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New UC to a troop down to 4 members

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Good evening!

I met up with the SM of the troop I'm serving this morning at church. He responded with....amazement? perhaps, that they now finally have a UC. He told me they will probably fold the troop this year because they are down to 4 members. I mentioned missing seeing them at the Saturnalia Festival this year (our GS troop helps with smores, the BS troop usually serves hot cocoa). He said they weren't asked to help this year! The neighborhood/community is very up and down in its support of the troop (the folks organizing the Festival this year treated our GS kinda snottily too this year.)

This troop meets 2 blocks from the middle school my daughter attends, which is also attached to an elementary school. They meet at a Presbyterian church. The neighborhood is upscale/coffeeshops/pretty gardens, located adjacent to the inner city neighborhoods with high crime rates. (The SM and I both live in the inner city neighborhoods)


1. First I know I need to have a longer sit-down chat with the SM

2. Recruiting! I'm thinking, pitch a dome tent in the atrium of the middle school...thoughts?

3. I know we need to take a careful look at program and leadership - do you have more specifics for me on doing this?


Thank you!!

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My recommendation would be talk to more people than just the Scoutmaster. Talk with the committee chair, the charter representaive, the institutional head, talk with a couple of the scouts, talk with a couple boys who quit.

Talk with the Roundtable commissioner, is the unit attending? Talk with the scout office, are the scouts advancing? Talk with the district trainig chairman, who in the unit is trained?



Before you suggest setting up the tent at the school find out what caused the scouts to leave. Don't worry about putting more passengers on a sinking ship until AFTER the leak is fixed.(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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Thank you Bobwhite :)

District commissioner says the SM has been seen attending roundtables. This part of the district has been neglected for decades - this is where I was trying to keep a cub pack together back in the 80's with no commissioner service, and a district that just didn't get the inner city. Since that time, councils have merged, and district lines have been redrawn, so the district is more focused on the city, but this pocket has still not been served in all this time.

The chartering org. is a Presbyterian church - they've got a fabulous website with no mention of the troop and pack that they charter. Another UC in the district mentions the pack is in bad shape. The district commissioner asked me to make contact with the troop, and he would make contact with the pack.

Council gave me a printout with two disconnected numbers for the SM. I then called the charter rep, leaving a voicemail introducing myself and asking him to give me a call - no call as yet but of course this was late last week and we've had a major holiday. From the look of things, I want to tread lightly with the IH - eventually meet with IH and DE I think.

No idea as yet if the troop committee is functioning. I'm wanting to start with the SM and go from there.

From my experience, an excellent program still doesn't overcome the demographics we're working with in the inner city. *Support* is what it takes, and having a fire and vision to see the possibility. When we recruit, it will be mainly single-parent families without transportation. You cant do that without a fire in your belly and enough support - which will mean strengthening the relationship with the charter org. and the district and the community. Maybe. I think. :) Really all conjecture right now. There are enormous blanks to fill in. Just need help figuring out where to start!

So far my game plan is: chat with SM, ask for invite to troop meeting, see how the boys are doing in the meeting, go by the book and do a leadership audit in April...?

If we're to get this unit back on its feet, spring is a good time to recruit, especially from the middle school as they start looking for what to do with the long hot summer.

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Yes, I'd wondered about that -

Seems Scoutreach in our council is now done only through culturally specific council-wide districts, for Hmong, Black-American, and Hispanic families. Is there a way to leverage support within this structure? Before the council merger, Scoutreach was a specific geographic section of the city (2 blocks south of where our cub pack was chartered! We actually changed charter orgs to two blocks away to try to keep the pack going - was able to hook up with more scholarship money for boys, but then got less program...weird!)

Gotta run to work now...

Bobwhite, thanks for helping think this through with me!

Anne in Mpls

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I can't help but think that as a brand new UC this assignment is a little unfair.

That is to say if I were the District Commissioner, I don't think I would have assigned it to a new person.

But maybe that's just me?

While of course having a positive attitude is a good thing.

I think it's important that you remember that units can only be saved if the people in the unit want them to be saved.

If the unit does fold.

Please don't beat yourself up because it did fold.

As I see it.

You can assess and report the situation. (Which I think you have done.)

The District Key 3 needs to follow up.

The DE needs to meet with the CO.

If the CO really doesn't care about the unit or what happens? What is the point of trying to save the unit?

If the CO does want to do everything (or maybe something?) to save the unit then the District Chairman needs to go to work. Maybe sending in the Membership Committee to help with recruiting and rebuilding the unit.

Your role is not to recruit!! You can point the unit members to the resources and open doors, but once you start becoming a member of the unit, you have crossed the line.

Remember you are not a member of the unit you are the UC.


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Our troop tried recruiting at a new middle school that opened up because of school district reorganization in our area. Had tents and teepees set up. Did some cooking demos with lots of cobbler. Did the demo an evening during parent/teachers conferences. Had two boys sign up. One attended a few meetings and a couple campouts the other one meeting. Haven't seen either in a while. After their PLs had trouble getting in touch with the boys, I called their parents to see if they were still interested. Answer was yes but still haven't showed up again.


A troop's best friend is a successful pack. It's a tough battle if you don't have one because it's easier to generate a new interest in scouting in boys when they're in elementary school as opposed to middle school.

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I was once an ASM to what I guess you could call an 'inner-city' scout troop (IF you believe you could call any part of Lubbock, TX, inner-city).


Troop was sponsored by the LARGEST baptist church in the city (and the county--approx. 10,000 families were members according to their brochures). Said sponsor had forgotten they had a scout troop. I was new to the area (and a grad student) and contacted the scout office looking for a unit to help. They assigned me to this unit because it needed leaders and needed them badly. Soon after I and another college student signed on as leaders, the rest of the adult leadership quit.


We did what we could. We approached the chartered org., who immediately yanked the charter rather then try and save their unit. Why? Because neither of us were members of their church. We were both Catholics, and to add 'insult to injury' one of us, me, was a damn yankee carpet-bagger, whose help they did NOT need. SERIOUSLY. Nope, no prejudice there!


Basically, the unit (then 2nd oldest in the city) was already dead before we signed on as ASMs. Our joining was like applying a band-aid to a chainsaw wound--not much help. However, before we walked away, we found two units to merge our six boys into. At least two of those six went on to become Eagle Scouts.



I agree with some of the others. It seems unfair to assign you as a new UC to such a unit. One that you may not be able to save. That's a recipe for quick burn-out and loss of a potentially good UC. As others have said, should this ship sink, don't blame yourself.


However, be sure to have a lifeboat ready for those four boys, should you not be able to save this ship, just as I and my fellow college student did for my six. Try to have information available about other troops in the area so that those boys will not loose scouting completely should this unit fold.


Good luck!

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Annie - have you seen this month's Navigator? Unfortunately, they don't have the new one up on the web site yet. But there's a feature in there about there about "mentor" troops. Basically the idea is that an established troop helps a new or struggling one. Don't know a thing about how this works or how you go about setting one up.


I do know that we're doing something similar for the reconstituted troop I'm serving. A couple local troops are lending us troop guides, and providing advice to our leaders.


This might be a strategy you want to suggest.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi again folks!

Yesterday went to U of Scouting and did the day-long college of commissioner science.

One of the participants suggested changing this tiny troop over to a Venturing Crew because high schoolers are easier to recruit than middle schoolers and we could open it up to girls.

Then focus recruiting efforts in the pack which is currently only tigers and wolves, then reopen the troop when the pack begins crossing over some webelos.


Anne in Mpls

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Starting a Venturing crew is not solving a troop problem. All it may do is buy a little time for a handful of kids.


First of all there is a 3 year span of ages between Webelos crossovers and Venturing. Unless the troop is fixed, these kids aren't going to wait around for 3 years before continuing their scoutiong experience. They will be long gone into other activities by then.


Instead of finding a gimmick, i.e. easier to recruit HS than MS, adding girls, etc. Why not concentrate on putting together a good troop program. Kids recognize quality and will react appropriately. If the troop is a sinking ship and the program stinks, and the leaders don't care, the troop will fold. If one is going to simply wait around until some Webelos boys come along, why not shut down the troop, work on designing a decent program, train the leaders and be ready when the boy cross over rather than spend a lot of time running around developing another program, focusing attention away from the troop and sending any and all adult leaders/coordinators over to a Venturing Crew?


Sounds like the very LAST thing a person would want to do to resurrect a troop in trouble.



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