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After taking a 9 month hiatus from Scouting..My son and I decided to return to our original troop. The troop has fallen upon even harder times than when we left.

There are approx only 5 boys now in the troop 2 Life Scouts and 3 Tenderfoots. Last nights meeting only 3 scouts attended.


Can you effectily run a program this limited amount of scouts?




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Can you effectively run a program this limited amount of scouts?


If someone or better yet some people don't come up with a plan to save this unit, it is going to die.

Things are not going to just take a turn for the better. The Troop is in need of CPR!!

What ever it was that wasn't working has to go!!

Goals need to be set.

Membership is about:

Retention: You have to keep the few Scouts that you have.

Recruitment: You have to get as many Lads as you can to join the Troop.

Attracting this years Webelos Scouts who will be crossing over in the next month or so, is a good place to start.

What can Troop 123 do to make them want to join?

When we started the Ship (3 months ago) we had five Sea Scouts. I had our Boatswain's Mate ask each Scout to name a friend that he or she was going to prospect. This prospects name was entered into the log and at the start of each meeting each Scout was asked for a report on how things were going. If the Scout reported that So and So wasn't interested we asked for a new name. We are now up to 19 Sea Scouts (One new one this week. -Which is super as we didn't meet this Sunday because of the Steeler Football game!!)

We have a really ambitious program, which the Scouts are planning and making work.

I think our communications is good but might be better.

Even though the Ship didn't meet last Sunday 8 Scouts met and made posters and wrote press releases for the Valentines Dance that they have planned.Every poster has details about how to join the Ship. They have got ads on the cable community channel and the School channel.

Our goal was to have 20 Scouts by October 2006. I think 40 is doable?

I'm working my tail off trying to make sure that we can keep up with them. Being new we don't have all the equipment or the funding that I would like. But I'm going to get it.

I was sending digital photos of everything we do to the local newspaper (Now one of the Scouts does that!!) But I mean everything. I just started our Land-Cruiser Fund. We need $15,000 for a 15 seater van. Some old-timers who were in Sea Scouting 40 years ago just presented us (The Elks) with a check for $1,500. You bet we stuck that in the paper.

West Marine just donated $1,000 grant of equipment. We had photos of Sea Scouts wearing PFD's in the paper.

We go out of our way to show that we are a team of winners and that we are having fun.

When I "Sold" Summer camp, I didn't sell 11 hours each way driving. I sold dolphins swimming along side kayaks. I'll worry about the driving.

We have some prospects that are only 13 years old, but they are already receiving the e-mail newsletter. One who will turn 14 before we go to summer camp has already paid his deposit to go.He has to be good for at least 3 more Sea Scouts!!

Kids join for fun and adventure. I think that we have that in all of our programs. We need to get the Scouts we do have enthused, tap into their enthusiasm and get the word out.Never miss an opportunity to sell your unit.

I have found some super Sea Scout posters that could be made into handbills, but we don't have the cash to get them printed. We are contacting the local pizza shops to see if one would be willing to print the poster on the back. When we talk one into it we will use the handbill to advertise Sea Scouting and our next sale. The Sea Scouts have said that they would deliver the handbills/pizza ads. The pizza store saves on having to mail out his flyer's.

I'm working with the schools to see if they will let me in to do career talks!! I know that we are not Exploring but they don't know that!!

If you or who ever is in charge of this Troop is going to save it so that it can effectively run a program the time is now and a commitment has to be made never to allow things to get into this shape ever again.


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Some great ideas there Eamonn.


Yes you can run a program with that number of Scouts. It is a small Patrol. Run it as one.


Eamonn has shown how to grow from a Patrol to a Troop again.


Help the Patrol run some adventures that might be harder to pull off as a Troop. Five is easier to move than 10. They fit into venues easier. They are easier to keep track of in a crowd. You can mobilise them quicker. Look for the positives - many Troops gave come back from such a position.


But right now it is not a Troop. I would advise against trying to run it as one until you have two Patrols.


And my experience has been that you need two Patrols of at least six in each before you split the current Patrol. That means building up a very large Patrol of 10-11. That is not in line with policy but if you go for small Patrols you get back into the pickle that you are in right now.

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Eammon..tks for the ideas on recruiting


A little more insight, the current CR & CC would like the SM to step aside, they both admit he does not connect with the boys (part of reason why I left) the troop has a bad name for itself since they disallowed female ASM's from going on outings unless another female or their husband attended also.

For the past two years only 2 boys have joined the troop, I attribute this to shall we say a less than lack luster SM and lack of a troop program (SPL's plan the meeting on the way to it!)

I've been asked if I would be the SM, which I'm considering, my plan would be is to take the two older boys and personally visit each Webelos den in our city and sell the advantages of a smaller troop.


Another idea I had was to contact some of the larger troops to see if they had any boys that would be better served in a troop much smaller. My thinking behind this is that some boys could get lost in the shuffle. On the reverse side of it I didnt know how appropriate it would be to do something like this...your ideas?


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I don't see anything wrong with visiting the webelos (upon invitation by the webelos DL, of course), along with your scouts. I would, of course, want to make sure that the scouts are on the same page as you in terms of the kind of message you want to deliver and the ways in which you'll deliver it. And I'd be real sure to make it fun for the audience (boys) and not just more adult blathering.


In terms of contacting other troops: yes, if you contact the SM and committee first and explain what you are trying to do. I've met very, very few scouters who want to see another unit fold and they'll probably be willing to lend a hand if and where they can. On the other hand, I think it would be inappropriate to contact boys in other troops directly, as this might appear to be poaching or raiding.


If you haven't done so already, I'd also suggest you start attending your district roundtables and any other scouter gatherings in your area, so you can build a good relationship with the other troop and pack leaders. That may go a long way toward improving your chances of recruiting new scouts.


Again if you haven't already, consider signing up for Woodbadge this summer. In addition to specific skill sets, you'll develop a fantastic network of dedicated scouters in your area, which you can then draw upon as you rebuild this troop's program.


Once you think you can manage it, set up a couple of events that you can invite webelos - or even bears (looking ahead a couple of years)- to attend, and (along with the boys in the troop of course!) make sure they're well planned and fun. Alternately, if your troop is willing, you could contact cub leaders and offer your troop's service in terms of teaching scout skills. I know as a webelos den leader I was thrilled to have some local troop members come to a meeting and do some cool lashing projects with my webelos boys. We also had a joint patrol/den cookout that went over very well. Yes, I could've pulled off something similar myself, but they had so much fun doing it with other boys, and they were slightly awe-struck that older boys would pay attention to them. BIG recruiting bonus there.


If you can get a handful of new boys who are excited about your program based on actual experience, it'll make your recruiting pitch a lot easier.


Good luck and let us know how things are going.



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Interesting topic since I'm in the same boat. I have 4 boys, 3 seniors and 1 junior, by May they will all be Eagles. Our Cub Pack folded in the fall for lack of boys and lack of leadership. For the last few years the Pack would get a bunch of kids in from School Night and in 3 months they would be gone. I am in a city of 200,000 people and there are 2 other troops on the same street we are on, and at least 5 other troops within a 2-3 mile radius. In our area the competetion for boys is intense and by unspoken agreement Troop A doesn't try and recruit WEBELOS from Troop B's Cub Pack. I have been SM for almost 30 years and my chief assistant has been an ASM and a CM and also has 20+ years experience. We are both Wood Badge Trained. Our CO, which has been our sponsor for 42 years, could care less. We are the Scout Troop that meets at xyz, not xyz's Scout Troop.


When I was running a High Adventure Backpack program I easily had 30 kids, but when the Cub Pack starting floundering we stopped growning. The Pack has always been an on again/off again thing, they do not have an uninteruppted charter.


My plan is to send a letter to all of the WEBLOS leaders telling them what an opportunity they have with us and trying to get a dozen or so boys and start rebuilding, I also intend to recruit a Cub Leader and then try and get some boys. If that doesn't pan out I don't know what to do. I and others associated with the Troop don't want to see it die, but we can only do so much.


As has been said you can't operate like a Troop with only 4-5 boys. On the other hand we can haul everybody in 2 vehicles and if you get up on Sunday and decide the weather is too nasty to cook it is no problem to stop at SONIC.

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I think I'm reading that you are willing to take on the role of SM?

I'm sure you have talked this over with your son and your good Lady.

Your next move has to be to find out what the CO wants to do with the present SM?

Of course I don't know how you feel? But I would want him gone completely and I'd make this a condition of my becoming SM.

I'm not sure I would make being small my big sale. Sure I'd mention to parents the advantages of not being big, but young Lads join for fun and adventure. Your selling point has to be that Troop 123 really is the best show in town.

A very long time ago (I hate to admit it was almost 30 years!!) I returned to the Troop where I had been a Scout. Sadly there were no Scouts -Not a one.

I was in our Scout HQ and two Lads who I think we might say were from the wrong side of the tracks came in. They spent the night kicking a indoor soccer ball around. The following week there were four Lads kicking a soccer ball. I made mention of the fact that we were supposed to be a Scout Troop, but I didn't push it.

Soon the District indoor five a side soccer competition came along. I made it clear that only invested Scouts could play. Which was true!! We entered and won. - Why wouldn't we they had done very little else for about two months!!

That summer we camped with another local Troop. The SM took me under his wing, as I was a young (very young!!) leader.

He is still active. As a Group Scout Leader


Thankfully the Troop he served was at the other end of the District. This meant that we weren't recruiting in the same area.

I tapped into the competitive nature of the Lads (I hate to admit it but my ego also played a big part) We were really into any sort of competition, which led to Patrols competing against each other.

I was young, single and carefree so I was able to devote a heck of a lot of time and energy to the Troop. We met three times a week as well as camping at weekends and PLC meetings. The Troop became a very large family. We recruited in what we called the "Flats" over here it would be called the Projects.

It took about six years until we passed the 80 mark, when it got to 90 it became unmanageable so we split the troop in two halves (not two troops.)

You need to find that "Something" that you are good at and enjoy doing and then bring the Scouts along with you. It might be camping or hiking or even something that is way out there. Sell doing that -Don't sell being small.


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Thanks everyone for your input,


Ya I would be willing to step up in the SM role. I forgot to mention that I am already WB trained(Go Owl's!). Our committe would have to really re-consider policys and how they generally conduct business. We would also need to partner with one of the local packs as a feeder unit, there are of course the big 3 in town with approx 80 scouts in each so the general feeling is bigger is better.


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