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Trying To Lead the Boy Led Troop??

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I'm not sure if this ought to be here or in "The Patrol Method"

We seem to have spent a lot of time talking about "The Boy Led Troop".

Most of the Scoutmasters that I have met will state that the troop that they serve is a Boy Led Troop.

I have been away from Troop leadership for a while.

Looking at the length of time that others have spent working as Scoutmasters, my term of about a dozen years seems puny.

As a Scout our troop was very active. In no small part due to the effort of our Scoutmaster.We were busy doing something all the time. We camped a lot, hiked a lot and were always on the go. Two meetings a week, most weekends and swimming once a week. Not everyone attended everything. But most made it to the weekly troop meeting.

We were in patrols and the SPL, was in charge of the troop meetings. The PLC met at least once a month.

As a Scout I thought that this was great.

Sad thing is that when I got into leadership I found out that what we were doing was not 100%.

I served as a PL and SPL.

I attended the PLC.

As both a PL and SPL, I found out that while we did have responsibility and were given free range in some areas.

What was really happening was that the Scoutmaster was very much like a Chairman. He had his agenda / program and we were to do everything that we could to deliver it to our patrols and the troop.

When I became Scoutmaster, I thought that this was not right. So I handed over the leadership of the troop to the SPL and the PL's.

Other then ensure safety I stood back and did little or nothing.

It didn't work.

Nothing was getting done. No plans were being made. The troop became a gang.

Next try was for me as Scoutmaster to become a coach.

This was worse then when my Scoutmaster was the Scoutmaster.

I was calling the plays. All the Patrol Leaders and the SPL, were doing was setting the example. They had little or no say in what the troop was doing or where it was going.

Some things looked really good on paper we had a lot of advancement and were still very active.

After attending Wood Badge I thought that maybe I would try doing it by the book.

I gave the youth leaders real authority and responsibility. I backed it up with training in planning and in how to conduct the program. I was there to give help and guidance. But the PLC had a free hand to make decisions and implement the program.

Once we had this in place all sorts of strange thing happened.

First I found that Scouting was a lot more fun for me. I really got to know and grow very fond of these Scouts.

These guys were thinking "Out Of The Box" before I ever knew that there was a box. They stretched themselves and me.

Membership went through the roof.

Needless to say some lads were better Patrol Leaders then others, and there were one or two really outstanding SPL's.

Sometimes things didn't work well.

Sometimes things didn't work at all.

But there was something to be taken out of everything.

There were times when I found myself falling back into being the Coach or the Chairman. Very often it was the Scouts who informed me that I was doing so. Or we found it out during a reflection.


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Great Letter, very genuine. Ive felt all along that this forum was intended to help every adult reach the level of satisfaction of scouting that you just described. I feel the same warm passion when I read MK9750s letters. And its that same kind of experience that has me saying, I love this Scouting Stuff".


Wonderful letter.




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That is EXCEPTIONALLY kind of you to say that. Thank you!


Just to pick out one point from Eammon's post, I like the comment about having more time to get to know boys and become fond of them. I have to say, that among the other 38,000 benefits I have gotten from Scouting (that's about 37,993 more than I have provided the program), the one that has meant the most to me is the friendship I have developed with 9 of the guys who I have had the fortune to serve. These guys are all tremendously different. Each has reached differenet levels of success both in and out of Scouting. But is my priveledge to count each of these 9 young men as friends. And I truly mean friends.


I have spent hours on hours with each of these guys - talking about career possiblities, and school, and girls, and their parents and, oh my gosh, hundreds of other things. It probably isn't accurate to say I've had a lot of influence in many of their decisions. But I know I've had a little. But what I get from each of these relationships is a sense that I have been a help, even if they chose to take a diferent course. I feel as though each of these guys counts me as their friend, and each feel that friendship is important to them.


These guys are nine of the most impressive people I know. I am proud to have been a part of each of their lifes. Maybe the best thing that can be said is that one of them is my oldest son. As he has become a man, the move away from being a dad toward being a friend was subtle, almost inperceptable. Along the way, we had a few volcanic eruptions, for sure. But it is truly a sense of pride and accomplishment that I feel when I say that he and I have crossed the bridge. He's a man now. And one of who I am exceedingly proud. I used to say one of the highest compliments I could hear was for someone to call me my dad's son. Being called my son's dad is getting close.


Well, there you go again. 600 words when 200 probably would have done.



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Thanks for the kind words.

I was going to use the word Love in place of fond.

In fact love is the right word.

These Lads were and still are very close to my heart.

Mark is right on the money.

These young men allow us to be part of their lives. They are happy to spend time with us.

While we start out with the idea that we are servant leaders. What we get back is priceless.

There is a poem about a little fellow watching me. It is true they are watching us.

We have to try and live up to their expectations.

Scouting offers us all the chance of making a difference. While very few of us can put our hand on hearts and say that we really are living the Oath and Law. Many of us can say that we are giving it our best shot and at the same time trying to set an example. Along with trying to see that the mission of the BSA is just not words on a page.

It is real. It can and does work.

If we remain young at heart it works for us.


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"When I became Scoutmaster, I thought that this was not right. So I handed over the leadership of the troop to the SPL and the PL's.

Other then ensure safety I stood back and did little or nothing.

It didn't work. "


Was the difference between this stage and the stage that worked the training in leadership and program?


BTW, I view the term "coach" as the "instructor and guide" more than the current "coach" being "he who tells you what to do." Which what coaches did before they stalked the sidelines, yelling plays out to the players.



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Thanks for a great description Eamonn. Your write up on leading a Boy Led troop is one of the reasons why I've followed these forums and decided to participate. There is just so much wisom here.


As a new scouter I struggle with this issue and constantly wonder if we, the adults associated with our troop, are doing too much or not enough. I'm glad to see I'm not alone and that there is every expectation that we'll succeed one way or another.



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  • 1 month later...

As an ASM in the troop i grew up in, a completly boy lead troop, i have found the best thing to do is let them make mistakes, in the long run its not going to matter if a trip doesnt go off with out a hitch, as long as they learn from the mistakes, be there, make sure they dont fall off a cliff and all will eventually go well, I am constantly remided of the most important lesson in scouting i ever learned,

There are 4 vital points to scouting that LBP set forth

1) teach the boys to be skillfull

2) teach the boys to lead

3) let them lead

4) never do anything a boy can do

if these points are followed then your job should be easy, limited to driving and showing up

YIS- Sturgen

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You are of course right on the money. Many of the leaders that I know seem to know the words. In fact I knew them, I was just having a hard time understanding them and making them work. Even some of the best leaders I know slip back every now and then. At times we will blame the group of Scouts that we have or something else.

I could say more but it's late and I have to work sometime.


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