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Unwittingly turned into a scoutreach troop

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To make sense of what I have on my mind, I need to give some background. I have been in scouts since I was I tiger cub. Made it all the way to eagle and then continued as an adult leader all the way through college. In my city there is scout hut that was built in 1933 that was home to a troop chartered in 1932. The troop folded in 2005 and the building sat empty for 15 years until I came across it and being a scout wanted to save it and the memorabilia and history that came with it. The city wanted to bulldoze it and put in a parking lot. To make a long story short, the city backed off, we raised close to $15,000 from alumni and donors to fix the roof, electrical, pluming, etc.  After months of work through the council, schools, and community, I was unable to find enough interest to recharter the troop. It was not a big deal as I was just graduating from college and knew that there was time to work it out and no rush to save to scout hut any longer. One day I get a call from my charter rep that they have found boys for the troop. What I walked into when we had the first gathering was 15 boys from a church across the city who had little interest in scouts or scouting. Some were not even old enough at the time to join. Against my advice, a man who was found to be assistant scout master decided to charter the troop with the these boys. Their parents are completely out of the picture, we have little to no contact with them at all. The council gave all of the boys free uniforms, books, gear, etc. After a month there is not one book or uniform to be seen and despite every effort to get them to bring them and wear them we have no participation in that department. After six months of meetings and outings not a single scout has made any effort to advance to the rank of tenderfoot despite our best efforts. It has gotten to the point now, that the troop does not even meet at the hut anymore, but at the church that they are a part of. 

 I am incredibly upset by this for so many reasons. The first being that it is obvious that these boys do not want to be at meetings and outings but are forced to come by guardians so that we can babysit for a few hours a week. Despite being given nearly every resource for free they have lost everything that was given to them and still have shown no progression of any sort. I started out on a journey to restore the legacy of what was once a very well respected and thriving troop and now because of the decisions of others to take on these boys, any prospective parents and scouts that do show up to meetings never call or come back and I can not blame them. I have boys that cuss, fight, have no respect for authority or their leaders. 

While I am just an assistant scoutmaster for the troop, I was the one who saved the building, did the fundraising, collected historic documents, equipment, etc. Tonight I went back to visit my old troop where I received my eagle in 2014. It is just one county over from where I currently am. My brother is still a member and will be aging out this year. While there the COR and current scout master came over to me and we began to talk. They're looking for someone to take over as scoutmaster and have no willing adults. They want me to fill the position because of my experience and history with the troop. This is a great program with a good community of boys that have drive and want to be good scouts. On top of that, it is my home troop. I am so split as to what I should do. I could walk away from the now scoutreach troop to go to a good program that I would enjoy. But something is holding me back. Advice from older and wiser scouters on any aspect of this will be greatly appreciated. 

Edited by admiral8079
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First, welcome to the forums.

Second, do you own the title to the property?  That’s a rhetorical question, I read your post. 

You volunteered to salvage a building the Council owned ... remember, when a charter folds, title to the remaining real property reverts to the partner or the Council. 

let me make this simple:  Scoutreach youth need fun and learning too.  It’s the job of leaders to figure out what will get their attention.

Good luck and good hunting. 

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Definitely Older, but do not know how wiser :)

Seriously though, I can tell you from experience and observation over the years, ScoutReach programs are extremely hard to do. As a DE, I tried to start ScoutReach units. I cannot remember how many visits and meetings I went to to try and start ScoutReach units. I do remember the one meeting that NO ONE showed up to, despite repeated calls and visits and being told they were coming. I also remember the one meeting where one young energetic Adult attended, and started off as an ASM with the one ScoutReach unit I was able to start. I left the area and when I came back that same guy was the SM for 3 ScoutReach Troops. But he burned himself out, and there was no one to replace him. All three troops folded when he stepped down.


Here are my thoughts. 

1) PRAY! It works.

2) How much influence do you have with the SM and the CO? It sounds like you have a vision of what you want, but can you get support to implement it. Especially since you are the ASM?

3) How emphatic are you with the Scouts? You got to have the ability to relate to your Scouts.  More later.

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I suggest separating the Hut, a Troop which folded in 2005 and what is essentially a new Troop founded 2020 in your mind. 

You saved a Scout Hut, but alas it is not being used by a Scout Troop.  The hut was not viable for the new Troop probably because members live too far away.  Whoever controls (lease, ownership, etc) the hut will decide its’ future. Perhaps the hut might be useful to other Girl Scout, Scouts BSA, etc groups. Recognize also that beyond the old Troop’s alumni or charter institution, there may be little interest in memorabilia of a Boy Scout Troop that ended 15 years ago. 

There is a Troop meeting at a church across town that is having problems.  I suspect that in addition to boys’ behavior and motivation, there may be issues with the Troop’s adult leader(s) and Charter Organization.  I have been involved with ScoutReach units and for the most part they worked well and not much different then traditional units’ successes and failures.

If you haven’t…. talk with the new Troop’s Scoutmaster and other leaders about your frustrations. They (adults and boys) need help from an experienced Eagle Scout.    If indeed hopeless and you go from frustration to other negative emotions… that’s not good for you or the boys.

Visit your old Troop a few times, attend a Committee Meeting, go on a camping trip, etc before deciding. Remember the ‘grass is not always greener’.     

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11 hours ago, admiral8079 said:

... But something is holding me back. .... 

@admiral8079, welcome to the forums! And I think you're answering your own question.

Most of us here have hiked rugged paths ... rocks and bogs ... just to stretch a hammock between two trees nobody else would ever see. So you're not gonna get a lot of encouragement to settle for the comfy assignment that you know a half-dozen other parents, with a little training, can take. What you're feeling a calling. High probability of failure, rewards for success unlikely.

  • Your district is likely poorly resourced, so professional help will be a disappointment.
  • There is likely a cultural chasm between you and the boys (girls?) in the vicinity of the scout house.
  • The best uniform to give these youth would be a neckerchief of their own making ... distinct from gang colors.
  • You might find yourself telling parents and guardians how to do their job ... not fun.
  • If you're lucky, one boy from your old troop will be willing to help you. If his parents are like most parents in my troop, they won't let him.
  • First class first year is a lie, the skills in them are difficult to master. This is especially true when parents aren't there to help the scouts. On the other hand, precious will that one tenderfoot scout born out of a year or two of troubles.
  • Nobody gives you a knot for helping a kid be 10% less gansta. The only paycheck is when you get the phone call from a young adult going down the list of people he knew to thank for getting him to the point where he could buy his first house.

Maybe you are hurting for some wins right now, so taking on your home unit might be a good idea. There they have moms who probably will bring cupcakes to their tenderfoots' courts of honor. But, maybe your hammock just won't hang well in any familiar trees.

Your call.

Edited by qwazse
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A few random tidbits ...

... I've always said that scouting is good for all youth (used to say boys), but not all youth are good for scouting.  I'm not sure if you are in that situation.  

... OR do you just need to re-think expectations.  Do you really need the youth to show up with book and uniform ?  That's the ideal, but you can still have a big positive impact.  How about just making sure there's a fire pit, marshmallows, a Frisbee, a football and some good fellowship.  Maybe each night you could share a really meaningful SM story with them.  

... It's not your job to go down with the ship.  It's not your job to fight the good fight to make the troop work.  It's not a reflection on you if the scout reach troop doesn't work.  

... It IS okay to pick and choose where you invest your time.  It is okay to walk away.  It is okay to acknowledge that this is not a good match at the current time.

.... We have a local SM who I think of as a sort of hero.  He's got a unique and challenging troop.   Each troop meeting includes a meal as it's probably the only good meal those kids get that day.  Parents have as many issues (or more) as the kids.  Issue after issue.  BUT, he's having a big impact.  ...  Several miles away is another SM who has a troop where each scout irons their neckerchief.  It's a spit and polish troop out of a Normal Rockwell painting.  I am impressed with both scoutmasters and I like them both as people too.  Now, I'm not sure which troop I'd want my son in, but I definitely know who I'd want as my son's scoutmaster.  

... It is also okay to spend a few years away from scouting to find who you are and develop skills outside scouting.  When you return to the fold, you will be all the more valuable and enjoy the program even more.

Edited by fred8033
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I did not have the maturity at your age to be a good Scoutmaster. However, a mentor who I copied much of our program was a SM at age 20 and recently retired from the position at around the age of 60. I don't know if you are even ready, but I will say that I believe the position to be be more of an idealist guide than a adult teacher or leader. Your two examples are extreme opposites, but I wonder which would be more satisfying in developing as a successful program. As a 40 year old father of three kids and two Boy Scouts, I took the safe route (safe being I started a new troop with my Webelos). But, as a young man with lots of energy and few responsibilities, I might have made a different choice.


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People get into bad relationships.  They think if I work harder I can change my partner and then things will be perfect!  Or, if I work harder I can change myself to make my partner happy and then things will be perfect!  Both scenarios are a lie and disastrous for both party's health.  Now it's possible for the parties to find compromise to save their relationship but it requires change from both.  That's the question you have to answer with regards to the Scoutreach unit.   You have invested in the relationship and are struggling because your partner doesn't seem interested in changing to meet your vision of the relationship.  Are you willing to compromise to meet them in the middle?  Are they willing to change to meet you?  If the answer to either is no then move on.

This is a completely independent question from whether to be the SM for your old troop.  On paper I like the idea of a 20-something SM but you'd need firm commitment from the committee and ASM corps especially if you want to Make any changes.

Edited by walk in the woods
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Reminder that being a SM is in fact a job.  Not paid, but it is a job.  You will need to evaluate this as one might a job.  Are YOU able to contribute AND more importantly, does the position satisfy what you are looking for.

Many times when one takes a new job it looks really good, recruiter says the right things, the people you meet say the right things...but then you get smacked with reality.  The job is not a fit.  At that point you are faced with the decision to endure the mismatch in the job OR move on to look for something new.

Only one person can make that decision.  Not the internet, not friends, not the CO, not the CC...only you

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Sounds like a cool building.

Anyway, a couple of unorganized thoughts:

Your title might give you your answer. What do you think about "scout reach?" If you're looking down on that then don't do it. If you're unsure about what scout reach could be then you're not ready to answer your question - time to do some research.

Is it possible that you are tied to the building more than the scouts? If so, that's a warning sign.

What kind of help are you getting from the church? Does anyone know these kids and can they help you? Are there any other adults around to help that have a lot of scouting experience? Without any help this is going to be hard.

Do these scouts trust you? They won't pay any attention to some random adult that has been assigned to them. You have to gain their respect. They likely don't have the faintest idea what scouting is about so asking them to bring their handbook to a meeting is a thought that will be flushed down the black hole of teenage forgetfulness. Until scouting means something to them you are pushing a rope up hill. But that doesn't mean this is a total loss.

What do you know about these kids? They can't afford gear, that's for sure. They were told, much like going to school, that you're the teacher. Rather than ask them to meet you at your level, where you know all about scouts, it might be easier for you to first go meet them at their level. What do they want to do? Have they ever gone camping before? If all they know is baseball then that's a good place to start.

I guess my point is these scouts are likely much different from what you're used to. There's going to be a bit of culture shock from both sides as you figure each other out. And it might be a good thing for both of you.

Sorry, I can't answer your question, though. That one's up to you.

Good luck.

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