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SueM

Need some advice

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Sue; sounds like you are doing a fine job and on track! You note that you have been working 18 months to get where you are now. Remember that you are trying to change a culture - that takes time; sometimes a long time. The complete cultural change won't happen until the old culture has moved on.

 

You also mention ups and downs, and sometimes getting one thing on track brings up another. It's an indication from reading between the lines that you are operating in a continuous quality circle - you are raising your own bar constantly as a leader. The "bad" part about that can be that you will feel like the job is never done. Take a step back every once in a while to take stock and appreciate what has been accomplished.

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SueM,

 

When you hold your next election, it is very important that the Scouts that will run for those positions know in advance what is required of them. And if they win the elections, take the training, but refuse to follow the training, they simply will immediately be released from their position, not given credit for their next rank, and a new election will occur. Have quick simple Scoutmaster Conferences with each candidate before the election, and make sure they understand that "their" Troop runs the BSA program, and that they will be trained in that program and expected to follow it (talk about a run on sentence).

After your SPL is elected, after the new SPL selects his ASPL (with SM's approval, and if the Troop still needs one), then the Patrols have their elections. Then the new PL selects his APL. Then train them all.

I also think you may not be using the PLC as often as you should. The SPL, ASPL, and the PL's need to be guided in the PLC's responsibilities. With the PLC guided and trained to plan all of the meetings, camping trips, and other Troop activities, I think a lot of your problems will subside. When the PLC sees that their input is important and used in planning the Troop's programs, they will see that they have an investment in their Troop. Take these new leaders immediately into you confidence, accept only their best efforts, and there will be no need for them to "stand up" to their so called friends. Make the meetings and camping trips "full" of events and activities. The problems do occurr when there is free time. Our Troop never has any free time. There's just too much planned fun stuff to do. And that's the PLC's job.

 

sst3rd

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Wow, there is some great stuff being written. Not to long ago there was a thread where we discussed the time it takes to build a Boy Run program. I think for those of us who have gone from rags to riches, we felt it was between 6 to 10 years.

 

There is a reason it takes so long. You are building a cultural philosophy within your troop. Just because you say scouts are in charge doesnt mean they fully understand what that means. It is important to understand that boy run is different for each one of us and boys do not have any control of how boy run they can go. Its totally up to the adults and their willingness to grow. Boy Run is the freedom adults give the scouts to make decisions within the limitations of adults fears. How much scouts learn from their experience usually is a direct relation to how well adults learn to develop the scouts past the adult fears. Some adults feel scouts shouldnt perform a Flag Ceremony without adult supervision, other adults develop a PLC that function without adult intervention. The limitations of letting scouts make decisions for the other scouts in the troop rest on the willingness of adults to train scouts beyond the adults fears of failure.

 

Cultural changes are not instant in troops because boys have been raised since birth to survive by relying on the directions and demands of adults. Now suddenly you are asking them to turn 180 degrees and survive by the decisions made from themselves. You will be amazed on how few decisions some of your new scouts ever made. No wonder we loose so many first year scouts. We are in a sense asking them to instantly become adults with the experience and wisdom of 30 years.

 

Remember, most of the leadership and behavior skills your scouts use after the age 14, they learned between the ages 10 to 13. You didnt say how old your ASPL is, but I imagine you are having trouble because he is older and behaving more in the way of the old troop culture. My experience is older scouts dont change, they will bend a little, but they pretty much stay with in the boundaries of the old adult leadership. So dont kill yourself trying to change the old guard, put most of your energy developing the new guard.

 

Again, you are developing a culture, so continue projecting that culture to everyone all the time as you said you have done, even the scouts. But not just for the others, but also for you. I always took questions and challenges about my vision as opportunities to reflect on the soundness of the vision. Can I justify the vision? A culture doesnt develop overnight, it takes years, and requires constant shaping. You might even call it brain washing. A new scout must understand and be constantly reinforced that he is responsible for the behavior and performance of all the scouts in the troop. If one scout is caught behaving badly and another scout nearby didnt stop that behavior, the other scout demands as much of a conference as the scout who misbehaved. That takes scouts a little while to learn in this me me world.

 

So give yourself some room and develop patience. Work all the time on patience because a good SM never has enough. Understand that it is likely that what you put in the oven today, someone else will be pulling out later. Youre planting seeds of a crop that probably someone else will be harvest later. Dont be discouraged, I just went to our Troops 20th anniversary banquet and I watched a program that was being run by scouts using the same habits that we developed 12 years ago. That troop is still one of the most boy run and successful troops in the Council. I sat next to a man who was my SPL 10 years ago and he amazed that they were still running the same basic program that he led back then. You could see in his eyes that even he was surprised how proud he felt watching the SPL leading the ceremony.

 

Many adults think they are shaping boys character, but they are foolish in thinking just how much power they have over a boys will. Truth is we only have one to one contact with scouts at best just a few minutes a month. So are our power is that we can instill a culture where boys practice habits that help them develop positive traits of character. There is no other program like the one you are shaping. But anything new and worthwhile requires consistent force to hold its shape until the foundation becomes firm enough to hold the weight of trial and error. 18 months? It took me 3 years to develop a PLC that could run meetings without a SM standing around to insure it followed some kind of agenda. First I had to get the scouts to understand how to write and agenda. Then they had to follow the agenda. Then they had to develop the skills to control the group so the meeting wasnt constantly interrupted by scouts who couldnt control their behavior. Then they had to learn how to evaluate their performance so they could adjust the meeting. Eventually adults were no longer required in the meeting for the program to just funtion.

 

It takes years to develop a culture and the problem is, you probably wont be there, at least not in charge, to watch your vision become complete. But every good troop culture has to start from a solid philosophy so misdirection becomes obvious. It has to be nurtured long enough so that when it goes solo, the program continue toward the vision that was intended in the first place. Set the forms that shape the vision, drive the post that hold the philosophy true and pour the concrete that will hold the heavy weight of adversity because if you start it right today, you will be proud 10 years from now. Your work just doesnt have an effect of your scouts today, but for several years down the road long after your handprints inspired its direction.

 

Everyone agrees, you are doing OK. Keep up the good work and maybe one day your SPL will be the SM of your vision.

 

I Love this scouting stuff.

 

Barry

 

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As usual, Barry pretty much said it all. His words are so true because they come from years of experience. He's been down that road already. Remember, there are several of us at various stages along that road. For those of us a little in front of you, we'll try to warn you of the potholes as you remind us of where we've been.

 

Keep up the great work, John

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I'd like to say thank you again for all the great thoughtful discussion. I know it's going to be a long road ahead and hope to see the day when the vision totally takes hold. It's been a great personal challenge for me in many ways and I am very much aware of my own personal limitations and issues that I need to work on myself. Obviously, I was never a Boy Scout myself, but my involvement with the troop and scouting in general over the past 5 years has given me the same opportunity to for personal growth and developing my own leadership skills as it is supposed to provide for the boys themself.

 

And yes changing the culture was well understood, as well as starting from the bottom up. Last year when I got my first group of New scouts..they came in as a patrol! There were 6 boys who had gone all the way through cub scouts together and they came in ready to go! We decided within 2 weeks that they were going to lead the changes in the troop by their example and it didn't take long for that to happen. The older boys started to imitate some of what they were doing! These little guys were (and still ARE) awesome!. By the Fall Camporee, they were good enough to take 1st place in the competitions for best patrol totally made up of new scouts!! Some of the adults have asked if or when we're going to put them (or let them go) into the other patrols and the rest of us say "Why on earth would we want to do THAT?? All but one of them got to first class before the end of the year and the one who didn't has physical issues that keep him from being able to swim at this time..They are right on the money with most things..3 of them did the patrol campout last week and I gave them a special award for the best patrol site because they had it all together! It was clean, neat..everything was stowed and put away for the night..it was raked neatly, etc. I would not have any issues if ANY of these boys felt up to running for the SPL position in the next election!

 

Anyway..I'll try to keep the advice that you all have given in mind as I go back to work with the boys..and try to get back to a more positive approach..

 

Sue M

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I thought I'd give you an update...

 

The ASPL that I had a problem with has decided to go to the other troop. His mother (who is our troop secretary) let us know last night at the committee meeting. I'm sorry that things turned out like they did but it's probably for the best. This boy has great leadership potential but there were other influences in our troop which were interferring with him reaching that potential. In some ways, I actually had expected him to go over there anyway at the beginning of the year. You see..this troop was in danger of folding because they were down to 3 boys so a couple of adults in my troop kind of went behind the scenes and decided to "save" the troop by moving over to it. My ASPL was close to both the boys who left for the other troop. This was all done at rechartering time and I asked my DE if she could tell me who all was doing it so that I didn't have to pay for rechartering them, but she would not tell me who all was planning or thinking about going..just that there were "several" members and they'd have to tell me themselves. I assumed he was going to be one of them, but he didn't go at that point. Anyway..I wish him well and think it's probably for the best for everyone.

 

And on the positive note..last night the boys ran their first REAL meeting all by themselves!! I think the adults who were there were amazed! (I was in the committee meeting so I didn't get to see much of it). We had a PLC last week and chose the Cooking theme for the month to get ready for the Cookeree so last night one patrol was to research cast iron cookware..how to use and care for it; one patrol talked about Dutch oven cookings and then all the patrols were to bring a recipe that they could do in a dutch oven and share it with the troop. Afterwards, the program patrol decided to play Scouting Pictionary and they had a blast! Next week we're doing foil wrapped cooking and who knows what game..we're making progress!

 

Sue M.

 

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