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I need some advice

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Twenty-year scoutmaster has seen all this before. Sixteen year-old and inactive parent have seen none of this before. Scoutmaster and Committee Chair are tight, as they need to be. Scoutmaster doesnt want, or is unable, to put more effort into leadership training for this one sixteen year old. Reasons dont really matter. Scoutmaster is a volunteer.

 

Focus sons efforts on completing Eagle project and other necessary advancement. Help him have fun in his Venture Patrol. He is an intelligent young man with a lot of spunk who is well-liked by his peers. He could be president of the United States someday.

 

Have fun in scouting.

 

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Aquila calva, you sound like you are the actual SM in question.

 

 

A 20 year SM should have been able to handle this better than firing all the leaders and forcing them to join a Venture patrol. His experience failed him and his lack of effort paints him as a slacker. The SM didn't just quit on one kid he quit on the troop and the youth leaders he claims to be devloping.

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"Reasons dont really matter. Scoutmaster is a volunteer"

 

Didnt know being a volunteer meant you could be a total jerk and still not have to be responsible for your actions

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Easy der, OGE. We're only hearing one side of the story.

 

The SM is accountable for his actions to the chartered org., and to a lesser extent to the committee in terms of following committee policy. But the only way to hold a volunteer SM accountable is to get him to leave... either because he gets ticked off about being reversed on a very public decision, or because the IH in this case says "Go."

 

Aquila is right here. If the SM is dug in, the only possible outcomes are a lot of troop infighting with no change in the decision, or a lot of troop infighting and the troop being left with no SM. People of good will sometimes have to stop and consider whether being right justifies doing more damage. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

 

As a CC, I'd probably be trying to mediate this, but ultimately my job is to back the SM unless or until it's time to recommend to the CO that we fire him.

 

As a former SM, though, I'd welcome this lad into my troop in a heartbeat. He cares, and he cares enough to act, and he tries to act in a responsible way. That's gold in an SPL in my book.

 

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"We're only hearing one side of the story."

 

We never hear both sides of the story. If we all had to wait to hear both sides, (or all sides)this would be a pretty dead forum. If the only side presented shows the SM to be a jerk, there is nothing wrong with commenting to that effect.

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Giving advice can be like stepping into quicksandbut here goes anywayMore advice from a troop committee chair who hopefully lives far away from the troop in this story

 

The scoutmasters actions are indefensible from a procedural point of view (Is there another side to this story we havent heard, such as the rock-climbing incident was somehow life-threatening and the youth leaders were somehow responsible?just speculation now.) The scoutmaster is dealing with his frustrations in an unfair manner. He is the long-time volunteer scoutmaster and he has the support of the volunteer committee chair. From the sound of this story both need more training from qualified volunteer and professional trainers. Or they could both benefit from reading the available scouting manuals. But it is the parent who asked for advice, not the adult leaders.

 

Stating the obvious firstScout and parent need to continue their focus on the productive future of the scout. Eagle advancement provides great leadership opportunities. Now that the scout has the approval of the scoutmaster and committee chair on his Eagle project, he needs to take it to the district leaders. This is normal procedure in our district. Maybe he will find someone at the district who is willing and able to help him take his project to completion. (Does the troop have an adult leader trained as an Eagle Coach?) Since the scout appears to have the support of other scouts in his troop, he should have no trouble recruiting them to help on his Eagle project. The scout will eventually need the signatures of SM and CC on his Eagle application (not to mention those letters of recommendation).

 

One important question for the scout and parent to ask and answerhas the scout fulfilled the requirement of six months of leadership in a troop position since becoming a Life Scout? If he has, ask the scoutmaster to sign off that requirement in the scouts book. If the scoutmaster removed him before the end of a six month term as SPL, this action may prevent the scout from fulfilling this requirement and thus he will not be eligible for Eagle until the requirment is completed. Does the scoutmaster have ulterior motives? If the scout has spent 4 or 5 years around this scoutmaster, and they are now not getting along, it may be time for the scout to finish up his Eagle and hopefully be better trained than the scoutmaster. The scout should continue having fun with his friends doing high adventure activities, too. Another piece of advice (it is cheap, after all!), dont change troops at this point unless it is the last resort. Since the Eagle project is now approved on a unit level, get it done as a member of that unit if at all possible. Getting involved in another troop, with another set of adult leaders will just take time and energy away from completing the advancement.

 

The scout could someday be a very good scoutmaster, if not president.

 

Have fun scouting.

 

 

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Our Eagle candidates first meet with the SM, then the head of the organization he is serving with his project. He then meets with the entire Committee. This is done to be sure all bases are covered and that the Scout has a good shot at passing at the district level. It's not to make the Scout jump through hoops, but as help to the Scout. Next the Scout speaks to the District Advancement Chairman. When the project is complete, signatures procured, he has a BOR. After the BOR, led by the DAC, it goes on to National.

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Sounds like this troop has done a few tweaks to the program. Open ended POR, arranging patrols by the SM, nothing that we have not heard being done from other posters on this board.

 

The following statment is the one that I wonder is the cause of the removal.

 

"Because the adult leaders did not take the initiative to discipline the boys, Bobby as the Senior Patrol Leader said that being older scouts they should have not only known better than to do something so foolish but to also go back on their duties as good role models to the younger scouts. He then told them that he would try and get a suitable punishment for them worked out with the adult leaders and make sure that it was carried out because their actions were very irresponsible."

 

After this campout did the 3 scouts that where threartened with punishment and discipline go home and call the SM and asked if scouts can punsih or discipline other scouts, of course the SM said no they cannot. And knew he had to nip this in the bud, before it got totally out of hand. So he did.

Sounds like the adult leadership at the campout did not have issues with scouts climbing on the rocks.

 

What type of punishment did your son have in mind? Did he suggest what it might be when he was talking to the 3 scouts? Saying something that he did not mean to say?

 

In scouting about the only things that we can do for punishment is removal from POR, not allowing scout to advance, (but if a scout reports this to the BSA, most likely he will be allowed to advance) sending them home from a campout or meeting, or not allowing them to attend a campout or meeting, having the scouts do a presentation at a meeting about what was done wrong. Some troops use cleaning as a punishement, not sure how this helps the scouts, but to each there own.

 

Some questions that where asked.

 

Are scoutmasters all powerful? Can they do whatever they want? Yes as long as they follow the GTSS and have the backing of the CC.

 

Can scouts be forced to join venture patrols?

No, but a troop can (I did not say should) do pretty much what do want with patrols.

 

I may be reading to much into this, but is sounds like you son is just like the SM, his way of the highway, of course he is just modeling the leadership that he sees. (The SM)

 

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To answer some questions, my son was the SPL for one year and 5 months after becoming a life scout. So, his leadership requirement for eagle is covered. Thanks for the idea to get this requirement signed off by SM now.

 

Today my son got approval from the district committee rep ,or something like that, on his eagle proposal. All he needs to do now is wait for the spring thaw. He's relining a pond and creating a drainage field/riverbed and adding some landscaping in a goose enclosure. He's doing the project for a small nature preserve in the area.

 

When the rep asked what position he was currently holding, my son replied that he used to be SPL but it's complicated now. The rep said "fine, I don't need to know".

 

This rep was very helpful. Told him what he needed to do from here on out.

 

 

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Based on the description of the events of the campout, it sounds like your son handled it quite well. Sounds like he would be welcomed as a leader in any troop.

 

The newest piece of information though is that your son was SPL for a year and a half. Its time for him to step down from this role anyway and let another lad have an opportunity. The way the Scoutmaster went about it is unfortunate though. Meet with the Scoutmaster and give him the opportunity to "save face". It sounds like he does have good intentions in forming the venture patrol - just went about it rather awkwardly. Sounds like he may have not spoken quite well about what was going on too.

 

I see a couple of good things coming out of this - one is the formation of an active venture patrol with an active schedule that does things the other patrols don't get to do. The other is perhaps a suggestion from your son that the troop change its PLC choosing policies from "whenever the Scoutmaster decides it needs a change" to a regular election every 6 months.

 

I like the suggestion of one in here that perhaps you volunteer to shepard the new Venture Patrol as an ASM to help it get off to a good start.

 

It doesn't sound like the SM or the CC is being unreasonable at all - if either of them were, I have no doubt that your son's Eagle project would have been "postponed indefinitely". Try reaching out to the SM and see what happens.

 

CalicoPenn

 

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It seems to me, as a fellow SPL, that the SM didn't have a reason to fire him. "Failure to lead?" If that's the case, then the adults should have shown him how to lead, instead of simply firing him. It's not your son who has a leadership problem, it's the SM. Some kind of procedure should be drawn up that determines what happens when the SM is abusing his power. Before I joined my current troop, I was in one with a SM who constantly abused his power. Our procedure: We left the troop and formed a new one. Maybe it's time to do the same.

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The added piece of information that brings this into a bit more focus for me is that the boy in question was SPL for a year and five months. It sounds like he was elected to this position only once. If PORs are open-ended and end only when the SM says it's time, I don't think somebody can complain when after a year the SM says it's time--unless he gives overly critical reasons for the change, which sounds like what happened here. Could it be that there are a number of older scouts who have had the same PORs for a long time, and have lost interest in them to some extent? If this is the case, you can understand why the SM might want them to move aside to give younger boys a chance, and it's not a bad idea for these older boys to form a Venture Patrol. I'm not saying the SM handled this well, and it seems that the problem is one that he helped create by having these open-ended PORs--but his underlying motivation may be reasonable. I should add that the situation is unlikely to be a learning experience for a SM who has been there 20 years, whether he is right or wrong. If you're really at odds with him, you really only have three choices: (1) make the best of the situation without making too many waves, (2) make waves and either get him removed or cause him to quit, or (3) find another troop.

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The problem isn't that we thought he should be SPL for life. It's the way the SM removed the SPL and the 5 PL's. Saying "if you ran a business you'd be fired" and effectively firing them and forcing them into a venture patrol. They are KIDS! If he said "next month we're going to have elections and select a new leadership corps and give more people a crack at leadership positions", that would have been fine. It's all about how it was done. Scouting should be about building up not tearing down. These are good kids and deserved better. The venture patrol wasn't discussed until they became a venture patrol. They are all still hurting and their confidence is shot. There is talk about quitting scouts from a few of them. This is not the lesson scouting should be teaching.

 

 

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Scoutparent,

 

After reading through some of the last few posts, I must agree with Aquila calva. Based on the description of events provided I think your son was treated unfairly and the SM actions were a poor example of leadership to say the least.

 

Having said that, I agree that I think your son should concentrate on his Eagle Project and advancement and if he wants, being a leader in the Venture Patrol. The Venture Patrol can do outings that are more challenging and interesting to the older scouts. The boys assigned should make the best of it. There is no reason for them to get discouraged or quit scouting. They can make the new Venture Patrol as exciting as they want to.

 

The SM in this unit may well have not handled this situation as well as he could have. However, at this point your son and his friends would be better off embracing the new Venture patrol and making it an exciting fun patrol, rather than restitution of their former positions. The later will not likely accomplish much other than prolong any bad feelings or impressions the SM has of these boys.

 

As I said before a Troop is not a constitutional democracy. Perhaps someday in the future your son will be working for an organization and will come across the boss's son doing something really dumb. He may think of some other way to correct the boss's son's behavior other than a "suitable punishment", even though the son may deserve such punishment and stay in his boss's good graces.

 

SA

 

 

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Congratulations to your son on getting his Eagle project approved at the district level. It sounds like he found a helpful adult leader in the district advancement chair. Your son stands on the doorstep of a major life-time accomplishment. His Eagle project sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Help him remain a leader among his friends in the troop. They will also need him to help them on their Eagle projects.

 

You are an observant father and you clearly care a lot about how your son is being treated, and how your son is handling these matters. This is all a very serious subject for your son, for his friends in the troop, for you and for the other families involved. There are Scout Leaders all over the country right now who are feeling the pain in this situation.

 

Again, the scoutmasters actions are indefensible. They are not the Scouting Way. Where he learned such behavior is speculation. Perhaps he had a scoutmaster who did the same thing to him years ago. Maybe he was prevented from getting Eagle because of such adult behavior. This amounts to abuse of power. Scouting isnt about wielding power and causing emotional pain in young people. Scouting isnt about hiring and firing anybody. Setting a scout up as SPL for 17 months and then jerking the position away from him, is not the Scouting Way.

 

Scouting is about having fun, learning and teaching leadership, responsibility, helpfulness and all the other points of the Scout Oath and Law. Sometime, when you have a private moment with your son, ask him to recite the Oath and Law for you. You can say it is practice for his Eagle Board of Review. He needs to hold onto these ideals, now more than ever.

 

Help your son have fun with his troop, even if the scoutmaster and committee chair dont want, or are incapable of being much help to him. This is highly unfortunate and again it is not the Scouting Way. Your son needs the signatures of these two people on his Eagle application. From the repeated use of the phrase forced to join a venture patrol, there seems to be an indication that a venture patrol may be totally new to this troop. Are there troop leaders who are trained and interested in leading high adventure trips with these scouts? The transition out of the SPL position can be difficult for a scout, no matter how it was done. Troop adult leadership needs to help offer other more advanced scouting opportunities in order to retain the older scouts. This is the reason scouting offers the option of a venture patrol within troops.

 

Just out of curiosity, can you tell us when the troop had its last Eagle scout? Can you find out how many second-year Webelos there are coming into the troop next Spring from the troops feeder pack? This information could be helpful to future members of the troop, and may offer an avenue to help prevent this same thing from happening again.

 

Just to lighten the mood a bit and to try and be helpful, is it possible to take heart in the old saying When handed a bag of lemons, make lemonade.

 

A glass of lemonade, anyone?

 

Have fun scouting.

 

 

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