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Can a SM remove the SPL from his position?

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I am on the horns of a dilemma, so to speak, and would like a little feedback from you all.


Our troop went to summer camp. The SPL had been elected only a few weeks before. He wasn't my first choice, but the boys elected him to lead. He has anxiety issues, and IMHO needs anger management therapy. I did my best to guide him with his tasks during camp, and had to call him out twice for shirking his duties. A few times during the week he was rude to one of our adults (his mother) and an ASM reprimanded him for his tone. At the end of camp it happened again, and he went off the deep end... with vociferous profanity, and in front of the entire troop. He also threatened two other adults with physical violence.


As the SM, do I have the authority to remove the SPL from his position? Because of the violent threats he made to the adults I don't feel I can let this go and give him another chance. This boy needs Scouting but I don't think he's mature enough to hold the position he was elected to. There are two scenarios I keep running in my head: if I remove him, am I sending the message that the scouts can't be trusted to make a good choice? or if I give him another chance, do the other scouts think "hey, we can get away with anything"?


I'd really appreciate some comments, this is tearing me up.



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I am on the horns of a dilemma, so to speak, and would like a little feedback from you all.   Our troop went to summer camp. The SPL had been elected only a few weeks before. He wasn't my first ch

Kudu, This may make you mad, as my troop's method does not seem to coincide 100% with BP, but here's how it went and it did work out beautifully for us.   Patrols elected their own PLs. In orde

"Fake Leadership kicks this rugged Patrol Scoutcraft out of Wood Badge and replaces it with boxes of tissue for weepy Wolf Den Leaders."   Good one Kudu.   I have to clean the coffee off my key

If the Scoutmaster can't, than I don't know who can.


Perhaps you need a sit down with the boy and ask him to evaluate his behavior at Camp. If he says he knew he was wrong, then give him very short rope in the future, any recidivism means he is no longer SPL.


If he comes up with an attitude, fire him. Have new elections, if we talk about actions and consequences, then there needs to be some

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yes, immediately. Doesn't deserve any more chances after he threatened people. Suggest to his parents he attend anger management training.

If you let him remain as "leader" after his lack, you are opening yourself up to lawsuits if he really goes off the deep end

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Of course you can remove him. That is one of the most fundamental aspects of the SM's job. I do disagree with the poster who suggested it might be appropriate to allow him to continue as SPL, but with a short leash. Violent threats toward others? He is certainly not currently able to handle the SPL position. Some here might even suggest removing him from the troop. While I would probably not go that far, he needs some serious counseling and would need to demonstrate more self-control before he can be allowed to run for SPL again if he so chooses.


The other possibility is that he may have some sort of mental health issue going on. Are his parents aware of the situation and have they considered this possibility?

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Yes the SM can, but should he do it by himself?


I'd recommend a sit down with the scout, his parents, SM, CC and several members of the committee. He needs a SM conference and a Board of Review. Get everyone on the same page. Establish some guidelines and a timeline for corrective action. Don't just cast him aside, with no chance of resuming his position.


Give the scouts the option then of new elections or allowing the SM and committee the option of having the ASPL assume the SPLs responsibilities, until such time that he can return to his position or regular elections would occur, which ever comes first.

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Absolutely. Remove him from the SPL position. The ASPL then takes over. Then, leadership position aside, sit down with the boy and his parents and have it out. That type of behavior is clearly unacceptable.


What was your response immediately following the outburst? Did you pull him aside and talk to him? What did he say?

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Our ASPL had to organize a Troop Mobilization (using his new Emergency Preparedness skills) to find the SPL, he had stormed out of our site and took off across camp. Once he had been located the scouts reported back to me. I walked to where he was and he fled before me, screaming obscenities. He would not speak to me in a civil manner. He screamed at me that he was sick of being yelled at, he was sick of being blamed for stuff (IDK what he was referring to, he never elaborated), no one would listen to him, and he was sick of the adults breathing down his neck all the time. Every time I tried to talk to him, he yelled over me and refused to listen. He only came out of the woods when I told him that I might have to call in a Lost Camper Alert to the state police and if he remained combative and uncooperative they may have to put him in handcuffs for his own safety.


As far as I know he never apologised to anyone. He helped finish packing the Troop gear, climbed into his mother's vehicle and went to sleep.


BTW... the ASPL doesn't want the job either.



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Red Flags

He wasn't my first choice The SPL candidates who run for election are approved by the Scoutmaster but the Scoutmaster's choice?


I . . . had to call him out twice for shirking his duties. The Scoutmaster should not be calling any scout "out" but guiding behind the scenes.


A few times during the week he was rude to one of our adults (his mother) and an ASM reprimanded him for his tone. What was his mother's response? I lived with my SPL for few years and was he always respectful of me? No, he was a teenager. However, my expectations were different at a Scouting event. Scouts see their parents as parents, not Scouters and, not trying to make excuses for the kid, but habits at home don't somehow disappear at a Scouting event.


he threatened two other adults with physical violence. It's is one thing to verbally threaten physical violence and another to physically threaten physical violence in my estimation. For example, saying I'm going to kill you to someone vs. pointing a loaded hand gun at someone are too very different things so I'm going to bite my tongue on this one.


the ASPL doesn't want the job either Does the current SPL want the position or feel Shanghaiinged? As a SM, you should not have approved of an ASPL that does not want or is not willing to become an SPL.


It's easy to say remove him but what does that lead to? Does any Scout want the job? I'd consider the end result first, the boys elected him.

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The fact that the ASPL does not want the job of SPL is a BIG red flag to me also.


Have you considered, that while this boy might indeed need help with a medical condition, his problems with the Troop, and the position of SPL, might be well founded?


Have you considered that might be why the ASPL does not want anything to do with the job?


Also, why on earth did you have the ASPL do a "Troop Mobilization" to search out the SPL? It seemed to me that he knew he was out of control, and went off by himself to cool down. Were his parents concerned that he might do himself harm?


I am not clear on the threatening of "physical violence". Did he verbally yell at the adults to stay away from him or he would kick their butts, or something in that vein? Or, did he pick up a stick, rock, knife, ax, whatever, and physically threaten them? Big difference.


I would have a SM conference with the Scout, and his parents. Talk about his behavior, why it was wrong, what might have caused it, and how to avoid that kind of response in the future. I would also discuss with him the position of SPL. Find out why he accepted the position if he did not feel able to meet the responsibilities.


I think that given his meltdown, you must remove him from the SPL position. He can run for it again, if he wants, when he has matured a bit, and learned some control.


However, considering the ASPL's response, you have some possible problems that you need to address in the Troop. Are the adults "breathing down the necks" of the youth leaders? Are they being supported and guided, or pushed, talked down to, and scolded? Do the youth leaders know what is expected of them in their POR's? Have you done any Troop Leadership Training?


We do not know the entire picture here, but from my perspective, there seem to be other issues besides just this one Scout.


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acco, I think I worded some of that badly. Of the two candidates that ran for SPL, I felt the other boy would have been a better fit for the position. I had no influence whatsoever in who ran, or the outcome of the election. Likewise I didn't "call him out" in front of the troop, I pulled him aside and we discussed what he needed to do differently. That was a poor choice of words on my part.


ScoutNut, the ASPL has never wanted to be SPL, he's only 13. He just wants to be a scout without the pressure of being the one "in charge". He came to me with the proposal to locate the SPL after the boy had been missing from our site for nearly an hour. We were nearly done packing and it was time to leave. The ASPL took charge of the troop to get the rest of the work done and then locate our missing scout. No, we have not run TLT with this group of boys because they were elected only 6-7 weeks ago. It's on our calendar for next month.


As for the threats of physical violence from the SPL, yes it was of the "get the f* away from me or I'll rip your F*n head off and beat you with it" variety. There was no brandishing of potential weapons.

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Just some friendly scouter advise (BTDT).


If you have a young Troop, i.e new SPL/ASPL/PL's 9especially younger than those not serving in a POR) after elections. Troop junior Leader training needs to happen ASAP before the next outing.


That way, the SPL/ASPL/PL knows the expectations, and requirements ACTUALLY placed on them. and it offers tips on LEADERSHIP styles and COMMUNICATIONS. Sprinkling LEADERSHIP and TEAM BUILDING in the TJLT will help ease them into the roles they will need to play. It also give the observing SM (a good TJLT is conducted by the old SPL/Older Scouts that have held positions like it).


The SPL job is not a position for a Scout that can't deal with aggravation. From answering SM questions to trying to delegate responsibility to new PLs is hard enough.


IMO the SPL is bounced, but you need to do a couple things. Inform the CC why, inform advancement chair the date SPL is removed. If the ASPL is not willing to serve as interim SPL, then you could do a couple things.


Announce new SPL/ASPL elections. If no one wants the jobs, all outings are canceled. Scouts are boy-led, and if there is no boy Leadership, then there is no BOY SCOUTS.

Depending on your Troop (if it's small) this could backfire and kill the Troop, so it's only a last-resort suggestion.


But you need TJLT ASAP.


Good luck.


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How big is your Troop?


Lord Baden-Powell (the major-general who invented Scouting) wrote that an SPL is purely optional in a Troop of 32 active Scouts.


In B-P's Patrol System, a Boy Scout Troop is run by the Patrol Leaders.


A Troop that uses the Patrol System will never need an SPL if you: 1) Take an active interest in each Patrol, 2) Invest enough time to visit each Patrol individually to explain the qualities that will help them identify that particular Patrol's best leader, then 3) Encourage them to elect and stick with him as long as he is the best leader (no matter who "needs" a POR).


When a Troop's Patrols are run by the best natural leaders, one of them will step up if and when someone is needed to coordinate the Patrol Leaders' efforts.


Consider the fact that nobody wants to be SPL the blessing that led your Troop away from boring office stuff like leadership styles, communications, team building, and adult "leadership" experts who threaten to cancel outings just to get their way.


Boys join Scouting to camp, not to learn fake leadership.


Yours at 300 feet,


Kudu(This message has been edited by Kudu)

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