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Can a SM remove the SPL from his position?

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First of all I love a challenge:


"...For those of you who think other wise please show me where it says the SM can remove a youth from his youth elected position..."




"However, unit leaders must ensure that he is fulfilling the obligations of his assigned leadership position. If he is not, then they should remove the Scout from that position."


Any scout may be remvoed from his leadership position for not fulfilling its obligations. It has to be that way. If a youth get elected as SPL and doesnt care, isnt prepared, are you saying the Troop just folds up for 6 months because the adults can't do anything?


Now, Firing, removing, what ever you call it is the last resort. You work with the scout, support him, enocurage him, do everyhting you can to have him do his job, whether its SPL or Quartermaster or Historian, but in the end, if the job is not done then you may have to remove him. I thought it was teaching consequences for choices made. Just because a youth wins an election doesnt mean he doesn't have to work, that he is untouchable, what sort of lesson does that teach?


Now in the case mentioned, is this the time to remove the scout? I said No at first and repeat it. I stand by my earlier statments on the matter but this has developed into another discussion


Yes, the scoutmaster can remove the SPL, the BSA supports it and you have the reference.


It is the last resort, the Nuclear Option if you will, you only use it as the very last resort.


Yes the Scoutmaster is in the car alright. He is the Driving Instructor and as such has an auxillary brake he can hit If he has to

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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 you prefer to take a softer approach, sit down with this young man before your next troop meeting. Ask him point-blank if he thinks he can hold the respect of the troop and his patrol leaders after his behavior at summer camp. Ask him if he would accept such behavior from one of the PLs or another Scout. He'll soon come around to realize that he can't do the job anymore.

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Eagledad writes:


Yeah, "fake Leadership" are buz words intended to get an emotional reaction,


Fake Leadership is easy to identify.


Before Wood Badge switched from Scoutcraft to the "Eleven Leadership Skills" in 1972, the goal of Bill Hillcourt's Patrol Leader Training was to teach Patrol Leaders how to take their Patrols hiking on a regular basis without adult supervision.


Scoutmasters who teach Fake Leadership keep their Patrols very close together on ALL campouts.


Eagledad writes:


kind of like the "SPLs are only used so the SM's maintain their control over the boys".


This thread is a good example: Plenty of red flags.


Every SM who controls the Scouts through the SPL knows how to sprinkle terms like "Patrol Method," "boy-led," or "boy-run" into what they say.


Eagledad writes:


How much leadership a scout gets is purely a result of what the adults are comfortably willing to give.


Adults are not taught the Patrol Method. They can pick up the idea from forums like this and from pre-1972 BSA Scoutmaster handbooks, but not from BSA training. Ask a Wood Badge Course Director to find a Patrol Leader or a description of a working Patrol in the Patrol Method Session in Scoutmaster Specific Training. It is fun to watch.


This is the "Patrol Method" session, mind you.


Eagledad writes:


most good scoutmasters on this forum will agree that it takes a few years to understand how to get good at this scouting stuff, expecially boy run stuff. It is not simply as easy at 300'.


Is "at" a typo?


If not, then we appear to agree on the big picture: The real test is physical distance.


Before the invention of Leadership Development, the test of "boy-led" was the Patrol Leader's ability to take his Patrol hiking without adult supervision. If that went well, then the next stage was extended Patrol Hikes (Patrol Camping).


The Patrol Method so described is not possible if you teach Fake Leadership. But despite our training, any Scoutmaster can begin to learn the Patrol Method the day he first separates the Patrols by physical distance, say 30 feet (1/10 of Baden-Powell's minimum standard). Then increase the physical distance between the most competent Patrols gradually.


The point to all this is that a Troop does not need an SPL.


If you have one or two Patrol Leaders who can lead a Patrol at even 100 feet from the other Patrols (and from the adult helicopters), they will step in to pick up the slack when they see a need. That is what real leaders do.


As several contributors have pointed out, the fact that nobody wants to be SPL in the OP's Troop is a bad sign, but it is also an opportunity to take a break from the Troop Method and discover what Green Bar Bill called "A Real Patrol."


Yours at 300 feet,





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OGE,I don't disagree with what you are saying. Yes a youth can be removed by the unit leaders for not fulfilling his leadership responsibilities. We don't want youth advancing just because they held a POR in name only.


However before a Scout is removed the SM needs to ensure he has fulfilled his responsibility of making sure the Scout has the ALL the necessary tools and to encourage the Scout to be successful trough coaching and mentoring.


If can be very frustrating to a Scout if he is not given the knowledge, skills, and encouragement he must have to fulfill his leadership assignment. Its even more frustrating if he has been given the knowledge, and skills through training and then is not allowed to exercise them the way he sees fit.


Far to many SM give the Scouts the responsibility but fail to give them the authority to act. The Scouts must have both the responsibility and the authority if they are to succeed in their leadership assignments.


OldGreyEagle, "Yes the Scoutmaster is in the car alright. He is the Driving Instructor and as such has an auxillary brake he can hit If he has to"


I disagree. The SM is there as an Advisor not an Instructor, there is a difference. In a good SM and SPL relationship the SPL is free to not follow the advice of the SM and go in a totally different direction than the SM would/wants to go, as long as its in the goals setup by the PLC. How the SPL gets there is not important as long as he gets there. The only time the SM should hit the auxiliary brake is if the SPL is heading off in a direction which is unsafe or against BSA policy.



shortridge; "If you prefer to take a softer approach, sit down with this young man before your next troop meeting. Ask him point-blank if he thinks he can hold the respect of the troop and his patrol leaders after his behavior at summer camp. Ask him if he would accept such behavior from one of the PLs or another Scout. He'll soon come around to realize that he can't do the job anymore."


While it is true he may have to work at regaining the respect of the PLC and the troop which may mean an open discussion, apology with the whole troop, and maybe a vote of confidence for him to retain his position. I don't think its fare to say he "can't do the job anymore" since he has yet been trained in what the job entails.







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I want to add to my post, because, as I was in a hurry to get out the door on time for my son's end of week bible school presentation....my post was left short and vague.


I apologize as I knew what I was thinking, and thought my post made complete sense! :)


Anyways, my point about stress and arguements and expecting scouts to act our age was meant as:


We ourselves have stressfull days. We sometimes finally snapp and possibly blow up at, cuss out and generally act like an ass to coworkers, higher ups and sunordinate employees.


We sometimes get mad out our spouses, children and friends too. We rant, ravem cuss and even throw things.


And later, after we cool down, we excuse ourselves by saying : " Well, I was stressed out and so and so was crawling up my butt to get "X" done on time!"

Or we claim : "WEll, I had a bad day at work and everything went wrong , so I just flipped out!"


And just like that - we think everythimng is absolved, peachy keen and in no way are we supposed to do, think, or feel bad about it.


But then we take kids....yes kids - na matter how mature they might act sometimes.....they are stil kids. And we expect them to run other kids as if they were absolute professional adults - and we do not allow them to vent, pop, blow or cave under pressure or duress that we cave to ourselves.


As soon as the do...we want to kick them out of the troop? Ban them from Scouting completely and brand them as unstable for life?


No, I know nobody actually said that, but it's slowly getting to that point!


Thing is, we do the same thing at the jobs we are paid to do as grown up mature and professional adults.


So I auppose that in order to be fair, we shhould expect to be not only fired, but banned from that type of work and possibly wear a scarlet G on our shirts for grenade!


"Watch Out! he might blow!" :p



NOw, I did say take him out of that position,m but I meant at that time only....a temporay thing . Have 1 adult sit down and ask him to openly , and without any fear of retaliation or retribution, explain exactly what he is thinking and feeling.



Honestly, He is probably torn up inside because of what is a common thing in these threads: Too mant adults acting as the sole chief of the tribe and DEMANDING that he do this, do that , do it a particular way and not any other way ( except each adult has a different way) ...and not once allowed him to have his own thought or idea about how to do anything.


Not saying this is intentional or that anybody is even aware of doing it. We are bosses and parents - it is second nature for us to lead and take charge.


The only problem is that we are doing it through the boys instead of teaching them to do it themselves.


Personally, I always learned that the best way to learn is from your mistakes.

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Another thought too:

This SPL was elected by the boys. So basically, It is a popularity thing. Hopefully, for the right reasons ( leadership abilities, skills proficency, talents, etc..)and not the wrong ones _ just cause he'scool.


It may be that you newly elected SPL was trying to make too many people( who elected him) happy at one time and pulled into too many different directions.

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Did this SPL have any experience as a patrol leader? I've seen too many comments here that maybe he wasn't given any leadership training, had no experience with a command position, etc. SPL is not a position for a newbie

Back in the olden days, I was elected SPL because my younger sister was thought to be cute. I was a bit of a drill-sergeant (tyrant) until I pushed for leadership training and started reading books on leadership. If I had had experience as a PL first, my peers would have been much better off from the gitgo

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This is going to be harsh - and I mean for it to be harsh.


Sure, go ahead and remove the SPL from his post. As soon as you do so, please turn around and tell the committee that you are resigning as Scoutmaster.


Why? Because you failed - miserably. As much as you think the Troop needs a new SPL, it needs a new Scoutmaster.


The SPL not wanting to talk to you, after an hour of time off by himself should be a big red flag that YOU are a big part of the problem.


Don't believe for a moment that you haven't been telegraphing, ever since the election, that the SPL isn't YOUR first choice.


The ASPL, not wanting the job, should be a big red flag to you that he saw how the SPL was being "mentored" and wants no part of it.


Its apparent that you aren't able to handle the the downs of the job effectively if your first instinct is to remove the lad from his position of SPL. You must tell the committee that you are the wrong man for the job.


Don't like this suggestion? Then stop with the power trip and figure out how to work with your new SPL and get past this so that you create a proper working relationship that will lead other lads to want the position of SPL in the future.

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Yah, both Calico and GaryMiller have a point, eh?


EagerLeader, I think you've gotten da full range of views.


If a lad is really a bad behavioral problem on a consistent basis and this was just the most recent "blowup", might be yeh have to step in as SM and move to a new SPL.


Do be thoughtful about da other "ifs", though. If this was a lad who was not set up for success and then as a result was getting henpecked by adults and mom all week, and then was grumpy on top of tired, maybe yeh need to think in Calico's terms.


One of da funny things on the list is that we all "see" different things when we read an account, based on our own experiences in troops that might be different from yours, and with kids who might be different from this lad. Calico reliably sees the boy's side, and da chance for adult failure. I fairly reliably see the leaders' side, and da risks of too much bureaucracy or hovering parents. Others come from different perspectives. Yeh just have to find the one that fits. ;) But take 'em all under advisement.


Sometimes, too, certain kids just get under our skin. It's a different kind of kid for each adult, but we all have 'em. If this lad is one who just gets under your skin, maybe yeh want to see if there's an ASM who seems to get along well with him who can be the "primary SPL advisor".


Remember, this scoutin' stuff is fun, eh? :) Don't take any of it too seriously. Do what yeh can, then start a super-soaker fight.




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Short of a re-enactment of Columbine or VA-Tech? Not much. Unprovoked physical assault, or any assault with a weapon. Sexual assault. Bullying. Severe Hazing (I'm not kicking someone out of the Troop for sending a new Scout out for left-handed rope, even though it's technically a form of hazing - but if it's hazing that can lead to physical injury? Yep - gone). That's about it. Everything else can be dealt with in other ways - and may be (and is likely to be) better in the long run for the Scout to remain involved with adults engaged in his life.



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Thanks for all the opinions. Beavah, you're absolutely right about people seeing things from different perspectives... that's why I posted this thread. It helps to get a plethora of reactions to a given situation. I think I can handle this now without losing the respect of the scouts and that's all that really matters, isn't it?


I don't want this boy removed from the troop, and I don't necessarily want to remove him from his position as SPL... I just wanted to know if I could, and what the potential ramifications were. Yes, there was the whole "I failed" thing in my head at the same time, coloring my view of how to make this right. I'll fill you all in after the next PLC meeting.



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"Sure, go ahead and remove the SPL from his post. As soon as you do so, please turn around and tell the committee that you are resigning as Scoutmaster.


Why? Because you failed - miserably. As much as you think the Troop needs a new SPL, it needs a new Scoutmaster.


The SPL not wanting to talk to you, after an hour of time off by himself should be a big red flag that YOU are a big part of the problem."


I'm going to disagree with this big time. The boy made violent threats; that's a reflection of the boy, not the SM. EagerLeader seems to be trying to consider all options and get feedback before taking action -- that's the sign of a pretty good leader.


I've got a couple boys in my current troop that have anger management/emotional outburst issues. They both also have tendencies to wander or storm off. It's a situation we're concerned about and monitoring; they need the program but we cannot allow them to endanger other scouts or adults if it comes to that (their father is well aware of their problems). EagerLeader's SPL may not be quite that bad (I can't see any of the boys in our troop electing our two problem children as SPL although that could change with time) but it's clear he has a problem that isn't necessarily related to the SM's performance.

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Further reflection ...


If I were the parent of a boy in this troop, and I heard my son tell me about how the top youth leader ...


- swore loudly in public

- loudly threatened adult leaders

- stormed off, was missing for an hour, and had to be searched for


... then I would be asking the Scoutmaster just why the boy is still in charge, why he or she condones this type of temper-tantrum-like behavior, and whether it's SOP for youth to have to search for a fellow Scout.

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