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Scouts BSA Leadership Disagreement

A reader sent in this question about a leadership disagreement:

What happens when a Scoutmaster and the elected SPL disagree on the choice of ASPL? The SPL chose one scout who qualified for ASPL, but the Scoutmaster disagreed and instead was planning on putting their son in the position.
The handbook says both these scenarios don’t work as the SPL chooses leadership positions with SM approval.

In Scouts BSA, conflicts and disagreements can arise among leaders and scouts alike. One such situation that may occur is when the Scoutmaster and the elected Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) have a leadership disagreement regarding the selection of an Assistant Senior Patrol Leader (ASPL). Let’s explore this scenario and shed light on the best way to handle such conflicts.

Understanding the Scoutmaster-SPL Relationship: Before delving into the issue at hand, it’s important to recognize the roles of both the Scoutmaster and the SPL within the Scouts BSA framework. The Scoutmaster provides guidance and mentoring to the SPL, who, in turn, is responsible for leading the troop and making decisions in consultation with the adult leaders.

The Handbook’s Guidance: According to the Scouts BSA handbook, the SPL is responsible for choosing members of the troop leadership team, including the ASPL, with the approval of the Scoutmaster. This ensures a collaborative approach to leadership selection, combining the insights and experiences of both youth and adult leaders.

Addressing the Conflict: When a conflict arises between the Scoutmaster and the SPL regarding the choice of ASPL, it is crucial to approach the situation with open communication, respect, and adherence to the principles outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.

Resolving a Scouts BSA Leadership Disagreement

Every unit is different, but here are some ideas about how to work through a leadership disagreement.

  1. Dialogue and Discussion: The SPL should initiate a respectful conversation with the Scoutmaster to understand their concerns and rationale behind their preferred candidate. Likewise, the Scoutmaster should listen attentively to the SPL’s reasoning for their chosen scout.
  2. Reviewing Qualifications: During the discussion, it is essential to objectively assess the qualifications and abilities of both candidates. Factors such as merit, leadership skills, past performance, and dedication to scouting should be taken into account. This evaluation should be done with the best interest of the troop in mind.
  3. Involving Other Leaders: If the leadership disagreement persists, it may be beneficial to involve other troop leaders, such as assistant Scoutmasters or the Troop Committee. Their objective perspective and experience can help mediate the conflict and provide valuable insights to arrive at a fair resolution.
  4. Troop Committee Involvement: In situations where consensus cannot be reached among the Scoutmaster, SPL, and other leaders, it may be appropriate to engage the Troop Committee. The Troop Committee’s primary role is to support the Scoutmaster and oversee the functioning of the troop. Their input can be instrumental in finding a resolution that upholds the values and best interests of the troop as a whole.
  5. Fostering a Culture of Collaboration: Throughout this process, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of teamwork, open communication, and respect for one another’s opinions. Encouraging dialogue and finding a compromise that honors the principles of scouting will help maintain a positive and healthy troop environment.

Leadership disagreements between the Scoutmaster and the SPL can be challenging. However, by promoting open dialogue, evaluating qualifications objectively, involving other leaders, and seeking input from the Troop Committee, a resolution can be reached that upholds the principles of scouting. Ultimately, the focus should always be on creating a supportive and inclusive environment where scouts can thrive and develop their leadership potential.

Scouts BSA Youth Leadership Positions

In a Scouts BSA troop, there are numerous youth leadership positions, each playing a vital role in fostering growth and development among scouts. From the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) to the Quartermaster and beyond, these positions offer valuable opportunities for leadership and responsibility. Occasionally a leadership disagreement to arise when it comes to selecting candidates for these roles.

Scouts BSA Youth Leadership Positions Video


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