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How to rebuild a chapter?

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My chapter use to be a big time very active chapter. In the last few years before I became chapter chief it went downhill. Now there is a new advisor who hasn't been around scouting or the OA in about 15 years. Their are about 2 other youth besides me that is active just that they are busy with work so cannot devote all their time. I am struggling to rebuild this chapter and get the committee's running again along with getting activity from members.


I have tried several things, but it seems that one of the problems is that scoutmasters don't lead by example to support us.


I would appreciate any advice on how to turn things around and rebuild this chapter.




Quekolis Chief

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Good luck. I found it is a minimum of 3 years to successfully rebuild a chapter: 1 year to figure outwhat you want to do recruit youth AND adult leaders (yes the OA is a youth organization, but the adult advisers do play a very big part, usually in providing transportation and talkign to other leaders who may not know as much about the OA) and begin implementing a game plan, 1 year to follow the game plan, tweak it as needed, and get more members, and one year to firmly establish your program.



Some links to previous threads







( this is a long thread, but has soem great info thjat worked well when I was CA, plus other ideas.)





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I feel your pain. I'm a new Chapter Adviser attempting to revive our Chapter. Boy, would I love to have you as my Chief. Our Lodge has been in decline for a number of years. Our Chapter was one of the few who was still able to provide a ceremony team to the Lodge, but that was all the Chapter was.....the ceremony team. And that ceremony team except for one member all came from the same Troop. So basically, the Chapter was boys from one Troop doing ceremonies. They did a Chapter banquet/lock-in as their only activity during the year. I'm trying to change the culture in our Chapter by trying to get the SM's of the other troops to promote and support the OA. Most are fairly indifferent to it while others are flat out against it. We have 25 Troops in our District and only 9 let us come hold elections. Of those 9, only about 4 of their SM's will respond to my emails. We have managed this year to double our ceremony team from 5 to 10, but most of these guys have never really been active in the OA, so I'm having to do most of the leg work right now. Our Chapter Chief has an extremely short attention span and diesn't attempt to keep track of our schedule. I'm having to work with him by taking baby steps. My VC of Inductions and Ceremonies has other activities that are keeping him from being available for team practice. I can't complain because it is church activities, but his availibility is affecting the other 9 guys. I wish I had some easy answers for you, but I think Eagle92 is correct, reviving a Chapter is amulti-year process and if we keep plugging along with a plan, it will pay off long term.


Keep the faith Brother!


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We are right there with you - small Chapter in a big district. Lots and lots of flappers. We are to the point where the 4 boys from our Troop are usually the majority at Chapter meetings.


As SM, I have a discussion with the eligible boys in our Troop about getting into the OA. I tell them if they are going to be on the ballot and get elected, I expect to see them at meetings. If they don't have the time for meetings and activities, take their name off the ballot.


I would suggest contacting all the Troops in your Chapter and asking who the OA Rep is. My guess is most have an OA Rep, even though you never see them. Start putting a little heat on the OA Reps to do their jobs. Ask them to give you a call ahead of time if they can't make a meeting. If they don't notify you and don't show, call them up afterwards and let them know they were missed, invite them to the next meeting, and keep repeating.


Getting a unit (Pack, Troop, Chapter, etc) started is like getting a passenger jet off the ground. It takes a lot of energy to get the jet rolling, and then to get it into the air, with engines at full throttle. Once it reaches altitude, the throttle is eased back and you cruise. You have your work cut out for you. Be ready to clearly describe your vision for the chapter, and recruit friends who will share in that vision. Start small and celebrate small successes. As you grow in size, so will your successes.

Good luck!

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First, I hope your Lodge program is both fun and challenging! It needs to have a mix of service to the Council, membership development (read Ordeal/Brotherhood weekends) and FUN (fall fellowship, COPE days, range days, a great winter banquet).


If those are in place, then layer activities your Chapter can do onto the calendar.


Rome wasn't built in a day, and it's easier to maintain excellence than to develop it. What you desire will not happen on your watch. Work with your Adviser and the Lodge Chief to develop continuity across the officer-years.


Wish I had better words for you :(

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  • 5 months later...

I've been working at rebuilding oiur Chapter since becoming Advisor almost two years ago. At that time we would have only 3 or 4 members show up for meetings.Meetings were the same night as Roundtable. Over the first year we managed to build the attendence up to around 9-12.


Then the Council merged two of the larger Districts together, and split a third District thre ways. Ours was one of the two larger ones. We had 15 troops. The other, the larger had 30 troops, but only 3-4 members showing for their meetings. The RT site was changed. Now we're back to square one with trying to boost attendence, and with little help from the SMs.


The other problem I see is that some of the Chapters, ours included have a hard time getting older more mature members to run for officers, leaving me to work with 13-14

y/o's as CC & VC's, and who have a hard time focusing and committing to doing their jobs, even with the best cooxing.


I agree sometimes it is hard to get the Troops to appoint OA Rep's. I'm getting ready to fire off an email to a list of over 300 Chapter members and SM's about next weeks Chapter meeting. We'll see how many SM's will push for their Rep's to attend and offer them rides, and how mAny will show up.



Hetuck Co-Chapter Advisor

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Here is my 2cents worth, start with your lodge advisor and chapter advisors and let these adults initially deal with the scoutmasters and get you times at troop meetings and roundtables to give a presentation that will attract the boys into joining or becoming more active in the lodge. You need to get together with your lodge officers and come up with a dynamic program for the year of both service and fun activities that will really make the scouts want to become active. Remember, don't plan too many activities that you are competing with troop activities. I was a the staff OA advisor as a DE and in one year the lodge went from 5 active members to over 50, all it took was some real effort and planning, and a great yearly program. It will not be easy but if you do it right and get the right people doing the right tasks you will be amazed at the result. Most of all don't be afraid to ask for help from the adult advisors, thats what they are there for.

Good Luck!

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Here are my thoughts. This peaks some interest and improves attendance just slightly for my Chapter.


1) Good Communication (email comments and easy newsletter)

2) Easy Access (within walking distance or when parents can drive)

3) Fun (video games, to pizza, to actual outdoor low COPES team building games)

4) Program (ceremony or service oriented)

5) Recognition (recognize the Arrowmen at COH's and Camporee's)


Safety is the first lesson is most every BSA class. Communications is the second lesson after Safety. Don't wait for a newsletter to be "perfect", just get word out. Unfortunately, many parents put the parents email onto their son's OA registration form.


During each OA election cycle, I visit troops and ask three questions.

a) Are you paid up for this year? (The answer is usually no)

b) Do you receive the email newsletters? (Usually not, they've changed emails already or their parents delete the Chapter Newsletter) I then ask for a good email listing from the Arrowmen.

c) Do you know when and where the Chapter meetings are? (They usually forget or never get the email reminder).


For Easy Access. They have to be able to get to a Chapter meeting. Most of my 12 y/o Arrowmen don't even have keys to the family car yet. So we put Chapter meetings on the same night as Roundtable, of course, in the neighborhood meeting location.


Our Fun. Is pretty easy. Beef Jerky and Rootbeer at Chapter meetings are always advertised. And we start them off with fun, and introduce service later.


Our program. Has a slow start. We try not to exceed our abilities. We plan on three ceremonies a year. One AoL ceremony for the packs to come to us. One Call Out Ceremony at Camporee. and, one Ordeal Ceremony (1st and 2nd Ceremonies). We only plan on an 8 hour service project to clean up the local campsite within the community boundaries.


Recognition in public. Its easy to identify "flappers". That is okay. Sometimes they pay their dues, sometimes they don't. Their membership lapses and they continue to wear the flap and sash. My chapter doesn't have any problem with regular Arrowmen (active or inactive). But we call out the specific Arrowmen that provide Service to the Chapter for special flap patches during camporees and district events. The participating arrowmen are recognized; not only at OA events, but infront of the other Scouts and families. Ultimately, So that the regular Arrowman can see their fellow teenager being recognized for what they have done.


Finally, Remember the old saying

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time

Or dont overwhelm yourself, start slow, then build up the chapter.


Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv


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Recognition is a very important thing. At one point the only time the OA was "recognizable" was at unit elections and call outs. Everything we did: service projects, runnign the trading post, etc, was pretty much low key. It became such a problem that parents didn't know that leaders were involved in the OA.


What we did was start wearing the sash more often to get recognition. district camporee's campfire became an "official" OA event and all Arrowmen were requested to wear their sash. Further we got the Arrowmen more involved in the Call Out by having them come forward to form a "backdrop" behind the Ceremony Team, and had "sponsors" from their unit who would present them to the ceremony team, and then later help them get to our info session/chapter social as well as the Ordeal. Also we are having Arrowmen wear their sashes more often. It's working out well

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I think the creation of the OA Troop Rep PoR helps this out a lot as well. I remember the days before that position, it was much as you described. I can just see a lot of potential in the OATR position for making the OA more of a presence in the troop and to the parents. Whether it gets used in that way or not, no idea. I know it wasn't used very well in my troop when it first came out.

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ASM915: "The other problem I see is that some of the Chapters, ours included have a hard time getting older more mature members to run for officers, leaving me to work with 13-14 y/o's as CC & VC's, and who have a hard time focusing and committing to doing their jobs, even with the best cooxing."


I guess it is a matter of perspective. I have mostly 16 to 18 year olds and between jobs, sports, sr year and college, they have a hard time focusing and committing to doing their jobs....even with the best of coaxing. I'm almost at the point of wishing for 13 to 14 year olds who's have less competition from the outside and get delivered by their parents. Don't get me wrong, my desire is to have these 16 to 18 year old guys leading the way, it just seems darn near imossible at times. For the Spring Ordeal, we started out having two ceremony teams and I would drive 50 miles round trip every week to hold ceremony practices. Some might remember, some might not. Then one by one, other "commitments" popped up. After 6 weeks of practices, I ended up with 2 guys on the ceremony team attending Ordeal and had the displeasure of telling the Lodge that we could not supply teams. Fall Ordeal is less than a month away and while things are kind of holding together, I'm starting to lose the guys one by one again. I had the wisdom to not make any committments to the Lodge yet for teams. It is actually my younger guys that I can depend on more than my older guys.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, one thing you might want to do is to contact the troops in your area and ask if you can come visit them and tell them about the OA -- all of the troops, get a list from your Council or District. When I was a kid, my scoutmasters never told me about OA. Sure, I saw a few people with sashes every so often but since they didn't want to talk about it I never learned anything from them.


"Hey, that's a neat patch on your shirt pocket flap, what's that WWW mean, you're in charge of the troop website?" "Um, yeah." And I walked away thinking that it was neat that other troops apparently had such cool websites and how I could make a good website for our troop.


"That's a neat arrow thing you're wearing over your merit badge sash, what's it for?" "Oh, it's this camping thing." And I walked away thinking it was kind of weird that someone would cover up their merit badges for some big arrow camping thing. I mean, don't all Boy Scouts camp? And some of those boys had a weird extra arrowhead in the middle of the arrow -- couldn't any fool see that this didn't make the arrow more powerful but basically destroyed the arrows usability? I just didn't get it.


So, I never really learned about OA until after I was 18 and I started working as a counselor at a Boy Scout camp. By then I was too busy (and too old) to even think about joining.

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The OA chapter/lodge should be doing that anyway. In our lodge, we visit every troop, every year. We promote the local camp, and discuss the OA, then we hold the elections for the troop for new members into the OA. I know not every lodge does it this way, but many do, and it's a great way to inform Scouts about the OA.


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Are you part of an LDS unit? I know as a chapter adviser, I have had challenges not only getting in touch with the LDS troop in my district, but also in conducting camp promos and unit elections. The one time I was able to do so, no one was interested in joining the OA. I've been told bu others that LDS units do really get involved in the OA.

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