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RivetSmasher

Choosing Troops

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When my son crossed over to boy scouts, he did not choose the troop I would have chosen.

 

Before he made his choice, I reminded him of how significant the cub scout pack had become in defining our entire family - from the events and activities we did, to the timing of trips, vacations, etc.  And since I had become a leader, the limitation on skipping events.  I then asked him to think carefully about his choice in troops, because it too, would influence not just his life and development, but that of the entire family.

 

When he made his choice, I asked him why he chose that unit.  In this case, it was the closest, but also probably one of the weaker units.  Friends were part of the reason, although the majority of his Den went to a different troop (also not one I would have chosen).  But he had good, well thought out (for him) reasons, having to do mostly with the culture, how patient they were when teaching him a skill while at webelos-troop event.  His primary reason against the unit I would have chosen (I tried not to make my thoughts known), was he felt he would be "lost" the the larger troop (even if it was very boy run). 

 

For me, he had good reasons and that's where we went.  I joined the committee, and have tried to help make the troop "better" (or at least stronger enough that it won't fold).  But I have also had to stay mindful, that If I help the troop to change too much, it will no longer have the culture he liked when he joined it.  So I sit on my hands a lot.  If, when he reaches troop leadership positions, he wants to have a vision for change in the unit, that will be on him.  Not me.

 

I continue to stay active with the pack, in the hopes that by making sure that bridging cub scouts are well prepared for the boy scouts, they will also help keep the troop strong, and the ones that select that troop as opposed to any of the others in the area, are also doing so because the culture matches what they believe their needs are.

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All Troops have different cultures, you need to find the right fit (and that includes friends). The Troop my son chose was less persnickity about the uniform but was more ambitious (then) about outdoor adventure and boy led. They still look a little raggedy next to the neighboring Troop at Camporees but take a perverse pride in keeping the excess patch gee gaws off the uniforms. 

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Sure it happens, but in my experience I have yet to find an Eagle that young worthy of the true title.

 

I have seen one, but only one. I agree with the sentiment overall.

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BUT ... I guarantee you ... a troop that is a 20 minute drive away will cost you scouts.  If you have a local troop, try to work with them and make it a better troop in subtle ways.  

 

Where do you live? My children's public high school is almost 15 minutes away by car. Our troop is hovering around 100 at the moment and most of our scouts drive 15 or more minutes to get to troop meetings. 

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Where do you live? My children's public high school is almost 15 minutes away by car. Our troop is hovering around 100 at the moment and most of our scouts drive 15 or more minutes to get to troop meetings. 

 

I applaud you and your troop.  Your troop must have a great program.  My experience though is that a long drive increases how often people skip meetings due to timing.  Skipped meetings leads to drop out.  

Edited by fred johnson

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Maybe I'm confused, but what do you mean by super troop when you describe the troop you were in as a kid? 

 

Its that troop with 30-40 boys, 3 or 4 patrols and wins majority of Camporee and no that does not always indicate boy led.

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On a side note - Jason you're a CC for one troop while your son is in another?  I have so many questions I don't know where to start.

 

That is correct, ask away.  Start another topic though.

 

Would it blow your mind even more if I also said I was a DC?

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A little back story before I get into the question.

 

When I was a Cub Scout in the late 80s early 90s my Pack didn't have a Troop associated with it. Rather than choose one of the 2/3 troops in my town, I chose one in a neighboring town. They are the local super troop. We went on a fairly decent trip for 2 weeks every summer, 2 weeks at camp, and generally locked in the top places in Camporees. We were everywhere.

 

Fast forward 25 years. I am my sons Den Leader and have been since his Tiger year. He's now Arrow of Light and it's time to select a troop. The Troop associated with our Pack does some things I don't agree with.

 

Several of the boys have attained Eagle by the age of 14. I'm not sure how that works with required Leadership times. These kids can't be learning how to be a leader.

 

They don't require the boys to wear full uniforms, jeans are acceptable pants for everyone including the adults.

 

Summer camp is an optional thing that isn't pushed. In my mind camping is one of the biggest parts of the program.

 

After living in this town for nearly 9 years I have never seen a single fundraiser or service project, they don't even participate in Scouting for Food. Scouting for Food is left to the Cubs.

 

I have personally witnessed nepotism.

 

I could go on a bit more but I think you get the gist.

 

I have been looking into other troops for several years now and found one that I think is on par with what the Scouting program is. It's in another town about 20 minutes away. I have 8 boys in my Den crossing over, 3 have brothers in the troop, 3 are undecided(including mine), and 2 may not continue. I have done my best not to short sell the local troop but I'm concerned I have tainted some of the other boys.

 

When I ask my son he says he wants to be with his friends, they are the kids going to the local troop. In an effort to preempt this I had him attend summer camp this year with the boys from the other town whom he'd be crossing over with. He gets along well with them and the awkwardness lasted only a few minutes on the first day of camp

 

I know I can't ask you all to make my decision but some guidance would be helpful. Thanks, RivetSmasher

 

Your son says that he wants to be with his friends.  It sounds to me like he has already made his decision.  Unless you have a legitimate reason to preempt his decision (religion, safety concerns, cost), let him choose the troop that is the best fit for him.

 

If that troop isn't a good fit for you, it is time to gracefully bow out and pack away your uniform. Thank you for your service.

Edited by David CO
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Welcome to the forum @@RivetSmasher

 

Several decades in this "Scouting Thing" has taught me:

 

That things aren't always what they seem to be.

 

Eagle by age 14:  In many cases this is "parent driven" not Troop driven.  The parent wants that badge and is "earning" it through their son.  I've seen this many times.

 

Full Uniforms:  Could there be a reason for the jeans?  Is a full uniform a deal-breaker for a lot of parents?  In times of recession or hardship, our troop did the same thing, not at all detracting from the quality of our program.  At least we were all wearing the same outfit.  Remember, Uniforming is *a* method of Scouting, not *the only* method.

 

Summer Camp:  They don't promote Summer Camp.  Could there be a good reason for this? Do they do something else for a week in the summer, perhaps?  What are they doing for outdoor ventures the other 51 weeks of the year?  Summer Camp is a valuable experience for all boys, but is certainly not required for any boy, or Troop for that matter.  Boys can attend with other Troops or provisionally if they so choose. And that's any summer camp in the USA, not just your local Council's.

 

Fundraiser/Service Project:  This Troop has to be doing something for income.  Troops do not survive on dues alone.  Parents seriously balk at "yearly assessments".  Just because you don't see them selling popcorn at the local shopping center doesn't mean they aren't fundraising.  Not all fundraisers are in the public eye at all times.  All of the latter becomes a null issue of course if the Chartered Organization is completely funding the program, which I seriously doubt.  The same thing with service and Eagle projects; it doesn't have to be in the newspaper to count and be of value in the community.

 

Nepotism:  How does this directly affect YOUR son in his Scouting experience?  If it doesn't, it's not an issue.  It happens everywhere.

 

Let your son give this troop a chance before you judge them.  This is *his* choice.  If he is having a great time and learning something, he is in the right place.

 

Remember, things aren't always what they may appear to be.

 

(Edited for grammar and punctuation)

Edited by frankpalazzi

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As an addendum (a repeat story for some):

 

I once, as a CC, had a committee member (allegedly trained) ask me in front of the full committee, "Why can't we have a troop like in the training videos?"

 

My answer:  "Oh we sure can!  I'll get the phone number of the local SAG (Screen Actors' Guild), and find out how much that will cost us!  We'll need to hire a director and producer of course.  I'll get the cost information, and we can vote on the expenditure at the next meeting?"

 

I received a very puzzled look.

 

"You do know those are all actors, don't you?"

 

The topic never came up again.

 

Lesson taught: Never expect perfection.  There is only One Perfect Being, and I call Him "God".

Edited by frankpalazzi

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Here's a quick update. In the last 2 nights he's visited both troops once again and gotten to see there meetings first hand. Two of his friends whom were undecided have chosen to join the troop that is a town over and he's decided to go with them. I asked him what he liked and said that they seemed more organized and had more fun.

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Here's a quick update. In the last 2 nights he's visited both troops once again and gotten to see there meetings first hand. Two of his friends whom were undecided have chosen to join the troop that is a town over and he's decided to go with them. I asked him what he liked and said that they seemed more organized and had more fun.

Problem solved. Boy solved.

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another example of what I learned over years of command, don't do anything and most issues resolve themselves.  a lot of times favorably

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