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So How Many Adults Are Too Much?

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I decided to spin this off, because it seemed that the thread was beginning to take a new direction.


To clarify, I have said that the Boy Scout program is designed to use certain Adults to support the program that the boys want. I have stated that in an ideal world, I'd be OK with very little or no adult involvement, but that's not the way the BSA program is set up, nor would the world around us view this as acceptable.


It seems that there are some who advocate little or no Adult involvement.


So my question to those advocating little to no involvement by adults:


Where do you draw the line with adult involvement?


How many are too many?


Do you really believe that all postions that BSA literature assigns to adults can or should be filled by the boys?



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How many would depend on the size of the unit. If I'm not mistaken, five are needed to charter so that would be the minimum.


I don't feel each & every position the BSA has must be filled. Again, it would depend on the size of the unit.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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There is one troop I know of with more adults registered than youth. That, to me, is too much. There are times in my son's troop where there are nearly as many adults as youth on a camp out. That, to me, is too much. BSA is not a camping club for adults. And while I personally do see an important role for "adult association" as a method of scouting, when there are so many adults ever-present (even well meaning ones), it makes it very difficult for the boys to own their own program.


(On the other hand - we read so often here about troops that are struggling to get a second adult to attend camp outs so they'll have 2 deep leadership. So I guess it is better in some ways to have an embarrassment of riches. At least it means camp outs are seldom canceled.)

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How many are too many?

I don't know!

Each and every unit is different.

With this in mind, trying to set a specific number is not possible.

While of course it can be said that the CO has the last word about approving adults who will serve and when needed there is a Nominating Committee who can be used to select adults.

Of course before you go about selecting people it's a good idea that you know what you want them to do.

The Troop Management Committee should be big enough to get what is needed done, but not so big that it gets bogged down and ends up getting nothing done.

While some positions do need to be covered to ensure the Troop is running correctly, some members can be invited to serve to maybe just serve in one area or just one event.

I have to admit that I'm not for having more adults than are needed at Troop meetings and Camp outs.

Adults who have nothing to do just get in the way!

The Troop my son was in tended to have too many people hanging around shooting the breeze at Troop meetings and were a distraction to what the Scouts were trying to get done.

A few summers back they went to the Council Summer Camp with I think 28 Scouts and more than 15 adults.

Many of these adults only ever left the Troop camp site to go to the bathroom or go and eat. They added nothing to the program and to my mind a lot of them were only there to in some way keep an eye on their kid. (Which is hard when the kids are not in the Troop Camp site!)

While there isn't a magic number. I'd say that when you get more than 6 or 8 adults at an event you have too many.

When the SM ends up baby sitting parents, you have real problem.


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Here's my perspective.

I just had my first outing, ever, with more than three adults - we had five on this one. It was awesome!

In the past I have wondered if the other adult was, in fact, going to show up or if the outing was going to cancel - this is especially nerve-wracking when they show up late.

On this one I had parents calling me to ensure they KNEW what time to be there.

In the past with either two or three adults I always wondered what to do if someone got hurt. Leave one adult with the injured Scout - going to the hospital or home? Leave one adult with the group while the other takes the injured out?

If two adults and one of the adults went down but you needed two cars to transport the group, then what?(Realizing that it would be preferred to have to adults in each vehicle)

Four adults is the minimum for practicality if you can "lift" all of your Scouts in two vehicles, in my view.


I think it's a little weird to have more adults than Scouts but, if they didn't get in the boys way - so the boys could do their Scouting - then I wouldn't have an issue if the parents wanted to have multiple patrols of their own. I think that would be a hugely better problem than the Baby Sitter of America parents who drop and run and still gripe about the costs we ask them to cover (which from what I've read in other threads is very low).


In practice, I would like to see in a Troop(including troop sourced Venturing crew):




Equipment Chair(QM)


Advancement Chair

Camping/Travel Chair


One Asst. SM/ Venturing Advisor per Patrol/ Venturing crew.

with parents or an older Scout to take on additional duties such as Popcorn Kernel.

Of the above, only the first three, the SM and Treasurer are mandatory in this area because you need an adult to work with the bank and a joint account, and I prefer to have an adult working the Advancement chair - possibly supervising a Scout but not just turning that over to the Scouts especially not on a six month turnover basis. The CC could double hat on this if he was a "fit" for the job and cared to do so.


So for me this is the minimum in a perfect world.


As long as the adults realize they are camping near but aren't interfering with the Scouts and the Scouts avoid them then I don't see a reason for a maximum number of adults other than land use issues.


If you have Scouts who are capable they should be able to do everything else.

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Yah, I'm not one who likes da whole horde of adults on campouts, eh? When I see as many adults as youth it makes me cringe. Doesn't matter how great or well-meaning the adults are. If each adult just mentions one thing to the youth leaders every few hours, it means da boys are getting talked to by an adult every few minutes.


Kids are like plants. They need space to grow.


I think committees can get too big, too. To have an effective workin' committee, it needs to be small enough that business can get done in a meeting, and everybody buys into da mission pretty well. An "open" committee in a troop of 60 boys (120 possible parent participants) is often a problem. Here again, if each parent has just one "issue" they want to address per year, that means you're dealin' with 5-10 "issues" per committee meetin'. If one family in 20 has a "head case" adult, that's three "head cases" yeh have tryin' to hijack each meeting. Hard to get any real work done.


At the same time, I do know some successful troops that have a lot of adult participants. Like mega-troops, there's usually less youth leadership there, but a lot of activity and enthusiasm. They tend to happen more in units that are pretty economically/socially homogeneous. The more "diverse," the more time yeh need to take on communication and managin' different expectations.




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Well, there's no hard and fast rule.


It should be more of a percentage. The more youth, the more adults.


Keep in mind also that there are different adult roles to fill. The issue is who is interacting with the boys. And are the adults doing the work that the youth should be doing? (the issue of the 'adult-run' vs the 'boy-run' troops).


Not all adults should be dealing with the youth on a regular basis. People like your IH, COR, and troop committee are back ground support. Youth will not interact with them except at boards of review, meeting them at court of honors, or the occasional member who might help out at a troop event (ideally in the background).


The adults who should mainly be working with the kids are the SM and the ASM. How many ASMs you need will depend on your size. 2-3 is fine, and may need more if you have more patrols. (also more would ensure that not every ASM has to be at every event...)





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My ideal number is two, a Scoutmaster and a cook.


My dad was a Boy Scout during WWII. They had several campouts where zero adults attended because they just didnt have the man power. My dad said they would give a full report to the Scoutmaster at the next Troop meeting and he then advised and guided them on improving.


Im not saying that is the best way to run a troop because I think the adult role model is important in a boys growth. But, I wouldnt have minded our SPLs taking the troop camping without adults on his last campout before the election to see test what he had learned.


I do think new troops need more adults than mature troops. Building new boy run programs takes a lot of time and energy. But once those troops get their feet under them (four or five years), there isnt a lot for adults to do except stand around and tell stories, which I enjoy very much.


I love this scouting stuff.




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If talking about general, registered adults, you can't blanket and say "more adults than youth = bad". Sometimes it happens, especially in small troops. At its low, Nephew's troop was 4 registered youth and 8 registered adults - SM, 2 ASMs, CC, 2 committee members from the families of currently registered Scouts and 2 committee members from "the outgoing regime" which helped w/ continuity and BORs. Now the troop as doubled in size, added 3 more committee members from the new Scout families and an old family was "allowed to retire" (lol). Its a tough situation because you stress to the families that a Boy with an active parent tends to stay in Scouts longer and gets more out of Scouts...yet we worry about having too many adults involved.


On the other hand, if you are talking about how many adults on an outing/trip are too many, then I believe that it depends on the strength/weakness/personality of the adults involved. Our CC is a lovely person, but tries to baby the boys too much, especially 1st year scouts. She's not the best one to go an a camping trip. Generally, its our SM and 1 of the ASMs on the trip, though it has happened that it has been just the ASMs, or an ASM and (Scoutmaster trained) ACM from the Pack.


Too many adults when it interfers with the Boys leading and learning from their mistakes.




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I tend to agree with the above. It's not about numbers or ratios. It's what the adults do in the troop that matters. A single, all powerful control freak SM, with just one or two ASMs might be too many adults for a unit of 50 boys. Yet a good boy led unit with 6 - 12 adults and a similar number of scouts might be fine.



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I think it also may depend on Adults schedules too. The troop i belong to has about 13 scouts and 6 or 7 adults, however on a meeting nights and camping trips you will have 2 adults. My best friend and I "aged out" last year and decided to become ASM's but, we both go to college and work part-time and the other AMS's have full-time jobs too. So i dont think you can have to many volunteers since not everyone will be able to make it to every meeting and camp out.

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There is the thought that boys whose parents are involved tend to make Eagle more than those whose are'nt.


Yah, I've heard this a lot over da years, eh?


Anybody know if it's actually true? I can't imagine how yeh could collect reliable data on it. It'd be interestin' to try to figure out.


Supportive parents are definitely a plus, no matter what. But I reckon I've seen every combination, from over-involved parents who drove their kids out of Scoutin' to kids who stayed in because of mom and dad. A couple of years ago I remember a lad telling me that he loved scouting because it got him away from his family (he was 6th of 8 kids and needed his "personal space"). I've also seen kids who become heavily involved draw their parents into being more active/supportive, rather than vice-versa.




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