What’s the best way to hold Troop leadership elections? It’s pretty simple. Here’s all of the references I found in the Scoutmaster’s handbook:
Each troop sets its own requirements and schedule of elections, though senior patrol leaders are usually chosen at six- to 12-month intervals and can be reelected.
Scoutmaster’s Handbook p. 13The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as their patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements, if any, for patrol leaders, such as rank and age. Most troops select patrol leaders and other boy leaders twice a year, though a troop might want to hold elections more frequently in order to allow more boys the chance to lead, particularly in the new- Scout patrols. Remind Scouts that patrol elections are not popularity contests, but that they do present patrol members with the responsibility of selecting someone who will be a good leader.Scoutmaster’s Handbook p. 21
Troops can set their own requirements for elections if they like. We had requirements for elections years ago but they were more a way of coercing results by limiting the choices to who we considered the most capable. It’s perfectly sensible to set up age or rank requirements for candidates but it won’t necessarily result in better leaders.
How do boys hold elections? They get together and in their chaotic, imperfect way have a vote, just like they do when they decide who is going to be pitcher for sandlot baseball. (Do boys get to play sandlot baseball any more?)
Our troop’s most formal elections are annual senior patrol leader and order of the arrow elections. The only prerequisite for senior patrol leader is making a speech.
Just a day or two ago our Scouts rearranged patrols and elected patrol leaders. The the senior patrol leader told me he wanted to do this a few weeks ago as they were making plans for the fall. We adults had no role in this at all.
The Scouts made this happen and I only learned of who was elected at the patrol leader’s council after the meeting. I think the Scouts made excellent choices. We have three patrols and three new patrol leaders – I would not have predicted the choices the Scouts made but I am happy with them.
There are all kinds of ways I could have coerced the results of these elections. I could have established age or rank requirements, I could have spoken to the Scouts before hand and tried to influence them one way or another. I could have introduced applications, contracts, job descriptions or other human resources trappings that have, somehow, found their way into Scouting.
Truth be told I have done those sort of things in the past and I stopped doing them because it has little to no effect on the the Scouts ability to choose well, the competence of who they choose, or much of anything else.
I am reminded of Green Bar Bill’s exhortation; ‘Train ‘em, Trust ‘em, Let ‘em Lead!” .
So much of the work of a Scoutmaster is really just getting out of the way.
John Mazurie says
Hello everybody, I am my current troop’s SPL, and over the past year, my troop has more than doubled in it’s youth membership, in fact there were 12 boys in the troop when I was elected. Now, with 28 boys, my scoutmaster and myself have had many long conversations, among other things, we have decided to install 1 or 2 ASPL’s. After our crossover coming up, we will have about 44-45. What I would like some help with is how do your troops select their ASPL’s and how many ASPL’s for t44-45 boys? Also, how are the patrols formed and how many patrols would you recommend for the 44-45 boys we will have? Any help at all with this will be greatly appreciated.
Thank you very much,
Clarke Green says
Sounds like your troop is having a great time! Good for you.
It’s usually up to the senior patrol leader to appoint his assistants. As for how many, well, as many as you want! You probably have a number in mind (like maybe two) and that’s what you go with. You can always appoint more down the road if you really need to.
As for patrols I have posted one way to make this happen (https://www.scoutmastercg.com/2012/01/patrol-choice-chart/). This is just a method to do you best to get Scouts into the patrol they want – it’s not to say that you’d follow it exactly but maybe it would give you an idea. What’s most important is that the Scouts choose their patrol and that you let them change patrols without a whole lot of trouble. Happy, energized, Scouts are more important than even patrol numbers.
How many patrols for 40-45 guys? Hard to tell but it sounds like five. You’ll have maybe five or six youth leaders who won’t be in a patrol, right? So that leaves five patrols of around eight.
You are in for a challenge, but what a great time you are going to have! You and your fellow Scouts will really have your hands full!
Larry Geiger says
The SPL and the PL are elected. I tell the Scouts to have an election. Then I send them off to do their thing. An election happens, they now have leaders and off they go. I then tell the SPL to appoint some guys. He does it. Off they go. It works.
Walter Underwood says
We have applications, but only for appointed positions. They only exist to help the SPL know which Scouts are interested in which positions.
CJ Nusbaum says
I agree, Clark! We used to do applications, too, until the boys stopped filling them out. Their actions spoke pretty loudly to me!
One challenge I continually face is the balance between not enough and too much guiding as the Scoutmaster…trying to make sure the boys experience what Scouting is, and not just think of it as time to hang out with their friends, but keeping out of their way.
Frank Maynard says
The last sentence says it all!