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Who is allowed to attend PLC?

Greetings,

Currently we are conducting Zoom teleconference meetings for our PLC and Troop meetings.
I am an Assistant Scoutmaster and my son just earned his FIrst Class. During our Zoom meetings my son can often be seen in the frame with me. I have been receiving occasional private messages questioning the appropriateness of my son’s presence. I choose not to respond to these messages as I do not wish to engage in unproductive dialogue. I do not believe there is any issue with my son observing and learning from the PLC or other Patrol Meetings.

I do not wish to appear defiant but I do not believe there is any policy prohibiting my son from observing the meetings. If there is such a policy and I have been living under a rock, please clue me in. Also, if there is a policy or any reference material that may validate my son’s presence please feel free to pass it along.

v/r, S.T.

I think this may prove useful:

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Who’s objecting to your son being present? If he’s not being obstructive, and just observing, that would be fine with me, and with my Troop’s PLC.

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Well, by the book you as an ASM shouldn’t be there either, right? It just says the SM. And, at least in the PLCs I’ve seen the troop guides (plural, both units I’m part of have several of them) are not present or invited.

Given that not everyone has the luxury of a home office with closed doors, I would think some latitude would be acceptable. I’d actually flip the question around: what harm is being done, and is it not advantageous for him to see what goes on as long as he’s a silent observer?

I ask in that my son’s troop never publishes out the minutes from the PLC to the full troop, yet my daughter’s does, and I can say for sure that the scouts in my daughter’s troop seem better informed about what is going on, especially the parents who may have very young scouts who are PL/APL.

My $.02, again I realize every unit is different.

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There must be at least 2 registered adult leaders over the age of 21 present at all Scouting activities so the unit is correct in having an ASM attend the PLC meeting.

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I have no idea, but maybe the groups (a partial patrol or the PLC) wish to discuss a more sensitive subject. For example, “what are we going to do about Matt? He is always trying to get out of work”. Maybe they feel that your son being present prevents that? Or maybe they aren’t sure of their speaking skills and a larger, uninvited audience makes it harder? Just some thoughts. I don’t know.

Thank you for the input. As is the case with this situation it seems to be a matter of preference like many other things in the BSA. It ends up being a battle of wills which is why I try not to engage.

The individuals who have asked me about my son’s presence are the Committee Chair and the Committee Chair’s son who is the Senior Patrol Leader. They put a tremendous effort into the Troop and I truly respect them and often look to them for guidance. I like them. But…I love my boy.

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Well it is the SPL’s council - so i say it is SPL’s call. That being said there is only one adult at my PLC’s and that is me, sitting behind my SPL only giving guidance to SPL when needed. Other adults of course are in the room but rarely do they have any role.

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Individual troops may vary, but going by the Senior Patrol Leader Handbook (not policy, but it is a guide), the Patrol Leaders’ Council is made up of the following:

  • SPL
  • ASPL(s)
  • Patrol Leaders of each patrol
  • Troop Guide(s)
  • Troop Scribe - attends and takes minutes, but is not a voting member

The SPL may invite other Scouts to attend (for example: to give reports). PLC meetings are not intended to be open to all Scouts in the troop, because they are represented by the Patrol Leaders. So it’s up to the SPL if your Scout is invited to attend or not. If your Scout wants to attend, have him ask the SPL.

The Scoutmaster is present, but only in a supportive capacity. Another registered adult leader 21 years of age or over also needs to be present (GTSS Scouting’s Barriers to Abuse: Adult Supervision).

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Just for another point of reference, all youth leaders are (generally) welcome at our troop’s the PLC, although the SPL and SM set up a list of the “required” attendees, based on what topics will be discussed and what support is needed. I generally attend, either as a second adult or in the SM’s role if he isn’t able to attend. We have always had at least two adult leaders present. Our role is generally to ask questions, when necessary, like “What are you going to need to execute that?” if it seems like something isn’t thought through enough, or “How many passenger seats am I soliciting from the adults?” so we can get the ball rolling on drivers. Usually, we don’t have to ask the same question at too many meetings before one or another of the scouts starts asking it without prompting.

Generally, the SPL/SM also invites any adult advisers for positions that may need adult support. For example, if the Outdoor Ethics Guide is planning a OE event, his adviser will be added to the invitee list so they are aware of what’s coming up and what support the youth leader might need, and don’t have to wait on the scribe and SM getting the word out.

Our SPLs have been pretty firm about keeping out the peanut gallery (youth and adult). I suspect it’s because of a desire to minimize distractions, but I couldn’t say for sure, not having asked. I know from experience it’s hard enough to keep any meeting (not just PLC) on track just with everyone who needs to be there. Adding more people generally seems to lead to more questions. Not necessarily a bad issue overall (more thinking about a topic often leads to better long-term outcomes), but one that can make it difficult for the meeting to complete its agenda.

One thing I would like to see more of is our assistant patrol leaders attending the PLC. Whether or not the patrol leader can attend, having the APL there means that there’s continuity of knowledge if the PL isn’t able to attend a troop/patrol meeting to communicate the plan to everyone and/or manage its execution.

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Yeah, but the onus is on the PLC to explain that… a simple “he can’t be there” is pretty weak tea.

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It could easily be “only members of the PLC are to attend the PLC”. That isn’t weak. The PLC should make it’s opinion known, which sounds like it may have. The SM should let the ASM know, which it sounds like they have. Then ASM should
comply. Pretty simple.

What about the standard that there are no secret meetings in scouting?

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I think this might help:

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@SageTrepasso - I’ve been present at lots of PLC meetings as a long-time SM and many more as an ASM. They can easily get out of hand when too many Scouts are invited. It is much more efficient to keep the attendees to the voting members, the scribe and anyone invited to make a presentation or deliver a report.

I see the proper protocol as your son asking the SPL whether he minds your son observing the meeting. This gives the SPL a chance to either say yes or explain why not. It is doubtful the SPL would simply respond, “No. Leave me alone, and don’t ask again.” The SPL had enough charisma to get elected; he’ll know how to handle to conversation.

If the PLC were taking place in a physical room, a Scout who is not part of the meeting would not simply walk in and take a seat. Appearing on camera during the virtual meeting is the online equivalent of that.

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Our troop encourages all the scouts to attend. The non-members of the council can have the SPL or other member bring up a concern or suggestion. The big advantage is having the FUTURE nembers of the council understand how the council is run, and to encourage them to run for a voting position.

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@DanielFangen-Gritis - Your troop’s SPL has the authority to run his PLC meetings as he sees fit. Holding them in the open is like Congress being televised on C-Span.

I was involved with a troop in the early 2000s in which the SPL had basically every member of the older Scout patrol at the meeting. He was counseled to limit attendance to those voting, the Scribe and anyone else necessary. He was delighted with the results that the smaller crowd was easier to manage, and things got done more efficiently.

If a PLC meeting is held in the round, and those not participating are silent spectators, it should not hurt efficiency. The problem creeps in if the number of attendees is increased and they all become participants.

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I would hope ALL of us can grasp that “can” and “should” are often completely different discussions. The PLC “can” be a closed meeting. The “should” is another subject.

My view starts with the Aims of Scouting. I believe that everything we do should first consider the Aims of Scouting. And one of those aims is leadership development. To that end I have two observations:

  1. We expect our government leaders to conduct business in the open with some exceptions where it makes sense.
  2. Observing how a meeting is run can be a great method of learning for those inclined. (I believe the amount of benefit varies greatly between people.)

While I would allow the PLC to make the choice after hearing my thoughts on wether other scouts should trust a group that closes their meetings. Of course if they went down what by no should be obvious about my view a SM Minute might include something about choosing who to trust in leadership might follow. Leaders don’t hide.

Now on the same token I as the adult in the room would not hesitate to eliminate the disruption allowing the PLC to attend to what they need to attend to. If the SPL can handle it with minimum interruption great. If not - I am the leader and will resolve that issue.

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Trying not to be insensitive here, but no scout meeting should be off limits to any scout. A PLC involves the PLC and they should be the only ones with input unless the SPL asks for others to have a word, but it isn’t a private affair and should not ever be off limits. Think of it as a city council or school board meeting. It should be open to the scouts to observe. There are absolutely no issues that should come up in a PLC that would involve information of a such a sensitive nature that other scouts cannot witness it.

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