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ckleisch

Unfair recruitment practises by rival troop

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We operate a troop in our community that has been active in excess of 50 years. We are a boy run troop with active committee and adult guidance. We are deminishing in size due to boys eageling and graduating. The pack we feed from is not a shared sponser. Accordingly, three troops try to market their program to the upcoming webloes. We supply scouts as assistants to the dens. Please, note the other troops are adult lead from top to bottom like fiefdoms. Over last three years we have had difficulty in recruitment of the Webloes. Majority going to the other units. This year we have discovered why due to imput from the Webloe parents. Apparently, they prefer Adult run and lead programs. On top of that both adults and boys at other unit made comments that were slanderous and demeaning of our unit directly to the Webloes and their parents. Something, we would never consider in good taste doing ourselves. At our meetings parents sit outside the meeting while the Scouts run their program and/or patrol meetings. We require uniforms be worn. Other unit wears no uniforms, receives adult teaching from leaders and parents(not committee) who participate in the meeting. We feel this goes against the program of boy scouts and good leadership. Our troop is now aware of what is taking place and are hopping mad. District is aware but takes no action as they want to keep the numbers up on the number of troops in area. No effort to designate feeder packs for troops.Before active warfare begins does anybody have any recommendations on correcting problem. How do we convince parents that boy run troops are the correct manner of operation? How do we instill need in other Troop to not be making slanderous comments at recruitment time? Other scoutmaster present when statements made. We seek to give a program that adherrs to Scout guidelines and not run a babysitting service or have parents live out their youth again through their children. Any thoughts by the forum will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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If I understand what you're saying, it appears that the last thing you want to do is travel down the same path that the other troops appear to be...and that's trying to denigrate the other troops. And that would be the last thing you woudl want to do. Let your troop stand on it's own merits without comments regarding the other troops. The ultimately works against you.

 

In our town there are two packs and two troops. Neither of the packs has ever been considered a 'feeder' pack. The two troops just run their programs, and offer the packs ample opportunity for their Webelos to come and visit and participate in various events. That provides both the adults and the boys great opportunity to see what each troop does. And the two troops are, indeed, very different, both in size and program.

 

In my tenure with the troop I've been with, we've had our ups and downs on recruitment. Some years we've gotten very few new scouts, and other years we've gotten the lions share. Same with the other troop. It's never worked out to a 50-50 or even a 60-40 split. That's the nature of the beast if you don't have a direct feeder pack. But, in the end, it still works for both troops. There used to be quite a bit of competition between the troops, but over the years we've come to know each other better, and we both understand what we need to do to get the Webelos to continue Scouting. That's the key for us. Not the competition.

 

Your situation, unfortunately, sounds quite a bit different. If the leaders and Scouts in the other troops are, indeed, using their commentary to denigrate your troop, there isn't much you can do about that without a face to face confrontation. And that, I can guarantee you, will serve nobody. The path that might serve you best, although it will take time, is to make sure that your program is the best it can be. Adventure. Opportunity. Great camping trips. Fun Fun FUN. And...get yourself in the local paper. Make sure that your Scouting events are known to all by getting articles in the local paper(s). If you don't have a volunteer to write articles and get them in the paper...then get someone. It will take time, but it will work.

 

As to the structure vs. non-structure issue, I can relate to that. The other troop in our town was, at one time, viewed by potential Scout parents, as a very unstructured troop with little adult leadership. Our's was viewed as much more structured. That couldn't have been further from the truth. What the parents saw was a group of Scouts who ran things well because they had been taught how to do it. And they did it well. Sure, we always had plenty of adults around, but each adult knew their job and place and did not interfere with the boys running the troop. But, if the folks in your area are bent on having the adults rule, then they just don't understand the Scouting program...and that goes for the leaders of the other troops, too. I'm afraid you'll just have to try hard to make yourself and your program known better. Make sure the boys in your troop do, indeed, like what they're doing. They can be your best advertisement.

 

Good luck.

 

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Suggestions:

In addition to Den Chiefs, invite the Webelos to join your troop on campouts or other activities. Make then feel your troop is looking forward to having them as part of the troop.

 

Look at costs. How do your dues/fees compare to other troops. Parents often don't understand the program as much as the simple bottom line. Our troop had problems with parents percieving us as "expensive" compared to another troop. To overcome that perception, we put in writing that we charged nothing to attend any and all campouts, no extra charges for patches, etc. that the dues were the total cost, period. Our rivals charged less dues, and emphasized that in recruiting, again very negatively. But they failed to mention that they were charging boys $10-25 per weekend campout, and requiring a special fee for tentage.

 

Put together a simple handout outlining your troop's tradition, philosophy, number of Eagle scouts over the years and the types of Eagle projects accomplished, and distribute that to Webelos leaders and scouts. Include your dues/fees and that you have a uniform exchange available, if one exists. State that you are a traditional troop with pride in your long tradition and wearing your uniforms. Tell of the major trips or camporees your troop has planned in the next year plus. No major events planned? Get cracking, guys. The boys need long term goals to look forward to, and new potential scouts are looking at those adventure opportunities when considering troops.

 

Another thing we do, our recharter is in April, but Webelos crossover in February. We charge new scouts nothing to join the troop. They pay no dues until after our first fundraiser in April or May. Basically, we're offering them a "90 day free trial". When the dues are due in May, the money (or the greatest part of it) comes directly from the profit the scout earned on his fundraiser, little or no outlay from family. We really compliment the boy on earning his own way, etc, emphasizing a scout is thrifty.

 

We have separate meeting/information session for Webelos parents during the time the Webelos come to look over our troop at a troop meeting. We outline as much as we can of the program, including our commitment to keeping costs down while providing an interesting and fun program. We make the statement that if the scout participates in the fundraisers, he should be able to cover all his scouting experience without any outlay from the home. We explain our troop committee and its role and emphasize the positives of a boy-run program. The potential scouts'parents begin to realize that even though the program is boy run, there are a lot of adults behind the scenes making things work. The parents leave with the handout and our phone numbers for any questions that come up after they leave.

 

All these efforts have helped our recruiting, but frankly, nothing helps as much as the boys just telling the younger boys how much fun they are having. Are your existing scouts good salesmen for their program?

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We ran into a similar situation a few yers back the only difference was that the other troop was pulling kids from our brother pack (we share the same sponsor) Basically if boiled down to the fact that our then Scoutmaster and the Packs then Cubmaster didn't like each other and it became an issue of how much the Cubmaster could hurt our Scoutmaster and hurting our Troop was a by product.

 

What we did was simple we improved our program and made it known to everyone that had hear to hear with and eyes to see it. My PLC was upset that they never had any new Webelos come up for two years and wanted to know why. I told them that they (the Cubs) thought the other troop had more to offer them and if we thought that we were such a good troop we need to prove it. First we assigned two Den Chiefs. I can not stress how important Den Chiefs are. Den Chiefs establish a comfort level with the Cubs. They make friends and become mentors, boys want to be with friends. Den Chiefs also tell the Cubs what their troop is like and what you do in your program. We also set aside two campouts a year that we invite the cubs. The first is in spring where we invite the entire Pack and teach skills in the morning and play fun games in the afternoon. We finish with a campfire ceremony. The second is in the fall and only the Webelos (1 & 2) are invited to that one. In that trip we form the Webelos into patrols and run a true Camporee targeted at their skill level. Please note that by this time your Den Chiefs have been involved for close to a year and have helped develop the skills of these Webelos. Time to let the Webelos strut their stuff.

 

We also worked very hard at improving our own boys leadership skills and developing a tighter boy-lead program. At our Pack/Troop trips the Scouts run EVERYTHING. The Scouters just talk to parents, observe and only jump in to help when the boys ask. Nothing sells the Boy-Lead program like a good example of the Boy-Lead program. If you work hard the Webelos parents will see two such examples.

 

Our program is now published through flyers, the church bulliten board and on our website six months out. We do everything we can to get in the local paper too.

 

I would never confront your detractors just prove you are better Scouts and a better Troop, make your qualities very visible and your fortunes will turn....I promise. We have had between 12 and 18 boys in our troop for 5 years; our efforts are paying off tonight, our PLC is welcoming 17 new Scouts into our Troop of 18. 10 Webelos from our Pack, 4 From THEIR Pack, and three Scouts from THEIR Troop.

 

One last thing, I was present when someone from the other Troop was slandering us. I put up my Scout sign and recited the Oath and Law so all could hear while staring him in the eye. I then said so all could hear "Everything that comes out of my mouth and is displayed by my actions is according to those words."

 

Didn't need to say anything else.

 

 

 

 

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There is a natural rivalry among troops that can lead to this kind of badmouthing. Sometimes the boys do it on their own, and sometimes adults may encourage it by example. This is one place where I part company with Mike Long. A polite scoutmaster to scoutmaster conversation might be appropriate, depending on how well the two get along otherwise. It could be that some inadvertent behavior by the adults in the other units is encouraging this sort of thing.

 

Scheduling events to which you invite Webelos participation is an extremely effective recruiting vehicle. We also try to pay attention to the parents who show up for the troop visitations. They always have a lot of questions and genuinely appreciate the opportunity for such discussions. Right now, with a shift in our area towards a more youthful population with children, we are experiencing a surge in interest. I worry that the council will pressure us to split our troop if it gets too large.

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A similar incident happened with our troop. Despite the fact that we have the most eagles in the city, do the hardest projects, and have the best high adventure program, another troop was swallowing up all the feeder packs. They had adult leadership--ours was boy led. This ended up turning out for the better for us (though we only had three boys at the time). Their troop gained so much that they had to close their membership at 75 people. All the packs spread out to the other four troops in our town. When the members of the other troop dropped out, the packs did not go back to that troop. It all works out in the end.

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A similar incident happened with our troop. Despite the fact that we have the most eagles in the city, do the hardest projects, and have the best high adventure program, another troop was swallowing up all the feeder packs. They had adult leadership--ours was boy led. This ended up turning out for the better for us (though we only had three boys at the time). Their troop gained so much that they had to close their membership at 75 people. All the packs spread out to the other four troops in our town. When the members of the other troop dropped out, the packs did not go back to that troop. It all works out in the end.

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Our Troop's situation is a little different. One church sponser, one Troop, one Pack. Our current Pack leader has been there for a while. She's not the Cubmaster, but she runs the Pack. Her son was a Den Chief, but we had another Scout currently working with the Pack. After several years of continued and escalating un-Scouting like behavior, I released this Scout from our Troop. He has since transferred to another Troop outside of the area, has come back to the Pack as a Den Chief with his Mom (his way of getting back at me, the SM), and has recruited the other Scout to his Troop. Do you think we'll see any Webolos graduates this year (haven't for three years)???? The Troop leadership, COR, and District are working all of the issues (training, adult recruitment, etc.) to help this leader (Mom) get the Pack where it ought to be, and to remind her where the Webolos Scouts are supposed to be graduating (and yes, we know there will always be exceptions).

 

Just my little story. Our Troop is training and improving its program as well!!!!!

 

 

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As I read through the responses to this topic, I really wonder if any of these "leaders" have the Scouts' best interests in mind as they do these juvenile, immature, childish things to other Scout units. What is wrong with these people? Have they gone through basic training? Do they participate in council and district events? Have they attended POW-WOW or other "higher level" training? Are any of these so call "adults" former Scouts? Have any of them read the Cub Scout Promise, the Law of the Pack, the Boy Scout Oath, or the Twelve Points of the Scout Law? They obviously don't understand (or live) any of them.

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Eisely, I assume you are referring to my last paragraph. I tried a polite Scoutmaster to Scoutmaster conversation when that situation arose but it deginerated into me being verbally abused in public. The guy didn't want to discuss the situation like two adult Scouters he wanted to act like a bully at the elementray school bike rack after school. Pretty bad situation seeing that he was twice my age at the time. I would have preferred to come to an understanding but at least the situation vividly demonstrated the differences between us. If the situation comes up again I will still try a polite conversation if the situation presents itself. But I preferr to concentrate on a strong program for the boys and let our detractors wither on the vine.

 

P_Swigs, the ones I ran into personally only want their boys to be Eagles no matter what the cost. To them it's just a plus on the boy's future resume.

 

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Mike

 

I would not have attempted such a conversation in front of other people, but might have tried a phone call. One never knows for sure how someone else will react to such a conversation. Keeping it more private at least limits the potential damage.

 

To all

 

Healthy competition among units can be a good thing if competition leads to better programs all around. There is not much one can do about someone who is defensive and conniving in their approach to these things, other than continue to put one's own best foot forward.

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I know that now and completely agree with you. Definately a learning experience for me. I no longer assume that all of us can speak quietly in a corner like good Scouts.

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My wife and I have recently started a new troop because we didn't agree with the practices of our scoutmaster. We have from time to time experienced some sly comments that were passed by him to both parents and possible new recuits to our troop. We feel that the troops should be open and not run with clics and special favors to certain boys in the troop with others left out. We have become the victim of certain plots and embarassing moments designed by the soutmaster to take away from our mission. However we have a strong commitment to provide our boys with the very best oppurtunities for their troop to run as it should.We are very carful not to degrade nor cast away the other troop. We do not feel this is the scout way. We do not want our boys to learn this is how adults should act. Instead we go extra steps to offer our program to our old troop and offer any current merit badge work for their scouts.I believe that in this situation, you should concentrate on your troop program, ensure that the boys are getting the scout way of operation and let your troop stand on it's own performance and good deeds. The old saying of " what goes around , comes around." certainly seems to apply.

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