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no fire - not scouting - RANT

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What a delima to be in! I feel for you having to go through this. I have a non scout related story to share. Although it is not scout related, I feel as though it may be appropriate.


Before the story, I would like to say that I feel as though the input here is right on the money! Eamonn is dead on target with his comments.


About 9 years ago the pastor of our church was called to pastor a much bigger church in Texas and had to leave on short notice. A new pastor came along and did well. About 2 years into their tenure, the pastor and about 1/2 of the congregation decided to start a new church. What pain this caused! Many of us were left behind wondering what just happened. The transition took one weekend to happen! So, here we are rocking along trying to make things work. My wife and I were very involved in the youth group when this happened. The youth group immediately went away. Several youth ministers came and went making things much worse. So about 7 years ago when my oldest son was 12 and my youngest was 4, my wife and I were faced with a huge problem. What the church needed was folks such as ourselves to make change and rebuild. We decided that our children were growing up too fast and that time was crucial. We ended up moving our letter to another church and have not looked back. End result is that the first church (which we dearly loved)has not improved in 7 years and there is no youth program! The new church is alive and well. Most of the folks that left the church originally and those that have left since have ended up where we are now.


I am so glad that we did not waste too much time with a failing effort! My older son is in college now and had a wonderful youth group while he was still a boy!


I agree with others that state that you and your wife are the ones that have to make the hard decissions. Seeking wisdom and guidance is a good first move!


I would also suggest that if you want to go to the next parent/committee meeting that you let your Committee Chair know ahead of time so that they may put you on the agenda. This may also disarm any surprises.


Sorry you have such hard choices to make. Good luck and keep us posted.

Knotty Fox

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Allegiance to the unit that is sponsored by your church is fine and good, but should not dictate where you stay if your son is not getting the benefit out of it that he wants, and that you want for him.


Don't get hung up on the webelos group that came over together getting split up, or even kids in the same church or school not being in the same troop. Kids are pretty resilient, and have many, many, circles of friends. My son had his scout friends, band friends, cross country friends, lunch time friends, etc. All different groups of kids with very little overlap. And within the goups, they seek out the kids that they get along with and have fun with. I would anticipate no problem with moving to a unit sponsored by a different CO. I would advise being tactful over reason for moving - keep it to "a better fit", "more camping opportunities", etc. Movement between troops in our town (4 troops) is more common than I would have expected, with scouts moving for a lot of different reasons - to be with a friend, to move to a less rough & tumble troop, to move to a more boy run troop, to move to a more adult run troop, etc.


However, if you do decide to stay, volunteer to be ASM for this patrol of scouts. And then guide them in planning a lot of patrol activities. It is all too common for patrols to not do anything other than troop events, but the core of scouting is the patrol. Coach the patrol leader to have additional patrol meetings (at your house, perhaps) to plan some patrol only outings - weekend camping trips in months when the troop doesn't camp; hiking trips; bike trips; explore the forest preserve trips; all of which gives them the opportunity to experience and learn the scout skills that go with those things. Use this as an opportunity to strengthen the patrol method for the patrol you mentor, rather than an exercize in changing troop culture.



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WOW! Thanks for all the advice- I mean it. It is really helping me to think things through and benefit form others perspective and experience.



ScoutNut, Grampye, Eagle, Veni et al


We have no COR, aand our pastor (IH) will just be returning or may not even be back yet from vacation and has a larger problem I am aware of to deal with when he returns, so having those in attendance won't happen.


I have put in call to one of the parents of a Scout who is also on the parish council to discuss this with.


As for the UC, I do think we have one now. Not sure if I should call her and ask her to attend or suggest to CC that she attend.


This troop was down to about 1/2 dozen older boys about to age out and about 5 middle age boys (13-14) who were at various stages in the program.


We crossed over 10 boys much to the delight of the troop leadership. However they really don't know what to do witht these boys. The middle agers that have stayed seem to see it as palce to hang out and BE GIVEN awards to make their parents happy. Most I think could care less if they were in Scouts or not.


And while starting a new troop I am sure is hard - I have been leading these boys all through cubs and webelos. We did good in webelos in the "transistion" training to become more self reliant so I don't think it would be as hard as some cases.


But again some family conflicts are in place that prevent me from just doing that.


I did mention to CC at meeting this week about my being the ASM for the new boys and working on the "trail to first class" with them. I did this off the cuff since I was getting exasperated at the meeting to keep boys from having their parents just sign off on their books and them not having a program. This was met at least by CC for now with approval.



If I do become ASM of this new group of Scouts how far should I go with Patrol activities. What I kinda see happening maybe is a troop within a troop, because actually I would like to take this group of new boys and make 2 patrols. Or would that be more difficult? (Just thinking out loud here) There are 10 boys. 1 patrol or 2?





I did get copy of email one parent sent to CC and SM.

Here it is - names have been deleted.



I am writing this as a concerned parent, so please don't take offense. My older son made the comment after last night's meeting that we need to find a Boy Scout troop that was more organized and geared towards the scouts themselves. He became disenchanted with Scouts also after becoming a "Star" scout due to lack of organization and interest in the scouts themselves. ________ has voiced his boredom several times after meetings but I kept telling him that things would be more organized and fun after awhile. This hasn't happened yet.


Please take this under advisement during leaders meetings when planning activities and meetings for the boys. If there will be someone to lead activities for the boys (scout related) I don't mind driving 30 minutes each way for _________ to attend meetings; otherwise, it's a waste of my time, energy and money.


We would really like to stay with the troop at St. _______ because _________ has made friends with several of the boys even though he doesn't attend St. ________.


This information is for you and ______ only. I don't have his email address, so would you please pass this along to him.


Thank you



WELL There you have it. Will keep ya'll posted.

Thanks for the support and counsel.






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First, I would encourage you to seriously consider either staying with the troop youre in and try to help improve it, or to join another pre-existing troop if it is at all feasible. Visit some of the other troops meetings and outings, and see how theyre run. Talk to the adult leaders and find out how they feel about how a troop should operate, whether theirs is actually performing properly or not.


How does your son feel? Is there another troop he wants to join? How does he feel about the stress it can cause? How dependent is he on his friendship with his fellow scouts?


No money and very little equipment are difficult issues, but can be overcome. We had a lot of equipment and supplies donated to us. We started out with some pancake feeds, which are easy to plan, inexpensive to fund, and raise a fair amount of cash.


So...what were the most difficult issues? I think creating & maintaining a boy-led troop, the initial time investment, and adult baggage. I will elaborate on some below.


Initially, it is very time intensive. However, when the troop is operating more like BSA intended, it doesnt take all that much time. It is really very nice when you can sit back and say, Aaah, that is how its supposed to work! (Two months ago, I still had a parent question why I was reading a book while the troop was fishing. Why wasnt I teaching the boys instead of making the older boys do it?!?)


Adult interpersonal relationships adults carry & hold on to more baggage than kids do.


Believing in oneself & the cause, especially when others are doubting you.




Adults resisted

Its easier to do it themselves

Adults have always done it

Fear of the unknown

Boys resisted

Its easier to have the adults do it

Fear of the unknown

Lack of self-confidence

Lack faith in the system working


Rising above the circumstances: When people are criticizing you, it is very hard to not respond in a like manner. It is difficult to not allow your hard feelings to speak, but to speak gently & lovingly instead. When others tell lies about you, it is difficult to take the high road, hold your head high, and not fall into mud slinging yourself. Holding onto the idea that the truth will win out. Remember, Methinks thou dost protest too much. You need to find the area between standing for truth & letting others know it, and not protesting so much that you seem to be a liar. Be diplomatic and tactful about why you are leaving your current troop, but not hurtful. This can be very difficult when you are being put under the microscope and criticized for rocking the boat.


Ultimately, you & your family have to determine if the situation is bad enough to warrant the change, if your son (& you) would rather quit scouts than deal with this, and if you all would be happier with a different situation. Then, you must do what is in the best interest of your family. Whether that is trying to change the unit you're in, changing units, or starting a new unit -- blessings & "good providence" to you. If you want to discuss this further, I'd be happy to reply to a pm.


Ma Scout

Ginny Post, SM T96



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wrt patrol size, 10 is large, 5 is small, so it is a judgement call. Personally, I would opt for starting with all of them in one patrol because despite best efforts, a couple will probably drop, because camping will turn out to be neither a passion nor an interest to them.


I have no good answer for number of patrol outings to ask the scouts to schedule. It would depend a lot on whether these youth treat scouts as a primary activity or as a fill-in activity between sports and other activities. So the non-answer is as many as they are willing to do, and that you and another adult are willing to support. One a month sounds like a good place to start, and make adjustments from there.

Do take extra care that you and the scouts do not fall into Webelos pattern. Changing existing relationship expectations will take some effort - the youth that were in your Webelos group may be conditioned to having all planning done by you, and be reluctant to take over the reigns themselves. But you can teach, teach, teach, leadership and responsibility by following the patrol leaders handbook, and guiding the patrol leader through all the planning steps in the book. The scouts will want to take shortcuts - keep reminding the patrol leader of the steps involved.


Best of Luck

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Thanks Ginny.


There has been much good counsel here. I am on vacation after today for a week and so won't be posting.


I again appreciate all who have responded and will use this next week to ponder all this.


Best to all,


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I won't bore you with the details. I've posted them so many times here that I'm sure some people thing I have a one track mind. I'll post the bullet points for you.


First troop we crossed to was small and mostly older scouts. They had done little to no recruiting for a few years. Older scouts wanted high adventure and didn't want to babysit. Many parents echoed the sentiment. SM was a great guy, but so laid back he would make a hippy look ultra-conservative. His wife was the treasurer and probably one of the most high strung people I've ever met. We were not made to feel very welcome and basically told to sit down and shut up for the first year while we learned their way of doing things. This was the suggestion to 5 Woodbadge trained adults crossing withe their sons. We were not looking to take over, just a place to serve. The final straw was when the treasurer got mad and threw some notebooks at the CC (one of the new parents) because she had been told she could do the job however she wanted. There was a thin divider wall between the committee and the boys when this happened. We all decided to leave and started a new troop. This was our first 6 months in Boy Scouts.


The new troop wtarted with about seven 11 year old boys. It was tough to get them to accept leadership because they had no example to go by and it was very easy for them to fall back into a Webelos state of mind. It was also tough to have much of a program when only half of your 7 showed up for a meeting or outing. We did recruit enough new boys to create a second patrol. But only half of them stuck it out beyond summer camp. We probably could have rocked along and turned it into a going concern after 3 or 4 years. But after a year, I had to consider MY son first and realized that he was not getting everything he could out of scouting from this troop as well. He was PL at 11 and SPL at 12 and spent 12 months of his first 18 months in scouting running a troop. He is now 13 and a Star scout and really has an aversion to running for any leadership position. I visited with the SM and told him my concerns and found that he shared the same feelings. We began to work to find a new troop(s) for the boys to transfer to and shut it down.


We ended up going to a large boy led troop of 60+ scouts that has been around for 45 years. It is on the other side of town and it is a 25 mile trip one way......but worth it. The troop has an outstanding program that attracted 20 crossover Webelos this year. The troop does a high adventure trip each year and two crews just returned from Northern Tier. My son was among them. We took 51 boys to summer camp this year. We have scouts from 10.5 years old to 17.5.


I say all of that to say this. Better men than me can turn a troop around and/or start a new troop with a hand full of 11 year olds and make it work. My deciding factor was to determine if it was worth it to prove a point or provide my son with the best scouting experience I could. I chose moving to a good established troop over doing years of hard work. I admire those who have the time and tenacity to do the hard thing. However, I wouldn't change our decision to move for anything in the world.


OK, so I didn't just hit the bullet points!

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SR540 put it well with "...to determine if it was worth it to prove a point or provide my son with the best scouting experience I could."


I was actually coming back to say - FWIW (For What It's Worth), we have not regretted starting a new troop. We have a fun & dynamic group. It was well worth the effort. If another troop would have been within a reasonable driving distance, our choice probably would have been different, but as it is... we chose the right path for us.

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Fellow Scouters,


I have talked today to a couple of other parents and the thoughts are at this time that we should call a parent's meeting with the troop committee to discuss the problems/dissatisfaction and if things in this unit can be turned around.


So we will contact CC to see when this can happen - probably first week of August. I will also suggest that the IH and UC attend. And I talked with the parent who is on the parish council and she will work on recruiting a COR from the parish.


Once again I really appreciate the counsel and thing we are making some progress towards finding a solution.


Now I am outta here for a week and I'm going to try not and think about this ;)










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Great information being shared in this forum!


One snipit of information here.


Baden-Powell on patrol size.


The Patrol System is the one essential feature in which Scout training differs from that of all other organisations, and where the System is properly applied, it is absolutely bound to bring success. It cannot help itself!


The formation of the boys into Patrols of from six to eight and training them as separate units each under its own responsible leader is the key to a good Troop.


The Patrol is the unit of Scouting always, whether for work or for play, for discipline or for duty.


In one of Baden-Powell's books he speaks of patrol again and states something to the fact that if a patrol is too small, the work load and responsibilities can be over-whelming. If a patrol size is too big, not enough stuff to go around and some of the Scouts, especially the junior Scouts, feel left out and not a part of.


I submit this as an insight to one of the questions asked in this forum. I fully support this idea on patrols and know that it works. This is why Jamboree Troops consist of four patrols of eight. The ideas here are not of my writing but a direct quote from Baden-Powell himself. The paragraph above this one is what I recall of what he stated. I do not remember which book it came from. I have a few books to scramble through before I could find it again.


Knotty Fox

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well tonight is the meeting of troop adult leaders and parents.


It has become the concensus pretty much that we need to "fix" the troop we are at. No one right now has the wherewithal to start a new unit and after investigating some other local troops - well they have troubles of their own.


So i will let ya'll know how things go and what direction we are hoping to take. And hope I continue to get sage advice here on the forum.




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FWIW, I will weigh in with Venividi and SR540Beaver...

The old pack allegiances are just not that important. The institutional allegiances are just not that important. If you can find a troop that suits your son better, join it.

It sounds like you have decided that the "better" troop is not there for you, so working for change may be your best path. But in general I would not advocate letting tradition or peer pressure or allegiances drive your troop choice. Choose on best fit. Better yet, let your son choose the best fit for him.

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Well the meeting was last night.


BEfore going I re-read the counsel I received above. Trying to be prepared and remeber to keep a cool head.

The CC, SM and the (what I 'll ASM #1) were there.


I along with 4 other parents of the "new scouts" were there.


The discussion began. I told how many of the parents were unhappy with how meetings were ran, disorganized chaotic and without purpose.


I relayed message from parent who could not be there about how since they live so far away that it is waste of their time to come to meetings. ETC.


The response was that well, while it is true that things are a bit disorganized the boys are getting their requirements done.


One of the the parents of the younger boys said that that is fine and good, but they have no idea what their boy has done - his book only has one thing signed off. The discussion then went to how the boy has to bring his book to a leader and that the troop paperwork has the activities recorded.


It came up though that what the SM says was done at a certain event, what the boy's books have and what the troop record shows are all different. SO that is an area that was agreed needed to be corrected.


ASM #1 who is the parent of a boy who has been in for a couple of years, then said how he would defend the troop, his boy has been in two years, has 15 MB and is about to get First Class. Well for me that shows a problem right there.


Anyway, I then went on to ask how a boy was suppose to know all the stuff and the answers ranged from it's in the book to they need to ask. I then asked who is suppose to do the T-1st requirements with the boys and was told they could do them with their parents and then bring the book to be signed off.


Well that's where I lost it, exhibited un-Scout like behavior I am ashamed to say, and just about walked out. Argument ensued about how I was offered to be the next SM but didn't want it (true) but was being critical of how things were done.


I said I couldn't be SM but that I WAS available to help even be ASM and wanted a good program for my boy and the other 8 boys I had been DL and CM for in cubs.


One dad of an older Scout said well they are getting requirements done and having fun. (This is dad who wants to teach citizenship merit badges to first year boys at troop meetings!)


BUT they aren't doing Scouting. One of the moms of a new boy asked about patrols. The SM said they had picked a name elected and a boy PL and decided to use an old patrol flag (which was laying over on a table). Of course that is the extent of the patrol method they use. Used in so far as to complete the Tenderfoot requirement.


I then put my two cents in about the Patrol Method and was told that is well and good but the size of out troop and the fact that it's near impossible to use patrols at troop meetings because diffent boys are at diffrent stages. AARRRRGGH!


To me that shows they do not understanfd the patrol method. Further discussion ensued, during which time ASM #1 said something which I don't recall, and the CC said forcefully, "That is not by the book!" or semthing to that effect and that marked the turn around of the meeting.


Here was the CC who has been around forever and allowed the troop to get to this point saying I was right and things need to change!


Things cooled down a bit and after more rational discussion it was decided to create 2 patrols, and have an SPL. The 3 active boys that have been around 2-3 years will be SPL, PLs and 2 new boys will be assigned as APL ( i know, but a concession) we will implement the patrol method and meetings will be organized and planned.


Then at the the beginning of next year (after 4 months) elections will be held for the leadership positions. I also got ASM #1 to think about taking these boy leaders on a leadership training campout as a green bar patrol to teach them how it is suppose to work.


Also one of the new parents asked about parents at meeting. The SM said he had wanted to talk about that but was afraid to offend anyone. A problem has been adults sitting around talking while the meeting is going on. Some of the parents said they could just as well drop their boys off as stay. So it was agreed that any parents who stay at the meeting and are not part of the program would remove themselves from the program area.


Also the next troop meeting all parents will be encouraged to attend. The ASM #1 and SPL will explain the basics of the Scouting program (asked for by the new parents since this was never done) and the boys will be divided into patrols.


I feel progress was made and hopefully we're are now at least looking down the right path.


Well that's my point of view of the meeting anyway.





(This message has been edited by campcrafter)

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