Scouting Forums

Role of Junior Assistant Scoutmasters

What exactly is the role of a JASM (especially in a large troop of 100+ scouts)?

Here are a couple specific questions:

  • Are they a mentor to the SPL (especially if they are a veteran leader)?
  • Should they attend the PLC or ASM meeting (or attend both and act as the representative of the other group)?
  • Can they conduct a Scoutmaster Conference with younger scouts (who they aren’t friends with)?
  • Should they conduct the ILST at the beginning of each term (especially if they are an NYLT Staff Member)?

JASM can do anything an assistant Scoutmaster can do, except for things that are specifically restricted due to age requirements (for example, cannot drive other Scouts).

I think your questions are examples of excellent activities for JASMs.

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The role of the JASM is set by the scoutmaster. I don’t believe they can perform the scoutmaster conference because they’re still technically scouts themselves. As far as ILST I personally haven’t conducted the training since it was updated. When I ran it as scoutmaster I think there were sections that should be run by the Scoutmaster, SPL and one or two by a JASM but dont quote me on that haha. I hope this helps

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Hi, Tarun (@legacytp),

There are a variety of resources that describe how JASMs can serve their units. A couple of “official” ones are here:

The discussions in the comments section below the Bryan on Scouting article are more useful, I suspect, in identifying potential roles for you to fill in your unit.

Our troop has a JASM for the first time in a while, and we’re all still adjusting to what role(s) he will play in the program. My recommendations are that you coordinate with your SPL and SM both to see where there are needs that they can identify, and present needs in your unit that you may have identified, then see which ones are a realistic set for you to tackle.

Thanks for serving your fellow scouts!

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I personally would NOT have a JASM do Scoutmaster conferences (but this is my and not any book). The reason is that to me the conference is a chance for adult mentorship. I know some push the Scout led to some extremes, but I would mention that one of the 8 methods of Scouting is “Adult Association.”


Technically, there’s not anything prohibiting a JASM from doing a Scoutmaster Conference – the only limitation I could find anywhere in “official” BSA documents says a JASM can do anything an ASM can do, with the exception of activities that are age-prohibited.

EDIT: After further research, conducting a Scoutmaster Conference is one of those age-restricted activities, so JASMs cannot do them.

Realistically, though, you’re absolutely right. I think most youth would not approach a Scoutmaster Conference with a JASM the same way they would with an older adult. Heck, we have two recently aged-out Eagles that re-joined our troop as ASMs, and I think they would have the same issue – it’s difficult to shift gears mentally, especially for the other, older Scouts that are used to interacting with the ASMs as Scouts, not leaders…


Junior Assistant Scoutmasters

Troop Leader Guidebook, Vol. 1, 33009, Copyright 2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 printing

Youth Leader Position Description (in Chapter 13)

Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, p. 74

  • Be 16 or 17 years old
  • Function as an assistant Scoutmaster (except for leadership responsibilities reserved for adults 18 and 21 years of age or older).
  • Accomplish any duties assigned by the Scoutmaster.
  • Set a good example.
  • Wear the Scout uniform correctly.
  • Live by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
  • Show and help develop Scout spirit

Scoutmaster Corps (in Chapter 15)

Young Assistant Scoutmasters and Junior Assistant Scoutmasters, p. 84

While the Scoutmaster must be at least 21 years old, assistant Scoutmasters may be as young as 18. Moreover, a junior assistant Scoutmaster (a youth position described in chapter 13) can do most of the work of an assistant Scoutmaster.

As you develop roles for adults in your troop, do not overlook these young leaders. …

Advancement Overview, Chapter 19

The Scoutmaster Conference. pp. 98-99

For each rank, a Scout must participate in a Scoutmaster conference. This conference is a visit between the Scoutmaster and a Scout …


  • Where does it say an ASM or JASM can substitute for the Scoutmaster at or attend a Scoutmaster conference?

Guide to Advancement § indicates that an ASM (21 or older) may substitute for the SM when appropriate.


ETA: We use this not-infrequently due to travel schedules and our large unit size. The Scoutmaster has identified a specific set of ASMs with whom he has discussed how he wants SMCs conducted in his absence. We all circle-back with the SM with our notes from the SMC so he’s in the loop, even if he can’t be available.


Thank you, Charley. That rules out the JASM participating in a Scoutmaster Conference…

My understanding is that the conference is a one on one conference (in sight of another appropriate adult leader for youth protection).





In order to keep experienced youth leaders who have been through this course before from becoming bored or perhaps not wanting to participate again, the troop should consider having them serve as trainers for some of the segments or as facilitators for some of the games and challenges in this course.Scouts who have previously graduated from ILST or National Youth Leadership Training can also be used as trainers or facilitators, especially in Module Two and Module Three. …


ILST should be conducted shortly after a new term of office begins If there will be a delay of more than a few weeks between the start of the new term and this course, then the Scoutmaster should conduct a leaders’ orientation right after the election of new youth leaders.

The length of terms of office varies from troop to troop—and even from year to year within a troop. Ultimately, it’s up to your troop to determine when to conduct ILST. …

Upon completion of Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops, the Scout is qualified to wear the “Trained” emblem on his uniform.


It is the Scoutmaster’s privilege and responsibility to organize and lead ILST. You may also want or need to involve other trained adult leaders and of course, you should involve previously trained Scouts. As you train the troop leadership team using ILST, you and your Scout leaders will gain a greater sense of mutual trust and, ideally, see how useful a shared style of leading will be in the troop. Yes, Scouting is designed to be as youth-led as possible, but don’t forget that the Scoutmaster does have a role to play as well. The Scoutmaster is part of the team being built, so it is imperative that the Scoutmaster is actively involved in the training exercise.

Note that while we aim to have our youth leaders lead, we do not abdicate all responsibility to the Scouts. Adults must play a critical role in advising, providing feedback, and guidance, and they are in fact responsible for the troop. Scouts do not call all the shots just because they are Scouts. Adults need to work in concert with our young leaders, allowing them the freedom to learn from mistakes but also providing guidance as needed.

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I do not think so.

My understanding is that he JASM is performing the role of an ASM and attends ASM meetings.

Scoutmaster (SM) and Senior Patrol Leader (SPL)

Senior Patrol Leader Handbook, 32501, Copyright 2018 Boy Scouts of America, 2018 printing

Senior Patrol Leadrer (SPL) Qualifications

Understanding the Troop’s Structure

In the “Sample youth leader organizational chart for a large troop”, p. 17:

  • The SPL appears to be directly under the Scoutmaster.
  • the Assistant Scoutmasters (ASM) and Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (JASM) are not part of the Patrol Leader Council (PLC)

Patrol Leader Council (PLC), p. 133

The Scoutmaster attends patrol leaders’ council meeting as a coach and informational resource. As much as possible, the Scoutmaster allows the Scouts to run the meetings and make decisions, stepping in with with suggestions and guidance when that will enhance the program for the troop, the patrols and individuals. …

The topic has been a helpful item that I have shared with our adult leadership. We are going through a period of transition where a large amount of boys have aged out. That also means many adult leaders have essential left with their sons although some are still helping a little.

We’ve flip from being a very mature troop to a very young troop. We don’t have as many Scouts over 16 as we have enjoyed over the last few years and we have a group of 13-14 year olds that we are striving diligently to “grow-them-up” so they can take on bigger challenges. However, at this age, they are still kids that are in the maturation process and experience is the best teacher.

The JASM with the previous leadership was used more of a ceremonial manner given to a Scout that had made Eagle that was about to age out. We are discussing using this for Scouts that have first been an SPL to encourage the younger Scouts that are nearing 16 to want to take on the SPL and ASPL role. We have such few scouts over 16 that have already been SPL and a few that don’t want the job that we are always exploring ways to encourage the desire to take on a leadership role.

We agree the role of JASM has to have something more than ceremonial. We don’t like titles that have no meaning.

I hope this discussion continues. Good topic.

The copy I have said Scoutmaster or his designate. I know in our Boys troop I am the Assist Scout Master in charge of Scout Advancement. Because of everyone’s work, I end up doing the majority of the Scout Master Conf. This has been thru 3 Scout Masters. I am what they are calling a lifer. My Eagle is 19 now and my Little One is 9. So I have at least 9 more years in the troop. (Really I will do something till the turn off the lights.) As for our Girls troop, I am advancement chair and helping the Scout Master to refine how he does SMC. Lol, and I am learning on the job about Boards of Review. Think I got it handled.
It is all about the Scouts. If they are progressing, learning, and can then teach younger scouts while living the ideals, we have done our job.

Copy of what? Could you please be more specific? Title, year printed, and page number?

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The 2019 Guide to Advancement, section on pg 28 says the SM can designate an ASM to conduct Scoutmaster Conferences. It explicitly excludes JASMs (limits to ASMs at least 21 years old) and clearly implies that delegating this responsibility should be a rare exception.

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Steve, thank you for answering the Scoutmaster conference question.

legacytp, have we answered all your questions?

What exactly is the role of a JASM (especially in a large troop of 100+ scouts)? Here are a couple specific questions:

  • Are they a mentor to the SPL (especially if they are a veteran leader)?
  • Should they attend the PLC or ASM meeting (or attend both and act as the representative of the other group)?
  • Can they conduct a Scoutmaster Conference with younger scouts (who they aren’t friends with)?
  • Should they conduct the ILST at the beginning of each term (especially if they are an NYLT Staff Member)?
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It used to be, before we had Troop Guides and Instructors, the JASM made a lot more sense. But your SPL should treat them as young leaders to fill in gaps. They really are intended to assist the SM. So, although they can’t do formal scoutmaster conferences, they may be able to give many scouts sound advice.


@Qwazse that’s good advice, our younger scouts were more comfortable asking questions to our JASM (who’s now a full-fledged ASM in the troop) instead of the adult ASMs or Scoutmaster. Especially questions that they should have known the answers to…


I did read you all’s comments. I work at a scout shop and one of our customers asked me the other day if he can make a very responsible and mature 15.5 year old eagle scout JASM or if the age listed in the literature is set in stone. (I have more experience on the committee side.)
I am one that tends to follow all BSA guidelines but what is you all’s take on that?

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In the situation of a scout that is 15.5, Eagle, and very responsible persobally would say that It’s fine. I think at that point it should be at the decision of the unit leadership to allow it if he’s working a couple months of his 16th.