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AnneinMpls

21!

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I've been reading "Delivering the Promise" and it says there is a huge qualitative difference when a troop reaches 21 members. I'm trying to analyse this - I'm assuming once you get to 21 then 3 patrols becomes possible (7x3=21) and that this makes youth leadership a reality rather than a "we'd do it if only we could get it to work".

Was your troop tiny? Have you managed to get to 21? How did you do it? How long did it take - months or years?

Do you actively recruit only younger ones, or across the board? I'm concerned that if I recruit older ones, we won't have enough of a program for them before they age out - we're planning big doings - international travel, etc. but it's not going to be happening for maybe 3 or 4 years (we have a younger batch on the way up).

Do you think 21 is an appropriate goal for a tiny troop? Are there smaller goals - more doable - along the way that you've found to be good markers of success? (We're starting from 4 or 5....yikes!)

Thankee kindly as always!

Anne in Mpls

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I started with a small troop of around 8 scouts and now 5 years later we have over 70 active scouts. We did actively recruit Webelos crossover by hosting what has become an annual event we call Cooking Day. If you want more information on it visit our website at: www.troop567.org

 

I would not worry about having "big" events, scouts just enjoy going camping on a regular basis. I think we adults get wrapped up in thinking we need to go far places and do grand things when the scouts are just as happy camping in their own area as well as going far away. If your existing scouts are having fun and you are following the program, the numbers will come. Happy Trails

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I started with a troop of 15 scouts. We reached over 21 by actively recruiting and camping once a month. It took us 6 months to go from 15 Scouts to over 60 in that period. Of course, our membership fluctuates depending on the season, sports, and school.

 

We recruit across the board but with emphasis on the younger scouts. After a year with a Scout Troop, We started an Explorer Post not one but two posts. Both post averaged 45 explorers each. In'97 we transitioned both posts into one Venturing Crew of 65 venturers.

 

I suggest you start where your comfortable with and work your way up. Don't just recruit boys but also adult leaders. When your program is challenging and fun the membership will grow. Your program will grow as well. As the Scouts gain more experience, they will seek out more challenging opportunities.

 

Today, my Scout Troop has 25 Scouts. The Crew has 15 Venturers. The Pack has 10 Webelos. Each one feeds into the other.

 

All in Fun

 

Matua . . .

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The "Troop with which I was affliated" was close to failing 7 years ago due to lack of interest by boys and adults. My oldest son crossed over almost 6 years ago. When these Webelos joined it doubled the size of the Troop, from 8 to 16. This past year the Troop registered 56 boys. The thing that's made the biggest difference, I believe, is that the Troop starts recruiting the Webelos early. Our town only has one Pack and one Troop. The Troop invites all Web II's to go camping with them in October. The Troop is a large part of the AOL/crossover ceremony... Each new Boy Scout is welcomed with a new neckerchief/slide and is greeted by the SM and about 20 Boy Scouts. The Troop usually does a Scout Law candle ceremony. The younger Cubs see this each year and look forward to the time when they are welcomed into Boy Scouting. In our case, the boys hear "when you join the Troop", not "if you join the Troop." So get out there and start recruiting those Webelos now!

 

And, for what it's worth, 56 feels too big to me. 21 sounds just right.

 

MS

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The new Scoutmaster Leader Specific training sites 30 to 60 scouts as the optimal size for a troop. As a scoutmaster I saw the troop go from 6 to 39 in about 18 months. The two key factors I believe was having an Assistant Scoutmaster responsible for Webelos recruitment, and an adventurous and varied outdoor program.

 

We kept in contact with 4 packs year round, getting to know the Webelos leaders and Cubmasters, helping at pack special events, supplying Den Chiefs etc. We didn't wait for february and expect the webelos to just appear at our door.

 

There are a number of troops that camp once or twice a month but do the same thing or go to the same places over and over. I visited a troop website that bragged on the number of times they camped and published their camping log. They camped a lot, but in over two years they had only been to five or six different campgrounds.

 

There is more to outdoor adventure than weekend camping. We hiked, climbed and rappelled, went caving, skiing (snow and water), toured aircraft museums, fish hatcheries, built igloos, bike hikes, canoeing, We never did the same thing or went to the same place twice in a year and seldom twice in two years.

 

The boys had a blast and word got around that we did cool stuff and the kids responded to that. We seldom had a boy leave the troop before he turned 18.

 

My son is in an adventure club at school. (the teacher recruits guys he sees in scout t-shirts to help as instructors) last year they took three trips each to a different place for a different activity. they grwe this year from 12 students to 42, just by word of mouth. Scout-aged kids want the kind of adventure the scouting program promises, but they don't like being fooled. If you tell them you are going to offer adventure then you had better keep the promise.

 

Once you have the boys you need to get to know the parents. Match specific people to specific tasks based on their skills and interests. You should be able to register an adult from 1/3 of the families in the troop into scouting positions. There is a brochure on recruiting adult volunteers available through your council service center that will help.

 

Good luck,

Bob White

 

 

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I had a similiar experience to Maine's. When my son crossed, the Troop went from 9 to 20. At that size, the SM spoke about having the critical mass needed to make things happen. We've been as high as 48, and are at 35 now.

 

My personal observations from my experience:

 

1) I'd have a hard time imagining how we could maintain the program in our Troop without having at least 20 25 members.

 

2) For every 10 Scouts added, I really believe the Troop goes through a radical change. Every SPL we have had in place when the Troop grew significantly had a very hard time keeping a handle on things. We've considered changing our election cycle to more closely coincide with Webelo crossing, hoping that a new SPL won't feel the difference with a big influx of new guys.

 

3) We never got to this point, but we were VERY worried about whether we had the skill, ability, and resources to handle much more than our high water mark of 48. Unfortunately, I think we may have subconscientiuosly worked to limit our Troop size, because we had a 6 year run of getting a nice size new class every year to only getting 5 last year and 2 this year. I suspect that we might have given signals that we didn't think we could handle more guys to new Webelos and their parents. We did all of the same recruiting activities that had been successful before, with @ the same number of Webelos, but weren't as successful. With the exception of one very large Den last year, who was never going to cross to our Troop, almost none of the Webelos we lost joined other Troops. I think we've gotten a bit of a wake up call, and are back on the hunt for new guys for next spring.

 

4) As mentioned, recruit adult leaders along with the boys you recruit.

 

5) Work just as hard to keep your Scouts, especially older Scouts, as you do recruiting new ones. Quality program, chosen by the Scouts, goes a long way toward keeping the older guys in. Even when other priorities begin to surface (school, sports, jobs, cars and girls), boys will make time for a Scouting program that provides them oppurtunities to do things they can't do elsewhere.

 

Best of luck to you!

 

Mark

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Hi Anne,

 

21 scouts will usually give you about 15 on a campout. This feels like a good minimum number for many reasons.

 

If you can get about 1/3 parent involvement like Bob White says, and we usually do, you will normally have at least 4 adults on a campout or other activity. We shoot for 4 so that if there's an incedent, we all don't have to leave. 2 can go and 2 can stay.

 

Den cheifs in the Weblos Dens seems to make a huge difference in how many boys you can recruit, but there have to boys to recruit first.

 

Maintain a healthy relationship with as many packs as possible (we pulled from 3 packs last year), and focus your efforts on AT LEAST one of them. Help them with their recruiting. It's never too early to start recruiting future scouts.

 

We currently have about 50 scouts and EXPECT another 20 or so next year. It is starting to seem too big, but maybe it will be OK. It will all depend on how well we train the next batch of boy leaders.

 

Good Luck,

 

Kris(This message has been edited by silver-shark)

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Anne for what is is worth we have a different system here whereby the Troop is part of a Scout Group consisting of a cub pack and a Scout troop. Hence we recruit from one pack only. I have found in the three years from start (9 and now 20 Scouts) is that we have recruited more cubs into the pack than into the Troop. Eventually they become Scouts - you just have to wait a few years. They make excellant Scouts as they arrive trained and filled with a good amount of scout spirit.

 

Maintaining a good relationship with cub packs may be very important to you. It seems to be easier to recruit the kids at ages 8-10 than at ages 12-14.

 

Also important have been:

 

monthly outdoor activities that happen come hell or highwater,

 

good dedicated ASMs per patrol,

 

lots of varied activity including - virtual meetings (just started those), regional activities with other Troops, community visits with the cub pack, visiting the cub pack, canoeing and bushwalking as primary focus areas, active Troop Council (Court of Honour??), spectacular ceremonies, international activities (one trip overseas, JOTA, Jamboree coming up, www exchanges, a travelling mascot (which is lost in Michigan).

 

Patrol camps and activities.

 

A long camp (summercamp type) but just our Troop by itself per year.

 

Camps that have tested the Scouts (a tiring hike, a 24 hour walk-a-thon, a tiring bike hike, adult free patrol camps, hiking in unfamiliar areas for the older guys, the long camp in winter) - they are as proud as punch of their achievements.

 

We are just starting a bring a mate (friend) program now that we have a lot of 11 year olds. The older ones were not interested.

 

Lots of talking to parents - selling the program, tailoring things to their childrens particular needs

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From what I'm reading, it sounds like it is absolutely vital to balance youth recruiting with adults - this is the "scary/difficult" for me - I don't feel a great deal of confidence in pulling together the adult leadership. Adults can be fickle and tempestuous :p It feels a bit like I work 5 times as hard to keep the adults happy for half the result I would get for my effort from the youth.

I'm also surprised to hear how rapidly your troops have grown...still reflecting on that bit,

Anne

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Anne -

 

I think that you should make it clear that while everyone else is talking Boy Scout Troops you are talking Girl Scout Troop.

 

Actually Girl Scout Group from 4th thru 7th grade. Girl Scouts are very different from Boy Scouts and you can not really run a Girl Scout Troop/Group like you would a Boy Scout Troop. Even if you do form them into patrols. The dynamics are very different and the number and jobs of adults affiliated is very different.

 

Have you asked your girls how they would like their Troop set up? Patrols is not the only form of Troop government available to them. A Boy Scout Troop pretty much has no choice. The patrol method IS the BSA way. In Girl Scouts, especially when you get to the Cadette age, you need to let the girls decide how they want to run their Troop and not make the decisions for them.

 

 

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Scoutnut, I'm not sure what your specific concerns are? I see Girl Scout troops folding every year - sometimes after only a couple of months - because they aren't taking the time to build a foundation. Almost *daily* I meet a girl who says either no one called her back when she asked to join a troop, or she thought she was in a troop but it dissolved soon after. If I'm telling girls we're going to do scouting, then I have made a commitment to help them build a program that is sustainable over the long term. Small troops are neither sustainable or a good way to do Scouting - a small troop is possibly better than no troop at all, but...a lot of the girls I serve have had to deal with a lot of losses in their young lives already. A troop that disappears overnight is not what they need. Having been involved in both programs for a very long time, I can see that a lot of the problems with these short-lived GS troops just don't happen in the BSA because of the clearly thought out organizational methods that the BSA has adopted.

Regarding the patrol system of troop government, this is the most basic form of scouting - the skills learned in the patrol method can be applied in any other form of government our girls will encounter over their lifetimes - from serving on neighborhood committees to City Council to congress. All too frequently, GS troops are adult-run - it's way too easy to do it for them - a patrol system puts that little bit of space in there that helps the girls run their own program. Yes, there are other forms of troop government. These were developed as troop sizes began to shrink. They were *not* developed specifically because they were great ways to teach leadership skills to girls. Like I said, I've made a commitment to give these girls the very best - we've already talked about it - they *want* their own patrols - I'm not clear as to why you are insinuating that I'm not allowing them to make their own decisions, but that's a whole nother topic for a whole nother thread ;)

As to why I'm asking advice from "the Dark side" ;) I find that the folks here have a lot of wisdom and a lot of heart - I've especially liked hearing from Scouters working to make Scouting happen in the inner-city like where I am. A lot of our girls usually don't get enough to eat at home (as in, most days they go hungry). At school they're on the free lunch program. At Girl Scouts, they can plan their own meals for outings with their own funds that they've earned themselves - they feel like masters of their own destiny - they take this game of Scouting *very* seriously - I take them seriously - and the folks here support that.

Peace out,

Anne

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I think that I've talked about this before but I'll repeat myself. My connection with the Girl Scouts is as an observer, my daughter is a Girl Scout but I have very little to do with the group.

 

One thing that I've noticed is that the small, autonomous troops are self-defeating to some extent. The troops don't work together to schedule events so each troop is left to plan everything for itself. Rather than three troops each sending four girls on a campout, no one goes because no troop has enough interest in the event.

 

One thing that I like about GSUSA is that the girls have to stay in almost through high school to earn the highest award instead of Eagle at 13 and out like so many Boy Scouts.

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Another downside to the autonomous nature of the small Girl Scout troops is how some girls can miss out on Scouting because no troop in her area is willing to accept another girl.

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Anne - I am simply saying that you should make yourself clear. People are replying to you assuming you are asking in your capacity as a Scoutmaster. You might receive different advise if people were clear on what you are trying to do.

 

I am not bashing large, multi-age, Girl Scout Groups. I think they can work quite well given the proper leadership and enough adult help. I also see nothing wrong with small Girl Scout Troops, wheather multi-age or single age. Once again, these can work well also, given the proper leadership.

 

It seems that you are a big fan of the patrol method. That is fine, It can work very well for the girls. Unfortunately it also seems that you are running down any other type of government in a Girl Scsout Troop. My girls tried patrols, but always preferred the "Town Hall" type of government. They have done quite well with this also. They have all developed into confident, caring, strong, independent young women who are leaders in their schools and community. They have earned their Program Aid, various leadership awards , the GS Silver and are currently finishing their GS Gold (which is the highest award a GS can earn, similar to the BS Eagle). The patrol method is not a magic bullet for all that is wrong with Girl Scouting. There are many Boy Scout Troops out there who use the patrol method and still are not boy run. Again, it all comes down to proper leadership, no matter what scouting program you are in.

 

I wish you and your Group well. Inner city Troops can be a challenge.

 

Oh - BTW, being a member of BSA, I never considered myself one of the "Dark Side" before.

 

 

 

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