Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Lauwit

Small Troop needs help BIG TIME.

Recommended Posts

Heres my situation Ive been an ASM for a small troop (6 boys 1 Life, 5 boys all Second Class or lower ranks) for less than a year. I travel a lot for work so Ive missed several meetings and activities over the last 5 months. I volunteered with the troop because the previous SM said they werent able to go camping much because they didnt have enough adults. The SM in the troop has been in the position for about 3 months. As far as I know they havent been trained. I also havent been trained but, Im planning on attending the next available training in May.

 

The troop is adult led. They meet every other week. There are no functioning patrols (with only 6 boys this would be pretty hard I think), The campouts are limited to basically summer camp and any council organized events (Klondike, Camp-o-ree, etc.) The troop committee decides the program and activities. No meeting plans are used. The boys lead only during the opening and closing ceremonies. Merit badges are taught in the meetings. Basically from what I know and what Ive read the troop really isnt functioning as a troop but more like a Den.

 

The question I have for you all What is the best way for me to help move the troop towards a stronger and better program?

 

I watch the boys as the meetings go on and I can see their eyes glaze over.

 

I was talking with the Life Scout the other day and he said he was going to get out of scouts as soon as he earned his eagle. Not because he wants to quit but because he doesnt like where the troop is or where he sees it heading and every attempt hes made to help change it has fallen on deaf ears. Since he joined the troop it has gone from about 21 Scouts to six and has had 4 different SMs. I don't see the trend stopping any time soon if something doesn't change.

 

Thanks for your advise.

 

Lauwit

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First issue is you're ASM, and thus do not have accountability to the COR. The SM is accountable for program, the CC for support. That makes your position more the challenge.

 

I think there are perhaps three things you can do to begin with. One is to have the Life Scout talk to the Committee, and explain what he sees going on. They may blow him off, but they might listen.

 

Another is to issue a challenge for all the adults to go and view Fast Start training for Boy Scouting online. Have them see where they are off base.

 

Finally, you can ask the CC or SM to invite your Unit Commissioner and COR for a visit. Let them see how Scouting is "delivering the promise" and give some input for their vision of your Troop. Sometimes, listening to an outsider helps. (Sometimes it doesn't as well).

 

OK, so you have a single patrol at this point. What is wrong with empowering the youth? Maybe they cannot do everything a 50 boy Troop can, but they can, and properly should, make some decisions for themselves.

 

To me, the challenge is how many sheepish looks will you get vs. how much "pushback?" If you get lots of resistance to change, even when asking the tough questions gently, then you may find the effort is not going to be worth it (in other words, you're going to be blown off). In that case, I'd make my gracious good-byes to the CC with a copy to the COR.

 

So, to eat the elephant one bite at a time:

 

- See if that Life Scout has the courage to stand up and tell the Committee and SM why this troop is heading into the tank.

 

- Challenge the current leaders (since you say they're untrained) to take Fast Start, for a beginning. After all, it's online.

 

- Invite the COR and UC to visit, and then offer feedback.

 

- Be prepared for resistance. Internally, decide how much resistance you'll accept before calling it a day.

 

Finally, remember: More bees come to honey than to vinegar.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, Lauwit, don't get too depressed there, eh? :) What you describe is pretty typical of a unit that has had a lot of adult turnover. Things just sort of run downhill. It's just that bein' adult-led on campouts is bad, it's that if you're bein' adult-led on campouts those adults aren't doin' the things adults should be doing. Things like recruiting more adults and youth, injecting enthusiasm, havin' a strategic plan for the unit, pushin' a more robust outdoor program. They're spendin' their time in the wrong place decidin' on the dessert for da camporee.

 

Do yeh think the SM is a good guy who is goin' to be around for a while? Are you goin' to be around for a while? Do yeh have a few years left on that Life Scout? If so, yeh might be the small core group that jump-starts things again. Get together at the local Pizza Barn and sketch out a turn-around plan. Where you'd like to be in 5 years, and then in 1, and how to get there. Pay a lot of attention to your Life Scout; he's da person with years of experience, not you, eh? ;) Biggest thing is yeh have to commit to each other for the haul. Then you adults start buildin' adult program resources, and your Life Scout takes the kid side.

 

It can be a world of fun. For your Life Scout, it's his chance to show real leadership and build da troop he wants. The adults won't get in his way, because they have their own house to put in order! For the adults, it's a chance to seek out great adult friends and resources who like the outdoors and like doin' things with kids, and to stay young and keep learnin'. Go to trainin' for the people and for the fun, and because it shows your commitment to each other!

 

But it won't work if yeh don't have folks with a longer-term commitment to each other. It probably won't work if yeh can't bring yourself to treat your Life Scout as a friend and colleague. If you're figurin' on continued low adult commitment with high turnover, I'd say do the lads a favor and look for a troop to merge with or at least partner with.

 

Beavah

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're a new troop with 20 some boys. Not really struggling with adult led but I understand your challenges. Our struggle is how to implement the patrol method. We have one very strong patrol, one decent and two are very weak.

 

Try to implement things into the meetings to empower the boys. Last week, we brought our seldom used dining canopy into the gym and dumped it on the floor. Then we popped some delicious Boy Scout popcorn and sat back to enjoy the show. Actually, after a couple of false starts, the troop worked together and got the canopy set up in about 45 minutes. We're bringing it back in a few weeks for a redo.

 

Try to incorporate patrol methodology and independence whenever possible. Offer to lead a meeting, and in cahoots with your SPL, get started then turn it over to him but make sure he's got a serious meeting plan and that it gets followed. Set up tents, ilight fires, do knots etc.

 

Use another meeting, if you get the opportunity to plan a virtual campout. Maybe you'll be able to plan a real one soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with the other suggestions, especially the training.

 

In addition, if you can get one other adult trained along with you (esp. the SM), get going on monthly campouts. Start with local overnighters close to home - nothing complicated. But this is where the scouts have fun and really get a chance to work on planning (meals, schedules) and leadership.

 

Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a great topic. We're starting a new troop with a whopping 5 or 6 scouts, all tenderfeet. We've had a mixed reaction from the other SMs in our district - from very supportive to calling us "cannibals." But we're spirited, motivated, and want to get the boys in charge as soon as possible. The advice here is great!!!! Any ideas for us?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Scoutnut1019,

Rule 1 - Never do ANYTHING a Scout can do.

Rule 2 - Get Trained - then train the Scouts

Rule 3 - See rule 1.

 

GOOD LUCK! :)

 

Lauwit, you've gotten good advice.

One additional piece that I'm going to borrow/paraphrase from John... If you are asked to be the next Scoutmaster and that is what this question is in preparation for then:

You never again will have the power you have in that moment - That is when you make the case that if the COR hires you as the Scoutmaster that you will be doing things differently - and if they won't agree to the specifics you lay out then they shouldn't hire you. In order for this to work at its best it would be a good idea if you had all of your required training and any supplemental training you can get and had your "Trained" patch on. This will help you develop your specific items you intend to change.

 

Use the Eight methods of Scouting - thus far in my limited experience (I'm only at this a year myself) a troop that doesn't have a good outdoor program doesn't have a program. The more of the rest of the methods you use the better. Good Luck! :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gunny said:

"Rule 1 - Never do ANYTHING a Scout can do.

Rule 2 - Get Trained - then train the Scouts

Rule 3 - See rule 1."

 

There used to be a phrase used in WB back in the 90s that has since disappeared that I think is important:

 

Teach Them, Train Them, Let Them Lead.

 

At one of my (then) council's WB course, they even made pocket patches with stylized TTTTLTL on them, done in interlocked logs.

 

Not sure why this phrase dropped out of favor, but think its a propriate here.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Got another suggestion for you - though difficult to do in your ASM position...

 

Put the troop committee to work! Make them so busy doing the stuff they should be doing that they stop making meeting plans and teaching merit badge classes!

 

1. Why the heck havn't they put together a year-round recruiting plan? Y'all need posters and business cards. (Yes, I know the boys could do this, but the boys are going to busy with the next item!)

 

2. Have the boys start planning the next 3 campouts. Toos those plans to the troop committee and have them file the tour permits!

 

3. I'm guessing that since your committee has been busy doing the SM's and SPL's jobs, that they havn't adequately outfitted the troop with equipment. Draw up a "short" list of your immediate needs: tents, cooksets, lanterns, whatever. Tell them a deadline for the items. Somewhere around here, it should dawn on the committee that they need to plan a fundraiser. You can assist them towards that bright idea in your favorite way :)

 

Anne in Mpls

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×