The scouts provide leadership and direction for themselves by means of voting and leadership decision within the patrols and from the scout leaders.
We use the Patrol Method to organize the Scouts in Troop 166. A patrol is a group of 3-8 scouts (Sometimes more but discouraged). The patrols camp together, cook and eat together and serve at various jobs together, such as service-patrol, or color-guard.
Patrols elect their Patrol Leaders who are in charge of organizing the patrol and making sure assigned tasks are carried out. Typically there are two patrol leaders per patrol.
All the scouts in the troop also elect a Senior Patrol Leader (SPL), to manage all of the Patrols, and divide tasks among patrols and staff. The Senior Patrol Leader - SPL, then appoints two Assistant Senior Patrol Leaders - ASPL's to help with the Staff jobs.
The Patrol Leaders and the Staff (SPL and ASPL's) all together, form the Patrol Leader Committee (PLC) which meets once a month - usually the Monday after an outing. They also meet on an ad hoc basis as needed, on outings and after Monday meetings.
The PLC approves outing plans, decides on weekly meeting agendas and activities, collects feedback from outings and activities and handles small discipline and motivation issues.
The Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters attend the PLC meetings and provide the communication link to the Adult Committee, reporting to the Committee, and reporting back to the PLC from the Committee.
The parents, sponsoring organization representatives and any other concerned adults make up the Troop Committee. There are formal positions but anyone is welcome at the meeting. Generally we do not encourage scouts unless they are there to make a special report or request. This allows a more frank discussion and minimizes misunderstandings. The Scoutmaster/Assistant Scoutmasters report back to the Scouts and thereby act as the conduit for that communication.
The Troop Committee handles such issues as Treasury, Recruitment, Fund-Raising, Outing Scheduling, Discipline and issues as raised by parents. In most cases, the committee makes recommendations to the PLC, who then approve, reject or request amendments for any plan.
In general, we prefer to have direction between adults and scouts go through the scoutmasters to ensure the scouts don't receive conflicting directives. Of course, always, safety-first; if an adult sees an unsafe situation it is expected they will do something about it.
Scoutmasters are the advisors for the scouts. They have a leadership role, but mostly allow and encourage the Scouts to make their own decisions and provide their own leadership. They are, if you will, a fail-safe to be sure decisions stay within reasonable bounds, and that important matters are not neglected. As mentioned above they are also the conduit for communication between the Scouts and the Adults.
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