The position of the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster is one that I find debated frequently. The debate ranges from what rank he needs to be to the age he needs to be and then as to what his job is within the Troop. Is he treated like a youth or is he treated like an adult? Where does he camp? Who does he eat with? What does he do?
We let me start with what the Boy Scouts of America says about the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster (JASM):
The Junior Assistant Scoutmaster is a Scout at least 16 years of age who has shown outstanding leadership skills. He is appointed by the Senior Patrol Leader with the advice and consent of the Scoutmaster. A Junior Assistant Scoutmaster follows the guidance of the Scoutmaster in providing support and supervision to the other boy leaders in the troop. Upon his 18th birthday, a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster is eligible to become an assistant Scoutmaster.
Ok, so we have the answer to the age question, he must be at least 16. He is appointed by the SPL, yes the Senior Patrol Leader. The Scoutmaster advises and approves the leadership of the young man, but it is the SPL that appoints him. It is important to note that the JASM need not be an Eagle Scout. The position qualifies as a Leadership role for the ranks of Star, Life, and Eagle. In a Troop with a functioning Patrol Leaders Council, the SPL will be able to identify the needs of the Troop and where best a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster can serve the troop. This is where the advice and counsel of the Scoutmaster play an important role in selecting a JASM. The JASM, once selected will work directly for the Scoutmaster just as any other Assistant Scoutmaster would do. The fine line here is that he is still a youth and all the youth protection guidelines apply. He can’t sleep with adults and he would not be considered to transport Scouts.
The role of the JASM is to help the Troop. Be a good example by wearing the uniform correctly and be a visible example of the Scout Oath and Law, he is a teacher, coach, and mentor to the Patrol leaders and to all the Scouts of the Troop. He is typically an older Scout that has demonstrated outstanding leadership and therefore has the respect of the Scouts of the unit. In our Troop the JASM is an asset, he is a good “go between” from the Scouts to the PLC and to the Adult leadership. We treat him like an Assistant Scoutmaster and give him a lot of responsibility and latitude. His primary function is to assist in the training of Patrol leaders, but his specific job is to train the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader preparing him to become the SPL. He signs books, tests Scouts in skills, coaches Patrol leaders, and is available to meet the needs of the Scoutmaster and SPL is support of the Troop.
I have noticed that many Troops in our District do not have JASM’s. When I have talked to other Scoutmasters about why, the typical response is they don’t need them or don’t know what to do with them. In response to that I always suggest that if nothing else it is a great way to keep an older boy completely engaged in your Troop. It is a fantastic way to recognize a young man that has been an outstanding leader and is getting close to his 18th birthday. It is hard sometimes for a Scout that has been in front of the Troop serving to now step back into a patrol and just follow. In most cases they have served in Troop level positions for some time and have been a decision maker for the Troop for a long while. To ask him just to follow is not rewarding and leaves the Scout in a awkward position. So the reward comes from being appointed by the SPL to continue his service to the Troop at a level that is fitting of his skills, maturity, and demonstrated leadership. We all have that Scout in our Troop, that Scout that you will want as an Assistant Scoutmaster one day.
I encourage the Junior Assistant Scoutmaster Position, it is rewarding for the Unit, the Scout, and a great asset for Scoutmasters.
#100daysofscouting for today- I blogged, then hung out with two Scouts in my Troop.. my sons. Need to do some work on the podcast, but that will have to wait till tomorrow.
Hey, If you have questions or comments, you can leave them here, call into the SMM Voice mail at 503-308-8297, or drop me an email, I love to hear from you!
Have a Great Scouting Day!