Is there really a job description for Scout youth leaders? Every First Class Scout is a leader by definition. Three requirements for advancement are common to every rank after First Class:
1. Merit Badges
2. Service to the community
3. Leadership: ‘Serve actively in a position of responsibility’
It is every First Class Scout’s job to lead, train, and inspire Scouts to achieve First Class rank. It’s his job whether he is SPL, PL or “just” Historian. No difference.
Even if a First Class Scout does not have a specific “position of responsibility” he may be the Troop’s ‘go to guy’ for a specific set of skills.
During troop leader training I tell Scouts it’s their job to Lead, train, and inspire younger Scouts to become First Class. I have a PowerPoint presentation that illustrates this. I show them a slide with a leadership patch and ask what that leadership position’s main job is. When I show them a senior patrol leader patch they’ll say he’s supposed to lead meetings and appoint people and stuff. I then tell them that they are wrong and show them a slide that reads ‘lead, train, and inspire Scouts to achieve First Class rank’. The next slide is another leadership patch and I ask the same question and give them the same answer. By the time we are done they get the message. (Here’s a visual of the slides with directions if you’d like to try this out.)
Positions of responsibility are aimed at helping and supporting younger Scouts. A Scout earns his Eagle by applying his leadership to help Scouts achieve First Class. Scouting is really happening when Scouts are crowded around troop leadership holding out their Scout books and asking for help.
Different Scouts have different leadership styles: some are more personable and approachable; some not so much. I find it interesting that many Scouts, who are least likely to be up front and “leadershiply”, are often the ones younger Scouts go to about a particular skill.
At my conferences with Scouts for ranks through First Class I look carefully at who signed the requirements in their book and who they have been asking for help. I ask them how the troop leadership is doing helping them achieve their ranks. I ask them about the next rank and if they have any questions about who to go see for help. I get younger Scouts to make demands of our troop leadership from the bottom up; much more effective than me telling the older fellows what to do..
Don’t misinterpret this as focusing solely on advancement to the detriment of other methods. It’s pretty clear that one of the most reliable indicators of a healthy troop applying the program well is Scouts advancing. When Scouts do the things Scouts do; when they go camping, when they are learning and practicing skills, when their patrols are functioning, when they are having lot’s of fun; that’s when they advance.