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Working with Scouts means dealing with routine behavior problems from time to time, but…
While serious misbehavior, at least in my experience, is thankfully rare – we do have to be prepared to resolve it when it occurs. In this podcast I offer my best advice to Scouters who contacted me with about resolving two incidents involving serious misbehavior.
I also answer several other email questions about summer camp for Scouts who can’t attend with their own Troop, appointing patrol leaders in special circumstances, and a new Scoutmaster with some questions about getting started. All of this and your messages in the mailbag!
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Frank Maynard says
I’m a bit troubled by the idea of appointing patrol leaders, as was done by the New Jersey troop in the first item in the e-mail bag.
I can understand the reasoning that they didn’t want to have patrols without their patrol leaders at summer camp. But this can’t be the first time that situation has come up. That’s why we have assistant patrol leaders.
But “running out of time” to hold patrol elections? It shouldn’t take more than ten or fifteen minutes tops to hold a patrol election. And if whoever they elect can’t go to summer camp, the patrol leader can appoint an assistant who will.
It wasn’t clear from the e-mail as to just who did the appointing. Was it the Scoutmaster or the senior patrol leader? And whose idea was it? If the boys decided amongst themselves and the SPL chose the patrol leaders, that’s a bit less objectionable. But the adults shouldn’t be choosing youth leaders! It’s clearly stated which leaders are elected by the other youth and which are appointed by the elected leaders, and none of them are appointed by adults.
I realize the Scouting program is “rigidly flexible” and agree that special exceptions shouldn’t set precedent, but this is an instance where you really ought to stick with the program. A patrol leader appointed by the senior patrol leader or Scoutmaster may do a fine job, but may have a more difficult time of it since he wasn’t chosen by his peers, and the others in his patrol will have some feelings of disenfranchisement. A patrol is a boy’s Scouting “home” and outsiders really shouldn’t be poking their noses into their business.
If time were tight, I think I’d be inclined to suggest to the SPL that each patrol should meet briefly and choose a patrol leader who they know is going to be at summer camp. No formal presentations or campaign speeches needed – just choose by whatever means they wish (a round of “rock-paper-scissors” has settled youth elections in our troop more than once!). And use the experience as a cautionary tale so they can “be prepared” when summer camp time rolls around next year.
Regarding the boys going to camp without their Troops: my oldest went to camp as a “provisional” for his first year due to scheduling (and budget) constraints. I talked to a couple of the camps in the area, chose what seemed to be the best one, and it went great. He learned a lot from the other Troop that he brought back to our Troop. I encourage all our boys to come with us, but when they can’t I suggest going as a provisional. Several of the camps in our area now offer formal provisional or second-week programs where they build a troop for the week.
Regarding choosing camps, I have the PLC research various camps; each member is typically assigned one camp to research. Of course I feed them suggestions, but sometimes they find their own ideas too. They then present to the Troop at a meeting, with a ppt etc., and the Troop then votes. Of course I keep a right of refusal – for instance this year they were eager to travel to Oregon from San Diego, but this year was also Philmont – so I had them put it off next year with more time to plan an fundraise. As SM you have to pay some attention to the politics (especially if parents get involved) and to how well each memeber of the PLC can present, but overall it works fairly well.