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The top ten indicators that a Troop is Webelos friendly and runs like a real Troop.


1. Go to the Boy Scout Roundtable and announce that you have __ number of Webelos interested in joining a Troop. Good Units attend Roundtable regularly and will respond.


2. Any unit that responds, give them your Scout business card with your phone number, address, fax, and email address. Tell them to contact you after they fax, email or mail you a copy of their last and present Annual Calendars. Good Units plan and communicate effectively. Your Scouts need to know what the unit has done and is planning to do.


2. Ask to speak to the ASM in charge of Webelos to Scout Transition. Good units have one informed person in charge of doing this task. Ask that person to attend one of your meetings to answer questions from your Webelos Scouts. Communication is important and this is the first indication that the unit supports it's own program and is not a one person show.


3. Ask to speak with the Senior Patrol Leader. Request to visit one of their meetings. The SPL is the leader of the meeting and will want the Webelos to be part of the meeting. Good units are enthusiastic to gain new Scouts. The meeting should be orderly and boy-run. The Scouts should be in proper uniform. Patrols should be evident and/or other boy leadership. The ideals of Scouting should also be noted in the closing, opening and periodically during the meeting.


4. Ask to speak with the Committee person in charge of Camping. Ask to see a copy of their camping report for the last year. You will see where the unit goes camping and if most of the troop is interested. If the report indicates that few of the Scouts attend and there are fewer than 10 days and nights of camping, then something is wrong, such as committee support for the program is lacking or the boys are not planning the events and are not interested.


5. Ask to speak with the Committee person in charge of Advancement. Review their advancement report for the past year. Do they advance only when they attend Summer Camp or is advancement the result of a well run and well supported program throughout the year?


6. Ask to speak with the Committee person in charge of membership. There should be a yearly uniform inspection and an Annual membership Inventory and Recharter. Is there a New Scout Patrol for those who join or what method is used to bring new Scouts into the program?


7. Ask the Committee Chairman to attend one of their Committee meetings. Are the Annual Plans being supported or is everything done at the last minute and without the underpinnings needed for a solid program? Ask them how new parents are to be involved in the program. Parental involvement is a sure sign of committee support for an active and full program. Ask if the existing leaders are trained and do they have plans to train old and new leaders


8. Visit with the Chartered Organization's Representative. Is there a good relationship with their partner or is it just a sponsor? Has the Troop done any Good Turn projects for the CO? Is there a yearly Charter presentation and what does the CO do for the Unit?


9. Visit with the SM and ask that individual what their duties are in the organization. If it has to do with training and guiding boy leaders, then ask how that occurs. There should be monthly meetings of the boy leaders and a yearly training session for that training.


10. Evaluate carefully any or all of these indicators with your Webelos Scouts and the parents of those Scouts. Do not take the quick visit or the District tour to look at the "face" of many units. Take your time and be informed before you choose. This will help the Scouts remain in Scouting longer and hopefully arrive at the Aims that Scouting has to offer them. You will have done your job to the best of your ability and the parents will thank you.


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Isn't it the boys who are interviewing for a troop?


I've said previously in this forum, that I believe in staying my community. Baring any red flags we will move to the troop in our community. Yes, well go thru the exercise of doing troop visits because we have to, but I dont believe that there is anything worthwhile in the doing so.


You identified 10 things that a knowledgeable leader would look for, but the kids and parents will know nothing of what you mentioned here. Most of what you mentioned will have no bearing on how comfortable the boys are moving into that troop.


Does the troop backpack?, or car camp?, are moms allowed on the trail? Will there be a new scout patrol or will the new scouts be immediately merged into existing patrols? Great questions that should be asked, but I dont think that any of the answers constitute grounds for selecting that troop.


First, the boys dont know what they want in a troop.....how could they? Second, the boys need to feel comfortable. Most likely that will happen because someone has a brother, cousin, or friend in the troop. And last, where is the Webelos leader going???? That may well be the most important question with respect to the boys short term success with a new Boy Scout troop.


Most importantly, the boys are not bound to the troop for life. They only need to start somewhere and learn more about what BS's has to offer them. They are always free to move to another troop.


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Fuzzy, please don't take this in a negative way, because you certainly have put together a comprehensive list of questions to ask of a large number of people... but just out of curiosity, have you ever shown up at a troop/committee meeting(s) as a Webelos parent and actually ASKED all of these questions? And/or have you seen other people do so? And if so, how did it go?

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I am attempting to give guidelines for an Informed Choice rather than engaging in a whirlwind visit that can be easily misleading to young Scouts and their parents, so I agree with your assessment that brief Troop visits are not beneficial.


The items that I have listed are things that a unit should be doing, if it is Scouting. If the Webelos want to join in a Scout unit for Scouting, then they must know what questions to ask or what to look for in a Quality Unit.


Since it did not appear that I included the parents (see item #7), I would like to emphasize that parents should be included in any or all of interchanges. I would hope the parents are an active part of the Webelos program but if they are not, then the Leader and the Scouts will need to inform them with the proper information.


Since you are willing to accept the first offer from any unit, then you may be a proponent of making an uninformed choice. That is of course, your choice. I don't agree for specific reasons.


You may be right about the reason for most Webelos making their choice about units. A Leader tells the boys which unit to go to and they go or they take them. It has been my experience in three different Councils and working with lots of Webelos that the majority of them never make it into any Scout unit and if they do, they do not remain for long.


Check it out. The transition rate for Webelos to Scouts has been at a low percentage rate for several years. This is a national trend and not just for a few selected areas. There are reasons that Webelos do not go into Scouting and remain when they do go. You may want to reconsider how you approach this problem because it is a problem.


I do not believe that I have "the answer" but I believe that information is one way to approach it. Young people and their parents are now Consumers and they are intelligent. I believe that a Scout unit must "sell" their program in a smart way and that begins with information.


Boys do have the freedom to move to any other unit when one Troop program is unsatisfactory. But the statistics and my experience show that the Webelos go to other programs other than Scouting. I am suggesting that the Webelos Leader, parents and Webelos be proactive and make an informed choice in the beginning of their search for a unit and not wait.


Thank you for your thoughtful response.








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Back when we were looking for a troop for OJ.

The pack had arranged for the Webelos Scout Den to visit different troops in the area.

One troop had everyone sitting in a very small very cramped room, while some wise and learned gave a very long and boring lecture on edible plants. All good stuff but boring and the meeting hall was terrible.

The next troop was a lot more friendly but no one seemed to know who was doing what. When I asked about what plans they had for their next outdoor activity, I was informed that they didn't plan things for the winter.

The next troop was trying to get the SPL to run the show, but he seemed a little unsure of himself, but they invited us to their winter activity. OJ, really liked the SM and that was the troop he joined. Sad to say the SM was only there for about a year. Things went down hill really fast after he left and OJ transfered to the troop that had the plants, they had found a new meeting place.


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Since you are willing to accept the first offer from any unit, then you may be a proponent of making an uninformed choice. That is of course, your choice.


On the contrary, I am familiar with the other units in my area, and my Webelos & parents will become equally familiar with them. Troops do not make offers, and I do not negotiate with them. The program is, what the program is! Scouting is a community based program, we will support our community and stay where we are.


Aside from that, there are some very subtle and not so subtle reasons for staying in your community. With families being as busy as they are, there is great reason to do your Scouting close to home. Long trips to the unit meeting place and back home again, are not a benefit to new scouts. The boys need to get to meetings, not have another excuse for missing the meetings. And remember, Mom or Dad have to drive them, and Mom and Dad have other children at home to care for!


Next is the fact that your local troop is most likely populated with familiar people from around your community, and your CS pack. Heres where that comfort factor comes in! Certainly the boys are more comfortable with familiar faces, but so are the parents. What do you think the odds are that the boys will go to summer camp with a troop whose leaders are strangers, as opposed to going to camp with a troop where the leaders are known to both the scouts and parents?


This transition exercise is not about the Webelos leader showing off how much he (or she) has learned about the BS program. Its not about putting the Webelos on a path to specialize in one type of outdoor activity; its about giving the boys an opportunity to enjoy the BS program. Its about placing them in an environment where they can succeed without pressure. As far as Im concerned, barring any red flags, it the local troop.


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Hi ho and a merry season to all verbal warriors!


Having done the Webelos 2 thing... years ago (twice) and now serving as a Troop Committee Member and still Assistant Cub Master...(can't find enough willing cub parents)I can say from both sides...in the end it should be up to the boys.

Dads can look for 'red flags' but the boys have to want to be 'with' the troop...any thing else is asking for a bad outcome...MOST boys WILL go to a home troop...where their 'buds' go...


That said...

As a Committee Member I generally 'sit boards' for most of our new scout's first few ranks. One of the questions I pose during this interview is 'what made you want to join this troop'? To paraphrase a game show host...'The number one answer is.... "the older scouts made me feel welcome!". Low down on the list is "my dad said this was a good troop!" Looking at a few of our 'failures'(boys who left scouting) most of them were in the troop because "dad wanted them in our troop" or 'even in scouts', while most of their webelos buddys went to a 'closer' (home?) troop.

If the boy picks unwisely...he can be usually 'encouraged' to make a change a 'do over'... but from what I have seen, if dad is the true 'selector' the boy will not give a second troop a try...no science, just seven years of observation.


But, the reason I jumped 'into' this thread is for the 'Webelos I' leaders and other parents looking this subject over, as well as a few troop leaders who might be interested in recruitment and retention.


VISITING MULTIPLE TROOPS ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH! 'Love' is not necessarily something that 'happens' at first sight! Troops should offer 'get togethers' and 'outdoor events', inviting local WebII dens to visit. Troops should also offer joint training activities (little classes in scout skills) and make annual pack visitations by the troop or at least a patrol. Just having a webelos den visiting a troop once is really 'rolling the dice'...it might be a good night for the troop or it might be a big disaster (we all have them from time to time). Your boys may be spending the next six or seven years with the Boy Scout Troop...it is important!

Web leaders...

contact local troops and see if they have outdoor activities planned for webelos visitations ...even if they don't, perhaps they would like to have you visit for a few minutes at one of their local campouts. Make the extra effort to take your boys (and parents) to visit a couple of District BSA camporees, watch a few troops in action, visit them at their camp sites...see what is really going on...what does camp look like? How are the boys handling clean up and the district activities?

Start off by asking the District for a list of the troops/SM's and where they meet to get an idea on what may be available to you. Then ask the troop if they are going to the camporees...ask the SM if you can make a quick visit...I doubt if anyone would say "NO"...(remember that they may have a time-table to keep to so expect to spend time with a 'left over ASM' or even better; a parent(!), if the SM is busy).

THEN make the troop meeting visit(s) (or two)...anything less is a dis-service to the boys.

good scouting



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Excellent topic. I've already taken some notes.


When my son was ready to cross over we looked at two troops, the two closest to us. We're very rural and 25 miles is as close as they get. He picked the Troop that seemed to be having the most fun and were friendliest to him. I would have picked the other Troop due to its handier location, bigger meeting room, more convenient meeting time, more uniformed adults. The biggest "turnoff" for my son was the older Scouts were not friendly.


At the time I had no idea what questions to ask about a troop. Neither did my son's Webelo leader. I believe most Webelos parents don't have a clue how to evaluate a Troop. Even so, had I known the questions that FUZZY suggested I don't think my son would have wanted to stay in Scouting at the other Troop unless he understood the indicators himself. This would be a good topic for Webelos leaders to learn. A reccomendation from the Webelo leader regarding what Troop to cross over to could hold a lot of weight in the decision.





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I do not believe that Webelos are capable of picking a troop for the correct reasons.


Deciding on a troop should not be that hard. IF you want a troop which utilizes the BSA methods.

1. Are all of the leaders in uniform, including the SPL, ASPL and Troop Instructors and Guides.

2.Does the SM and ASM do very little at meetings, mostly just sitting around and being quiet. If the SM gets up and talks quietly to the SPL this should be taken as a good thing. This means that the PLC has the meeting planned out. Asked to see the written plan for the meeting.

3.Are the scouts acting like scouts, meaning sometimes they seem a little out of control, loud, not paying attention.

4.Does the SPL have control of the meeting, but is not acting like a drill Sergent.

5.During the meeting has the troop worked on scout skills, meet as patrol, and played a game?

6.Did the troop put the Webelos in a patrol, Webelos only, with a troop guide and a ASM.

7.If the troop has a Webelos night where all of the Webelos thinking about joining are invited that night, run from this troop.

8.Are older scouts involved in the meeting or have they been out of the meeting the entire night working on Venture Patrol things, this should be a warning, that they are not keeping the older scouts involved.


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Dan -


7.If the troop has a Webelos night where all of the Webelos thinking about joining are invited that night, run from this troop.


I don't get it. The Webelos Open House night is part of the process laid out by the BSA. It's a great opportunity to get as many people together at once so they can ask questions and get a good feeling for the program.


Our Webelos Open House went something like this:

1) Gathering game. ASPL had all the boys playing.

2) Opening, Webelos formed a patrol line like other patrols.

3) SPL made some announcements

4) I (SM) welcomed everyone and told the Webelos parents which room to go to for a parents orientation/Q&A session.

5) Scouts went off to work on different skills, Webelos were grouped with first year scouts. I think they talked about winter camping, bacause the Webelos were invited on a campout in November.

6) I spent about 30 minutes with the parents, explaining the program and answering questions.

7) Parents came back in to see them doing some planning for the campout.

8) Boys played a fun game of crab soccer.

9) We had one big circle-up, presented some awards, had a scoutmaster's minute, and dismissed.


I'm assuming you are thinking that the troop is just putting on a show and you're not really seeing the "real deal". There may be some truth to that. I certainly encourage our PLC to have everything buttoned up for that meeting to make sure it comes off relatively smooth. But overall, it's just another troop meeting, just with a bigger crowd.


Now, to that point, a Webelos is invited to attend any meeting they want. We've had a few do that. Sometimes a younger brother is there that is a Webelos, and we'll try to include him in the games or something. While less formal, it probably gives him a better picture of what a "normal" meeting is like. But overall, it's not much different.


Finally, I can say from our own experience as Webelos IIs, we visited a troop on a night they invited us as a den. They were totally unprepared, not in uniform, the SM was over 30 minutes late (not in uniform), no meeting plan, not even much "fun" for the boys. It was a disaster, and no one wanted to go to that troop after that.

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