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What are the boundaries of boy led?

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I guess the question of which I know the book answer is, what are the bounds of boy lead? (GSS, safety, etc.)


Yah, this question seemed worthy to spin off, eh? Da context was on the issue of banning various electronics on campouts, so yeh can address that question in the original thread. In this one, it's a broader question.


Perhaps its best if yeh say where the boundary lies in your troop/crew/team at the moment is. Real-life examples for folks, rather than just theory. Then yeh can add what yeh think da "ideal" theory would be, if yeh really feel the need. ;)




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There are some things that are just what they are!

A PLC can decide when is a good time to wear uniforms but they really shouldn't go about changing the uniform.

There are things and places that I just plain do not want to do or go.

I don't have a problem with them deciding that they want to do something or go somewhere, but as part of their planning they need to take that into account.

There are also times when they want to do something and I have other plans or commitments and they need to take that into account. Most often I will help them find what they need.

There have been times when it has become clear that something just isn't working and I have put my foot down.

Most times when this has happened I have been upset and maybe a little mad.

When it comes to spending Troop funds.

It is fine and dandy that they make a request, but the final decision rests with the Troop Committee.


Youth members do not have any say in who the adult unit leaders are.

They shouldn't have a vote in who is and isn't allowed to join or remain in a unit, or the punishment of any youth member. They can of course make a statement about a youth member, but any kind of punishment needs to come from the Troop Committee (Who as a rule takes the word of the SM.)


I don't believe that youth members should be involved in the final word about advancement.

They should follow the rules that are set down by the authority of where the are at. Even if they disagree and think that the rules are silly. (If the Council camp has a no sheath knife rule- Then thats the rule and it needs to be followed) If they have a meeting in the local LDS Church Hall and they don't allow soda pop then that's the rule.


We had a problem with the Ship's Yahoo group page.

When we first started we allowed anyone to post whatever. Then it got out of hand. People picking on each other and taunting each other. The Quarterdeck met and selected one Sea Scout and me to be the ones who pre-read all the postings. Then the Scout that they selected went MIA for a while.

No one wanted to take on the task, but they wanted to keep the page up and running.

In the end with no one looking after it. The page just became dormant. I was OK with just sending out group emails. So it was their choice to let it die.


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Depends on your group, one size does not fit all, eh! As far as my Venturing crew is concerned the youth, guided by the crew officers, planned all events, trips, and fundraisers. We adult advisors were there for advising when they came to us with their plans, offer concerns and suggestions. The older crew members, who had obtained Silver or Ranger, for example help the younger ones with their requirements. The review board is run by the crew officers with two adult advisors to make sure all proper procedures are followed and requirements have been met.


As a SM the PLC were mainly responsible for much of the program, but here because of the vast array of ages, the SM and ASM's gave a little more hands on guidance. We always tried to give the boys as much leeway as possible, especially if they had a well organized and thoughtout plan of action. In some cases when they got a little sloppy or lazy we adults would point out the weak points to them and offer advice on how to fine tune them.


In all cases we adults made sure that the youth in charge never put the rest of the group into a dangerous, or hazardous, or potentially embarassing situation. In my over 25 years in scouting we never had any serious disaster occur. So I guess the so called boundaries that may come into play are unique to the makeup of each group and situations that come up.

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In practice, our boys tend to limit themselves on how much they want to do.


My general principle is that the boys lead within the framework that's set up. The framework is set up by the adults - either the National Scouting organization, or the adults in the council/district, or the troop adults. The boys are welcome to contribute to the framework, and we include them in various aspects, but we often have to prompt them with particular things that need to happen, or some of the time the adults just go ahead and plan certain things (e.g., one ASM says he can host the annual planning meeting at his house on such and such a date, and so the meeting gets put on the calendar).


Yes, the adults will step in for safety items and G2SS. But the more practical boundary is the point at which things start to fall apart program-wise.

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I got in trouble with my son's former troop (adults) about a year after he joined. The adults had a planning/vision thing conference that I attended. They started talking about how the troop would be doing this/that/the other and delegating adults to make it happen. I (silly me) piped up with "hey, what about the boys? How come we are doing all this stuff - how about we help THEM learn to do it?" and I got a bunch of stunned looks in return. Almost with an air of embarrassment (for me, not for themselves), a couple of adults started explained: "well, that's not possible, you know. Boys can't actually PLAN all these events - we do all that for them - their job is just to run the details AT the events."


So that day, I learned that the boundaries of "boy led" in that particular group did not include planning for any events.



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Boundaries are dictated mostly by adult fear, but also a little by adult egos.


Excellent post, Eagledad.


I would add a couple of more items that I've seen dictate boundaries. One is a lack of understanding of the program - some adults just don't realize that the boys are supposed to plan things. Or maybe they've mentally heard that, but they don't really understand what that means in practice. So they do things that they just don't realize could just as easily be done by the boys.


The other one, and the one that directly affects me the most, is that I don't have enough time to devote to the progam. Alternatively, you could say that the boundaries are set for adult convenience. Getting the boys to plan things takes time, mentoring, coaching. Partly you might call this fear, in the sense that I'm afraid certain planning aspects just won't happen if left entirely to the boys, and I don't want to deal with problems that arise from total logistical snafus. I don't want to go for a year without an annual plan. I don't want to show up at a campground and find out we don't have a reservation. I don't want to watch dates for planned events come and go with nothing happening. I don't want to show up for a trip and find out we don't have enough drivers. I don't want to show up for a troop meeting and having no one who has a plan for the meeting.


I phrased it all as "I don't want X" - but personally, I think the troop has a better experience all the way around if those things don't happen. I could just as easily say "the troop doesn't want X". And we could have the boys doing all of these things, but to make sure it happens it takes coaching and mentoring, and sometimes, with limited resources, it's easier to just do some of those things.


Notice - I didn't say that the adults make sure there are enough tents, or enough food, or that the food is cooked right. We do mentor and coach on those, too, but if those things don't happen, it's good for the boys to work through the consequences. But I don't want 50 boys to suffer because one boy forgot to do something.


I'd say that boys CAN plan, and they absolutely can participate in the planning process. They can also implement, but teenage boys are just not very good long-term project managers, as a general rule.

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I would agree that we give the boys as much room as the adults have time to give. This does mean that I don't always let the boys take complete control, because I do not have sufficient adult mentoring time to help.


For example, many of the campsites here in Southern California fill up months in advance. They require a credit card, and other types of documentation to reserve. There are times that we have left it to the boys, and then had no campout for that particular month. In response, we are adult led when it comes to scheduleing and booking campouts. We DO still have the boys make some choices on where to go (if at least generally), and we have them run the activities and activity planning on the campout - but booking the site and weekend? That has become an adult run activity.


I would love to make it a youth run activity, but I do not have the time to provide sufficient supervision to make that happen without making other sacrifices in the program that would impact all Scouts in the Troop.


When my older son was working on his Eagle project, I let him experience significant delays in execution due to his own struggles with long-term planning. That did not bother me at all - it only impacted him. When my SPL is struggling, I don't want a 3-month period without a campout. IMHO the "learning" of the youth leader would come at the expense of the rest of the Troop.

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Some good posts. I see adults having three different roles in a Boy Scout troop.


The first is Program Oversight: health and safety, compliance with BSA and chartered organization rules and policies, and ensuring that what happens in the troop is a _Scouting_ program. Program Oversight forms a protective and prescriptive shell that doesn't really vary much in size because it isn't dependent on the capabilities of the boys. Inside that adult zone is the boy-run program zone.


The second adult role is Coaching and Mentoring -- but not dictating to -- youth leaders so they can carry out the boy-run program.


The third adult role grows and shrinks based on the capabilities of the boys: Program Support. Program Support consists of adults doing those boy-run program tasks that the boys can't. Some of those support tasks are things that adults pretty much have to do -- driving, signing checks, holding Scoutmaster conferences, counseling merit badges. Others are things that trained and experienced boys can do, but that adults have to do if trained and experienced boys aren't available -- training boys in outdoor skills, for example. It is this role that has the most potential for causing a troop to be adult-run. Adults tend to like efficiency, like to step in to solve problems, and like to keep things moving toward a goal. Parenting and Cub Scouting reinforce these tendencies. It can be hard for adults to exercise the restraint needed for this Program Support role, to tolerate inefficiency and failure, and to be alert for opportunities to turn tasks and decisions back over to boys whenever possible.

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My sentiments resonate with Eamonn's -- with crew officers having more lattitude than a PLC.

Like him, there are some places I will not go. For example, one of our crew's first brainstorming sessions included "a trip to the spa". Somehow, that card never made it into my envelope of "must do" activities. Fortunately, no youth ever volunteered to plan it.


In a practical sense, I try to facilitate communication. ("You would like to to this? So would ___. Why don't you give him/her a call?") My main goal is to coach every Crew president into doing that for me.


On the other hand, I'll fill out tour permits and badger adults for driver info, etc .... All depends on how active my VP-admin wants to be.

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"Boundaries are dictated mostly by adult fear, but also a little by adult egos. "


Hmmm....I would have hoped that ...


Boundaries are dictated by practical sensibility provided by the adults weighed against the maturity of the boys.


A young troop with few older boys (like ours) might want to plan a white water rafting trip, even though none of them are strong enough swimmers to safely engage in such an event.


In other words, as the maturity of a troop rises or falls, the level of boundaries must work in the opposite direction.

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Don't know about others? But it took me a fairly long time to grasp any sort of a real understanding of the youth led program.

I remember when I was a young leader, I kinda followed what I'd experienced as a youth.

The PLC was used to relay messages from the Scout Leader to the Patrols. While we discussed things the plan (idea) came from the adult and was relayed down.

I did this for a number of years.

Later I out grew this and moved on to being more of a coach.

I was still calling the plays, but the youth members had a little more input and a little more freedom to at times plan and do things that they wanted. But I still very much needed to feel that I was "The Man" and it was very much my show.

It took me about 10 or 12 years (I'm a slow learner!) to feel comfortable allowing them to call the shots and carry something that started as their idea all the way through to completion.

I know that I still tend to steer or try and steer my ideas through.

I just don't seem able to give up on the idea that I know what's best.


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A young troop with few older boys (like ours) might want to plan a white water rafting trip, even though none of them are strong enough swimmers to safely engage in such an event.

They can and should be able to plan such a trip. It just isn't going to happen next week. That's where the mentoring part comes in. Help them understand the skills and experience necessary to undertake such a trip. Help them make a plan - maybe this summer they should all have the goal of earning the swimming MB at camp, possibly take canoeing if it is offered. Maybe this fall plan a flat water or easy moving water trip. Next spring, find a kayaking MB counselor to introduce them to those skills. Then, help them re-evaluate whether they are ready for the rafting trip.

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The other boundary is group cohesiveness. Like E61 said, a bunch of first-years used to everyone else doing everything for them need to build a sense of teamwork. That means scheduling local hikes and service projects and partnering with adults for the accountability they need for trips requiring transportation/overnight stays.


This isn't just for the boy's success. This is to increase the confidence level of the adults. When adult A asks "... are you sure ___ picked a workable menu?" I can reply, "I've always ate well when ___ was cooking."


Where I haven't let a youth lead, that's where I have my greatest doubts about him/her.

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