Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
usarasa

Small Troops Combining Resources

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone, here's the situation. Our town has 4 troops. One troop is somewhat large, and the vast majority of new Scouts go there. The other three troops are very small, each with around 5 or 6 Scouts, and when crossover time comes it's considered fortunate if one or two Scouts sign on with one of the smaller troops and not with the larger one. There have been years recently when no Scouts have gone to a smaller troop. It's getting to the point where we're concerned about the larger troop finally cannibalizing the others and being the only game in town. The quality of each troop's program doesn't seem to be a factor here, best as we can figure. A couple of the smaller troops have been around for 50-plus years. They've each said that merging is not an issue, as they all want to keep their troop numbers.

 

So here's the idea I wanted to throw out there; I can't find anything suggesting this has been done or can/can't be done, so please forgive me if it's been brought up before.

 

My suggestion is that the 3 smaller troops combine our efforts in such a way that we're not merged, but we're all at the same unit meetings together, we all do activities and events together, we recruit together, we fundraise together, we share each other's leaders and other resources, so that we can better compete with the larger troop. This would be a temporary set-up, where each troop gets to keep their numbers and the bank accounts and Scout shop accounts are still kept separately. Then when the group has grown to the point that each troop has a self-sustaining level of membership again, where they can compete with the larger troop on their own, everyone goes back to their separate ways (unless it's decided they want to continue being combined, if not merge).

 

Apologies if I've not worded this very well. I'm hoping this will help keep the smaller troops alive and give the Scouts in our town a choice. Thanks in advance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I say it could either be fantastic or complete chaos. It would go either way depending on how it works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great idea in theory but how would you handle leadership? Would each troop have their own individual required leaders or would there be a single leader? With such small troops, you might consider each troop operating as their own patrol of the larger troop.

 

The Patrols could be named "123" or whatever is their original Troop number and the Master Troop could be the sum or some other multiple of those numbers.

 

Perhaps legacy patrols named after the original troops so that the history can be maintained but I think the Master Troop (as I am calling it) would have a very hard time splitting into three in the future. For example, which Patrol troop would the new recruits join? Who would decide that, the Patrol/Troops, the applicant? If everything is the same and with such small troops, one "Patrol" could quickly dominate and take over the other two based on unequal recruitment. The other patrols would effectively lose whatever they had that once made them unique. As a new applicant, why would I want to join the patrol/troop that has 5 scouts when I could join one that has 8? Assuming I have friends in both, I would likely join the one with 8.

 

Again, I think this is a great idea in theory and one that could help save the troops - but not an idea that will ever likely allow them to be divided again in the future.

 

And, in the future with a completely different set of scouts, they may not want to divide again. Boy-led and all that. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand your dilemma--our troop is in the suburbs of LA and our troop has been in existence for 40 years but as the population has aged, the numbers have declined.  So, on each end of the valley where we are, there are two mega troops with about 75-100 Scouts in each.  We're in the middle with about 25 Scouts but there are a bunch of other smaller troops in our neighborhood--about 4 actually.

 

We reached out to one of the other troops, also with about 25 Scouts to do an activity with them and it didn't work out so well since we notice their Scouts were not as physically active as our Scouts.  So, there was a cultural difference.

 

But, I still think that we could work toward doing some more activities together but it might need some more planning.  We left it to the Scouts to lead the activity and being boy-led, it wasn't that smooth and some of the parents didn't feel it was worthwhile.

 

Anyway, I'd say see if you can get the buy-in first from the other troop and then if so, brainstorm some ideas on how it might work.  I agree that maybe each patrol could have their troop #.  Maybe rotate responsibility of each weekly troop meeting between the four Scoutmasters.

 

It's good for Scouts to have choices.  Not every Scout wants/should be in the mega-troop.  Since our troop is smaller, we have more flexibility to do different activities so right now we're doing some more with STEM which is sort of unique.  Don't see that happening with the mega troops.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you are talking about the troops becoming patrols, which they basically are anyway. The first question is how to do the PLC? SPL? Do the troops participate in one single program, or do they go on the same campout but do their own program.

 

The adults will have their own challenge of who is running the show.  

 

A huge risk I see is the patrols become more dependent on the outside leaders and as a result loose their ability to separate when the time comes. I've seen this problem in regular troops.

 

One the plus side, if the troops could function independent enough to rely on their own leadership, it would be a really good patrol method program. 

 

Thinking through it, its the adults that will have to hash out the details because if one SM finds himself dealing with the scouts in another troop, pride may be the first reaction. Some basic rules will have to agreed on.

 

Barry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've seen units try to work together for years.  It's always mixed results.  IMHO, it's an all or nothing thing when units start to work together.  If the unit ever grows large enough that the troop needs to split, I can see that being managed easier.  

 

But to start working together, I'd recommend facing the music and choosing one of the troop numbers, one SM, One SPL, one meeting place.  Merge the gear, calendar, agenda and bank accounts.  

 

It's really the only way to produce a commitment to work together.  

 

Otherwise, what happens is one of the three units will take ownership to run an event / campout / activities.  One or two of the other units will not be as enthused and/or committed.  As such, they may not attend or follow through.  

 

IMHO, it's good to take three units that are 5 to 8 scouts and make one larger unit.  The strength of numbers will help the scouts have a better experience.  It's really just the "how" to make it successful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Start with a single activity. Like a joint campout. Choose a date and location and the troops all arrive/camp/leave separately. Think of it as a mini-camporee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for all of your excellent feedback, sorry I haven't had a chance to respond until now.

 

Great idea in theory but how would you handle leadership? Would each troop have their own individual required leaders or would there be a single leader? With such small troops, you might consider each troop operating as their own patrol of the larger troop.

 

The Patrols could be named "123" or whatever is their original Troop number and the Master Troop could be the sum or some other multiple of those numbers.

 

Perhaps legacy patrols named after the original troops so that the history can be maintained but I think the Master Troop (as I am calling it) would have a very hard time splitting into three in the future. For example, which Patrol troop would the new recruits join? Who would decide that, the Patrol/Troops, the applicant? If everything is the same and with such small troops, one "Patrol" could quickly dominate and take over the other two based on unequal recruitment. The other patrols would effectively lose whatever they had that once made them unique. As a new applicant, why would I want to join the patrol/troop that has 5 scouts when I could join one that has 8? Assuming I have friends in both, I would likely join the one with 8.

 

What I had in mind was indeed that each troop act as a patrol within the larger group, keeping their unit numbers. The overall SM/SPL running a given meeting would rotate every so often, but leadership of the group as a whole would be a shared effort among all adult leaders. There would not be one single leader. The Scouts would all work together to form the program, just as they do within their own units now.

 

Which patrol a new applicant would join is not something I've managed to figure out yet -- we certainly could run into the same issue of units being devoured that we already have. I'd like to think that since we'd all be together anyway that we could make an attempt to keep things relatively equal between the new sub-units, but that's definitely a subject that needs to be broached if this concept did get far enough along to be discussed with the other troops.

Edited by usarasa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you are talking about the troops becoming patrols, which they basically are anyway. The first question is how to do the PLC? SPL? Do the troops participate in one single program, or do they go on the same campout but do their own program.

 

The adults will have their own challenge of who is running the show.  

 

A huge risk I see is the patrols become more dependent on the outside leaders and as a result loose their ability to separate when the time comes. I've seen this problem in regular troops.

 

One the plus side, if the troops could function independent enough to rely on their own leadership, it would be a really good patrol method program. 

 

Thinking through it, its the adults that will have to hash out the details because if one SM finds himself dealing with the scouts in another troop, pride may be the first reaction. Some basic rules will have to agreed on.

 

Barry

 

All elected positions of responsibility would be maintained, and the SM/SPL opening the meeting would rotate every so often, time frame TBD. A single common program would be settled on, I'm thinking that the longer things go, the easier it would be to have everyone on one program anyway.

 

As far as any kind of an exit strategy once there are enough for each participating troop to be decidedly more self-sufficient and competitive with the larger troop, my attitude was that we would cross that bridge when we come to it, since it could definitely take a while to achieve.

 

I would imagine that at first, all Scouts would gravitate more towards the adult leaders they came in with, but the more they're used to the other leaders, the more they'll trust them, and the less any of the adults would likely mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I've seen units try to work together for years.  It's always mixed results.  IMHO, it's an all or nothing thing when units start to work together.  If the unit ever grows large enough that the troop needs to split, I can see that being managed easier.  
 
But to start working together, I'd recommend facing the music and choosing one of the troop numbers, one SM, One SPL, one meeting place.  Merge the gear, calendar, agenda and bank accounts.  
 
It's really the only way to produce a commitment to work together.  
 
Otherwise, what happens is one of the three units will take ownership to run an event / campout / activities.  One or two of the other units will not be as enthused and/or committed.  As such, they may not attend or follow through.  
 
IMHO, it's good to take three units that are 5 to 8 scouts and make one larger unit.  The strength of numbers will help the scouts have a better experience.  It's really just the "how" to make it successful.

 

 

I agree that this would be the best solution, but right now it's a non-starter with the other units, so my idea is hopefully an alternative that they'll find acceptable. Maybe they'd be open to it after spending some time in this arrangement, we'll see, but for now the answer is no.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like it.  Do the boys in the units know each other well?  Are there adult ego issues that created the smaller units to begin with?

 

I couldn't speak to how well, but our town isn't very large, with only one middle school and one high school, so I'd say it's fairly likely they know each other, with the possible exception of the newer Scouts that would still be in elementary school.

 

I'm unaware of any matters of ego regarding the adults that resulted in the present situation.

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
Sign in to follow this  

×