A predictable frustration for Scoutmasters is the Scout who takes on a youth leadership position and doesn’t meet expectations. We may respond using employee-employer or soldier-officer thinking and tactics because these are familiar models.
Scouts are not employees, Scoutmasters are not employers.
Scouts are not Enlisted Men, Scoutmasters are not Officers.
Scouts don’t sign contracts, they volunteer.
I have attempted to write job descriptions and contracts for leadership positions in an attempt to lawyer my Scouts towards responsibility. It does not work. I have attempted orders and brow-beating discipline like an officer talking to the enlisted men. It does not work. Both of these approaches will bring limited successes but they will ultimately fall short of the goal.
Every Youth leadership position in Scouting is controlled by the Scouts themselves. They choose their leaders by election (Quartermasters , Scribes and similar positions are usually appointed by the SPL but he is elected by the Scouts). I should pause to say that if you are appointing leaders in your Troop or setting requirements for candidacy you are doing your Troop a disservice by not adhering to the Scouting program. If a leader is doing a substandard job the Scouts themselves will be the first to know and if the situation demands they can elect a new leader.
The Scoutmaster’s single goal is that all of his Scouts succeed and success is defined individually. When a youth leader is preforming poorly, or not at all, it is the Scoutmaster’s responsibility to mentor, cajole, exhort and encourage the Scout to succeed.
I have had some sharp conversations with my youth leaders but more often I prefer to quietly push them towards success by helping them discover their leadership skills, however nascent, and building them up.
If all of these efforts fail and the Scouts are still complaining about an under performing youth leader I ask them;
“How did he get a leadership position in the first place?”
The answer: “We elected him.”
My next question is:
“So, then, when is the next election?”