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shortridge

Advice for a new CC

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What advice would you give to a new committee chair of a brand-new troop?

If you have a limited number of committee members, what are the priority positions to fill?

What best practices do you suggest on unit financial accountability and transparency?

By way of background, this would be a new girls’ troop with an established CO, unlinked to the boys’ troop.

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The main responsibility of the CC is protect the vision of the program. Everyone likes to give the SM credit for being the gatekeeper, but the responsibility initially falls on the CC who insures the SM runs the program to the vision. If the SM is running the program appropriately, then the CC supports and protects the SM. Part of that support is delegating responsibilities in the weaknesses of the program. Learning the weaknesses answers your second question. 

Barry

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First step I would suggest is the troop committee all take the training together. This way they begin on the same page, understanding their roles/responsibilities and excising the pre-concieved beliefs which are not part of their roles.

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Have your patrol(s) meet separately every week for a month.  Only then have troop meetings - to the extent that they do not interfere with patrol meetings.

 

"If it's not happening in the patrol, it isn't so."

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5 hours ago, shortridge said:

What advice would you give to a new committee chair of a brand-new troop?

If you have a limited number of committee members, what are the priority positions to fill?

What best practices do you suggest on unit financial accountability and transparency?

By way of background, this would be a new girls’ troop with an established CO, unlinked to the boys’ troop.

First, download the Troop Committee guidebook, or purchase a hard copy from your local council store.  These are the tools you will need to explain the positions for new recruits

Recruit a secretary, and a treasurer as these two positions are the most critical.  Set a goal with your new recruits to take YP if needed.  Once the recruits are fully registered, then they should proceed to take the relevant committee member training.  School teachers, social service folk,  and military folk generally make good committee candidates.  Avoid those retired scout leaders who talk a good talk, and bloviate. They have a penchant for disrupting meeting by regaling the committee with a bunch of vacuous nonsense..... "well in 1972, my uncle would do......".  Nothing is more maddening than dealing with a derailer from any background.

Step 2.  It is my not so humble opinion that the CC should read, and study the Troop Leader Guidebook...at least the first to volumes.   The TLG is not available in a PDF format.  It is absolutely critical the CC fully comprehends, and respects the program as it is written.  There are many leaders who are inspired by the program, but could give to flips about it.  They should burn their uniforms. 

When deviations are persistent, every aspect of the program then has to be negotiated.  This creates the need for too much back and forth, and bitterness.  Bitterness and time squandering has no place in scouting.

Regarding money, the Troop Leader Guidebook provides recommendations on various matters pertaining to finance.  I prefer to have a kind soul spend out of pocket on behalf of the Troop, then said person reimbursed at the monthly committee meeting by the Treasurer with the Secretary bearing witness.  The BSA does not recommend Troop credit cards, and unfortunately, I've had to suffer heartburn over the use plastic used for the wrong reasons while serving as CC.  I would establish rules stating that all expenditures must be approved by the committee, otherwise you may end up with an SM that continually purchases crap the Troop doesn't need.  Sitting down with the SM and Treasurer and constructing a budget is helpful.  This pre approved budget is key to smooth operations.  Anything outside the budget should most certainly be approved by the committee prior to reimbursement.  Any person spending on behalf of the Troop needs to be sensible and communicate their intentions to people that hold the purse strings.

If your CO does not have rules that govern certain behaviors, it may be necessary to establish Troop by-laws, or at a minimum, a code of conduct.  That is where the CC, secretary, and other members may start getting heartburn.  Mobile phone use, money issues, and scout behavior protocols not covered in YP,  need to be gotten ahead of.

 

Edited by Onslow
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For a brand new small troop, I'd want a committee chair, Sec/Treasurer, and Advancement Chair.

SM and ASM work the program side as they should. working with the scouts to make a new scout appropriate first year calendar of events.

At first, almost every scout who submits an application you are gonna need an adult to also submit an application and take training.

At first all the adults of a small troop need to be on the same page so all going to training together would be great.  Although you do have to remember there is program side(sm/asm directly working with the youth) and paperwork committee side handling membership applications, advancement/BORs, permission slips/reservations, and  financials/fundraising.  com chair will have to be willing to do every job that the adv, and sec/treas is unable to get done, working closely with the sm and asms to be sure the program succeeds.

 

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Scouting already has a Code of Conduct.  


it is notably and intentionally  positive" "A Scout is ....."     

 

 

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7 hours ago, TAHAWK said:

Scouting already has a Code of Conduct.  


it is notably and intentionally  positive" "A Scout is ....."     

 

 

The Scout Law is sufficient as overarching principles, but to assert that the SL is the only rules needed is incorrect. 

First off, if this were the case, there would be no need for Youth Protection guidelines.  

Communicating expectations regarding behavior, and consequences falls under the category of helpful.

 

Edited by Onslow
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Our troop is at the 8-month mark in doing exactly what you are now beginning.  We are not linked and have a very supportive CO. 

We are not perfect, but I would say the reason why we now have 15 adult leaders and 30 girls is that a group of us developed a vision for an unlinked girl-centered troop at an early stage.  The program and standards for advancement are exactly the same, but we were especially mindful of the schedule and other structural preferences of girls and their families in designing our troop operation.  You can visit our site at http://www.ScoutsBsaDcGirls.org  if you want to see our take on this. 

For instance, in our particular area we determined after surveying parents that twice-monthly Saturday morning meetings were better for scheduling and safety reasons.  We also determined that our meeting could be longer (we go 2 hours), given the longer attention spans of girls at the critical 11-13 year-old ages.  Another item you will face is that when you start, you will have all inexperienced girls at the same time.  Our solution for this was to elect Patrol leaders but have the Scoutmasters provide more direct leadership for the first 4-5 months.  After all, you cannot expect an inexperience 11-year-old to be an SPL and lead planning of a year-long program.  You also need to generally assure that the early meetings and weekend campouts will be reasonably successful, otherwise you could have a mass exodus as parents and girls are disappointed due to disorganization caused by over-reliance on girl leaders who are just not ready.    We were harshly criticized by some for taking this approach, but on the back side I can tell you that it was a very successful start-up strategy.  We just elected our first SPL and she has now appointed her full compliment of troop officers.  Our campout this last weekend was a bit challenging for them because for the first time they were really "in-charge" and the Scoutmaster Staff is now appropriately "advising".  However, the girls are thriving in their leadership activities as a result.

Include in your vision a good means by which to encourage good summer damp attendance.  We sent 23 to camp this last summer and are now very advantaged organizationally as a result.  

Another thing we were harshly criticized for is that we do not do product sale fundraising, such as popcorn with our Council.  We wrap the total cost of the annual program (except for summer camp and weekend campouts that are paid individually) into flat dues payments made each semester.  We subsidize the dues payments of under-resourced families by having an annual fundraising reception our CO will conduct between their early and late church services.  WE are also going to make a bulk contribution to our Council from these proceeds.  This was in reaction to the survey of parents saying they did not want their girls or themselves engaging in product sales.  Rather, all want to concentrate on program.  After 8 months, not a single parent or Scout has complained about either our dues or our not selling items.  

These organizing tactics may or may not be appropriate for families with girls in your area, but they are examples of organizing things that differ specifically because in our particular market this is what these families want in a girl Troop.  I think our having done these things explains the difference in outcomes between our troop and most of the other all-girl linked troops in our area -- most of which are functioning as single-patrol appendages to existing Troops.  A new Committee Chair and her/his core organizing group should first figure out what organizing template works well for families in your area/market and structure your approach accordingly.  Good luck with this very worthwhile endeavor you are starting.

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On 9/30/2019 at 8:23 AM, Cburkhardt said:

We also determined that our meeting could be longer (we go 2 hours), given the longer attention spans of girls at the critical 11-13 year-old ages. 

I agree that  11-13+ girls certainly have the attention spans for 2 hour meetings.   Our Scouts BSA girls' troop has 1.5 hr evening meetings.  The meetings always feel too short, especially given the over-long opening ceremony and announcements done jointly with the boys troop -- but given the schoolnight evening,  there is not time to go longer.      (A few years ago the 4th grade girl scout troop I was associated with, on the afternoons they got out of school early, had 2 hour meetings, and the longer meeting format let us do more during the meeting time.)    

I could see that with scouts travelling by public transit,  longer  meetings on alternate weekend mornings,  is best.   We have scouts from four towns, who attend six different schools,  and so see each other only at scouts -- for us having a meeting every week is helpful for developing friendships within the group.  (As are the frequent weekend outings.)

On 9/30/2019 at 8:23 AM, Cburkhardt said:

This was in reaction to the survey of parents saying they did not want their girls or themselves engaging in product sales. 

Sounds good to me.   I'd be very happy with that,  but we have inherited a product sales from the troop we linked to.      In my girl scout past,  girl scout troop parents (we polled them) preferred to fund activities through yearly dues and skip the cookie sale -- but we were a much lower budget operation that your Scouts BSA troop.

On 9/30/2019 at 8:23 AM, Cburkhardt said:

You can visit our site at http://www.ScoutsBsaDcGirls.org  if you want to see our take on this. 

Very impressive.  We didn't get a website up till end of the summer, and immediately were found by two more families.   In retrospect, having a website earlier would have been better  -- but we were too busy trying to get out-of-doors to get to that quickly.

@Cburkhardt you seem very organized, and off to a great start.  Almost intimidatingly so.  It is great that you are sharing what has worked well,  but I want to encourage those who are starting with less experience:  We are just muddling through, but we are improving, and growing in numbers and experience.  Fortunately none of our girls or parents seemed to get too discouraged in the initial months -- we focussed on getting out-of-doors camping, which I think made up for various other deficiencies.

This is off topic, but  I do have one comment about your website @Cburkhardt ,  the recommended packing list seemed a little odd.  For a weekend camping list you included shampoo (I've never known any girl, no matter how long the hair, to wash her hair on a two-night camping trip) but you forgot the feminine hygiene products. 

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Thanks for the comments and suggestions.  There is always room for improvement and we spent less time on the packing lists when we wrote the web site.  Great enhancement suggestions, which we will make.  Do not be discouraged about your start-up process -- this is not easy stuff.  Your first year will be your start-up and as long as you have a good contingent go to summer camp and have that important bonding experience, things will go a lot more easily.  Until then, ask questions and be as cheerful as possible.

Our formation group knew up-front that we were pooling a lot of talent and experience from Scouting.  We realized we had great comfort in what we were doing and started by forming a Webelos den linked to an existing Pack in Spring of 2017.  Things worked so well with our 10-girl Den that we decided we would harness that success to form a Scouts BSA Troop for girls that would feel as if it had already been up and running for some time.  We also wanted to form a somewhat larger and non-linked Troop that could do some early testing of what works best for girls.  Finally , we were willing to depart from some of the standard Troop operations that many of us have experienced for decades -- but keep the standards and quality the same.  The result is that we agreed on an organization format and wrote most of the web site you see now about a year ago.  You might not have noticed, but the entire web site is written in a voice that speaks directly to girls age 11-15, because we wanted girls to understand this would be a place particularly welcoming to them.  Don't be intimidated in the slightest by anything we have done.  This is just very standard Scouting "by the book".

On meeting length and frequency, we gambled on this and won "big-time".  The families love Saturday morning, the longer meeting and the fact that this time does not typically conflict with girl-centric activities.  We probably under-estimated the best length for our meetings.  What has happened is that girls are showing up about 30-60 minutes early to work on advancement sign-offs with Assistant Scoutmasters.  So, many actually spend about 2.5 hours or more on Saturdays with us.  The other thing about Saturday morning is that it ended up being crazy-good to encourage parents to attend troop meetings (which we hold simultaneously in a different room from 10:30-11:30 during the first Saturday of the month).    I am now in the position of having to look for things for people to do.  We have co-chairs for just about everything.

You are catching me at an interesting time.  Our gamble that we would raise our budget through fees and a once-a-year coffee reception will be shown to work (or not) this very weekend.  Our chartered organization is a church that suggested they would host our fundraiser between church services.  We are seeking to raise $4,000 by having the Scouts operate displays.  And, a bulletin board with cut-out tents, ice chests and other "camp stuff" will be on display so potential donors can "buy" items for the Troop.  Then, the 11:00 service will be a "Scout Sunday" -- during which our Scouts will usher, sing and read the bible verses.  Check back next week and I'll let you know how it went!

 

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@Cburkhardt, have fun raking in the dough!

Don't forget to use this time to build relationships with the church membership. Teach your SPL to introduce herself to the church officers and other VIPs. You'll start out by introducing her one-on-one, of course, but she'll catch on in short order. There's nothing that opens a curmudgeon's wallet faster than a youth who can work a crowd! It's not just about $$. There are likely some kids, grandkids, adopted refugee kids, exchange students, etc ... in their spheres and the chance for their kid to grow up to be like your lead scout would be a very strong selling point for recruitment. Also, some of these adults might be good counselors, or they might have a good place to camp, etc ... I think this kind of event is ideal for a CC to meet adults who want to put a little of their time towards the well-being of scouts in their community.

The PLs on, the other hand, should be prepared to teach children in the congregation a simple skill. I suspect that's what your displays may offer.

Obviously, for some scouts this will be overwhelming and your SPL might be one of those, so you'll have to back off, for now. But if you have a scout with the least bit of an outgoing personality, leverage it on the folks who seem to be the mainstays of the congregation.

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Recognize, praise and thank your volunteers often.  Try not to defuse any drama and get people working together as much as possible.  And have fun. 

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