FAQ – Troop Organization
What do you mean by “Boy Led”?
A Boy Scout troop leads itself. Adults are present to guide and ensure safety & compliance exists, but it is the YOUTH who make key decisions.
The Scouting program using The Patrol Method means the Troop members ELECT their own leaders; individual Patrol Leaders and a Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) who takes on “ownership” and hold the actual leadership position within the Troop. The SPL appoints an assistant scout (Assistant Senior Patrol Leader – ASPL) and various other leadership positions.
While serving as Senior Leaders, the SPL and ASPL cease to be members of their respective patrols and function as peers with the adult leadership. The SPL and ASP execute Program decisions, lead the meetings, plan agendas, pick camping destinations, and LEAD BY EXAMPLE when executing the agenda that the boys themselves created and agreed to follow.
Patrol Leaders are responsible for the well being and actions of their individual patrol and will REPRESENT their patrol in the Patrol Leaders Council (PLC). At the PLC meeting (chaired by the SPL and monitored by the Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster), Patrol Leaders plan future trips and troop meetings. Through a model of Representative Government, they CHOOSE the trips and activities THEY want to do, and appoint other scouts to serve as skill instructors, or lead games or other activities.
Adult leadership keeps them on track with suggestions and advice, but the decisions are ultimately left to THE BOYS. Once the future meetings, camping trips are planned, the SPL and Scoutmaster present the PLC’s plans to the Troop Committee for review. The agenda is checked for issues such as necessary fund raising, unique equipment/skills, camp ground reservations, and is given an over-all inspection to confirm that trips are aligned with the purpose of the Scouting Program. If the plans are approved, and the weekly meetings are lead by the boys (as designed) unless the skill instruction needed is currently beyond the skill set of the Scouts, or relates to merit badge requirements, then adults will render assistance.
ADULTS are a RESOURCE for guidance and ensuring that things are done the “BSA way” for safety, youth development, and general direction-setting.
“Boy Leadership” really means the Troop is doing the things the BOYS THEMSELVES want to do, and in doing so, will develop the leadership, communication, problem resolution, and organizational skills that underscore why Scouts excel in all other areas of their lives.
Wouldn’t it “run smoother” with adults in charge?
Yup… it probably would. But why would we want that?
This is BOY SCOUTS… not “parents getting away for the weekend” Scouts… nor is it “WEBELOS 3” where adults are in the leadership role as in the Cub Scout program.
Boy Scouts is where boys LEARN and DEVELOP their leadership skills so they can become capable young men. We DON’T EXPECT them to be the most efficient and organized leaders (and neither should you). This is their learning ground. Here is where we want the “mistakes” to happen, so they can learn from them. This is how we TEACH leadership skills instead of getting adults to “step in” because we could be “more efficient”.
Remember… the program is NOT DESIGNED to run perfectly. They may elect their “best friend” instead of the “most qualified”… and they will experience the consequences of casting a “careless vote”. They may elect the Class Clown instead of the Class President… and NEED to “suffer” through a few months of a weaker or chaotic Program.
Remember, NOTHING happens here by accident. Trust us. Trust the 100 year old program. Have faith. Keep your boy coming ESPECIALLY if he comes home with a few “complaints” on how things are being done. Ask him what he would do differently or what he did to try to correct what appears to be a “screwed up” situation. HERE is where the Program really shows its value.
NOW you know… “bigger things” are happening here than meets the eye.
Parents and adults are, of course, needed. Read about Parent-involvement to see how your skills and expertise might help the Troop and your Scout.