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Beavah

Troop Size

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Couple years back we have 32 crossovers, had 3 new scout patrols and 6 troop guides and an Asst Scoutmaster in charge of the New Scout Program. That raised the total youth to 93, it was our high water mark. We are now at 58, youth have aged out and we never had close to 32 crossovers again. The CO and Adult Troop Leadership decided not to cap the size of the troop, but growing past the 93 was never an issue. We had families visit us and say we were too big, they wanted a more intimate atmosphere for their child. Other parents thought our size was a great asset.

 

I had a History teacher back at St Charles Borromeo Preparatory Seminary in Lockport, Il. Mr Canady, his tests were always essay questions, when someone would ask how long should the answers be and he always gave the same answer, the answer should be as long as it is complete.

 

So, how big should a troop be? A troop should be as big as it is complete. And that is decided by the Youth, Adult Leadership, CO and the community in concert

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Barry,

Can you honestly say that a troop of 150 is not heavily adult run? Can you really tell me that the Scoutmaster knows the needs and characteristics of every scout in the unit? That would be a massive undertaking.

 

If I were to guess that many of the scoutmaster conferences were passed to the ASMs to do would I be right?

 

How many places can you go on a troop activity that can camp 150 people?

 

It would be nearly impossible to operate a unit that size and still use the methods of Boy Scouting, they simply are not designed for groups that large.

 

We had a troop of nearly two hundred in a council I lived in that broke into a red troop and a blue troop and met on different nights. Very heavily adult lead and run, very much a merit badge factory, lots of great trips, lots of money, very few scouting Methods, collapsed when the Scoutmaster retired and left but for 12 years or so was a huge camping club in complete Boy Scout uniforms.

 

Communications:

Whether you have two packs or twelve packs visiting, you should be able to have a good idea of how many scouts from each you might recruit.

 

 

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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?

 

Yah, sure. Because we want more units! :) Units fold for various reasons all da time, eh? If yeh really encouraged the formation of megatroops you'd get down to a few large troops with very little program diversity or resilience. Yeh wouldn't be meeting the needs of CO's who wanted troops, but had a hard time competin' against a "mega" program in terms of glitz. And leadership turnover in a "mega" unit often (not always, but often) crashes their membership.

 

Yah, and there is the issue that da mega-units are typically more adult-run. I think what you're not figurin' in, jblake, is that it's hard to get the numbers of adult leaders a megatroop needs and make sure those adult leaders really understand and are able to work in the patrol vision you describe. Yeh see how hard it is to convince even some experienced scouters here, eh? ;) So addin' adults pulls things back toward adult-run. Sometimes it's a "revolt" by new parents who don't care for youth leadership, other times it's a more gradual shift by da leaders of sub-programs like New Scouts. Successful mega-troops usually develop an "adult club" thing among the adult leaders and campin' parents, because there's a whole mess of 'em out on every campout, eh? Kinda like hockey families, if yeh know the type.

 

Not to say I haven't seen 150-scout troops that didn't run fun programs that pleased some kids and families, eh? All kinds of ways to play this Scoutin' game. But not my cup of tea, as Eagledad says.

 

Beavah

 

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In terms of limitin' size, can I ask what yeh all do if a patrol gets too big? I imagine yeh form a new patrol, eh? That would be my preference for how to limit size of a troop - start a new troop!

 

In my experience, each unit has a "natural size". For whatever reason, if a troop's natural size is twenty, and I convince a mess of webelos to cross over and bring 'em up to 35, by the next year, they'll be back down to 20. Like pourin' too much water into a small glass. Can't say I fully understand the reasons, just what seems to happen.

 

As a result, I'm less opposed to troops tryin' to keep to the size they "like" than I was as a younger guy. Just seems more fair to the kids than takin' everyone and disappointing a bunch of 'em.

 

But from a district or council perspective, units that are considerin' turnin' people away are the only spot in a "mature" area that you're gonna be successful in adding a new unit. There's an excess of demand! Plus there's a successful unit that's willing to serve as friend and partner for the first year or two, which is far better "training" than any class. Two healthy "sister" units operatin' at da sizes where they do their best job for kids is better for scoutin' all around.

 

Beavah

 

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I'm involved with our district membership folks so I've gotten a pretty good look at how different troops are doing with # of active scouts. Last year we had one troop get 24 new crossover scouts. This year it looks like that same troop will probably get another 20 or so, and another troop not too far away will get between 15-20 new scouts. In both cases this raises questions of troop size and whether the town they are both in can support a whole new troop, and especially whether we have sufficient committed adults to start up a new troop. But under no circumstance (except maybe for our very small LDS units that don't recruit outside their church) can I imagine that our DE would be happy if he heard that good strong troops were TURNING AWAY potential new scouts.

 

To some degree Bob White is correct that having a mass of new cross-overs on short notice is a communications issue. But, you tell me, what would you do in this case? There are 10-12 packs in our area and this year webelos scouts from no less than 8 of them visited our troop. Some have made their intentions clear but in at least two cases, Blue&Gold is fast approaching and while we know that we are getting 1-2 crossover scouts from pack xxx, we also know they have 6-8 more scouts who are still hemming and hawing about where to go. If those scouts decide at the last minute that they want to join our troop, are we supposed to tell them "nope, sorry, don't want you but we'll still take your friends?" And if even half of the fence-sitters in each of those webelos dens do end up joining us, it would about double the number of new scouts who cross into our troop.

 

Fact is, if they say late in the game that they want to join our troop (or any other) and get told "no, sorry we're full" then they will in all likelihood quit scouting instead of seeking alternatives. That would be a shame.

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if they say late in the game that they want to join our troop (or any other) and get told "no, sorry we're full" then they will in all likelihood quit scouting instead of seeking alternatives.

 

Yah, well, there's good and bad ways to do anything, eh? That would be a bad way :). But that "wait 'til the end" thing only happens because they believe all troops are "open" and will take 'em whenever. If you change that expectation, you'll also change that behavior as long as you communicate up front.

 

Generally, units that are as big as they want to be just suspend recruiting. Put on no webelos events, etc. Just rely on word of mouth. That sometimes works.

 

I liked Eagledad's "we just raised dues through the roof." I'd never heard of that approach. Makes sense, but with that "rich kids' troop" reputation risk.

 

I know a few troops who only take scouts at crossover, not any other times.

 

And I know ones with semi-flexible limits. They'll expand to take den-mates and siblings, but additional dens they'll turn away.

 

All that is communicated up front, eh? And every troop I know will help kids make contact with other troops in the area. Many will hand-walk kids and families over to another troop they can recommend.

 

In the towns where I've seen troops place some limits, it doesn't seem to be at all an issue the way EagleDad describes. Parents and kids are pretty used to rec. league sports teams having maximum numbers and such. I think it's more honest and better for kids than takin' more than you can handle, and havin' kids not get as great an experience or drop out as a result.

 

Beavah

 

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Anecdote on refusing Webelos:

 

There were two Web II dens in our Pack in Y2K. Same DL/ADL, but dens met different days (supporting kids school schedules). Kids had been together since Tigers, parents were supportive, attrition had been nil.

 

The 16 kids wanted to go into a Troop together, and grow up together. 4 different area Troops said "we cannot accommodate that much growth. We'll take 3 or you can go somewhere else."

 

That didn't sit at all with the group parents. Those units lost the kids altogether.

 

The WDL, an Eagle Scout from his own youth, found an Chartered Partner and formed a new Troop. Had he not, those kids would have been lost to Boy Scouting. A second order consequence... two of those Troops, deprived of their normal gain lifeblood, had operational troubles 3 years later when their kids of leadership age were not in the pipeline. In fact, in our area, we've since had 3 of the 4 troops close shop.

 

Rejecting Webelos may help DE's make their tasks of building units, but other folks need to look at area demographics and see if adding "that next troop" makes sense.

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Mega troops and mega packs. What's the different. If one is going to stick with the troop-method of scouting, then yes 100+ scouts is too big. There are no places that can handle that many boys all at one time and equipping that many boys is a QM nightmare.

 

But how many packs have unified pack activites? Once a month? The rest of the time the boys are in Dens (i.e. patrols) doing what they are supposed to be doing.

 

A mega troop can exist under one of two instances, use the adult-led patrol-method which is basically what Cubbing does. or go with boy-led, patrol-method. I suppose you could have a mega adult leadership and everyone runs the boys that way too. There were examples of mega troops with 15-20 boys in a patrol. This can happen only if those patrols have adults running them. Then they really have mini-troops within the troop.

 

8 boys/patrols is what a boy can handle. Keep it that way and build your youth leadership corps through extensive training. Quit recruiting adults to lead and start recruiting and training boys to do it.

 

Maybe summer camp, and camporees will be the only 2-3 events a year that the boys will attend enmass. The rest of the time 1/4 (25 boys/3 patrols) of the boys go on an event on alternating weekends and that way the troops only needs 1/4th the # of tents and equipment. Summer camp? Well they have all the tents and equipment there and camporee? Hmmm, does meadow crashing sound like fun? About 10 years ago my venturing crew had tents. I haven't seen them use any of them for the past 5 years. Too much gear to carry.

 

If one were to stop, brain-storm, think outside the traditional ways of doing scouting, there is a whole world out there that hasn't been tapped into.

 

100 boys? 1 SM 4 ASM and a committee of 5 = 10 adults 1 for each 10 boys. Not a bad ratio.

 

Too big, break into two troops - 1 SM - 4 ASM and a committe of 5 = 10 adults 1 for each 5 boys times 2

 

Which of the two scenerios will develop quicker into an adult led program, especially when you have twice as many adults to begin with?

 

Stosh

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Stosh,

 

The difference is fundamental. No one, from B-P forward, ever meant for Cubs to operate without direct leadership of adults. The Den Method is nothing like the BSA Patrol Method. Further, the Family Method demands direct adult involvement in the growth of the Cub:

 

2. The Den

Boys like to belong to a group. The den is the place where boys learn new skills and develop interests in new things. They have fun in den meetings, during indoor and outdoor activities, and on field trips. As part of a small group of six to eight boys, they are able to learn sportsmanship and good citizenship. They learn how to get along with others. They learn how to do their best, not just for themselves but also for the den.

 

4. Family Involvement

Family involvement is an essential part of Cub Scouting. When we speak of parents or families, we are not referring to any particular family structure. Some boys live with two parents, some live with one parent, some have foster parents, and some live with other relatives or guardians. Whoever a boy calls his family is his family in Cub Scouting.

 

Source: http://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/about/pandm.html (Purposes and Methods of Cub Scouting)

 

Contrast those with:

 

The Patrol Method

 

Patrols are the building blocks of a Boy Scout troop. A patrol is a small group of boys who are similar in age, development, and interests. Working together as a team, patrol members share the responsibility for the patrol's success. They gain confidence by serving in positions of patrol leadership. All patrol members enjoy the friendship, sense of belonging, and achievements of the patrol and of each of its members.

Source: http://www.scouting.org/boyscouts/resources/34307/patrol.html

 

The cooperative aspect of the Patrol is orders of magnitude pumped up from the Den.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Remember, you have 1 direct contact adult program person (minimum) for every 8 Cubs by Scouting plan... the DL. When you internet recharter, ScoutNet will scrub for the right number of program people, as well as the BSA minimum number of Committee people.

 

 

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In reading this thread..all I can say is I wish my District had yall's problems. We have numerous healthy, vibrant and active Troops but I dont we have a single one over 50 boys.

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Great Scouting All

 

>>Barry,

Can you honestly say that a troop of 150 is not heavily adult run?

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"That is not practical in our area because we have 33 packs that feed our 20 troops."

 

My question would be, where is your District Membership Vice-Chair and DE? Our goal is to have an affiliated troop for each pack. I'm surprised your District leadership isn't working towards a similar goal.

 

"See, part of the problem is dens make plans a year or two ahead time. When they hear one troop is full, they don't even bother to visit."

Are you serious? One year ahead? Two years ahead?? That I would like to see!

 

I'm not sure this would limit troop size, but I suspet it will. We let potential Scouts know what we expect of them before they join. Joining Scouts is a committment, to their patrol and to their troop. We expect them to attend the meetings and campouts. We expect them to wear the complete, correct uniform. We expect them to participate in other activities outside of Scouts. We are not interested in part-time Scouts - those who just want to show up when they feel like it. If they are going to miss a meeting or activity, they are expected to call their PL and let him know why he is missing. Based on attendance I've seen at some troops, I suspect we will not be the largest troop in the district, and that is fine with me.

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"100 boys? 1 SM 4 ASM and a committee of 5 = 10 adults 1 for each 10 boys. Not a bad ratio. "

 

Uh, if each boy advances only 1 rank per year, that is 8 BORs per month, every month, for the 5 committee members. If half the boys advance 2 ranks in a year, that is 150 BORs in a year, or 12-13 per month. Now, add in all the SM reviews. I think I'd be looking for another troop.

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It's no trick to making boys and adults happy and not use any Boy Scout methods. If we ran a free program where kids played video games for 90 mintues a week, we could easily get a 100 happy kids to join and keep happy parents.

 

It's just not Boy Scouting. Even if they dress like Scouts it's still not Boy Scouting. Even if the leaders dress like Scouts, it's still not Scouting,

 

(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Brent writes: "My question would be, where is your District Membership Vice-Chair and DE? Our goal is to have an affiliated troop for each pack. I'm surprised your District leadership isn't working towards a similar goal."

 

 

Well I can tell you (because I'm the membership chair) that this is definitely NOT the goal in our district or council. In fact we've been pushing to get packs and troops not to think this way, because in our experience it leads to troops that take their relationship with packs for granted, and WDLs who suppose (and tell their den's parents) that their boys can only go to a certain troop. Then when the fit isn't right for some boys, they drop out of scouting all together.

 

Instead of having a one-to-one relationship between packs/troops as our goal, it is instead our goal to help every individual boy find the troop that is right for him. To that end, we are working on publishing a calendar of events that troops are inviting webelos to attend. We are working on providing more opportunities for webelos leaders and troop leaders to interact and get to know each other. We're doing more Webelos to Scout transition training and promotion. And other things too - but the focus you describe, Brent, is not one that would be desirable to most people in my district. Just another perspective for ya.

 

 

 

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