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New Scout Troop

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On 10/8/2018 at 5:54 PM, dbautista5 said:

Hello Scouters!

I am positioned to be the new Scoutmaster for our girls youth Troop starting next year and am honored to have been approached by our Committee to fill this role! 

I'm trying to wrap my head around getting program started for these new youth. As much as I want the Troop to be youth lead, I also realize that the youth will be starting with little to no scouting experience. I believe a couple of the girls have been with GSA, most have not, and have only experienced Scouting through their brothers. 

We will be sharing a Charter, Committee and ASMs. I should be able to leverage most of our existing ASMs to help teach Scout skills to the new youth (EDGE method) but ultimately I want to get to the point where the girls are doing this for themselves, similar to the boy's Troop.

My questions are related to experiences with starting brand new Troops. 

How did you initially plan program? Did you just arbitrarily plan out the first few months and then let the youth start planning thereafter? 

What youth leadership positions do you consider absolutely necessary? Obviously SPL and PL. Troop Guide / Instructor ?? Do we have to have an ASPL?

I'm sure I'll have more questions as we get closer to launching. We're having our first recruiting event in a couple of weeks so I'm sure these questions and more will come up.

Thank you all for any insight you can provide!

Yours in Scouting,

Denise Bautista


Hi Denise,

To me, the most important aspect of Scouting is THE PATROL METHOD,  followed closely by THE PATROL METHOD,  and of course then followed by THE PATROL METHOD.  Did you catch my drift?  This is the easiest thing to say, but in many respects the hardest to implement and facilitate.  But going back to Baden Powell and on through Green Bar Bill, this is the most important thing.  I got some good stuff from Bill Hilcourts Scoutmaster Handbook from the 1930's and 1940's.  There is a section at the beginning of the book that fairly well explains the subject.

How do you start?  The first thing is to form the patrols.  On the first night I would hold a meet and greet, with games and ice breakers.  Let the scouts interact, and then at the end of the meeting, ask them to write down on a piece of paper their names, and then the names of two other scouts they would like to be grouped with.  Take these home and see how many patrols can be formed, and put as many of these preferred groups of friends together as possible.  At the second meeting announce the groupings, and let them meet together for the rest of the meeting.  Tell them they have to choose a PL, a patrol name, flag, and yell by the end of the patrol meeting.  (You can show them some examples.  Examples are easy to find.)  Tell the new PL's that a Patrol Leaders Council meeting  will be scheduled.  On the third meeting you have a formal swearing in ceremony in front of the troop for these patrol leaders.  Be sure to play a lot of games, and select games that pit patrols against each other.  Build the comradery among the patrol members.

Everything else, like advancement and outdoor program, can be delayed until after the patrols are formed.  Once they are formed, you start laying decisions before them.  Camping activities and   single day activities should be voted on at least by the patrol leaders.  But I would put together choices to be selected from.  Camp locations are not important, any council camp will do.  But you ask stuff like "From the list of Fire building, or Hiking, or Map and Compass, what would you like to do on our first camping trip?"  Or "From the list of Beef Stew or Chili, what would you like to learn to cook on this camping trip?"  Of course, on the first few trips you will be teaching tent raising, and fire building, and proper layering of clothing, and all the practical beginning camping skills.  

Not many people get to start a troop from scratch.  Most wish they could, but are tied by past traditions.  You will look back on this time with fond memories.



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Lots of good ideas here. Other ideas:

The first campout, if there's snow about, can be a hike instead.

Rather than leadership, I'd start with teamwork. The idea is you do something for your patrol and your patrol can depend on you. If everyone does that then things are sweet. Once everyone understands teamwork leadership is much easier to grasp.

The scouts don't know what they don't know, so when they're coming up with ideas add some that they can choose from. Or help them find them.

Another important idea is to review how things went after the event. In particular, if there were people problems then that is a good time to solve them. Most kids think solving people problems involves going to an adult. In scouts we want the youth to understand how to do it.

Don't solve problems that they know how to solve. Corollary: If they don't know how to solve a problem, help them learn.

Finally, have fun. It's important to develop a good relationship with the scouts so that some day, when you have to tell them something they don't want to hear, they'll listen to you.

Let us know it works.


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23 hours ago, mashmaster said:

You can camp in cabins but that might be a bad habit to start off with.

I'm a little concerned about that.  Either 1) that they will scorn cabin camping as not being real camping or that 2) they will decide that cabin camping is close enough to camping and not want more.

Besides, I have bad memories (both as a kid and as an adult) of being in a cabin with a whole bunch of Brownies and no one getting any sleep.  Divide them up into tents of not more than 4 girls and everyone sleeps better.  Or does this problem go away when the kids are older?

4 hours ago, MattR said:

The first campout, if there's snow about, can be a hike instead. 

There might be a certain appeal to this.   Do a day outing quite early (before the end of February).  Cook lunch over a campfire and hike in the snow.  Then the girls might be better ready for tents in late March / early April weather.  (Even in late April it can still drop down to freezing at night.)

Edited by Treflienne

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BSA used to have publications called "Woods Wisdom" and "Troop Program Resources", which was a monthly plan of program themes, consisting of 3 meetings and an outdoor activity.  Those themes were generally followed by the Scout Roundtable plans, also.  The plan gave you a syllabus of troop meeting activites centered around the theme of the month.  Is this publication still a "thing"?  I also encourage you and your fellow adults to attend the monthly district roundtable meetings (yeah, I know...ANOTHER meeting every month), however, if well done, the Roundtable can be an excellent training and networking opportunity.  

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These are still basically a thing, but published on the web. If I remember correctly, at one point (decades ago) they came as newsprint inserts into Scouting magazine and yoo got either the Cub Scout ones or the Boy Scout ones depending on your primary registration. 

The web site is https://troopleader.org/ and you probably also want to take a look at https://www.programresources.org/.

If you look under "Program Features" on Troop Leader, you'll see what you're looking for, a resource for planning a series of weekly activities based on a theme leading up to a "main event," which is generally either a weekend day program or a weekend (overnight) program.

For example, if you look at the Cooking Program Feature there's a main page, a section of helpful information (at the bottom of that page is a link to additional resources/references), a page with ideas and plans for the month's meetings, and then finally a page with three different "Main Event" ideas at different levels of complexity. Of course, you're not just supposed to follow these to the letter, but to use them (with the Patrol Leader's Council) to plan meetings and events that fit your program's needs.

Edited to add: This page has a video and information discussing how they work.  

Edited by Jahaza
more info
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