Changing of the guard

railtracks_200A few weeks ago, our troop had the beginnings of the changing of the guard.

First, the Scouts elected a new senior patrol leader. The winner wasn’t the first one to throw his hat in the ring. In fact, it was one of the other Scouts who decided, maybe at the last minute, to give it a whirl.

I didn’t listen to their stump speeches, but he must have given a good one, because he won the election. I don’t know by how much (I don’t concern myself with such details), but it shows that the message is important. He accepted the challenge of backing up his ideas and putting them in motion, and has been doing a terrific job.

The new SPL and I talked a bit afterward. I gave him the advice I often give Scouts when I talk – that they are the reason the program exists, it’s their troop to own and run, and the patrol is fundamental.

Then, the committee held several boards of review, and I was privileged to be a part of two of them. I relish the opportunities to hear about the troop from the youth perspective, and that night we got quite a range. First, we heard from a young man going for Tenderfoot. We asked the usual questions about going on campouts, what he did at summer camp and what he is looking forward to. I always try to sneak a few thoughts about patrol cohesion into our chats, and hope it will settle in. He struck us as an enthusiastic young man who seems to truly enjoy Boy Scouts.

Then we heard from a Life candidate who is the youngest in his family but has been with us for five years (I still remember his first campout). He has matured significantly and has a lot clearer vision of where he’s headed and the value of what he has experienced. He said he hoped to be selected as an assistant senior patrol leader for the new term and I think he’d do a fine job of it.

The board remarked as to how the first Scout we met with had the potential to become the second Scout in a short period of time. It was like seeing the past, present and future of the troop, and we liked what we saw.

Our next transition began the next evening, when the new and outgoing Scoutmasters and committee chairs meet with the chartered organization representative to sign the paperwork and shake hands. It’s not often that both roles change at the same time (the last time was when I became committee chair, because the CC at the time was becoming the Scoutmaster) and in fact the now-outgoing Scoutmaster has held that role for five years.

Both of us decided it’s time to let others give it a whirl. The Scoutmaster still has one son with a few more years to go as a youth, but he’s going to concentrate less on managing and mentoring and spend more time on his true passion, which is high adventure. As for me, my youngest son aged out a year ago, and while I wasn’t particularly burned out, I felt that I’m not as much in touch with the troop as the committee chair ought to be. I had been looking toward transitioning out for a couple years, and the right person came along at the right time. I’m confident that the new team will continue to lead and support the troop upward.

Change can be disruptive, especially when it involves oneself. But nothing worthwhile happens without some change, so it is to be embraced and leveraged rather than feared and avoided.

Note: After last week’s article was published, a few people asked if my retirement as troop committee chair meant that Bobwhite Blather was also changing or going away. Be assured that I have no plans to stop publishing Bobwhite Blather – in fact, I’m planning to add some enhancements in the near future. My focus will remain on the committee side of Scouting, including leadership and administration. I hope you’re finding something useful here, so please stick around and thanks for reading!

Image courtesy of tiverylucky /

This post first appeared on Bobwhite Blather.
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