Scoutmaster G.B. from Austin, Texas sent me the following:
Our troop has a Patrol Leader’s Council (PLC) every first Monday. Last Monday the older boys were really acting up. I asked the senior patrol leader (SPL) to get the meeting under control but neither he nor the assistant senior patrol leader responded to my request. The patrol leaders were on their best behavior but the older Scouts were not.
The last thing I wanted to do is take over the meeting, unfortunately I felt I had to.
This could be that I am the new Scoutmaster within the past year. To be fair my expectations that the PLC take ownership may be a stretch. The previous Scoutmaster ran the PLC, took all the notes and the boys just agreed or disagreed with the plans.
I am trying to let the SPL run the meeting and let the Scouts take ownership of the planning.
Is this too much to expect? As a new Scoutmaster I am anxious to do the right thing for them.
A group of fifteen year old Scouts inexplicably going crazy is not all that uncommon. I have seen my PLC collapse into confusion many times. I have learned to leave them be and let them sort things out on their own.
Consider staying away from the PLC meeting. I have learned that if I am in the room it is likely to be more my meeting than theirs. I check in with the SPL before hand to make sure that he has a solid agenda. I may ask for time at the beginning of the meeting if needed. When the Scouts have finished with their meeting I sit down and review the results with the SPL. If they have missed something I leave the meeting and let them sort things out.
While the PLC meets I busy myself with Scoutmaster conferences or meeting with my fellow adult leaders. I am just across the hall so they can get hold of me for questions.
Either you are letting them run the meeting or not. There is no ‘trying’ to let them run things – it’s one way or the other. I stay away from troop and patrol meetings the same way – out of the room busy with other things. At first this made me kind of sad because I really liked running things and kind of queasy because I was concerned that the Scouts would fail to hold things together.
Your job is to train them, trust them and then let them lead. Train them so they have a solid hold on the goals of Scouting in general and their Troop in particular. Trust them to work hard and let them go at it. Most Scoutmasters understand these ideas but have a real problem trusting and letting go.
Scoutmasters are more gardeners than anything else. We make sure the conditions are right, plant the seeds, do a bit of weeding and otherwise let things take their natural course.