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Oldscout448

Impeach an SPL?

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I get really concerned when I hear of troops having waiting lists for joining because they limit their numbers.  There are some troops where the size of the facilities offered by the CO are not sufficient and that will limit the numbers.  But that is an issue of the BSA/CO agreement to correct and is a UC/DE issue, not a troop issue.

If a troop gets so large that more than 4-5 patrols are necessary then it's probably time to form a new troop.

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If a troop gets so large that more than 4-5 patrols are necessary then it's probably time to form a new troop.

Of course that would entail doubling the # CO's, adults SM/ASM's, CC/MC's involved and they would all be necessary for 1/2 the # of kids in each troop.  How can that be efficient.  Works well for District and Council unit quota numbers, increases adult memberships.  Doubles the amount of equipment, because one of the units has to start all over from scratch, the equipment belongs to just the old unit,  All this effort and it doesn't do anything for the boys.

 

I'm trying to find the up-side to it.....  All that effort for what?

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If a troop gets so large that more than 4-5 patrols are necessary then it's probably time to form a new troop.

 

 

You should visit my area. Your head would explode. There are units here with over 100 scouts, 8+ patrols, etc. They cannot be boy led or use the PM....but they claim they are.

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If a troop gets so large that more than 4-5 patrols are necessary then it's probably time to form a new troop.

Statistically that doesn't work out. The majority of troops that split because they are growing too big generally end up joining back together. Troops generally grow big because the adults have a good design. But it is rare for those adults to split into the 2nd troop, and the result one troop keeps growing while the other struggles to survive. Typically the two troops merge back together in just a few years. This happens a lot with packs also. 

 

Unlimited growth is risky and can cause high losses of scouts. The best way to limit troop size is controlled growth or limits on incoming scouts. I know some here think that is a bad idea, but limits force families to consider other troops that are also satisfactory for their son. As appose to Fast growing troops that tend to have higher loss of 1st year scouts because the program suffers with the changes caused by the large influx. I know of one mega troop that is excited to only loose 50% of  their first year scouts.

 

Fast growing troops are a complex problem. Splitting more often than not doesn't work well and uncontrolled growth can hurt the new scouts numbers a lot. Limits are tricky too because it risk a reputation of pretentious program for selecting specific families. In reality it is just trying to survive. I won't even suggest giving time the hypocrisy of some folks who preach small troops for best boy run then preach against controlled growth. They need to walk in the shoes of these district and unit leaders.

 

You have to look at these things in the bigger picture.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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You should visit my area. Your head would explode. There are units here with over 100 scouts, 8+ patrols, etc. They cannot be boy led or use the PM....but they claim they are.

I challenge that assumption. Size is not an indicator of the ability or inability to use the patrol method or the boys leading themselves. Although I grant you are probably right that the Troops aren't effectively using the patrol method or letting the Scouts lead. 

 

Ideally, Troops should be 4-5 patrols, around 32 boys or so. But you're going to have scenarios where that doesn't work. 

 

Take my troop for example. 70+ registered Scouts. 1 SM, 3 more ASM's. (soon to add two more). The Scoutmasters son is 17. Another ASM's son is 15, and another is 16. I have no sons. The new guys have younger sons, but we can't get anybody to volunteer to take over for the SM. If we split, now we'd need to find TWO new SMs. 

 

Who do you send to lead the new Troop? How do you duplicate the committee? There's a ton of risk involved there. The ironic bit is that the Troop did split back in the early 2000's. Both Troops are now at the 70+ size. So it can be done, but there has to be a demand for it, and it needs to be carefully planned out. Every couple of years we evaluate the Troop, and we keep hitting the same issues. 

 

Sentinel947 

Edited by Sentinel947
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Whose problem is it? 

 

What is the problem?

 
“The members of each patrol elect one of their own to serve as patrol leader. The troop determines the requirements for patrol leaders, such as rank and age.â€
 
“All members of a troop vote by secret ballot to choose their Senior Patrol Leader.  Rank and age requirements to be a Senior Patrol Leader are determined by each troop, as is the schedule of elections.â€
 
I see nothing about how long the elected leader serves or that he cannot be replaced for misfeasance or malfeasance.  
 
"Requirements" may include performance.
 
I do see that it is the SM's job to train the leaders.
 
Whose problem is it? 

 

What is the problem?

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If councils are not complaining about having too many units, why are units complaining about having too many boys? 

 

Council divides into districts, districts assign UC's to handle some of the boys, the units continue the breakdown CO assigns adult leadership sufficient to do the job, the SM has his SPL (think SE), he has his ASPL's (think DE), who has a number of patrols (think troops) run by PL's (think SM of an adult led program, :) ).

 

So if the unit grows to large (more and more patrols) just add another DE (ASPL) and keep on growing.  One is limited only by the facilities and resources to support the number of boys, same as a council supporting the various units. 

 

I'm thinking a lot of the "small" units might be more along the lines of adult's not being able to "control" the larger troop operations and would need to be a bit more sharing of the leadership with the boys to get bigger.

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...  Leadership patrol or corps seems to be logical... but a patrol of patrol leaders still seems fishy in my thinking

A patrol of venturers is "fishy" as well, but sometimes life's simpler if we let them act like that.

Sometimes it's not and can be highly disruptive to their other obligations and to the health of the crew.

This kind of thing is a boots-on-the-ground decision. Show approval when it's working, respectfully ask to desist when it's not.

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these mega troop & troop size discussions are interesting.

As I mentioned before, I can imagine that with modern tools for communication, better transportation, computers, and so on taht BP's ideal of 32 scouts could be a little bit more today....

 

BUT

there certainly has to be a time when the troop just gets too big for a SM to really know his boys... which seems to be necessary to really work on the individual per BP's vision.

Sure you can delegate down to multiple ASM's acting like SM's for a fraction of the overall troop.... but then you possibly get different visions going on within, more miscommunications, etc... 

AND the troop committee gets stressed more supporting more money, equipment, registrations, and so on.

 

On the other hand, i can see the ASM acting as a scoutmaster for some of the patrols working if each acts and stands more or less alone as it's own sub-troop.  really focusing on scouting happening at the patrol level.... yeah, maybe I can see it.

 

Still the SM and committee can't be as effective.

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Am I to assume it was meant as a patrol of all highly skilled leaders rather than a patrol of patrol leaders?  A patrol can have only one PL.  If one has a patrol of highly skilled leaders, it's not "fishy" at all.  It's called team work.

 

For instance if one were to define leadership as the one who is taking care of his boy, it can be seen in the course of the day.

 

6:00 am - Leader = Bugler he gets them up on time.

6:15 am - Leader = PL does a roll call makes sure every one survived the night in one piece.

6:30 am - Leader = QM collects up appropriate  gear for GrubMaster

6:45 am - Leader = Grubmaster, gets breakfast on.

7:00 am - Leader = Chaplain's Aide has table grace.

7:30 am - Leader = Grubmaster gets breakfast cleaned up

7:15 am - Leader = QM gets equipment put away

8:00 am - Leader = PL gets them to the first activity for the day

etc.

 

So, then, who's running the show so far?  Looks like at one time or another someone different is taking the lead on the task at hand and taking care of the boys.  And while the QM is getting the equipment ready, the Scribe has collected up a couple of the boys and they are out in the woods gathering wood for the cook fire.  But the Instructor has grabbed the water jug and took off for more water to do dishes with and he's "leading" no one in the process, but he is still taking care of the boys in the patrol.

 

The APL asked the Grubmaster what he could do to help and he's taken the "lead" on cutting up the veggies for the breakfast bake.

 

It is obvious that in a sense everyone is leading except for Little Johnny who's off by the fire poking the ashes and could care less whether or not he was "taking care of anyone other than himself."

 

This is why I push the servant leadership of taking care of others.  It is not always obvious when certain people are actually leading, i.e. the instructor going after water or the scribe with a bunch of the boys getting fire wood, but Little Johnny sticks out like a sore thumb with his total lack of leadership.  Here's a kid who has promised on his honor to help other people at all times and hasn't the foggiest idea what that means, let alone knowing what to do about it.

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BUT

there certainly has to be a time when the troop just gets too big for a SM to really know his boys... which seems to be necessary to really work on the individual per BP's vision.

 

Sorry, @@blw2, that simply isn't true.  As a former pastor of 3 congregations with about 450 members of those churches, I new everyone by name and a whole lot more than what they wanted their neighbors to know.  It is possible to get to know every scout in very large troops.I knew which kid was in what family.  I knew what grade in school they were, I knew the connection they had between the grandparents and grandkids.

 

When I was a programmer, I knew what program was associated with what person and/or process, I knew all the IT people in the 25 different divisions the company had.

 

When I was the Administrative Assistant to the general manager of a large manufacturing operation, I knew most of the people in operations as well as the hierarchy above.

 

How often did I associate with these people.  At least once a week in the parish, once or twice a month as a programmer and maybe once every couple of months with the people in operations.

 

To think that a SM can't get to know 100-150 boys who gather once a week or more is rather foolish.  One would be surprised how much more a SM could get to know his boys if he wasn't spending all of his time doing the things they were supposed to be doing.  If a SM hasn't the time to know 200 boys in his unit, he's not focused on his role as SM.

 

While I may only have 2 active boys in my troop right now, I do know at least half the 30+ Webelos boys in the three feeder packs that potentially could be joining up with us this spring.  I also know about half of those boys' parents, too. 

 

A boy comes for the winter camp outing to visit from the Webelos program.  He gets introduced to the SM, Hi, glad you could make it.  Spends the weekend sledding, eating pizza, having fun with the boys, 3 weeks later he walks into our AOL prep class because one of the packs doesn't have a WDL and another WDL is marginally effective with the boys, and the SM welcomes him by name, and remembers what pack he is from and when he raises his hand to answer questions the SM keeps remembering his name.

 

It's interesting how life has changed.  We can remember everyone on our contact list on our cell phone, but do we remember any of their phone numbers?  :)    A kid can remember every Pokeman character ever created, but he can't remember where his necker is?  We remember things that are important to us.  It's the job of the SM to remember his boys.

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I'm thinking a lot of the "small" units might be more along the lines of adult's not being able to "control" the larger troop operations and would need to be a bit more sharing of the leadership with the boys to get bigger.

In general troops stablize to a size the SM can manage. It doesn't matter how many bodies are thrown at it or the style of patrols, troops don't perform well when the program grows out of reach of the vision leader.

 

Barry

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Maybe they ought to share the vision with others so that it doesn't end up a one-man-show.  To me that's what adult-led is basically all about in the first place.  I use the word control, others use the word vision.  BSA has vision for the boys, that ought to be enough.

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these mega troop & troop size discussions are interesting.

As I mentioned before, I can imagine that with modern tools for communication, better transportation, computers, and so on taht BP's ideal of 32 scouts could be a little bit more today....

A story to illustrate how useful our modern tools of communication are: I called a PL a week ago and left him a message to please call me in the next two days. I just wanted to know what his patrol was doing at the next meeting. Three days later I called him again. He answered. I asked if he was going to call me. He said he did, twice. No record of this on my phone. Think think think. I then asked him if I answered the phone. No. I then asked if he left a message. Pregnant pause. No. :) Honestly, I'd prefer, when trying to communicate with scouts, that there was no email or sms so the scouts would be forced to learn how to make a phone call. It's kind of like writing. Scouts don't do that anymore and so their handwriting is horrible. Same for communicating an idea. These modern tools are not making it easier.

 

As for troop size and or splitting. When we were at 70 scouts I wanted to split the troop but we had the same problem as Sentinal described. We're above 40 now and I like it a lot more. At the same time, I will never tell a scout no. I had a scout join once and I was ever so close to saying no, but didn't. Without getting into details this scout needed scouts in a huge way and he was a perfect fit in our troop. It would have really been a loss if I had said no and this boy hadn't looked elsewhere.

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Throw a little water in the soup, cut the bread a little thinner, and announce FHB!,  put another bowl and spoon on the table, there's always room for one more.

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