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andrews

Which Usually Comes First - COR/CC or SM?

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According to the training materials, a chartering organization usually picks a COR witch then picks a CC and the rest of a committee. The committee than does a search for a SM.

 

However, in starting a new troop, having someone with the drive to want to be a Scoutmaster would seem to be paramount. I know in the troop we will be starting this year at our church I am the major driving factor, with the pastor's full blessing. I will be SM, not COR or CC. We are a bit different in that the church sees the troop as an active part of its outreach to the community, but even with our current troop, which I started two years ago just before my oldest son bridged over from Webelos, findiing a volunteer to be SM was the key that got the troop going, not the other way around. We did have a "sister" pack that most of the original troop leadership came from which is sponsored by the same CO.

 

I would be interested in comments on how it usually works out "in the real world."

 

Brad

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Both ways have their upside and downside. The obvious upside is the enthusiasm and excitement with which the project is approached by those intent on starting a troop. The downside, is finding the other side.

 

Years ago, the troop I was with needed a new CO. The one we had no longer had the interest in sponsoring a troop. Depending on which part of the country you hail from, finding a CO may be easy or difficult. In the New England area, it seems to be easier to find folks to participate on the "troop" side, than the "CO" side. Our troop had quite a difficult time finding a new CO. In fact, when we found an organization willing to listen to our sales-pitch, it was only by advertising ourselves as self-sufficient, not requiring major funding, and having a place to meet already, that got us in the door. The CO we have now could have lived quite nicely without a Scout Troop. They were willing to add their name to our banner only by the circumstances outlined above. Prior to finding this CO, we had contacted the few churches and other possible organizations in town, all of which were polite, but no interest, thank you very much. I believe starting a new troop in the area would run the same situation.

 

Of course, this does not mean that there are hordes of enthusiastic adults here who are chomping at the bit to participate. They are hard to find, also, as history has proven around here time and time again. My own personal take is that in what some might refer to as the "blue collar" towns, interest in Scouting is more prevalent. There exists more active interest on the part of parents and other adults to jump in and work at Scouting...or to sponsor it as CO's. In predominantly "white color" towns, there exists far less interest. Perhaps that stems partly from the plethora of other "youth" participation organizations that garner more value in the eyes of parents than does Scouting...like youth and school sports, for instance. In my own district, here in Massachusetts, the towns run the full spectrum from the truly blue collar to the magnificently wealthy white collar. Guess where Scouting exists in greater numbers and with more enthusiasm? In the more blue collar towns, the CO's seem more at ease with Scouting, and far more participatory in the life of troops, fund raising, and leadership. In the wealthier towns, writing a check for this and that is easier to do than getting involved personally.

 

So, I think that where you live plays a large role in how troops start and exist. Sometimes, everything necessary for a new troop is at hand, and all that is needed is one person on either side to provide the initial spark. Sometimes, the spark is all the is there, and it goes out all too quickly.

 

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I see units starting by individuals or groups at many different levels. Whether it is a parent, SM, COR, CC is pretty irreleveant to the success of the unit. Its like asking who baked the cake. What is more important that a good recipe was followed. In Scouting the recipe is

1. Scouting as a youth outreach program of the Charter organization.

2 The organization is responsible for the leadership

3 SM do not own the unit. the COR does

 

Can you bake a good cake if you don't follow the recipe, sure, but the recipe yields quality results on a more consistant basis.

 

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jmcquillan's insights are right on target. My observation has been that the wealthier the community the less directly are the parents involved in their kids lives. When we lived in Southern California I remember reading about a youth sports league, either baseball or soccer, in Beverly Hills that hired people to coach the teams. When you have the dough, writing a check is so much easier, and doesn't disrupt your golf and tennis schedule.

 

Scouting's formula for starting a troop is interesting, but I think it usually starts with a parent or other adult who takes the initiative, not a potential CO. The idea of a committee recruiting a scoutmaster is highly relevant when the scoutmaster position becomes vacant.

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I have to agree with andrews. In my experience, the success of the troop usually started with an individual willing to be SM and the rest went from there, but I know it doesn't always work that way. In an ideal situation, the CO would seek out Scouting for its youth and build the unit from there. I have never yet been involved in a unit where the CO is actively involved in recruiting adult volunteers. Most say, we are OK with you here, but we can't provide leaders. So far, every unit I have been with, the leaders are recruited from the parents. And, surprisingly, in most of the units I have had experience with, very, very few of the families in the unit are associated with the CO. Strange, uh? I certainly wish it wasn't that way!

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In my (admittedly limited) experience, the interest in starting and/or continuing a unit comes from the parents, and specifically from a very small group of parents, of the boys in the unit or prospective unit. As others have said, the chartered organization often fills that role as an accomodation to the leaders and the boys, not because the impetus to start the unit came from the CO. The one time I have seen a unit start up as an adult, it was entirely the work of the Cubmaster of a pack (the one I am now CA of) from which his son was about to graduate. He decided to form a troop for his son and the rest of his den, and subsequently the boys in the younger dens when they were ready, to graduate into, and he would be the SM. The pack is sponsored by the parent-teacher organization of a school, and the then-CM got the PTO to sign off as the CO of the new troop, which would meet at the same school. I am pretty sure it was the new SM who picked the CC, CR, MC's etc. The president of the CO just signed off. The CO did not care whether there was a troop there, and does not really care whether there is a pack there, except to the extent that some of the officers always have a son or two in the pack. Even then, they are usually "too busy" to do much work for the pack and leave it to the small group who actually run the pack. (We are busy too, most of the other pack leaders coach sports, and I am on about 4 volunteer committees related to the school district -- and of course we all have real jobs as well.)

 

The CM or I could hand the IH a re-charter with Mickey Mouse as the CC and she would sign it. Of course, we wouldn't do that, but we (meaning the CM and I) HAVE just selected a new CC and a new CR, who will really just be names on a piece of paper -- and the CC is the CM's wife -- and I know the IH will sign it. I know this is not how it is supposed to be. But this is what we need to do to keep the unit running and chartered. We have asked numerous times for people to serve on the committee, and precious few people are interested. And then the "trickery" comes in. The cubmaster recently got someone to agree to "help out with advancement," and was somewhat startled at her first leaders' meeting when I pushed an Adult Leader Application under her nose and asked her to fill it out as a MC. But she did it, and now we have a new committee member -- hopefully more than just on paper. The sad fact is that we need her name on the charter to replace parents whose sons are graduating -- but hopefully she will actually become our advancement chairman and an active member of the committee.

 

Now we get to the really unfortunate part. After going through the initial steps to start the new troop, and getting a charter, the new SM never followed through. He had a job change, or his son lost interest, or he just never got around to getting trained, and/or one of a thousand other possible excuses. Nobody else stepped forward to be SM, and the troop died before it had its first meeting. I think somebody rechartered it once and then got tired of paying the recharter fee for nothing, and the unit lapsed. So the boys in my pack still have no "home troop" to cross over to, and some boys (the ones with parents who expect everyone else to hand them things on a silver platter) never went into Boy Scouts "because there's no troop." Others, with more pro-active parents, found other nearby troops and now their sons are in Boy Scouts. But it would have been nice to have that troop right around the corner, in the same school as the pack, where the boys could cross over and be greeted by the same boys who had graduated the previous year. I don't feel like I am able to be a SM -- my son and I will find a troop for him to join, and I will volunteer to be a member of the committee.

 

By the way, one of those nearby troops is not really chartered at all -- its CO is the "Friends of Troop xx." I have not learned in detail how this works, but I assume that members of the committee also are officers of the "Friends." For a place to meet, they got one of the schools to agree to let them use the school on the same basis as a PTO-chartered unit (no fees except custodial overtime), and got a church to lend them the basement when the school is closed. This is the other extreme from how the BSA envisions things -- but it works.

 

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NJCubscouter's story is a perfect example as to why the most important element isn't WHO gets the ball rolling, but HOW it gets rolling. Anything built on a weak foundation is destined to fall over. A scout unit is no different. Starting a unit without the support of a genuine charter organization that wants to use the scouting program as a one of it's youth programs is short sighted and destined to be short lived.

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