Adult involvement, part 2

While we’re on the subject, let’s think about the adult role at the patrol leaders’ council meetings.

Simply put, adults have no role, because the PLC is composed of the youth leaders of the troop, and the PLC meeting is their meeting — not the adults’ meeting! Continue in Chapter 3 of the Scoutmaster Handbook, which states that “the Senior Patrol Leader chairs the Patrol Leaders’ Council meetings.”

The only exception is that the Scoutmaster usually attends the PLC meeting in an advisory role.  Not the Assistant Scoutmasters, not the committee members, not the SPL’s mommy – just the Scoutmaster.  The Scoutmaster keeps himself out of the proceedings as much as possible.  Physically, it’s best if he sits off to the side, not at the main table where the boys are sitting.  He can be close enough to listen in without being obtrusive. He can offer advice when asked, or ask the SPL to speak if he feels he needs to add to the conversation or clarify something.  He absolutely should not guide the meeting or the discussion.  It was the Scoutmaster’s job to help the SPL prepare for the meeting beforehand.

There is a very good reason for this.  As much as we train the boys and empower them to lead their troop, they are still youth, and it is innate in youth this age to defer to adults.  They grow up obeying their parents, teachers and sports coaches.  In the youth world, the adults call the shots.  It is completely out of character for youth to actually be self-deterministic in any meaningful way, and therein lies our challenge in Scouting: to develop character by giving youth real leadership roles and real responsibilities.  The upshot of this is that the best way for boys to learn leadership is by leading, and not by watching adults lead.

When adults attend and take part in the PLC meeting, the boys naturally feel that they must yield to the adults.  They feel intimidated, lose sight of the fact that they are actually supposed to be in charge, and end up handing things over to the adults.  This completely negates Scouting’s aim to teach leadership.

Is your troop’s PLC truly youth-led?  Or is it a meeting of the adults where the boys sit in and receive their instructions?


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