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Common traits of successful troops

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I am posting this here to possible help new scouters get the troop going on the right path. These are personal observations from years of working with hundreds of troops develop strong scouting programs. I hope they will help you evaluate where the troop you serve is functioning and where it can improve. Tis board would be a good tool to help you change for the better, but the resources of the BSA are probably your greatest source of scouting methods and information.


Hope this helps,

Bob White



Some Common Traits of Successful Troops


Currently trained adults


Leaders wear correct uniform


Scoutmaster concentrates on training Junior Leaders, and knowing the needs and characteristics of each scout.


They use the Patrol Method for everything


They follow the contents of the Boy Scout Handbook


The committee supports the decision of the scouts, they dont make decisions for them.


They have at least 2 Assistant Scoutmasters


They recognize scouts 3 times for every advancement


They DONT use troop meetings as merit badge classes.


They plan everything in advance and put it in writing (The difference between a wish and a plan is a plan is written down)


The only rules they have are that scouts and leaders follow the Scout Oath and Law.


They get outdoors once a month (even if just for a day event)


Troop meetings are filled with hands on activities


New scouts make First Class, First Year


They keep in contact with Webelos Dens year round


They select leaders they dont recruit them.


They participate in District and Council events


They attend Roundtable


Adults smile and play nice together. (If you are not enjoying yourself then neither are the scouts.)


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I am posting this here to possible help new scouters get the troop going on the right path. These are personal observations from years of working with hundreds of troops develop strong scouting progra


I agree with everything except the First Class First Year part & the only rules part. And you forgot the most important element FUN! If the Scouts aren't having fun then they won't stay!


Ed Mori


Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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I didn't forget it. Fun is what happens from doing the things listed . If a boy is camping, advancing, making his own choices and doing hands on activities he'll be having fun. Fun is not an activity. It is a feeling brought about by activities.


Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I really like your list, and totally agree with it. Sometimes we all need remembers.


With the two Troops I currently work with, one running, one being re-started, I strive to guide the Scouts through the First Class Trail in about a year. Admittly some do it in less time and others need more time. My exeperience has been if the Scout is activiley partispating and enjoying what the Troop has to offer, especially the monthly campouts, they will earn First Class in about a year.



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First Class First Year is how our Troop grows. It means you are active ,camping,going to District Events,and Council Events. This helps the scouts stay active and be able to do more.After First Class they can just be Active or they can START up the long trail to Eagle. This is their choice, just as Wood Badge is

the adults choice.

I use to be a BEAVER

a good ol Beaver too!

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To me FCFY means the troop has an organized, structured program with well ahead of time scheduled and publicized events that present the scout with the opportunity to make first class in one year. In our troop, our advancement chair always has lists of requirements that each scout needs to make first class (praise troopmaster)handed to the trip leader. ASM are assigned/volunteer for requirements and are assigend a senior scout or scouts. The troop is informed of the schedule, with frequent reminders. Stove safety at 10:00, firebuilding at 11:00, knots at 2:00 etc. As scouts fulfill the requirements, it is so indicated on the printout which goes back to the advancement chair for entry in the computer. We have a handful of adults who work one on one with scouts who need requurements not scheduled to be presented. Once the skill is presented by the senior scouts it is reviwed and the scouts practice and then they are tested. If they dont pass the test, they dont get signed off. On the next camp out they are on the one on one list. This is an example of a winter cabin campout. If a scout chooses to sled all weekend, thats fine. Attendance on the trip is kept as well at attendance at each skills session. If a question arises by a parent why the kid isnt advancing, we can show why.


On a canoe trip or backpacking hike etc., obviously the emphasis is different. But the mechanics are the same. We have the requirement lists. The scouts who need to spot animals or animal signs are grouped with a senior scout and adult. The scouts who need to identify poison plants are together, the ones who need compass work, etc. After dinner and clean-up it may be time to find your way at night or make a useful camp gadget. The kids either are doing or helping present. Now, thats how we do it. What do you all think, is this proper or not?

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  • 6 months later...

I looked at the list and checked it twice, I see eye to eye with all of it, with the exception of "They Participate in Council and District events."

My Thinking is that the District and Council is here to support the unit. If they are happy doing a good program without the District and Council they ought to go for it.

It is also up to the PLC. Some District and Council events just might not be what they want to do.

Having said that, if the troops in my district were to follow your list, it would be super. in fact I may copy it and share it with my District Commissioner, he may want to share it with the Unit Commissioners.

Thank You

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Liked your post but have a few questions?


How do you recognize the advancement three times? Our troop does it twice. Once the Scout finished the requirements. SPL give advancement badge to Scout at close of meeting. And we do it formally at COH.


How do you get the troop from conducting merit badge classes during troop meetings? Our troop "tradition" is to have three - four merit badge worked on during the year. Boys did choose the badges during annual planning. I have been "selling" to the scouts about getting signed blue card from SM, contact MB councelor, etc.

Any suggetions on how to handle this? I saw it as being ok when the troop was small. But now with 8 new scouts, I feel they need to work on the FYFC program.



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Many councils do not allow units to stockpile awards (ours used to) and will only sell you advancement awards if you have the advancement record to turn in at the same time. so in those cases, the sout would 1) get a hardy handshake and warm pat on the back at the troop meeting when he earned the award, 2) get the badge at the next meeting, 3)get the pocket certificate at the Court of Honor.



The best way to keep troop meetings from becoming MB classes is don't set an agenda that makes them one. If you pick a theme for the month on the first week have a guest presenter, on the second week and third week practice skills needed for the theme and on the fourth introduce the merit badges related to the theme and do a couple requirements. Then tell the scoputs that if anyone wishes to continue to learn more about these Merit Badges then see the Scoutmaster after the meeting to get a blue card and the names of registered MB counselors.


So during the month you can build interest toward the badges, give them a taste and let them pursue the ones that they are interested in on their own.


Bob White

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I absolutely agree that the role of the District and Council is to support the Units efforts in giving the scouts a quality scouting experience. I also believe that scouts benefit by realizing the brotherhood that exists with other scouts in their community, across the country and around the world. Meeting other scouts in your area helps you to understand the scpe of the program and make new friends as well. In my experience, Scouts who really feel a part of something as big as the brotherhood of scouting stay in the program longer, mature faster and have more fun. that is why I include it on my list.


Hope this helps,


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Bob White,

Really like your take on the Merit Badge item. I have been looking over some of the new handbooks of the English Scout Association, they have gone out of their way to stress a planned balanced program.

I also agree in what you say about realizing, the brotherhood, when mixing with other units. I think that maybe, I was reading it wrong. We have units that do support the district and the council, but may not attend ALL, the events. And sad to say we have one unit that never does anything, with or for the council. The unit that is unable to make all the events, is still a good unit. (I'm aware that you never said all !!)

Just as an interesting note. The Troop that never does anything with the district, phoned me earlier tonight, to ask if I had the forms for Camperships.

I don't sit on that committee. Which is probably a good thing. As I think one of my first questions would be about the unit popcorn sale.

Maybe, I'm becoming mean, in my old age.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Bob White


Great thoughts !!! I particularly like the one about the Merit Badges during Troop Meetings.


Our troop used to do this, and the problem we had was that there were always some boys that had it already,(we only focus on Eagle Required ones) and some boys that the material was completely over their heads. We were'nt giving a well rounded program when we excluded people.


I like the advantage of doing these as a group because there are more ideas and opinions that flow and more is learned by the boys, so...we now schedule 2 to 3 Eagle Required Merit Badge Classes throughout the year, but at an hour and a half prior to the troop meeting. This way, the boys that need it, and can successfully complete it still and they have the option of doing it in a group environment.


Regarding the FCFY, I have mixed emotions. I believe that the sooner the boys get their First Class Skills, the sooner that they are experienced campers and able to handle MOST situations. But, I also believe that we are not doing them a service by rushing the process. I have seen on other troop web sites that there are troops that have a program set up to accomplish this, sort of like how the Weblos program is set up. As I look through some of what they are trying to accomplish I have to wonder if they are providing a well rounded Troop Meeting while they are doing this, utilizing the 7 steps.


I have also seen within our own troop that some of the boys, when in a hurry, will only hit on and test what they feel are the most important parts of a requirement. This can be a problem.



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