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Cubmaster vs Committee Chair authority within pack

I need some help. I am a fairly new Cubmaster, and I have taken my position-specific training. My Committee Chair has told me that the Committee Chair really runs the pack, the Cubmaster is only responsible for planning and running the pack meetings. He has also made it clear on many occasions that the Committee Chair outranks the Cubmaster, and that I have no power to challenge his decisions. Most of the time this is not an issue, we discuss everything with the committee and arrive at joint decisions.

Currently I am in a situation where I feel strongly that a particular decision needs to be discussed more, because I feel like a longtime den leader and loyal volunteer is being ignored and disrespected. I’m not comfortable at all with the way this matter has been resolved. It’s causing bad feeling within the pack. I asked for a conversation between the three of us (den leader, chair, and me), hoping to help work things out, and was basically told by the chair to sit down, shut up, and don’t try to wield power that I don’t actually have.

Leaving the tone of the remarks aside (yes, they disturbed me), am I misinterpreting what I’m reading on the position duties? Is the Cubmaster completely subservient to the Committee Chair? And if this is so, why is the Cubmaster even listed as Key 3 together with the Committee Chair?

So, like a lot of teams, there are reporting lines, but it doesn’t work well when authority is abused. Yes, the Cubmaster “reports” to the CC. Yes, the main duty of the CM is to run the pack meetings. Yes “staffing” is the CC’s responsibility.

But all are volunteers. All are on the same team. All are there to do their roles and “deliver the program”. Why is the CC not being a team player? Having all 3 of you talking was, presumably, a fine idea.

Without knowing the “other side” of the story, it is hard to go much further.

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In principle, all unit volunteers serve at the pleasure of the chartering organization. If you are concerned enough about the issue, you could raise it with the chartering organization representative, but be prepared for them to tell you basically the same things about scope of responsibility. They might also raise the issue you are concerned about with the CC if they think it is serious enough. I would focus on the original issue, not on the “chain of command” issues, if you do choose to bring it up to the COR.

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Issue is combining 2 AOL dens into one (ten Scouts total), due to lack of leaders. CC did ask committee members, me, and existing den leader for our opinions, but CC’s attitude is that this decision is ultimately his decision. DL expressed some serious concerns. CC announced the decision to combine dens, and DL came back with a couple more concerns that he asked to please be considered. CC then (rudely) told DL that his decision had been made, no more discussion, and that he accepted DL’s pushback as his effective resignation. DL is devastated that he is being treated this way after four years of service. I am appalled as well. I sense that a longtime personality conflict with DL is feeding into CC’s course of action.

I asked for a sitdown with the three of us, to talk about alternatives or compromises, because I did not want our pack to lose such a valuable volunteer, or maybe we could bring in our unit commissioner as a neutral ear. He fired back that I didn’t understand that commissioners have no authority in unit decisions and that my role is programming, which I still need help with, not leading organizational decisions. He told me that I could ask for a committee meeting if I wanted to undermine his decision (his words), but that I should understand the families who really make this pack run before I start trying to exercise power that I don’t have.

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I would have suggested that you chat with a unit commissioner, but it sounds like he already said he’s going to ignore that, too. Most of what he said is technically true, but the way he’s going about it (if accurately represented) sounds like a bad way to keep an engaged team. So, it may be to the point of getting the chartered org rep involved.

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The Scouting way

The den method is based on the patrol method, which originally had a even number of 6 or 8 Scouts and included a buddy system. In Cub Scouting a Scout patrol leader is replaced with a Scouter den leader.

I believe one of the goals of a Webelos AOL den is to prepare the Scout to participate in a Scouts BSA patrol. I think it is more difficult to achieve that goal with large dens.

Key-3 Leadership

The last time I looked, the key 3 leaders are the Cubmaster, Committee Chair, and the Charter Organization Representative. The key 3 leaders should be meeting at least once a month, and more frequenting if necessary.

Who is supporting who?

My understanding is that the pack committee is suppose to support the Cubmaster, Den Leaders and families in running the Cub Scouting program.

Creating an atmosphere of belonging

The BSA’s Diversity & Inclusion Statement

The Boy Scouts of America promotes a culture where each youth, volunteer, and employee feels a sense of belonging and builds communities where every person feels respected and valued.

Leading by example and encouraging each other to live by the values expressed by the Scout Oath and Scout Law, we welcome families of all backgrounds to help prepare young people to serve as successful members and leaders of our nation’s increasingly diverse communities.

Defining inclusion

from training course:

Inclusion is the action or state of including or of being included within a group or structure . Inclusion involves authentic participation and a genuine sense of belonging .

In Scouting, inclusion includes sharing of power within the unit through concerted efforts to bring traditionally excluded individuals and/or groups into processes, activities, and decision-making.

References

The Cub Scout Leader Book gives the details on how a Pack is organized. Diversity, equity and inclusion is about providing a sense of belong for all in the pack… These are now (August 2021) the best resources for Cubmasters and Pack Committee Chairs.

Version 2021-08-28-A

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The cubmaster is a part of the Unit Key 3. The Committee chair is in charge of the committee and planning the program year. The cubmaster is in charge of delivering the program plan that the committee has come up with. Den leaders are not a member of the committee so they would fall under the cubmaster. The committee chair does not have the authority to “hire or fire” adult leaders. This responsibility lies directly with the COR or Charter Executive officer.

Having said all of that this is what I would do. Start with your unit commissioner and tell them that a meeting needs to be set up that also involves the district Key 3 and the unit Key 3 with the unit commissioner there as well. This committee chair is going to alienate the leaders he has and the unit is going to collapse. The Charter rep needs to understand this and if they choose to allow the CC to continue down this path there is nothing you can do but find a different unit.

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Or the council Scout Executive.

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The Cubmaster reports to the committee chair. While they don’t have hire/fire authority, they do have “chain of command” authority over the Cub Master. The org charts of packs provided by national show this.

image

From: How Cub Scouting is Organized | Boy Scouts of America

They are not “in charge” of them. Their purpose is to support the cubmaster and the den leaders in executing the unit program. If the den leader is saying they need another den leader and the dens should not be combined and the committee chair is saying shut up and sit down that is a failure of the committee chair to understand their place in the system.

Honestly if I was this den leader I would have already told this committee chair to have a nice time running the dens themselves and pulled my kid to another unit.

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While it is true that Direct contact leaders are not part of the committee that is not true for Cub Packs . A change was made a few years back. From CS Leader Specific training instructor syllabus

Pack committee members are: • Pack committee chair • Cubmaster and assistant Cubmasters • Chartered organization representative • Den leaders and assistant den leaders • New member coordinator • Treasurer • Advancement chair • Pack secretary • Any other position you may have on your pack committee

Ron

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Sorry you have to deal with that. Some people get inflated senses of egos, and need to realize that we’re all volunteers. When volunteers get disrespected, they leave, and then you’re on your own and the program collapses.

I don’t get too hung up on the official org charts. When things work, they work, and people are happy. I’m a CC and my Cubmaster and I are friends, colleagues, and we govern together. If the CC is going to be a dick and not even listen to you, I would suggest going to the charter org rep. Hopefully that person is engaged, and everyone serves as his/her pleasure. He/she can simple dismiss people or change their position, and the Council won’t think twice about doing what the COR tells them to do. So, have a conversation with him/her, and explain the brewing problems where the CC is disrespecting volunteers, and you worry it will poison the culture of the pack and people will leave. If that doesn’t get his/her attention, then there is not much you can do, other than appeal to the Executive Officer of the charter org, who will hopefully put long-term considerations above personal loyalties.

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The org chart is clear. The Cub Master reports to the committee chair.

It is also the committee chair that is responsible for adding dens. One would assume it is also their role to shrink them.

This is not the military. Scouting requires a collaborative approach to building and maintaining a program of excellence. As soon as one person starts thinking they are better than the others because of a title the whole thing falls apart. I’ve seen it happen on a few occasions.

We should be modeling servant leadership for our scouts so that they can learn and grow. Not an authoritarian structure that diminishes the input and work of the other adult leaders.

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I agree. But, when it comes down to it, there is an org chart with a reporting structure. It isn’t a star with the COR at the middle.

But! When someone “pulls rank” people are going to leave or hate being there. It shouldn’t get to that. The CC should have had the meeting the CM requested. They should have been open to all options and made a good decision.

As a Committee Chair of a pack, troop.and crew I have always worked this as a collaborative effort as all of us are needed to make this work. I welcome improvements and feedback and those who voice a better plan. If I am wrong I need to hear it…if there is a better idea I need to hear it.

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AF - sorry you’re having to deal with this. Being Cubmaster should actually be a lot of fun - it was one of my favorite Scouting roles - because the cubs themselves are so fun to work with. Stuff like you are dealing with takes the fun out of it in a hurry.
While there is an org chart, there are two ways to look at what that chart means. On one hand, the chart does imply authority. The Chartered Organization is in charge of the unit. They make the hiring/firing decisions, provide the financial and intangible support, and so on. At the same time, the role of everyone at the top of the org chart is to support those at the bottom - the ones who are actually working with the scouts. After all, the whole purpose of Scouting is not the den leaders, or the cubmaster, or the committee chair, but the scouts. So all of leadership needs to be helping the direct contact leaders (in this case, the den leaders) succeed.
Unfortunately, it sounds like your CC may have forgotten this - perhaps not in all cases, but in this case. If he is alienating experienced den leaders and the cubmaster, that is a good way to end up with no pack in a hurry. Volunteers won’t stay when they aren’t valued - it takes away from the fun factor quite a bit.
If you’re committed to staying with this pack, or trying to, I recommend you reach out to your chartered org or your commissioner. It might fix things. And if it doesn’t, you will end up leaving the pack, which you will probably do anyway if things don’t change.
Sorry again you’re having to deal with this.

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Very well said. I am the one who posted the org chart, because in the end, it can help “break ties”, but the Cubs are the ones at the top. If there are 2 strong dens of 5, with good den leaders for each den, then what is the issue? The issue could be, though, 1 strong den of 5 and one den that needs a DL. So, the CC would be right in saying that they need to merge.

They could have helped the whole process, as @JohnGeiser said, being a servant leader. If they need to merge the 2 dens, then have a meeting, with both DLs, CM, and themselves. Get the group to see that the merge is necessary. While they may “call the shots”, it doesn’t mean that they have to bring the whole org along with them or they will lose them.

I have gone as far as to make our own troop org chart upside down. The patrols are at the the top, the COR at the bottom since it is a “support structure”.

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@Matt.Johnson - in actuality the org charts are upside down as without the scouts there is zip zilch nada

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Exactly. That is why in my unit, I did the org chart upside down. It is their organization.

Ask Commissioner Andy of Ask Andy says “Scouts are the first volunteers of the origination”.