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

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.

39 thoughts on “Open for debate: ‘Term limits’ for Scoutmasters, Cubmasters?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

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