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no fire - not scouting - RANT

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Hi all


I haven't post in a while but have been lurking some.


Earlier this year I talked about the troop our Webelos crossed over to. It is the Brother Troop to our Pack, same CO.


However I found that the way they did things not scouting. My list includes:


Adult run TOTALLY - Supposedly there is an SPL - I have seen him once in 4 months. No PLC


Unorganized, chaotic meetings - Older boys mostly hang out


No real patrols - new boys elected a PL and chose a name that's as far as it got and the new boys (10 of them) are all in one patrol


No uniforming


No Scout spirit - the older boys 13-14 y.o. have attitude thing going


Last night added to the list:


For the Second Class requirement to participate in 5 separate activities(other than troop/patrol meetings) troop meetings at a park were allowed becasue it wasn't a meeting at the church. And so were Courts of Honor because it wasn't a regular troop meeting.


I discovered that they allow parents to sign off on requirements for TF, 2nd and 1st Class because a lot of the requirements "should be done on campouts and we don't camp every month like some troops." ???


A Tenderfoot SM conference and Board of Review were conducted together by ONE ASM.


Here's the kicker - A scout was ready for his Life Scout Board of Review. It was conducted during the meeting time. This scout was not in uniform and the BOR was conducted by ONE Committee Member. I was also dismayed to learn that his Life Service requirement was met in part by his participating in the Webelos cross over - the entire four hours of the B&G which included eating lunch were counted as service.


I have tried to bring up points about how this is not correct and told that's how we do it. I had talk early on with SM and of course he was offended.


Does not surprise one that they have a high percentage of scouts given Eagle.


Would you


Look for new troop


Try longer to make change (this is troop sponsored by church we attend)


Start new troop?


Thanks for letting me rant





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My sympathies. But from your description if you are hoping to provide anything close to a Boy Scouting experience for your new scouts something needs to change and you know it.


Only you can decide what is best for your situation. Some 6 years ago I stumbled into a troop that had some issues but was not nearly in as bad a shape as the unit you described. I chose to stick it out and do what I could to improve the situation, primarily to assure that my son have the best scouting experience he could. I did not have the option of starting a new unit and the other troop in town was in worse shape than this one. Ultimately, while the unit I serve has a way to go, it is in much better shape than when I first started. I will say though I generally got support from the committee and SM when changes were suggested. I also volunteered to implement many of the changes that initially revolved around the outdoor program and advancement.


But I digress. Things to consider include the level of cooperation and support you will get from the existing adult leadership. If they are resistent to change and are not likely to turnover in the near future, I'd look at nearby troops. Starting a new troop is really tough. It can be done, and others can speak to that effort.


Good luck.



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Campcrafter. I went back and re-read your posts from April "Son's less than enthusiastic."


Obviously, nothing has improved since that post. You spoke of going to a leader's meeting and you and another adult were going to talk about changes needed. Did that meeting ever happen? Were the other adults receptive to ideas and perhaps just don't know how to implement them?


I can attest to the difficulty in changing a troop's culture. For almost 2 years now, I've been working on changing many of the same problem you mention. When I brought up what I saw as problems with the Troop, the end result was almost all of the then current leadership quitting. Essentially, "if you don't like the way we're doing it, you do it."


I will say that finding a troop that will serve your son better is probably the easiest thing to do, starting a brand new troop the most difficult, especially if it is made up of only inexperienced Scouts, and changing around a troop in trouble is somewhere in the middle.


Keep us posted and let us know how things work out.


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The troop my son crossed over to three years go was in transition from an adult led to scout led. The previous scoutmaster was well loved by all but didn't deliver a true BSA program (in my opinion). He pretty much did everything. When he retired, some 5 years ago, he left a bunch of untrained adults who didn't know how to deliver the program. When we crossed over, the acting SM was hardly active and the program lagged even more. One energetic adult convinced us new adults to get as much training as we could. As the old guard adults leave (sons age out), we back fill. Last year, a wood badger agreed to become our SM. Our program is coming together, but it certainly isn't quick or easy. We continue to encourage new adults to get training and follow the program. We are now at about 75% new guard and 25% old guard on the committee. The old guard doesn't resist much anymore, not that they ever did, they just went with the flow. Biggest challenge is to the older scouts who didn't get the full program as a young scout. We aren't there yet, but are heading in the right direction.

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Fellow Scouters,


Thanks again for letting me rant and for the moral support. I want to make sure it just isn't me and that there really is a problem here.


No nothing has changed since April. I did meet with one of the other new parents and have since talked with some of the other parents and they too are not satisfied. The one I met with attended a "leaders" meeting and voiced some of the concerns we had. I was unable to attend that meeting.


After last night's meeting which was for the most part a waste of time, another parent is writng a letter to the CC and SM to express her unhappiness. (Her older son who was a scout and is now in the Navy, is home on leave and attended last night's meeting with his little brother. He told his mom his take on the situation and so she is concerned.)


I have made mention of things I see as not correct to leadership and been rebuffed. Nothing has gotten into any arguments - yet!


I am sure I would have the support of CO for needed changes. However, I am thinking that the anguish and conflict over instituting changes would be harder on me than starting a new unit.


As far as changing units there are some in town but I will have to check them out. Again though this is the unit sponsored by the church my family and many of these boys attend, so that emotional factor is there.


There is supposed to be a "leaders" meeting in 2 weeks. This is where the adults plan the troop activities. I plan on attending and voicing my concerns a little more specifically. What I posted earlier today is more concrete than what I saw and felt in April.


(I am wondering if I should write an email to the CC, SM and CO - I might be more calm and could think about my words more before the meeting - what do you think?)


Will let you know how things progress.







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Wow! It sounds like the first troop my oldest son started out in. We (my husband & I, along with one other couple) tried to iniate changes. Ultimately (after talking to SM about putting a boy in tears at a SM Conference) I was told (in quite loud & forceful tones) that it was the SM's troop & he'd run it however he wanted, and if I didn't like it I should "shut up & butt out!" At that time we felt like the options were:

1) Remain with the troop & keep our mouths shut (HA HA! Fat chance with me! ;) )

2) Change troops

3) Drop out of Scouts

4) Start a new troop


I was all for option 2. It would take us out of town & a minimum of 40 miles one way, but was the "easiest". I couldn't live with choice #1. I didn't want to choose #3 because son wouldn't have Scouts in his life. Ultimately, along with the other couple, we opted for #4.


It was hard. It was heart-rending. It caused hard feelings in the community. It damaged the relationship between my son and the SM's son. Do I regret it? Not a chance. Not one minute.


It's been hard, but we did have several older boys come alongside, so that helped. But we had NOONE -- youth or adult -- with any experience with a boy run troop. We learned in the school of hard knocks. But we have a pretty good troop going now. It still has some bugs to work out & has highs & lows, but has been a much better experience overall.

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I feel for you.

Sadly what you describe is more common than we might like to think.

I could give you one of my very long OJ, tales!! But I'll spare you that pain.

The big question is what are you and your son going to do about it?

Remembering that the main "Player" in all of this is your son.

How would he feel about going to a new troop?

Starting a new unit from scratch is really hard.

I'm still trying to get things in ship shape order with the Sea Scout Ship.

Of course everything and everyone starts out full of enthusiasm's. But not everyone will want to put the time and the effort into it.

While the BSA will allow a new unit to start with only five youth members, if you only have five or six trying to make any activity where you don't get 100% attendance is really hard. If that percentage falls down to 50% or 25% it can be very disheartening for both the adults and the Scouts.

Having no money and no equipment isn't much fun.

Not to mention finding a CO.

The DE and the District Membership Committee should be able to help you get started, but in what will seem a very short time they will not be there.

The DE will be overjoyed at the prospect of having a new unit handed to him!!

I however would make starting a new unit my very last choice.

We have 93 Troops in our Council of the 93, I'll bet that there are only about a dozen that are what might be called "Text Book Units".

Much as I hate to admit it there isn't one in our District.

If you and your son were looking for that sort of unit in our Council, you would have to travel and your son more than lightly wouldn't have any of the Scouts in the same school as him. At times this can cause problems with dates as not all school districts follow the same calendar.

If you want to stay close to home it might mean that some compromises have to made.

I don't think that there is any quick fix for the Troop that you are presently in, I'm almost sure it will never be a text book type Troop. But maybe if you get involved and can help get others involved things will change. Not very fast but in time they will change.

Having a face to face with the SM, might not be the way to go? Maybe working with and through the Committee and the CO might bring better results?

You are not going to change things over night and you might want to pick your battles. There is also a chance that the SM is waiting for the opportunity to get the heck out of there, which would mean that someone would be selected to be the next SM.

How do you and the rest of your family feel about you taking on such a large commitment?

Do you have the time?

How well do you get on with young people, even the older guys who have got used to just hanging out?

No one can provide these answers for you.

I'm sure if you think it all out you will make the right choice.

Good Luck.


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Big E


Thanks for the real world view and voice of reason.


To all who replied thanks for confirming my views and letting me know there is a problem and not just my opinion.


Since posting this morning I have talked to 2 other parents and they are ready to walk.


My wife has been against moving troops because that is our church and the boys my son's age have almost all been together since Tigers and attend the same school(8 of them). However as I stated some of them may not have problem moving so it is getting to be a more realistic choice.


I was den leader and cub master and asked to be SM but decided to take time off. My wife was pleased with that decision. So as much as I may want to - it probably would not be good for the marriage right now to start a new unit. I am willing to be an ASM and work with the boys as I can, but not be SM - yet? (OK I do have fantasies of being Lem Siddons :) )


In talking with one of the other parents today she mentioned two other units in the area close that are reputed to have good programs. So we will probably check them out.


If this unit is to change it will have to be throught the CO. The CC dictates the show, the SM (he started in January) does not wish to upset CC.



Yes I was trying to think of who could be CO of a new unit - hadn't thought of any yet. And the lack of funds thing - current troop has healthy treasury.



Now for my naivete - I really think still things could improve right away with a few changes and instituting the methods. Rose colored glasses?


Thanks to all for the advice and support - it really means a lot to me.


will keep ya'll posted




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SA wrote


"You are not going to change things over night and you might want to pick your battles. "


Amen, Brothers and Sisters. No wiser words have been spoken for anyone going into an existing unit to try and change things.





Thanks for reititerating that. It struck me that as obvious as the problems are to us, those in charge now do not see it and also I realize that before I got there - it was/is their unit. Those currently in charge belong to the parish also.



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If you want to get a handle on if this Troop can change, contact your Unit Commissioner (or District Commish if there is no UC) & have them attend the meeting in 2 weeks. You should also have your COR & the IH (Institutional Head) of your CO there.


The responses you get from that meeting should tell you if the Troop has the potential to change, or if you are better changing Troops.


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As far as changing an existing unit, good luck with that. I came is as Scoutmaster of a unit that was struggling about 9 months ago. It's not just the leaders you have to change.


Any boys who are currently in the troop are the ones who like it the way it is - anyone who didn't left. Likewise, their parents will happy with things the way they are and be very resistant to change as well (especially if it suddenly becomes more difficult to earn that Eagle), so from experience I can tell you that simply becoming the Scoutmaster will not solve your problems.


To change a unit culture takes a long time - years in fact. You will very seldomly be able to get the people who are there to see the light of a better way. Even if you can quote chapter and verse out of the Boy Scout bible, you will be told that that's well and good but it doesn't work here. The only way is to slowly replace them with ones you recruit from the new parents as Cubs graduate into the troop.


And that will not necessarily go smoothly either. At camp this summer I was informed by one of my older Scouts that what I was doing was going to destroy the troop, that a lot of the parents were against it and angry, and that if I continued, it would be me against the Scouts.


So if you decide to stay and try to change things, be prepared to stay with it for the long haul.


I would suggest that you volunteer as an ASM and work with the new boys. I say ASM because that way you can concentrate on the ones where you can make the most difference and not have to worry about the whole sorry show. Reqruit some other adults to help - they will be the core of your new team. If you are doing it right, sooner or later the existing crew will either graduate out of Scouting or give up in disgust at what the troop has become.


I would also suggest making some friends in Scouting outside the troop. You will need somebody to talk to when it gets too discouraging.


And keep us posted - it's always good to know I'm not the only one in the trenches.

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Three and a half years ago (wow, it's hard to believe it's been that long), we were faced with a similar dilemna. There were several troops in the area that boys went to, mostly adult ran, one a bona-fide Eagle manufacturing plant. The troop that was loosely affiliated with our pack was struggling. They had lots of older scouts, very few younger ones. It was one of those "boy-led into the ground" troops. New boys would come in, but there wasn't anything designed for them because the 16-17 year olds made all the decisions and didn't have a program for younger ones. Their troop meetings closely resembled the ones you described.


Some members of the troop committee approached me about becoming SM and working to change the culture. I thought about it briefly, but decided that it wasn't worth it. We started a new troop and have had very few regrets. There are times I wish we had the older scouts to be mentors to the younger ones, but in reality, we probably would have struggled for years rebuilding the culture.


As for starting from scratch, that takes time and energy as well. New scouts are coming from an adult-run program (Cub Scouts). It took us three years to get to boy-leadership. And we're still struggling with it, largely because the strongest leaders aren't necessarily in that oldest group.


I guess what I'm trying to say is that both approaches (starting new or changing the culture) takes time and energy. It's a minimum of three years with either approach.


I wish you the best.

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