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Bob White

Let's play Unit Commissioner

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Sorry but if families are moving out then families are moving in. What a coincidence it would be if only the families from one troop moved from a community.

 

I'm not saying that Troop A doesn't have a program. The problem is it doesn't have a scouting program? how can you tell? Becasue in a scouting program advancement happens through participation. No one is advancing. when you only have 3 new scouts to watch, how hard can it be to catch them doing something right?

 

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"Sorry but if families are moving out then families are moving in."

 

Ha! Ha, ha! Ha, ho, ha! Ha, ho, he, ho, ha! Ho, ha, he, ha, ha, ho, hi, he, ha, ho-ho, ha, ha! Har!

 

You don't get out much do you? You've never seen a town die when a supporting industry leaves?

 

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It could be that the problem with Troop A is that it's not following FCFY. But there are many, many other possible reasons for its small numbers. It may be that the SM and his coterie are obnoxious and unlikeable--or that some of the leading boys are. People may have quit because they object to BSA policies (this actually happened to my son's Pack a couple of years ago). It could have something to do with the demographics of the community, with the CO that sponsors the troop, with the mix of activities, with the recruiting methods, you name it. If all the boys come from a particular middle school, it would not be strange for another troop to outrecruit them.

 

Also, Troop B may have a great program--or maybe it's an LDS troop, and all the boys in the church belong.

 

But in any case, these would only be anecdotes, not statistics that show what kinds of programs retain Scouts. You'd have to look at many, many troops to distinguish that.

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Here is my wrap up on this and everyone is welcome to continue to discus this beyond this point. As I said before these two units exist, they are not unique however and exist in all councils they just have different unit numbers.

 

Mike F made a great analogy. A Scout program is like an automobile. There are all kinds of things the driver has to be aware of engine, wheels, wipers, lights fuel, etc. Ignore any one long enough and it could case a problem in the operation of the vehicle. Some things for operating a car are required by law some are not. However, even the ones not mandated, if ignored, will lead to the eventual ruin of the auto.

 

Take oil changes for instance. Not required by law but most car owners realize the importance. The longer a car goes without an oil change the worse the engine performance wait long enough and the engine locks up.

 

In Scouting, there are many program elements. Ignore any one long enough and it will affect the quality of your program. Even elements not "required" by the BSA, but recommended, will cause the collapse of the unit if ignored. The First Class Emphasis and New Scout Patrol structure may not be 'required" but like the oil in your car they are "essential" if you expect to deliver a real scouting program.

 

TROOP A will collapse because it has no scouting program structure. The evidence is clear in the lack of advancement, adult to scout ratio, and poor membership retention.

 

The Scoutmaster, Committee Chair, and CO have two choices. 1) Make immediate and specific program changes and rescue the troop for existing and potential future members, or 2) make excuses to allow themselves to continue as they are now and accept the imminent collapse of a long lived troop.

 

It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

 

For Troop A to continue on the same program and expect scouts to join and scouts to stay is insane.

 

The Scoutmaster can wish for the troop to grow in the next year but unless he is willing to change, wishing will not be enough. The troop does not just need a different program, they need a scouting program. That would mean accepting the fact that not using the New Scout Patrols and the First Class emphasis Program is not an option.

 

Look at it this way what harm could it do. If properly implementing this program works then you, not only rescue the troop but also you improve the scouting program in the community. If it doesn't work you are no worse off then you are right now.

 

What will it take? It requires an open mind and an open heart on behalf of the SM and all adult leaders. Dickenss Christmas Carol seems so appropriate in this situation. Consider the advaice of others as the spirits come to warn Ebenezer of the future that awaits him, one of a sad death, or one of warm friendship. However, the choice is left to Ebenezer. Only he can determine his fate.

 

What will be the fate of Troop A, that depends on whether or not the SM will heed the advice shared with him by knowledgable scouters in and out of his district, and realize this troop is going to die unless he embraces the elements of scouting.

 

I truly wish him well, and hope for the sake of the troop he opens his mind and heart to the recommended methods of scouting.

 

Merry Christmas and God bless us...every one.

 

Bob White

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I glad someone can make such definitive statements without all the facts!

 

"Sorry but if families are moving out then families are moving in."

 

Not true! Someone will move in but not necessarly another family.

 

Yeah, the Scouting program is like an automobile. There are many parts. And they all need to work together. But you don't need your wipers if it isn't raining. And if it isn't dark, you lights don't need to be on. But your wipers & lights are there if you need them!

 

Ed Mori

A blessed Christmas to all!

1 Peter 4:10

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Please allow me to develop my analogy about the engine a little further to more clearly explain my thoughts.

 

Think of a Boy Scout troop as being powered by the 8 Methods of Scouting represented by a good, old-fashion V-8 engine where each of the cylinders is one of the Methods. The engine is what makes the vehicle go. When all cylinders are functioning properly, the machine moves forward smoothly with minimum noise and maximum efficiency. If the engine is neglected over time, the cylinders (valves, spark plugs, etc.) will start to degrade and youll lose efficiency. You can even have a cylinder go dead such that it is no longer helping power the vehicle. Now the system is really hurting. It may still move forward, but its harder to get you where youre trying to go and you may not have the power to get over some obstacles on your path. If the neglect continues and another couple of cylinders fail, the machine stops dead in its tracks perhaps making some awful chugging noises, but not able to generate enough power to move forward. (I have experience with an old 74 Chevy Nova that I thought I didnt have the time or energy to maintain right.)

 

In order to keep the machine running right, its necessary to take the time and effort to keep it properly maintained. The spark plug for each cylinder needs to be inspected, cleaned, and re-gapped. A compression test on each cylinder tells you when youre losing efficiency and its time for a valve job. Yes, it takes time and effort especially the first few times you go through it but it saves a great deal of extra effort and heartache from breakdowns on the road.

 

Oil was mentioned as being important in a car and indeed it is. Oil lubricates the internal mechanisms most importantly the cylinders and it does affect all of them. To fit my analogy, oil would perhaps be training which occasionally needs to be refreshed.

 

Cooling system is another important one. It keeps the engine/cylinders at the proper operating temperature and protects against damage from overheating. In my mind, a sense of humor and goodwill are the coolant system.

 

In an engine, the electrical systems most important function is to provide the spark to fire the plugs. In Scouting, that would be enthusiasm.

 

Fuel is the stuff thats fed into the engine to provide the pressure to drive each cylinder. Fueling a car engine is so easy we take it for granted. Pull up to the pump and get out a credit card. In 3 minutes youre back on the road. For us, that fuel is the energy (effort) that goes into driving each of the 8 Methods. (Alas it is not always easy for us to keep our tank full)

 

Although optional, for superior performance, an engine benefits from a turbocharger. That would definitely be an active high adventure program.

 

The 8 Methods of Scouting are the cylinders of the engine that moves the program forward lubricated with training, cooled by a sense of humor and goodwill, sparked by enthusiasm, fueled with raw energy, and sometimes turbocharged by a high-adventure program. These are the fundamentals. With these things in place, the engine will run and the vehicle will move forward.

 

Over time, there have been some advances in engine technology to reduce maintenance requirements. One of these is the replacement of old points/condenser/distributor system with electronic ignition. If youre willing and able to provide the old system the attention and care it requires, it will serve you just fine. Some car enthusiasts take great pride in so doing. It is particularly challenging to retrofit an existing vehicle with an electronic ignition system if it didnt start out with one. In addition, if the owner/operator has the skill to keep the old system running, he doesnt have much motivation to attempt such action. At the risk of being flamed, I put forth the position that optional program elements fit into this category. There are advantages to the newer system, but if you're running on all 8 cylinders, you still have a functioning Scouting Program.

 

Without getting into the legalities of other equipment needed to operate a motor vehicle on a public roadway, lets talk about some extra support equipment. Using seatbelts and having an airbag system enhance safety in a vehicle. The Guide to Safe Scouting is our safety system. Windshield wipers help to clear our vision. Perhaps a periodic program assessment can do that.

Headlights help light your way in the dark. Those would be the handbooks. Horns and lights signal your intent to other drivers. That would be communication.

 

I guess Ive driven this analogy about as far as I can. (Pun intended.) Sorry for the long post. Hopefully somebody will find it insightful and maybe even useful.

 

-mike f

(This message has been edited by Mike F)

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"Over time, there have been some advances in engine technology to reduce maintenance requirements. One of these is the replacement of old points/condenser/distributor system with electronic ignition."

 

Sometimes these great advancements have their own list of problems. In 30 years of driving, I was never stranded by a car with points. On the other hand, electonic systems often fail without warning. Life gets very interesting when your car's brain dies at 3 AM when you're in the middle of nowhere.

 

The same can be said for changes in Scouting, education or the military.

 

 

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"Sometimes these great advancements have their own list of problems."

Thanks for making that point, FOG. The options have their own strengths and weaknesses - there are not absolute answers that are always better for everybody - that's why BSA uses wording about them being options.

 

That rusting hulk of a Chevy required some special TLC, but it never let me down. Don't get me started about the electronic ignition in my Grand Caravan...

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Sadly, I work with a 'Troop A.' A long time ago on this very forum was a list of things that leaders of failing troops might say. One I've never forgotten was something referring to the abundance of Eagles the troop had. Our Former S/M consistantly repeated this as does out new S/M,who turns a deaf ear to my pleas to do otherwise and rethink our mission of 'All Scouts First class.' Currently, we have 3 active Scouts, down from 5 last year(and meeting once per month, no camping either.) The year prior boasted 15 Scouts with 8 Eagles, meeting every week, camping every month.

Along with everything else said here, clearly its the adult leadership setting the tone and being blind to the fact that as also written above repeating the same errors until finally , nobody shows up and the leadership won't have a clue! The soon to be a troop of 1(one), Dave J775!

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Dave,

You've just moved us from hypothetical to practical. Since Bob White sounded like he might be signing off of this thread, allow me to ask a few questions.

 

First, you have watched a troop decay to the point of being in danger of failing completely. We have sniped a bit about what might cause this to happen and, as usual, have disagreed. Can you tell us what you believe the top 3 or so factors might in your situation? (If you're versed in the official Methods of Scouting, we could start there. If not, just tell us from the gut.)

 

Second, we understand you're not the SM, so you don't make the decisions. And the SM hasn't been receptive to input from you on how to improve things. Imagine any of us lived in your neighborhood and had boys in that sister troop in the other church down the street. How might we approach your troop to discuss this? And how could we help?

 

Thanks! -mike f

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Mike F. Just for the record, I have said that these units exist. Only FOG has said they are hypothetical and he is wrong.

 

Bob White(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Bob W - I didn't intend to imply your Troop A's didn't exist, so "hypothetical" was the wrong word, although a lot of the discussion wandered into hypothetical weeds. I thought it might help keep the discussion going in a positive direction if we had another specific example from someone (Davej775) who appeared to be asking for help and was willing to share.

-mike

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" Just for the record, I have said that these units exist."

 

Actually, what you said was, "I'm sure anyone who has spent any amount of time in commissioner service has seen units such as these. I would bet over the years DSteele has seen dozens of units such as these.

 

"It is even possible for these to be the same unit at different times in its history."

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