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my_three_sons

Time to leave a Troop?

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I keep going on back and forth on if I should leave a Troop which will more or less kill it or stick it out. I am an ASM with a Troop with 8 scouts. We have 5 juniors, 1 sophomore, 1 7th grader, and we only have one Webelos who is crossing over. We have lost 4 scouts in the last year all of them being our younger scouts. I had 6 Webelos II coming into the year so I thought we would be good. One is crossing over, one is becoming a Catholic Squire, two are joining other troops because we have no one close to their son’s age, and two are done with scouts.

 

We only get boys from one Pack which is part of the problem. I have tried to reach out to other packs but there two large packs (50 and 45 scouts) that have a strangle hold on the district. I think the district executive is afraid to help out the smaller troops since both of them have a large list of alumni that they are afraid to set loose on him. He is a younger guy who I think is intimidated by the old scoutmasters. I have spoken with him about this and he said he would support me with whatever I decide.

 

At our latest committee meeting I got the impression that once the parents scouts finish up their Eagle projects they are done with scouting. In a year we are going to be left with no committee members with positions or a bus driver. I have a health condition that they could fail me on the CDL physical so that’s not an option. They are pressuring me to become the scoutmaster but I really don’t want to since I am also the Cubmaster of the pack the troop gets scouts from. This year I am also the Webelos I den leader since the last years moved away and I have a 4th grade son.

 

We have a great charter organization with 25 years of Eagles so I am conflicted with dissolving this troop but other than my oldest being in this troop for 6 years I don't have any long term bonds with it. I took the Pack from 8 scouts to 48 in 4 years but brining a Troop back is going to be a bigger challenge.

 

The sophomore and 7th grader are my son’s and I don’t know if they really enjoy scouts anymore. We skipped the last 3 camporees since most of the older scouts are either working, in sports or just plain don’t want to go. I got into scouting for my son’s but now I fear they are in it for me.

 

We have another troop that I am close with the Scoutmaster that would love to take us. They have 15 scouts total with a few in both of my son’s grade. The problem is if I leave for my boys how do I still send Webelos to a troop that my own son’s left. If I go this troop is going to be done within a year.

 

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. I change my mind on this many times a day and am starting to have trouble sleeping because of it.

 

 

 

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Hello and welcome to the forum! :D

 

If you are not having fun you should look for another opportunity. If this Troop is not healthy the Unit Commissioner should know about it and should be helping out. You have no obligation to keep any unit alive and it sounds like you are already given it your all--Cubmaster and Den Leader.

 

So if you really care to help revitalize the Troop, ask the Unit Commissioner for help. Go to the Charter Org Rep and ask for help. Ask your District Commissioner for help. Ask your District Committee's membership chair for help.

 

It doesn't hurt to ask but if you don't make the effort it likely won't happen on its own, unfortunately.

 

LeCastor

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I've been in a similar situation. City with more troops than packs and the packs not creating enough Webelos to sustain the troops. Plus, the city has two or three troops that recruit hard and draw many scouts ... and lose many too.

 

IMHO, eight scouts with many older ... you are going to lose scouts just because it's too small and below critical mass. If it was a startup with the energy of "We're going to grow", then fine.

 

I'd look for a way that your scouts who you serve can land safely and continue in scouting as long as they want with a good experience.

 

I'd recommend partnering or merging with another troop. Your juniors will be gone in a year. It's really the other few scouts who you need to serve and serve well.

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Troop185's suggestion sounds like it is worth exploring. Where I am, a troop with 15 Scouts would be considered to be in some danger of extinction, to say nothing of one with 8 Scouts. Put them together and you have 23 Scouts, which is a good size to build on. Of course, there could be some local conditions such as distance or whatever that might not make it a good idea. But it seems worth looking into.

 

Assuming that doesn't work out, I agree with others, you need to do what is best for your sons, over and above anything else. If they want to change troops, what happens to the troop after you leave is not your responsibility. (You are a good person for worrying about it, but it is not your responsibility.) Your two sons leaving is not what would really kill the troop. It is really more the fact that of the 8 Scouts, 5 of them are right around 17 years old. It reminds me of the (now defunct) nearby troop that stopped attracting new crossovers and did not succeed in recruiting otherwise. I think the last time I saw that troop at an event (this is going back 7-8 years), they had 5 or 6 Scouts but they all looked like they should be in college, they were all Life and half of them were wearing JASM patches. The troop never really disbanded - the last few remaining kids stuck it out with that troop to complete their Eagle requirements, they aged out one by one, and there was nobody left to put on a charter. I think the last one had his (last-minute) Eagle BOR the same night as my son, and that was it for them. It was a shame, I think that troop had been around for 70 or 80 years. But it happens.

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With 5 out of 8 scouts juniors,the troop will most likely fold in a year anyway. Find a troop with better numbers.

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It's like my troop has an evil twin! ... with one small exception, which leads me to this off-the-wall suggestion ....

Want a plan C?

Have your CO consider starting a venturing crew (possibly as an extension of an existing high school youth ministry). Ask the boys:

  • If they want the adventure to continue.
  • If they have sisters and girlfriends who might want to hike and camp.
  • If they think handguns and go-carts should be on the menu.
  • If they want a gang to hang with on leave from school or military.

If this flies (clearly you'd have to find adult advisors and committee members), dual-register the older boys in the crew.

As the troop shrinks, send the youngn's to an active troop.

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Thanks everyone for advice it really helped me not feel guilty for leaving. I have to meeting with the district executive on Tuesday to recharter the Pack. I am going to let him know on my plans to leave for the other troop. The other troop and ours have shared a bus before to save on gas expenses so all of the boys might be interested in joining together.

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If you've made up your mind to go, best of luck to you. That's a perfectly reasonable decision. But if you're still pondering, my first stop would be to meet with the chartered organization and ask 1) if they still want a troop and 2) what support they are willing to provide. It's their 25-year history to preserve or not.

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As I've posted here before, I was in almost exactly your shoes 4 years ago. Eleven Scouts, mostly high school age, with one boy in middle school. New families were scared off because there weren't any other young boys (I used to rail against this thinking - it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. If your boy joins, then we WILL have boys your son's age!). It took a lot of hard work to luck out and get 3 boys one year two of whom wanted a smaller Troop anyway, and one that lived close. After that, I re-doubled the recruiting work I was doing and now we're at 35.

 

I say all that only to show it "can be done," and it hurts me to see units fold. That's not what Scouting needs. BUT, I wouldn't blame you if you moved Troops. There's even a limit on the time you're supposed to give CPR. Wish I lived close so I could help with your recruiting. :)

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it's an interesting cycle.

I think its natural for a unit to cycle up and down through time.

 

I'm currently CM for a catholic parish's pack. Our CO's troop is just coming off a down trend that sounds very similar to yours..... the only difference being that our pack was strong. Lately, most of our cubs are crossing to our troop instead of leaving for another.

 

Now, as our troops ranks are growing, now to the point where it might be growing too fast.... our pack is shrinking. The old clique of friends that formed the pack committee had a strong group going. They became rather cliquish and folks wanted to join them but then weren't made to feel included..... Now they have mostly all gone to another troop.... and new, parents are much less interested in participating, and I'm just not seeing traction.... now to the point that, like you, I'm concerned that the pack might fold in the next year or two when I and the majority of our cubs age out and the few active parents leave. My gut tells me though, that it will be a very small pack but will continue for a year or two, then some new energy will come and it will grow again.

 

During this time, the troop will even out since we are currently its only feeder. This is my hope anyway.

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You got all kinds of advice from us, but what does your son want? If your son wants to stick it out, and fight to keep the troop alive, then by all means go for it. Is it hard? yep. Is it worth it? Maybe.

 

If your son wants to move, then do it.

 

I was in a similar situation in. Son made the decision, and I've been happy ever since.

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