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  • #16
    Our troop is in much the same shape. We're very, very rural and 4H and FFA compete for our time, basically. Our boys are not so dedicated except for two. Our CO is hands off except for allowing us free reign over our "hall". Our SM inherited this troop from a man who could have cared less about it, really. He led it right to the brink of death, then bailed. The SM has been trying everything with no success. No new boys for over a year, and only 6 "active" which is an understatement. Our problem right now, though, is that you never know who will or will not ever show up for anything! We've got two boys ready for "Eagle Projects" who we've not seen since last May and say they're nearly done with all merit badges, etc. I don't know how they are doing this, since they've not been seen for over 6 months, but ok....whatever.......It's hard on the SM, but it's also very hard on my son. I just can't drive the over 25 miles to get to another troop every week with my work schedule. I work too late for this and no one else from my area goes there.

    I commend everyone who is still in there plugging away at it, even though it may not be a fantastic solution. It's at least something that an adult is still trying to give of their time even if there isn't many people there to receive it. That's a gift, and I say THANK YOU to you even though I don't know you. I feel your pain.


    • #17
      Thank you, MD...
      It is like holding your breath, trying to get to that next group of new scouts, if there are any. Our meeting this week had to delay starting because we only had the ASPL and my son. The other, not yet first class scout eventually showed up, and we had the meeting. They worked on some first aid for the 1st class rank, and we talked about our camping trip to White Sands, next month. The rains were so heavy down south this summer, it is still flooded, and the gypsum, which is what the white material is, acts like a plaster bathtub, and will only go away thru evaporation. Many of the older scouts (we did the recharter last Saturday, and have 8 boys going into next year, with 10 leaders) were going to go on this trip, because it is alot of fun, even if we can only get down there for one night of camping. That is a hugh disappointment, but there is not much you can do about it. We need to go camping, since this months outing was cancelled due to lack of numbers, but we need those older boys, at least until we can get the new scouts that are supposed to be coming in February. We are definitely in the place you described, and can only hope there are fresh troops coming, so to speak. Thank you.


      • #18
        Wallace ... you mentioned that you established a feeder pack. How have you done that? Has your troop been there to help the Pack out every which way ... ie. partnering with them, campouts, pinewood derby, Den Chiefs, Blue & Gold, etc? You left the pack but apparently you did not leave anything behind (in terms of relationship). Some troops made the mistake thinking that by calling on the pack to let them know that the troop exists and that should be sufficient. The relationship is more than that. My suggestion is to get to know the Den leaders and Cubmaster at the these packs well. Invest time to build the relationship and show them what 70 years of scouting has to offer from your troop. By being close to them, you can tell which scout(s) should be pursue ... some cubs do not want to continue with scouting while other ones are really gunho. These are the ones that you would want to woo them. Recruiting requires time that some troops do not want to invest ... because they do not have the time. Once you re-establish your name, don't become complacent in thinking that by being there, they will come.

        Minimally, a troop should have at least 1 patrol ... 8-10 boys to have a good crack at staying together. Ideally, I'd like to see our troop come back down to 40 boys from our current high of 72. Recruit the den leader and the rest will follow (sometimes). To me, traditional means a lot. It means that the troop has a great program to have such a lengthy life. You just need to revive it!

        Good luck,

        1Hour(This message has been edited by OneHour)


        • #19
          Sorry to see that you have problems running your Troop. It is not your fault ....but the BSA inc. The council should get recruiting done in your local school, instead of running financial campaign for themselves. Get some alumni of your unit to come back to help you organize and lead the unit. Good Scouting to you. Watch my other inputs, you might get ideas how to improve. Sorry...I have to run. Jambo


          • #20
            To Scouter 'KAHITS " Yours is not a unique problem in the annals of Scouting, Many on this site, had a lot of wisdom how to solve your dilemma, and who knows it may work for you ? Let me tell you in a nutshell how I was able to get 45 boys in 2 month.
            Here is what I did:
            A...our parish priest, who was an ex scout, asked all parish organizations to assist me in recruiting scout age boys.
            B...From old troop rosters I was able to get 12( out of 60 ) alumni to assist me in running recruiting tables at supermarkets.
            C...Went to the council for assistance. at first they were reluctant, and tried to shove this off to the district and etc. I told them I will go the press, and explain the whole situation. In 3 weeks they went to a few public schools, with a recruiting teams ( with my senior scouts ) and we received ( 30 )return interest slips.
            D...Went to our local OA chapter to assist in distributing flyers at bus Stations, corner streets, and etc.
            C...We used bribery techniques as ( pocket knives, free overnight hike, picca party with a slide presentation, and motivational speeches to the Scouts and parents.

            All this worked in our favor, We pulled in 70 boys at first, we lost some who did not care in joining. But the rest really wanted the Scout program. If some of my ideas will work for you ...that is great...otherwise brainstorm some of your own. " Keep it simple , make it fun " three cheers to Scouting, jambo


            • #21
              Our Troop is the third oldest in our district and was down to 8 active scouts 16 on the rooster. District requested both my Webelos 1 and the other leaders II to cross over as a favor. We have had 3 scouts transfer from other troops so we have doubled the troop in less than 2 years. We are fortunate that the Pack we work with looks like will have 18 boys crossing over in the spring. So my words of advice make a program thats fun and Scout led and they should come.



              • #22
                Thanks for that simple advice. We have a core group of 5-6 scouts, of which 2 are new and in need of training. They are both HS Freshmen, so they are old enough to step up, but are a tad confused on how much fun should really happen and when to get serious. We, also, have a large, potential, group of boys coming our way from 2 different packs, but that won't happen if we can't get the older boys to leave the standup at home and push themselves to get serious. NYLT can't come fast enough, next summer, but they have some ranks to earn in the meantime. The higher ranking, more experienced boys (my son included) are doing very well (Enjoying OA, and one went to Philmont this summer), so we have some work to do to get these older, fresh troops with the program. Fun and boy led is definitely the key. Thanks for the reminder.



                • #23
                  I could agree with most of you, spending your precious time on this forum, trying to keep a troop alive. We have deeper problems!. That of the national council not promoting Scouting the way it should be.Did your local film crew ever go to a camporee ? But, if a boy broke a window at a bank, that would be in every front page, and the local news. When did you see a good Scouting film, on TV or anywhere else ? Do newspapers ever mention Scout Sunday in February ? We had World Jamboree in England just now , and did " Sixty Minutes " cover that event, where 136 countries celebrated Scouting ? You all know the answer!.Our so called " Boys Life " is for regular boys only, but does not promote Scouting. Rarilly do I see an article on Scouting. My boy leadership was more interested in the adult " Scouting magazine ", then 'play boy.' (ha,ha)...just a joke.

                  My suggestion is for Troops, who try to to merge with another strong unit, then there try to support the leadership, wheter it is boy or adult type. Keep that Scouting flame alive..jambo


                  • #24
                    Thanks, Jambo... You have responded a few times to this thread, and I apologize for not responding to your good, experienced advice, before. The suggestions you offered previous to this last post of yours were good, but not what my committee would support, nor our church, which is now just providing us a space without any type of sponsorship responsibility. I wish that were different, but it is the reality that I have come to understand when I accepted the responsibility to help keep the troop going. I guess that is the reason I didn't respond before.

                    This last post is much more compelling, because I think it deserves a seperate thread for the rest of the board to comment on. I agree with you about the issues you raised, in speaking of how the program can possibly survive when ideal opportunities like the World centennial Jamboree goes unmentioned. I helped find a scout to go from our council on a full sponsorship (He just got back), and it was an experience that only he will have, because it won't get the kind of coverage that it deserves.

                    Time magazine just came out with an issue (Aug. 6, 07) with the cover topic: The myth about boys, Experts say boys are in trouble. Here's why they've got it wrong. That title got my attention, especially with a photo of a pre or early teen boy in shorts, obviously playing in the mud. I was very disappointed (as if I ever thought Time magazine would do something not to disappoint me!) that this feature article culminated in talking about boys getting out to summer camps, doing pretty much everything a Boy Scout would do, but with only a slight reference to Baden-Powell, they ended up featuring a private summer camp that basically replicates the BSA program, without any of the core structure. I think that boys still are in trouble for all the reasons this article attemps to say is not true, yet there was never going to be any mention of what the BSA program has and continues to do. I think your comments are right on the money.

                    As for the idea of us moving to another, nearby troop, I think it might eventually happen, but it will be after my son and I have gone, and taking down a 75 year old Boy Scout troop will be someone elses burden to witness. I believe we have some core aspects to our troop (other then a lack of scouts) that are much better then the two adjacent troops, but that is not to say it won't happen after I am gone, along with my son. Thanks again for that paragraph, even if it paints a gloomy truth in this 21st Century world we live in. I think what we all do as adult volunteers to keep Scouting alive in our hearts and for our kids (my daughter loves her Venture Crew) is why I am here, and even it it ends up being just a personal experience for my family, I won't worry. But I know the program can't survive if it never gets a fair shake and only the mishaps in scouting get featured in the media.


                    • #25
                      Kahits...I have read your profile, and I see that you had plenty of Scouting experience. I don't feel like arguing with you on the aspects of what your committee or your church wants you to do ? My thinking is, that they should fully support the Scoutmaster, visa SPL and the boys. Either they leave or you leave, there should be no politics when you try your best, to motivate and run the unit you love. This concept of boy run units is great when you are flourishing and a large unit. But first, you should grab the bull by the horns, and run with it, philosophically speaking. All of you like examples, without revealing the location or unit...

                      " I was in a dilemma many years ago, after taking plenty of training courses, why can't I use the theories I learned, and implemented them ? I went to neighboring state , and by sheer accident, ran into a Scout unit, which I observed .They had a very active 60 boy Troop. They had a diesel bus...their own Scout building...The sponsoring institution was their own, called_______, The commissioner was also a Troop member ( he wore two hats) . They had five ASMs, of high rank. When they had a financial drive, the whole town cooperated. They did not participated in Council financial drives, but gave them out of their own treasury $ 1000 a year, to get them off their backs. Every boy went to summer camp for free, for two weeks . They had a large Alumni association which met four times a year, and assisted a needy boys in becoming a scout. The SPL who ran the troop was of high rank, and active.
                      They had boy run " news bladder ", of the past activities , promoting Scouting and well planned out yearly calender.,with the approval of the SM/PLC .It was very well organized, and the boys had their own Patrol rooms where they would have their meetings. The main hall was decorated with scout paraphernalia and momentous of past history of the unit., etc. etc."

                      I spoke to the well decorated Scoutmaster and some his ASM's...And he advised me, don't let your committee members take any of the training courses, you as a SM tell them what they should know of Scouting. He told me more...but then I have to write a book. In retrospect we have to improve Scouting, but the methodology the way it is presented to not working. jambo.


                      • #26
                        Then again having a Committee that are just puppets doesnt seem right either...


                        • #27
                          Old grey eagle: I appreciate your response, but I have a feeling you did not have much experience with the a Troop committee ? A good committe with dedicated motives, and supporing the Scoutmaster, is a blessing. I can tell you many stories, where Troops have folded, because of the over bearing CC of the unit. But, I will not site any examples, at this time. ..." Keep it Simple, make it fun "...jambo


                          • #28

                            It's almost a year since you first posted this question. How are things going with your Troop?


                            • #29
                              Thanks, GWD-S,
                              Alot has happened since I first posted this, and it is still slow going. The oldest, active scout in the troop ended up recruiting 2 of his friends, which initially was great. We are are now in the process of inviting one of these two boys (the 3rd one to join) to seek another troop, which we hope can happen for him, but he chose early on not to step up with his two friends, to help lead the troop, and was more a catalyst for the troop going the other way. The other two friends are committed to the program, with the original scout having gone to Philmont on a contingent last summer. The 2nd scout did go with us to summer camp (the 1st was at Philmont that week) and is about to get his 2nd and 1st class ranks next month. The only thing that was holding him back was the 3rd scout, who just didn't care to do much more then disrupt meetings and encourage his buddies to follow his lead in making sure we didn't get the work done. I ended up bringing in one of my friends from the district to help as my ASM, and he has been wonderful. He is an Eagle scout and Desert Storm veteran, and just a great support for me. Not having that strong 2nd leader on campouts and meetings could not have lasted for too much longer.

                              We do have 2 Webelos II boys coming to meetings, and they are wanting to cross over as soon as they can complete their AOL, which I hope will happen by no later then March of 08. My son's two crossover mates, which I am not sure I talked about, are still out of the troop. The one is gone forever and has since had some serious social breakdowns in his family and school, which I can only say is more then just hormones kicking in, and the other boy is still out of state waiting for his father to get legal custody, before he can return to town, to be again taken care of by an aunt and uncle. That poor boy is missing out on so much, that it breaks my heart because all he wants is to come back to the troop. In all of this, my son is up for his Star, and went thru his OA ordeal in May, and is now the VC of Indian Affairs for the chapter, which they asked me to be the new adviser for. I had stepped down from the crew I started last year, and ironically, it was my replacement as Crew Advisor, who was the Chapter adviser, that I ended up replacing. I did all that before I even went thru the ordeal, and then found myself switching places with him. When the district asks you to help out, particularly for a chapter that is in the same situation as the troop, I am afraid I could not turn it down. We would have left the district for another chapter, with the situation that exists in the chapter, and my son wanted to be active in OA. He danced at the Fall conclave and is now drumming with his school's powwow club, and wants to start a drum group with the chapter, so I'm in this up to my elbows, but I am not complaining (it will all be over sooner then I know...). We have a potential for 5 to 10 more Webelos in the spring of 09, but will work with the two that we have coming to meetings now, and will continue to hold our collective breaths. One of the 2 older boys has an 11 year old, 5th grade brother who is also interested in joining, but not until the other two WII's are officially in the troop, so that would be 3 more to offset the one that is moving on.

                              Getting help from the district has been a hugh relief for me, and he is willing to deal with the day to day for the troop meetings, while I work with the Webelos and of course dealing with our parents. I don't know if this looks like a series of good decisions being made or just not being able to say no, but for now, I am reasonably satisfied that I am still working on getting the troop back the other way, as my first priority.

                              What really surprised me was that we took a total of 4 boys to summer camp, with just me (we shared a camp with another local troop in the neighborhood, for that 2nd adult leader position) and had a great camp doing what is expected, but asked for permission to do a trail maintenance project for service requirements. We did a few other things on our own, but did not pursue Honor troop, because some of it required that second adult leader. When the Friday night campfire ceremony came, they awarded the honor troop certificates, which required alot of paperwork approvals. One of our newer, older (the 2nd one), scouts turned to our SPL and said do we get one of those, and was told that no, we didn't qualify. When they read off our troop number and our SPL went up to receive the award, those guys were pretty proud. I knew both signatures on the form and was humbled that they would do that, when we didn't exactly jump thru all the hoops that were required, but we apparently did enough.


                              • #30

                                I was called back into service last fall in a similar situation. The Troop was over 60 years old but the acting Scoutmaster had driven all but four Scouts away. The "Feeder Pack" had folded under him when he was Cubmaster.

                                The Troop had disbanded for the summer and I had arrived early on the first Monday of the new school year. The Sponsoring Organization (a Catholic church located in a declining neighborhood) had agreed to the Council's suggestion that they try to reestablish a Cub Scout Pack but it was obvious that the Troop would soon fold. As I wandered around the empty building, I made mental notes of how the Troop equipment might be packed up until some day years hence when the Cub Scouts of a yet to be established Pack were old enough to cross over and reestablish the old failed Troop.

                                The starting time for the meeting came and went and then a couple of hooligans arrived, stinking of cigarette smoke.

                                The older boy had left the Troop years before. He was 18 now but still in high school. His companion, 15, was a friend of his younger brother. They had all met in school detention and in conversation had discovered that they had all been Scouts at one time. The 15-year-old had made it as far as First Class in a Troop of over 80 Scouts. He had attended NYLT.

                                I explained that the Troop was down to a couple of Scouts (if any of them actually showed up this year at all) and that the principal of the local school did not allow recruiting.

                                The two teenagers looked at each other and laughed. I asked what was so funny and they replied that the Troop, the Council, and the District Commissioner had all been asking the wrong person! The vice-principal in charge of discipline (with whom they were both all too familiar) was active in Scouting and they could arrange a school assembly through him with no problem at all. I smiled at the over-confidence of youth, but what harm could they do?

                                The next day I received an Email from their vice-principle inviting me to give a recruiting assembly during school hours!

                                A year later we are up to almost two dozen active Scouts.

                                It is easy to recruit Scouts if you can hold assemblies in a local school during school hours, but retaining them is a different matter. To do this you need at least one gifted Scout, and our 15 year-old hooligan rose to the occasion. He turned out to be a no-nonsense proponent of Scout-led Patrols, and the first thing to go were some of my favorite adult rules including no cotton and no electronic devices on campouts (as well as no cooking on Sunday morning, which he insists on doing himself).

                                He quickly organized PLC meetings and excluded adults for the first couple of months. This galvanized the remaining older Scouts and brought a few back in.

                                He is 16 now and SPL. His "street cred" and outspoken values (in the older, traditional Baden-Powell sense of practical outdoor values and public service) has brought an odd discipline to the group. A couple of weeks ago I told him that "Signs Up" would have to be respected and that I had a few suggestions (including Beavah's concept of consequences). He listened patiently as I rambled on about subtracting the number of minutes that the sign was raised from the number of minutes reserved for the game period. Then he simply raised the sign and stared the Troop down with a great intensity until everyone was silent. It was spooky. Not a word was said and the sign has been respected ever since.

                                kahits writes:

                                "We actually have a Middle school across from the church that we meet at, but have had miserable luck recruiting from that particular population of boys. The adult effort that was required is just not in the troop right now, considering the limited success they had a few months before we crossed over last January. But my son's charter school is a very different situation and I think we will be successful getting boys from that school, because of the way they structured it."

                                The obvious question for me is "Can you get permission to hold a recruiting assembly in these two schools during school hours?"

                                If you can, expect to get half of an audience of sixth-grade boys to sign up for Scouting. Of the group that signs up you should be able to talk about one-third of their parents into bringing them to a meeting (if you are motivated and self-confident). If your meeting delivers on the promise of adventure that you made in the assembly, almost all of them will register with your Troop.




                                One of our methods in the Scout movement for taming a hooligan is to appoint him head of a Patrol. He has all the necessary initiative, the spirit and the magnetism for leadership, and when responsibility is thus put upon him it gives him the outlet he needs for his exuberance of activity, but gives it in a right direction (Baden-Powell, from the article "Are Our Boys Degenerating?" circa 1918).