity, or a well taught training session. So is a born leader "taught or trained", well in that sence of the arguement, I agree.


I tend to look at the real world as oppossed to some text books. I have worked with people who by birth right, education, training, social status, are appointed leaders. Yet when it came to taking charge of situations, the low man rose and took charge. Nurture or nature, hell if I know.


I think the problem I am having is with what we define as a leader; or the quality of leadership. For example, can everyone be trained to be an athlete? Although you might train for hours throwing a ball, in the end, if you don't have a good arm, your pitch still sucks. Trained, practised, tested, but still not an athlete. I don;t know if you can apply the same to leadership, but from what I have seen, training does not always work.


In the end, for arguements sake, the BSA teaches young men how to be respponcible and leaders amoung their peers. But even leaders need to be lead. Ideally, the SPL and the PL should be those people. Again, maybe a romantic view, but one that makes me happy.



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BP you asked if everyone can be trained to be an athlete. The answer is of course, Yes, everyone can be trained.


Will everyone become an athlete, or perform at the same level, no. But that does not mean they cannot receive benefit from the training.

At the very least they will better understand the skills of being an athlete.


How is leadership and Scouting any different from that?


I am surprised by your attitude concerning books and the real world. Weren't the books on sociology which you learned from created by the study of the real world. Did you not benefit from the recorded knowledge of others? Is there any science or discipline where each individual must recreate every experiment and experience of all the generations of scientists previously, or do they use the recorded knowledge kept in books to learn about current knowledge based on the past experiences of others.


For a person of knowledge to belittle the information found in books seems unusually to say the least.






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Not everyone can be trained to be an athlete? Everyone can receive athletic training but that doesn't make them an athlete! Everyone can receive leadership training but that doesn't make them a leader.


Ed Mori

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Hey guys! Can you argue somewhere else, please.

I get this annoying email everytime someone posts to this thread.

(i'll never press THAT button again!)

But really, 34 emails is MORE than enough for me...

...anyone know how to turn off that notification thingy mid-stream??


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Bob White,


I feel like we are talking in circles. I am a much better speeker then writer and I think you are looking too much into this.


So I don't beat this to death, let me sum up my feelings again. Yes, you can teach people, train them, give them the benefits of how to, but if they don't apply it, they are not going to be leaders. What makes them apply it? Is it a God given talent, is it something that they learned and was hidden in the subconsence, or is it a tramatic event that makes them snap. Don't know. Spent a long time trying to figure it out.


I am not saying that we should not give this training to all. Teaching all young men to lead is what makes the BSA great. I am just saying that not all rise to the occasion.


I know you are in disagreement, and as in the past, I always respect your opinions, and for the most time agree. Just this time, my experience has taught me different.


PS-I don't hate books. Rather like them. Meet a few I didn't care for, written by social scientists whos opinions I disagree with.

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Bob White,


Bob, may I call you Bob, or is it Mr. White??


Judging from one of the posts, I think this might be getting old. I would be happy to discuss this with you further as I think this makes for interesting conversation. I think the rest of the forum is tired of it. Contact me.


Its been fun...

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I will admit to not being a Sociologist.

I will agree that in some Troops,members of the PLC are not allowed to become real Leaders. They become supervisor's carrying out the wishes of the Scoutmaster. This is a common fault where the blame must lie at the feet of the Scoutmaster.

Over the years there have been a lot of very gifted and clever people who think that Leadership can be both taught and learned:

Alberti, Robert E. and Michael L Emmons.

Baden-Powell, Robert.

Banathy, Bela H.

Leadership Development by Design. A Report on an Experiment. San Francisco: Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development. 1964.

Blake, R. R., & Mouton, J. S.

Boyle, Patrick G., and George Aker. "The Evaluation Attitude,"

Berne, Eric.

Brammer, Lawrence. The Helping Relationship Process and Skills. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc. 1973.

Brammer, Lawrence. The Helping Relationship Process and Skills. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc. 1973.

Carnagie, Dale.

Civikly, Rosenfeld.

Davis, J.H.

Harris, Thomas.

James, Muriel and Dorothy Longward.

Johnson, David W. and Frank P. Johnson.

Larson, John, Bela Banathy and Ken Wells.

Mager, Robert F.

Margolis, Frederic H. Training by Objectives. A Participant Oriented Approach

McKean, Bob ed. Bob Taylor, Stan Ratliff, et. al. Toward Defining Measurable Objectives in the Affective Domain for Experiential Education Programs. Denver, CO.: Colorado Outward Bound School, 1975

Miyamoto, Alan. Spirit and Traditions.

Naylor, Harriet. Leadership.

Parsons, Helene H. "Peninsulans Founded Advanced Scout Unit,"

Schein, Edgar H. Process Consultation: Its Role in Organization Development. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley.

Science Research Associates. "Listening, Note Taking," Scout Age.

Showel, Morris and Paul Hood. A Guide for the Infantry Squad Leader. What the Beginning Squad Leader Should Know about Human Relations. US Army Leadership Human Research Unit.

All these people have contributed to material that has to do with Training Scouts for Leadership .

While we no longer tend to use the Skills of Leadership:

Get and give information

Get to know and know how to use the resources of the group


Plan and make decisions

Know the characteristics of member of the group

Keep the group agreeable to members

Control and correct


Manage learning

Represent the group

Set the example

Share leadership

When I look over the list, I see skills that can be taught..

Were I to agree that Leadership is not a skill which can be learned. I would be saying that Scouting doesn't work. The Methods of Scouting:

Scouting Ideals




Personal Growth

Adult Association

Leadership Development


Are dependent on each other, to take out Leadership, would be to say that the Patrol Method doesn't work, Leadership Development, doesn't work and that Personal Growth is dependent on Advancement, and advancement has only to do do with Rank Advancement.

If we say that Leadership can't be taught, we are wasting a lot of time teaching it to both our youth members and the Adults who serve.

A lot of what Baden Powell said and believed can be discarded.

Sure some Lads seem to learn the skills quicker or faster than others. As we look at the list we see skills that we are good at an areas that we could work on.

To say that "Not every boy is a leader." Could mean that you have an entire troop with no leaders?

I'm sorry I just can not buy into this. To do so would to be saying that we as a World wide organization have had it wrong for the last nearly 100 years'


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Ditto to what Eamonn said. Where in Scouting does it promise that every boy will leave a leader? Even adults are not promised that in any leadership course.


What the BSA promises is that every scout has the opportunity to lead, something not found in many youth organizations. And he is promised that his adult Scout leaders will help guide him and teach him the skills of leadership. The scouting program also promises the opportunity to practice and apply those skills.


If that is not happening in the troop you serve then that is your problem to fix.




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I could sit here and fire back some cute answer. Or go to my book shelf and pull down text books and quote names.


Its like being back in criminology 400 and argueing why people commit crime. No right or wrong answers. Opinions are like A..H...s We all have one.


Enough. My fingers hurt from typing. I say uncle.


Oh and buy the way,


I do count librian and historian as postion of responcibility.

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This is the first chance I've had to look at this thread. I was hoping someone had made the point I want to make, but alas, no one did (although KoreaScouter came close!), so, you've got to put up with me saying it.


As have been pointed out before, these are Positions of Responsiblity, not leadership. Some POR entail leadership, some do not, and some do at some times and not others. I'd be willing to wager that in most Troops, the breakdown of who holds certain positions is similiar to ours. In our Troop, positions like Librarian, Historian and Chaplain aide generally are filled by younger Scouts. this is their time the realize that they have been asked to be responsible to others in their Patrol or Troop. Of course, they usually have been responsible for others when they have been assigned to cook for a Patrol, or take some of the Troop gear home to clean and return "like new". But it is their first POR assignment in which they really recognize "Hey, I need to do something for others".


In most cases, dillegent young Scouts have grand ideas of how they can do the job well. In most cases, they never really meet their own expectations. But this is all right, and for two reasons: 1) They're young Scouts, and meeting expectations for these positions rarely affect their advancement. By the time they are ready for a Star BOR, they usually will have had a P/L position, or something more significant. and 2), this is the building blocks that allow them to improve the next time.


In our Troop, no young Scout has ever been told his job was unnacceptable. Rather, he always gets congratulated at Courts of Honor, he gets complimented when he has done something positive, and he gets advise on how he might do things better. But he leaves these kinds of positions with only his own impression of expecations un-met. In almost every case, his next position has him applying the good and bad that he experienced in his last job to the new one. In his new job, the level of expectations rise. If he's the Patrol Scribe or Patrol QM, he knows there is more need to be responsible. After that, he may become P/L, where he uses prior experiences to grow more. Ultimately, he may be an SPL or Troop QM, or a Den Chief or Troop Guide, where he knows that any inadequacies really matter.


In my opinion, if you have Scouts eligible for higher ranks, they should be being considered for higher positions of responsiblity. New and younger Scouts should be cutting their teeth on what we (the adults in our Troop) call the "practice jobs".


A quick note on whether anyone can be a leader: Everyone is a leader. EVERYONE. Some are effective, some are not. Some lead toward good, some the other way. Some try hard, some do not. So the question, I think, is not "can everyone become a leader?" is a slight bit askew. I think the better question is "Can everyone be an effective leader?" Framed as such, I say the answer is no. But, as Bob says (and on this I agree 1000%), every boy is entitled to the chance to learn.



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Yikes, what a set of responses!


The rank requirements say "serve actively". GoodKid's old troop stopped signing off kids who were elected but did not do anything, i.e. did not serve actively.


When GoodKid was Librarian he had a rubber stamp made with the troop number and address, organized the jumble of books and stamped them all, downloaded a list of merit badges into a word processor, noted for each how many copies the troop had or whether the troop needed one, and passed it out to all the scouts. He started a sign-out sheet, but soon thereafter the job passed to another scout whom I think did nothing.


In GoodKid's new troop the troop Historian has made a scrapbook with the photos contributed by those who participated in troop events, working with another Scout's Mom who is into scrapbooking. He's done a great job with titles, backgrounds, etc, and has set an example for future Historians to follow.


If the kids are told that they are expected to "serve actively" and not signed off unless they do, there shouldn't be a problem.



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  • 2 months later...

I'll take the risk of sounding redundant (because I haven't had time to read every response in this thread).

If you feel the troop member holding the "responsible position" in the troop isn't doing his job for some reason, or is only doing part of the job and letting the rest slide, try having him write down his own interpretation of the job description and the perception he has of what his duties ought to be. If they differ significantly from what you (as a leader) think they ought to be, then convene an instructional meeting with him. It never hurts to remind someone, or to update their knowledge, or to make suggestions on how they can do better. This meeting can involve the patrol leader, the SPL and ASPL, the SM, and any interested (and informed) committee members or asst scoutmasters, so that others can have some input and lend their own insight into the situation.

This gives the youth in question a golden opportunity to learn what others believe he should be doing in his job. It offers the chance for him to change his ways, to figure out what else he can be doing to show his level of responsibility to the troop.

For instance:

if the Historian has been going to events and has been taking pictures and putting them into a scrapbook, but hasn't been very good about identifying participants and giving the dates and types of events, or noting what happened (good, bad, unexpected) at those activities -

or the Librarian knows where the literature box is located and can point out its general location to interested persons, but hasn't a clue about what's in it (hasn't quite caught on to the fact that he needs to be informed of its contents) and hasn't bothered with trying to keep it updated or keeping track of who's borrowing the literature (asking for its return, if necessary -

it gives everyone with knowledge and some experience the ability to offer that boy the chance to really shine, really stand out as a good - whatever (position in the troop) - and be an example of what other scouts who may later be appointed to the same position can strive for.

I am not the scoutmaster at present, but I have a couple of kids in the troop who like to call me at home to ask questions on what I think. One in particular calls often to pick my brain. He asks me quite regularly what his job should be - because he's never held that job before and wants to be sure he's doing it right, wants to know what he can do to make it better (what a joy this is, and how novel considering how lax some of our guys have been). I've told him that he can read the youth leader handbook that pertains to his position, that he has some leeway in what he can do in terms of personal interpretation, and that the position is whatever he determines it should be (within the written parameters and recommendations given by BSA). And then I give him some ideas he can use to really stand out and be a good example to his fellow scouts.

We have had some trouble with our Scribe, when it was recently discovered that the youth holding the post hadn't been doing his job for 8 of the 10 months he'd held the position. We made a deal with him - he could either "catch up" the attendance book (using my records), sit down with the SM to learn what the minimum duties and responsibilites of the job are and learn how to do it right, and then spend an additional 3 months in his rank to correct the impression of having shown no responsibility to the troop - or he could accept a ruling that he has done nothing to show any sort of responsibility in his appointed position as Scribe and take another position, then resolve to conduct its activities for another 6 months in the same rank to prove himself worthy of holding a "position of responsibility". He chose the former option (I also note that his mother wasn't too happy about her son having to actually do any work in this capacity for attaining rank).

The Scribe function typically fulfilled in our unit has revolved around taking attendance at meetings and campouts. Our most recent Scribe only took attendance 11 times during 10 months before we caught the deficiency.

In our troop, dues are paid annually by the family by check because apparently nobody wants to mess with a whole bunch of quarters every week and it's just easier to write a check. I don't agree with this attitude, but I'm in the minority and it takes time to change a habit of over 10 years.

In point of fact, if one takes the job seriously, the Scribe should also be taking note of what happens in meetings, much in the way a secretary takes notes of what happens in committee meetings. Who is present at an activity and who pays dues on time are only two aspects of the job. What happens during troop meetings and campouts - who was there, activities conducted & what was done, rank requirements earned, decisions of future activities or notations of individual merits, reports made as needed to the Historian about activities, or to the Advancements Chairman about someone who achieves a rank requirement - all fall within the Scribe's potential range of activity for showing responsibility, if he chooses to really be a "stand-out Scribe" rather than just another guy holding the job.

The bottom line is, the job is what you make of it. If the boy is interested and motivated in scouting, he ought to know who to ask or where to go when he has questions. If the troop operation is muddied up with green leaders who aren't aware of how things ought to be, or uncaring adults who are more interested in just telling the boys what to do and how to do it so that jobs get done (and don't really learn why the job should be done at all in the first place) someone - anyone (SPL, ASPL, PL, whoever) - needs to find out who they can call or where they can go to learn more. If they can't find out who to ask or where the information is in their troop, they can call a district representative for help.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Our troop is new--almost a year now. Both my boys are involved. The older is always voted to the "leadership" spots. The younger is not. In a different group and time, the little guy might shine more obviously, but that's just how this played out.


In the first round, only a couple of jobs were voted on--patrol leader and such. On the second round, the group added other jobs--like historian.


Little guy accepted historian as basically an appointment. No one wanted the job in effect. He wanted to do "something" but is younger and overshadowed by having an older brother in the troop. He gladly took historian.


Now, this was considered a "nothing" job initially.


I helped little brother set up a workshop with a scrapbooker friend and with college students willing to help out (including athletes). All Scouts brought photos and other items like news clippings and brochures.


Little brother historian keeps up pages, but he also has scrapbook time when the group has new photos and an extra 15/20 minutes at a meeting. They often have a little extra time at the end to make some pages which are then perhaps added to with dates and details to the basic page lay out.


Kind of the long and short (OK--I'm longwinded) of this is that the historian job is now considered cool and fun in our troop. The scrapbook is great, and we've started on the second. This is a wonderful book to show new Scouts and families and to take for display. All boys are invested in so all feel proud of the scrapbook.


The last elections (last week) for the start of the second year meant competition for historian as a position of value in the group. Little guy was voted in this time for his hard work and for doing a good job with the position of historian.


As the mom person and working with my young Scout, I did the following:


1. Bought supplies and fun things like stickers to go with pages. Also provided magazines to clip out words and outdoor shots and such at no cost.


2. Helped with the contacts for a scrapbooker close in the age range (age 19) and some volunteers in the college age range to just hang out and help and encourage.


3. Snacks for those who came to the scrapbooking session which was on an extra night - not a meeting.


4. Make sure historian child has a good supply of stuff to make pages in a regular old cardboard box so that the guys can build pages when time allows and they want to do so.


Though I firmly support boy lead and stepping back, it is good to make sure the boys have the things that help make any job successful. I know how to scrapbook (and cook). I can provide the tools and give help if asked. I can also provide contacts and extra help when needed to make it more fun than just a "gotta do this" kind of thing. I'm also glad to add perks like refreshments for hard work by all.


In our troop now, historian, is considered cool. My younger son is proud to have the job and to have been voted in to do it a second round after working hard at the post. He knows he will have to continue to do a good job, because this is a job now where others would want the assignment and will compete for the post.


I guess I am saying that any job can be "important" if the person doing it cares and does his best. My younger son may never be able to get the patrol "leader" spots, but he has his niche and is appreciated by his peers for his hard work and the nice collection of items reflecting the hard work of the group. He feels good about his job, and I am glad.


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