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  • Numbers of Scouts in the troop

    Well Monday night our unit hit my magic number of 38. 4 patrols of 8 and a green bar patrol of the SPL, 2 ASPL and the troop quartermaster. At this point We are closing the unit and not accepting new members and beginning the attendance policy enforcement.

    I honestly have no interest in a mega troop. The CC made a statement that he would love to see a troop of 100. I have the support of the rest of the committee to keep the number at 38 and they like my thought and reasoning.

    So getting past the gear and transportation issues

    Am I missing a hidden benefit to a mega Troop?????

    I think we are better off with two units of 30 boys each vs one unit of 60......

    We have a couple of younger brothers in the pipe which will bump us slightly over 38, but I expect us to remain between 30 and 45 from this point forward.

  • #2
    I get what you mean. I think though that troops naturally find their level. At the moment I have 36 but think it's actually a few too many. I've found that when we run at 32-33 the only ones we have quit are those that move onto explorers at 14. As soon as we go over that number we tend to lose a few. And hey presto, I've had 2 scouts tell me just this week "thanks for the time but we won't be back after Christmas". What the limiting factor is in our case I don't know but I have a theory that every troop has a limit, probably based on space and number of adults available, above which it starts to struggle a bit.

    Comment


    • #3
      The physical setting determines troop size. I was once told that the seating in a church holds a maximum amount, half of which will be filled on average. So a church with seating for 200 people will have 100 average attendance each service. I'm surprised how accurate that is.

      One of my former troops always had 20 boys for the size of the facility. Even if Web 2 crossovers doubled that number, by the time the next group of Webs came along, we'd be back to 20 boys in attendance each week.

      Stosh

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm impressed, well done. Size is the function of the SM's skills of running the program. You seem to have drawn the line. The much much harder question is how to split a troop. The odds are roughly 5 to 1 that the second troop will fail and eventually go back to the other troop. Given a choice, not accepting new members is the better choice for all the scouts because scouts going with the second troop are more likely to quit for life if it fails. It would be better to send new scouts to another successful troop. Are you missing a hidden benefit of the Mega troop? Not if that isn't your cup of tea. Scoutmasters of mega troops have to get used to using trailers and need to work well with other adults, which may include rich businessmen, pilots, gun owners, and even home schoolers. And ironically the more scouts usually means less one on one time with them.

        Comment


        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          No interest in splitting the troop. But I would like to encourage the formation of another unit.

          Seems like we have a lot of troops start then sputter out after a single year. Sad. or we have seen a lot of troops merging.

          I enjoy knowing each of the lads in my unit. I enjoy my smc's with them and learning who they are even if it makes my stomach turn at times.

          I just feel something is lost when you have a giant troop. So how does a fellow make a difference in a lads life when he barely knows his name.

          It was a lot of hard work, growing the troop like we did. When I took over a year ago we were at 12 boys, now we are at 38 and that is with only 6 webelos crossing over.

          No idea why the success. new boys keep showing up week after week. the next TLT will have 12 lads in attendance.....my first one a year ago had 4.

          Makes me smile.

        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          Nice shots

          Musta been tired yesterday and missed them.

          Transporting gear to a campout is a problem and we may end up with a trailer.

          Far as the rest of your list. Not sure why we would ever need a rich businessman, pilot, gun owner or a home schooler.

          My boys will fund raise if we decide to buy a trailer. We will not ask for donations.
          We will fly commercial if we need to fly anywhere.
          We will go to the gun range and pay an instructor if we need to.

          Home schoolers, mercifully most of them are in the burbs and not in my area. enough said.

      • #5
        Your first few paragraphs basement, made me think you were firm at 38. Absolutely closed. No more.
        I was thinking that this might be a bit too rigid.

        Seems to me that you'll always have ebbs and flows...... boys may leave. Boys may slow down for a bit.
        If attendance requirements are too strict, it seems you may drive off a few after a while.
        Meanwhile, other boys, maybe good ones, will be closed out and either not get into scouting at all and join a gang instead, or go elsewhere.
        .... then you would have nobody to fill in the gaps of the boys that leave or take a break.

        Then your last paragraph indicates that you might be open on a select basis.

        But to your question - My opinion is that bigger will perhaps open possibilities to do more. Might bring more talent in youth and adults to make the overall program better.
        But I can see that bigger means more logistical headaches.
        Still, I like the idea of more ASM's that could lead more and varied trips, projects, and adventures than one SM could ever manage on his own. This would give the lads more choice in picking the direction they want to go.
        Also gives more opportunities for a boy to find a fit. If he's not getting along with the patrol he's in, maybe that 5th or 6th patrol might work better.

        Comment


        • Basementdweller
          Basementdweller commented
          Editing a comment
          Our attendance policy is a firm 75% activity level. With exception of illness, family issues and school activities, band or sports.

          We have attendance of 100% at meetings and 90% or better on outings.

          Generally if a lad misses the PL calls and checks on him.

      • #6
        I to find that units tend to find a correct level naturally, but your unit is clearly quite healthy as it is ran. Are there other near by units for scouts to join? How will you deal with age balance if new scouts aren't crossing to your unit, no new scouts can be a very bad thing over time.

        Comment


        • #7
          Originally posted by Basementdweller View Post
          Well Monday night our unit hit my magic number of 38. 4 patrols of 8 and a green bar patrol of the SPL, 2 ASPL and the troop quartermaster. At this point We are closing the unit and not accepting new members and beginning the attendance policy enforcement.

          I honestly have no interest in a mega troop. The CC made a statement that he would love to see a troop of 100. I have the support of the rest of the committee to keep the number at 38 and they like my thought and reasoning.
          Good thing the rest of the committee is with you on that. I've never seen a troop over 50 that is properly boy-led and not rampant with adult-centric "fixes" to make that size sustainable. 8 troop scribes to give everyone their PoR, and silliness like that. It's simply an ego thing, and most of the time it's a racket from one mega fundraiser to the next for that troop RV with satellite TV and 6-burner range :P

          If the CC won't let it go, sock him with Baden-Powell: "The numbers in a Troop should preferably not exceed thirty two. I suggest this number because in training boys myself I have found that sixteen was about as many I could deal with - in getting at and bringing out the individual character in each. I allow for other people being twice as capable as myself and hence the total of thirty-two." (Aids to Scoutmastership)

          Maybe the CC thinks he is 6x better at this than BP, in which case he can make a 100-member troop; or maybe he thinks you're 6x better, in which case he ought to accept your judgement that 38 is enough.

          Comment


          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            That's what PL's are for. They keep track of that and make appropriate information passed on to SPL and SM. SMC's are your direct contact on the boys. A folder on each boy will give you an opportunity to update information to be reviewed before each SMC.

            The General of the Army doesn't know each Private personally, but he does know what his boys can do.

            BTW, during the Civil War each company of men counted 100 on the line. The First Sergeant (PL) knew each man by name and would do roll call from memory. It was his job to take care of the men. The Captain took care of the company.

            It's not out of the realm of possibilities to know your boys if one were to work at it a bit. I found that I could always find a solution if it were important enough to me.

            I guess I would find it difficult to "turn boys away", but with saying that, assimilation of new boys is vital to the Web->Scouting transition. Then keeping them to 18 is yet another issue that I focus on constantly.

            When my boy was in Cubs, the pack numbered 110 scouts. I'm sure the CM didn't know all the boys, but relied on his DL's to keep the program going. The SM that relies on his PL's will be afforded a larger troop than the SM that has to have his fingers in every issue.

            Stosh

          • Basementdweller
            Basementdweller commented
            Editing a comment
            If I lived with the lads 24 x 7 I would expect to learn 100 lads names and info.

            I am not turning away a lad, but sending him to another unit. I believe a lad is better served by a smaller unit.

          • jblake47
            jblake47 commented
            Editing a comment
            A good PL should be able to handle 6-8 without having to live with them 24/7.

            He should be able to give the SM an insight into the boy before any SMC. Of course that only works if the PL's are actually functional.

            With a functional corps of PL's and an effective SPL/ASPL team the troop could function quite well with a large number of boys.

            Like I mentioned a Pack of 110 boys and 15 adult DL's the Pack did very well. As you mentioned with a CC on an ego trip, maybe the SM's ego doesn't need to be big enough to think is importance is necessarily great enough to handle boys without having to know them all intimately. It's part of delegating responsibility and accountability to the PL's and let them do their magic. The boys may mature into leadership skills if the SM/ASM team isn't hovering over their shoulders needing to be involved with everything in the Patrols.

            80 boys, 10 patrols, SM works with SPL/ASPL team to enhance the leadership of 10 PL's. Now, those boys the SM should know intimately!

            I for one don't think it's necessary to know every boy, but if I have a problem with one, the first question I ask is: "Who's your PL?" If I've looked at his right sleeve shirt first, I don't even have to ask the question.

            I think BP's limit to 30 boys is indicative of an adult's ability to handle that many individuals at any given time. Just ask any well trained professional teacher. They'll tell you that number is critical. However, if one has solid PL's that glass ceiling can be easily broken.

            Stosh

        • #8
          Our Troop runs higher - around 60 Scouts (more on the rolls right now though). We cut off new Scouts every year at a number based on what we can handle due to size, etc. I like 5 Patrols of 15 each, so that each has close to 8 on any given campout. Yes - 50% participation is our goal for campouts. We ebb and flow with soccer, football, basketball and swim seasons. Some boys take a POR in the Fall, because they play baseball. My football and soccer players step up in the Spring and summer, during THEIR off season.

          I HATE drawing a line, but it has to be done. I would split the Troop, but I don't know where the line would be and who would go where. One thing that IS happening is that our Crew is truly separating this year from the Troop, and a lot of older boys and parents are choosing NOT to re-Charter with the Troop. This is serving to be a type of split, and it is already causing some pain at the unit level (the adults leaving have been very important to the Troop, but they are done).

          Good job with keeping a strong Troop of a given size, and I hope you have a list of Troops to pass people onto when you don't have room. That is what we are doing now.

          Comment


          • #9
            Bottom line here folks

            We will take the Web crossovers from Little Brother Pack regardless of troop size, they average 3-6 per year. I will plan the troop looking at the webelo numbers coming up.

            We will enforce attendance, good riddance to the casual scouts, the ones that cherry pick events or camp only.

            I have spoken to neighboring SM's to let them know what I am doing and ask permission to refer boys to them. They agree that more units are better than a single mega troop in the area. One expressed concerns about receiving our cast offs the other was glad to have them. I assured both that any contacts would be referred to them without ever meeting or judging the lad, We would not cherry pick boys.

            Comment


            • jblake47
              jblake47 commented
              Editing a comment
              We will enforce attendance, good riddance to the casual scouts, the ones that cherry pick events or camp only.

              We would not cherry pick boys.

              Hmm... Doesn't sound like you cherry pick the newbies, but down the road it looks like that might be the case?????

              Stosh

            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              Blake.....I am interested in active boys,

              You know that if you have a troop of 20 with 50% attendance you functionally have one patrol. So instead of having a troop of 70 to have my troop of 35 active boys..........


              I remove the dead wood.

              If your saying that I am cherry picking boys with good attendance than yes your probably right.

          • #10
            So there is no benefit to mega Troops other that Ego Stroking the adults involved??????

            Comment


            • qwazse
              qwazse commented
              Editing a comment
              I think the mission of the CO comes into play here. If it is to attract masses of kids (for whatever reason) then it will encourage the SMs' to become more like a management team with the ASMs handling a lot of the SMCs. If it is to provide opportunities a select group of dedicated kids (again, for whatever reason) it will encourage the SM's to become more like counselors with a certain "caseload."

              Obviously, not all of us can flex into both roles. So, that would mean some units would have to swap out leaders as the size of a troop changes. In fact, when our unit was numbering in the 40's we did change SMs fairly frequently. Now that we are smaller, our current SM is very happy to stick around (his boy graduated this year). And, it is kind of nice not to have to drag that trailer everywhere!

            • Eagledad
              Eagledad commented
              Editing a comment
              Oh for Pete sakes Base, you can't just ask a question and expect a one size fits all answer. Run the best program you can and deal with the numbers that works best for you. Some are capable of doing that with large numbers. It's not about personal ego, it's about personal skills. The assumption that a large troop can't be boy run is just that, an assumption. And it is a bad assumption. There many large good true boy run programs. One basic answer to question is a large troop has a lot more resources for more activity choices. A ski trip for a troop 20 may be a lot more expensive than a larger troop because a parent has connections. Barry

          • #11
            I've found each unit is different, although being a bit old school, I'm intrigued, and encouraged, to find out tough attendance and participation requirements working. My mentioned how your troop went form dead, to the perfect size in a year; what did that for you? What type of program does the unit run? I'm asking because it sounds like you got something very right, and may have some good ideas others may benefit from.

            Comment


            • Basementdweller
              Basementdweller commented
              Editing a comment
              It took 4 years to bring the program back and it took the Troop committee and the Two adults who had a shared vision as to where they wanted to go and it to be. We are very much still in process.

              The attendance policy stemmed from a number of discussions here about boys at life disappearing for a couple of years and then reappearing to earn Eagle just under the wire.

              Being proactive and not gonna be that guy. The committee adopted the policy about a year ago now. The parents are aware of it as are the boys and till now there has been no reason to enforce/remove a lad from membership.

              We have not rechartered boys who have not been active, the PL call to see if they are interested no response your off the charter. Last year it killed my retention numbers, but this year we lost 2 webelos who filled out the application and came to a couple of meetings to never be seen from again and a football player.

              but Honestly their attendance has been stellar. We have 100 for most meetings and 80-100% attendance on outings.

              The program is headed toward a boy led outdoor program. We have multiple events a month outside of meetings from community service, day hikes, orienteering mets, on and on. We camp 10 months a year with December being our Lock in Christmas party and a cabin trip to our local scout camp for scout community service.

              The program is what ever the boys want it to be.....We shoot, canoe, hike, backpack, rappell, bike, swim, provide service to our community.


              The big thing is our troop is made up of boys who want to be in scouting, not boys whose parents think it might be a good idea.

          • #12
            Basement, we've not always agreed on everything in the past, but I'll be the first in line to shake your hand. Your troop has took the bull by the horns, and created a solid, strong scout program to be proud of. I took the campaign hat off last year, and stepped down as SM. I now wish I had taken a tougher stance on attendance and cut the dead weight loose. The good news is, as UC for the units are the Charter Org, and mentor for the new SM, I still have some influence

            Comment


            • #13
              What confuses me is the mega troops are SM ego trips, yet Basement's smaller troop isn't. But HE took the bulls by the horn and with other adults rescued this poor pittance of a troop and built is by hand into what it is today? They have rules, regs and have the very best of the boys.

              Why do I hear adult ego running throughout the conversation? Where are the comments about how the boys are taking over and making it a boy-led program? The closest thing to boy-led might be in the program, but the words WE and OUR always crops up.

              I remember once being told that a pet-peeve is something others do that we don't like about ourselves.

              "The program is what ever the boys want it to be.....We shoot, canoe, hike, backpack, rappell, bike, swim, provide service to our community." Shouldn't it be THEY shoot, canoe, hike, backpack, etc.???

              Now forums don't always give full indication of the meaning of words, but if I was UC I would be a bit concerned without further information.

              I left a "boy-led, patrol-method" troop that was the best in the council, just ask any of the adults running it.

              Stosh

              Comment


              • Eagledad
                Eagledad commented
                Editing a comment
                The problem with your philosophy stosh is that boys don't start or build troops. A troop is only as boy run as the vision of the the adults driving the program. And one mans boy run is another mans eagle factory. Whose to say you talk a good talk ,but..we'll you know. I can't respect the statement that mega troops are adult egos in overdrive because I've observed mega troop leaders who don't have a self serving bone in their body. They just have a style that works best for working with large programs. If you want to demonize bad leaders, at least pick on actual bad leaders to demonize. You will find adult egos in all sizes of troops, even so-called boy run troops. And if mega troops isn't your style, good for you. But there must be something there of value for so many families to pick mega troops programs. Barry

              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                Eagledad, don't know where that flame came from. I'm the one saying one does not need to limit the sizes of units! One can have a small boy-run AND large boy-run troops in my book! So far the two points I have made is sometimes the facilities restricts the number of boys in a troop just because there just isn't enough room. The other is once one gets to a size that the SM can't handle (about 30) then one has to shift gears and start turning the unit over to really boy-run because it's too much for one person to handle. A SM that has to intimately know all the boys will never be able to handle a troop of 80 boys, but multiple boy-led patrols can.

                So what limits the troop? Room size, or adult control? The ego thingy comes into play when I see adults struggling with large troops because they can't control it and don't rely on their trained boys to pick up the slack.

                In reality for me, small troops are boy-led by adult decision, but larger troops need the boys to step up and take on boy-led dynamics just to keep things going beyond the scope of what the adults can handle. Otherwise there needs to be a huge cadre of adults keeping control over the larger troops.

                Boy-led comes in ALL sizes and the adults don't need to put arbitrary limits on the program for the boys to benefit from it. I just wonder if controlling adults put these limits on the size of troops just because they don't want to lose control.

                I don't know if it's my style of writing or how I phrase things, but you and I see things eye-to-eye more often than not.

                Stosh

              • Basementdweller
                Basementdweller commented
                Editing a comment
                Blake, so you never went on a scout outing and participated in the activity????? If I drive the boys to the range to shoot, I will shoot as well, how about rapelling, I don't like heights but I will do it with the boys.

                Your being ridiculous

            • #14
              Agreed, there must be a history behind the "rule" that a mega troop = scouter ego.

              To answer basement's question - YES, there most certainly is/could be advantages to a larger troop.

              Comment


              • Basementdweller
                Basementdweller commented
                Editing a comment
                You have seen them......giant tandem axle troop trailer towed by the bus.

                The trailer has a list of sponsors and in giant 3 foot tall letters Troop 123 where eagles soar. followed by the eagle list by year......with an average of 10-15 per year.

                Or the folks here that take the airplanes here and there

                ahhh, no thanks.

              • jblake47
                jblake47 commented
                Editing a comment
                I've seen the same thing happened to small troops. Size of the troops has nothing to do with the SM's ego.

            • #15
              BW, I'm not sure what your controls will be to keep your size down but I'd suggest caution with not allowing any new scouts in as it might cause troubles down the road. If 38 is where you want to be and you're running a great program and no scouts leave for 2 or 3 years then you won't have any new scouts for this period. After this time the webelos might come and see that there are no younger scouts and might find another troop more welcoming. Another problem is that a year or so after that you'll have a bubble in your leadership. This is a real challenge.

              I've always felt that there has to be some new scouts every year. I'd limit the size of the troop by limiting the number of new scouts allowed every year. If 8 scouts a year would keep the membership at roughly 38 then maybe some times the number would go to 40 or 44 and sometimes it might come down to 32, but there would always be new scouts.

              Comment

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