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We are having a committee meeting tonight to discuss our current SPL and meet with him. The situation is that he was caught sneaking alcohol on a school trip and has been suspended for 3 days and placed in alternative school for 30 days. I personally feel that he has not demonstrated leadership for the troop and should be removed from a leadership position. Informal discussions with other committee members leads me to believe they wish to remove him from SPL duties but give him some other leadership since he is working on his Eagle. This young man would make a great politician as he is very skilled at saying the right thing to deflect responsibility and avoid any direct discipline. Any suggestions or experiences with this sort of thing?

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A Little Backstory please?


Specifically, why is the Committee talking with him, and not the Scoutmaster?


What is your registered position?


Have the CC and SM shared this with your Chartered Organization Representative yet?


What about your Unit Commissioner?




The young man's parents?


If I would offer one piece of advice at this moment, it is (Shouting)...MASTE HASTE SLOWLY AND VERY DELIBERATELY!


If you're looking for a validation of "Hang him from the highest yardarm," you will not get it from me.



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I am the scoutmaster and I have talked with him and his guardian. The issue was brought to me by one of the committee members through their child. The CO rep will be at the meeting. The committee would like to discuss potential repercussions. This is not the first instance of behavior that has gotten him in trouble.


Excuse me for not indicating my position earlier. I posted here to seek advise, not a "damn the torpedoes" validation. A more measured response would have been appreciated.

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I agree that the SM is the person to deal with the SPL. He is the guy who is training the boy in the leadership position. He is the one to make the call.


AND, I am not sure that an infraction on a school trip, for which he has been disciplined in that setting, is grounds for him being dismissed as SPL.


I would ask this: Has he done something similar in the troop setting? If he brought something inappropriate to a campout or a troop meeting, then that is one thing that will cripple a troop.


Was his school episode a one time act, or a series of violations that ended in the disciplinary action? If I were the SM there, I would ask myself, was this and act of overt evil, or an example of stupid, imature kid stuff. The boy can learn from the latter, not the former.


I would ask, has this boy done a decent job as SPL? Has he actively done the leadership job, or has he coasted through his tenure in office with not much to show for it?


Is he modeling for the troop a wayward penetant who is taking his punishment "like a man", or is he spewing bitterness all around for everyone to see?


Finally, can he bring to the troop the lesson learned to warn the scouts of the consequenses of wrong doing, or will he express self justification lay blame on others.


As Scoutmaster, I would be examining these issues closely with this boy.






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We had a similar situation in which our SPL was arrested for being at a party where illegal drugs were found. Of course, he, like a former president, never inhaled, so he said. We knew this would be publicized and he would not be a good role model for our younger scouts. He was also working on his Eagle. Our CC and I (SM) made a decision to remove him from the leadership position. He already had enough time in for the Eagle requirement. This was done with his and his parent's agreement. Our sponsor is a Parent teacher organization who has little if anything to do with us, so they were not involved. Things worked out well, as the ASPL took over with eagerness and did a great job, and the former SPL did go on to earn his Eagle.

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Regardless what happens with his tenure as SPL, seems to me that some time for reflection on this is appropriate before recommending him for an Eagle Board.


One of the things that an Eagle Board is supposed to evaluate is whether or not the Scout is living and applying the Scout Law in his personal life.


Clearly, underage drinking and deflecting responsibility are somewhat in conflict with being Trustworthy and Obedient.

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Yah, I'm not sure why in da world if yeh thought the sanction of removing him from SPL was called for you would turn around and "give him some other leadership position." What kind of a message is that to send? "What you did was bad enough to evict you from our Highest Position but we're still going to give you our Highest Award? :P" Nah. If consequences really are called for, they should be real consequences - ones that take time to rebuild trust afterward.


I wouldn't particularly make this a committee thing, though I hear yeh that you've got a good working relationship and are just seeking advice.


I'd sit with the lad and ask him what happened. If you get Slick Willie, then yeh may need to help reinforce what the school and family are doing with words and consequences of your own. If you get Contrite and Honest Boy Scout, then I'm not sure that you'd need to go there.


In either case, I'd ask him whether he felt he needed to resign as SPL because of the situation and the example for other kids. See what the response is and go from there.




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As a 20 year old adult leader I agree with Beavah. Ask the Senior Patrol Leader what he thinks should happen. He'll probably give you the answer that you're looking for.


I would support removing him from the position of Senior Patrol Leader because this type of thing will have an impact on his creditablity.


Also the way our Discipline Plan is setup the committee would be the group to discuss this type of thing. Not because the scout is the Senior Patrol Leader, but because the scout is a scout.

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I've not had to do this personally, but the troop in the past has removed boys from PORs.


You wouldn't be denying him Eagle - just delaying it (unless he's about to age out). Seems like a delay is a reasonable consequence in this situation.

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What are your (as SM) and your troop's (bylaws, JLT expectations, etc.) requirements or expectations for the SPL. For example, I have the following:



Age: none

Rank: 1st Class or higher (highly recommended)

Experience: Previous service as SPL, ASPL, PL, or APL

Attendance: 75% over previous 6 months (recommended)


Training: You must attend the troop Junior Leader Training even if you have attended in the past.

Attendance: You are expected to attend, as a minimum 85% of all troop meetings, Patrol Leaders' Council meetings, outings, and service projects. If your attendance is low, or if you have three (3) unexcused absences in a row, you can be removed from office.

Effort: You are expected to given this position your best effort.


Uniform: Set the example by wearing your uniform correctly. This means that you will wear all of the parts of the troop uniform, shirttail tucked in, with all required badges in their correct locations.

Behavior: Set the example by living the Scout Oath and Law in your everyday life. Show Scout Spirit in everything you say and do.

Attendance: Set the example by being an active Scout. Be on time for meetings and activities. You must call the Scoutmaster if you are not going to be at a meeting or if you suddenly have to miss an outing. You also need to make sure that the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader is ready to assume your responsibilities. It is your responsibility to make sure the ASPL is prepared.


Now, in my situation, I would say the Scout was not giving his best effort, did not set a good example, etc. So, either shape up or ship out! You have to make it concrete. I agree with Beavah, it would be ludicrous to remove the Scout from SPL and give him another POR.


Another option is to have him remain in office and if he requests a SM conference for Eagle in the near term, you would be within your bounds to deny Scout Spirit and not recommend him for Eagle.

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"Any ... experiences with this sort of thing?"


Yes. The only important question: "Is he the Troop's most gifted leader?"


Does he inspire a) Patrol Leaders to take charge of their Patrols and the Troop's program without the prompting of adults, b) meetings to start and end on time with all participants leaving with the feeling that their time is well spent, and c) older Scouts to volunteer for community service even when they "don't need the hours for advancement"?


If so, then at Scout meetings and outings he must speak and act in the Spirit of Scouting.




One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction (Baden-Powell, from the article "Are Our Boys Degenerating?" circa 1918).



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One way for the boy to take responsibility in this situation is to ask HIM what the "punishment" for such an infraction should be imposed on him if any. He cannot weasle out of the process, he has to evaluate the situation, he has to be hard enough to satisfy the scout program and yet can be fair to his scouting career. He has to understand all the dynamics of the situation and he has to take charge, show leadership, maybe step down on his own, maybe not, but he has ownership in the situation and cannot let it slide.


Keeping or not keeping rules imposed from outside is one thing, living with the moral compass from within is something altogether different. According to the Scout Law, I'd go with the moral compass within.



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Fishsqueezer - It sounds like you have already made up your mind about removing him from his SPL position. Your discussion with some committee members makes sense, but it the Scoutmaster and not the committee that has the power to remove a youth leader from his position.


I would just make sure that this decision is not a personal one. This boy was voted into the position by his fellow scouts. You might want to also discuss this with the other youth leaders in the PLC.

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An update on the situation -


I had a long meeting with the boy and his guardian where we discussed the situation and its impact on the boy and on the other members of the troop. Most of the troop had already heard about the incident and were waiting to see what, if anything, would happen. He agreed that his actions were definitely not indicative of an SPL and that he should step down. He is committed to remain active in the troop and earn his Eagle and earn another POR. As far as I'm concerned the issue is closed and it will be up to him to re-establish his credibility with the troop. Thanks to everyone who provided input and advise.

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