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Bob White

Let's play Unit Commissioner

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Any idea homw many other Troops are within a 10 mile radius of Troop A? The problem could be there is a glut of Troops & not enough kids to go around.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I can see a number of reasons to have 'extra' people as ASM's or Committee members.

 

We have a number of adults on our committe and a few as ASM's that serve as 'special consultants' for specific jobs.

 

We have two ASM's whose 'specialties' include one or more of the following: Biking, Canoeing, Backpacking, Survival skills, climbing, etc. These particular men are not really interested in teaching 5th graders first aid or how to tie knots at a weekly meeting. However, they are very important to our venture patrol and doing high adventure trips. They go along on the trips, teach seminars on preparation, and go on day trips to help prepare the boys. Next year we are going up to Boundary Waters - a trip that is not suitable for first year scouts who have never been in a canoe. However, having these trained adults, ALONG WITH a regular ASM or SM, and possibly some parents, leaves other, weekly attendance ASM's attend something locally with the younger boys to work on advancement and skills.

 

We have a few adults on our committee who seldom get involved in the troop activities. One might simply be our popcorn chair every year. Another has boys that are long out of the troop - but he owns farm property and allows us to store our vehicles and trailers there. he also helps maintain them and occasionally will show up at a committee meeting when something needs repairs. Many are newer parents recruited to sit boards of review - they are not quite ready to commit to a particular job on the committee, but we have found BOR's a good way to get parents interested and involved without scaring them off with too much responsibility, too fast. As their boys get comfortable with the troop in their first year - some move into more substantial committee jobs (and still sit BOR's) and others decide Scout leadership is not their cup of tea. but it's a great way to get to know the parents!

____________

 

As for your two troops, on Troop A, I would ask why are the boys leaving? are they going to another troop? or leaving scouts altogether? Is there an adult personality problem that is 'spoiling' the troop for everyone? what level of training do these adults have? are they USING it?

 

 

I also would find out WHY so many ASM's - do they have special duties? are they all active? If they don't have specific duties (and how could they? unless they were mixing committee jobs and SM jobs?) I would suggest that some of them move over to the committee and specifically take on some of those responsibilities. If they are ASM's because they LIKE to go camping with the boys - well, there's nothing that says committee members CAN'T chaperone troop outings.

 

with so few boys, they can't really use a NSP - but they can certainly offer advancement opportunities. My suspicion is that this troop is an family/ adult camping club and that the adults are looking for places to go and things to do that are entertaining - and while there ARE opportunities to work on advancement, they aren't taking advantage of them, nor are they teaching the boys to. Without a First Class emphasis, I'd bet the ONE boy who advanced some is either mature and organized for his age, or has a leader/parent checking up on him.

 

Troop B sounds like fun - Can I go back and be a Boy Scout with them? ;-)

 

do they have this plan written out? can I get a copy of it to show our PLC as an example? ;-)

 

you said the Troop camps 9 times a year plus summer camp and a igh adventure trip. Do they do patrol outings/ campouts? That would be about the only thing I could suggest. Sounds like a well planned program.

 

laura

 

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Just as an aside here about the 13-member troop committee, I wouldn't call it massive. If I were a CC in a troop with 34 active Scouts (as opposed to just 30+ on the charter some of whom show up once in awhile, as "my" troop has), I wouldn't mind having 12 other committee members and wouldn't have any trouble finding stuff for them to do. If you had 7 active boys, 13 would seem kind of massive, because for one thing, your most likely committee volunteers are parents of boys in the troop. But for 34 active boys, 13 committee members is not so massive.

 

What do they do? There are a lot of roles, that in many troops are combined, but you can have separate people doing them. Off the top of my head:

 

Chair

Treasurer

Secretary

Advancement

Training (me)

Equipment (works with QM though this could also be an ASM role)

Camping/Activities

Public Relations (most troops probably don't have a separate person for this, but you can)

Membership/Registrar

Fundraising (if not part of the Treasurer's role)

 

That's 10 right there. I have seen some lists that include Friends of Scouting coordinator, which in my experience has been part of someone else's role, but that would make it 11. And I could be missing a couple of things. (And I'm not counting the CR as being a committee member, so that would give you another one.)

 

So 2 more gets you to 13. My son's troop at most times has 2 advancement committee members (besides the chair) who have no other roles -- they just rotate through BOR's with some of the other committee members, and one of them also coordinates merit badge counselors and classes, which I know is another issue for another thread, but it's the facts so I'm reporting it. We do have a fund-raising coordinator separate from the treasuer. We also have an Eagle coordinator/advisor on the committee. Between combined roles and people coming and going out, by my count my troop's committee (I mean my son's troop's committee) has about 10 or 11 members right now. If 2 or 3 more showed up and were willing to do BOR's or help the activities chair by doing the reservations/tour permits etc. for half the outings every year, I am sure they would not be turned away and could be given enough to do.

 

I didn't necessarily want to get involved in the rest of the thread; I see where Bob is going with it and agree, the key is having a good, well-planned program, enough leaders and committee members to assist in the planning and carrying-out and all the support functions behind it. If I were troop B, I might tweak the numbers a bit and "re-allocate" one of those committee members to be an ASM (so its 5/12 instead of 4/13) so you have one more person to work with the boys on advancement (or as Bob might put it, to observe when the boys participating in the well-planned program do one of the things contained in the requirements; I haven't observed things flow quite so smoothly or transparently as that, but that's another topic.) But that's a minor detail, I agree with the overall premise of "program, program, program."

 

My son's troop, by the way, is somewhere between Troop A and Troop B. I suspect a lot of troops are. Someday, in some other thread, maybe I will describe how, and how we are working on what needs to be improved.

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"Any idea how many other Troops are within a 10 mile radius of Troop A? The problem could be there is a glut of Troops & not enough kids to go around.

 

There were enough scouts for Troop A to have more than twice as many 18 months ago. And if there is a high enough youth population for multiple troops, then it is likely that there are enough youth availablee for this troop to grow.

 

This is a common excuse used by leaders in troubled units, it is often teamed with other excuses such as, too many outside activities, to much homework, no parental support, it's the kids, it's the Charter Organization, the Sun was in my eyes, there was a rock in my shoe.

 

Program, program, program.

 

Bob White

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OK, I didn't see Bob's latest post until after I posted mine. We have very similar committee-role lists. His basically provides the 2 I was missing. We do not have a Webelos resource position (right now this is being done by the troop secretary who as it happens as also a Webelos leader in one of the nearby packs, and has sons in both, but that will have to be looked at when her second son crosses over in the spring; and our camping/activities person also is the Cubmaster of another nearby pack) or a chaplain (at least not that I have seen; the IH is a minister and attends COH's but nothing else that I have seen) and we have only one fund-raiser a year which is coordinated by one person with assistance from the treasurer. I added public relations which as I said is probably combined with something else in most troops, and which my troop does not have. But we do have the Eagle coordinator.

 

The point is that 13 committee members is not out of line.

 

Also, comparing this to Troop A, if you have 7 boys (some of whom are not advancing and are below First Class) and 10 ASM's, what are all those ASM's doing? Are they just going on camping trips? If so, when they go, they don't seem to be working with the boys on advancement. Same thing for troop meetings, if they are there, what are they doing, sitting around drinking coffee?

 

As I have suggested before, my son's troop has not achieved perfection in any of this. We have 5 ASM's and sometimes some of them ARE just sitting around. We have some boys who are lagging in their advancement. I know of one boy who must be 15 and is Tenderfoot, actually I know he had a Second Class BOR 3 or 4 months ago and "failed" it and does not seem to have had another one. I see him at troop meetings and on camping trips and do not know what the problem is, but it seems to me that the SM and/or one of the ASM's should be making more of an effort to figure out what it is and help the boy resolve it. He is probably not going to become a self-starter overnight. So in other words, I would list my troop as "improving" if there is an official category for that.

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Young DE's are told and my experience has proven it to be true -- that there is a rule of 1/3rd.

 

1/3rd of the units require no service at all and put on a nearly perfect program for the boys. I use units such as those as training grounds for new commissioners.

 

1/3rd of the units can benefit greatly from unit commissioners and are eager for help in delivering the program of the Boy Scouts of America.

 

1/3rd of the units are going to die in a few years unless some intervention is done. By intervention, I mean a commissioner advising unit leaders, training, a new influx of boys and parents, or a total regime change.

 

I happen to think Troop B in this instance is in the first third and troop A is in the second third. Neither is in the third third.

 

I have seen plenty of both types of troops. In fact, in the case of Troop 725 of Midland, MI (is that specific enough for you?) it was in the bottom third when I became Scoutmaster, in the top third when I left as Scoutmaster, and fell into the middle third about three years after I left. I'm not sure where it is now -- perhaps Dancin' Fox can tell me.

 

DS

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Hi DS

 

I can accept the one third rule but my experience has been a little different.

It seems at any given time 1/3 of the troops units are healthy, 1/4 are in serious trouble and the balance are in the transition of either getting better or getting worse.

 

I'm curious Dave,

What information has been shared that would lead you to believe that either troop was eager to change how they do things?

 

Bob White

 

 

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Sorry, Bob. I didn't mean to imply that Troop A was eager to change. I meant that, in general, units in the middle third are eager to accept help.

 

If they're not eager to accept help, I go to the chartered organization and we have a discussion about the effect the current leadership of the unit is having on the chartered partner's ability to deliver a quality Scouting program.

 

DS

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Dsteele muttered, "(is that specific enough for you?)"

 

Sorry, that's your example. Bob White has to supply his own. Right now Bob White playing a game akin to what seven year old play when they are matching their imaginary superheros, "Oh yeah, if your guy pulls out his death ray, mine will put up his invincible force shield!" "Yeah! If he does that, mine will go over the shield and use his atomic can opener."

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DS,

 

What, according to your experience and training would, Troop A need to do to keep new scouts from leaving the troop?

 

BW

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Bob:

 

Boy leadership is my answer to your question. I'm not a unit commissioner, but I play one on television ;) I would do everything in my power to get the strongest boy personalities to the council Junior Leader Training Course and make sure they got special counseling in how to yank the leadership from the adult reign and run their troop.

 

I've done that more than once and will continue to do so. I think that Junior Leader Training is one of the best courses there is and hope it gives the boys the strength they need to do their job -- run the troop.

 

I was really proud to learn that the young man who served the troop I was Scoutmaster in had up-braided the waterfront director at summer camp when the waterfront director said, "some of the boys from your troop who signed up for swimming aren't here. Go get your Scoutmaster and tell him to get his boys down here." My SPL looked at the waterfront director and said, "It's MY troop -- I'll go get the boys."

 

He was right.

 

DS

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One can't answer what to do until you know why they are leaving. If it's a fairly transient community, their families might be moving away. If the community doesn't have a lot of growth and there are 7 Troops in close proximity all vieing for the same kids, this could be a problem.

 

The question of why needs answered before you can address what to do. Horse before the cart so to speak.

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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" If it's a fairly transient community, their families might be moving away. If the community doesn't have a lot of growth and there are 7 Troops in close proximity all vieing for the same kids, this could be a problem."

 

Now that you've posed these possibilities, these non-hyposthetical troops will now suddenly not fall into these categories.

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Given the constraints of our two virtural troops, Troop A obviously needs some help. But in a real-world situation, I'd need more information.

 

We no nothing about how the two troops are meeting the aims of Scouting. Except that Troop A isn't up to speed on advancement, we don't know how either troop is applying the methods of Scouting, either.

 

Secondly, I'd want to know what the trends are. The info we have is a snapshot of what is happening in the units. Are they improving or declining from there? Is Troop A still in a tail spin, or have do they have their act together awaiting a new crop of Webelos? The opposite could be true of Troop B. Are they coasting along on their past successes?

 

I'm not a commissioner but I would hope that much of what one learns at commissioner training is how to evaluate what is really going on with at unit, not just looking at what the ScoutNet reports tell him. I would hope a good commissioner would do as he has been trained.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Twocubdad: you bring up a point that I agree with. A unit might look good on paper, but is it truly healthy? How would one know? I know of 2 units that would not be labeled healthy if they were to be evaluated by a personal visit and by meeting the boys; however, on paper they look fine and dandy. (They are not the two units in my profile, by the way :)) So, does this fall under the UC job description, or is it up to the unit to evaluate itself? I ask, not of idle curiosity, but because one of our units has has problems and we have felt very alone in working them out--in spite of asking for help. After a year of working at it, we've got a new UC, but how now to use him without overburdening him?

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