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Open for debate: ‘Term limits’ for Scoutmasters, Cubmasters?

Scouters offer a wide range of opinions on the subject of term limits. (Photo by Flickr user Tamás Mészáros)

Scoutmasters in Troop 1776 serve for three years and then step down.

As a Scout growing up in 1776, I assumed that every troop did it that way. Boy was I wrong!

In fact, after hearing from my fellow Scouters on Facebook about the way they run their troops, it appears there’s a pretty even split on the subject.

So let’s open the debate and look at the arguments for and against term limits for Scoutmasters, Cubmasters, and other top-level adult leadership positions.

There’s no right answer, so read your fellow Scouters’ thoughts below and then leave a comment with your opinion on the matter.

In favor of term limits

  • “I wish we did [have term limits] as I have been Cubmaster for six years! They need new life in the pack, but unfortunately my [pack’s] parents don’t see it that way.”(Theresa D.)
  • “I strongly suggest to my units that the major leadership positions roll over every three to five years. After a while, parents will start thinking, ‘The unit doesn’t need help, Mr. X has been there for 20 years.’ Plus, God forbid, if something happens to these long-term leaders, nobody is ready to fill in.” (John O.)
  • “If it were up to me, Scoutmasters would have a four- or five-year lifespan after being assistant Scoutmaster. Gives the incoming Scoutmaster time to understand how a troop works. I do not believe in hogging all the glory for one person. It is the dream of some men to be Scoutmaster.” (Adam)
  • “We have a three-year term for Scoutmaster (and Cubmaster). We select the new Scoutmaster when the current one has one year remaining so that there is an apprenticeship leading to their takeover. This policy helps with avoiding burnout. We have no policy against a person having additional terms, as long as they are not consecutive.” (Kenneth K.)
  • “I see it as everyone needs to do their fair share. If we don’t step aside, no one will step in. If ‘Bill’ has always been there doing the job, why should anyone else step up?” (Jane H.)

Against term limits

  • “We have a long-term Scoutmaster in our small town, but with ‘fresh thinking’ from assistant Scoutmasters, we have a nice balance between experience and new ideas.” (Jen S.)
  • “If he is good at what he does and loves the organization and the education of the kids, I say… let him be!” (Kevin V.)
  • “With it being hard to find trained leaders, why would you set limits on them? Just think of the wealth of knowledge you have to draw from by having them around.” (Darrick B.)
  • “If you have a fantastic Cubmaster or Scoutmaster you want them to step down because of a self created bylaw? That’s craziness!” (Julus P.)
  • “As a tenured Scoutmaster, [I think] term limits are crazy for the leaders. If the leader is bad or not doing the program any good as set forth by the BSA, the chartered organization has the right and duty to dismiss the leader.” (Curtis S.)
  • “Term limits put out to pasture quality leaders who build generations of future leaders.” (Dave H.)

On the fence/other

  • “[I endorse] extremely short terms for those who refuse to be trained and do the job well, and very long terms for those who love the youth and do a good job.” (Gary M.)
  • “It has to be specific to the troop and the leader. Is it 20 years of experience or one year repeated 19 more times? Unfortunately, we see more of the latter.” (Damon E.)
  • “We do not set limits because they usually know on their own when they want to change it up a bit. A good Scoutmaster can last a long time. Now there are some troops locally who have had the same Scoutmaster for two generations now, and I don’t agree with that.” (Justin K.)
Thanks, everyone, for this interesting discussion. What’s your take? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

65 Comments on Open for debate: ‘Term limits’ for Scoutmasters, Cubmasters?

  1. I would be categorized as on the fence but leaning against term limits. I think the people can remain in the same position but some of the roles and responsibilities can be changed or redelegated so that it stays fresh for the SM, ASM, other leadership positions and the scouts in the troop. On position you may want to change or limit is troop treasurer unless you have a strong oversight/review process.

  2. Glenn Draper // May 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm // Reply

    When I was a Unit Leader, I always specified that I would have a “one-year renewable contract”. That way, it would be easier to change leaders, either by my decision, or the committee’s.

    • That, to me, is the best solution.

      For some people, 1 or 2 or 3 years is enough. Keeping them on when they’ve been in the job too long doesn’t help.

      And there are some people who can do a great job for much longer, so why lose them?

  3. One of the primary goals of Scouting is to turn wide-eyed eleven year olds into the fine, upstanding leaders of tomorrow. Our Troop’s last three Scoutmasters (myself included) didn’t see themselves as the future Scoutmaster. But just like it does for our Scouts, this program provides the training and the environment for us to grow as leaders.

    I have learned so much from the other leaders in Troop 181. And the personal growth I have experienced during my three-year term as Scoutmaster, has been greater than during any other time in my life. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience what I have. It’s priceless!

  4. Dan Greenland // May 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm // Reply

    We don’t have a tenure for Scout leaders in our Council. We feel the longer they serve, the better consistentancy the program has. We have one Scoutmaster that has been there for 50 years. He has taken the Scouts on a 50 mile hike every summer during that time. He is fantastic. He finally stepped down this year according to his doctors orders. I feel that a good leader needs to have tenure (ten year) at least. I served for just over 6 years as Scoutmaster and felt that I was just getting to program down to be able to do a great job. It just all depends on your outlook of the position and how much you enjoy being with the boys.

  5. If someone can show me where the “term-limits” section is in the BSA literature, I’d be more than happy to oblige and follow what the BSA says.

    A term limit doesn’t apply to ANYONE in the BSA. There are only minimums, and that’s for the scouts and a position of responsibility.

    Term limits are by-laws…not BSA-laws. If someone doesn’t like what I am doing, then they can go through the proper channels and have me removed or they can ask me to resign.

    Not trying to be bullheaded, but in a well run troop, the Scoutmaster is merely a tool for the scouts to succeed, and needn’t be subject to time limits.

    • Shawn,

      You’re right, there’s no term limits section in BSA literature. But some troops have chosen to adopt informal or formal term limits. Others don’t see the need.

      To me, it’s an interesting debate!

      • Don’t take it as being bull-headed…it’s a debate that one unit is for, another is against. It’s like all programs are different. If a troop is more Webelos III, IV, V, and that works for them, so be it. Is that the way the BSA intended? Nope, but it’s done anyways.

        My biggest hang-up is when units impose their own non-BSA rules, and then expect everyone else to “fix” their issues when it doesn’t work…I have seen it time and time again, and when the district or council can’t “fix” it, then the unit blames everyone else except themselves…

        • Agreed.

          I have been Scoutmaster for over 4 years of my troop, and while I LOVE IT, I am getting burnt out. Not by the boys, but by the adults.
          I have three ASM’s. I would love to setup a 1 or 2 year rotation but my assistants stay my assistants because they DON’T have to take the brunt of bullheaded parents or committee members that want to do it their way and not the BSA Way.

          My wife and I have talked numerous times about me stepping down, but each time it is the look in the boys eyes that keep me there. Someday that might not be enough, and when that day comes it will be the saddest of my life.

          So, I guess I am for term limits, or at least a rotation of adult leadership to keep guys fresh. Some don’t need it, others do.

          I think I do.

          Yours in Scouting….

    • Anonymous Volunteer_Michigan // August 30, 2012 at 6:54 am // Reply

      Scoutmaster Shawn:
      Good Morning…and I mean you no disrespect by these notes as this is my past experience and not a reflection on Your method of Scouting.
      One of the things which bothers me is that too many people who do not wish to question what someone is doing. One of the Troops I am with has a very controlling SM, to the point where he tells the SPL what the Troop will be doing and how they will do it.
      He simply tells the SPL what to say to make it sound as if it’s coming from the SPL.
      The down-side to this practice are many.
      The main one being that the SPL gets no real benefit of Leadership, since he is merely the first follower.
      The first time the Scouts are really getting training for Leadership is at their Eagle Scout project.
      I’ve talked with the COR and it’s his position that “something” must be working as the SM is producing Eagles…NOT the Troop, but the SM.
      When I had my SM Outdoor Training, there were 4 other adults from my Troop at the course as well. I heard them talking amongst themselves that “Our Scouts don’t do that.” And it became a regular mantra from them.
      However, Oce we came back to the Troop, they once again fell in-line with the existing program. When I talked to them later they noted that none of them wanted to be the SM, so they would just wait for someone to step up.
      So, in this case, I would agree with term limits.
      As a general rule, IF the Troop is functioning properly…..I couldn’t care how long the SM is in place; Then again, IF the Troop is functioning properly, the SM has the easiest job in the Troop.

      • Scoutmaster Alex // November 16, 2014 at 9:23 pm // Reply

        This scoutmaster is not following the BSA Boy Lead Troop model and should be replaced. There is no need for term limits if you provide the correct program, but the one described is not a BSA program. It’s really that simple

  6. The debate points out one of the ingenious qualities of the Scouting movement – it is adaptable to local conditions. I see merit in both sides of the argument and that’s where discussions like these usually end up – if it serves the interest of your Scouts and is consistent with the rules and regs go for it!

    One of the tougher things for any leader (especially one who loves the work) is seeing the end of their involvement in the position. A big part of our responsibility is keeping the program alive when we’re ready to move on.

    I’m aiming at 40 years (27 down, 13 to go).

  7. I’m not sure why term limits would be needed. If a Scoutmaster or Cubmaster isn’t doing his/her job the Committee always has the option of removing them. Term limits punish the units that have a high performing leader. Why force that person to step down if they are willing to do the job and are doing it well?

  8. Lou Leopold // May 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm // Reply

    The registered leadership of an individual begins and ends the registered leader’s application and the unit’s charter. There are no other methods of leadership registration.

    First, four signatures are required to register a leader in their position by virtue of their application: the individual, the unit committee chair, the Chartered Organization Head or Representative, and the Scout Executive. If any of these individuals withhold their signature, the registration application is invalid and the person cannot serve in that position.

    Secondly, the unit charter is renewed on an annual basis. All youth registration renewals are signed by the unit leader (as was done on their initial application), and the adult registration renewals are signed by the Chartered Organization Head or Representative.

    The charter is then signed by a council representative, typically the unit commissioner.

    Line item “vetos” and “write-ins” are part of the recharter process to remove or add members (youth or adult). Anyone whose done unit charter renewal is familiar with the process.

    So as Glenn pointed out, though informally, all positions are actually good for only one charter year. There is an option for renewal; but other than that, there is no such thing as “term limits.”

    Incidentally, a leader can be removed from their position at any time by the any of the same four people who approve their application.

  9. Clark Lind // May 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm // Reply

    I think an idea might be to maybe hold elections every few years. If the old SM gets re-elected, so be it. If folks want a change, they’ll elect someone new. Just a thought… it would probably become too political… but here’s the twist: the boys do the voting :)

    • or if you have the boys do the voting, then maybe the committee members/parents would be required to second the vote?

  10. keith westergaard // May 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm // Reply

    As an Assistant District Commissioner, I do not have any nor do I know of any units that set term limits to any leadership roles save those reserved for the youth in boy scouts.
    Most units will retain the leaders as long they want the job and the quality of the scouting program is not sacrificed.
    It appears that the longer the leaders stay on in the Cub Scout program; management of the program is consistant and makes for a smooth transition in leadership when the existing leader decided to leave. These leaders tend to find someone to mentor before exiting the program which makes for a smooth transition.

  11. I have to say I agree with Clarke Green (above). Both sides have merit. But in our area there aren’t enough leaders available to cover for us to have the option. Additionally it’s really nice to have the leadership come from someone who has years of experience to guide all of us learning and guiding our youth to become the best leaders they can be. If you have high turnover, you bring in new leaders, giving variety of leadership, but not necessarily experienced leaders. This might not benefit unless there are plenty experienced people around to help them. I’d prefer longer term leaders or even better to have 3-4 long term, experienced leaders trade off frequently… I think that would be my choice.

  12. Liz Dechert // May 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm // Reply

    We just recently held an Eagle Scout reunion where we celebrated having over 100 Eagle Scouts during our 88 years of Scouting in our small town. Nearly all of the Eagles in attendance (and also those that mailed in an RSVP) commented that Scoutmaster H had made a difference in their lives and helped to mold them into the persons they are today. Scoutmaster H served for 48 years and led 56 boys to the rank of Eagle Scout. How different (sadly) this story would be if he had been forced to quit after only a few years.

    Yes, time limits would filter out some “not so good” leaders but I can’t imagine how much damage might be done during a 3 or 4 year term while a “not so good” leader was just trying to finish his term. I say let the Troop Committee do its job along with the Chartering Organization to secure good leadership for your Troop.

    Training is the key – at all levels – even the Troop Committee. Make training a requirement. When we had a bad leader, we sent him for training. He realized that his ideals and the ideals of Scouting didn’t match up so he resigned. Training can work both ways but it is always to the advantage of the Boy Scouts.

    So you see, I think trained leadership can eliminate the need for limited terms.

  13. I think it’s up to each unit, the BSA gives a lead-way so that each unit fits the best for the boys it serves. but, you don’t want burn-out. I have served 6 years as a cubmaster and 3 years as an asst. scoutmaster and i do get a little burn-out and then i find a new excitement with each new season. Term Limits is not an easy question to answer.

  14. Mark Huber // May 18, 2011 at 7:20 am // Reply

    It’s hard enough to find good leaders willing to serve in top positions, so if you have someone willing to continue serving (and the committee is satisfied with their performance), then by all means, let them continue! The Scoutmaster in our Troop has been doing it for over 30 years! But you do need to give folks an “easy out” should they not wish to continue. Many otherwise capable leaders may be reluctant to serve in top positions for fear that they will get “stuck there.” I’m in favor of setting a three-year term, where you are mentored the first year by the outgoing leader, then it’s full steam ahead the second year, and in the third year you are actively recruiting for a replacement. (Then you mentor the incoming leader the following year.) But allow a capable leader to extend the term should they wish – never force a good leader to step down just because “that’s the term.”

  15. Ron Blaisdell // May 18, 2011 at 7:55 am // Reply

    As a Commissioner, I have seen a few unit leaders that have ‘reached the end of their effectiveness.’ But, I have also seem dynamic Scoutmasters that have served a lifetime, and always had a dynamic and sustained program of excellence (yes, you, Ken Bourgon, SM of Troop 782 in Livonia MI for the last 41 years).

    I think this is where the Committee Chair and Chartered Organization Representative need to work hand-in-hand to make sure that when a unit leader is no longer effective that a replacement is found, but, if they are effective, they stay out of the way!

  16. The answer, as the replies seem to lead to, is “it depends.”

    Glenn Draper has the concept of a one-year term correct, and Lou Leopold goes in to more detail as to the process. BSA has us renew our charters and membership annually for just this reason. Everyone serves for one year. At the end of one year, if someone isn’t working out, they can be thanked for their service and excused from the position. If things are going well, there is no reason to change. It forces us to “start-stop-continue” our registered leadership without forcing us to make any changes we don’t want, or need, to make.

    If a troop or pack is fortunate enough to have a Scoutmaster or Cubmaster with years of experience and a clear sense of BSA’s purpose and the program is implemented and working, and they see no reason to change, then unit-level term limits work against you. The same can happen at the district level, where a policy of rotating people every few years can be detrimental to some of the core functions of the committee.

    In reality, in most units I’m familiar with, adult leaders serve for the duration of their sons’ involvement in the unit. Cubmasters cycle out when their sons cross over; Scoutmasters don’t hang around much after theirs age out. This tends to self-clean the leadership without the need for arbitrary time limits.

    In general, the fewer policies there are, the better. Let the program work as designed.

  17. In my opinion, it is up to the unit and the unit only. Each and every unit is different and the needs of one may be completely different from the next unit. When we focus on the political aspect of Scouting of leaders and not what the Boys need we have completely lost focus of what is important in scouting. The real question is how would setting term limits benefit the boys?

    If National setup term limits for the leaders quite simply there would be no Scouts in the area I am in (benefit for the boys would be negative). If a large unit was being stifled by there being a long time SM or CM, then the committee needs to step in (which is MUCH easier said than done).

    A one size fits all (in term limits) in my opinion does not help the boys. It seems to me the only ones it would help are adult leaders that want positions that are already filled or committees that do not want to have a longtime leader “step down”.

    I would feel just as good with being a parent with a good leader(s) as I would being a CM or SM. As long as the boys are getting what they deserve, a good scouting experience.

  18. Bob Meador // May 22, 2011 at 4:35 am // Reply

    While I see valuable points on both sides of the “fence,” my primary question is “why are we/not wanting to replace/not replace _____???” If the SM/CM is doing a good job and is open to the wants and needs of the unit, what is the problem? However, if the unit leader is not doing the job then you should replace them!!! The bottom line is what effect will it have on the youth and volunteers in the unit? I have been involved with firing a SM and it is NOT a fun process. The charter org. wanted him gone or they were going to terminate the charter. In this instance the troop grew about 20% in the following 6 months after he left.
    We also had a situation where the SM was stealing funds from the troop and coming to meetings and outings hung over. While BSA and the councils responsibilities were clear, the members of the unit disagreed saying “its not like it sounds.” The council did what they had to do and the unit didn’t have enough people to recharter.
    I have served on the district committee (at large) as well as most district committee positions in the past 25+ years and if nothing else I have learned one thing. There is no blanket answer or solution. If there is going to be or needs to be a change do your very best to make it a positive situation. If you can’t, keep the parents informed as much as you can and make the actions as swift as possible so the unit can return to business as usual.

  19. I set a personal term limit on myself. I feel that it takes a year to get used to your new position, a year to get it the way you want it and a year to enjoy it and mentor the new person taking you place. I also use the three year rule so the unit leaders can qualify for the key or training award appropriate to the position they are taking over.
    (BTW, some people say they are not interested in recognition, knots, and awards but I have learned in my 30+ years that they will lie about other things to.) EVERYONE wants to be recognized but the challenge is ti find out how. Use the time they are in office and do your best to honor them. The adult knot I am most proud of is my Scoutmaster Award of Merit because the youth AND the adults had something. The Unit Leader Award of Merit only takes 18 months of service to qualify. Sorry I will get off my soap box but give the adult time enough to meet his goals. If it is the Scouters Key, let he/she do it. When they meet that goal, they may very well move on to the next one.
    “Just my opinion but given in the spirit of Scouting.”

  20. Fiona Gage // July 18, 2012 at 11:53 am // Reply

    Well over here in the UK we dont have limits, I have been a leader for 16 years now (I am only 37) and I have got a lot more to give, the young people enjoy what I do and have even said they dont want to stop the meetings for a small summer break so I must be doing something right.
    Some of my old scouts still stay in touch too.
    Fiona – UK Scout leader

  21. robert janik // July 18, 2012 at 12:10 pm // Reply

    For some it might work but not all. Experienced leaders are hard to come by. In a small troop there may be no one willing to step up to the plate. If you have a bad leader the committee can remove him.

  22. Glenn Draper // July 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm // Reply

    When I was Scoutmaster, I told the Committee that I would serve one year at a time, with a renewal every year. This way, either I or the Committee could end my service. Illness ended my time as Scoutmaster, but I liked this arrangement.

  23. My humble opinion: Scoutmasters should not have set term limits, but should be reviewed by the Troop Committee and/or Chartered Organization annually. The review should be open to all adult members of the troop and possibly the PLC members too. Having an open conversation would allow the troop to give feedback to the Scoutmaster and the Scoutmaster to give his reflections and goals to the troop. It would allow others a “safe” way to throw their hat in the ring if they were interested in the position also. In our troop, I was feeling “stuck” in the Scoutmaster position when a quirky circumstance allowed a committee member to tell me that he would be interested in becoming Scoutmaster, but didn’t want to make me feel unappreciated or step on my toes! I was relieved!!! We’re now in the transitioning process which we hope to have complete by the time the troop recharters – with him as Scoutmaster, and me as an Assistant SM.

  24. I have served as both a Scoutmaster and for 19 years as a Sea Scout Skipper. Pre-defined term limits for all unit leaders makes little sense. Some leaders shouldn’t be in their jobs more than a year or two. Others can continue to be effective after decades. The defining issue for me has been what motivates you to do the job. If you are doing it because you’re having fun with it and are able to focus on helping the youth be their best as your top priority, then you should continue to be a unit leader. (It obviously helps if you’re good at it.) But it’s time to go when you are serving out of a sense of obligation, history, or tradition. (Remember, it’s not about you … it’s about the youth.) For situations like that we need to do a better job of (a) helping units identify, recruit, and develop new unit leaders, and (b) gently ease out-going unit leaders into new avenues of service. This isn’t a new challenge, but it needs ever evolving ideas for addressing it better.

  25. Well my two cents is: The troops and packs that have the luxury of parents and community members stepping up to take on the roles of leadership within the troop or den could do a term limit. However, those troops and packs that are getting by with the leadership they have had for years are doing a tremendous job! The new parents don’t seem to want to take on anything but always have great ideas. They tell the leadership all the time about their ideas, but when asked to step up and help get the ideas going they back off. So how do you recruit new/fresh blood to fill the positions that are empty because of the term limits?

  26. I believe you should do what is best for the boys. If new leadership is required, then make the change. The issue here with all the back and forth is that all of us live in very different parts of the country. I live in a VERY transient place. People come and go all the time, so it is hard to establish a lasting program. If you run for ten years, that is considered a really successful troop or pack. I think here, you should rotate out every four or five years. With places like these the attention span is alot shorter, people are less patient so you will have failures making burnout a real threat to the program. In small towns, places like New Hempshire or in Kentucky, you could have a scoutmaster for forty years and it will always have been successful. People know each other better there, things tend to stay the same, popularity is consistent, so you will end up having a good program. Things tend to run the way the environment is. If term limits are good for you, then use them, if not, then don’t.

  27. If the Troop begins losing members and attendance begins to fall off, it is up to the Committee Chair and the committee to find out what is happening and if need be, replace the “front line leadership” not just the Scoutmaster. It could be personality conflicts among the leaders. There are plenty of Troops that have had the same leadership for many years, still, some rotate regularly through the chairs to keep everything fresh and prevent that staleness that scouts get bored of, and leave.

  28. It should be left up to the individual units. It depends if the unit has a deep pool of adult leader talent to pull from or if it’s a small troop/pack/crew, etc. then there may be a need for extended periods of tenure. I’m a Cubmaster right now finishing up my tenure with the pack. We don’t have any rules as far as time spent in a role. Our son is a 2nd year Webelos and we will cross over to the troop. I’ve been the CM since the fall of 2009 and quite honestly I’m ready for a change. I’ve put a lot of effort and free time into the job. That’s the way I intended to do things when I took over – “all in or nothing”. I’m ready for a change so I can see the value of having term limits but again up to the individual unit. The troop that our boys typically feed into has term limits for the Scoutmaster. I’m not sure if they are official or unwritten but I know they do use them. The troop has lots of active adults, those who keep up on training, several Woodbadgers, etc. so I would assume they have a good talent pool to pull from. If they only had a handful of adults willing/ready/able to serve then they might not change Scoutmasters as often. Just my opinion.

  29. We’ve had the same Cub Master since 1988. Today’s scouting is not the same as it was then, but the Pack is being ran that way. There’s no room for innovation. I support term limits. Either way there should be some form of succession planning in place too.

  30. I am somewhat on the fence on this subject. Term limits are something that are not praticed anywhere in our area that I know of. On the one hand I would be against term limits because there are many very dynamic natural leaders that have lead very successful troops for many many years. I have seen to many troops collapse under new leadership that maybe didn’t know the extent of commitment that is required to be a leader. On the other hand I have seen leaders try to hang on even after they have burnt out and that in its self can destroy a troop. I would have to say if the leadership that is in place is doing a good job let them stay! good leaders are hard to find. If you feel the troop is struggling due to bad leadership by all means it is time to get your charter organization involved in a new leader search. Remember troop leadership is the choice of the charter organization first and don’t let petty politics be involved in deciding leadership.

  31. Looking for some advice!

    Our current Committee Chair has been with the pack for several years. During this last year many parents have had difficulties with him. We have a hard time maintaining scouts for this reason. I have volunteered for the position and many parents have agreed to step up if I become chair. Unfortunately, when I have approached him about this he chooses to change the conversation. We are worried that we will have low turn outs for the upcoming year. What do we do or what can we do to remove a leader from their position.

    Any advice, or recommendations are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Talk to your Charter Org Rep. The Charter Org hold ownership of the unit and can therefore choose/appoint/approve/remove leaders. If that doesn’t work, then you may just have to bring it up in a committee meeting and call for a vote. I know that doesn’t exactly win friends, but sometimes it takes someone willing to take the hit to make things happen.

  32. If your Committee is running your Program, then I believe you have a problem. The CubMaster should be the one organizing the Den activities and cub scout programs. The committee is there only to support the Cub Master. If the cubmaster needs funds, then the committee figures out how to raise thse funds. If the cubmaster needs help finding Den leaders, then the committee helps find those leaders. Your charter organization should be brought into this debate and only they should decide on the CC’s future. But the Charter Org should make sure the Cub Master is running the program the way the Charter Org wishes it to be run.

    Sincerely,
    Past Cubscout Cub Master, Committee Chair, Troop Committee Chair and current Troop Scout Master.

  33. I am against “term limits”! First, the whole premise of scouting is teaching boys to become successful, productive members of society and the community. It IS NOT about leaders moving up the ladder. If you have a successful troop, why on earth would you change leadership just for the sake of change? On the other hand, if your troop is in need of “repair” then change out the Scoutmaster and move on. I had the same core of adult leaders the entire time I was a scout (11 to 18). They set the right example and I still recall things they taught me then today..and I’m 48!

  34. The tenure of any leader is approved on the original application and yearly recharter. It appears to have a common thread throughout the posts that many COR’s and Chartered Organizations don’t have a firm grasp on the health of their units and how their units are truly functioning.

  35. I am a Cubmaster of almost 15 years. And yes, I like everyone else in leadership, go into overload on occasion. But when those kids come into the room, walla, back to it. The previous cubmaster left overnight, with money and scouts when her son went to a troop.. The COR and I stepped up, restarted and it has grown every year since. Yes, I’ve been around for awhile and that means I have well established relationships in and out of scouting. Time is spent on the experience not on trying to figure out the system to get there. Cub people traditionally move with their sons, thus leadership is constantly subject to change. Troops enjoy longer tenure and involvement. Webelos to Scouts in the pack is usually 100%, we camp, attend BSA camps and take field trips, sing songs and have holiday parties.
    With the economy, many of our families need assistance and we make sure every boy has the opportunity to be a scout and every scout makes it to summer camp.
    I plan to step down, but will continue to assist the unit in making sure our commitment stays true to what we believe in.
    Nix the idea of term requirements unless you really do want to shoot yourself in the foot.
    As said, it’s a renewal every year decided by the folks involved.

    And, I stay trained, am a Silver Beaver, district board member, and past district chairman.
    We push for cub training and scoutmaster training as they go through the cub years so they will be able to lead now and when they move on to the troop.

    • Kudos Kathy. As a 30-year volunteer and a 15 year Cub Committee Chair, I tell everyone that a skilled, long-serving Cub leader is THE most valuable person in Scouting. Cub leaders recruit nearly all of the kids into the Scouting program and develop the parents into adult leaders only to see them all cross over to Boy Scouts. The remaining Cub leadership starts the process all over each fall. Rarely do you see volunteers who continue on (or move back into) the Cub program after their boy moves up. Thank you for all you do.

      As for long-serving Scout leaders, our council has several Scoutmasters with long tenure. One of them has been serving for over 60 years! Yikes.

      If the chartered organization wishes to keep a SM in place for a long time, I have no real concern as long as they operate as a boy-led troop, there are good assistant SM’s and have a strong troop committee.

  36. I am fortunate to be in my 3rd year as a Den Leader in an amazing Pack. We are yet again a Gold Level in our Journey To Excellence. The Cub master is the main reason for that. A strong Cub master in a time where the BSA has had many challenges is a blessing. Our Den leaders are the ones that move up with their boys and a new group of leaders at each den level is where the “term limit” occurs. The Cub Master is the continuity and new den leaders are where the fresh ideas come from!

    I am not for a cookie-cutter approach. Population plays a major role among many issues. But scouting is for the kids and that should always be the first consideration and if you have a solid Pack and Troop why rock the boat….Especially with the changes coming up. The last thing we need is new leaders trying to decipher a new curriculum.

  37. One of the best reasons for limiting the length of time for a unit leader is that it makes it easier to recruit the next one. If they don’t feel that it’s going to be a life sentence, but that there is an end date they can see, it makes it easier for them to say yes. Then, they can plan their time to get as much done as possible in their time. Sometimes, having a leader, even a good one, stay for many years allows to much power to accrue to them, or let old habits stick around too long. The program changes, and not every leader wants to change with it. Bringing in new leadership allows the program to evolve and change.

  38. Its up to individual troops I say. I’ve been Scoutmaster for four years now and an asm for for four before that. If an injury didn’t affect my camping time with the kids I would stay another few years.luckily our troop has active volunteers and an asm is currently working with me to take over this year. I’ll definitely miss it.

  39. As a Scoutmaster with the same troop for nearly 40 years, I guess I’m pretty much pushing the envelope on longevity. I can honestly say that a democratic leadership style where the solicitation of others opinions is very important has led us down a good path.

    While I think often of the need for succession planning, my many assistant’s idea for such planning is to encourage my good health and long life.

    Our troop numbers 70 Scouts and the reason is not me – it’s the great Scouts which populate our group, the wonderful and diverse group of Assistant SM’s and parents who insist upon a top notch program and help us attain that. Our program and approach is traditional, our expectations pretty high, our adherence to Scouting ideals and methods is like a religion to us.

  40. I don’t think its about setting term limits but rather having a leadership transition plan in place by the committee and COR. Whether any of the leadership of the committee or direct leaders gets burnt out, fails to live to the expectations of the unit or unexpectedly leaves, the committee needs to be ready to put a person in place at that spot. That means having active people throughout the unit and not depend on someone doing all the work or being the one who does it all. Also by having the whole village active in a unit, fresh ideas will be interjected. The unit I was a Scout in had it, my son’s unit had it and the unit’s I am a Commissioner for are encouraged by me to have it.

  41. Private Pike // November 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm // Reply

    The troop to which I belong does not have term limits but operates on the expectation that SM & CC rotate every two years. The previous SM’s are encouraged to remain active providing a core of experience and support

    At first this seemed odd as the tradition I came from was one of long term CM’s & SM’s

    However there can be a down side to long term SM’s in that ideas and program stagnates and new rules and requirements tend to creep in and take hold.

    I do follow the argument that the CC and COR should be able to solve the problem. Unfortunately from what I have observed CC’s and COR’s tend to take their guidance from the person with the perceived most experience and this is the long term SM. Thus this safety valve is probably pretty illusionary in the cases where it really matters

    To some extent this is where the District Team probably has a role to monitor and provide guidance

  42. Certainly, different organization should address this issue as best meets their needs, however, it seems important to not forget that stepping down from Scoutmaster or Cubmaster should not mean “putting them out to pasture” as someone said. I certainly would never suggest that when I leader steps out of a role, we want them to step away completely (unless there are other issues going on). Academic departments at University typically rotate departmental chair duties, which provides opportunities to exercise both good leadership and followership, each of which are important examples to teach our boys.

  43. Pat Johnston // November 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm // Reply

    When it becomes “Mr. Smith’s” troop, he has been there too long. The community as a whole needs to identify with the troop, not the Scoutmaster. And often, when it gets to this point, he is no longer following BSA policy because he thinks his way is easier and better.

  44. Kelly Schafer // November 14, 2014 at 5:23 pm // Reply

    Our Scoutmaster was with our troop for more than 40 years. He recently passed away and will be sorely missed. We have a number of assistant scoutmasters who give some variety to our leadership, plus we have a good parent leadership group that helps steer the troop. Our troop has always been “led by adults, run by scouts” so our Scoutmaster was never in an overbearing position. It has been really great having a history with the one Scoutmaster. Scouts who had Eagled or aged out years ago could still come back and fit in to the troop on any visit. This situation isn’t going to necessarily work in all troops, but it did for ours.

  45. 3 is too short (unless you’ve got a crummy SM) for SM–Every SM has his own style, and a 3-yr limit ensures that no Scout will ever get a unified experience, or an experienced leader. The boys would be subjected to leadership transition (in and out) for over a third of their Scouting experience; for what?
    We have no limit. Most of our SMs have gone 3-6 years before bowing out. Our shortest serving SM was 1 year, our longest-serving SM went 11- or 12 years before he had to be given strong hints it was time to move along.
    As the saying goes, it takes 7 years to build a program and 7 minutes to destroy one (and don’t I know). Artificially limiting terms messes with the natural flow, without assuring you’re forcing a good SM out for a better one or even an equal one.

  46. The scoutmaster and cub master are picked by the committee. If the scouter is fulfilling the responsibilities and adhearing to the “boy- run” troop then leave it be. If though they are not the committee has a responsibility to the scouts to replace said scouter.

  47. Following the military model that Scouting is based on, commanders normally rotate on a four or five year cycle. But that cycle also means having a succession plan with an assistant Scoutmaster being trained and in place to move up to provide continuity.

    More important is an annual setting of written personal development goals for each person. The scoutmaster should do his with the approval of committee chair, and the ASMs with the SM. These should include about three personal training or program improvement goals for each person to keep the unit program improving each year.

  48. As a scout master of 5 years simply because no one else had the time I gave myself 3 years to find a successor …. It took five. I was able to leave knowing I had done my part and the troop was in very capable hands. I was involved at the district level as well and eventually became district training chair. A good scoutmaster will always be one step ahead of his peers and his troop. His job should always be preparing another adult to take his place as he makes sure his ASM’s and committee members are properly trained. If your leaders are trained as I was trained there will be no problem finding the next scoutmaster.

  49. Do we put teachers out of school after 3 to 5 years? If your doing a great job keep on doing it till the “right” or someone dying to do the job you that fire in the belly type. As long as they are a flexible open thinker they are gonna be great. To me it was a calling to pass on the experiences that I had as a scout.

  50. I wish more parents would step-up and volunteer…….We have a Pack of about 40 boys (down from last year as we just completed our recharter) and about 5 parents doing ALL of the work in keeping the Pack running and putting on a quality program. 3 of our Committee Members are also Den Leaders or Assistant Den Leaders. Den Leaders run their dens but rarely attend the monthly Committee Meeting because we couldn’t get them to attend a Leaders Meeting either. Me personally, I am exhausted as I have the most knowledge and experience with the Pack and with Scouting in general as I made sure I learned what I didnt know. I’ve been a Den Leader since my son joined as a Tiger in 2010 and am now the Webelos 2 Leader, I’m also the Pack Trainer, Popcorn Kernel for several year and took over in February as Committee Chair for my Pack. I plan and organize pretty much all of Pack Events and do get help from the few on the Committee and also serve as the District Training Chair. Frustrated and Burnt out, I have done it so my son gets a quality program, but my boy is almost onto Boy Scouts and not sure I will continue trying to keep everything afloat.

  51. We just voted in term limits in our town to more or less get rid of of a Mayor that had served too long and had lost his effectiveness. People that opposed the ballot initiative said we should vote them out them out if we wanted someone different. While that argument makes sense, the reality is there is power of incumbency and people just don’t want to rock the boat. The same thing can happen in a Pack or Troop, especially if you have key members of the Committee that have served a long time with the Cub or Scoutmaster and might not be the most objective when it is time for a change. So not sure there is a right or wrong, but I think if nothing else having a time limit keeps things fresh in the Pack or Troop.

  52. As a Cub I had 2 Cub Masters in Pack 15 – they each followed their son to Troop 15.

    I joined Troop 72 a couple blocks away. SM – Mr. Baum (rip). Mr. B started with his oldest son, followed through his youngest son, and kept having fun by the time I joined. He was there to see me reach Eagle and stayed for another few years – age and health became a factor.

    I was completely amazed when I attended his 72nd B-day hosted by the Troop many years after stepping down as SM. The number of alumni/brothers in attendance!!! Most older than me. God only knows how many men he helped develop. BSA knows the number he guided to Eagle and Vigil Honor.

    Fast forward.

    Became a Den Leader last year after “sitting out” my son’s first year.

    This year the Cub Master asked me to step up another notch and be the Committee Chair. The previous one had the position for 5 years and aged out with her son. Our Cub Master is a great guy but has a job that takes him out of town on short notice. This has created havoc with Committee meetings and a few Pack events. I thanked him for the offered position but asked if he would consider being the Committee Chair while I became Cub Master in an effort to stabilize the schedule. Took him about 4 seconds to say that was the best thing for the Pack. 4 months later – we are still working hand in hand and the Pack is growing. This will be his last year in the Pack but he is my mentor.

    My son has 2 years as a Webelos after this year. My goal is to groom my replacement. I hope to spend my last year in Cubs as a Committee Chair and Mentor to CM during my son’s last year in Cubs.

    A good transition is key to growing a program.

  53. John A. Kingston Sr // November 15, 2014 at 6:24 am // Reply

    “As a Scout growing up in 1776″ Wow, I think we’re all missing the bigger story here.

  54. Herman Schultz // November 15, 2014 at 1:51 pm // Reply

    I am not for term limits. Every well run organization should have a succession plan in the event that the Scoutmaster or other leader can’t continue for a variety of reasons. This is very much like our motto Be Prepared! However, there are times that a Scoutmaster needs to be removed. When I was a youth a beloved SM was removed after many years because his new job did not allow him to be active. Our son was in a troop where the SM suddenly died. The only person who wanted the job turned out to be abusive to the boys and created a climate of fear among the parents. The committee failed to act as there was no replacement on the horizon. There were no commissioners in the district. The rest of the SMs in the district circled the wagons just because he was one of them. The SM had lawyers protecting him.
    He finally stepped down when his boy went to college and the troop is on the verge of collapse after 95 years. No I am not for term limits in the scouts or politics just to allow the people to be lazy or not face reality.

  55. I was Cub Master for 8 years. After that I stepped down and now I am Webelos Leader. There are times I wish I would get out but I enjoy being with the pack and working with the boys. Term limits would be nice if more parents would step up and be willing to work with the boys as Cub Master.

  56. I have been w/ my pack/troop for 30 years (starting as a bear). This is now my 3rd year as the CM. I love my scout family and will prob be active w/ them till I die. That being said, for the health of the pack / troop, I don’t see myself in this role indefinitely. We simply need more people w/ exposure to this level of management. Much of the debate seems to be about taking a good leader out of a position that he’s doing well in. I think what’s over looked here is that the previous CM / SM isn’t stepping away from the troop, just simply the position… Folks like myself will eventually be active in other parts of the troop (den leader, chairperson etc…) AND serve in an advisory capacity to the next CM / SM. Also, years down the line, I may be called to serve again as CM… but at least we have other also capable to lead.

    Our Pack / Troop is one cohesive unit, we have established a life cycle that starts as a cub but doesn’t end at venture. Our troop actively keep in-touch w/ our alumni’s w/ events such as yearly parties, camping trips and mixers. We also keep in contact w/ social media such as Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram. Much of our leaders were once kids from our pack/troop and their tenure as leaders are often independent of whether they have kids in scouts or not (as oppose to a parent simply follow their kids through scouts). The key here is to develop and maintain the scout relations after they leave for college and into their professional lives so that when they are ready to return, is an easy transition.

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