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  • Troop partnering versus shopping ?

    I've been reflecting on the Cub Scout to Boy Scout transition for awhile. I know there is no strict answer and that things can vary greatly. And BSA is pretty vague too on this stuff.

    Previous posts

    - Unit alignment ... Earlier this year, I heard rumors of an initiative to align same COR units. So I asked and heard some great comments including a few by TwoCubDad in a 1/17/2012 3:48:51pm post. CLICK HERE to read

    - Pitting troops against each other ... Later I expressed my frustration at pitting troop against troop for Webelos recruitment. Good discussion. The one I agree the most with is a short quick response from Crew21_Adv. CLICK HERE to read

    - Boy Led ... I've also stated that one of the phrases I really don't like anymore is "Boy Led". It's the correct concept. But it's so vague that it's meaningless *** AND *** it's almost always used passively as an insult that other troops are not boy led. I've grown a distaste for the term because it's almost always used during troop shopping. "Join us because we're boy led." ... meaning that the other troops are not boy led and thus are not true Boy Scout troops.

    ... anyway ...

    *** NEW QUESTION *** ... To what extend should "packs" help scouts see all local troops versus support / partner with their charter org's troop?

    BSA seems intellectually inconsistent on this stuff and just wants to tap dance around the detailed issues.
    - Depending on COR's to provide units but then promoting scouts to shop at another COR's unit
    - Promoting troop shopping but matching up elementary schools with "usually" one Cub Scout pack.

    IMHO, a pack should work with their COR's troop and present the troop as it's partner. Similar in that the troop should work with the pack and be there for the pack. The key is that it's not the job of the pack to present multiple troops. That's the job of the Webelos scouts and/or den. The pack partners with it's COR troop. (different discussion if the COR doesn't have a troop)

    So I'm just trying to double check my thoughts. Should it be generally expected that a pack supports it's COR and the COR's troop?

    I know I'd get upset if other packs continually advertised at our elementary school to recruit Cub Scouts. There is an unstated agreement that elementary schools are aligned with a specific pack. For the most part, Cub Scouts don't shop for the best pack. If anything, we expect those new scouts / parents to help renew the pack.

    Should we have the same assumption between packs and troops?


    Side suggestion: Perhaps the committees should meet on the same night??? Pack & troop coordinate committee meetings so they are at the same place / time. Especially if they are under the same chartered org.


    Side note ... our COR's units work pretty well with each other. It's outside factors I'm wondering about.(This message has been edited by fred8033)

  • #2
    I have no issue with Webelos dens that want to look around at multiple troops. But we find that having a strong relationship within the CO between our pack and troop works well. I think that having that relationship can make many things work better.

    We don't have the committees meet on the same night. I'm not sure that would help much. What we need is as much cross-pollination as possible, and having the committees meet on the same night at the same place might get you a little bit of that, but there are lots of other ways too. I stay on the pack leaders' email list just to be aware of what's going on in the pack. It's good to have a few families with kids in both groups. The Cubmaster and Scoutmaster should talk every so often, or at least email.

    Some competition can be good, but we're not businesses here, we don't get paid, and no one wants to be continuously pitted against other BSA units.


    • #3
      I have mixed emotions on this one.

      On one hand I did the troop shopping as a youth. My CO's troop didn't really do anything with the pack except expect the Webelos to cross over. Out of the three dens of Webelos (approx 26 Cubs), my den of 9 actually joined a troop, and it wasn't the CO's but the one the Den Chief came from. In retrospect, I dont' know how the other two dens actually earned the AOL as they didn't do anything with a scout troop.

      But even then, that troop didn't meet my needs. And when they announced the new SM, I decided to leave. I eventually joined some cousin's troop and remained there.

      I also know of troops that have weak programs, and Scouts and parents, especially parents nowadays, want strong active programs. And unless you have folks who see potential in a struggling troop, they will go elsewhere. Even if the struggling troop may actually be better (I know it sounds a contradiction, but I think a struggling troop that uses terh patrol method and is boy led is better than the established troop that's adult led, but I digress).

      The key factor to consider is what is in the best interest of the scouts.


      • #4
        I'm okay with dens shopping. That's what BSA instructs.

        But what about the pack. Should they promote other troops or focus on the partnership with their partner troop?


        • #5
          On this forum we read of Packs complaining that the Troop doesn't support them with Den Chiefs, Camping or XYZ. Why should they if they den is going shopping for troops??????

          While I agree that every troop isn't for every boy. I like the sense of community that a feeder Pack brings to the CO's BSA organization. The cubs know the boy scouts, they know the SM.....An Easy transition. We retain 90% for the first year and we begin losing boys in middle school to sports and band.....

          We had a boy leave us for a Parlor Troop, thats fine, he doesn't like to camp. they camp 3 times a year. We camp 10 and two months in cabins.

          Fred you posted this in the previous thread.

          "- Drop the Cub Scout "graduation" idea. It's just an excuse to leave.
          - Make Cub Scouts / Boy Scouts a continuous progression.
          - Drop the need to fill out a new form to join a boy scout troop. It's just the next step.
          - Drop the Arrow Of Light being the Cub Scout highest award, instead it's just the award at the end of the Webelos year. Like changing from Cub Scouts earning their current rank to the Boy Scouts earning their next rank."

          1. it is over bearing parents that push the graduation idea....My new CM is such a person. I agree with this point.

          2. Our troop and Pack are nearly at this point....Again the new CM does not see it this way.

          3. It is a different organization.....Till all of the bank accounts, committees and such are merged I don't see how this can be changed.

          4. Again over bearing over blown pomp and circumstance for the parents. It is just another award, the boys don't care..... We give career arrows, I put a ton of work into them as a keepsake, on more than a couple of occasions the boys break them up immediately after the ceremony....


          • #6
            Some thoughts:

            I didn't get cited

            Most troops should be boy led. Using that to distinguish your unit is lame indeed. But, boys do notice when they are being controlled or manipulated and do tell other ASMs where barriers to youth leadership have been put up. Thing is, most cub parents don't actually talk to the boys in the troop, so adult leaders can get away with spouting that mantra.

            I think it's healthy for a Webelos den to visit three or four local troops. No matter where they cross-over, they should have picked up several ideas of how scouting should be implemented and the diversity of boys who are out there.

            I think it's also healthy for a den to support it's CO. At times that should occur in concert with the CO's troop (e.g., scout Sunday or a clean-up day). But, IMHO, support should not include putting blinders on the cubs and funneling them to just to the one troop. The troop will just get a cub who has no vision of what scouting is like in his area.

            On the other hand, crossovers who have seen what's gone on in other troops come in with more ideas for program. Plus, they like us! They know there are other boys "out there", and that means we have more opportunities for fellowship, which translates into more fun. Also, when there's a project for the CO, it might mean that some boys from another troop will be available to help with it.


            • #7
              Basementdweller - Wow. I knew I posted from different aspects of this point. I didn't remember I posted so many times. It's just a hot button topic for me lately and has become even more hot button lately.

              It just seems the "pack" should focus on partnering with their sister troop. Webelos dens can shop around, but the pack should focus on the sister troop.(This message has been edited by fred8033)


              • #8
                " a pack should work with their COR's troop and present the troop as it's partner. Similar in that the troop should work with the pack and be there for the pack"

                Well stated Fred, however the operative word in that sentence is SHOULD this is someting that is done well in some places and poorly in others, my son is a Webelos I and I anticipate that he will be going to our sister troop at crossover time, that does not mean that we will not visit other troops in the area to see if they are more what he wants out of his scouting experience.
                I am the Pack CC and have made sure that the troop is being included when possible with the pack activities, I recruited the first Den chief in memory from the troop and have made sure that the boys know the older boys in the Troop. Our sister troop is active and healthy but that does not mean that my son would not prefer a differnt "vibe" from a troop. Being on the District committe has also allowed me to see the truly active and well run troops in the area.
                In the end, it is his decision, not mine and I will support whatever decision he makes.
                I guess the point of the above ramble is that yes there should be a partnership between Pack and Troops under the same COR but it is NOT an annointing that the boys HAVE to go to that Troop. The Pack should be helping the Troop but that is a two way street, the Troop should be helping the Pack.
                Besides, "Troop shopping is something the BOY AND HIS PARENTS should be doing.


                • #9
                  Hello Fred,

                  You raise a lot of interesting questions.

                  Personally I wouldn't try to combine a pack and troop committee, but strong communication links need to be there.

                  I recently got myself appointed as Unit Commissioner for the neighboring troop while continuing to serve on the pack committee. That's allowed me to satisfy myself that the troop has an excellent program, but badly needs a regular recruiting plan and needs to make an effort to attract the four Webelos II Scouts we have this year.

                  As UC I'm attending troop committee meetings and building bonds between the troop program and the Webelos II program.

                  I see no reason to promote other troop programs. If someone asks, I'd provide information.

                  I'm working to get some Boy Scout participation in the troop. I'd like to promote the idea of some Boy Scouts attending our pack recruiting night and running our Stomp Bottle Rocket launch as an Order of the Arrow activity and wearing OA sashes.

                  In general I would direct Cub Scouts to a troop with a quality program. Secondarily, a troop that supports the pack and the pack program. Thirdly I'd like to support weaker troops rather than already strong troops if they have a quality program. Fourthly I'd provide information about neighboring troop to Scouts and parents upon request.


                  • #10
                    Base asks, On this forum we read of Packs complaining that the Troop doesn't support them with Den Chiefs, Camping or XYZ. Why should they if they den is going shopping for troops??????

                    And I for one think it's a legitmate question.

                    Here's my $.02 worth.

                    1) Good den chiefs are the absolute best recruiting tool a troop can have. Don't beleive me? Well I initially joined the troop my den chief was a member of over the CO's troop.

                    Anecdoatal I know, but my oldest son worshipped the ground his DC walked on. When he saw a video of his DC making a survival shelter on a campout on youtube, guess who started making one in the backyard. My son has seen me dance, been to powwows, but hasn't really been interested in dancing. That is until he saw his DC in full regalia. And when the DC offered to lend him his old N trad. outfit to dance, you should have seen the eyes light up.

                    DEN CHIEFS ARE EXCELLENT RECRUITING TOOLS! (emphasis)

                    2) Trooops that develop relationships with their packs will get the Cubs for several reasons.

                    A) While a den may visit several units at meetings, I've found that the unit that invites them to different outdoor activities, i.e. weekend trip, camporee, hike, etc, will get and hold the Cubs' attention.

                    B) The Cubs get to meet, interact, and get comfortable with the Boy Scouts that will soon be their peers and leaders. As mentioend in other threads, we'd buddy them up with an older scout to work with them on the camp out. We used mixed aged patrols b/c the Cubs wanted to be with their troop buddy from the camp out we did with them.

                    C) Parents will also establish relatioships with troop leadership and be comfortable with allowing their child to be with them. This is especially true today.

                    My troop didn't have a feeder pack until about a year before I got Eagle, when we moved to the 3rd CO. We survived without a pack for a variety of reasons, but we made it a point to have Den Chiefs whenever possible, and we invited any and all Webelos dens to visits and camp with us. Those den chiefs kept us alive, and in one instance, led us to the 3rd CO. They had just started a pack and eventually a troop. We provided one or 2 DCs as they requested, and when the Webelos crossed over, they created their own troop, but the leaders wanted to work with us for a year or so to help get them started. It was during this time that trouble with the 2nd CO started, and with the permission of both COs, the new troop folded into ours, and we moved to that CO.

                    And I've seen the opposite occur. I saw a CO that had the best pack in the district have their troop fold b/c the troop didn't want to do anything with the pack. No DCs, no campouts, etc. Eventually the pack leadwers developed a relationship with another troop, and then all their Webelos began crossing over to the other troop. Eventually the troop folded.


                    • #11
                      >> I know there is no strict answer and that things can vary greatly. And BSA is pretty vague too on this stuff..


                      • #12
                        pchadbo - I acknowledge the BSA shopping model for webelos. I take zero offense if a scout chooses another troop. I might be sad, but not offended. That though is the Webelos scout and/or den. They are working on what's best for the individual Webelos.

                        What's best for the pack and COR and troop is very different. I assert it's always better for the pack to promote their sister troop. The pack (larger group) has no "shopping" model or instruction from BSA. Their sister troop is "ANNOINTED" as partner through the charter organization. As such, the pack should treat their sister troop special ... even if the troop ignores them or if the troop is going thru hard times.

                        The COR is the marriage between the pack and the troop. If my wife is upset with me for a few months, I don't head to the local pub to shop around. Ya work on fixing the relationship. Same with pack & troop.

                        To be blunt, if a pack wants to promote another troop (not talking about webelos shopping) then that pack should join the other troops pack or start a second pack under the other troop's COR. Otherwise the larger group should support the aligned troop and help fix the problems.

                        "Individual scouts" have an absolute right to shop around and that's what BSA promotes. But the "pack" does not shop around.(This message has been edited by fred8033)


                        • #13
                          The BSA model for Webelos-to-Scout transition is partnership between a pack and a troop leading to a seamless move: "The key factor to improved Webelos transition is the ongoing working relationship of the leaders of a Cub Scout pack and a Boy Scout troop. Ideally a community organization would have both a pack and a troop with leaders who work together to help move Webelos Scouts into a Boy Scout troop the same way schools move students from elementary school to middle school." . See also .

                          However, as with all BSA models, it assumes that all moving parts are functioning perfectly and that there are sufficient resources to do everything called for in the model. So, for example, the model does not account for a "partner" troop that doesn't have a very good program, or a "partner" troop with leaders that have no interest in working closely with a pack, or a "partner" pack with leaders that have no interest in committing to move their Webelos into the "partner" troop, or a pack and troop with an "absentee" COR that doesn't care whether its units work together or not, or Webelos Scouts or parents who don't want to join the "partner" troop.

                          I've heard lots of Scout leaders tout the "shop around" method, but have never seen it in BSA literature. I think it is a practical response to the fragility of the "partner" (or "feeder pack") model, which is difficult to build and susceptible to just too many variables. For example, I've seen a personality clash between Scoutmaster and Webelos Den Leader wreck a longstanding pack-troop partnership.

                          Bottom line, I think it is a lot easier, cleaner, and safer for the pack to strongly encourage Webelos Scouts and families to do their research, shop around, and cross over to troops that appeal to them. I think that also has the salutary effect of requiring a troop to improve or die, rather than a poor or average troop being artificially propped up by a regular infusion of new Scouts from a partner pack. It also keeps a troop from becoming dependent on a single source of new Scouts, which can make the troop vulnerable if the pack goes south. There is a downside to the pack in that a troop may not be willing to invest many resources in a pack where any return is iffy; but the pack can make it up by getting a little help from several troops in exchange for the exposure. (Imagine a different troop doing a skill demonstration at each month's pack meeting, den chiefs from different troops, and multiple campout offers.)

                          Dan Kurtenbach
                          Fairfax, VA(This message has been edited by dkurtenbach)(This message has been edited by dkurtenbach)


                          • #14
                            Our city has more troops then packs. In addition, several troops have had their packs fail. So recruitment has really geared up. I've seen "smoozing" at roundtable that gets just creepy.

                            There are two troops that have extremely geared up their recruiting to the point that I swear they teach their boys a script to say. I've heard it from multiple scouts at different ocasions. The part that get me is that they refer to our aligned pack as their feeder pack. Usually there's alternating recruitment from the pack. One year they go to us. Other to them. Back and forth. Mainly driven by who's brother is in which troop. Well, there's many brothers to the other troop right now in the pack. And I'm noticing some alignment with the other pack.

                            The key I'm sort of concerned iwth is that the leaders now have kids in the other troop too. I'm of the belief that even though they have boys in the other troop they still need to promote the COR's troop. Individuals can go to the other troop ... fine ... their right. But the pack works with the aligned troop.


                            • #15
                              Must disagree with this part of your statement "the pack should treat their sister troop special ... even if the troop ignores them...."

                              Why would anyone want to join, let alone promote, a group that has no interest whatsoever in them? Why would scouts show interest in joining their CO's troop that does nothing with them, when the down the street troop provides a DC, invited them to a meeting, and takes them to one or two campouts?

                              Why would parents want to their sons join the CO's troop that has shown no interest in them, or worse has been condescending to them, when the neighboring troop has been welcoming to them?

                              Why would Cub leaders promote a troop that doesn't want anything to do with them, have leaders who are condescending to them, and are not supportive of Cub Scout program, when the neighboring troop welcomes them, helps them whenever asked, and are supprotive of the cub scout program?

                              Now I grant you that is NOT how the relationship is suppose to be, but unfortunately I have seen it as such.