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badgerface

What makes the perfect SPL?

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Hi all...I was wondering what qualities adult leaders hope to find in an SPL? I know that in my troop we scouts usually end up voting for the person that has the most experience, gets along with the most people, and has the most amount of time to devote. Is this really any different from the adult point of view. I really want to just hear what makes the perfect SPL before i truly decide whether or not i can make a strong enough candidate for SPL next year. What are the best qualities?

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Great question badger. I'm answering off the cuff, so I might think of some other items later.

 

1) Maturity. I don't care if he's the most popular or really plays well with others. I want him to be a mature leader for the troop. I guess the best way to say it is "set the example". By asking this question, I'm assuming you're a pretty mature young man.

 

2) Decision making ability. We teach lots of methods of solving problems and making decisions. But I see a lot of SPLs that can't make a decision after evaluating the options. They usually know what they should do. It's having the confidence to execute it.

 

3) Communication, communication, communication. Written, verbal, you name it. It's all important. Listening is just as important as telling. In this age of e-mails, our guys have developed lazy habits of communicating that they need to "unlearn".

 

4) Delegating/sharing responsibility. A good leader doesn't try to do it all. I like to see a SPL that tries to work as a team.

 

5) Teacher. The SPL should be a mentor/teacher to the guys in the troop. He won't know everything (that's what the SM is for!!!). But I would hope he can answer most of the basic scout skills questions from a young scout.

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A good SPL listens to the Scouts and finds out their needs and desires. He then offers those as solutions and goals. He directs when many don't agree but out of respect will follow. He learns the skills of leadership and uses them to make a great program. He is brave and he has a good sense of justice. Moreover, he is a friend to all.

FB

 

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Interesting question...but I wonder if it is relavent to scouting???

 

since we do not select the SPL does it matter what we want in an SPL??? A more revealing question would what do we do when a less than perfect SPL is handed to the SM and troop?

 

and badgerface the boys in a troop end up deciding among those willing or wanting to do it...not necessarily the best...

 

I would like for the boys to be able to view 'desire to serve', organizational and outdoors skills through adult eyes...

 

but hey, what do we know...Last boy I thought was a 'winner' (demonstrated maturity, ability, friendliness and organizational skills), was

at best a mediocre SPL...perhaps 'low average' but the expectations had been soooo high...

 

but the boy did not follow through on anything that did not have a direct benefit to him. (or that the SM was not riding his hip pocket the entire time).

 

I have seen an interesting trend that maybe others can verify...our best troop guides seem to be the better SPL later in their scout careers...and a good Summer Camp Staff experience seems to bode well also...any thoughts?

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>>I have seen an interesting trend that maybe others can verify...our best troop guides seem to be the better SPL later in their scout careers...and a good Summer Camp Staff experience seems to bode well also...any thoughts?

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antichrist

reread the original message, it was a scout asking, on how he could become SPL and be good at it.

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I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect SPL. Just like there is no perfect SM or perfect human. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, which may be an advantage or a detriment to performing some of the functions of a scout leader. In some cases, scouts that I would have guessed would struggle with this position (disorganized, uncomfortable speaking to crowds, etc.) performed extremely well.

 

What I have learned is that it all comes down to a willingness to truly do your best. Don't try to be perfect (or only go for it if you think you can be perfect) because you will not be. Just be prepared to be true to yourself in doing the best job that you possibly can. You will surprise yourself with what you can accomplish.

 

 

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The reason that i asked the question is that currently in my troop the adults do not let the SPL take any true responsibility and if anything starts to go wrong they step in because they dont have confidence in him. This has happened more with this SPL than before, but i think it wont stop unless there is an SPL that has the complete support from the adult leadership. Although i do want to step up and hopefully be voted SPL, i do not see the point in running(hopefully becoming) SPL if the adults do not see the qualities that they hope for and do not trust me. Then any decision I/the PLC makes will be changed by the adults. I do not want this to happen.

 

I guess that it is more whether I am willing to stick-up for all of the decisions we make and force the troop to stick with them. I think that as long as I am very commited to sticking with the decisions then all else will follow...

 

I just hope that the adults will learn to put their trust in the SPL and stick with the decisions made by any SPL. But it is interesting to hear that most of the things you adult leaders think are important are the same things that i(and other scouts?) already thought were the important qualities.

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Every Troop program is limited by the fears of adults.

 

If I had the courage you appear to have, consider the idea of talking with the adults. The committee meeting possibly. You need to convience the adults that you want to learn how to handle the troop program. THen ask them what is the worst that can happen? And be prepared to reply every situation they throw at you. Be truthful and humble. "I don't know but we will learn together" might be your best reply.

 

But at least you are presenting your case of taking on more. And, from the very begining help them understand that you consider this is a team effort with the PLC and adults. Not just the PLC, not just the adults because the whole idea of learning from your experiences is to have a person of wisdom waiting to guide your questions and struggles. They need to see that you know things can and will go wrong, but you guys just want to take the risk.

 

Does that sound like it could work? I could be way off. But you need to find a way of getting the adults to allow you to step into the unknown. Then see what happens from there. Don't confront them as adults, instead make a proposal for all of you.

 

Barry

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"Every Troop program is limited by the fears of adults."

 

What a truly profound statement that is. I'm dealing with a situation right now that is pretty well summed up by that. A boy didn't get elected or selected to a POR that he wanted. The parents are quite angry and are blaming me (even though I don't do the electing or the selecting). Their son is a little backward and shy, and they don't let him jump in and try, fail and learn. The cycle we have all gone through to get where we are today. Whenever they see failure coming, they always jump in to rescue him. The poor lad is never going to learn how to deal with adversity at this rate.

 

But I digress. Our last SPL did something that I thought was pretty brave. He asked for feedback, publically, from the troop. He wanted to know what he could do better. Two good things happened. One, the boys gave him some very honest and critical feedback. And two, everything they said tied back to the basic leadership skills we talk about in JLT (communication, decision making, sharing leadership).

 

The reason I tell this is that if he had of asked me if he should do that, I would have recommended against it. Not sure why, other than that's not the way I would have approached it. But, in the end, he learned some valuable insights regarding his own abilities. And I learned a lot about humility and the importance of letting these guys run the program.

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What makes the perfect SPL?

The perfect Scoutmaster.

But no one is perfect.

We all promise to do our best and even when we do we know that we could do better.

Sometimes change takes a lot of time and even more hard work.

Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, changing attitudes can be painfully slow. If you try to do it all at once or by using threats, or by waving this under the SM's nose it may not happen at all. Start off with small things, show that it really can work and slowly move on to the next thing.

You may not get everything that you want, but you will have done your best.

Hopefully when the time comes and you come to bat as the SM, you will remember how not to do things.

Eamonn.

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Eagledad,

I don't see a difference in our view of guides...our troop tends to have a good range of ages (currently 8 of 55 active boys are 17-18 years old). In our program, most of our SPLs are juniors or seniors in high school. Most of our guides are ninth or tenth graders...(15-16 years old). And I agree that selfless...role model are outstanding virtues for a guide...they are also traits that I find tremendously important for an outstanding SPL...leading through service!

 

dan, I understood the post...the 'gist' of what I posted stands...the boy needs to demonstrate his abilities to the scouts not the adults to be elected...and being a great troop guide is a way to lock in 8-16 votes, nes pas? It does not prohibit demonstrating ability to adults...but as in all politics...if 'they' don't vote for him...he can't have the job...at least not in a "Boy Led" troop....

 

'story': watched a boy 'streak' through several years back now...doing everything the adults expected from him ( I remember making a comment about him getting his ticket punched but not know which way was north)...The leaders (at the time) loved him...he did everything they wanted done...and he did it their way! He was the youngest Life scout the troop could remember. But when he offered himself up for SPL the boys had a different idea...they voted for a quiet, shy, low keyed older boy...who spoke barely above a whisper. BUT, he was always there for the younger scouts...when older boys 'went missing on campouts'...he was there...on high adventure treks, this boy often times became the 'acting' SPL (when young life-super scout was off at other activities) and when any scout had a problem he would step up and show them a way to 'work' on the problem...the point?...He led by SERVICE not by an impressive "presence" or 'authority'.

 

SO, I would hope badgerface could serve his troop in a way to impress the 'voters'...if elected, then he can sit the adults down and show them how he wants to run his troop...with all the advise he has read here.

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>>Eagledad,

I don't see a difference in our view of guides...our troop tends to have a good range of ages (currently 8 of 55 active boys are 17-18 years old).

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