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stevenb

Old Scouter hoping to learn new stuff

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Hi Folks, I've been a Scoutmaster for 36 years.  Unfortunately my Troop is disappearing.    Our feeder Pack died many years ago.  I help start a new one, but parents refuse to step up into leadership.   So we have two units on the edge.  

 

Been trying using all the methods that current Scouting materials provide, but those are not working.  Love to hear from folks facing this issue that are really thinking outside the box, especially if you have found something that works.

 

StevenB

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Welcome to the forum.

 

I've started a new troop in a depressed neighborhood and haven't grown much either.  We have never had a feeder pack and the closest unit to us is an Eagle Mill that attracts scout inclined boys in droves.  I focus on the patrol-method, boy-led and that's really not a popular program for most boys.  :)  Even Cub Pack from our CO sends boys to the other troops.

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Welcome to the forum.

 

Even Cub Pack from our CO sends boys to the other troops.

That’s just not right...

 

Anyway,

 

I suggest for small troops like mine, we gained all 12 members by word of mouth. There are 3 troops in the town, and the town is only 1 square mile big. My troop was made because we didn’t like the way the others were treating some scouts. We gained atleast 4 members within a year from word of mouth. No feeder or anything.

 

Unfortunately, not many parents are involved. We have one ASM, and a SM of course. I suggest getting parents involved and they tel others and that inclined other parents to have their child to join.

 

If you are in a town that doesn’t have a lot of money for scouting, I’m sure your Council has some type of help form where they will provide a uniform, book, and the essentials. That’s what my Council does, but everyone’s different.

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Wow! Welcone Steven! Good on you for your service to youth in your community! Just keep in mind everything dies. It's sad, but its not a failure. Each of the youth you've impacted for 36 years is your successes.

 

Hopefully some folks here can give you some advice. Recruiting Gen X parents or Millenials is challenging.

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Sometimes we focus so much on making a unit grow, we forget about the boys already there.  If one is on the verge of extinction, just enjoy the last hurrah, have fun and go out in style.  That's what I've been doing for some time now and every now and then we take on a loner boy and he just joins in the fun, too.

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@@stevenb, welcome to the forum. And thanks for all you've done for the boys.

I know the feeling. My crew has been on the brink for a couple of years.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as well.

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Welcome to the forum!

 

I'm a firm believer that the scouts & adults are out there - we just need to find them.  

 

Your instinct to get the feeder pack going is correct.  A good feeder pack gives you some breathing room.  You can never ignore the feeder pack, but it becomes possible for the pack & troop to get into a groove.  That makes it possible for you to do your thing and feel comfortable you'll get a regular group of new scouts every year.

 

Before we start suggesting anything, let me ask a few questions.

 

1. what do you have for other adult support.  Is it just you?  Do you have some partners in this?

 

2. how big is the troop today?

 

3. where is the pack now?  do you have a Cubmaster & Committee Chair?

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Our Troop still has a cadre of active adults, all but two are parents of kids grown and gone.  

 

Troop currently has ten Scouts, but five will age out in the next six months.

 

Pack Cubmaster recently moved out of state.  I'm currently serving as Pack Committee Chair and Webelos/Arrow of Light Den Leader.  No other adults currently active in the pack.  Membership is 10 cubs.

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Our troop invites the Webelos from packs in the area to a meet the troop night every fall.  The boys this year plan on a brief meeting, a game of capture the flag and cooking s'mores.  The troop also lets packs know that Webelos can visit at anytime to see a normal meeting.  The boys have also made it known to  packs that they are willing to join the pack on family campouts or other events to help.  This year they helped with pack, that we get several cubs from, with their Join Scouting night. There are also 5 scouts camping this weekend at a pack family camp.   We are slowing getting roads into new packs which helps encourage the cubs to consider the troop when it is time to join a troop.  They remember how nice the Boy Scouts were and feel they have friends already in the troop.

 

I have a hard time with the idea of a feeder pack.  No cub scout has an obligation to join a specific troop just because they are located in the same town or have the same CO.  When my older son was ready to cross-over he visited 3 troops, one was the only troop in our town.  The pack in our town was considered a feeder pack to the only troop in town. The pack wasn't encouraged to visit other troops, cubs were just expected to cross over into the troop.  This created a troop that wasn't welcoming to new scouts and didn't seek to scouts to join the troop. When my older son's den was getting ready to cross over, I had them visit 3 troops.  The local troop invited us on a camp out, but had nothing planned.  My son's comment to me as we were leaving the camp out was " Well that was a wasted weekend."  My son  picked  a troop in the neighboring town, as that troop made him feel welcomed.  For the next several years, the Webelos from the pack would visit at least 3 troops to visit.  Every year the same feedback was received when visiting the troop in our town: "They don't want us. They don't include us in anything, just work around us.  This was for events they invited the cubs to attend.  The feedback was given to the Scoutmaster, but the attitude of the boys never improved.  As a result, the troop folded, because they were not getting any new boys.

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A few years back when I was the District Commish I had a pack that was ready to fold.

it was down to 4 second year Webelos and was ready to fold.

The SM of the Troop that was chartered by the same CO (and ex Cubmaster of the Pack) came to me about what to do.

He knew that the future of the Troop was tied directly to the pack as many of the Cubs in this pack crossed over into the troop.

Mu suggestion was for the Troop to take over the pack until it got restarted.

Do a shared committee and see if one of the Troop adults would be willing to take over as Cubmaster

They found an ASM willing to be CM and one of the Troop Committee members to take over as CC. There are a couple of more adults from the Troop who signed on as Pack Committee members who help as needed.

It took a few years but the Pack is back up to 30 to 40 Cubs. The CM is still there (he really like working with the Cubs) and the rest

 

As for building the troop this is what the SM for the troop did.

He concentrated on keeping the scouts he had and was happy to grow the unit 1 scout at a time.

I see too many Troops who want to grow all at once and get frustrated when they aren't getting a lot of boys joining all at once.

 

The year my son crossed into the Troop (and I became an ASM) 13 boys crossed into the Troop in the spring

since then the Troop still gets a single scout joining now and then but most recruitment/crossovers bring in 4 to 6 scouts at a time

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CNY Scouter, what you wrote is almost exactly what we have been doing for the last three years.  Folks from the Troop stepped up the get the Pack on it's feet, but very few of the Cub parents were willing to help.  Now Cub parent participation is down to zero and our Troop adults are three years older and feeling used.

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I was the Cubmaster & Committee Chair of a pack that has a long history of successful recruiting.  What I learned from that was we needed to have a goal, a plan, and to have everyone on board with it. 

 

Our goal was two new Tiger dens every year - or about 15 new Tigers.  

 

Things we did:

- two open houses every spring & fall.

- fliers to school classrooms every spring and fall

- attendance at community events like open houses, school festivals, etc.

- a packwide publicity drive for scouts to invite their friends.  We printed invitations for the scouts to have out,

- yard signs & banners up around town

- signs hung in local places like post offices, schools, ice cream parlors, etc...

You may find some of these work and some don't.

 

In terms of recruiting adults, what I've found works best is to recruit den leaders.  What we've done is gone to the den meeting and said - "I'll lead the first few meetings, but then one of you need to take it over."  Usually there is someone who is hesitant, but will do it if they have to. It's always worked for us. 

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ParkMan - We can usually get a goodly number of potential cubs identified, but no leadership.  Tried the "we'll run meetings for a while" idea.  Folks enjoy the free ride and drop out when pressed to step up.

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ParkMan - We can usually get a goodly number of potential cubs identified, but no leadership.  Tried the "we'll run meetings for a while" idea.  Folks enjoy the free ride and drop out when pressed to step up.

Definitely, press from day 0.

Nobody step up? No den. Talk next year.

 

Offer to come along side whoever will step up, but you're counting on those couple of people who will take point. It's the opportunity of a lifetime for them. They don't want to miss it.

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