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troop growing too fast

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We have a good problem thats a bad problem.


In a small country town, we have "ambled" along for over 50 years. The natural 'feeder' for the troop was the local elementary school's Cub Pack. Unfortunately, the Cub Scout pack had weakened over the years to the point where it was not graduating enough Webelos to keep our numbers up.


Fearing for our own troop stability and program health we began a little 'outside recruiting'. A few boys from packs a little "farther away" joined the troop and sent 'good words' back to their packs. We then accepted an invite from two of these large packs to visit and share our program with their boys. We started webelos training "get togethers" and over the last two or three years we have expanded this outreach to another pack.


I neglected to mention that our outdoor program is very, very good and seems to appeal to many young scouts. Instead of our expectation that we would "pick-up" three or four boys from each pack or perhaps a whole den, we have found we have "cleaned" out the Webelos 2 dens from these packs...Last year it was almost thirty new scouts. This nearly doubled our troop in one year! Let me tell you, finding good troop guides for 3 or 4 new scout patrols took a toll on the number of boys available for the troop's elected leadership slots...We are a boy led troop and many of our best leaders were asked, and stepped up to take the most important job in the troop as Troop Guides.


With the impact of this influx of new scouts and new parents, many of the troop committee members (and the SM and ASM's) feel that the program has suffered somewhat, or if not actually suffered, that we seem to be standing on the edge of the cliff...


We do not like this feeling and we do not want to loose what we all have worked so hard to achieve. Some of our new parents tell us to expect another 20 or 30 new scouts next March....ARRRGGGGHH!




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Welcome to the forums. Your username scared me for a second, because I added/changed a few letters. It had a whole "Revelation" feel to it. Glad you're not that. ;-)


Wow, good problem to have. Our small troop doubled this year and is expected to double again next year. But even at that, we'll only be in the 30s.


Some here will tell you to "live with it". It's the boys program, and if boys want to join it, great. More power to them. However, I know that changing scale this dramatically has a big impact on the program. It's very difficult for the adult and boy leaders to adjust on this large a scale. It does have an impact on how the program is delivered. But, the good news is, the program can be delivered on almost any scale.


I've also heard that the ideal size of a troop is in the 30-40 range. I'm not sure if that is based on scientific research or not. Perhaps one of the very knowledgeable folks on this forum will know the answer.


If the other troops in the area are not successful, they'll have to either "change or die". Hopefully, they'll change their programs to attract more scouts. Perhaps you can work through your DE and unit commissioners to see how those programs can be strengthened.


You also need to make sure you're being taken advantage of. Are there adult leaders coming along with these new boys? If not, then some folks may be seeing a good program that they can go "dump and run". Requiring, or even strongly encouraging, greater adult participation in the running of the troop may discourage some and cause them to go to another unit.


Anyway, welcome to the forum. I look forward to seeing what kind of responses you get.

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Ok, I am going to try my post again...



I wish we had the same problem.


I would consider having a new troop started using some (not all) of your experienced scouts and leaders.


Set it up under the same framework as the old troop.


As the previous post suggested 30 to 40 (I have seen 60) scouts in a boy run troop is about the max.


If there are other troops in the area, talk with them and see why the Webelos do not want to go there. Help them change if needed.





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I had a friend who got kicked out of the Anarchist movement, seems he wouldnt follow the rules...


Anyway, the troop I serve had a similar thing happen to it, when my son and I joined it had 18 scouts, in two years it had 40 and in 4 it had over 90. One year our new scout program had 30 scouts in it and the ASM who was leading it was almost the Second Scoutmaster, we didnt have a new scout patrol, we had a new Scout troop consisting of 5 new scout patrols. We were talking about limiting members and all that when something funny happened. New scouts would visit us, see our numbers and be intimadated and joined other smaller troops. Over the past few years the total has fallen to around 70. When we had 90 every new group of scouts had a parents meeting, where we laid out what was needed and we always got new volunteers to help. I think what helped is that we have almost 50 adult leaders and when people see that a lot of people help, they are more apt to help as well because they can see if like 3 people quit, they wont be stuck doing it all. Enjoy the ride, think of all the lives you are effecting, the memories you are making, aint this a wild ride???

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Congrats, What a wonderful problem to have!


Here would be my suggestion.


membership solution:

Your cut off point should depend on the physical limits of your meeting place. After that simply explain that at the moment your meeting place is at capacity.


Look at the ages of your scouts start making plans to match the number of New scouts coming in with the number of older Scouts aging out.


Your Program solution:


You will need Six Assistant Scoutmasters. Two for each of the three program levels.


Guide them in operating three distinct meeting and outdoor activity programs.


It is not necessary for the entire troop to do the same thing at the same time. Do programs that are specific to each specifc patrol level.


You do not have to be at every activity, you can have able assistants there and you rotate through to observe, evaluate, train, counsel and coach.


You are in a perfect position to take a good program and make it great.


Best wishes



(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I would add that you should to the math now and let your DE, district chairman or district membership chairman know that there will be potentially X number of boys you won't be able to accommodate. Don't wait until cross over where the boys could be left without a unit.


I plan to have this conversation myself at our next district meeting.

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Your concerns are right on. When a troop grows too big, the ability of the scouts to run the show is compromised. It's a conflict between letting all comers in to join the fun versus knowing somewhere in there the level of fun will be surpassed by chaos - or unacceptable degrees of adult intervention.


Right now, your troop is attractive because it has a vibrant program that others want to be a part of. If you do nothing, the problem could become self-correcting that is if the program suffered and scouts started dropping out at a faster rate. Within a couple of years, the word will get out that Troop X is no longer the best around and the flow of incoming Webelos will drop off. I've seen this happen where a troop quadrupled in size in 4 years, spent a lot of money gearing up for the masses, then plummeted with a lot of good guys disillusioned and dropped along the way.


Two recommendations:


1. Its OK to set a limit on the number of new scouts you accept. This isnt necessarily only driven by the size of your facilities. If you meet in a church fellowship hall that could handle 300 people, that wouldnt be your limiting factor. The leaders of the troop need to spend some time in some strategic planning. How big do you want to be? Why? What are the Pros & Cons? How can we adapt? Etc.


2. Attempt to share the wealth and help all troops in the area become stronger so all are better prepared to deliver a quality program. From the sounds of it, your feast is likely someone elses famine. Support your local Roundtable and be prepared to share ideas when you have the opportunity. Some might be resentful and stubborn unwilling to learn and adapt. But others might have a powerful curiosity about whats going on over there in your unit.


Good luck and keep up the great work!




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Hi All


Wow, a lot of good responses. Some of us have been there and have a ragged old T-shirt to show for it. Several good replies but I feel Mike F said it best. You have reason to be concerned because in general, when a troop grows more than 40 percent, the program has to change to keep up.


That is the scary part, now for the glass half full part. The sooner your adults get together on a game plan, the better off you will be at maintaining a quality boy run program. Dont get in the habit of talking about the worst; instead get it in your minds that as problems crop up, attack them. Come up with a game plan Now! Make sure everyone knows the goals of your program so that your solutions stay on track with those goals. Example is if you task more adults to help work with the new scouts, do it with the PLC and have SPL ask for their help with the idea that they will report to the SPL and the SM. That way the boy run part of the program doesnt get buried under the rush to fix program problems.


Also understand that the PLC will in general try to run the same program as before. That is OK, but the little known secret of scout troops is they are generally a shadow of the adults goals and attitudes for the program. If the adults get lost, the PLC will follow. Get everyone thinking the same goals, even your PLC.


It is rare for a Troop of more than 50 scouts to be as boy run as yours is now. Its simply a matter of how much can one scout (SPL) manage. But it can be done, I have that t-shirt also. Your leaders (both boy and adults) have to learn how to react to growing pains so that small problems dont grow into big ones. Get creative and try new ideas and attack the problems that are caused by the large influx.


Be up front with the parents. You are in new territory and some patience is required.


I like the suggestion to continue as you are. While you can't really do that, It's important that you don't react with big program changes. Plan several small changes and monitor how they work. Be careful that your changes don't start something that divides you troop more than it units it. 80% of what a scout learns comes from what he watches from the other scouts. If you take the new guys away from the more seasoned scouts, you retard their growth.


There is an article posted on a web site that was written a few years ago. There might be something else in there that can help. Look for "Troop Size, Fact & Myths".




Finally, what I know that you probably havent figured out yet is this is a great character building experience for each person in your troop and for your program as a whole. I expect two years from now you will look back and realize how much your troop grew. Your older scouts will perform equal to adults and the younger guys will grow quickly. Your out door program will only get a lot better and your troop will be an example for others in your area.


And, I think you will look back as I do and realize how much you love this scouting stuff.




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Well folks, thanks for the guidance. I am not the SM (can't deal with local politics) just a committee member..the troop equipment guy, cook mentor and trailer transporter. My two sons are in the PLC (ASPL and troop guide) and are worried about the changes almost as much as I am.


I don't know what we will end up doing. But I hate telling boys they can't join our troop almost as much as I would hate to see boys drop out because the program is not working anymore.


As adults (the committee), we are at the 'edge' in our ablity to provide 'warm bodies' to support the program activities the boys schedule. Our meeting place is over 'capacity', and recent operational changes in the church have created several "challenges" further reducing the usable size of the meeting room. Talk of looking for a new CO created a storm!


While we have a great group of adults, we do not have a "second team" willing to work out a troop split...(most or all would want to stay in the original troop). And this does not to even start considering the raising of funds to duplicate troop equipment resources (trailer, canoes, etc.)if we allow growth to continue 'til a 'split' is the only answer. And I guess that's the issue...several of us want to save what is 'here and working', not continue to grow until there is either no choice but to split or no program left.

Wish us well!


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Tough situation. Your statement, "several of us want to save what is 'here and working'", says it all. Everyone wants to stay with the current Troop, yet the Troop is physically outgrowing the facilities. You either stop the growth, or split. Your program will continue to suffer, until this is resolved.

Another statement caught my eye. "Talk of looking for a new CO created a storm!" If the CO is squeezing you out, a new CO should be understandable.

Another thought. How about starting a new Troop at the same CO. You can then have a different meeting night, and different camping trip schedules, thus sharing the same equipment. Of course, the equipment will need to be maintained and organized on a higher level. This could be done.






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