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Over that last couple of years we have grown to close to 100 scouts, average over 60 at weekly troop meetings, and 35-45 scouts on outings. We have monthly camping trips, an annual high adventure trip (32 to Philmont this year), additional high adventure training treks, a BSA 101 campout, service outings, OA, etc.


Adult leadership is feeling overwhelmed at times!


Any LARGE troops figured this out? Any advice?


Issues we face -


How to organize the troop meetings to involve and supervise 60+ scouts ranging from 12-18.


Our numbers for camping ruling out trips we have traditionally enjoyed due to pioneer sites not being able to accommodate us.


Managing SMCs and BORs for many advancing scouts.


Struggle to find enough adult leaders for trips and meeting supervision.


Adequate transportation for both people and equipment.


The number and size of patrols lend themselves to patrols acting more independently (this leads to difficulty electing scouts to OA, since they need 50%+1 votes - thus, scouts have to really stand out in some way to be known by over half the troop - sometimes this just means being louder than others!).


Managing an overwhelming number of advancements.


Welcoming visiting families and potential scouts.


Council's advice is to split the troop - but that would make it even more difficult to find enough adult leaders, plus that would overwhelm our charter organization who is very supportive but we stretch their facility already.(This message has been edited by bshealy)

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I was for my sins which are many the Leader of a large Troop of about 96.

To be very honest it did get to be too much for me and we did split, which didn't work out very well.

It's hard to know what might have happened if we had remained as we were?

But when Scouting became another full time job, something had to happen.

In a big Troop it is really important that the Patrols and the Patrol method is used.

Regular meetings of the PLC and ensuring that everyone is on the same page is essential.

I never worried about the "Struggle to find enough adult leaders for trips and meeting supervision" That's why we have P/L's.

Our biggest problems were equipment and transportation.

The equipment was mostly covered by giving each Patrol its own equipment. Clearly marked as being their's.

We also had a wonderful QM He had been a store man in the Air Force and while at times hard to deal with he did earn the respect of all the Scouts.

Getting Scouts to where they need to be? Really is not that much different for a large Troop then a small Troop. Most Scouts have parents and they need to step up to the plate. We found that renting vans for the equipment worked out better for us.

I'm a little lost about: " Managing SMCs and BORs for many advancing scouts." And "Managing an overwhelming number of advancements."? No one expects that this is all going to happen on the same night as the Troop meets and BOR's and SMC can be held at camp when your away.

If it really is too much? Then maybe it's better to split.



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Over that last couple of years we have grown to close to 100 scouts, average over 60 at weekly troop meetings, and 35-45 scouts on outings.


Yah, howdy bshealy!


Lookin' at the numbers I quoted above, I'd say that participation rate is low. If only 40% or so of the boys are comin' on individual outings, that makes it hard on patrols and patrol method. It suggests that what you're feeling is right: you've outgrown your capacity, and are no longer servin' all the boys well.


For that reason, I would agree with your council commissioner folks. I think the natural size for your program is smaller, and you'd potentially serve the kids and community better by spinning off a second troop.


Don't let the worry about volunteers get in the way. Volunteers always come in the same proportion to the number of kids. Yeh always have barely enough. ;) Da real issue is that relatively fewer volunteers have the skills and personality to be successful in very large troops like yours. Often, when they move on, such troops collapse pretty quickly down to more ordinary numbers. So while yeh get the same proportionate number of volunteers either way, yeh get a greater fraction of successful volunteers with two smaller units.


Now, there are good and bad ways to spin off a new troop (I like that notion better than "splitting"), and if yeh like we can talk about that.


If yeh feel it's your mission to be a mega-troop, then I think yeh have to divide-and-conquer. It requires a shift of mentality, because yeh have to add a middle-management team. Most mega troops that I'm familiar with tend to run age-based, so they do somethin' like divide up the program into the New Scouts (with several patrols and an ASPL & ASM), the Middle Scouts (with several patrols and an ASPL / ASM), and the High Schoolers / High Adventure guys (with several patrols and an ASPL and perhaps an ASM).


Yeh can do it other ways, of course, but yeh see the pattern. You're creatin' subdivisions between the patrol level and the troop.


In such programs, the SM and SPL become more CEO / manager types, and meet more frequently with their division heads (the ASPL group). You get da picture.




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How did your troop get so large? Is it because you offer a fantastic program, or is there a temporary population bulge in your area?

If the latter, the problem has its own solution. If the former, great job guys -- keep it up.

As to the pioneer camps, different groups going at different times may work

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I'm an ASM of a troop of 118 boys. It can be a daunting task, but Beavah hits it right. You need lots of middle management types to buffer the time demands of the SM and troop leadership.


We have an ASM assigned to each leadership position in a mentoring role for the boys. We're there to support the boys in their duties, not oversee them and tell them what to do.


SPL and ASPL's plan the Troop meeting every week. We stand in the back and talk to parents or each other. Our SPL has gotten troop meetings to 45 min, he sends out an email to the ASM's asking for announcements. No reply, No Announcement. The only time the meetings run long is if the instructor's go long in their presentations.


We average about 50-60 boys per campout, just depends on the time of year. Fall loses alot due to band, football, etc. Spring, we get better turnouts.


We don't do as much plop camping as we use to. PLC has decided to go with more backpacking campouts where we can hike in and set up camp. We just have to think outside the box about where we go, and we have to remind the PLC when they're choosing campouts, to keep those numbers in mind.


We are blessed to have dedicated committee members and ASM's who are willing to help out with transportation. Sometimes, we do have to rent a van to meet the demands. As far as BOR's and SMC's go. Our SM wants to do all the SMC's but he is usually at the troop meeting early (for PLC meeting) and tends to stay behind afterwards. The boys do realize that his time is limiting and they try and catch him or schedule time with him for the SMC. BOR's can get hectic, especially if they come in waves. Have you or your CC talked to other parents about serving on the committee?


We're struggling to get new ASM's and CM's right now. A lot of the ASM's have been with the troop for at least 4-5 years and are ready to turn over assignments to new members.


Once again, Middle management to handle the weekly operations stuff, you know, shaking hands, kissing babies type stuff.


Good Luck and Thanks for helping out

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I've never had experience with a large troop of the kind you describe. So the ideas here are speculation.


With a large unit I'd try decentralizing the Troop and it's activities. Are there patrols that would like to meet on different fays of the week? Why not accommodate them?


Suppose you had 3 Patrols meeting on Monday, 3 on Tueday and 5 on Thursday, each with an Assistant SPL and Assistant Scoutmaster in charge of helping to run a program that was common to each of those days of the week.


Perhaps there would be an opportunity to branch out to meeting in another location for some troop meetings, should that prove to be convenient.


You could even have separate Patrol Leader meetings for the patrols represented on each of those days. They could plan some of their own trips independently of the troop as a whole.







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Thanks for the replies! We need to think about the middle management idea!


Boomerscout - People would attibute our growth to a great program. Thanks!


Beavah - No one would characterize us as having low participation :) We have around 85+ scouts who regularly go on outings and are advancing. I think the most we have taken on one trip is 65-70. We usually have 50+ at summer camp. Everyone just does not go every month.


We use the Patrol Method strongly and work hard to be a boy-led troop and people would say we do a very good job with this aspect of scouting.


From reading your responses, I think the middle management idea of Beavah and Ownthenight's is something we need to think hard about and try to get in place. I will share that with our committee.


Thanks again!

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