How to get the most from junior assistant Scoutmasters

When Scouter J.H. asked how to best use a troops 16- and 17-year-old leaders, readers cited many ways JASMs can contribute, while in the process gaining experience for a future role as an adult Scout leader.

As a Scoutmaster for 20 years, I have always felt the job description for a junior assistant Scoutmaster [JASM] was left intentionally vague to give Scoutmasters freedom in assigning duties and responsibilities to these highly skilled and experienced Scouts.

I have used JASMs as new Scout patrol advisers and teachers of such advanced skills as backpacking and rock climbing. They also serve as special advisers to the patrol leaders’ council [PLC]. JASMs can instruct patrols in a variety of Scout skills, run special programs at camp, and aid in the PLC’s annual program planning conference by sharing their experiences in camping and program activities.

Besides being a resource person, the JASM’s greatest value is as an example for both older and younger Scouts.

Chartered Organization Representative H.T.B.
Hemet, Calif.

Please remind readers that junior assistant Scoutmasters are just that—”juniors” who are 16 and 17 years old. At age 18, a young man must register as an adult assistant Scoutmaster to maintain membership in a troop.

The JASM position is a great way to utilize the troop’s former senior patrol leaders, assistant senior patrol leaders, instructors, and troop guides. The duties, which can include working directly with the Scoutmaster, prepare older Scouts for future roles as assistant Scoutmasters.

The Scoutmaster may assign JASMs important responsibilities, depending on their abilities and interests as well as on the needs of the troop. For example, a JASM might be assigned as liaison with the troop’s brother Cub Scout pack. He might manage the Webelos-to-Scout transition by overseeing Webelos den chiefs, maintaining communication with the pack’s adult leaders, and including Webelos Scouts in some troop activities. Another excellent assignment for a JASM is working with first-year Scouts by supervising their troop guide and patrol leader.

Scoutmaster J.A.T.
Webster, N.Y.

The Scoutmaster Handbook states that a junior assistant Scoutmaster is at least l6 years of age and can become an ASM on his 18th birthday. In our troop, JASMs are young men who have reached Eagle Scout rank, or older Scouts who have a few Eagle requirements to finish. They have demonstrated leadership, and their knowledge is especially helpful to the troop.

JASMs can answer questions posed by Scouts and parents alike, and they help out wherever needed. Usually the senior patrol leader—but sometimes the Scoutmaster—assigns them tasks that range from running an activity to helping a young Scout with advancement requirements to helping an assistant Scoutmaster with an unruly group. They are excellent role models for the younger Scouts.

Assistant Scoutmaster M.M.
Penfield, N.Y.

Our JASMs are 16 and 17 years old and are mostly Eagle Scouts. They work under the Scoutmaster in one specific area, such as teaching outdoor skills or coordinating service projects. Each of them has served as senior patrol leader.

Spring Hill, Fla.

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