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I will confess that I indulged in some bragging about our scouts this summer. We were on Ross lake, packing up the kayaks to head off to our next campsite when another troop, mostly older boys, came along in canoes. We introduced ourselves, and they went about unloading while we finished loading. By an by, I pointed out three of our scouts and told one of the adults in the other troop "those guys each had thirty nights camping last year, their first year as Boy Scouts..."


"I know," he told me. Our other SM has already bragged about it to him! How do ya like that, beaten to the punch.


Well, fate punished me. As we were leaving, I broke the rudder pedal on the kayak and then sliced open my finger fixing it. As soon as my blood hit the water, a strong headwind came up that we had to paddle into all day.


But I didn't learn my lesson. I'll still brag about how much outdoor time they get.

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What I hear is not so much bragging about how many Eagles a troop has but how BIG the troop is.

Those troops with 80 to 150 boys love to brag about how big they are.

I wonder how many Scoutmaster Conferences the SM hands off to ASMs? Does he really know how each boy is doing? How can he even remember ever boys name?

80 boys is about twice what I would want in a troop. I just don't think I can effectively run a program with that many.


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Bragging takes on different forms.


-Forthright braying like a jackass about each scout earned more MB than the other at summer camp and how they all did T21 in their first meeting after crossover.


-Oblique sniping at how bragging jackasses' brags advertise their inferiority as SMs (with the implicit suggestion that the snipers are superior).


-Lampooning the brag styles of jackasses and snipers, implicitly suggesting that somehow the lampoonist is above all that.


One might imagine ways in which Scouts associated with braggarts of all stripes get much of the good Scouting has to offer.


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Here in the South we're taught at a very young age to respond to such boasting with, "do tell."


"My daddy had 1500 acres in tobacco."


"Do tell."


"He bought just bought me a new F-150 for graduation."


"Do tell!"


"He said if I get Betty Lee to marry me, he'll buy us a house in Charleston."


"DOOO Tell!"




We always say "Do Tell" 'cause is sounds so much more polite than "@%@&! YOU!"

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Eagle732, please allow me a chance to defend the "big troop." I can only speak for our troop.


"What I hear is not so much bragging about how many Eagles a troop has but how BIG the troop is.

Those troops with 80 to 150 boys love to brag about how big they are."

- We don't brag about how big we are (132 boys). We moan and groan about the size of our troop to the District, to Council, to whoever can help us in solving our woes. We reminisce of the time when we were 37 strong. If that is bragging, then yeah, we ask for help. We had to "cap" our troop.


" I wonder how many Scoutmaster Conferences the SM hands off to ASMs?"

- I do 1st Class through Eagle and I ask my ASMs to take over Scout-2nd Class. You are correct. It is physically impossible to do all! I keep 1st Class - Eagle to keep the consistency with my message to the boys. From time to time when I have a chance, I do Scout-2nd Class. Oh by the way, my SMCs are done outside of troop meeting! Does it take a lot of time? You bet you that it does!


"Does he really know how each boy is doing?"

- You betcha!


"How can he even remember ever boys name?"

- 132 names and their parents' names! Our troop is so diversed that it makes one just go crazy in learning the pronunciation of some of the last names! For those who don't, that's because they don't want to make an effort!


"80 boys is about twice what I would want in a troop. I just don't think I can effectively run a program with that many."

- I totally agree, but when the boys want to join ... you cannot simply tell them no. We are not a model patrol method, but we try. Are the adults run the troop? 30% adult guidance 70% boys run. Do they make mistakes? You betcha! Do we make mistakes? You betcha? At troop meeting, the ASMs and I stand in the back of the room while the SPL and his 6 ASPLs ran the meeting of 70-90 boys! At campout our two quartermasters run the trailer managing 9 patrols equipment distribution. Do I want to go back to the time it was smaller? You don't know how much!


So ... we Big Troop or Mega Troop do not brag. We simply manage what we can. ... btw ... granted that we are not perfect, but we try. We camp every month. We go to summer camp. We send off 2-3 HA crews each summer. It takes our average scout 1.5 - 2 years to get to first class. Our average Eagle age is 16.8 years!


If we have to brag, we brag about the fact that we have a 92% retention, a great number for Council, but a bad deal for our size!


I'm sorry if it sounds as if I am defensive. I am, because your statements seem to be the common misconception about big size troop!


I wouldn't want to wish the size on any scoutmaster!

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We did split 10 years ago. We and our twin both grew! They are at 60 boys and we are at 132. We tried, but no one seems to be able to figure out how to divide the troop (again). It is tough already to have very little adult involvement on the Committee side to help with the logistics of the troop. It is even tougher to find two sets of adults. We found as the last time ... who gets to go where is not easy to decide. District and Council are quick to say ... split. It is truly easier said than done.


Bottom line is that unless a scoutmaster has dealt with a troop this large, one cannot even begin to realize the enormous amount to work it takes and we don't like/want to brag!



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With 132 boys, you need to have 20 ASM'S and a full committee three deep.


When you take a new boy, you hand his dad and mom the adult application and tell them it's a package deal, three for the price of one.


You should go put hands on the dads and moms that are too busy to help (read, would rather be golfing, etc.) and tell them they are needed.


Put these expectations on page one of your parents guide/troop bylaws book.


IMHO, you need to be much more demanding of your scouts parents. It's their kid, afterall.

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Second Class,

20 ASMs... that's a recipe for adult-lead troop. I have 10 ASMs, 9 mentoring the 9 patrols, with 1 for HA. Been at this for the last 13 years and been on this board for 9 years, as with some of the other old timers here, Packpaddle, Barry, Seattle, Beavah, and others, I have read and contributed my fair share of what a good/bad troop should be. Having said that, I am still learning. I have been on the small end to the big end to the mega end. There is no end. I continue to practice the BSA ideals; however, sometimes as others will tell you that ideals are just that. As a troop grows, (the Army used to put it the best), you have to adapt, adjust, and overcome. As long as our boys are having fun and learning, then big troop is as good as a small one, but let's get back our regular broadcast ... to provide our 2 cents to Basement with his experience.


Basement, I would have been more disappointed. At 2011 summer camp in CO, I was blown away with one troop. They had a full staff of Committeem members and ASMs at the Scoutmaster Hall, commandeering the hall to run their advancement. They had the newest scouts and their Trail to First Class boys to go through requirements, assigning ASMs to work with these guys on a particular requirement. They held Boards of Review there. They had computers set up with printers. It was an operation! They brought 65 boys (vs 54 that we brought). If the SM at your roundtable had a similar troop, then yeah ... I can see how they can get their boys through a summer camp!



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If I had to pick the most faithful long-standing forum member my vote would be for OGE. :)

OneHour that is quite some troop you just described. I think what this thread is really describing is a clash of cultures. There are more traditional approaches (and I'm aware that 'traditional' has many connotations here) and then there are the 'new' approaches (I hesitate to assign terms like innovative or experimental). For those of us who continually advocate for local option in other aspects of scouting, this is one of those aspects where we already have local option and all I can say is that if it works, it works. In another thread I see some resistance to a 'utilitarian' outlook so let me call this a 'pragmatic' outlook. Pragmatism is a uniquely American invention, or so I've read, so I hope there will be less emotional response to its use.

But it is very possible that in the marketplace of scout units and different communities, many different approaches will be successful and that in this aspect at least, local option might be working well. It's only when these approaches meet that some of us may react in different ways.

And THAT is where we move to primate social behavior...which, as I've mentioned many times, I explain in my simplistic way using only three words: "We Are Monkeys".

Works for me at least, in my uniquely American pragmatic outlook. ;)

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One Hour,

I'll defer to Baden-Powell who said that he felt a troop of 16 was about what he thought he could effectively handle but that most Scoutmasters would be twice as capable as him. He felt that 32 was an effective number for a troop.


Here's an interesting take on the subject:



My unit has 4 patrols of 9 or 10 boys each. We are at capacity today, we were about ready to fold 5 years ago.




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