I don’t know what it is, but everything involving adult volunteers and my son’s troop has the potential for being turned into a soap opera. (the scouts themselves don’t do this). Ranging from fights over whether scouts actually earned the merit badges that the counselors at summer camp signed off and why we should grill them about it (the National BSA answer is if a counselor signed off it is DONE period – I actually double checked this), and where the most upset principle hadn’t even bothered to check the current requirements (which would have shown there was no issue to begin with) to the webelos leader who feels he needs to paint us all as evil villains to justify checking out other troops. This is not an issue because it is part of the webelos den leaders responsibilities to do this – as the den leader would know if he had bothered to get the webelos leader training. In fact, I suggested that given that he has several “sensitive” boys in his den, one of the other troops in the district in our sister parish might be a better for them while clearly many of his scouts have brothers and friends in our troop and it would be a good fit for them (being on the district committee I’m familiar with a fair number of units).
The webelos den leader is especially annoying because the troop in question has gone from a nearly abusive adult run monstrosity to a boy run happy (and rambunctious) troop, largely due to the efforts of the current scoutmaster, the previous committee chair and with the help of several assistant scoutmasters. Going back to the bad old days of adult control is not on the books, but I’m actually worried about being fired because I want my son’s troop to run in a manner consistent with the methods and aims of scouting and their current best practices as described in the voluminous scoutmaster’s handbook and similar literature (and since I teach the adult leader training, I’m on pretty safe ground about this).
While there are still things to be done – we need to figure out how to get the patrols to really function as patrols and there is a great guide sheet on ask-andy that we will use this summer (I don’t want to reorganize, yet again (ARRGH – this is a bad practice but undoing it can be just as bad), patrols in the middle of the patrol leader’s tenure – but we can let the scouts self-associate at summer camp and suddenly have working patrols) – this troop works. The SPL runs the meeting and the adults “fade into the background” – while keeping a weather eye on the activities.
Boy run, boy lead troops are always a bit disorganized and chaotic. How else to the scouts learn?
Cub packs are adult run (have to be given the age of the scouts), and tend to be much more orderly.
The hardest thing, I think, for webelos parents to understand is that the chaos is the strength of the scout program. Boy scouts is not “webelos III”. I’ve seen first year scouts working in a patrol of their own, in the backcountry after backpacking 3 miles or so, set up camp, cook, clean up, and use leave no trace with very little adult involvement (I think I carried the stove or the fuel for them). Webelos don’t do that. Learning the self-discipline and self-reliance to be able to do these things is the fundamental result of the methods of scouting. They really work.
Quoting Baydon Powell, “the scoutmasters most important job is to help the scouts to run their troop”.