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stevenb

Old Scouter hoping to learn new stuff

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......

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.  ......

 

Yeah, I tend to think like you, in theory anyway.

In practice I think most are probably like my son was....

I tried to encourage him to visit the other troop options just to see.  He really had no interest but we did visit one.  

 

Our pack was split, feeding essentially two troops.  some years more would go across the street and few would stay with our CO's troop but when we were there it was flipping back the other way....we were feeding our CO's troop.

Complicated, but the other troop was out of consideration for  my son but the troop we visited was "fed" from his school's pack (our CO is our church)

Most of my son's friends were going to our CO's troop

He was familiar with the building and surroundings, since it's our church and also where he was a Cub for years....

He was familiar with a majority of the scouters involved...

....a natural feeder situation.

 

Meanwhile the other troop was a bunch of strangers for scouts

a bunch of strangers for scouters

a strange meeting place

yeah, that aint gonna fly....

 

 

BUT, to the OP's question....

You've been involved a lot longer than me, but when I was active in the pack, we were on a strong down cycle.... parents wouldn't step up or step in, membership was waning...

I figured it logical that these things are cyclical.  Wait a couple years till a new crop of energetic parents come aboard and things will swing the other way.

 

 

My other observations....

- people won't step up to fill a job if someone is already doing it...even if they aren't doing it well.

 

- and the best thing long term to maintain membership, to me anyway, seems to be have a strong program.  Recruiting doesn't do it.   A strong program being whatever it is that the boys want to come for.  They would be having fun....and I think yes, patrol method may not be that draw of appeal on the surface, but if done "right" it really seems that it opens freedom that any boy would enjoy.... then they just need adults willing to take them on these adventures they dream up.

then, word of mouth kicks in, friends are recruited...

 

Boils down to this...If a scout isn't having fun, then he's not likely to invite a friend to join him....

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Hi StevenB,

 

I've been thinking about your troop over the past few days.  Sorry in advance if this seems a bit preachy!  I just keep thinking about what I'd do in your shoes and this is what comes to mind.

 

What it comes down to me is that there are basically five key traits that I think a troop or pack needs to grow. 

- a fun program.  You need something that keeps the boys wanting to participate and talk to their friends about it.  My bet is you're OK on this one - but not all troops & packs are.

- a sense of friendship among the boys.  Scouts needs friends in the troop - or they lose interest.  Again, I bet you're doing this now.

- a well organized program.  You need the parents to understand what you're doing & when so they can encourage their son's to participate.

- a good new scout recruiting program.  You need a system that makes it easy to include new scouts

- effective adult recruiting.  You've got to have more than a few people involved.  
 
If I were in your situation, I think I'd get my volunteers together and come up with an achievable plan to make those five things above a reality.  I'd pick a couple of items in each category and do them each year.  For example, I'd do:
 
- a fun program.  I'd plan a fall event & a spring event that are really a blast.  Perhaps a really good fall pack campout.
- a sense of friendship among the boys.  Plan some less formal, but fun events.  
- a well organized program.  I'd plan out my entire year and write it down.  Send it out to families and say "this is what we're doing this year".  This helps adult feel comfortable volunteering when they know the plan.
- a good new scout recruiting program.  I'd set a goal of 10 new scouts in the troop and another 10 in the pack.  Think through how to really go do this, and then do it.
- effective adult recruiting.  This sounds like your toughest problem, but perhaps also the most important.  Again, I'd set specific goals of what you want to recruit this year.  i.e., a den leader for every den, a Cubmaster.  Then, figure out how to really do that.  Ultimately though, the best way is the direct ask.  The BSA has some new online training that might help you through a process to do this.
 
Anyways - this is how I'd approach your scenario if I found myself there.  In a way, it's what we do every month at our committee meetings.  In our case, we don't have an immediate problem to fix - but most every decision gets looked in light of these goals.
 
In your case - you have two units to fix.  Me, I'd invest some time to shore up the pack adults.  That would then give you more time to focus on the troop.  

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.......

 
- a fun program.  I'd plan a fall event & a spring event that are really a blast.  Perhaps a really good fall pack campout.........

 

I think you make some excellent points.

One thing though.... about the "fun" part.  I think it imperative that it's more then just certain few events. Much more

From my perspective.... my son has completely lost all interest in scouts.... it seems to me that the scouts need to be encouraged and allowed to have fun at almost every meeting or gathering.  Not adults setting up a fun program like for cubs, but they need to be free to do it.  I've heard some of our adult scouters say before something to the affect of it's not all about fun, when referring to other dropped scouts in the past, saying that some guys just want to come and play, and that's not what this is about...

I observed my son have fun on almost every outing, but dread the meetings.  Fun outings are not enough.

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