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SPL & ASPL not doing their jobs

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We have an SPL & ASPL who seem either unable or unwilling to do their jobs. The SPL was elected in the Nov. election, and has never held a troop leadership position other than scribe or historian before - never wanted a job like this before. The ASPL was our previous SPL & never did do what he was supposed to do unless he was either told to do it or knew he would be negatively viewed. Since our SM is relatively new and had only basic training at the time, he wasn't aware that the SPL should appoint his own ASPL, so both of these guys were elected to their positions by the other members of the troop.


Both individuals are turning out to be real slackers - the only thing they seem interested in is being figureheads insofar as conducting flag ceremonies & courts of honor at troop meetings are concerned. Neither of them like to camp and find all kinds of excuses not to go camping. The new SPL has yet to appoint new positions for scribe and other duties, so the guys filling those posts have been in them since March 04.


SM has discussed the problems with both individuals and informed them of what they should be doing, but there has been no change. The SPL was told to either do his job or resign the position - but that was 2 months ago and he still hasn't appointed the lower positions yet. Now both SPL and ASPL have told us they don't intend to go to summer camp with the troop.


My question is - What is the general accepted rule for camping attendance where it pertains to the participation expected of the troop's elected youth leaders? I am having trouble finding anything in print in any of the publications that addresses this question.

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Sounds like the SM has a lot of work on his hands to get these boys in line.


As far as your question, I don't think you will find anything in print. This is primarily a unit issue. I can say that in our troop, the SPL, ASPL and PLs are expected to attend summer camp if it falls during their leadership service. While we have had circumstances arise where a PL has not been able to attend, it is pretty much settled that a scout running for SPL during our April elections should have already made his summer camp deposit and is slated to attend.

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Semper dude pretty much nailed it (as usual). The SM needs to be working with these guys regarding their responsibilities and how they need to fulfill them. If it's an ability thing, he needs to work on training them. If it's a motivation thing, he needs to work on coaching them. If it's an attitude thing, and they are unwilling to adjust, he may have to look at removing them from position.


I've got a similar issue. SPL is running for re-election next month. He's done a pretty good job and I think his second term would be a good one. He told me last week that he might not be able to go to Summer Camp (family may be going out of town). He knows our expectation - all boys go to camp. I'm in a real quandry about what to do.


We do talk about percantage of attendance in the form of goals. SPL is expected to be at "everything". What does that mean in reality? Probably 90-95% of activities and meetings. The position is simply that important. PLs and Troop Guide are expected to have outstanding attendance as well. I think we tell them that they should exceed 80%. Again, we don't measure this per se. It's just to give them an idea of what is expected of them.

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I'm not saying that what we do is right or wrong. You have to understand that our boys have been Scouts for 11 months now and our troop is only about 7 months old. Our SM makes it very clear to prospective candidates what their responsibilities will consist of and tells them not to run if they won't fulfill them. Part of that is that they have to be on their deathbed to miss a camping trip. Since they are the troop and patrol leaders, they have to provide the leadership on outings. Also, if we are doing an activity such as hiking that they don't like, they don't have the option of whining about it and will support it enthusiastically. The SM has the final say on whether a boy can be on the ballot. He may meet all of the technical qualifications that the troop has set for running, but if he is a discipline problem or a part timer, the SM can say no to putting him on the ballot.


All of that aside, it is the adult leaderships job to teach these boys how to do the jobs and to make training avaialble to them and then reinforce it when they get back to the troop. If the SM knew these boys were slackers, why let them run? At the very least, I would have gotten assurances from these boys that they would do the job and constantly remind them that a scout is trustworthy and that they need to live up to their word. It would figure prominently in their SM cinference and rank advancement.

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Chicken Ranch, (forgive this long post)


One of the toughest problems in scouting is training boys to be good leaders and it is especially true for the SPL/ASPL. I am sure you will (eventually, in this thread) hear a lot of...'if the boys fail the adults/troop failed the boys." So lets get cracking...

BSA will not be nailed down to 'participation %' questions...nor will many of the members of this forum. But you have a problem you want to solve.


Your troop committee and SM corp will need to agree that a problem exists and on the eventual solution. If they will not back the SM nothing will work... The SM along with a couple of ASMs will need to meet with the SPL and ASPL. A set of written goals, objectives and bench marks should be laid before the 'slackers'. The SM will have to work harder than just telling them what is expected, though.


It should be made clear to the boys, that the SM will not sign off on their rank requirement (the PoR -Position of Responsibility) for these positions unless they meet the goals...make it a contract that they sign! If they will not commit, the committee should be prepared to back the SM if he finds need (for the good of the program) to remove these two young men from their positions.


Keep in mind that they really may not know what is expected of them...


First and foremost in our Troop is these POSITIONS (your two guys) have to coordinate their schedules to be sure one of them is at virtually every campout or activity...if your boys can not agree, they need to step down... NOW! We require every boy who stands for election to the green bar corps to agree before hand to make the commitment.


I assume (?) you have, at least, a monthly PLC with weekly "tune-ups" 15/20 minutes before each troop meeting...if not get cracking! These allow the SM to keep the PLC and the Troop on track.


For the day to day operations...make a list (it will be tedious), a step by step list of what the SPL and ASPL are expected to do for each meeting and activity. These 'what to do guides' are to be constantly acknowledged and progress reports relayed to the SM (email in our troop) or the phone works ...if the activities calls for two meeting worth of training the PLC sets up those meetings, instructors are appointed by the PLC and the instructors give the SPL written lesson plans in advance and the SPL updates the SM that he is meeting the 'schedule"...It is a pain but it works. And eventually they learn to do it...and the younger boys in the PLC see how it works so the next SPL knows more about what to expect.

Set up this way, it is almost inpossible for the SPL to 'blow it', unless the SM doesn't keep the boy focused...


We know it works, 'cause we had to do it after watching a series of 'lazy', failing SPLs and a burnt out SM...just marking time til his last son aged out.


But it is critical that all youth leaders, PLs included, know they will be expected to participate in most activities and do their job or they do not get credit for being dead wood.


One of our band new Eagles was shocked a year and a half ago when the SM showed him a list of their meetings and the duties he was asked to handle (and he had accepted) for his ASPL job... that he neglected, and a list of the meetings/campouts he missed...and further that due to his lack of interest, he was not getting a sign off for that PoR...Boy did he have to scramble like mad to find a new position and, by george, he has been at most of our activities, his attitude has changed and he has done his job! It can work but only if the ADULTS DO THEIR JOBS WELL.

good luck!

keep in touch!

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The question was - how much participation do other troops expect of their junior leaders (green bar corps)? I thank all who give me input on this.


To answer some of the comments... I won't go into specifics, but I will say that our troop has had some significant problems with adult interference in troop activities for a LONG time. Too many "Me-me-me" egos, too many "my son first" types, and not enough common sense.

The past year and a half has been a lttle better - got a new SM last year - but the C.O.R. and a couple of adult members have presented a series of continuous problems since early 2000. The worst of the bunch constitute what I think of as the Big Three - those three guys who are troublemakers, but think they know it all and aren't willing to hear anything different. The Big Three are personally responsible for causing at least 12 families to leave the troop in a 14 month period (7 went to other troops) and for railroading the old SM out of the troop and attempting to smear his reputation out of no more than sheer spite because he stuck to the policies of the BSA.

The new SM is one of those guys whose father was a SM back in the 50's or 60's and ruled with an iron thumb (everyone was under it, and don't you forget it). He thinks that's the way he needs to run things and has no problem with holding 15 minute seminars while everyone is standing at attention after opening flags on what's expected at "tonight's" meeting. We are slowly getting him to come around to the idea that the boys need to be trained to take responsibility as leaders for themselves and run their own show.

The C.O.R.'s son is now SPL, and the C.O.R. refuses to allow any talk of replacing the boy with someone willing to perform - he wants his son to have the position, but not have to do the work involved or be required to attend the activities. The ASPL is the kid of one of the Big Three. He is the type who threatens to fold the troop if anyone defies him. The committee chairman took a job out of state and nobody wants to replace him because the family won't say if it's going to be temporary long-term or a permanent position. The most vocal members on the committee are the parents who don't give a good d-a-you-know-what about anyone but their own kids and don't hesitate to stomp on the opinions of others. I have not been informed of committee meetings over the last 6 months because none of the other members wants to hear what I have to say, or do what BSA recommends. Other members of the troop act as if the boys have no brains of their own and insist they don't have the intelligence to select their own camping activities and locations - hence we had a problem with our summer camp selection this year... the adults wanted the kids to go to one place, and the kids voted unanimously in favor of another. I keep having to point out to these so-called leaders that it isn't the adult's troop - the control in making decisions belongs to the boys, and the adults are only there to make sure the boys make responsible choices, or to provide fall-back in the event a choice has adverse consequences so they have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.

Recently (about 5 or 6 months ago) the C.O.R. convinced the SM that the two of them should invite me to shut up & keep my mouth shut, or get out of the troop - until I pointed out the logic and the BSA guidelines on having the boys make their own rules of operation, and their own choices. To the C.O.R. - an elected official in our community - I said, how will these kids learn how to be leaders, how will they become our community's future, if they aren't taught RIGHT NOW to make their own decisions and allowed to make a few mistakes where it won't hurt anyone (such as where to go camping).

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Whoa...you are up to your knees in it here. Sounds like your Big3 is being given way to much credence/power/authority by somebody/everybody. The COR has obviously filled the power vaccuum caused by the changeover in SM and absence of the CC, much to the detriment of troop relations and youth development. He needs to be reigned in (as do the other 2) by the other parents. If you are alone in this 'fight', you will not win. All of the other parents/committee need to be together on this and it should really be the CC/SM (with the help of District bigwigs) that leads the effort to dethrone the COR (and the other parent who threatens to fold the troop). If the other folks aren't willing to stand up for their own scouts and the troop, then maybe the best course for you is to follow the other 14 families (or start a new troop with them) assuming your son is okay with a move. If your son is happy, advancing and getting some leadership opportunities, then maybe you just need to ignore the 'adult problems'.(This message has been edited by SemperParatus)

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Chicken Ranch


You've got real problems right there!


I strongly suggest you get outside help from the Unit Commissioner if your troop has one assigned from the District, or get to the District Commissioner. He or She can provide the resources and people needed for backup in troop life-saving.


If Commissioner service is not available, I suggest you go to the District Excutive. He is the paid rep at your Council who can help the troop get back on its feet and in the right direction.


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Chicken Ranch, I feel your pain...

This must be a common problem in Scouting today, where somewhere along the line, the methods of Scouting have become lost or misconstrued. It's certainly "easier" sometimes to have the adults running everything, but it's far out of line with the BSA guidelines and policies.


I don't know if your SM has encouraged or done a Junior Leader Training Session, or if, at this point, it will even make a difference. But it might be worth a try? You're right that if the boys in their elected positions of responsibility aren't exercising the responsibility in their positions, they aren't truly grasping the ideals of the program, without a doubt. And the adults that don't, can't or won't see that allowing this to go on is only hurting the boys in the long run and depriving every youth member of the Troop of a true Scouting unit.


If there is anything I have learned, it's that I can't change anyone else. If your Big3 are intent on interfering with the program and encouraging the SPLs, ASPLs, and PLs to take no responsibility, it's probably time to involve some folks outside the unit to try and effect change. I wish you luck!

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What a soap opera you've got there. I agree with the others here when they tell you to roll up your sleeves and prepare to fight the blockheads that don't follow BSA Regs. Arm yourself with knowledge and back up your voice with District and Commission help. It's unfortunately for the boys that they were never given the responsibility or the chance to fail on their own because of a few stubborn parents.


I have a question for you. Who is your charter organization are they a civil group or religous group? Have you gone to the head of the organization with your problem? Your C.O.R. is suppose to be screened and selected by the Charter Organization.


The BSA does reserve the right to refuse membership to anyone they feel is detrimental to the Organization; no matter who they think they are.


Good Luck and God Bless.

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Sorry I haven't answered lately - been out of town the last few days. I appreciate all the input from everyone - for awhile, I thought I was just being too picky or something.


Answers to the Questions posed -

Chartered Org. is a church.

COR is a senior deacon in the same church (also holds an elected office).

The female minister acts as of she's under CORs thumb, and he seems to pretty much control most of what happens in the church.

COR has Type A personality and a correspondingly uptight attitude with hostile overtones. COR possesses a very ugly temper and threatening demeanor when riled, but is otherwise a charmer - sort of like a snake poised to strike.

Had trouble for a couple of years finding a CC who knew anything AND was willing to take command. Up until we found someone who really knew what they were doing and understood scouting, COR wasn't interested in intervening; after we found a good man, COR interfered with everything, ran him off. New CC has been out of town for months.

COR was a major part of the past problems, was the driving force that resulted in loss of old SM & a contributing force in loss of many scouts in a very short period. At least 7 of the losses resulted in transfers to other troops and are directly attributable to COR & the other 2 out of the Big 3. COR personally kicked out one kid. 10-15 other boys quit scouting and lost interest.

COR was the one who threatened to fold the troop, had almost everyone else in the troop so stirred up & intimidated it almost became a troop in name only.

The Unit Commissioner assigned to our unit was a guy who apparently existed only on paper for almost 18 months (he rarely showed up) and apparently made his reports based on 2nd hand information from an unknown source.

When the district was called in to help, the person on the dist. committee that handled the complaint was the troop's previous SM (the man the old SM was asked to replace) - and after several years he was still mad over being replaced, so he took sides with the COR against the old SM. Didn't matter the COR was wrong - the district guy had it in for the old SM for personal reasons. I understand he's been removed from the district committee now.

The next level up is the Council Exec. - he's next on the list of who might help. I'll try that next.

JLT hasn't been held since before new SM was appointed. When we had the last one, COR convinced all but 6 or 7 boys to stay away (out of a troop of about 20-25 total boys).

I recently recommended to the new SM that it would be wise to hold a general JLT for the benefit of the entire troop later this month or early in March (just prior to troop elections), and then hold individual position training for specific job descriptions right after elections. I pointed out that it would help ALL the guys (so they know how their youth leaders are supposed to operate & be better able to co-operate). I think he's going to go for it.

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Your Subject Title is the least of your problems(lol).


Your COR does not sound like a man of God to me. If your District Executive of Council President can't help; go to national or start another troop somewhere else. With the old SM out of the Council maybe you can get things done. The minimum number to start a troop is very low, I think it's 5 or 7 boys and enough caring adults to run it. You and the new SM should meet the families of the boys in a small group setting and talk about the problems and discuss what needs to be done for the betterment of the boys.(This message has been edited by SM484)

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I don't care for camping much and I can't hike far because I have some physical issues, but I can be easily pursuaded to go on camping trips and summer camp with the troop if there is a need for 2-deep leadership or some additional transportation. I wind up sleeping in my vehicle a lot, and come home stiff and tired, but if I'm needed so that a campout can go off as planned, I'll go along for the kids rather than see it get canceled. It's not worth disappointing them.

This unit I've been in has good kids - real good kids - and I hate the idea of leaving them if I move on. They're bright, and at least half of them really want the scouting program - those are the ones that are motivated and will do well in their endeavors. I want them to have the best scouting has to offer. I'm afraid that if I leave, no one else in this troop will really know or understand the advancement process very well. The COR used to do it, before me, but he threw away a lot of documentation on kids who left the troop, and when I took the position over, I had to correct about half the records on the kids who remained in the troop and file corrections on a couple of boys who transferred to other troops, so they could get credited for work they did while with us.


I don't want to think of leaving this troop until I absolutely have to, because I have so much time invested - over 6 years. But on the other hand, how much good does it do to stay and be stressed out all the time, worrying all the time about what some adult is going to do to ruin the program for the youth members and deprive them of what the program could ideally offer - or worse, worrying all the time about who's going to crawl down someone else's throat over some imagined slight and disrupt the trust of the entire unit?


But perhaps it's time - we are thinking about moving in a few months to a small town near here anyway. If we don't go too far away, and I transfer to another unit, or help some other organization start a new troop, maybe a few of the boys will follow. In a new unit, I'd need to see a good man brought on as scoutmaster - being in the "driver's seat" as a SM type is just not up my alley - I prefer to stay on the sidelines, watch the show, give advice to those who want it, take notes on who attends events & who does his job, and be there to explain the program opportunities so the kids understand what they can do to advance more effectively or offer ideas on how they can fulfill the duties of their job or their position of responsibility so well they are remembered as the *example to strive for* for a long time to come.

I've helped charter a pack and a troop before - it's not hard, but the paper trail can be a pain in the posterior. Five youth is what's usually recommended - that rule can be bent if there are 4 kids who are really interested and at least 3 or 4 adults to help start it up, with at least one or more other kids as possible joiners at a later time, especially when it's a re-organization of a defunct unit, or a bad situation in a small community.


I think - when I go for refreshers at the next College of Commissioner Science in a few weeks - I'll ask around and see what some of the other leaders and commissioners have to say.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Great discussion.


This does not sound all that different from the corporate world. The first company I worked at had about 100 employee but was family owned. The company was run for the sole purpose of providing 5-6 family members with lucertive jobs. The engineering manager (my boss) was a tyrant who blamed everything that went wrong on his poorly developed staff. And he was not intereted developing his staff or yielding athority. Appealing to the higher-ups was useless as they were there only to protect their own.


When they say scouting is a microcosim of the adult world they are right. But scouts should be learning not the tyranical, nepotism style of management but the growth through training and doing style of mangement.


(This message has been edited by Its Me)

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chicken ranch...everything that you said puts you as a prime candidate for becomins SM. You realize exactly what is expected of SM without realizing it. Sitting on the sidelines and guiding individual scouts rather than the entire group is the perfect scoutmaster that i would want. Right now im trying to get my SM to become more like that. If the troop and SPL and PLC work right then all an SM should do is attend every activity and sit on the sidelines to help individual scouts and advise the youth leaders how to lead better. I hope this helps coming from the perspective of a 14 year old scout. I know that everything you said about what you want to do while telling scouts how to advance and telling people what the bsa suggests they do is exactly the perfect SM. I hope that you become the next SM so that you can talk to the PLC and as long as they agree give them all power immediately. As long as they are willing just sit back relax and go along for the ride.

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