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taking over as scoutmaster.

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In a few weeks I will be taking over as scoutmaster for a troop I have been assistant scoutmaster for since 1997.


The former scoutmaster is leaving on good terms and is willing to assist me if needed. He has been the only scoutmaster the troop ever had.


My questions are:

How can I best utlized the former scoutmaster's knowledge and expertise. And what is the best way to get out of his shadow because it may be a cliche but for many years he was the heart and soul of the troop.


Thanks for any advice.

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Congratulations! I would utilize the out-going SM' experience mostly as a sounding board. Bend his ear when you're having problems and ask advice for implementing new ideas.


I would also be upfront with everyone and explain that although you have great respect for the old SM, you are a different person, and your approach will be different from his. You may end up doing many things the same way he did, but some things may change. And change happens (hey didn't I hear that at Wood Badge?)not everyone can deal with it though, so be prepared for some dissention. Just remember that it's all about the boys and as long as you keep their best interests at heart, you'll do fine.


Good Luck.

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If the scoutmaster is leaving the troop entirely, then there may be some confusion between the friendship and cameraderie that the former scoutmaster supplied and his position. Remember that you aren't supposed to replace HIM, but to fill the position of scoutmaster.


While you may want to be out of his shadow, it's not your place to be in the limelight either. Get or keep the scouts focused on their program and responsibilities and it will not be as important to them who the scoutmaster is. In other words, your goal isn't to be standing before the boys running the show with your charisma, but instead guiding them as they run the troop and meeting their goals themselves. Ask the former scoutmaster about aspects of the position and issues that may come up.


If by "heart and soul," you mean that he imparted a great enthusiasm to the youth, then you may need to fill in for some of that. If you mean that he was a venerable fellow whose personal anecdotes about vegetable trucking were loved by all, then you may not be in the position to fill in for that. If you mean that he ran the show 100 percent of the time, then perhaps it is time for a change. Just remember why you are here and do what needs to be done. You are probably in a much better position than the former scoutmaster when he began in a new position with a new troop so many years ago. If nothing else, you have been serving the troop and observing him for six years. If that's not a practicum training, I don't know what is..


Good luck and keep posting!!(This message has been edited by Adrianvs)

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1) Use the resources that the BSA makes available

2) Fully understand the role that the SM plays

3) Fully understand the roles the SM does NOT play

4) Allow the boys to fail (without health & safety impacts)

5) (Saving the best for last - get a good SPL!


Good luck and congrats!

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Good Day All


As usual, Scoutmom gives great advice. Help the old SM understand that you are a different person and will likely bring in new ideas. New ideas can be a good thing, but you need is experience and wisdom to help you leadership mature. Also use him as a sounding board, those are great words.


It generally takes about a year for a SM to get comfortable with the job. It takes about three years to feel confident that you know what your doing. The old SM can make all that go a lot faster if you're willing to ask for advice. I know that I spent an hour after every meeting for the first six months just talking with the old SM. And I think he felt honored from it. No one understands more the weight on your shoulders than him.


Congratulations, you are going to grow a lot from this experience.


I love this Scouting Stuff.




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You have a leg up since you've been with the Troop; they know you and you know them. That said, it will be a remarkable coincidence if you do everything or approach the job the same way your predecessor did. For most if not all of your Scouts, your predecessor is the only SM they've ever known. And, a lad's SM is a big figure in his life -- now he's gone. Expect some anxiety over this, no matter how seamless and non-turbulent this transition is. Give them time to get accustomed to your style; don't force things and most of all, don't try to accomodate others' feelings by trying to morph yourself into something you're not. As Shakespeare said; "...to thine own self be true..."


Good luck.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I took over for a great guy and SM that moved to another state. The CC decided that it was his job to teach me how the last guy did it right and that he was running the show. He made it to every meeting and stood in the corner to make sure that I did it right too.


Tough times were to be had for awhile.


Much patience was required for the one that knows all. He could quote the book but his interpretation was invariably askew. It is funny that the English language has all of these little things that make it tricky to understand. Also, quoting the book seems to delay the heart when needed and I'm sorry to say his just never engaged.


I had many other jobs to perform like counseling that didn't need his direct assistance. I found that the Scouts wanted several changes, so we went in that direction. My hands were full, so we recruited others to help. We recruited and it got very busy.


The book quoter couldn't observe as closely as was necessary because of all of the activity. Those Scouts seemed to enjoy activity so much!


He left on his own for some reason and we recruited another CC that really supported the program. Of course, the last CC problem was followed by another, but it was different and the new CC handled it beautifully.


I had some wonderful times with those Scouts, committee persons, parents, district support people, community assistants, relatives of Scouts, etc. I will be forever thankful for the Scouts and their program that they let me be a part of for a few years. FB


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Congrats are in order. Well done.

It is a strange thing that we at times think that a person is the heart and soul of a Troop, Pack, District or even a Council. The real heart and soul lies in the program. Scouts and Scouting even within a unit can and does change. New Scouts have new ideas, different wants and needs. Things that used to work seem to fall apart and things that never worked are all of a sudden fun.

I used to meet with the chap who was my Scoutmaster a man that I have great respect and admiration for. We would meet about once a week for a pint. At first I allowed myself to hang on his every word. After a while I started to think for myself and sad to say a little while later I started to resent him trying to run the troop from a barstool and our meetings became less and less frequent. We never fell out our fondness for each other was way too strong for that. I just needed to be my own man. I messed up and looking back I see that there were many things that I did which I may have done for the wrong reasons and things that I could have done better or smarter.

I think that if you intend to go to the old Scoutmaster that it might be a good idea to in as friendly a way as possible make him aware that you are now the Scoutmaster and while you are glad to have him around and you are listening there will be times when you will go your way.

You may hear from both the Scouts and some adults that Old SM, didn't do it this way or we have always done it that way. This is when you need to make sure that you are working with the PLC, The Methods Of Scouting and when you stand your ground.


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