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When is it time to find a new troop?

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When do you tell your son its time to find another Boy Scout troop?

I really dont want to send a complaint letter, up to Council. But the troop he belongs to just isnt cutting the mustard.

Yes, I attend the parent meetings, tried to volunteer, two months later, they tell me I have the job, after I speak with the Scoutmaster and the Quartermaster. Now mind you, I have been trying to talk to the Scoutmaster for the last three months. I dont like to or want to bother him during the weekly meeting. That time is Scout time.

But the grumble list is growing and is very long. One camping trip per year, plus Camp-O-Ree. But no pre Camp-O-Ree, they didnt get their reservation in on time. And no one is currently a registered Merit Badge Counselors. Well, one newbie :).

And the cake topper is my boy has been trying to get a few blue cards to start some merit badges for the summer. For the last month, yes month. The Scoutmaster has had one excuse after another, about no cards with him or he will bring them over. My son is a trooper, but can only leave so many messages. And go over to his house so many times, to leave another reminder.

Any ideas would be great, or does he walk.


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If a Troop is not camping, if it is throwing to many barriers to boy-initiated advancement and Merit Badges, if it is not --or at least moving toward--a boy-led patrol method, if your boy is not having fun--then I would say start shopping around.


Better to move and find a good Troop than have your son drop put altogether.

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I don't think you tell your son it is time to find a new troop. I think you ask him whether he is having a good time, what he is learning, whether he would like to go camping more, etc. If he is perfectly happy except for the delay in merit badge cards, maybe you should leave him be. If he has concerns, I think you can share some of your concerns with him as well, and tell him there MAY be another troop nearby that would be better. (Which you don't really know for sure until you start visiting troops, but chances are there is a troop around that goes camping more than twice a year -- hopefully much more.) And then ASK him what HE wants to do. Just my opinion.

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I think you know this troop well enough.


But your son needs to be the one to decide to leave. It needs to be his decision.


Now, I'm not saying you just do nothing...I'm just saying you shouldn't tell your son that he nees to find another troop.


What you can do is encourage him to realize what is going on and encourage him to either stick with it or move on.


By encourage, you can ask an open ended question, and ansmwer his questions with open ended questions:


Old_Guy : So son, how are things going with the troop? Is advancement going the way you planned? Are you doing stuff like camping and hiking?


Son : No dad. Advancement is non existant. W almost do nothing at all.


Old_Guy : So you mean advancement is harder than you thought?


Son : No dad, I am trying to advance. I am trying to get blue cards, but it's like the SM just doesn't care. It would be easier to explain nuclear physics to Fido than get a blue card from the SM.


Old_Guy : So you are making an effort, but nobody else is?


You see where I am going? ASk him questions, let him think them out and come to his own realizations.


Don't give him a direct answer, but answer with another question that will cause him to think about, and hopefully understand what he needs to do.


Thing is, you "helped" him, but he thought it through. He will decide and make the decision all by himself...which is just as very much as important as getting blue cards and advancing or earning MB's.

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Based solely on this description, if your son wants to walk, I'd sure encourage it.


What does the troop do? They don't appear to focus on camping or advancement, that's for sure. Is there something else that they do that appeals to your son? Maybe he's getting something out of the program. Admittedly, it doesn't seem real likely. You could always ask if he wants to visit another troop, or if he knows of any friends who are in another troop.


I don't think I'd tell him it's time to find another troop, but I'd sure say it's time to ask him if he wants to.

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I'd do some checking to find out what Scout Troops are in your area that might be tyransfer possibilities.


One you've identified one or more prospects, ask your son if he's be interested in visiting other programs, and if he's interested call and get an invitation to one or more troops.


If he finds one he likes better, transfer.


If you do transfer, I'd encourage you to write a friendly not to the Committee Chair detailing your reasons. Most people just leave without a word, but explaining in a friendly way why you leave might help the unit decide to improve their program.


Are you familiar with other Scout Troops in your area? You can try BeAScout.Org and perhaps get an idea where other troops might be located.

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Hello All,


And thanks for you input.

Tampa Turtle: Its a boys led troop, and he is enjoying the group. At last weeks meeting, he built a hatchet out of Duc tape. And saw a lot of other cool things built that night a hat, bow & arrow and other stuff. Lots of inventing and thinking, and meet and greet the crop of 21 new scouts. So he had a good time.

NJCubScouter: I am just concerned he took the wrong path. He had only looked at two troops before deciding on his current troop. The first one which he did not choose might have intimidated him. The meeting was set in a rock climbing gym, while the Scouts climbed, there was a parent meeting. They were only offering 10 openings for new Scouts.

At his current troop group, they take all comers. This year, there are 21 new Scouts. Taking the total to the mid 50s of active Scouts in the Troop

Scoutfish: I am going to give your advice a try. Thank you

Oak Tree: He is getting very frustrated with the cards and perhaps it is partly my fault. He goes to a weekend troop event for first-aid and other merit badges. And I ask him how it went, and what did you experience. He explains the details to me and I ask who the counselor was that instructed the group. Cant remember their name, ok. Do you have a merit badge work sheet? No. I will stop there.

SeattlePioneer: There are plenty of other troops around the area, maybe to many. But there are troops with his school friends at other locations.


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My comments.


1) It needs to be his decision. Yes it can be tough on us parents. But ultimately it is his life.


2) What are they doing if they are not a "hiking and camping" troop? As Green Bar Bill said, " Outing is three-fourths of ScOuting."


3) MB Councilors are NOT unit level positions but District level ones. Although a MBC can request to only work with one particular troop. Have your sonask around who the MBC is..


4) While the Guide to Advancement states that the blue cards are the ony acceptable thing to use, I know for a fact that some units do not use them, using MACSCOUTER.ORG worksheets, or photocopies from the MM pamphlets, or even the requirement books.

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Old_Guy - you may be able to get a list of registered merit badge counselors from your council office (tell them you're picking it up for the troop - not that you are a parent who wants the list for your son). With list in hand, your boy could approach his SM and say something like "I'm planning to work with Mr. Jones on the 1st Aid MB. When can I get a blue card to start?" And of course, give a copy of the list to the SM.


Also, as you may know, "boy led" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people - but it shouldn't mean one campout a year. Might be time to have a friendly chat with the CC to gain a better insight into how things got to this point. Frankly, I'm astonished that a troop that only camps once a year still has 50 scouts.



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Lisabob - there is a reason why the MBC list is normally not given to parents. Our District tried to put it on a web site for easy access for all and the Advancement board put up a real stink until it was removed.


Some troops may be open to handing the full list out to all scouts and letting them find their own. Most troops are not.. It should be the troops call.


Most troops have a system, which forces the SCOUT(not parent) to work with other adults in order to find the MBC's THAT THE TROOP RECOMMENDS.. They may recommend a few good ones, or only recommend one specific one.


Handing the list out to all, means some parents do the work, right up to making the call for the scout (or do all up to handing the phone to the scout, if they have been corrected by MBC's in the past).. It also means them possibly organizing to do a MB with an MBC the troop has scratched off their list due to problems that have arisen when they worked with past scouts (too hard, too easy, never available leaving the scout hanging etc.)


Having said that, I do wish I knew they were available at the council though. My son the last few months leading to his 18th birthday wanted to do an easy MB to knock off one last palm.. No one was listed for our area to do any of them.. He emailed every other district Advancement chair for a list from their district (our troop was fine with him doing so..) No one responded, and his time ran out.. Would have been nice to know he did not need to rely on the other districts Advancement chairs for the list from their district.(This message has been edited by moosetracker)

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Moose, yes I know how the system is supposed to work. I also know that sometimes it doesn't work. In the case where a scout is chasing the SM around for months to get permission to start a badge and the SM is simply dodging - as is described by the OP - it may be appropriate to try some other approaches.


As a MBC, I would not want my contact info on the web for anyone to find. But that's an order of magnitude different, from a Scouter picking up a copy of the list for the unit to light a bit of a fire under the dodgy SM, which is what I'm suggesting here.



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When is it time to move on? When the Scout's vision of what he wants from Scouting has little reality in his current troop.

However, to avoid leaving the frying pan for the fire, he should make intense visits with other troops. Can he join some of their outings?

As for the SM. If one shows up at the SM's house at supper time, would the blues then be available?

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