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I am my son's Web 2 DL, and have been his DL since Tiger Cubs. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and look forward to the next step. I have been presented with a chance to start a brand new troop with what would be a dedicated Chart Org I truly believe in. I feel at least 4 boys from my current den would join, with the rest joining other troops. My problems are:

1) Being asked to be SM is quite an honor, but I was never a scout myself. I have an awareness of the BS program, but not many knowledge of the details or how a troop is run. How does one start a new troop as an inexperienced SM and provide a quality program from day one?

2) Can I even operate a boy-led troop if it is starting with 4 - 6 freshly-crossed over 11 year-olds?


If I went this route the troop would be starting around March or April of 2010. Any ideas would be most appreciated.






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Welcome to the forums and congrat's on being selected to serve as an SM, it's one of the most important positions in scouting.


My advice: 1) go through SM Traingin (SP Spec and IOLS) ASAP.


2) Some things to help start is to get the Troop Program Helps vol's 1-3 and the Troop Resource book. They provide al;ot of material to help get started. the program features gives your PLC 3 years worth of program to choose from.


3)Can you have a youth led unit form the get go, maybe. Depending upon the maturity of the members, you may find one that can be PL. If you can't find one, then you may have to take 3-6 months and TRAIN all of them. By that I mean you show them how things are done as in you be the "PL" and you teach them all about the patrol method. You will probably need to do this for 3 months, with you in a direct role,then slwoly back away for the next 3. After six months, let them take over, allowing them to succeed or fail as a patrol at the different objectives,i.e. cooking dinner on time, cleaning up on time, having duty roosters, etc.

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Are there no existing troops in your area? I am always skeptical of starting new units from scratch with 5 kids. The amount of time and resources needed to succeed are enormous. I hate to see units springing up like Starbucks on every corner. Quality over quantity. Why reinvent the wheel if there are good existing units who would be very enthusiastic about receiving 4-5 new kids and some dedicated parents.

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My biggest thought is "Who will provide the youth leadership?"


Your five Tenderfeet have two particular challenges:


- You only have one Patrol.


- You do not have any youth who can be role models, guides, and trainers.


I've seen minimalist start-ups. The problem is there ends up being an awful lot of (regrettably necessary) adult support of the youth, and the youth members may not get the full benefit. Beyond that, it's a long term commitment for you. Three years? That's only the beginning. A start-up, based around a somewhat charismatic Scoutmaster, has a pretty big risk of failing 5 years downstream, when he's out of the program.



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Eagle 90 has a very valid point, so consider local demographics carefully. Starting a new troop is a tremendous (and rewarding) challenge. I believe you need to get a minimum of 5 scouts in order to charter the new troop. Don't just look to your Den. I'll bet all of those boys have buddies in school, sports, and neighborhood who would be interested in some camping and adventure.


You're fortunate you have some time to get prepared. Jumping into the training is a very good thing, but will leave you a little short on real understanding. (No offense to the training teams out there - I am one.)


In addition to the training, get copies of the Boy Scout, SPL, PL, SM, and Troop Committee handbooks and start studying them. I recommend talking to your DE and see if he can find a local SM to shadow for a while. The more you can observe in action, the more prepared you'll be. Do everything they'll let you do. Sit in the back and observe meetings, attend Patrol Leaders Council and troop junior leader training, visit a campout (I wouldn't push it by camping with them), visit Troop Committee meetings, attend the Boy Scout side of monthly Roundtables, etc. If there are any District Boy Scouting events (camporees, Klondike derbys, etc.), by all means, go check them out. Maybe even volunteer to help out on the staff - they're always looking for help. Be careful not to step on toes - you're there to listen and learn.


Hopefully some of the other parents in your group (or new Charter Org) share your interest in starting up the new troop, because you're going to need help. Get them involved early.


Good luck! Let us know how things go!

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I think if I were in your shoes. My key words for now would be.




More Fun.


Most of what I have read in BSA material doesn't offer a lot about how to run a small Troop or a start-up unit.

This might mean that you at times will have to think out of the box and use a little more imagination.

I'm guessing that you know the Scouts that you will be kicking off with? You have some idea of their strengths and their weaknesses.

Step one for you is to read and re-read the Boy Scout Handbook from cover to cover and then read it a few more times.

Find ways that will ensure that you have all (Yes all!!) The skills that you need.

How to do this might not be easy.

I'd be looking for someone who has the time, knows the stuff and is willing to work with me one on one.

Be careful that you don't allow this person to take over! Or become a "Bar Stool Scouter" trying to run the Troop from afar. (It can and does happen.)

A phone call to the District Training or Camping Chairman might be a good idea.

Look for fun ways of having the Scouts practice the requirements that they need to get done.


Here I go with yet another Eamonn Ramble!!

I love dogs.

Some people tell me I've become good at training dogs.

I know when I take a dog out and I want to do some training, that the dog has a very short attention span. The dog wants to have fun and the dog wants to be rewarded.

I try to keep the "Hard Work" that we need to do sandwiched between the fun stuff. I mix up the rewards,sometimes it' a treat sometimes it's just a kind word or two with a pet.

Of course Scouts aren't dogs!

But dogs respond to much of the same things that kids do!

They know when someone is treating them well and they very much want to please that person.

Young Scouts will want to please you. - Tap into this. Make it work for you!!

To start with I wouldn't worry too much about being Boy Led.

I would want to keep the idea that I'm not going to do anything for a Scout that he can do for himself.

My goal for now would be to teach him the stuff he needs so that he can do these things.

Membership has got to be a main concern.

Much as I hate to say it,chances are that not all the boys that you start with will stay.

Some will see that this isn't Cub Scouts and that will be more than they want to take on, some might see the more established Troop down the road and think that the grass is greener over there. Running a Troop of five is hard running a Troop of three is really hard!!

Never ever miss an opportunity to recruit a new Scout.

If you have access to the list of Lads who dropped out of the Pack, give them a call. The District should have a list of the lads who didn't cross over this year give them a call.

Beat the heck out of the Scouts you have to bring their pals, family, relations. Look at your own family. - Your sisters kid might not have had any interest in being a Cub Scout, but with a little push might join the Troop?


Make time to listen to the Scouts.

While you are a long way from having a working PLC, find out what kind of things they want to do. Look for ways of doing the stuff they want to do. Some of it might not seem very "Scouty" but remember that you are thinking outside of the box. Just be careful that the Scout stuff doesn't get left behind and forgotten about.

Fun is the fuel that makes Scouting work.

Everyone needs to have fun.

Adults and Scouts.

Treat the adults like adults. If you can find a pal who you are close too, who you can really talk with, who is willing to share this new adventure with you. Then you are indeed very lucky. Look after him or her. When the going gets tough or you get frustrated he or she will be your life-saver.

A big thing for me was learning to laugh with the Scouts (Never at them.) Enjoy the things that they enjoy, bask in their successes. Look for opportunities to reward them.

The reward might just be a kind word, or a signature in a handbook or having that whatever filled in on the big advancement chart on the wall.

Never forget the age of the Scouts.

They are not ready to take on Philmont or some of the stuff that maybe you might want to do! But you are laying the groundwork now for all the good stuff that will follow.

Set realistic goals. Write them down. Work toward them.

If you meet them? That's great. If you don't? Be honest with yourself and find out why? What went wrong? Then go about fixing the problem.


Right now with things as they are, this new Troop is all about you.

Like it or not? You are the life and soul of this Troop.

It's no easy task, you are going to need the help and support of a lot of people.

People in Scouting are really great people, they will help if you ask. You need to do the asking and try to make sure that you ask th right people.

Do make sure that you remember that you have a family! If you spend all your time with the Troop and leave them out, your going to lose their support.

Without the support of your family you will burn out very quickly.

Please update us about how things are going.

Have fun with the Scouts, enjoy the challenge and the adventure and remember to smile eve when things seem not so wonderful.

Good Luck.



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I was in your shoes just two years ago. Our troop started with five boys and is now up to 19 active boys. We will celebrate our first Eagle Court of Honor this summer (one of our several transfers). So, yes it can be done. But let me explain why it is working for our troop.


First, we had dedicated parent support and a good feeder pack. We also actively recruit from other local packs. We had all young boys at first, but several older boys transferred in during our first year. Instant role models.


Our purpose for starting a new troop was that the other local troops did not fit our ideal. Some stale adult leadership in some cases and not "youth run" in others.


I have lots of Scouting experience as a young man. I am an Eagle and served several years on a summer camp staff. Also much outdoors experience.


Even so, it has at times been tough. I sometimes think the boys might have been better served by an established troop with a tradition of youth leadership. If such a troop exists in your area, I would suggest joining that group and put your efforts toward making it stronger. On the other hand, adults and youth are working alongside each other establishing new traditions. After two years we have just really established an SPL and ASPL and well trained Patrol Leaders. For the first year, I pretty much acted as Patrol Leader.


It is fun, it is tough. Would I do it again? Probably. Would I recommend that someone with no real background in Boy Scouting try starting a troop? Not likely.


But if you decide to go ahead, know that there are many friends here to offer support and advice.



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Been there, done that, got the bruises to prove it :)! You've received some excellent advice in the thread (e.g. get trained, read everything you can, observe a functioning unit, etc.). I won't question your motive to start a new troop but will assume it's a done deal. For the record, I restarted an inactive troop in our rural community so that the boys in my pack had a local option. We started with 5 scouts, currently have 11, 2.5 years in.


Here's what went well:


1. I found a dedicated scouter to help me with the unit.

2. We got outside within a couple of weeks of starting up (early January day hike in northern Illinois, starting temp 6F). It set the tone for our outdoor program.

3. We've maintained a fairly strong outdoor program.

4. Found a mentor in a neighboring troop who was willing to help me get started.


Here are the mistakes I made.


1. I didn't demand that the parents and CO form an active, functioning, trained committee on day one. If the other parents and your CO aren't willing to step up, go somewhere else. If you're doing everything you'll be totally burned out within a fairly short time. Besides, parents who are involved can't complain! Ask your DC to assign you a UC right away and ask for their help in getting the committee on the right track.


2. We as adults didn't step back fast enough from being adult-led to boy-led. Somebody mentioned 3-6 months. I'd say that's about right, certainly no longer. Seed the boy's thought processes with places to camp and visit. My experience was I had to push the boys outside the box a bit. Still do.


3. We didn't start recruiting additional scouts quick enough. You will lose some of your original group. If your feeder pack is strong it may not make a huge difference, but plan to lose at least one.


4. We didn't take advantage of District/Council events soon enough to help ease the planning load. Go to the roundtables and find out when these events are scheduled. At a minimum you'll get 3 or 4 months of outdoor program and the opportunity to study (and for your scouts to study) other troops, both good and bad.


5. Don't get pushed into the First Year First Class advancement trap.


You will be the center of this troop's universe for a while. Delegate everything that needs to be delegated and focus on the boys. Have fun.

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I can't tell you how much I appreciate the responses I have received. I just found this site, and it's scary how long a person can spend just reading different threads.


As to some of the replies:


Yes, there are two other existing units in my area. One is perfect, everything I would want my son's troop to be. And if I ended up being SM of a new troop, this would be my model.And the SM, a great guy, would fill my need for a mentor. Problem is, they limit their roster, and there would only be 1 or 2 openings when my son crossed. They believe in providing an excellent program for a smaller group instead of the "We have 78 scouts on our roster" but only 20 at the meeting type of troop. Because of this, the group I have had since TC would be broken up, and I feel some would drop out if they split from their friends. I know as a father it should be my son first, above all others. But I wouldn't be able to shake the feeling of turning my back on the other boys and their parents, who have also become good friends, just because my son got into the "good troop".


The other troop is a well established, boy led, but a bit unorganized unit. At this troop, the SM is looking for a replacement. He deserves it, he has been a dedicated SM for almost 20 yrs. He would like for me to bring my guys in, show me the ropes for a few years, and then have me take over. The problem here is that I have some personal issues (not heavy, just not the most agreeable people)with a few of the parents that are already involved, and I could see some head-butting in the future. Another thing is the CC will need to be replaced soon, so I don't know where that is heading. The biggest question is, in two years do I get to run the troop as I see fit, or is it a "We do it this way" atmosphere.


The appeal of the new unit is the CO feels like home, the freedom to do it right the first time, and my Web parents are into the idea. The problems are, it's a new unit and I'm a new SM.


Sorry to ramble on about my troubles like this, I'm normally more fun. And I'm not sure this place is meant to be my whining post. :)

But thanks just the same for everything. ANY help or suggestion is greatly appreciated.



Confused Beaver


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A crazy idea for ya, if you can get a copy of the 3rd. edition SM handbook, it's a 2 volume set, the 1st volume has a suggested program for getting a new troop started. Yes itmay need ot be modified to todays times a little, but I like it.

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The thing I needed most in resurrecting a new Troop was an ASM. You need one who is into camping, willing to run meetings on a 50-50 basis (not taking over from Scouts but playing the adult role about 50% of the time so you can speak to parents, plan things, enjoy the meeting etc)and is in the area for years to come. If you don't have one - don't start. If you do they may never show up 'cause you'll be 'doing fine'.


If your experience of Scouting is of younger ages then be very careful to not make it an older Cub Pack. This is a problem for some people. The age group can be very adult one minute and babies the next. You are the island for them - always be the same. Don't baby them and don't expect them to be a fully capable adult. I found it easiest to work out by measuring myself against what an Uncle or next door neighbour might do in most circumstances.


With adult help and personal confidence in your role you will have heaps of fun.


Just a thought. Could this other Troop loan you a PL for the first few weeks and could they run one camp where your Scouts were included as a patrol or split between two perhaps? I did that and it was useful as a benchmark as we got started.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well, it's been resolved, and much for the better I believe. The CO that wanted to start a unit is now going to go with a CS Pack as opposed to a troop. They already have some leadership and excited scouts. I told them to let me know if they needed anything. Like I said, these are great people, and I know they will be successful.


As for me, I will be taking the advice of having my son cross over into an existing unit in my area. I've decided that I can "Do My Best" to encourage the other boys in my den to cross over, but I have to think of my son's scouting first. For me to try and start a new troop would be unfair to him and any scout that joined. They would be waiting for me to get my act together, and then where are they in a few years?



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