Our Troop Committee Chairman has stepped down and another parent has volunteered. This is fine and I look forward to working with her. The problem is with her husband is a military man used to having people answer to him.
He’s already commented loudly when something displeased him at a meeting “there are going to be changes next year”.
He called me the other night wanting to make changes to the program for our next Court of Honor and changes to our openings at troop meetings.
I am really uncomfortable; It could be a very bumpy year. What should I do?
Do not exchange emails about this with anyone in the Troop. I am dead serious about this!
You arrange the meeting – do it ASAP (away from homes, troop meeting place, etc. someplace neutral like a coffee shop) and you start with this:
First let me say how happy I am that you are willing to put the time in to help out Scouts. I thought that it would be good for us to review the relationships between the Scoutmaster, Troop Committee and the Patrol Leader’s Council. I do like to have this conversation with all of our new leaders just so we get things off on the right foot. I do my best to follow the guidance in Scouting literature so let me tell you what my understanding is and then we can discuss any questions you may have.
The PLC makes plans and decides how they want to do things (like ceremonies). My job is to mentor them through the process of planning and decision making. I keep them focused on fulfilling the promises of Scouting, conducting meetings and outings that are safe and, in all things, to follow the Scout Oath and Law.
I bring their plans to the Troop committee not so much for the approval of the committee but to help coordinate what the various members of the committee do to support the Scouts. I answer questions and concerns that the committee may have and bring any unresolved issues to the PLC for their consideration. Usually we are able to resolve things pretty quickly.
The committee functions as an administrative and support group to serve the plans that the Scouts make. So long as these plans are within the scope of safety and propriety they should not be overruled at any time. All of us do have the provisonal authority to immediately put a stop to anything that is unsafe or inappropriate but it is rarely necessary
The Scouts who serve in leadership positions are forming some skills, learning by doing and may make mistakes or missteps from time to time. It is my job, and just to be clear, my job exclusively, to arbitrate with, correct, direct and train our youth leaders. I regularly delegate certain aspects of this responsibility but, again just to be clear, I have the last word in these matters.
I say this because our Scouts are respectful of authority and will follow any directions you may give them personally. It is particularly important to me that you understand my responsibility, respect my position and refrain from offering advice or giving directions to Scouts in matters of program content or procedure without first discussing them with me.
In most cases I will take your advice or direction to the PLC for their consideration. Sometimes they accept our ideas, sometimes they don’t – I do my best to respect their autonomy.
I appreciate your interest and energy in helping us out – it is great fun; Are there any questions I can answer for you?
Now this is all very businesslike, even calculatingly cold, but it is based on working through a lot of similar situations. The theme is “let’s make things clear”.
Rather than being put-off most people appreciate plain talk that clears things up. We are all a lot more comfortable when expectations and lines of communication are clear.