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Our troop is experiencing some difficulties and we're look for some ideas and suggestion. Our Scoutmaster has three questions he wants to ask. They are:


1. What is the format for your meetings?


2. How does your troop define involvement and/or participation for scouts?


3. What are the expectations for scout leadership positions in your troop and how are they run?


After there are a number of replies, I'll go into more detail some of the challenges our troop is facing.


Thanks in advance!


Yours In Scouting,


Richard Clark

Assistant Scoutmaster

Omaha, NE

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Has your Scoutmaster been trained --- especially the Scoutmaster Specific training?


Has he read the Scoutmaster's Handbook?



These are fundamental questions about the program that should first be read straight from the book, in my view.


The Troop Program Helps (or whatever they call them these days), has specific suggestions for a model troop program. Reading through some of these programs should give you ideas on meeting formats.


What kind of experience in Scouting has your Scoutmaster had?

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We could talk handbook and end the conversation, but truth is there is a lot of picking and choosing to what gets applied. For our troop:


1. Meetings are one hour consisting of a) flags, pledge, oath, law; b) announcements; c) theme/training: usually broken into ability groups/patrols, boys may work on requirements or schedule SMCs or BORs if time allows, d) sign up for events, e) circle up ans SM minute, f) clean up.


2. Involvement means stay registered, show up at meetings, camp with us. Leaders are expected to give advance notice of their absences and make arrangements for them. The boys are each other's worst critics, so we try to foster accountability at that level. Bean-counting committee members are largely ignored.


3. Leaders are assigned tasks in accordance with their position, and if we think they need them, mentors. The natural ability of the leaders dictates to a degree what our troop does. If the boys don't step up, many events wont happen. (E.g., we may camp, but not back-country, if the boys skip shake-downs.) We work pretty hard at keeping parents off their backs. We try to get the boys to reflect on what worked or didn't -- what they'd change.


With 18 youth on the roster, this is a pretty informal process. When we had numbers in the 40s, we used sign-in sheets, etc ... It depends on the SM.

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Pretty standard:

Opening/Pledge/Oath and Law

Welcome visitors

Agenda is announced

Review of previous event


Skills instruction



SM minute


We do not define or require a minimum participation level. We have been blessed that our youth leaders remove themselves from the ballot if they know they can not commit to the time to be a leader.


Our expectations for the POR's is the they DO SOMETHING. Our parents guide says just wearing the patch will not prepare a scout for advancement. They must DO SOMETHING in order to claim the time served.


I have much better things to do than calculating attendance percentages for a slate of patrol leaders.


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You may have missed previous discussions, but National has defined "active = registered" (for advancement purposes)


While many of us disagree with that interpretation, we may not add to the requirements.

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This may not be helpful, but my advice would be to focus less on meetings and more on outings. Meetings should be viewed as a tool to prepare for outings. Junk all the other hoopla and anything that involves sitting in folding metal chairs.

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Agree with shortridge.


Also, all need to look at the new Guide to Advancement, the replacement to Advancement Committee Policies and Procedures. There is new and different guidance from the 2007 answer "Active=Registered".

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Taken from the guide to advancement from this link


http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf Active Participation

The purpose of Star, Life, and Eagle Scout requirements

calling for Scouts to be active for a period of months

involves impact. Since we prepare young people to go

forth, and essentially, make a positive difference in our

American society, we judge that a member is active

when his level of activity in Scouting, whether high or

minimal, has had a sufficiently positive influence toward

this end.

Use the following three sequential tests to determine

whether the requirement has been met. The first and

second are required, along with either the third or

its alternative.

1. The Scout is registered. The youth is registered in

his unit for at least the time period indicated in the

requirement, and he has indicated in some way,

through word or action, that he considers himself

a member. If a boy was supposed to have been

registered, but for whatever reason was not, discuss

with the local council registrar the possibility of

back-registering him.

2. The Scout is in good standing. A Scout is considered

in good standing with his unit as long as he

has not been dismissed for disciplinary reasons.

He must also be in good standing with the local

council and the Boy Scouts of America. (In the

rare case he is not, communications will have

been delivered.)

3. The Scout meets the units reasonable expectations;

or, if not, a lesser level of activity is explained.

If, for the time period required, a Scout or qualifying

Venturer or Sea Scout meets those aspects of his

units pre-established expectations that refer to

a level of activity, then he is considered active

and the requirement is met. Time counted as

active need not be consecutive. A boy may

piece together any times he has been active

and still qualify.

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Thanks for those that have replied so far. I'm going to go into a little more detail on why the questions are being asked. First please know that Committee Chairman, Scoutmaster and myself (Assistant Scoutmaster)are fully trained. We have a couple other trained ASMs. The scoutmaster and myself are Woodbadge trained and have received our beads.


1. Meetings - Our current format is:

PLC 15 minutes before the meeting




Patrol Meeting/work on skills

Merit Badge classes (usually two run at the same time)


Scoutmaster Minute

Retire Flags


We're having more and more scouts and parents leave the meetings early. Most of the time it's when the game is going to take place. The explanation is that the scout has a lot of homework and needs to get home.


The easy solution I think is that the schedule gets rearranges so the game in the middle of the meeting. This I would hope keep the scouts to stay to the end with other important scout skills or badges they are working on.


2. Participation is a concern. Our troop is around 40. Getting scouts on camp outs is not the easiest. The last district camporee we had 14. Most of the time it is the younger scouts that are attending.


As mentioned before having scouts stay for the entire meeting is becoming a problem.

Participation on troop activities, camp outs and Eagle projects are not always the best. Keeping the scouts interested and involved is another area we need to focus on.


3. The last area is on youth leadership. There are scouts that just want the position in name only to get the leadership needed to advance. Others that have matured and look like they could do a good job don't want the positions (Specifically SPL). This is frustrating. When I was a youth we fought hard to become SPL. But this is about all leadership positions.


We have a good troop. There have been 31 Eagle Scouts that have come out of it. The Scoutmaster is in his third year at the position. We have an outstanding Troop Committee Chairman. And there are a number of parents that help in different areas. There have been good suggestions so far. If you have more to add after reading this, they would be greatly appreciated.




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First thing I would do is gather ye Scouts and ask them why they are not camping. What is it they are looking for? What expectations are not being met?


As for the Scouts leaving early, perhaps they feel the games are pitched to boys younger than they

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Well, it's rude to walk out in the middle of a meeting. But leaving that aside...



Boys leave when a program isn't of interest to them.


What kind of games do you have? Sounds like these aren't of much interest to the older Scouts.


What kind of outings do you have? In general, boys don;t go on outing they aren't interested in. Perhaps you need more challenging activities for the older boys.


I'd probably have a bias toward doing the skill building training for younger boys and the Merit Badge classes at the same time, since they ought to be targeted at different boys.


I'd have a bias towards NOT doing Merit Badge classes. But perhaps they work for you.




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I saw those dreaded words in your description of the meetings, "merit badge classes". I have to say that this indicates to me a couple of things.


FIRST, you do not understand the merit badge program. Merit badges are designed to be done outside the troop setting. The scoutmaster gives an interested scout the name of a registered councilor, and the scout contacts this councilor, meets with him under appropriate supervision, does the requirements to the councilors satisfaction, and returns the councilors signature on a blue merit badge record card to the troop for record keeping. This lets the scout in on personal growth, adult association, and it is linked to advancement for older scouts.


Scouters hold merit badge classes because they see that scouts do not naturally use their precious time to earn merit badges in this way. No, the scouts spend their precious time playing video games and hanging out. Adults decide that since earning Eagle scout is so important for a scout, the adults will bring the merit badge program into the troop and set all the scouts on a road to earning the badges, similar to the way they taught the scout skills for the lower ranks. This is a fallacy. The end all of scouting is not earning Eagle. It is building into the boys the Aims of Scouting; growth in moral character, personal fitness, and participating citizenship. I don't think that a merit badge class structure helps with any of these things, except perhaps when you do personal fitness MB and you run your boys around a track during each meeting.


My conclusion: Do NOT hold merit badge classes. Adults, learn the program, and then explain it to the scouts. Encourage them to earn the badges. Use this video to explain it to them:



(the Rat Studies merit badge is fictional. My scouts wanted to take this MB, and were disappointed. Same thing for the Duct Tape merit badge. )


SECOND. If the adults have that much to do with troop meeting, then you are not a boy or scout led troop, you are an adult led troop that has a boy leader, like a patrol leader or a senior patrol leader, standing in front while the adults do the leading. This is a faulty understanding of what "Boy Led" means, and what the patrol method means. Just because you have patrols, and patrol leaders, does not mean you are following the patrol method. The Patrol Method means that you divide the troop into patrols, and you give the scout selected patrol leaders REAL authority over the troop. I do not think that a scout would select merit badge classes as part of the composition of the troop meeting. This is an adult thing. Adults can provide some structure. The troop meeting plan form has these elements: Opening, patrol meeting, skill, interpatrol activity (game), closing. An adult, specifically the scoutmaster, should coach the SPL and PL's to have these meeting sections planned and ready to go each week. He should then be still and watch what happens. After the meeting he should meet with the SPL and coach him, saying, "how did this work? What can you do to improve that."


Boys who feel that they have control of the troop, and participate in its running, will stay and have fun in that environment. They will learn how to get along with one another (participate in citizenship) and guide the troop (learn leadership). Baden Powell, the first scoutmaster, said that "to get first-class results from this system you have to give the boy leaders real free-handed responsibility - if you only give partial responsibility you will only get partial results".


THIRD, you must ask yourself, what is the role of the adult in the troop. It is not to plan or to lead, but to coach and to provide a safe environment. It is not even necessarily to teach. A boy led troop can teach their own new scouts. You keep them safe. Watch out for inadequate gear, (don't let a boy freeze his butt off), unsafe practice, and hazing. Follow the scouting "sweet 16" of safety. You also coach the SPL and the PL's to DO THEIR JOBS. And you congratulate the scouts when they earn rank advancements, and you give an inspiring message for your scoutmasters minute each week.


Your goal is summed up by something Bill Hilcort said one time. Your goal is to sit in an easy chair at the back of the meeting room and not get up until your scoutmaster minute at the very end of the meeting.


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When I teach SM specific classes, I make a point to stress how important it is to focus on program, and to de-emphasise focus on advancement. Advancement will come naturally when you focus on delivering a fun program. When advancement becomes the focus, the fun in the program decreases.


It sounds like advancement is a focus in your troop. Perhaps the scouts and parents have bought into this concept, and your program attracts those families that are looking for Eagle. Note, this is an assumption on my part, based on the following items in your post:

- Getting scouts on camp outs is not the easiest.

- Scouts are in attendance for MB class, but leave before the game - (which is the exact opposite of a typical troop - boys love games).

- scouts that just want the position in name only to get the leadership needed to advance

- We have a good troop. There have been 31 Eagle Scouts that have come out of it.




Some thoughts:

- We have a good troop. There have been 31 Eagle Scouts that have come out of it.

Work to redefine your definition of a good troop. Ignore how many Eagle scouts have come out of it. If none of these scouts are willing to step up and be SPL, if they are not willing to go on campouts, if they are not willing to contact MB counsellors and meet with them outside of troop meetings, if they want leadership positions for credit without doing anything, ask yourself, have they really met the advancement requirements? Or are they being given a "gimme" on the Scout Spirit requirement? I can't see where the behaviour that you are describing matches what would be expected of a star or life scout, let alone an Eagle scout.

Consider changing your definition of a good troop to something like "our troop's outings are so exciting - we go white water rafting, do century bike rides, backpack, work at the homeless shelter, etc."


Make sure that the campouts have challenges for both the older scouts and the younger scouts. Older scouts don't want the same old same old. they need new challenges, whether those challenges be harder activities, or the challenge of helping the young scouts in their patrol learn scout skills to win the interpatrol competitions at meetings and campouts (your troop does have patrol vs. patrol competitions, right?)



> having scouts stay for the entire meeting is becoming a problem. Participation on troop activities, camp outs and Eagle projects are not always the best.


I think that this is an indication that the scouts in the troop are there for themselves - a "whats in it for me" attitude. If scouts are not willing to help out their fellow scouts (whether at Eagle projects, or campouts, or any other time), and they are still getting the sign off on scout spirit that they want for themselves, why would they change? We want scouts to develop a comraderie and sense of duty that when one of their buddies -someone that they have had a lot of fun with - needs something, they are there. That just wont come when there is an advancement driven culture, since advancement is an individual based activity.




3. The last area is on youth leadership. There are scouts that just want the position in name only to get the leadership needed to advance. Others that have matured and look like they could do a good job don't want the positions (Specifically SPL). This is frustrating. When I was a youth we fought hard to become SPL. But this is about all leadership positions.

Take a look at whether leadership positions have been sold to the scouts as something that is necessary for advancement, rather than as something that is necessary for them to do to plan and conduct fun and exciting outings for themselves and their friends. So they are looking at POR's that are as easy as possible, and SPL is viewed as a very hard position where none of the other scouts listen to you. If holding a position for advancement is the objective, scouts will gravitate to the easiest way to achieve it.



So first, get with the SM and CC to discuss and get consensus if you want to move from an advancement driven culture to a program driven culture. If you agree that you want those changes, note that It WILL take time and effort to change the culture from one of "my son is here to make Eagle" to one of "my son is here because he is having fun in the outdoors". Expect to lose some families. But note that you will also start to attract scouts and families that want more in a program than advancement.



Good Luck

Recognizing the problem is the first step in change, and I think that you have idemtified it.


(This message has been edited by venividi)

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I would love to do a study on the behavior of folks who dont answer the questions they were asked. Why was there automatic assumption of adults going wild? Sheesh.


Anyway, I agree with the comments that scouts leaving early, not showing up to campouts and leadership issues are probably indicators of a program rut.


Im going way out on a limb here and I could be way off, but I kind of get the feeling that while your adults are pretty well versed on how to run the program, but they dont really have a feel for where to go. They dont have a big vision that drives goals needed to reach the vision. The youth leadership problem you describe is a very common problem among troops that struggle with long range goals because they dont have expectations of improved maturity or really know what kind of maturity to expect. Its obvious that a 15 year old SPL should be a completely different leader than a 12 year old SPL. But yet many troops dont expect performances of behavior to be different for either one. A troop with a Vision of developing good leaders would have expectations for each age using each Position Of Responsibility (POR) as a stepping stone to a more complicated POR that requires more experience and maturity. A 12 year old shouldn't even want to consider a Troop QM, ASPL or SPL position because their responsibilities appear very demanding and grown up. Does your program have that?


What I am saying is that the difference between a good program and a great program is a vision that requires the adults and scouts to keep overcoming challenges. What makes a program fun is the activities that teaches the skills needed to overcome the challenges.


Many adult leaders like to say older scouts get bored working with younger scouts so they have to be separated into a program of just High Adventure. We found that not to be the case at all, what stimulates all scouts is overcoming challenges all the time. Small or big, its the skilled gained that satisfies us all, not the intensity of the activities or even the reward at the end. I think your guys are bored because they dont have any goals forcing them to mature. They arent having to improve their mind or bodies to overcome struggles.


Sure your guys want a leadership position to get the next rank, getting the next rank is the only real challenge the program provides. Your asking how to hold a Scout accountable to his leadership responsibilities. But a good program will show the scout his failures without anyone having to tell him he failed. A scout who was supposed to buy and bring food to the campout and doesnt bring the food doesn't need any adult to tell him he failed. Hey, how is he going to fix it. The adults need to get 100 feet away and see how they overcome that challenge.


If you could go visit a mature troop with lots of older scouts, you will likely find that most of their Eagles earned the Eagle at ages 15 or older. That is because they were busy doing other things like planning activities, teaching JLT and running the program. A mature troop challenges a scout at every age. A lot of troops struggle with older scouts because once they get first class, they dont have a lot to do for them except the same ol camping stuff. A mature troop sees the PL who just learned how to control a group, but needs more practice a managing and teaching, so he might be encouraged to be the Troop Quartermaster where he has to teach the Patrol Quartermasters how to manage their patrol gear, and how to be organized to load and unload the trailer. You want to make a scout feel like a grown up, give him a set of keys to the equipment storage with the rules that he, and only he, unlocks that door. What about program planning, we just dont automatically know how to move a whole troop from A to B one weekend a month and we dont just leave and camp when we get tired. Scouts have to develop those planning skills, and certainly not all at once. Steps to overcome the little challenges and learning life skills all along the way. Maybe the goal of the ASPL should be taking all the planning skills learned in the patrol and apply them for the troop. Think about the skills a scout will learn in that process and the maturity he will have gained, FOR LIFE.


One of our visions in our troop was the Troop to function exactly the same even if the adults didnt show up. So we drove the program to take a 10 year old runny nose crossover Webelos and turn him into a full blown SM by age 18. Through the years of successes and failures (many failures), we develop a pretty good program where there were no worrys that the troop was in safe hands with the PLC even if the adults didnt show up.


Im running long, but maybe your adults need to sit down and discuss where you see the program going, but would really like to see the program to go. One thing is for sure, you dont want your program next year to be the same as the one you have today. All programs need to mature all the time so as not to get stale and so the scouts actually mature into grownups. What would you like to see different a year from now? How would you like the scouts to be different in their maturity? Programs need visions that are next to impossible to obtain so that it doesnt really ever get reached and require change. Visions need to force your leaders to create shorter term goals that require the program to improve all the time to stay mature.


Have your adults had that kind of discussion yet?




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14 at a camporee......can ya blame them.....Neighboring districts put on 3 camporees a year by the age of 13 they have been to 10.....to be honest they don't vary the program at all.


Same location year after year, same activities year after year......


Big surprise they don't want to attend...



Who makes out the calendar????

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