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Calion

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About Calion

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  1. Yeah, I've been really torn as to whether to keep this Scouts BSA–specific, or to have it more agnostic. What do you think? I don't really want to make a specific guide for each unit type (nevermind that I know almost nothing about Venturing or Exploring), but I felt that to leave out some of the Troop specific stuff would be to make it less useful to those who are probably the most likely to be using it—those trying to start girl Troops. Excellent idea. I'm not sure what this would look like.
  2. Would you suggest any changes then?
  3. I see. Our situation is rather unusual; it's a linked troop, but the chartered organization insisted that the girl troop have its own committee. My only real point is that I just wish that they had established a committee at least a few weeks before the troop was operational, so that we could get up to speed. I still feel, almost a month in, like we're behind the 8-ball.
  4. Do you think that that worked well for you? That's roughly how we did things; we waited until we had enough girls interested in joining to find volunteers to have a Troop Committee in order to actually register the unit. That meant that I was appointed Chair at the same meeting that the Troop was formed. This has resulted in me having to scramble to put things together and get organized, while Troop meetings were ongoing, with a brand new Scoutmaster to boot. It would have been much better, in my opinion, if we had formed the Committee first, gotten organized, established an online presence, and then went about recruiting girls. At least a couple of weeks would have been very helpful. As it is, I feel that I'm always one step behind.
  5. Fair enough. I guess I was lumping SEs and DEs together in that comment. Still, starting new units would seem to be a major BSA priority (especially now that we've got a whole new unit type and demographic to appeal to!), and I would expect more specific guidance on how to do that. Besides the "New-Unit Organization Process" document that can only be found on the Wayback Machine (and was pretty good! WTF?), there's almost nothing out there. It's very strange. I was thinking perhaps staff have access to resources that volunteers don't, but it looks like their main resource in this regard is the Unit Performance Guide, which talks about New-Unit Commissioners, and wooing chartered organizations, and not much else.
  6. There; I fixed it; what do you think? Find a chartering organization. A chartered organization is the community organization that “owns” the unit. It provides leadership, meeting facilities, and other resources to the unit. Obviously nothing can happen without finding a chartering organization first. This wasn’t skipped in my unit’s case, but I could see someone trying to round up sufficient Scouts prior to finding (or establishing) a chartering organization. Of course, if the reason you’re trying to start a new unit is that you already have five eligible youth who want to join Scouting but have no unit to join, fine, but normally, recruiting youth members is one of the last steps. Detailed guidelines on how to accomplish this step are included in the Unit Performance Guide and the New-Unit Organizer Training. Work with the chartering organization to decide what kind of unit to start. BSA has five different kinds of units: Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts), Venturing, Sea Scouting, and Exploring, each serving different populations. If you’re not sure which kind would be best, consult Scouting Programs for details on each. If you wish to start a Cub Scout pack, you must decide whether it will be an all-boy pack, an all-girl pack, or a mixed, “family” pack, with both girl and boy dens. If you wish to start a Scouts BSA troop, you must decide whether it will be a girl troop or a boy troop. Since girl troops are the newest addition to the BSA, the terminology in this guide will reflect Scouts BSA troops, but, aside from that, the procedure is mostly the same for all kinds of units. Again, for specifics, explore your unit type at Scouting Programs. Remember, the Chartered Organization “owns” the unit, so ultimately, this is their decision. If you are dead set on having another kind of unit than the organization is willing to support, then you may wish to find another organization to charter your unit.
  7. Please note that any level of nit-picking is fine. I won't be upset if you criticize fine details! Also, I've deliberately made this guide rather link-heavy. If any one knows of any other good resources that should be linked in, let me know!
  8. That makes perfect sense; I hadn't thought of that. I'll do that.
  9. I’m the Troop Committee Chair for a brand new troop, and it’s been a rocky start. Here’s how things could have been done better. I find it very odd that BSA seems to provide very little guidance on how to start new units. Isn’t one of the most important jobs of the Scout Executive to work to start new Scouting units? And yet the formal guidance on how to do so is almost nonexistent. There’s some in the Unit Performance Guide, and that’s all I’ve found, except an outdated document called “New Unit Organization Process." The principal factor in starting a new Scouting unit is doing things in the proper order. Here it is (if you already have some of these elements in place, obviously you can skip those steps): A note: I’ve made this guide fairly detailed, to spell out everything someone new to Scouting might need to know. Don’t be fooled by its length; this process isn’t that complicated! Another note: I’ve used masculine pronouns for clarity and ease of reading, but (except where noted), both men and women are eligible and welcome in any Scouter role. A final note: There are people available to help you with this! Contact your local Scouting District (to find your District, contact your local Council) to get assistance. The District Executive, District Commissioner, and New-Unit Organizer (if your District has one) will all be happy to provide you with resources and more detailed information than is available here. Decide what kind of unit you want to start. BSA has five different kinds of units: Cub Scouting, Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts), Venturing, Sea Scouting, and Exploring, each serving different populations. If you’re not sure which kind would be best, consult Scouting Programs for details on each. If you wish to start a Cub Scout pack, you must decide whether it will be an all-boy pack, an all-girl pack, or a mixed, “family” pack, with both girl and boy dens. If you wish to start a Scouts BSA troop, you must decide whether it will be a girl troop or a boy troop. Since girl troops are the newest addition to the BSA, the terminology in this guide will reflect Scouts BSA troops, but, aside from that, the procedure is mostly the same for all kinds of units. Again, for specifics, explore your unit type at Scouting Programs. Find a chartering organization. A chartered organization is the community organization that “owns” the Scout troop. It provides leadership, meeting facilities, and other resources to the troop. Obviously nothing can happen without finding a chartering organization first. This wasn’t skipped in my unit’s case, but I could see someone trying to round up sufficient Scouts prior to finding (or establishing) a chartering organization. Of course, if the reason you’re trying to start a new unit is that you already have five eligible youth who want to join Scouting but have no unit to join, fine, but normally, recruiting youth members is one of the last steps. Detailed guidelines on how to accomplish this step are included in the Unit Performance Guide and the New-Unit Organizer Training. Appoint a Chartered Organization Representative. The Chartered Organization Representative is the “head of the Scouting department” for the chartered organization. He is a member of that organization, appointed by its head (or is the head of the organization himself). It’s not necessary that he be experienced in Scouting. This is the key figure in this whole process. I’ve seen Scouting units where the COR is purely a nominal position; the Scouters themselves do all the actual work (not that a COR isn’t a Scouter, but you know what I mean). If at all possible, the COR should be active and dedicated to starting a quality unit. If not, someone else will have to do the heavy lifting in getting the unit started. That can work, but the COR is in the best position to do it, as he has the actual authority to take the necessary actions. Otherwise, you’ll basically be acting in the COR’s name. Note that as there’s no unit yet, there’s no charter, and therefore (unless the Chartering Organization already has other Scouting units) the COR is not actually registered with the BSA yet. That’s fine; there’s nothing he needs to do at this point that requires he be registered. Appoint a Committee Chair. A Committee Chair, as the title suggests, is the head of the Troop Committee, which provides support and assistance to the troop. The Chair is chosen (or approved) by the Chartered Organization Representative. Again, this person won’t be registered yet. That’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with this. I think this is what trips people up; they think the unit has to exist before (or, really, at the same time, since you have to have a unit committee in order to form the unit) the adult positions can be filled, because otherwise they can’t be registered in the system. But this is exactly backwards from a functional perspective. The adult leaders should be in place before you recruit a single Scout; otherwise, they’re racing to do a bunch of stuff at the “last minute,” so to speak. It is crucial to appoint an organized, dedicated Committee Chair. Ideally, this person will also be likable, well-connected in the community, and have sufficient free time to dedicate to his tasks, especially for a new unit. It is not necessary that he be experienced in Scouting. Get trained. The COR and CC should look through their respective Guides (the Chartered Organization Representative Guidebook and the Troop Committee Guidebook, respectively). A thorough reading is not necessary at this point; just skim through and read what looks relevant. Alternately (or in addition), they can go through online training. For the Chartered Organization Representative: Click on “BSA Learn Center" at my.scouting.org (you’ll likely have to register first), select “Position,” then choose “Chartered Org Rep.” Select the “Chartered Organization Representative” plan, and complete the listed courses. For the Committee Chair: Click on “BSA Learn Center" at my.scouting.org (you’ll likely have to register first), select “Program,” select “Scouts BSA,” then select “Scouts BSA - Troop Committee Training.” At minimum, complete the "Scouts BSA - Troop Committee - Before the First Meeting” training. The Chartered Organization Representative can also, if he chooses, join the Troop Committee, so it wouldn’t hurt for him to take this course as well. Another option is to take classroom training. Contact your District for more information on when courses are taught. They can also view the classroom training guide (called Committee Challenge) to get a good overview. Recruit a Troop Committee. The Troop Committee is made up of at least three Scouters (including the Chair) who help the troop with recruiting, finances, equipment, transportation, and other things. The Committee Chair (with the approval, and hopefully the assistance, of the Chartered Organization Representative) is in charge of recruiting members of the Committee. There’s no limit to how many Committee members you can have, but at least five is ideal. However, you only need three (the Chair and two others, who will hopefully serve as Secretary and Treasurer) to start the unit, so you can start from there and expand later. These are often going to be the parents of Scouts, so feel free to approach parents of youth you think would be interested in Scouting. Other sources for possible Committee Members is the chartered organization itself, business leaders, and involved members of the community at large. Once enough members have been recruited, establish a regular monthly meeting time for the Committee. Train the Troop Committee. Committee Members use the same training as the Chair. Eventually, they should be fully trained (completing all the relevant online training courses or attending a classroom training session), but for now, they should at least be given a basic overview of Scouting and the duties of the Troop Committee and the Scoutmaster corps. Select and recruit adult leaders. The Scoutmaster is in charge of the actual youth in the unit. The Scoutmaster doesn’t run the unit—the Scouts themselves do that, with the Scoutmaster’s guidance (Cub Scout packs are different in this). But the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters are the primary adults who interact with the Scouts themselves. Scouts may not know that the Troop Committee even exists, but they will see the Scoutmaster at every troop meeting. Therefore, the decision of who the Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters will be should not be taken lightly. It is extremely important that these be people of good character and reliability, because the safety and well-being of the youth members will be placed in their care. In a very real sense, the Scoutmaster makes the troop. A good Scoutmaster can make up for a lackluster Troop Committee—though the Scoutmaster will be very busy in that case! But a good Troop Committee cannot compensate for a poor Scoutmaster, other than by seeking a replacement. Because of this, the process that the Troop Committee uses for selecting and recruiting adult leaders (as Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters are often known) is somewhat more involved than the way Committee members are chosen. Please refer to “Selecting Quality Leaders," and/or the relevant section in the Troop Committee Guidebook for details. Don’t apply this process only to Scoutmasters! Assistant Scoutmasters may need to step into the primary role at any time, and therefore should go through the same selection process as the Scoutmaster. Ideally, the Scoutmaster will have experience in Scouting, but that’s not required. If establishing a girl Scouts BSA troop, try to recruit at least two female adult leaders, as one female registered adult is required to attend all troop outings. That registered adult can be a Committee member or even a Scout parent, but it’s much simpler if she is an adult leader. Why two? Because you need a backup. You can’t count on one person to make it to every single outing; unavoidable conflicts can arise. You don’t want to have to cancel an outing just because there’s no registered female adult available to attend (this has already happened in my troop). Train the adult leaders. At minimum, new adult leaders should complete the "Scouts BSA - Scoutmaster - Before the First Meeting” training plan (available at my.scouting.org similarly to the Committee training discussed above). Alternately, classroom instruction is available, similar to (and often at the same time as) the Committee training mentioned above. My district provided the Troop Committee Guidebook and the Troop Leader Guidebook, Volume 1 with the price of the course. Adult leaders should also complete a hands-on outdoor course called “Introduction to Outdoor Leadership Skills,” but that doesn’t have to happen before the unit is chartered. Complete Youth Protection Training. All adults—Committee members and adult leaders—must complete Youth Protection Training before registering as an adult with the BSA. It takes about an hour to complete. This step can be completed at any point prior to interacting with youth; I included it here to ensure that all adults are included. Get uniformed. It’s crucial that the adult leaders be fully and correctly uniformed according to the standards of the BSA (more details are available in the Guide to Awards and Insignia). This sets the standard for your Scouts, and also inculcates respect and taking Scouting seriously. Establish an online presence. Make a Facebook page, a troop Web site (there are various Scouting-specific Web hosts), etc. Coordinate with your local District or Council to establish your BeAScout pin. This is a popular way to find local Scouting units. This is the responsibility of the Troop Committee. Recruit Scouts. It’s finally time to recruit some youth members! The best way is to have a sign-up event. The Troop Committee should organize it, or appoint one or more members to do so. Speak with the chartering organization to see if there are any members with eligible children. Contact those parents and invite them to the sign-up. Have announcements made at local schools. Make flyers for students to take home with details of the sign-up event. Contact local newspapers, media outlets, and use social media to announce the sign-up event. Such notices are often free. Coordinate with other Scouting units in your area through your District leadership. For instance, are there Webelos Scouts ready to graduate and looking for a Scouts BSA troop? If you’re starting a girl troop, are there boys in existing troops with sisters who would like to join? Also, are there existing recruiting events, such as School Night to Join Scouting, that your unit can participate in? Explore the connections of the Troop Committee members. Send invitations to friends with eligible children. Brainstorm other resources that might be tapped. Conducting the Sign-Up (from p. 19, New Unit Organization Process) Hold the sign-up at the location where the unit will meet. Make it a brief, upbeat, and well-planned rally. Be sure to: Introduce the unit leadership. Present the unit program. Register new youth members. Select and recruit additional adults. Create an air of excitement of things to come. Provide information. Answer questions. Provide light refreshments. Announce the unit’s next meeting date. Don’t forget that recruitment is an ongoing process. Your existing Scouts are your best recruiters. See Scouting.org for more recruitment ideas and aids. File the paperwork. This is the time to submit all applications, both youth and adult, along with the New Unit Application, and applicable registration fees, to your District office. Your District Executive is the expert on all these things, and can assist you in this process, as well as provide all necessary forms. Have your first troop meeting. Don’t assume that everyone will just show up. Someone should call the parents of every single youth member prior to the meeting to remind them of the date, time and location of the meeting. Encourage all parents to attend, and have a Parent Orientation meeting during the troop meeting. (These are a good idea to have several times a year.) Although Scouts BSA troop meetings are usually youth-led, the Scoutmaster will have to lead the first few meetings, to show the Scouts how it’s done. How the first few meetings are organized is up to the Scoutmaster, but a good suggestion is that patrols be established, troop and patrol officers be elected, and patrol names, flags, patches and yells be determined. After that, work on requirements for Scout rank for all Scouts. Present the Charter Once the charter is processed and received by the unit, it should be formally presented to the chartering organization. The charter presentation should occur at a full gathering of the chartered organization. For instance, in a church they should present the charter before the full congregation; a service club should present it at a meeting of all of its members. This way, everyone will know that Scouting is a part of the organization’s youth program and can share in the pride of ownership. Youth members and unit leaders should participate in the ceremony as the charter is presented to the head of the chartered organization. Unit leaders and the unit committee may also be installed during this ceremony. The charter certificate should be framed and appropriately displayed after the ceremony. Raise money. Have the Troop treasurer establish a bank account and budget for the troop in accordance with the guidelines in the Troop Committee Guidebook. Begin fundraising activities, such as popcorn sales. Consult the District Executive for more information. Ask the Chartered Organization if they will contribute seed money for the new unit. Get the Scouts trained. Once youth leadership has been selected, schedule training for the youth leadership (ILST) as soon as possible. The Scoutmaster can run this training, or your District may have regular courses. Set the Scouts loose. At this point, the goal is getting a youth-led troop working smoothly. This is no easy task, and may take months or years to implement fully. Once the troop is having regular PLC meetings, the Scoutmaster should hand over more and more authority to the Scouts themselves. Every troop is different, so there’s no specific blueprint to follow. Use your best judgement, but err on the side of letting Scouts learn from their mistakes. Keep learning. There is much, much more to learn about Scouting than I’ve presented here. There are many different books and training courses to increase your knowledge of Scouting—Wood Badge being a pre-eminent one. Make adult training a regular part of your Committee and adult leader activities. Have fun! It’s not only Scouts that get to have fun. Scouting is fun for adults too! Whether it’s learning skills alongside the Scouts, going camping, enjoying the outdoors, or brushing up on your leadership skills, Scouting has many opportunities for adults to improve and enjoy themselves. Enjoy your new unit!
  10. Calion

    How to start a new unit

    I'm aware that this is an ooooold post, but it's still useful. In that vein, I found the "Membership Committee Guide" (33080) online.
  11. Calion

    "Serious" campfire skits/songs?

    I think I should have worded this differently. I didn't really mean "serious"; I meant "values-instructing." A skit with a moral can certainly be amusing, entertaining, or even outright funny. My real point is that I think that there should be a resource where skits-with-morals can be found (and to ask if anyone was aware of the existence of such a thing), and, moreover, that Campfire culture be changed so that skits and songs are normally presumed to have something to do with Scouting values, with the "pointless and silly" variety that currently makes up essentially 100% of Campfire skits and songs (again, excepting Vespers and other opening/closing activities) being in the minority. I mean, my Troop has one single song that they sing at almost every meeting—the Announcements song. It's cute, and funny, but serves no other purpose than to be cute and funny (and forms part of our Troop traditions, which is important in itself). Just seems like kind of a waste.
  12. Calion

    "Serious" campfire skits/songs?

    No, but it was similar. This troupe did short skits, not long performances like it looks like Saltworks focuses on.
  13. Calion

    "Serious" campfire skits/songs?

    Yes, of course, that one. Like I said, the opening and closing ceremonies are often exactly right. At his first Summer Camp, my son spent 45 minutes watching the Camp staff sing Vespers (or…well, I'm not sure what song it was, but they were all in a huddle, swaying and singing together, for a long time) after everyone else had left the Campfire. I stayed behind, out of sight, to watch and make sure he made it back to camp OK, as no one but I noticed that he had left himself behind. He was entranced. It was kind of magical. There's a Boy Scout version of "On My Honor," at any rate. Thanks, that's just exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.
  14. Calion

    2019 GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING

    Look what you've done; you pointed it out to them, and now they've taken it down. 😛 I don't suppose you have a copy to share? Edit: Found it.
  15. Calion

    2019 GUIDE TO SAFE SCOUTING

    Hey wait…this seems to kill an old idea that I thought was a good one: Does this mean that patrol tents (unless all patrol members happen to be within two years of age of each other) are not allowed? Or does this only apply to normal two-man tents (which I would agree with)?
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