Time and again I read of difficulties within Scout Troops on web discussions. The most serious difficulties involve a Scoutmaster or other adult leader who is perceived as being dysfunctional or wrongheaded. The complaint often comes from a fellow leader who is frustrated with the way the Troop operates or the experience their child is having.
Sometimes they are the only one who sees a problem.
I have to ask myself when I am a 'voice in the wilderness' if perhaps my isolation isn't self-imposed. Sometimes I have found that this is indeed the case. An honest assessment of the situation requires that careful and dispassionate examination of aims and methods, perhaps with a trusted friend who possesses the frankness to tell you if you are wrong. It is difficult to impose impartiality on ourselves. If your own children are involved it is doubly difficult.
If a Troop has degraded to the point where the only solution is replacing a Scoutmaster or other key personnel it is probably going to be unpleasant, personal and extremely disrupting.
Troop, like families, have personalities and practices some find difficult to understand or accept. Joining a Troop may be like getting married and having Christmas with your in-laws. It may be that they open all the presents on Christmas Eve when your family waited till Christmas morning; there is no right and wrong way- just family tradition. In the end all the presents get opened.
We may find the traditions and practices of some Scout Troops discordant with the way we see things, but they get the job done. Some Scouters believe that theirs is the only way and become tiresomely evangelical. Truth is that there are many different ways to achieve the aims of scouting in some measure. I observed hundreds of Troops as a camp director and came to realize that few of us will ever see an ideal expression of the program. We will see lots of boys experiencing the rewards of Scouting even when imperfectly delivered.
Talking to the older Scouts in the Troop does not always result in an accurate picture of the Troop's success. Some boys in their late teens may be habitually hypercritical of their parents, teachers, coaches, and Scout leaders. They may become jaded or dissatisfied simply as a function of their age and quest for maturity.
Calling in the District can be seen by some as tantamount to calling the police or Child Protective Services - a serious measure undertaken only when there is clear evidence that dysfunction is threatening the welfare of family members.
When the consensus is a Troop is off the rails it is time to call the Commissioner for a pointed discussion. Co missioners are trained to handle the difficulties, the politics and the personalities.