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As a unit leader I would never support a Scout troop becoming that large. 30-60 is optimum size in my opinion. As the Scoutmaster you have the responsibility of knowing the needs and characteristics of every member. I just don't believe that can be accomplished in a troop that size. Also in a troop of 100 plus you have a PLC that is really to large for a youth leader to lead comfortably. Just as patrol leaders do best leading a patrol of 6 to 8, so does an SPL with a PLC of 6 to 8. My last reason is logistics. Troop activities for 100 people is difficult. You are greatly limited to where you can go and what you can do in activities befitting scouts where A) you can fit people in, and B) where you have time for everyone to participate.


Yah, I agree with BobWhite, eh? Particularly in a LNT world. Also because while I've seen some very large troops work well, it takes a particular kind of leader and community to make 'em work. Often they collapse when that leader leaves.


What does the group think? Such a thing as too big or too small?




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Great Scouting All


Im less idealistic then I use to be. I dont care for them because they are typically adult run, but I have found that they serve a lot of happy scouts very well.


By the way, what if the CO wants a mega troop? Bad CO, bad CO.


The main contributor to a Troops size is the SMs style and performance (program). But the SM generally have very little control of holding their troop to a fixed size.


The risk of losing scouts during a leadership change is the same in all troops, size doesnt matter. In fact, it is almost a certainty that a unit will loose some scouts because new scoutmasters have so much to learn.


Im a boy run kind of guy, so 50 is about the maximum. 40 is better.


Many families will only look for and join a large troop because they are typically very well run, well equipped, very organized (adults) and look very sharp. Should we ignore those families?


Mega troops tend to have aged based patrols with a large Venture Patrol program and/or a Venture Crew program. Smaller troops tend to be mixed age because it is easier with small numbers of new scouts. Mega troops tend to be very adult run and aged based patrols work best for that style.


Purposely limiting the size of a troop? There are ways but the risk is huge. Just off hand I can think of two fairly big troops that nearly destroyed themselves from the rumors created from how they limited scouts from coming in. Its not the facts that hurt, it is the rumors. We researched the idea of splitting and in almost all cases we researched, one unit failed to almost nothing, and the other became a mega troop again. SM thing again.


Our Troop is considered one of the most boy run programs in the District. Our goal when we started was 40 scouts. We had 60 in four years. We tried to limit our program by only recruiting from Webelos that visited us. Since that didnt work, we raise our yearly dues to (A LOT). The result from that was we made a lot of money took on 30 more scouts before I retired as SM.


If the Troops are doing fairly good at providing a scout program, I suggest we praise the leadership and spend the time working on bigger problems.




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I'm of a similar mind. The logistics and organizational requirements of large units at somepoint outgrow the ability of most youth and even most adults to effectively administer. My picture of an ideal unit tops out at about 50 maybe 60 scouts.


On the other hand small troops essentially function as patrols, and I think until you reach a threshold of say 20 scouts, the youth leaders are missing out on opportunities to learn to lead true patrols and have a proper PLC.


I don't mean to disparage large or small units. I just see the program as operating best with a troop of 30 - 60 scouts.


SA(This message has been edited by scoutingagain)

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Barry raises a good point. What if the CO wants 100+ scouts in the troop?

I feel it becomes the responsibility of a trained and knowledge adult in the unit to explain the pitfalls of such a large membership to the IH, CR and CC of the troop. And to guide them to a more productive number.

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A friend of mine did his Commissioner College "doctorate" on Troop size.


Once you get past 50 or so, opportunities for Scouts to complete rank advancement requirements, particularly POR service and tenure decrease on a per capita basis.


A SM has to get very creative desigining a youth leadership structure...


- Multiple ASPL slots (his thought was 1 per 3 patrols)

- Multiple Quartermaster slots (again his thought was 1 per 25 Scouts or major fraction thereof).

- Possibly multiple Scribes (volume of workload).


Even then, opportunity may be a bill-payer for size.


Now, if the Chartered Partner says "I want it" (this presumes an active, caring, and properly trained IH/COR), then get out the bootstrap... it'll be needed.

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I concur that troops larger than 75 youth should be discouraged. To me somewhere between 50 and 65 is probably the right number.


When I first graduated from cub scouts to boy scouts in a time and place far far away, I joined the same mega troop my brothers were in. This troop had over 200 active scouts, and most patrols were larger than most of the other troops in town. We moved to a different town so I obvously switched membership, but I still remember that troop. The mega troop had a successful program and was blessed with a scoutmaster who was willing and able to do what needed to be done. In retrospect, I doubt that many scouters either could, or should even try, to manage such a large troop.

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The only way that I can think of to limit troop size is to limit intake. The fairest way to do that is to establish clear criteria and inform all the cub leaders who contact you what the rules are. This could be as simple as first come - first served. One troop I know extends priorities to (1) siblings of current troop members, (2) active members of the sponsoring church (chartered organization), and (3) first come first served. One may think this to be ungracious and un scout like, but units have the authority to limit their total headcounts as far as I know.

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I have never gotten a call with 25 new scouts at one time. Normally what would happen is a month or more before the crossover webelos Dens would vist the troop. By crossover time I usually knew how many scouts were coming from what dens or packs.


If I had a troop of 35 and I wanted to retain that simialr size I would look at how many scouts I had turning 18 that year and I would accept applications from that many Webelos. Brothers of existing troop members would get first opportunity for the avilable openings.


I would simply explain to the other Webolos and parents that due to space and resources we find it necessary to limit the trop size, and we would be happy to recommend other are troops for them to consider joining.

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Hmmm... are these the same adult leaders that were just a few weeks ago concerned about loosing Webelos during the crossover?


Do we have any any council people on this forum that would give some input as to why Scouting is trying to incorporate as many boys as possible while sanctioning troops that limit their membership?


Somehow I can't justify in my mind having it both ways.


Let's just admit, the program doesn't work for large numbers, and if you want your boy to be in scouting, start your own troop, gather up your own equipment, develop your own program, train your own leaders, and maybe your boy will get a high quality scouting opportunity like we have in our troop, because we have no room for him here.


There's a PR nightmare for your Council! :^)



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>> I have never gotten a call with 25 new scouts at one time. Normally what would happen is a month or more before the crossover webelos Dens would vist the troop.>I would simply explain to the other Webolos and parents that due to space and resources we find it necessary to limit the trop size, and we would be happy to recommend other are troops for them to consider joining.

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Sometimes you have no choice. If your meeting space has capacity limits, if the CO only wants to serve members children, available program resources, wishes of the CO.


If you don't know where your Webelos are coming from before the cross over you =have a communications problem not a unit size problem. The same is true of the units who lost control of teir recruiting eforts. That is a separate issue from controling unit size.

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We have several large packs and troops that limit enrollment. It hasn't created a PR nightmare. The most common way that troops do it is to limit new Scouts to the ones from their feeder packs. Now, I can see why Barry's group had a problem with this approach (no feeder pack), but for the troops that have a solid pipeline already coming in, there can be a real desire not to get any more dens.


What can happen is that an entire den comes to visit, and if they like the troop, they all pick it. If you already have two or three dens from your feeder pack, and then you pick up another two dens, it can make for an overwhelming number of new Scouts.


I'm with Bob White that sometimes you just have to have limits. But I do agree with Barry that I don't want to see them being real aggressive.

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