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Splitting Off A Competing Unit

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  • Splitting Off A Competing Unit

    Some Scout units experience a civil war and secession by some families to start a competing unit. I've never had occasion to observe this first hand --- Thank God!

    Does anyone care to relate stories about this kind of thing they may have experienced?

    I know first hand that building a unit from the ground up is a difficult and lengthy project --- I'm four years into rebuilding a Cub Pack. Building a unit in a hostile environment has got to be more difficult.

    Any stories about how districts, councils and professionals react to this kind of thing?

  • #2
    SP, I hope you are not going through that right now. It is not a good place to be. My unit was formed from the split of a unit which had grown too large, and underlying that was hurt feelings and a poorly run unit with no real committee and an overbearing SM.

    It was with forgiveness and working hard to be civil, that the leaders got passed it and both units are healthy and strong. And speak at Roundtable!


    • #3
      Here's a kid's perspective.

      I went through this as a Cub and young Boy Scout. There was one troop and one pack in town, both chartered to the same CO. Enter some sort of schism between two groups of adults, and a new troop was born, chartered to a different CO. My parents - DLs in the pack - were among the organizers of the troop.

      There was never any question which troop I was going to join. Sitting in a corner of the church basement, reading my stack of books and waiting for a pack leaders' meeting to end, I witnessed a very loud, very acrimonious argument between the different factions. It all left me with a bad taste in my mouth toward the people yelling at my parents. I also liked the new troop's SM, who took me under his wing and lent me some of his old Boys' Life issues - the really awesome ones, with John Christopher's Tripod novels serialized, so cool! - and told me about how he ate snakes in the Army.

      I also got an education in other areas. Listening in on meetings and kitchen-table discussions - it's amazing how easily adults forget you're there if you stick your nose in a book and don't make a peep - I became probably the only kid my age who knew what a District Executive was.

      The new troop was sharp and had pizzazz (red berets! brand-new tents!), young and dynamic. But it didn't make it to the five-year mark. After two years in Troop Y, I knew it was on its way out. The SPL's position was a rotating popularity contest, campouts became boring and unchallenging, and the new SM had no charisma. I wanted to continue in Scouting, and realized it wasn't going to happen there. So I packed up and went to Troop X for a visit. The leaders welcomed me with open arms, and I finished out my Scouting career there. Troop Y's leadership was disappointed, and I'm sure my SM mentor thought it betrayal. But I wanted to continue doing real Scouting, and the startup troop wasn't cutting it.

      It's funny, but I never really knew what sparked the split in the first place.

      From that perspective, I say: If it's avoidable, avoid it. These splits are almost never for the kids, and almost always for the adults, despite the spin and rhetoric.


      • #4

        No, I'm not. My own pack is working together harmoniously and effectively, and so are the pack and troop for which I'm Commissioner.

        I'm interested in learning how such things work out.


        • #5
          A lot of issues made our troop split. They were mostly adult issues, although we had problems with the kids, too. Mainly disagreements about how to do administrative tasks in the troop. We went from over 40 down to the mid-20s. We also lost many Scouts because they had siblings or friends in the split troop and we couldn't recruit from our usual sources. Within three years, we were down to about 7 active. Fortunately, time went on and many forgot why the split happened or even knows it existed. We have 33 now.

          The problem is a new batch of overprotective adults and I can imagine another split or exodus soon, sadly. The SM is trying to keep things under control, but it's hard when you go against the world, eh?


          • #6
            Trouble with "splitting off a competing unit" is that people forget you will see the old troop and scouters for years to come. They are in your community, scouting district, local schools, etc. Assuming you go to district camporees and monthly round tables, you'll see them there too.


            • #7
              It kind of happened in one area of my community when I was a scout and young scout leader.

              In a growing community area there was only one troop. An LDS troop. So all the scout-age kids joined it. But as most people know, how LDS runs their troops is not how most people do it (that's neither good or bad), so this caused a lot of friction between the LDS and non-LDS parents and scouts.

              So eventually, a second troop was spun off of this unit. Funny thing was the LDS troop was #52. So the new troop was #25.


              • #8
                We had a group of supposedly well meaning parents split off from our troop a number of years ago. They did not agree with a lot of our policies and procedures. They took about 8 scouts with them, which hurt us for a while. Of course they did not realize what it takes to run a troop, much less start one up from scratch. Within two years there were arguments among their leadership and were defunct in three years. One of the families returned to us and said going with the split off troop was the worst mistake they ever made.

                Here's the irony - after they folded, the church who sponsored them called us and asked us if we would like the leftover equipment. We got coolers, stoves, tents, etc.!



                • #9
                  We went through it while I was still Cubmaster. Created two weak troops.

                  If I were involved at the district level and there was talk of splitting a troop, I would discourage it. If there is demand for a new troop, fine. The CO and the district should work together to create one. But the idea is "splitting" an existing troop is a bad one.


                  • #10
                    The Cub Scout Leader Book specifically recommends splitting a unit once it has crossed into having more than 60 boys. However, this is supposed to be a mutual agreement which allows the leaders to all shake hands and go their own ways. I believe this recommendation even covers not leaving the CO. If the pack crosses beyond 60 boys, it is time to form a second pack.

                    BSA, in whatever wisdom they may have, believes and has believed for many years that 60 is about the max that can get any attention from a cubmaster, and beyond that number you are managing too much chaos and too many boys.

                    I have never seen this done peacefully. I have seen multiple unit splits in the cub scouts. Usually these are caused by a power struggle between the cubmaster and the committee chair. I think a lot of leader training for cub leaders is inadequate and fails to teach these roles.

                    In the three units that split, in every case, the committee chair was under the impression that they were the top leader of the unit, and that the cubmaster was their employee whom they could dismiss at will.

                    That is false. The CC and the CM are appointed by the COR. The org chart picture in the leader book and in the training seems to cause this confusion. It displays a CM reporting in to a committee, as if they are his boss and tell him what to do.

                    People do tend to look at the pictures and ignore the text. The text clearly tells the committee that the CM does the program and they support him. The CC is supposed to be trained that they are the chief adviser of the CM, not his boss. I think the training is to blame for failing to clarify that the committee is supposed to schedule, fund, get badges, take notes, publish newsletters in support of the program. SUPPORT... not control.

                    Also, in almost every case, the adults were upset about themselves and their own situations.

                    I've seen very few instances of youth wanting to split. But I have seen it. The youth in one boy scout troop got angry with each other and some of the leaders, and a group of them initiated a new troop to get themselves away from a particular leader and his cadre of bullies. Good on them.


                    • #11
                      Most of the unit split ups I have seen are not from having too many scouts, but rather the adults cannot get along and each faction thinks they know the "right way" to do Scouting. It never has a happy ending....


                      • #12
                        Almost word-for-word what Eagle90 said. I've seen the splintering on several occasions in the past in my rural district. Usually one of the two splinter units withers and dies, but not always the group of parents who think they can do things better (and can't). These days, the district discourages this and our commissioner staff* have enough members to usually have someone ready to jump in and help try and settle the disagreements.

                        *--We're lucky, our district was the first to reach (and probably only one right now) the 3-to-1 units to commissioner ratio in the council. One of the ast dist. commissioners specializes in "triage" with units in trouble. We have a DC who is a real people person who has been very good/successful at recruiting UCs.


                        • #13
                          I have related mine in other posts, and care not to rehash. We celebrate a big enough split tomorrow!


                          • #14
                            The scars from units splitting can last for years. We are only on our second year in the program with our son, and our pack had a split about 5-6 years ago or so due to adults not agreeing. There is still uneasiness and hurt feelings between the two packs. Next year it should get better as the leadership of the first pack turned over this year and our pack leadership will be turning over at the end of this year, so the new leaders won't have the same grudges/axes between each other. We recruit from the same schools, so it has been strained at the roundups etc.


                            • #15
                              " But the idea is "splitting" an existing troop is a bad one. "

                              This is not always the case. In our case, we had the CO's approval to start a unit, however our Youth Minister (and Eagle scout) didn't want us to raid other troops for start up scouts. Having a large unit split up gave us the initial boys to start our troop, and gave us a couple of years to get our act together and start a recruiting program.

                              We are nearly double the size of the troop we came from. It can work, and is not always a bad thing.