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Position of leadership qualifications

Currently our positions of leadership have rank, age and attendance requirements to be qualified for election/ appointment. We are reviewing them. What other requirements has your troop used? Why have you not used certain requisites?

Neither my son’s nor my daughter’s troops have any requirements to be qualified to hold any POR except that the Scout must be registered with the troop. We trust the Scouts to pick the right Scout to be SPL of each troop or PL of each patrol and the incoming SPLs to pick the right person, in consultation with the Scoutmaster, for the rest of the positions.


@Mary_AnnDalton - it seems to me that this is more of an adult lead system than youth lead and adult mildly guided. Now, take your rules an impose them upon a brand new troop and see if they fit and function.

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The only positions we officially restrict are SPL and ASPL. They have to be First Class or higher rank, and have completed NYLT, or will take NYLT during their tenure in that position. Of course, COVID threw a monkey wrench into that requirement this year, since our Council cancelled all the NYLT offerings for the year…

Unofficially, we only appoint Eagle Scouts to be JASMs, and we only allow Scouts that can already play the trumpet to be Bugler. We also have a talk with Scouts that are active in sports, marching band, etc. to gauge whether they’re really up to making the commitment exected for a position of responsibility, and encourage them to make the right choice based on their interest – it’s hard to be a Patrol Leader for the July-December term when you miss every meeting from mid-August to mid-November for marching band practices, after all.


I have long argued against any unnecessary requirements imposed on PoRs. Take age for example. A scout who joins at 10-1/2 with AoL, then completes First Class in 1 year or less is now under 12, but ready to move on with Star. Should that scout be arbitrarily restricted in his or her advancement based on their age? I recognize that’s its own separate argument (e.g. any thread on nearly any discussion group regarding “young Eagles”), but I don’t believe that adding an age requirement is appropriate.

I’ve argued against rank-related restrictions, because the scout with the best skill set may not be the scout that has “ranked up”. For a long time in our troop, the best navigator wasn’t yet First Class. A restriction requiring “First Class or above” would have prevented that scout from serving the troop as an Instructor. Advancement is only one of the methods, not a requirement for participation.

I can see some merit to some requirements regarding attendance, but only in a roundabout way. As an adult leader advising a youth leader, I would counsel them to run for positions that they know they will be able to put the time in to perform, because their unit is depending on them to do that job they take on. A librarian isn’t serving the troop if they never come to meetings, and have the troop library stashed at their house. An SPL who’s over-committed and constantly delegates his or her duties to their ASPL(s) isn’t really serving the troop, but rather delegating that responsibility to others. However, I oppose strict requirements on attendance, because they may arbitrarily restrict who is able to serve. Rather, I think that the SM/ASM advising the position should talk to the scout regularly about how things are going (i.e. adult association), and remind them about the obligation they asked for and accepted if the scout isn’t adequately completing their duties, whether due to issues with attendance or just falling below the standard of care. Maybe a scout wasn’t able to attend troop meetings last quarter because they were playing baseball, and practices conflicted. However, this quarter, they’re able to attend consistently, and want to serve the troop. Should the scout be prevented from running and serving now based on past attendance?

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This is going to be a fun discussion…HA HA. Even the US Constitution has a minimum age to be President. If you have a troop with a good mix of Scouts at various ages you shouldn’t have to deal with a 12 Y/O SPL. Scout led doesn’t mean Lord of the Flies. A little chaos is usually healthy but we shouldn’t want anarchy and I think that is what would happen if the scout is too young.

We don’t have a rule in our Troop, but philosophically I think a Scout should be at a minimum First Class. Age wise, this may be a little arbitrary but I’m in the comfort zone of at least 14 unless the Scout is unusually mature and adept with Scout Skills.

I think too much weight in a young back can break a Scout and make the experience less fun. I think time served as a Patrol Leader and more importantly a Troop Guide to really work with newer Scouts will provide insight before wanting to take on greater responsibility.

I know you all have most likely seen those Scouts that want to be SPL with the intent of being “bossy” rather than a leader that usually ends up with a failed term of service. The term of service as SPL or ASPL should be a meaningful experience where the Scout feels good about his or her accomplishments and the Troop is left in good shape when that term of position has ended.

As my late father used to tell me…“Only a grave-digger starts at the top”

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One thing we also do is that we do not hold elections for the Patrol Leaders and SPL. We hold elections for the Assistant Patrol Leaders and ASPL – this was an idea that first originated in the PLC a few years ago, and it’s worked pretty well. At the end of the service term, the SPL’s final task is to run the Troop election; then he steps down and his ASPL becomes the new SPL, with a freshly-elected ASPL. The new SPL has had six months developing leadership skills as ASPL, being mentored by the SPL and the SM/ASMs, and the new ASPL has six-months of working with the SPL and learning the ropes from them before taking over as SPL at the end of his ASPL term.

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That’s an interesting approach. I’ve seen it used in other organizations very successfully. I wonder if this idea has ever occurred to our scouts…

Have you had trouble with scouts being able to commit a continuous 12 months to a leadership position (i.e. SPL and SPL-in-training)? I could see how that might be an issue for scouts in some situations (e.g. conflicts that might impact one 6-month period during a given year, but not both).

What about having multiple ASPLs? We typically have more than one, and I could see a potential issue for us arising as to which one is the rising SPL.

Not really. We’re a pretty small Troop right now, with a REALLY small core of active Scouts – say 15 total Scouts, and 7 or 8 I expect to see at every event. Also, pretty young – only one of the active ones is old enough to drive – so at this point it’s as much parental commitment as Scout commitment.

One major issue we’re struggling with is having a mega-Troop in the next town over that tends to inadvertently steam roll a bunch of the local Troops, making it tough to recruit. It’s tough to compete with a Troop that rents an entire Council camp for the weekend and invites every Webelos Scout in the District to a Weekend Adventure Camp. Makes an evening of Dutch oven cooking at the Hunt Club look a little lame in comparison.

Wow. We’re quite a big larger than that, although we might have a comparable proportion of license-bearing scouts, since we have a ton of young scouts. That said, our scouts sometimes seem to me as though they invented being over-committed. I did scouts and quiz bowl as a kid, and quiz bowl wasn’t until junior high. I have no idea how they keep track of all the stuff they’re doing…

I was curious about any challenges that y’all had run into with the approach, since that’s one of the things that some of our PLC remembers to ask about, so I wanted to have info on hand if the SPL wanted to discuss it.

Oof. I can see how that would be a challenge. Not knowing any details about either troop (and volunteering unsolicited advice to boot), I would probably aim to compete on substance/personal connections, since it’s obviously tough to challenge on sheer size. The same sort of position that a smaller college has to take when competing with bigger universities. Even so, it sounds like an uphill battle for sure.

That’s what we try, and we’re working to build leader-to-leader connections with a couple local Packs, so they aren’t just thinking “mega-Troop” when it’s time for their Webelos to visit Troops.

We just started our third round of doing the SPL/ASPL like this; the last two boys that did the ASPL->SPL route were pretty happy with the process, and the brand-new SPL says he felt comfortable stepping into the role, even as a 13-year old Star Scout.

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Wow, that seems a little unfair. That Troop is acting like “Amazon” or “Wal-Mart” in the sense that they are destroying the competition. I’m typically a free market type of guy but I don’t think this is a healthy practice. I was in a mega-pack and our Troop is pretty large, but I think Troops or Packs can be “too-big” to the point where some Scouts get overlooked and quit and parents form their little cliques picking favorites. It would be interesting to see what the attrition rate is in that mega-troop. We are partnered up with one good size Pack and that’s enough. I don’t want to be so large that every Scout can’t get the proper attention to keep them interested in the program.

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I think that happens more that folks like to admit. I’ve run into several parents I know from Scouting or youth sports where their kid went to that Troop and dropped entirely out of Scouting in less than a year because it felt too impersonal for them.

I’m guessing this mega-troop probably has a good facility to meet and is obviously well-funded. It can be very seductive to parents and Scouts to want to join the “biggest” Troop. Unfortunately it could become more like a business than a youth program and the kids suffer. My favorite events are when we had a smaller turn-out when we could really have more quality teaching and fellowship time with the Scouts and not have to spend so much time putting out fires related to typical kid-drama.

You can’t really go to the Council and ask them to share the recruiting wealth because the Council probably makes a good chunk of money from the Troop and helps their numbers look good.

Yeah. Their chartering organization uses the Troop and Crew as an “official” part of their youth programming, and they have a huge number of adult volunteers – I’m talking about 40+ ASMs and a huge parents committee. So it’s not just that Council doesn’t want to push them around, but they have enough people to swamp the district with volunteers as well.

I believe that no troop requirements for rank advancement or positions of leadership should be added. Prior to leadership elections, the scout master or whomever should outline the job requirements stressing “job description” and then let the scouts select.

While the GTA is quite clear that units cannot change the rank advancement requirements, the document Troop Leadership Positions explicitly says “Rank and age requirements to be a senior
patrol leader are determined by each troop…” so, yes, it’s entirely up to the troop to determine the requirements for SPL.

source: https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/boyscouts/pdf/Troop_Leadership_Positions.pdf

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At the risk of derailing the thread to a discussion of the numerous conflicts in BSA documents, until recently (I don’t have the latest version), the Patrol Leader Handbook said that patrols could go on campouts without adult supervision. That was the way things were back in the Dark Ages when I was a scout, but has been verboten at least since the advent of the Guide to Safe Scouting.

On topic, I tend to agree that units can set requirements, I just think they generally shouldn’t without particularly good reason (and a fair bit of consideration of the effects of the proposed restrictions).

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A bit of an update. We removed all age requirements and changed the SPL rank to 1st class and above. There is also interest in discussing the election of ASPL instead of SPL. Once our committee got this far, we started to discuss the engagement of scouts and how to I keep them engaged. We are putting off the election because last week we only had 8 of 34. We will reconvene next week

I’d be curious to hear what your scouts think of the ideas being developed by your committee. Ours generally have pretty strong opinions, and we’ve been burned before when we haven’t consulted with the scouts frequently enough in developing new plans for structuring the unit.