Edited by Robert Peterson
Illustration by Bill Basso
Troop Committee Member J.B. reported in our May-June issue that her son's troop has constant turnover among its adult leaders. Many activities have to be canceled when a Scoutmaster leaves, and the troop has no sense of unity. What can be done?
Recruiting qualified leaders is the key to reducing turnover. Selecting the right people is not easy, though. It requires a planned, ongoing process which is proactive, not reactive.
All the adult leaders, including troop committee members, should try to attract the highest quality adults available, rather than just waiting for them to come along. It means continually planning for the inevitable turnover of leaders and recruiting them into leadership roles on an ongoing basis. Certainly look to the parents of Scouts first. Other potential recruits are parents of boys who have left the troop. Don't overlook young men who have aged out of the troop. Other possibilities are businessmen and retired persons who have an interest in being active in the community and trying to make a difference in the lives of youth.
To limit the negative impact of the inevitable turnover of adult leaders, constantly look for leadership potential in other adults, offer them tasks or ideas for how they can contribute and build a relationship with the troop, and encourage them to attend such programs as Scoutmastership Fundamentals and Wood Badge. You may very well reduce the turnover rate simply by increasing the number of adult leaders available to the troop.
Troop Committee Member B.T.
Baton Rouge, La.
My old troop had the same Scoutmaster for 20 years, so we did not have J.B.'s problem. But he had help, because there was no way he was going to organize and lead every outing on his own.
My suggestion is to encourage more leadership by Scouts in running meetings, planning, and on outings. Appoint a troop/committee liaison person to coordinate cooperation between the youth leaders and the committee.
This youth leadership idea works in my police Explorer post, and there is no reason it should not work in a Scout troop. It may take some time, but if the Scouts learn to listen, follow directions, and respond positively to the Scout leadership, a chain-of-command can be developed.
If younger Scouts realize that the senior patrol leader is the true source of leadership within the troop, it will be much easier for them to accept the difficult transition from an old Scoutmaster to a new one.
Volunteer! Encourage everyone in the unit to volunteer as much as possible. I would wager that J.B.'s past Scoutmasters resigned because they were simply overwhelmed with all the little things for which they were held responsible.
Offer to make phone calls, pick up supplies, establish a telephone tree, complete forms, line up drivers for outings, help straighten up the meeting room. The list is endless.
Pack Committee Chairperson S.R.
J.B. doesn't say why the troop has such high turnover of adult leaders. But if it's a typical troop, chances are the leaders are trying to do too much with very little help.
The best thing the troop committee can do is recruit more adults to help--not necessarily as registered leaders. If the committee can set up a plan whereby each parent agrees to do an occasional task, such as driving boys to camp-outs, putting out a troop newsletter, or helping out at troop meetings when only registered leader can attend, the Scoutmaster's load will be lightened.
Pack Committee Member R.S.
Kansas City, Mo.
Scouting's Battle of the Sexes
Our troop needs every one of its registered adult volunteers, and I know my contribution is important to the troop's survival. However, the Scoutmaster does not work well with women and frequently conveys his male chauvinist attitudes to the young Scouts. They then mimic his actions. What should I do?
M.B. in Texas
Send your answers to Front Line Stuff, Scouting magazine, 1325 W. Walnut Hill Ln., P.O. Box 152079, Irving, TX 75015-2079. Responses will appear in the January-February issue. We also solicit new questions of a provocative nature and pay $50 for each one used in this column.
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