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Experience with Urban Scouting?

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An old college roommate of mine recently started a Scout troop at his church in a large city near where I live. I'm actually going to his troop meeting tomorrow to help him out. He's said that he is getting virtually no parental involvement and is basically playing babysitter for fifteen kids (they've grown tremendously in three months). He's looking to go to training when his district offers it and is trying to find help.


Does anyone have any experience with urban Scouting so you can pass along a few tips? I know there are different challenges than what I am used to (we are a suburban troop whose only diversity is an Asian scout with white parents).


Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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A few thoughts:


You mentioned its an urban troop, what are the demographics of the troop? How many scouts are from single parent families and how many kids are in each single parent family? How many two parent families are there and how many kids do those families have? The idea is to determine how many parents could help, then target those for recruitment or at least to help out a little. Who/What is the CO? Will they be involved with the troop, can your friend appeal for help from the church? Could they provide some leaders?


I wish him and you well

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The troop 100% African-American, sponsored to a Baptist church. The pastor wanted to start a Scout troop (they already have a Girl Scout Troop) and asked my friend (an Eagle Scout) to get it rolling. Most of the kids are from single parent homes and many are living with grandparents. I'm sure I'll find out more tomorrow.


At this point, they have been on one campout and the kids had a blast. My friend is trying hard to figure out how the "Scout Way" to do things is. He is also in need of some moral support. I'm going to see what I can do to help him tomorrow. I won't be able to help out much (I'm pretty swamped as it is), but I'll encourage him the best that I can.

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Your troop sounds like mine, one Korean kid with white parents, everyone else is white.


If your friend is an Eagle Scout, he may not have the training but he should be familiar with the ideas of the Patrol Method and the Boy Led Troop. Of course, since this is a brand new unit, they'll need some serious guidance and direction.


I don't have any personal experience with "urban scouting" but living near DC I've had a chance to talk with a few Scoutmaster who have urban units.


There are probably loads of service projects that his scouts can do in the neighborhood. Pick up trash. Run erands for old folks. Paint over grafitti. The Scouts should wear an activity uniform such as a troop t-shirt when they are doing these things so everyone knows that the Scouts are giving back to the community.


Next, get them out of the neighborhood. Go to museums. Go to airshows. Look in the paper for free and interesting things to do. Of course they should wear their field uniform for these activities so everyone knows that they are scouts. A gaggle of teenagers of any color can make people nervous but Scouts don't bother folks.


Don't worry about parent involvement. You might be better off without it. Lack of parental involvement is better than parental interference. Look for people in the community or from the church to sit on the committee.


That's my 2 cents.


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"read my post "we got fired". urban scouting is a joke and a PC smokescreen for councils to swindle money for their own agenda."


I am sorry you had such a negative experience. I hope you find a way to deal with what happened. However, your single experience does not mean that someone else cannot have a tremendous positive impact on youth by working the scout program in an urban setting. I have seen too many success stories to dismiss the program's potential in this setting.

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My own direct experience with inner city urban units was a nightmare, four weeks of pure hell working as a Program Director at a summer camp. This Council had tapped into HUD money to create inner city troops; then bused them to camp in droves. None of those kids should of ever been put in a wilderness enviroment until they had not only more camping experience, but even more experience of behaving and acting like scouts. I'll never work at that camp again...the best that I can offer is to wish you luck.

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You might want to contact other established troops and see if they any scouts that would be willing to help out during meetings and/or overnights. Often there are leaders in these troops that would be willing to help in the start up of a new troop. I know I would be.


Yaworskis' comments are good.


Good luck. If I can be of help let me know.



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Yaworski's ideas ARE good - esp doing projects in and around their own neighborhood

IN UNIFORM! makes them visible and makes the community willing to support them!


(if uniforms are a problem ($) many councils have "uniform banks" for just this purpose)


Someone else had a comment about inner-city kids and summer camp - and they are right - partly -


These kids DO NOT have the experience base ours do - they have not had the freedom or ability to go fishing, chase bugs (cockroaches don't count!) and count stars (can't see 'em for the city lights!) or sleep outside. They probably won't be ready for traditional summer camp, esp if they are new to scouting, and not coming up from a cub pack.


But you can have a BALL teaching them! Start small - you can do day "campouts" at local parks and teach them to start a fire and cook outside. You can "hike" and "Navigate" in the city just as you can in the country - the scenery is just different.


If they are affiliated with a church - there are alot of church-related camps that are inexpensive and do cabin-camping to break them in - these kids will probably not have sleeping bags and camping equipment - and the troop may not have tents and stuf for awhile. Neither are the parents likely to have equipment.


For leadership - ask the parents and GRANDPARENTS to volunteer - but not the vague, "please, we need volunteers" but be specific -

"Would you be willing to spend one night a month sitting a board of review?" - & a committtee member is born.

"Would you make phone calls and arrange rides and reservations for us? (hey - there's an activities chair!) and

"someone told me you are an (accountant, bank teller, store cashier) - we only have about $200 - would you handle our troop checkbook?" and you've got a Treasurer.


Ask each and every parent & grandparent - IN PERSON - what are your skills? can you be a counselor on ONE ( or more?) merit badges?


All you need is for each parent to share ONE small skill -


Don't disregard single parents and Grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa have a wealth of experience to share - and while they may not go on campouts or bike with the kids ( and don't be surprised if they DO!) They can carry a large and dependable load of background and prep work. Just break it into small pieces and assign specific tasks, and you'll start to shake down a core group of dependable people and skills.


Single parents ARE busy - but Scouting can be a "family" event - and Single parents often know how to organize and plan, and make do - they HAVE to!


your friend has a prime opportunity to train the boys AND the parents correctly from the start!

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Have a family campout and then hand out the Troop Resource Survey found in the program book. That will start the ball rolling with adults thinking of how they can help. Make sure the sm talks about the fun he has with the scouts when recruiting help and not the down side. Post an address for the church under a new thread so people on this site can donate scout items they don't need anymore. We have at least one shirt and merit badge books my son won't need anymore.

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What about holding a Scout family night? Either potluck or have the boys cook a spaghetti supper or similar. Try for donated food so you can offer this without any charge. With free food and no babysitting problem, you'll have a good chance to eyeball every family, talk to every available adult regarding what their skills are. Don't forget aunts, uncles, and big brothers and sisters. Some young people just past scouting age are now kinda wishing they'd gotten to do some of that fun stuff- tell them it's not too late and put then into ASM training!


Put up some posters from local camps, camporees or whatever, and show the intro video in a side meeting room. If there IS a uniform bank available, have the info on that handy, as well as whatever financial aid forms might seem useful.


Oh, gosh,you're gonna need some help,that's wayyy too much for a new leader and a friend or two to work out - so ask a largish established troop to offer you an evening of assistance as a service to scouting. It would be nice if they were from the general area and similar ethnic makeup but if not, oh, well, they're still Scouts and the uniform's the same.


They can make or bring you some camp gadgets to show off .... share their scrapbook or posters, or Eagle tracking sheet... fix a Dutch oven dessert or two for the dinner, out in the church yard...umm, if any of the older boys have good communication skills they could talk one-on-one with the adults there about the roles adults in their troop take...well, a lot would depend on what boys were availabe, but if you had a young Eagle scout there who was a good public speaker he could talk about his Eagle trail... the established troop's top popcorn seller could tell how he did it, and explain how much that helped the troop and covered a lot of his personal costs....if there's a good place for babies and toddlers to hang out, like the church nursery, staff it with a couple of willing volunteers so that parents or grandparents can concentrate on the program.


Keep all talks VERY short and preferably funny. Tell every family that you are very happy to see them there, you know that means that they care about their sons or grandsons, and tell them that you understand how hard it is to spare any time and money at all - and that is why you will be asking EVERY FAMILY to volunteer at least one hour a month to help deliver the promise to their kids. Explain that it can be ANYONE in the family, then list out all the ways they can help as someone pointed out above.


Make sure everyone is well-fed and entertained - then follow up with sending the families home and locking in the new troop of scouts overnight to clean up the mess and plan their futures.


I respectfully disagree with the previous poster regarding ignoring the parental involvement problem, although I understand his position very well. I think that it's more a matter of adapting the job to the person. Some parents are NOT well suited to working directly with the boys - for instance, some can't pass a background check. They can still make phone calls, collate mailings, and help with other matters for the troop. If they are involved and can SEE how it works, they will be less likely to be misled by misconceptions about the program.

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these kids will probably not have sleeping bags and camping equipment - and the troop may not have tents and stuf for awhile. Neither are the parents likely to have equipment.


Old handbooks show how to improvise equipment. A couple of blankets make a sleeping bag and pad. A tarp with rope makes a tent. Heck, who can forget the directions from making a pack out of pants?


I don't know if the new books include this information. Right now my son's handbook is MIA.





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Having been with a troop in a urban district for 6 years now. Here is some good advice.

One find the packs in your area start working with their leaders so you can have some rapport with them at crossover time.

Two Most families in my area are single parents so we don't rely on them to much for the "traditional" parent roles. We have a great CO so we can do this. We keep them involved by newsletters and calls before any scout activity.

Three do not worry about purchasing complete scout uniforms. A troop T-Shirt works fine if tyou need uniforms contact the council a lttle known facts that some councils have money set by for uniforms for urban troops.

Four maintain a grreat relationship with the church invite the pastor and elders on campouts and encourage them to et registered and trained.

Five build a working relationship with trhe local schools again for recruiting purposes.

Six if there are other troops in your urban area work with them encourage joint campouts so that the troops get to know each other.

Seven purchase stock in a aspirin company you are going to need it for all the aspirin you are going to need.

One more thing let be known through the old scouters network or roundtable that you are looking for good used equipment. We got some great deals on near new equipment when another troop bought brand new stuff. We also got the same deal on uniforms.(This message has been edited by scomman)

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the purpose of the scoutreach or urban scouting program is to bring the values of scouting to underpriveledged boys in the inner city. according to the grant application of our council, they request the funds to financially support this program by assisting these new troops with troop equipment, uniforms, camping fees, etc. i would find out via a foia request what that council provides in support of urban scouting. then i would use those resources to get the troop started. with parental involvement issues, it is true there will be little to none. the committee will have to consist of members of the CO. with the one urban scouting troop in our city, the scoutmaster and assistants usually have to provide transportation to and from meetings as well. it all depends on how committed to the values of scouting the scoutmaster is. what is more important: bringing the program to the boys who need it most, or having the picture perfect troop running the way the books say it should. this isn't a perfect world so you have to ask yourself what's the bottom line, and why do you want to be involved in the program in the first place.

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