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SPL - Necessity, luxury or something else?

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I have to be honest, the thread about an SPL inviting himself of a Patrol Outing makes me think about how much Kudu's theory of not needing an SPL makes more and more sense. When I started posting about my new troop, one of the most frequent pieces of advice I received was "Don't worry about an SPL for a while". I wish I had listened. Oh well, live and learn.


But if good, experienced Scouters of this forum think an SPL is a luxury for a new troop, then how does it all of a sudden become a necessity?


In the specific example, based of only what I read of course, it seems you have a boy who wants to lead. For that I congratulate him. The problem is where the mid-management positions of SPL and ASPL leave a boy. When the supreme goal is the Patrol Method, where we encourage yells, flags, spirit and individual identity, how can the boys in SPL/ASPL positions feel anything more than left out. If this SPL were instead a PL of his own patrol, he wouldn't feel the need to hitch onto another patrol's outing.


I'm just trying to think why is an SPL any more necessary to a well run troop than say, a Historian? Not saying it doesn't have more responsibility, just why is the separate position necessary. There isn't anything an SPL can do that 3 or 4 PLs can't.


And don't worry. If you just do Patrol Leaders and need a boy to take point for the troop, you'll find him. He will already be there with the rest of his patrol.


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Depending upon the size of your unit and the skill level, an SPL may or may not be needed.


Small units, new units, etc probably not. I'd use a modified version of Green Bar Bill's training 3rd. Ed. SMHB . I'd modify it a bit to use more current outdoor skills.


Larger units can benefit IMHO.

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No need for an SPL in small troops....


It is just a tradition, most troops have an spl just because they are supposed to. Program patrol does the opening and closing and runs the meeting and we rotate monthly.


The other reason for a SPL is it gives you another POR for advancement and it is valid for eagle....



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It's not a necessity, by any stretch. Not even a luxury. Just an adult-created add-on.


In my old troop as a youth, no one wanted to be SPL. It was the crap job that removed you from your buddies. And when I was on the commissioner's staff at summer camp and had to work with SPLs to plan the campfire and camp wide games, I was always struck by the number of acting SPLs there were.


Patrol Leader should be the highest job in the troop.

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In a small troop, not needed.


In anything larger, needed IF the troop is truly boy led...the SPL is the liaison between the boys and the adults. Ideally, the SPL orchestrates every event, with minimal words from the SM to the scouts directly.


In many troops, the SM or an ASM perform the duties of the SPL, with constant interaction with the PLs. If handled properly, the SPL role is a good one to learn how to lead the PLs and work directly with adults.

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Not needed IMO. Have yet to see a good one in our troop or any that I have visited or interacted with. Election of an SPL leads to a popularity contest, not the election of the best boy for the job.


In my When is enough enough thread, 17 was our past SPL and the current ASPL was involved in some of the monkey business too.Current SPL wasn't on the trip because he didn't want to go. He hasn't wanted to go on any of the last 3 campouts and isn't signed up for hte next two either. I'm sure he'll be pressured into going by the SM. Should just be removed and be done with it.


SPL for most boys that I've seen in the position is a power trip. "I can boss you around and ride rough shot over you and there is nothing you can do about, I'm top dog." Is the way SPLs in my area behave. Watched it happen at several camporees in the area.

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I believe that the problems with the current SPL have resulting in a very eye-opening experience for my boys. He is on his 2nd term in office (6 months each time), and we have implemented a policy as of last year that 2 terms in a particular POR is it, so as not to create a glass ceiling and hold boys back from advanced rank.


I expect that he will toss his hat into the ring for the PL position of his previous patrol, but also expect that he faces an uphill battle after his performance this past year.


In the past when membership was down we did away with the SPL for a time because of poor experience with it in the past. One SPL was shown the door for his long-term continuing behaviors and total leadership/Scout spirit failure. His predecessor assumed the position (ASPL before) when the SPL just quit coming, again because of a girl long since gone, and blew off his Eagle with 1 MB and his project to go and over a year to do it in. The ASPL cum SPL made Eagle and aged out and is now the ASM of record.


Even a 2-patrol troop can, IMHO, do without an SPL. Add a 3rd patrol and you really need to consider it, just make sure they live up to the position.





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Once a troop gets to 4-5 patrols and the PL's may need help coordinating inter-patrol activities, one might consider having an SPL. Until then it's just a hindrance to PL leadership development.


I have always looked at the SPL as a PL Guide rather than some celebrity that runs the show.


The only question that SPL should be allowed to ask would be to a PL when he says, "What I can I do to help you be a better PL?" Other than that, he's a screen door on submarine.



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A leader here once claimed the SPL was the Scotmaster's way of controlling of the scouts. I still laugh at that skeptical statement because if not the SPL to teach and guide the younger scouts, then who? The Scoutmaster? (LOL)


Your choice is clear, either SPL to enourage growth in the youth leaders or the SM.



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SPL is glue that sets the tone for your PLs. That can be good or bad.

It gives the boys the opportunity to experience different styles of management. Ideally, they will watch a boy who is rather rough at management improve over his tenure. Sometimes it gives the boys the opportunity to learn how to succeed in spite of poor management!


If all goes well, it also gives a scout confidence that what he learned as a PL can be generalized to a larger setting.


If not, well, there is the next six months!


In general I've seen more good then harm from it. (Of course having been one back in the day may be a bias.) Since our troop is down to two patrols, I haven't lobbied to get rid of the position.

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Someone has to be responsible for running the meetings where things get decided. Someone has to be in charge of troop meetings: decide on when to start, when to end, when to switch activities.


If the SM is doing that, then maybe you don't need an SPL. But it's essential that in any given situation someone is perceived to be the leader. We make that the SPL as much as we can. We've never had a time when no one wanted to run. We've tried to provide a few more perks to the SPL to make his job a little bit more fun, but not a power trip.


I would have an SPL for our troop even if we were down to two patrols. I could see treating one of the two patrol leaders as the senior of the two, I suppose, but I think my choice would be to always have an SPL.

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