What If the Committee Is Acting as Scoutmaster?

A reader sent in this question:

What if the troop committee board is planning everything and the Scoutmaster is out of the loop?

This is a difficult and frustrating situation for a Scoutmaster.  In most troops, the Scoutmaster and youth leadership work together to plan and execute a program. The committee, under the direction of the committee chair, provides support, sets policies, and recruits adult leaders. If the committee is doing all of the planning, then how are the Scouts getting an opportunity to develop leadership skills?

A Scoutmaster in this position has a couple of options. If the relationship with the committee members is good, then maybe this just requires a discussion.  Sometimes you get adults on the committee who have minimal training and don’t understand how the program is supposed to be run. If the Scoutmaster can talk to the committee members and explain that they are too involved in the planning process, perhaps the root cause of this problem can be discovered.

If the relationship between the Scoutmaster and the committee is not good enough for them to have a productive discussion, then the unit commissioner might be able to help provide direction for the situation. If there is not an active unit commissioner, then ask around your district for some assistance. There should be somebody on the district committee who can help sort the situation out.

If all else fails, the Scoutmaster has the option to resign. The Scoutmaster is not the “employee” of the committee. While the committee is responsible for recruiting adult leaders, they will have a difficult time retaining them if they do not give them the authority to carry out their duties.

Readers, what advice do you have for the Scoutmaster in this situation? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

3 Responses to What If the Committee Is Acting as Scoutmaster?

  1. Becky November 12, 2014 at 6:24 PM #

    Is the Scoutmaster trained? Is he involved? Does he attend committee meetings? Sometimes committees must step in when the Scoutmaster is not actively participating.

  2. m. January 12, 2015 at 11:06 PM #

    unfortunately this happens a lot in the area I live in. I was a cub master of our pack and absolutely loved it, but committee members and I had a hard time working together. They put so many restrictions on what the den leaders and I were able to do with the scouts that it took away a lot of the joy that it is in Scouting. I ended up deciding to be done with a leadership position because it was causing too much strife. If you are going through this try to make it work and remember if it’s not for the boys its for the birds.

  3. Marla Thomas February 20, 2015 at 8:03 AM #

    -“Key 3” is a term which is fairly new in boy scouting. The Key 3 in a unit is: (1) unit leader, (2) committee chairman and (3) charter organization representative (COR). At the Boy Scout level the Key 3 is the scoutmaster, troop committee chairman and organization charter rep. Each of the Key 3 should have access to all of the unit records including member records, advancement records, adult and youth training records, medical & physical forms, etc.
    -This Key 3 set-up is to give strength to the troop so all responsibility for the troop does not rest on only one or two people’s shoulders. These three people are there to support one another.
    -In fact, the troop is to be boy-led through the Senior Patrol Leader’s leadership at the Patrol Leader’s Council PLC meetings with the assistance of the scoutmaster and his assistant scoutmasters. But, the troop committee (with the troop committee chairman’s leadership) selects and invites the scoutmaster to serve in his/her role. The scoutmaster is not to be a “lone ranger” with the scouts.
    -Part of the process of the troop committee selecting the scoutmaster is to get the clearance and approval of the charter organization through approval by the charter organization rep. So, in essence, the scoutmaster does work for the troop committee. He does work for them, was selected by them (sometimes by default) and can be released from his scoutmaster duties by their joint decision as a committee.
    -In kind, the committee “works for the scoutmaster” by providing resources and assistance to the troop to help them accomplish their plans. An example: The troop committee requests a projected yearly calendar from the scoutmaster. This would not be a calendar that the scoutmaster created by himself; but, it would be a general calendar projecting plans for the next 12 months created by the scouts in PLC (Patrol Leader’s Council) after getting ideas from the individual scouts in the patrols. Since scouts do not have knowledge “of the big calendar picture” of their region the troop committee would be a resource to the troop by providing a “skeleton calendar” (with community and charter organization events and blackout dates) to the scoutmaster who would add his special events and blackout dates (such as district camporee, report to state parade, council activities and fundraiser dates, scout camp dates, anniversaries and birthdays, etc). Then the scoutmaster would be able to take a calendar to the scouts that they would work from for their activities. If this support is done each month with a 12 month perspective the scoutmaster will be able to work with and keep the scouts informed. He would report back monthly with a flexible; but stable, 12 month plan. With the troop committee giving the scoutmaster a “skeleton” calendar things can be planned for to prevent conflicts and create continuity. This would show the troop committee supporting and being a resource to the scoutmaster and the troop.
    – The troop committee, also, would support the scoutmaster by processing tour permits, registering for camps, training, conducting advancement Boards of Review, non-patrol recordkeeping, providing supplies, providing transportation, etc.
    -Remember, that the committee is not in competition with the scoutmasyer; and, the scoutmaster needs to model cooperation with others to his scouts by letting them observe him interacting with the troop committee in a positive and supportive atmosphere and vice versa.

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