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Splitting Off A Competing Unit

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  • #16
    We didn't exactly split a troop when we started ours, but there was some tension none the less. I live in a rural valley that's also a bedroom community for the Eastside (Redmond, Bellevue, Kirland) tech industry. There was one troop, and it was in the next town down the valley. Years ago, that town used to be the big town in the valley, but for the last couple of decades almost all the growth has been in the town I live in, which is now about twice the population of the town with the other troop. A bunch of parents, me included, started talking about forming a troop in our town. There was a bunch of pushback from the adults in the existing troop. They didn't like the idea at all. The main reason behind the effort was the distance - it wasn't a terrible commute to the other town, but it was just one more obstacle. But there ended up being some bad blood between adults over the whole thing. Really unfortunate I thought. The other troop was really worried that we were going to suck all the air out of them, since our town had about two thirds of the youth population in the valley.

    One of the families in the other troop even suggested to their committe maybe moving the meeting location to our town to better serve the community (before we formed the new trooop). I understand they were given quite a tongue-lashing over it. There's some lingering resentment in "the other town" over having the new High School built in our town (the old one was in theirs), and they apparently thought we were going to "steal" their Scout Troop as well.

    Well, end result, we started a new troop. We had one member of the other troop visit and consider joining, but he really only did it to humor his mother who hoped to have a shorter drive. In the end, his friends were in the other troop, so he wanted to stay there, which was the right thing. I give both him and his mom credit. He gave her idea a try, she let him make his own decision. Ultimately, we had no youths join from the other troop, all of our guys were brand new Boy Scouts. Less than half were Webelos crossovers. We're still running about 60% non-Cub Scouts in our membership, as we've been heavily recruiting in the community. Both troops are around 40 scouts now. One of the things I did before signing on to start the new troop was to look at the local youth demographics. There are easily enough scout-aged boys in the valley to support two troops of healthy size, so I had no qualms about going forward.

    As a pack leader, I never got much interest from the other troop before we formed ours. They were pretty lackadaisical in their recruiting. We had some Den Chiefs, but not much in the way of visits or invitations beyond that. And they did almost no recruiting outside of cubs, they just waited for the crossovers. They've stepped up their game a bit since the new troop formed. Part of that might be due to them getting a new SM, but I'm sure part of it is also feeling a little competition. All in all, there are probably at least 30 additional Boy Scouts in our valley than there would have been if we hadn't started our troop. I'll count that a win.

    We're 18 months old at this point, and we definitely understand the need for continuity. We're trying to build depth into our adult leadership and set things up to keep going once we're gone. We've gotten a great deal of support from the district. The grapevine says a couple of district folks had a chat or two with the more vocal antagonists from the other troop and helped calm the waters. Some hard feeling still linger and there's the occasional snippy remark, but we just go on about our business. The drama will fade over time, and as far as I know, it doesn't impact the youth at all, who almost all go to the same Middle and High schools.

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    • #17
      Not really a bad split per say. But I know of one pack was started from about 1/2 of my current pack's Cubs just as I joined, i.e between when I Joined the pack n June and when the Round Ups started in September. Long story short, one of our DLs was asked by his pastor to restart the pack at his church. Kinda hard to say no to your pastor. While some in my pack were not happy, heck still not happy, with the situation, I undertsand it and have no qualms..

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      • #18
        A few years ago, our DE started suggesting we think about splitting because of our pack's size. It never went anywhere, but I was thinking that if we did continue to grow (not an issue this year) we would not arbitrarily split as much as split by rank as to have manageable pack meetings and events. Right now, I'd be tempted to split it by Cubs versus Webelos. Keep one committee and one COR and one unit. But run two parrallel programs. Just a thought.

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        • #19
          I've always imagines options to splitting a large pack.

          For example, have two Pack meetings, one for Tigers and Wolves, a second for Bears and Webelos.

          Not, I regret to say, a problem with which I've had actual experience.

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          • #20
            You don't want to split by levels, i.e. Tiger and Wolves v. Bears and Webelos. When the new pack split form ours, the new CM took half of our pack: ALL of the Bears and a smattering of Webelos and Wolves. Having a big gap in the bears caused issues later on.

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            • #21
              I'd be fine with splits if the boys in the new troop said to me "boy we are having so much fun!"

              Instead they ask, "Can I come back to your troop?". Sometimes, they tell me this once they are adults!

              Of course we keep an open door, but they aren't walking through it! Pretty sure most of the time it's an adult thing.

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              • #22
                Hello Eagle,

                I see I wasn't being clear.

                I'm talking about NOT splitting a large pack. Keep the same pack organization.

                But to cut pack meetings down to size, have two pack meetings, one for Tiger Cubs and Wolves the other for Bear and Webelos --- or whatever seems right.

                Seems to me that that would allow pack meeting to be more age appropriate in content. And one objection to large packs is that it takes too long to hand out awards. I'm theorizing that dividing up pack meetings would answer these issues better.

                Also, boys LIKE the opportunity to associate with older boys. Being "promoted" into the "older boys" pack meetings seems like it would be popular.

                You could also consider more age appropriate activities, with less competitive Pinewood Derbies for younger boys and sharper competition for older Scouts.

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                • #23
                  Eagle92 - It's not a matter of splitting by levels as one unit running two parralle programs. So one committee. One COR. One unit. BUT, make pack meetings are smaller because only the lions, tigers and wolves meet together. Then the Bears and Webelos meet in a different room, different time or different place.

                  I think splitting into two separate units that recruit from the same source begs for big future problems.

                  I think having separate pack meetings helps solve an issue of the age differential between K and 5th grade being too great.

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                  • #24
                    If you have two pack meetings you're probably not really going to cut your attendance by 1/2. The Scouts with older siblings will come to pack meeting A with their parents. The Scouts with younger siblings will come to pack meeting B with their parents. The parents with Scouts in both age groups will NOT be happy - "Why do we have to come to two meetings?". So depending on your membership, you'll get 60-70% and each meeting with overlap between the two.

                    If you've go that much overlap, then you'll start to either shortchange one meeting because its too much work, or do exactly the same ceremonies; games, etc. and both and bore the folks who are in the overlapping group.

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                    • #25
                      As CM I really struggled with keeping advancement meaningful with a pack ranging from 100-120 boys. My feeling is the primary purpose of a pack meeting is recognition and I really don't want to short-change the boys who had earned stuff. We did however, start giving out belt loops and other "minor" awards during den meetings.

                      After I left, the new regime decided on holding separate "award meeting" in addition to the pack meetings. They hold them one Sunday afternoon a month. The few I've seen are attended only by the boys receiving the awards and their parents -- usually a fairly small group. On the other hand, they tend to make pack meetings more about "entertainment" bringing in magicians and special programs.

                      I don't really know about it all.... Of course, I've kept my mouth shut because it's no longer my bid'nis and I don't really know how it works for the boys. Maybe the like it.

                      But I do agree that I would go to considerable lengths and some creative planning/programming to keep from going through a split. Never seen it go well.

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                      • #26
                        Splitting a pack or troop doesn't have to be a traumatic process. It's more like spinning off a new congregation, you plan for it.

                        An old pack of ours was so large and cumbersome that they all knew it was time to split. They went to a CO about 1/2 mile away, but across a major road, and proposed planting a new pack there. One of the many great dads volunteered to be the CM of the new group. They meet as a pack on a different night of the week from the original pack, giving some experienced parents a very distinct reason to choose one pack over the other.

                        Both packs are still doing very well but are more manageable in size.

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                        • #27
                          I also like the idea of using the resources of a successful pack to help "seed" a new pack with program and leadership at another location, as suggested by Nike.

                          As a District Membership Chair, my bias would be for successful packs to make a point of helping spread Scouting by starting and support new packs in new areas.

                          Start them as a branch of the home pack, using a common program and with the parent pack helping to get things going and recruiting new families. Then let the new pack charter on its own after a few years of development.

                          Again, I haven't done this, but it sounds like a keen idea to me!

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                          • #28
                            JMHawkins story of two towns with one troop made me smile. We have the opposite situation. We have a number of troops in our town, which is clearly big enough to support them. But as it happens, the Scoutmaster for the biggest troop lives two houses down the main road from me. For someone driving by, who's paying attention, it might look like we have some type of competition going to see who can have the most Scout trailers stored in their yard. Neither of us keeps the trailers regularly, but ours do end up in my driveway after trips, and for work days, etc. I'm assuming his yard is the same, because the trailers rotate randomly.

                            We have a good relationship with the other troop (and with all the others around, for that matter), but you might think there was some type of competition going on in our neighborhood...after all, why wouldn't these two guys just put their troops together? (I think it would be over 200 Scouts total.)

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