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mashmaster

After tomorrow I am hoping all the hype dies down

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24 minutes ago, thrifty said:

How much drama could there be if everyone was onboard with the decision?  Of course there would be drama with the objectors but it also lets everyone know where the CO and/or troop leadership stands on any future changes.  Backdoor meetings and whispers between leaders certainly doesn't build respect or trust. 

So, you think I should take the time to let every parent know that if there were girls interested in starting a unit, the CO would let them do it under the same roof as ours? Even if there aren't any such girls? Isn't that a form of stirring up hype, where poor @mashmaster want's it to settle down?

Should I also let them know that we'd take on boys from outside our district if they'd ask? If immigrants/refugees settled here, we'd welcome their boys? That we'll start a crew up again as soon as a few of the boys and their girlfreinds ask? What other hypotheticals should I disclose?

And then, if I were a parent, what would I do with that information? Go find a troop who's CO solemnly swears they won't let membership scenario X happen - at least until my kid ages out? Does beascout have a special color pin for units like that?

In the past year, the only scheme of mine that I made sure everyone knew about was World Scout Jamboree ... because 1) I thought it was cool, 2) I wanted to make sure interested scouts didn't miss out, 3) I made a solid commitment and wanted fellow scouters (both Advisors and SM's) know that my leadership time would be spread a little thin for a while. For anything else where only the 1st criteria was met, you would have had to be around a campfire with me to hear about it.

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Okay, everyone. We're going off in a non productive direction, which is a nice way of saying Courteous is waning.

The current topic of this thread (!) is how to help @Mom2Scout with the fact that her son's troop is creating a new troop. This is a concrete subject. How about we focus on that.

There are good and bad ways to bring up the subject and there are likely good and bad ways of structuring the troops. My troop is talking about a linked troop but we're adamant that there will be minimal resource drain. The SM will not have anything to do with the girl's troop. We expect mom's to grow into taking over the SM and ASM positions. Gear and money is not seen as an issue because that is mostly per scout.

 

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3 hours ago, Mom2Scout said:

To explain a little more...

The boys had this sprung on them.  Imagine being told two weeks prior that oh, we forgot to mention it, but... we are essentially marrying you to a girl troop in two weeks in an arranged marriage.  You have to share all the equipment and troop funds.  Our boys, by the way, had an extremely good popcorn sale season and have typically had a very healthy bank account. On top of that, they are told, not asked, how they are going to mentor this new troop and invite them to events, along with sharing meeting space, which is already kind of tight.

The adult leadership for the new troop so far consists of 3 female leaders that were formerly leaders of our boys and our SM will act as an  ASM for them as well.  Meanwhile, we are constantly worried about events getting cancelled due to not having two deep leadership signing up for things like camping.  There was no real advertising of the girl troop. 

Yes, I know the CO owns everything.  But a Scout is courteous.  A bit more transparency and advance information (like we have a lot of parents concerned about dual campouts, the girls encroaching on activities that might ruin the male bonding experience, etc. -- none of this addressed more than two weeks in advance) would have been nice.  Effectively, if you have your Scoutmaster telling you how you are going to welcome these girls, teach them skills, have them come to troop activities, etc. it is expected (and thus not really a boy troop decision).  They are not being treated like just another troop in the local area where you see them from time to time.  They are linked so tightly that they are nearly one.

Some people aren't very good at communicating. Some aren't very good at putting themselves in others shoes and seeing how someone else might view things, or be so wrapped up in the excitement of what they see as a good thing that they never see someone else might have qualms and reservations.

Into this vacuum, people will talk, assume, jump to conclusions, fret, worry.

Maybe it's all in hand, maybe none of it is, maybe the powers that be don't understand there's a groundswell of concern, worry, which could easily, if not already, morph into frustration, anger, resentment, etc.

The answer is jaw jaw not war war, as ever.

Are the boys genuinely concerned? Or is it just the parents getting het up?

I would suggest talking calmly to the ScoutMaster or the ASMs about some of your concerns. Probably little point talking about the poor communication as that would probably come across as critical when what you should probably focus on the practical concerns of what you're most worried about. So if it's popcorn money and cancelled campouts, focus on those in the first instance. A long list will just be tiresome, and doesn't usually end well, in my experience (memories of one parent answering every answer I gave with "but what about this?....and what about this?"  getting more and more shrill. (I'm NOT saying that's like you by the way) It wasn't pleasant.

That's my recommendation as a UK Scouter that has been a leader since before the UK went fully co-ed, and heard very similar worries to yours, and who also got blindsided by a presentation we all had to attend where I thought a new programme was coming, but it was a new programme, in new sections, new age ranges, and had to get busy allaying fears of kids that thought they might be split from their older friends, and ensuring I spoke in the right ears to ensure that didn't happen, while realising my current role had been done away with. We got through it!

 

Edited by ianwilkins
some background flavour added.
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Thanks, Scouters.

Unfortunately, we live in an area with few troops.  The other one somewhat nearby includes his school bully, so....switching would likely be traumatic.  There is a lot I can't say without being so specific that if the SM was on this forum (likely) that he would know I aired some dirty laundry here.  FWIW, the same night the boys were officially told, the parents were also.  It wasn't  heart-to-heart so much of a this is how it is, deal with it kind of thing.  I think they could have come up with a better compromise to make families less unhappy.  I mean, yes, their scout sold popcorn at tables in freezing temps, but many parents were out there too.  They were adamant about sharing funds vs. having a a separate account for the girls. 

As for voting with feet, our troop maintains Scout accounts where they receive a portion of sales to help them personally go to camp.  Since the fundraiser was so successful, many parents feel tethered and trapped to the troop until at least summer camp because of their scout's account.  If they leave, they cannot take it with them to another troop. For some people, this is several hundred dollars.  This has led many parents to be wary to join in the next fundraiser because they want to see how this is going to play out before deciding to stay or go.

I don't want you to think I am anti-girl.  I am not.  I am more anti the process that was forced upon the troop.  I support our troop with time, talent, and treasure.  We are two weeks in to this and it is going to be a bumpy road.  I share our experience mainly for others to understand some of the issues that have come up so that they can hopefully avoid some of the same issues if they look at standing up a girl troop.

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9 minutes ago, Mom2Scout said:

... As for voting with feet, our troop maintains Scout accounts where they receive a portion of sales to help them personally go to camp.  Since the fundraiser was so successful, many parents feel tethered and trapped to the troop until at least summer camp because of their scout's account.  If they leave, they cannot take it with them to another troop. For some people, this is several hundred dollars.  This has led many parents to be wary to join in the next fundraiser because they want to see how this is going to play out before deciding to stay or go.

I don't want you to think I am anti-girl.  I am not.  I am more anti the process that was forced upon the troop.  I support our troop with time, talent, and treasure.  We are two weeks in to this and it is going to be a bumpy road.  I share our experience mainly for others to understand some of the issues that have come up so that they can hopefully avoid some of the same issues if they look at standing up a girl troop.

I do agree with you that the SM went overboard on the "this is how it's gonna be" line. With any sudden influx of members (like I said, I've been in the middle of three) a little humility goes a long way. He would have been better to admit, "We're gonna have to flex, this is our plan A, we think it will work, but we're open to improvement."

As to the funds. When I was Advising my crew, I used separate accounts because there were some wannabe watchdogs who feared troop funds being drained. That kept the peace, but towards the end, the troop could have used those crew surpluses. Not the other way around. So, it took a while to get everyone settled on writing them the check that closed the crew account. Chances are if these new scouts are all they're cracked up to be, they'll be putting in their share of time at the sales tables -- especially if some of the parents are wary to join that fundraiser.

I suspect these girls are going to need a little autonomy to get down the advancement trail like they want. So, for that reason alone, I'd have them use their own bank account. But, even there, the troop treasurer may have preferred to operate in a consolidated fashion at least for now.

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4 hours ago, Mom2Scout said:

Thanks, Scouters.

Unfortunately, we live in an area with few troops.  The other one somewhat nearby includes his school bully, so....switching would likely be traumatic.  There is a lot I can't say without being so specific that if the SM was on this forum (likely) that he would know I aired some dirty laundry here.  FWIW, the same night the boys were officially told, the parents were also.  It wasn't  heart-to-heart so much of a this is how it is, deal with it kind of thing.  I think they could have come up with a better compromise to make families less unhappy.  I mean, yes, their scout sold popcorn at tables in freezing temps, but many parents were out there too.  They were adamant about sharing funds vs. having a a separate account for the girls. 

As for voting with feet, our troop maintains Scout accounts where they receive a portion of sales to help them personally go to camp.  Since the fundraiser was so successful, many parents feel tethered and trapped to the troop until at least summer camp because of their scout's account.  If they leave, they cannot take it with them to another troop. For some people, this is several hundred dollars.  This has led many parents to be wary to join in the next fundraiser because they want to see how this is going to play out before deciding to stay or go.

I don't want you to think I am anti-girl.  I am not.  I am more anti the process that was forced upon the troop.  I support our troop with time, talent, and treasure.  We are two weeks in to this and it is going to be a bumpy road.  I share our experience mainly for others to understand some of the issues that have come up so that they can hopefully avoid some of the same issues if they look at standing up a girl troop.

@Mom2Scout I completely agree with you that the troop leadership could have handled the timing of this better.  Waiting until after recharter is done suggests that the leadership feared that Scouts would leave and they wanted to avoid that.  It may be untrue and unfair, but that's what it suggests.  The leadership team should have avoided that perception and announced it earlier in the process.  Perhaps just before recharter.

In my experience, Troops are essentially small communities.  For most Scouts, their involvement in the troop is a significant part of their lives.  So, their families tend to invest lots of energy to support the troop.  Making abrupt changes like this tends to alienate many families - and as such should be avoided.  It's generally a good idea to give the families enough heads up so that they are aware something like this is coming.

It's true that the Chartered Organization owns the troop and could unilaterally decide this - but I think it will be rare.  In the BSA structure, the troop committee is tasked with serving as a board of directors for the troop.  One of the troop committee's roles is to make strategic decisions affecting the troop.  If the troop committee believes that developing a troop for girls, whether linked or separate, is the right thing to do, then it's wholly appropriate for them to start the process.  The Troop Committee may decide to solicit opinions and input - but ultimately they should only ask for input if they are prepared to make decisions based off it.  It would do the troop community no good if the Troop Committee asks the Scouts and then does the opposite.  Better to have not asked in the first place.  But, if the Troop Committee is willing to follow the decision of the Scouts, then by all means - ask the Scouts.

Once the decision to start a troop for girls is made, they should work to start it in a way the will lead to success for both troops.  If that means two tightly linked troops, then so be it.  if that means the troops should be linked only at the highest levels, then so be it.  Surprising families at the last minute is not the best way to do that.  This is where I go back to my original point of community.

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@Mom2Scout My last post was getting long and this is a different point, so please pardon the double post.

In your specific situation, I would encourage you to start participating in the committee meetings.  Something that I took away from @ianwilkins great post is that it's not necessarily the decision to start a troop for girls that is the issue.  It's how the interaction works between the troop for boys and the troop for girls that is the area of focus.

A great place for you to be able to impact how this all works out is from the troop committee.  You're already quite active in the troop - so why not start working with the troop committee to help this all progress smoothly.  The other benefit to being active on the troop committee is that you often develop a stronger working relationship with the Scoutmaster.  You become part of the group of adults who discuss things like "should we have a troop for girls" and "when should we announce the troop for girls?"  This is a great position to say "excuse me, we probably ought to tell people about this before recharter."

The Scouts tend to notice the actions of the SM & ASMs.  But, often when the parents start seeing things like how decisions are made and communicated, that's really a big part of why troop committees are important.

 

 

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