What's New

Five tips for great troop leader elections

“Troop elections are a microcosm of American democracy,” said Scouter J.C. Shepard on Scouting magazine’s Facebook page.

He’s right, and like the election for a state governor or U.S. Senator, proper planning is needed to make troop elections run smoothly and ensure that all candidates have a fair shot.

Many troops will begin their elections in the next month or two for new leaders that will take over in January, so that makes now the ideal time to start thinking about the process.

We asked our Facebook friends to provide some suggestions as to what works and what doesn’t when filling troop leadership positions. Here are five of our favorite responses:

  1. The first rule of troop elections is: Have troop elections! Appointing the senior patrol leader (and/or the patrol leader) is not how it works! (from Jack B.)
  2. Our last senior patrol leader was elected because he promised all the boys who voted for him a new knife. The Scoutmaster was gone that meeting, so the vote stood. He turned out to be so bad that another older Scout had to make all the announcements and run the troop because he wouldn’t. Surprise, surprise. I wish the boys took it more seriously. (from Anna G.)
  3. Our Troop holds its elections every six months. The boys all stand up and make their speeches, then they vote by secret ballots handed over to the Scoutmaster. We don’t restrict the age or rank of any candidate; it’s another learning experience for them if they elect a boy who isn’t mature enough for the position but we haven’t run into any issues yet. It seems to work for them.(from Carol S.)
  4. We have a “contract” that must be signed by each Scout and a parent/guardian when they are elected to a position. If they don’t live up to the requirements, I can remove them from the position (something I’ve yet to have to do). (from Tim H.)
  5. As with everything else in Scouting, keep things simple and trust your Scouts! In my experience, Scouts choose great leaders from amongst their troop without a whole lot of fuss. We have a tradition of having our SPL candidates give a speech to the entire Troop just before they vote. The Scouts vote, the Scoutmaster counts the votes and announces the winner. Simple.Patrol leader elections are even easier; these are taken care of by the SPL and his assistants. We haven’t had any rancor or infighting about this because Scouts understand the basic fairness of the process. (from Clarke G.)

5 Comments on Five tips for great troop leader elections

  1. Lynn A. Richard // September 29, 2010 at 12:18 pm // Reply

    What are your suggestions fro splitting a 40+ youth member troop into patrols to start the patrol method? Up to this point, SPL has been appointed and patrols have been designated. Results are predictable with the occassional diamond shining through. Would love to split them down and allow the patrol method to work it’s magic.

  2. Hey, thanks! Everything I know I learned in the Scout Handbook (and the Scoutmaster Handbook, and the Fieldbook, and…)
    Re: Lynn’s question, to summarize BP, the Patrol Method is the only method. Last re-org I relied on Ask Andy’s advice to set loose self-organized chaos. So far so good.
    http://netcommish.com/askandy148.asp
    JC Shepard

  3. In our Troop, Scouts must fill out a leadership application, signed by a parent, explaining why they feel they’d do well in position(s) in which they are interested in serving. After the election, an adult leader advisor is assigned to each junior leader. The advisor provides guidance and a level of accountability for the junior leader.

  4. Since our troop has nylt training as part of requirements, you have to be yet trained to run for patrol or senior patrol leader

  5. What are your thoughts on allowing (or not) proxy votes for those youth who cannot attend the meeting on election night.

Join the conversation