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New unit - what to consider first

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So, we are finally splitting from our pack & troop. Some of you may remember past discussions leading towards this moment. This will be a long-ish post.

Backstory: The Troop is adult led/no patrols and has been struggling for 5+ years. Myself & 2 other families all crossed over boys this year in May. We have been trying since January,  with councils encouragement and approval, to step into troop leadership roles and suggest/recommend/convince/encourage/insist upon boy led & patrol method to very old long term leadership. Council has looked to us as the saviors of the troop hoping we could turn it around and thrive. Every leaders meeting since Jan has been a trial. The troop felt divided. At the last leaders meeting in June we asked one last time... can we please become boy led and use patrol method. Yes to patrols (adult chosen & set up). No to boy led. We were told that they tried it and it doesn't work. (We have seen it successfully work in other units!). In addition, they informed us that they no longer want the linked female troop. 😖

We made the decision to leave. We chose to begin our own units (M/F) on the other side of town. Darn it would have been so much easier to go to an established unit in another town, but our cub families have truly become family with our kids hanging out all the time outside of scouts. We knew leaving town would divide everyone and didn't want that. We met with the troop leaders and proposed to them bringing their units (troop & pack) to the new CO understanding the troop will have new leadership roles & will be boy led. The old troop leadership is old & none of them have kids in the troop - for decades. Only 3 can go hiking or camping due to age. Anyway, we explained our thought of carrying on their scouting legacy by continuing with the same unit numbers, etc. Our new CO loved the idea of honoring the long term scouting family in that way.

The troop leaders voted without much discussion. They voted to stay and carry on. It ended in a friendly manner with encouragement and ideas for us. It was nice. I stepped down as CM of the pack. I was told by the acting CC/COR (matriarch of the units) to take the pack with us since she can't handle keeping the pack going. That was a surprise, but great. The pack families are very excited & all but one are on board.

So, I now find myself starting a male troop, female troop & family pack. 

The pack is the easy one. I am CM and running it successfully. We are losing 1 family with 2 kids and parents were a DL and the treasurer. That will make it tricky, but nothing we can't handle. Starting from scratch with no money. Hard, but we will do it.

It's the two troops I need advice on. No money to start. 5 boys confirmed with transfer applications and 4 leaders signed on. *What should we be focused on?* None of the 4 troop leaders have long term troop leadership/experience, but all are 'trained'.

We are getting the 5 boys together tomorrow for calendar planning, recruitment discussion & fundraising ideas. They are all young. The oldest is 12.5. All but 1 crossed over this May. 4 went to summer camp. None have reached scout rank.  Also on our radar are meeting with the mayor (who is aware of our move and is supportive) and setting up bank accounts soon. *What else? Getting flags, boys have discussed neckercheif design, getting camping equipment, coordinating calendar with the CO and supporting their events when we can. Uniform policy. After September recruitment the boys can set up patrols, etc. Thoughts? Ideas?

(As a side note * that one pack family that did not come with us approached the COR and the dad has stepped up to be the CM. Problem is all of the pack members, scouts & leaders, have signed on with our new pack already! 🤦‍♀️Not many people like him and do not want to work with him. I feel bad, but the COR told us to take the pack with us. I wish them well.)


Edited by karunamom3
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Big move. Needed to be done.

While the adults are setting up adult positions;

1) Form the patrol, have them elect their patrol leader, and then have the new patrol leader select his assistant.

2) Assuming that the adults are getting the adult stuff done, set up the camping trips for the balance of the year. At least set dates for camping trips (avoiding holidays and school dates).

3) Camping equipment: assuming they each have their personal equipment, ask the parents for any extra leftover pots and pans for the patrol to start a patrol cook kit. You can upgrade later if you wish.

Seriously, your scouts need to start operating as a patrol from the start, and that means camping trips. Nothing "shows" patrol spirit and teamwork then setting up camp and the kitchen for a weekend of fun activities. I wouldn't put a lot of emphasis on advancement just yet. Just going camping secures many of the requirements for the Scout and Tenderfoot ranks.

Flags, patrol patches, and all of that other "stuff" isn't needed just yet. Get these scouts excited about "their" program first. Troop meetings will take care of themselves, when there is always another camping trip on the horizon. Troop meetings are as simple as having an Opening, patrol time, advancement time, game, and a closing, and your meeting is over with.

Last thing; promote their new calendar, and have them plan a simple recruitment program (short and long term). They can recruit friends, former scouts, and former pack scouts.

All of this certainly applies to the boys scout troop and the girls scout troop. I would keep everything about each separate ( but maybe the committee). Meetings on the same night works if they are in separate meeting areas. If you start having joint meetings, I personally think it weakens the program. Only start the troop (boys and/or girls) when you know you have the resources set.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.


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@sst3rd you meant "scout troop for girls" not "girls scout troop"   (since GSUSA is suing BSA over this issue)

Having just gotten a new troop started I agree about the getting out camping first.   And actually (this advice was from @Eagledad) the early troop meeting activities can be preparing or developing skills for those first outings.

Eventually they will realize they need a patrol name in order to make Scout rank -- that can wait until they realize it.

35 minutes ago, sst3rd said:

Only start the troop (boys and/or girls) when you know you have the resources set.

Once you have five enthusiastic girls eager to get started, then start the girls troop -- don't make them wait any longer.    Gradually the other things will begin to get sorted out, or if not you will improvise.

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Good advice above.

Give the Scouts in the patrol possibilities for campouts and hikes.  If the choices are vetted, they can't go wrong, and having them decide affirms youth leadership.   

The PL, as the representative of his patrol to the troop, should take the possibilities to his patrol for their choice.  This affirms that he represents and serves in this "miniature representative democracy."

Eventually, they can research possibilities, but adults can always be resources ("Have you considered ....."  "What makes a place a good campsite?)). 


Coach the PL to give every member of the patrol team to a "position" on the "playing field."

Fun and adventure!

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1. Leaders with integrity. Always be on the look-out for them. Train your scouts to be on the look-out for them. There are probably brothers and sisters -- and even their spouses -- in their 20s and 30s who felt muscled out by the old farts. How do I know this? Because it's never just "We've tried boy led, it doesn't work", it's "We've tried {every other category of adult} led, and it doesn't work." Reverse that.

2. Meet on a different night than your former troop.

3. Your scouts have a check-list. It's called the trail to first class. Encourage them to pick topics from the handbook for meeting topics. If they have a common merit badge that they are interested in, encourage them to think of the kind of program they'd want to have around it.

4. Your girl PL+APL and boy PL+APL should meet from time-to-time and compare "notes."

5. Accept that the constraints requiring adults to be everywhere for everything is an impediment to patrolling, so as these scouts master skills and mature, they will hike and camp independently with their mates. (With or without, you, BSA.) Be understanding if some of them decide to leave our organization to do so. Always encourage them to come run their plans by you or another caring adult with experience.

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On a planning basis, Scouts at this age and at this point of a new program require 3 months of knowing what lies a head in their future, the troop leaders need about six months so they can get their minds wrapped around where and how, and the parents need about a years worth of vision so that they have some peace of mind that the program is not just a week by week slip shot operation. 

Now, just because I suggest a years worth of planning (at the adult level), make it vague and changeable. In fact, our PLC does annual planning every six months immediatly after the SPL elections. They review the first six months that is already on the agenda from the last PLC, and they add new planning to the following six months. That way the annual calendar is reviewed and modified every six months. 

So, for the first year, I would suggest a planning session with the scouts, that is no more than an hour long (if that) to plan a detailed 3 months schedule, and a list of fun ideas for the following 3 months. For the adults, I would have another planning session with a suggested list of fun outings that include summer camp and whatever else. Mainly, get the adults thinking enough about the future that they can speak intellegently about the new troops future. These adults sessions are also important for reviewing how boy run works on these activities, to affirm the activities are designed around the boy run and patrol method. 

By the way, I always suggest new troops start with the instruction guide of the SPL Handbook and PL Handbook. But, are they still available. If so, they are better than the SM Handbook. Patrol Method works best if the adults are using the same resources as the scouts.


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You are far better off to start fresh instead of trying to overcome that kind of resistance.  I endorse Barry’s essential approach, which is basically what we are currently doing as a new troop.  You can check out our advance-planned yeast calendar, which our scouts will truly “take over” this fall (we started in February).   Www.scoutsbsadcgirls.org.  Putting out your calendar for the coming year becomes a big thing for parents and potential scouts to consider.  

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