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How should the District deal with an "at - risk" Unit?

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Four three years now, the adult leadership in our Troop have watched our "little brother" pack spiral into the depths of dispair. Currently, their roster includes a Cubmaster who is desparately trying to dump his job, A committee Chair whose son graduated out of the program last spring and went no where. She won't return anyones calls concerning Scouting. Our COR is also their COR, and, even though he is a great guy, he is ill equipped to be of service to either unit. He's also listed as a committee member on the charter, just to get to three (I asume). Our District Executive is listed as the Tiger Cub Coach. There is no Asst. CM, nor are there any Den Leaders. The youth roster includes 13 boys after we subtract the 5 who graduated out of the program in May. 3 crossed to our Troop, and seem to be doing well. None of their leaders are listed as trained on the roster we got from Council.


As Troop Leaders, a number of us have recognized that something must be done. We actually came to this realization last year at this time, when we requested that District help be brought in. I think that's how our DE's name got on the roster. We have REPEATEDLY asked to be of whatever help we can, and have alternately sat back and waited to be asked so that we were not pushing ourselves on them, to actively campaigning to be included in the committee meetings (which we don't think actually happen), and asking any members from their committee to join ours. No response. We've attempted to provide Den Chiefs, with no response. We've invited Webelos to both Troop meetings and outings, and only get an answer when Arrow of Light is important.


We again contacted the DE yesterday about this. His response was to say "I guess it's time to do another recruiting night there". When we asked how successful that would be without viable core leadership in place, he didn't really have an answer.


We have no idea how this problem SHOULD be handled. We have a plan that we are ready to implement if asked. But before we do anything, I'd like to get some wise counsel from you folks here. If you've ever been in a position to work on a problem like this (DC, ADC, UC, DE?), what is the prescribed course? How effective was it? Any ideas you can provide for how the "big brother" Troop can be of help?


Thanks in advance for your responses.



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Failing units should be everyone's concern. Scouts who leave the program with bad memories affect the next generation of kids as well.


There are many layers of support and assistance available to a failing unit. But helping a an indanger unit to recover is no different than helping an alcoholic or drug addict to recover. The very first thing that has to happen is that a key member of the unit must first realize that things are in trouble and that they need help to recover. Then they have to be willing to change.


Its sad to see a unit get down to as few as 7 boys and still have key (often trained and experienced) leaders continue to say "it's not our program it's __________"(fill in the blank with the excuse of your choice).


Once the unit or key individual acknowledges the problem, and is will to accept help, then the district can bring in its resources, commissioners, training, membership committees, financial advice, activities advice etc.


You can help by being like Marley's ghost. Get them to see that if they do not change their ways that the shadows of things to come will be grave for the unit.


No unit has to fail, they choose to, and that is indeed unfortunate.

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To me, first the pack committee needs to become functional. Once the committee is functioning to some extent, things should start improving.


So, how to get the pack committee functioning. First, it needs a real CC, not a paper CC as the COR currently is. I suggest that the troop committee infuse the pack committee with some of its own. Obviously this may be difficult, but seems like a good way to directly help the pack. This could just be temporary, like an interim CEO. The main thing is the pack needs leadership and your troop may be in a good position to supply some. Since there really isn't a pack CC and the troop committee has a reasonable relationship with the COR, I doubt there would be much trouble having the COR assign someone from the troop as the pack CC.

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I came from a pack that had more boys than yours, but bad leadership. We went from a Cubmaster that just wanted out, to one that flew to both the east and west coast for work, and planned pack meetings in the hour he arrived home before hand. I wanted better for my son, so I took over when he realised he couldn't keep up.


I would see if one of your troop could become the CC, then I would have a real committee meeting. Find out what the leadership of the Pack really want to do, whether quit or make it stronger. Then, go to the parents. Set aside time during a pack meeting just for this, have some of your boyscouts play a game or do a craft elsewhere with the cubs so you have the parents undivided attention. Lay it out for them, either you get more involvement or the unit dies.


Show the fast start training video before you start so they know that it isn't as hard as it may sound. Show them the program helps that has the program all planned out for them. KISMIF(keep it simple,make it fun) Have a list of district training events so they can be trained quickly, and have another planning meeting for the year if there wasn't one already. Once you get more involvement, have a "bring a friend" night and plan some fun events. Give each boy who brings someone a special prize. This might be more effective than regular recruiting.


Do you have a unit commissioner? If not, ask someone from a more successful pack to come in and talk to the parents. Your DE doesn't sound like he would be much help.


Good Luck, and I hope some of this helps!


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With the information provided, it sounds like the boys would be better in another pack and let the pack fold. This should not be the concern of the DE or unit commissioner. For the sake of the boys and helping to deliver a promise, their scouting experience outweighs any loyalty to keeping an unsupported/unresourced pack around. I hope another pack is near enough to take care of the scouts.

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First of all, don't expect much real help from the district. They may send in a commissioner who will be pleased to offer a great deal of advice but isn't going to get involved in the real work. Ultimately they are going to tell you "it isn't our unit" and leave it to the CO to straighten out. That's not much help if the CO/COR is a big part of the problem.


Officially, your troop doesn't have any responsibility to the pack either. But that you refer to them as your "little brother" pack, I suspect you understand that there is a real world relationship between the units. Both boys and leaders probably still have friends or younger brothers/son in the pack and feel some connection to their alma mater. Not to mention that in many ways the health of the troop can be connected to the health of the pack.


I'd like to hear your plan for helping the pack. My hunch is you probably have some pretty good ideas. You certainly know more about what is needed that we do.

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I'll finish for Scoutnut, that's the Unit Commissioners job.


In this case it sounds like all the UC needs to do is to cordially, get the Pack people and the Troop people together. Sure the District Committee should be aware of whats going on, but its the Commissioners job to make it right, or suggest that the unit fold.


The difficulties here are obvious. How good is the UC? Will other commissioners support the UC if needed? etc. etc.


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If I read the post correctly, the troop and pack are chartered to the same organization. If that is the case, a dying pack will probably result in a dying troop sooner rather than later. It's time for action NOW!


As I see it, the first step is to replace the "ill equipped to be of service" COR. Have the troop committee chair and District Executive* meet with the organization executive, review how scouting helps promotes the organization's objectives, lay out the current dysfunctional situation in the pack, and have someone ready to step in as COR.


Your second step is for the new COR to put in place a real pack committee. Maybe it keeps its current membership, maybe troop leaders step up to the plate and serve for a year. Third, the pack committee needs to find a cubmaster who is wants the job and who is suited for it, too. Nothing drags down a pack meeting like a cubmaster watching the clock instead of leading the fun.


It's not too late to turn the pack around, but you've got to start now! TODAY!


*Since DEs live and die by the number of units in their district, I would think you should have no problem getting him to attend this meeting.

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