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I've been thinking about this: why do people stay in units with the level of chaos and poor programming that the OP in the original thread describes?


You know, I've seen some fairly big-time dysfunction in units. I served for a while as district membership chair, and that was eye-opening. One of the things that all of us struggle to balance is the desire to "save" a unit on one hand, (whether out of personal pride or desire to maintain a unit's history, or to serve the boys who are still hanging on, or some mix of these) and the reality that some units can't or maybe even shouldn't be saved. At least, not by anybody who is currently part of the dysfunction.


When I say some units can't or shouldn't be saved, that might sound harsh. But seriously weak and dysfunctional units, limping along with a poor program, high drama worthy of its own soap opera, and adults flinging accusations left and right, are not serving the scouts who join them, or the larger scouting movement, or the CO who chose to sponsor a unit as part of (hopefully) a larger commitment to serving youth in the community. Most of those scouts who enter a seriously weak and dysfunctional unit will probably quit, having had a negative experience. And from a membership perspective, I know that it isn't common for those who quit to go in search of another troop. They just leave scouting. There are plenty of other activities for kids to choose from.


In those situations, if the CO isn't willing to "clean house" then it is probably better to let the unit fold, disperse the equipment/people, and start from scratch with a new unit at some other CO in the neighborhood.


Now I've also seen a few situations where a committed group of fresh leaders come into a messed up unit and work wonders. But that's not likely to come from within, if the drama is in full swing among current leaders and parents, and it only works if there is a supportive charter partner. And it isn't without pain and cost, either.


What's the wisdom of the crowd? Is there a time when folks should just step back and let a unit die? If so, what do you think are the telltale signs that a unit has reached that point?



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If the unit commissioner is doing his job (hahahahaha - rarely happens), then they are coming to the unit's meetings every month or so, and they are attending the unit's committee meetings hopefully quarterly.


A unit commissioner is supposed to have NO OTHER JOB IN BSA. The commissioners field guide clearly tells us that commissioners shall not be unit leaders and that holding any other position in BSA is unacceptable.


However, districts continue to recruit commissioners who have multiple jobs and unit numerals on their shirts. So they are busy and the job is not done.


As a result, the acrimony within a unit, which could have been immediately addressed by the unit commissioner inside the leader meetings with gentle counsel and advice, goes straight to ultra-harsh, and leaves the unit on the brink of self-destruction by the time the DE is contacted and he sends in someone to try to do something to fix things.


Most units that district leadership become aware of as dysfunctional are, you are correct, terminal. Keeping them around is keeping a brain-dead person on life support for no reason other than to avoid the pain to pulling the plug.


Sometimes you can ask the unit to hold a leader meeting, and the commissioner can go in with the membership chair and tell them, "Guys, we're ready to yank the CO's charter. Pull it together, right here, right now, and decide who does what, or we'll ask the COR to step in and dismiss some of you or half of you to end the fighting."


Good luck getting the DE to support this. BSA makes him a salesman who has recruiting goals, and shutting down units will hit him in this pocket book. He will often fight you tooth and nail to keep a bad unit alive.


Edit: I accidentally a word.(This message has been edited by BSA24)

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I wonder about about saving units.


Individuals go to extreme lengths to save a unit.



I wonder if it is worth it, as one of those individuals. Mostly in my opinion it is about adult egos..... Rarely it is about a CO with a true interest in scouting.


A troop losing boys, dysfunctional self serving adults.


Single unit history?????


Whats the point and why bother when the youth don't care any more..... Existing unit should fold, new units created.....


History.....pssssst, Kinda like a house hit by a tornado.......Sometimes it is just needs bulldozed and start from scratch....


Some Troops and Pack just need leveled by a bulldozer and start over.....



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The units I get involved with are failing or struggling. Some I've been able to coax back into success, others have failed.


I'm primarily a district volunteer --- Membership Chair and unit Commissioner and Cub Scout Roundtable Commssioner + a pack treasurer right now.


I do what I can to help out when I see a problem with which I think I can help.


Unfortunately, that takes skills and experience, and few people are interested in stepping in to help a distressed unit.


As a District Membership Chair since 2004, it's been very frustrating to call around to Pack leaders to find out about recruiting plans and to discover major problems with units. On several occasions I e-mailed the DE and the District Commissioner, but usually nothing was done because there were no people interested in helping sort out problems.


I've seen Unit Commissioners who had no other job watch units fail, unable or unwilling to do much that would be of help.


I don't think there are any rules for such things.


What we really need are more skilled adult leaders interested in Scouting enough to participate meaningfully on a district level. Unfortunately, most districts are way short of such people.



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Sometimes it's just hard to let go, especially if there is an emotional attachment. One of the troops I started while I was away started having problems. if I had been around, I probably would have done my best to not let it fold. But by the time I came back, the unit was too far gone, and I couldn't do a thing to help. That would eb an example of emotional attachment.


Sometimes it's a sense of responsibility. I started a pack at my church, and the organization I was in was the CO. I fought tooth and nail to keep the pack going. I tried to get folks form the community involved, but faced discrimination for the second time in my life over the matter. And I even deliberately disobeyed orders from my boss to not get involved, which is kinda hard to do since I was on the charter as a committee member, trying to get it to work.


Sometimes it's pure laziness. I had one COR who didn't want to have anything to do with the pack saying the parents need to deal with it. parent's were dealing with the problem by walking away. And the COR gets upset when the pack doesn't cross over any boy scouts for the troop he's an ASM with.

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My unit was almost lost... barley made charter one year. Now we have over 20 active.

It wasn't because of "luck of the draw" in recruiting cubs. We did two main thing that were simple and easy.


Started recruiting Webelos in a respectful manner... having campout designed to cater to them specifically. Ones that promised more adventures, and showing that we cared . This got them out to visit us.


Internally we changed the troop from adult lead - to boy lead, using little more than the 8 methods of Scouting. This made a troop where Scouts wanted to stay.


Sometimes you have to replace people. Because some things are worth saving...

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Yah, Lisabob, I hear yeh.


I agree with BSA24, if yeh see the asteroid coming from far enough out, all yeh need to do is nudge it a bit in order to get it to miss the planet and avoid an extinction-level event. When yeh let it get far along, it takes much bolder response, and that can be hard to come by. Too far along and even if yeh nuke the thing the fallout will still wipe all life off the planet.


Right now I'm watchin' two units fold, and there's really nuthin' to be done. One was a unit that never should have been started, but it was "successful" in that the DD got his promotion. :p One is a long-time unit with an all-one-family-in-leadership thing goin' on. Neither has the right combination of stuff to be worth rescuing. Mostly, yeh just try to find good units that will offer asylum to the fleeing refugees.


Sometimes, though, there are enough ingredients still in place that a rescue makes some sense. Such rescues are best accomplished by an active Chartered Organization that is willing to step in, but yeh can work 'em out without that. Takes a lot of effort to sound out issues, identify common ground and problem-cases, promote the problem cases up and out of the way or somesuch. Each one is different.




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There's just too many variables to say let it die or fight to keep a unit going.


In the 70's when I was a scout in a rural area there were around 15 regulars that had been with the troop since it's inception. Most of us were also active in sports and around the time we all starting turning 16, fewer and fewer people came to our weekly meeting and eventually we died. So at the rank of Life, my troop quit on me. In a rural area where there's not another troop within a 30 to 50 mile radius as a kid you don't have any options. In my case I wish someone would have stepped up, tried to recruit, and keep the troop going.


In my son's case, I won't go into specifics but I have never seen such drama in a troop as the first one he joined because that's where all his cub scout friends went. The first bad sign was on the first campout when he and about 5 other scouts were cussed out for about 10 minutes for changing up who they tented with. We tried to let that one slide but it turned out to be one thing afer another but that's old history now. That was almost the end of scouting for my son. After about 6 months of inactivity we visited his current troop and made the move. Best decision we ever made. A lot of my son's friends made the move to our current troop and they love it. They regret taking years to make the move.


Dysfunctional troops should be allowed to die or the entire leadership should be replaced. They really do more harm to scouting than they do for it.


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A UC helping the situation ?!?!? Ha! Double HA, HA!


The only dysfunction I've seen in our unit WAS a UC who started showing up at our meetings and providing "feedback".


He gave me crap about our Web II's going to a troop in an adjacent district, not our own (we are not a feeder pack...)- My reply, its the boys' choice and thats what they choose to do.


He invited himself and spouse to multiple unit functions to include B&G, thus increasing our outlay of cost (for food), without really doing anything besides glad handing folks and pitching FOS for the DE.


I finally disinvited him from all functions via the DE after he made an off-color comment about a female leader and how well she "filled out" her scout shirt.


I agree let a unit die, but the LAST person I will ever have around my unit is a UC. Its an outside, non-paid scouter.


At least with the DE, you can tell him you will not recruit, not fund raise and not FOS if he doesn't stay out of your unit's business... The UC, no such impact to his pocketbook.


Sorry if I offend any out there who are UC's, but in my expirience (this latest guy and others) - UC's are at best never seen / heard from, OR at worst mostly a bunch of old, fat scouters who's kids are now in their 30's, but want to stay in the program, are part of the good ol' boys network, but not in a paid position and go around thrying to tell others how they should or should not be doing things.... our unit is 50+ strong and growing with over 30K in popcorn sales every year... 85%+ REACHING RANK and transferring to Boy Scouts after cubs... keep you nose out of OUR business!


If its guys like this that are going to SAVE a dying unit, might as well give the unit the morphine drip and let it go gently into that goodnight.

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I personally, with the blessing of the Key 3, tried to kill one of the districts oldest troops when I was district membership chair. The leaders in the troop where an embarrassment to the council, much less the district. Problem was the troop committee was ran by two very kind older gentlemen who were scouts in that troop as kids and they just couldn't let go. They were also prominent volunteers on district and council committees. The plan was to kill it so the gentlemen would be forced to change their registration then bring it back under a new CO and leadership. But I failed and the troop is still a struggle for the district 18 years later.



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1. I have this opinion: the charter agreement is between the unit and the National Organization - not between the unit and District, or unit and DE, or unit and Council. Therefore as volunteers we have no right to decide whether a unit recovers or folds. That is strictly a decision for the IH and his/her organization. As long as the IH wills it, my consultation is always in "help" mode.


2. Registered members of the unit and their families have permission to occupy and use the facilities provided by their organization. Unregistered members (ie commissioner staff) DO NOT. Commissioners cannot just show up at any activity or committee meeting as they please (as much as we wish that we could). They should be invited, or have verbal permission from the unit leader or committee member, or if necessary directly from the IH. I have seen situations where UC were barred from being present by the unit leader. In one case the DE was verbally and intentionally told not to set foot into the building. That issue resulted in a direct visit to the IH and the unit leader was at first counseled, then discharged by the IH (not at the request of DC or DE). Although we will try to be very persistent in visiting a unit, it doesn't always happen if we can't make the right connections or get the right permissions.


3. I have never and will never advise leaders or members to leave and look for another unit. That is not the same as advising a youth to check different Troops if they feel the program is not right for them. But I will not suggest jumping units due to leadership issues or conflicts. The leader/parent/family/youth must make that decision on their own. I will give contact information for other units if asked. My feeling is, if the leader/parent is attentive enough to realize there is a problem within the unit, then they have the means and ability to go directly and privately to the COR or IH and discuss their concern. I will go with them if necessary. If a leader/parent is willing to stay with the unit and lead by positive example, that should be encouraged - and they should be thanked and supported.


4. I inwardly cringe when I hear of parents being told they need to "step up" and fill unit positions. Cajoling volunteers is not the same as appraising prospects and actively recruiting them. That said...I know it sometimes must be done, but I don't have to like it or encourage it.

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Bluejacket, you make some great points. However, your post seems to rest on an assumption that the COR and IH are engaged, or at least are willing to be engaged. In most of the troubled units I've experienced, that is not the case. More often, the COR is "on paper" only and the IH doesn't even want to hear about the unit they sponsor when things are going well, let alone when things are not. These are the COs who basically say, "whatever the unit leaders want is fine" or "let the unit leaders fix it" or "if I have to get involved, I'll just close the whole thing down and we'll stop sponsoring the unit."


Those COs have abdicated, in everything except signing the charter agreement.







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You're right, I'm moving forward from the standpoint that the IH and/or COR are involved, or at least care. And I'll be honest - I don't have any units that aren't chartered to religious organizations, so if I'm being dodged it's relatively simple to show up in uniform for a church service, and find somebody who cares afterwards.


For a non-religious organization - I guess I'd try to find out their business meeting schedule, and crash that party. But I haven't been there, yet.

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