Jump to content
Krampus

Troop Meetings: How to Motivate the Troop

Recommended Posts

Love this. Sharing an email from my SPL who, believe it or not, asked me to "get ideas" from other adults about how to motivate scouts.
 

Dear Mr. [Krampus]

 

We have the meetings for the month of January to plan and the program patrols aren't helping.

[Adult Comment: Our PLC plans a month in advance. One patrol is assigned to be program patrol. The PL is to lead the effort. They are supposed to use the Troop Program Features and Troop Program Resources (in pdf format) to develop  meeting plans which outline what will be covered at meetings, how the meeting will be run and how skills will be taught.]

 

The guys just won't use the pdfs on the website to make the meeting plans. They don't even try. Some PLs give me plans but most don't. The [name of patrols removed] are really bad. So what I'm looking for is are ways that I can make the PLs and the patrols use the resources and complete the meeting plans. Even if they don't use the pdfs I still want them to complete the meeting plans. I don't get why they can't do this. Can you check with other adults you know in other troops to see if they have this problem and how they fixed it. Or maybe they have another process to plan meetings? I want to fix this and don't know how.

 

Hope his request is clear. He wants troop meetings to be fun and to make it worth the boys' time to attend. Poor planning recently has lead to some confusion at meetings. He knows that poor planning can lead to boring meetings and a drop in attendance, hence his note. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions will be sent back to him for consideration. Thanks!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's like my SPLs have an evil twin!

 

First, he should be congratulated on identifying the problem. Most young male leaders actually think poor planning is a synonym for spontaneity. He needs to politely point out that if the troop has an outline, there will be more room for fun on its own terms. If not, a visit from the Krampus will be in order. :blink:

 

Second, he should consider abandoning electronic forms. If they aren't gonna come up with solid plans when they are in the room jawing with their buddies, they won't when they are staring at whatever screen they are using. It's nothing personal, it's probably just the nature of the PL's he happens to be dealing with. Figuring what medium works best is always a challenge, but it can be half the fun. One month request the plan on used wrapping paper and crayons, the next charcoal on a slate, fabric paint on a neckerchief, painted on a used sign, or carved into a staff. This sounds stupid, but instead of something that is easily copied and forwarded along, it requires peoples' attention to follow. And while each PL is concentrating on how he will out-do the other, a vision of the actual program might just sink into his patrols' psyche. Then, just take a photo of the program as delivered and upload it to the site.

 

Third - and especially if your PLs aren't motivated by the above gimmik, make some phone calls. If these PL's are comfortable with electronic reports, then maybe it's just a matter of calling a few days in advance and saying "Hey, our troop's counting on you. Can you get that program written? Do you need help?" And by help, that may mean paying a visit to the scout's house or meeting someplace with internet access. Things that are real important need a real time investment.

 

If it's any consolation, adults have the same problem -- as evidenced by my CC still having not started our recharter. :mad:

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@qwazse, good points. A few things to note:

 

  1. The SPL runs PLC to make assignments and flesh out the calendar. The "homework" is to have the PLs and their patrol get together and put the meat on the bones, or plan out the meetings in detail. To his credit, the SPL is thinking on changing that process and forcing the patrols to have a "break out" session and not leave PLC until the meeting plans are done...at least in draft.
  2. Forms are posted online but the expectation is that the PLs download, print and use paper. The pdf files are to make it easier and more accessible to use the planning aids. All the kids have phones (better than mine) so they have no excuse about access to materials.

This may help frame the SPL's dilemma.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We run our troop in somewhat of a Pack model.  The troop (pack) meets as a whole once a month.  The rest of the time there is a brief opening followed by patrol (den) meetings where the focus is more on patrol member needs. 

 

The troop meeting is oriented more towards a general program which might include the D.A.R.E. officer coming in and doing a presentation to meet the annual drug and alcohol requiremnt.  It might be a Red Cross Volunteer coming in and doing a CPR refresher, those items that are of interest to the whole troop.

 

The patrol meeting is orented towards the needs of the patrol, menu planning for next camporee, advancement for members if needed, patrol outing, etc.

 

In my old troop with multiple patrols, there wasn't an SPL, but the PL's rotated amongst themselves the troop activity for the month.   

 

Along with this there was a general troop outing and a service project as well.  That, like the troop program, rotated with the patrols to research and set up.

 

With my new troop, there is only one patrol, but the format of one biggy program (troop), one outing, one service project and the rest of the time is whatever the boys want to do for the evening.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two laws of motion for boy's are motivation and accountability. Too much of one or not enough of the other can produce undesired leverage in the wrong direction. The balance of motivation and accountability needed to move us forward are different for everyone. But, a general rule is that boys like more adventure than paperwork. So depending on the boy, sometimes we need to be cleaver in turning the paperwork into adventure.

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The two laws of motion for boy's are motivation and accountability. Too much of one or not enough of the other can produce undesired leverage in the wrong direction. The balance of motivation and accountability needed to move us forward are different for everyone. But, a general rule is that boys like more adventure than paperwork. So depending on the boy, sometimes we need to be cleaver in turning the paperwork into adventure.

 

Barry

 

Exactly what the SPL said to a degree. This exercise is to find out HOW to make that (turn paperwork in to adventure) happen. ;)

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the problems with management organizational efforts is the paperwork bureaucracy it entails.

 

I have an ASM that deals with ALL the paperwork for the troop.  I can do it, but I totally hate paperwork.  I have develped templates for the boys so they can, if they wish, make use of it.  Some use it, others don't.  It all depends on the leader and his style of leadership.  If I were selected to be PL for a patrol, the first thing I would work on is getting one of my buddies on board as patrol Scribe.  The paperwork needed would focus only on patrol needs.  If 3 boys accomplished an advancement, the Scribe can either write it down on a piece of paper, or go over to the Advancement ASM and work with him with getting it recorded properly.  Either way, the Scribe is taking care of his boys.  Learning what it takes to get the job done is something the Scribe has to figure out relative to his own leadership style.  He's going to screw it up sometimes, and as time passes, he'll get better at it.  If it takes a piece of paper to do that, fine, if not, that's fine too.

 

Paperwork is necessary in my book, never fun, nothing is ever going to make it fun, but I do it because it's necessary.  I do it because my boys depend on me doing it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Paperwork is necessary in my book, never fun, nothing is ever going to make it fun, but I do it because it's necessary.  I do it because my boys depend on me doing it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

But this is not paperwork really, is it? And let's be real, this does not take more than 30 mins to put together. It documents how the meeting will be run. It allows the PL to have a document to point to and share with his APL in case he's sick and cannot make the meeting. It forces them to think through how something will be taught. The process of thinking through such activities helps them handle all other aspects of Scouting.

 

Are we really so adverse to planning a meeting that we want to allow the boys to wing it? What about all the planning and documentation you need to do for the MBs (hiking, backpacking, personal mgmt, eprep, etc.). Let's not forget, these guys are challenged with some pretty advanced planning stuff by the time they are PL and First Class.

 

All we are talking about is a little prep work and some research and notes on how the meeting will run. Simple template. Resources that practically plan the meeting and games for them. These guys can handle a little "paperwork". ;)

 

4570827.jpg?728

Edited by Krampus

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Paperwork is necessary in my book, never fun, nothing is ever going to make it fun, but I do it because it's necessary.  I do it because my boys depend on me doing it.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Wow, sounds like the adult's final word on the matter. You need to stand 100 yards back sir.

 

Anything can be made somewhat pleasurable with the right creativity. "Somethings aren't fun but have to be done" is adult speak and encourages close mindedness. Instead we should show humility by admitting you (the adult) don't have an answer, and open mindedness by asking for help in creating a solution to move forward. Scouts can be pretty creative when given motivation and appreciation.

 

By the way, it hasn't been mentioned yet, but some scouts just don't have leadership skills or ambition and don't mind failing. They aren't bad scouts, they are just in the wrong place to grow. Our troop once cancelled a NASA trip to Houston because of such a scout. Great kid who loved scouting, but that leadership gig just wasn't his thing. 

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of my suggestions when this happened in our troop was change the location of the meeting. So come up with a theme that requires a fun meeting somewhere else. The park, the lake, gym, basket ball court, military base, or something. Do something completely different, even just a movie. The SPL is trying to get the cart out of the rut, sometimes that takes doing something completely different. 

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll do the Devil's Advocate because I love paperwork....NOT.  :)

 

 

But this is not paperwork really, is it? And let's be real, this does not take more than 30 mins to put together.

 

It's 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back.  :)

 

It documents how the meeting will be run. It allows the PL to have a document to point to and share with his APL in case he's sick and cannot make the meeting.

 

Verbal communication is vital to teamwork.  The APL is the PL's right hand man, he should know and work with the PL so that if the PL doesn't show up, everything goes along with just a new face out in front.  If the APL is just going to sit around on his hands, he's pretty much useless to the PL.

 

It forces them to think through how something will be taught.

 

Sitting down over a hot cocoa :) and talking it through will do the same thing.  Paperwork isn't needed.

 

The process of thinking through such activities helps them handle all other aspects of Scouting.

 

Okay, I'll give you that point.  I do some of my most creative thinking while doodling on a back of a napkin.  :)

Are we really so adverse to planning a meeting that we want to allow the boys to wing it?

 

We?  Who's the we here?  the adults?  What happened to "Train 'em, Trust 'em, Let them lead?"    Some of my best leaders have been the guys with the plans in their head and wing it when things veer off from the plan.  :)

 

What about all the planning and documentation you need to do for the MBs (hiking, backpacking, personal mgmt, eprep, etc.).

 

MB's are for the individual.  There's no leadership requirements in any of the MB's.  They are all designed for personal improvement and achievement.

 

Let's not forget, these guys are challenged with some pretty advanced planning stuff by the time they are PL and First Class.

 

My current PL just attained his Tenderfoot rank.  Last fall he and I worked out a calendar for the year.  He and I took pictures of it on the chalkboard with our smart phones.  We're good for the year.  He now knows how to put together a calendar on his own and has a record for reference next year.  We're golden!

 

All we are talking about is a little prep work and some research and notes on how the meeting will run. Simple template. Resources that practically plan the meeting and games for them. These guys can handle a little "paperwork". ;)

 

Granted, some of the boys I have worked with over the years need a few crib notes along the way, but most of them don't.  Because of the nature of how the troop is run, the best laid plans of mice and men last about 10 seconds into the activity and then fall all apart from that point on.  So and so didn't show up..... Johnny for got his....   Where are the eggs for this morning's breakfast....   I told Mr. A.... that you did that requirement, I guess he and I'll need another chat, I'll get back to you....

 

I find that a lot of the paperwork stuff is a crutch that a lot of bureaucratic type boys ever move on to leadership because of.  PL Freddie is approached by Grubmaster Tommy so says, shopper Pete didn't get eggs for today's breakfast.  Tommy shows Freddie his name is next to the word shopper on the written roster.... So what's the next step.  Both of them take the paper to Pete and take out their frustration on him..... Now there's a leadership plan if ever I saw one.  And don't think for a moment I haven't seen this paperwork in action many times in my troops.  Or, my PL with a wing it attitude simply says to Fredding, "Okay, what can we make for breakfast without the eggs?"  Freddies says, "All we have is bisquits and bacon".  What boy is going to complain?  :)  It just isn't worth the effort to do the paperwork when it's totally useless.  My boy all learn to know when it is and when it isn't and normally it boils down to personal preference on their part.  I, as an adult, don't have a say so in that process.  If a boy asks for help on the process, of course, that's a time for me to step up and take care of my boys, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By the way, it hasn't been mentioned yet, but some scouts just don't have leadership skills or ambition and don't mind failing. They aren't bad scouts, they are just in the wrong place to grow. Our troop once cancelled a NASA trip to Houston because of such a scout. Great kid who loved scouting, but that leadership gig just wasn't his thing. 

 

I try to nip this problem in the bud buy suggesting leadership positions that meet the boy's leadership style. He takes notes during the SMC and as part of the next steps he looks at various positions, of which several I recommend that will fit his abilities. My own scout is not an SPL type, but he's a helluva instructor. Best we've ever had. Not the kid that will lead a troop but can lead a group of new scouts on a 5 mile orienteering course no problem. Situational leadership. ;)

 

 

One of my suggestions when this happened in our troop was change the location of the meeting. So come up with a theme that requires a fun meeting somewhere else. The park, the lake, gym, basket ball court, military base, or something. Do something completely different, even just a movie. The SPL is trying to get the cart out of the rut, sometimes that takes doing something completely different. 

 

Good ideas. Two SPLs ago the guy ran on the platform that meetings would be fun. They were mostly games and the guys enjoyed them but it got old after 7 months. The next SPL did the "we will never meet inside" thing, so every meeting a new locations.

 

This one is struggling with getting the program patrols to engage. We (adults) have dropped some pearls of wisdom their way, they have not taken the hint. The SPL might just have to show them how (again).

 

Oddly enough his response to me was, "Know I know how adults feel having to tell some of the parents things 20 times." ;) I *do* think he's gotten it. Already signed his POR and he has 5 months left. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@@Stosh, I have always had a problem with the "train 'em, let them lead" statement. For me the "training" of youth is not a one-time thing. The training is on-going so I don't think we are ever really done until they leave Scouting.

 

I know you know that. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, sounds like the adult's final word on the matter. You need to stand 100 yards back sir.

 

And at times there are those who need to be reminded about the Scout Law.

 

Anything can be made somewhat pleasurable with the right creativity.

 

That's Pollyanna at it's best. Or is it Mary Poppin's spoon full of sugar that is being referenced?

 

"Somethings aren't fun but have to be done" is adult speak and encourages close mindedness.

 

No, it's a reality check that in order to fulfill one's responsibility to others it's not all just fun and games and a cool patch on the uniform.

 

Instead we should show humility by admitting you (the adult) don't have an answer, and open mindedness by asking for help in creating a solution to move forward. Scouts can be pretty creative when given motivation and appreciation.

 

A Scout working on his leadership doesn't need an adult humbly directing his every move or manipulating his emotional well-being.  I don't need to be open-minded by asking him anything.  All my boys know the door is open to ask questions on any problem they might encounter.  Sometimes they do, but for the most part "Scouts can be pretty creative when" left to their own recourse.  The problem they are facing is pretty much the only motivation they need and if they are successful in their leadership, the only appreciation of any value to them is from their boys, not some humble adult who wasn't part of the problem nor the solution.  My boys stand on their own two feet far faster than many of their counterparts.

 

By the way, it hasn't been mentioned yet, but some scouts just don't have leadership skills or ambition and don't mind failing. They aren't bad scouts, they are just in the wrong place to grow. Our troop once cancelled a NASA trip to Houston because of such a scout. Great kid who loved scouting, but that leadership gig just wasn't his thing. 

 

Here you are absolutely correct, there are narcissistic scouts out there that pave their way to their Parlor Scout Eagle recognition all the time.  They have learned to work the system and no, they are not bad scouts.  They are in the wrong place to grow because Scouting is a program that develops maturity, citizenship, character and leadership, which unless they have a Jesus-moment, will continue in their self-centered narcissim.  I have seen plenty of these boys over the years and almost all of them drop out long before they get beyond a year or two in scouting.  Most of the time these boys are washed out of the program by their buddies who tire of hearing, "What's in it for me." all the time.

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I try to nip this problem in the bud buy suggesting leadership positions that meet the boy's leadership style. He takes notes during the SMC and as part of the next steps he looks at various positions, of which several I recommend that will fit his abilities. My own scout is not an SPL type, but he's a helluva instructor. Best we've ever had. Not the kid that will lead a troop but can lead a group of new scouts on a 5 mile orienteering course no problem. Situational leadership. ;)

Your son sounds like mine. Both set some new ideas and standards for working with new scouts, but neither had any ambition beyond working with new scouts.

 

The risk of helping place scouts where they appear to fit is not giving them the chance to find their true calling. What we adults really want is for the scouts to determine their best skills so they can seek out responsibilities that fit their own limitations and interest.

 

Also sadly, the scouting program design gives the appearance that leadership (not responsibility) experience is required to be a good scout. The adults can either encourage that idea (and most do), or they can retranslate it to mean a scout should seek out his own skill sets by challenging themselves with responsabilties of their interest. When I was fairly new at Scoutmastering, I had a scout who didn't seem all the happy with scouting. His dad was one of our most active committee members and kept him in the program. So I suggested he run for PL, which only set him farther away from my trust. Leadership was not his thing, but in an effort to be a good SM, I kept searching for tasks that would give him a taste of some kind of responsibilities. Our troop was ask to participate in the annual Council Scout Fair, so we seree were throwing around ideas and I suggested teaching scouts and scouter how to use the internet to get ideas for their program. BAM, this scout grab that idea, took ownership and had four computers set up to show how to find sites and ideas for scouting. I mean we didn't have to do anything except to show up and listen to him train us. And, our booth was so popular that we were clogging up the main isle of the building. That scout changed, he became one of our most active scouts until he aged out with his Eagle. 

 

You just never know what a scout can really do until he finds that nitch. And then you better watch out.

 

Barry

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×