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First Meeting with the New IH

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On Saturday morning I got a call from the Institutional Head of our Charter, an American Legion Post. He says he wants to meet with me as soon as possible. Says he needs to get a handle on things at the Post. I tell him I will call my committee chair and a couple of my assistant scoutmasters and we can meet later that afternoon.



The IH is new to the post and became commander just recently. At 67 he is the youngster of the post. Locally he has run for public office before but has never been elected. Since his last election defeat he has jumped into three separate community service organization where he has taken on a chairmanship role.


When we get there he is putting tape on the AC so that no one can lower the temperature.


The first question out of his mouth is, "how much fundraising do the scouts do for the post?" We tell him that we cannot raise money for the post wearing scout uniforms but have helped out in previous fundraising events for the post either directing cars, or serving tables and things such as that.


He then ask how do we go about recruiting veterans for the post. We say we recruit scouts not adults. It then goes into how often do we clean. We sweep up and remove the garbage every meeting night. We continue to describe how we do 2-3 work days a year at the post where we either clean and paint or work on the grounds outside. One of guys got his company to donate a used ice machine. The troop even paid to have it refurbished and professionally clean and calibrated.


He tells us that we need to do more such as a reoccurring custodial service at the post that includes cleaning the bathrooms. The conversation rambles with him stating he wants to put on additions to the building to finding a new building to making the place a showroom for weddings. The place is marginally in code compliance for a certificate of occupancy let alone a showroom hall for weddings.


Then he got on us about a pavilion one of our scouts is building. That is in another post in Advancement.


The questions were very business like, (what do you contribute to the post why should we keep you). The tone was more one of disdain for the our scout troop.


He wants to attend our next few committee meetings. Of course we will invite him but there is no telling where he will take this.


I am ok with doing more. But is wasn't just do a little more. He sees the scouts as needing to payback the Legion in servitude or cash or both.






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We are approaching the situation you describe......


Some one left the AC on for a long period of time at the CO and it resulted in a $2100 electric bill.

Of course the scouts were blamed, but we do not have a key to were the HVAC controls are located in the main office. The troop leadership passed the hat and gave them some money to help with the cost.



I am guessing the new IH is looking at the rising costs of his club and the shrinking membership.


Other than a place to meet what does your CO do for you Thomas????? One of the troops in the District's has a CO that donates as much as $500 per month to their scouting program. Call me self serving.....so what has the CO done for you lately?????


Us....We work the food bank, the community meal, light building maintenance, keep the grounds clean......But expected service.....NO. We get a place to meet and donate some community service that is about it.



with the other developments it might be time to find a new CO......Irregardless to what you will be told here, Troops and Packs switch CO's all the time and isn't that hard to do...We have one SM that pisses off CO's once a year and switches.....He is on his 5th CO since I have known him.....



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Hello Thomas,


The new IH sounds like a manager with problems who is looking for ways of dealing with those problems. Can't blame him for checking out possible resources.


Sounds like he needs a course in recruiting Cub Scouts that he could apply to recruiting more Veteran members. I suppose that advice would be unwelcome?


I'd go with the flow and see what happens. Basement comments on possibly switch COs could be something to keep in mind if the issues don't blow over.


I don't suppose there is a Veterans of Foreign Wars post nearby?

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Speaking as an American Legion COR, (I assume you're a COR as well?) It sounds like what you have is an "Anti-Scout" Commander. We have had to deal with this over the years as well. There are just some Post Commanders who would just as soon not sponsor a scout troop/pack, and try to make life miserable for the units.


Overcoming this is not easy, but here's what I did over the years:

First, build an alliance with the Post membership, make Scouting a positive in every way--if the post has a bar, make an appearance once in a while, introduce yourself to folks and talk up your scouts! Remember, your Commander is an ELECTED officer, and if the membership wants to sponsor scouts, then that's the way it will be! See if you can get the District and Department Boy Scout Chairmen to attend his installation if he hasn't already had the ceremony. Invite them to COHs, especially Eagle! They WILL make every effort to show up, and usually have Department and National certificates with them!


Try to get troop awards displayed in the members' quarters. Let the Post SEE what your scouts have achieved. Those camporee ribbons, etc., DO get noticed, especially by the older vets. Those simple ribbons go a long way toward good PR with the Legion members! If you can't display em, bring 'em into the club and show them off!


Have your scouts show up at EVERY Memorial/Veterans' Day parade/observance. The members will be there, so should your scouts--you are all technically "Legionnaires." On the Saturday before Memorial Day, our troop does a cleanup of the Post grounds. We plant some geraniums out front and decorate with flags. We do this without being asked.


Get the support of your District and Department Boy Scout Chairmen!! (I hope you have these in your Department!) Have one of them accompany you when it is time to recharter. They can be persuasive! Scouts is their job!


You say that the Commander is attending your next committee meeting or two: GREAT! Maybe once he sees how a scout unit operates "behind the scenes", he'll realize how much he really DOESN'T have to worry about! I hope it works in your favor. You and your CC can perhaps convince him that scouts is more than "cleaning bathrooms". Show him that having a Troop/Pack is an asset, not a liability. Good Luck and keep us posted!

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Frank has great advice having gone through it - a lot of it is long term stuff but getting the American Legion District and Department Boy Scout honchos involved lets them have a chat with the new Commander about how important the relationship is between the American Legion and the Boy Scouts - and frankly, even though the Boy Scouts risk falling into irrelevance over their policies, the American Legion is probably a dying breed altogether - when the youngster of the Post is 67 years of age, it's pretty much a doomed post - and they can't really afford to alienate even more people (just imagine how younger veterans, already wary about the American Legion, will feel about them when they learn the American Legion is chasing away Boy Scout units).


Do you have a good relationship with the former IH? Post Commander is an elected position, but its not unknown for former commanders to take the current commander aside and give him what for and straighten him out - a quiet conversation with the unit's friends in the Post could do wonders.


Beyond that, once you get your Eagle Scout issue settled, I think I might be looking for a new CO anyway - you're going to need it sooner or later anyway.

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Posts need to recruit young vets.


You may want to ask your DE if anybody keeps track of scouts/venturers returning from their tours.


You get where I'm going with this. You can offer your your IH a list of warm contacts who he can call with the line "one of the things our post does is support a troop, maybe if you pay is a visit on a scout night, I'll introduce you to them."


He would be doing you a favor by giving the boys some adults to talk to about military life, you would be doing him a favor by bringing some vets through the door.

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Heck, we have several vets who are parents of Cub Scouts, and we had one Cub Scout Mom whose husband was in Afghanistan when the family joined the pack.


I did a Veteran's Day recognition recognition of Vets during the November pack meeting, asking Vets to come forward, recount their military service and the unit they served in.


We had vets from the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War and Iran/Iraq recognized in two years. That was one of my favorite activities since you never knew who might be stepping up, including other family members who were visiting the pack meeting.

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Ya know what.......


As a fellow in my forties I tried joining the Moose and Eagles......I bet the VFW and Legion are the same way....


While these organizations do a bit of community service they are primarily a private club to go drink in.


Since I don't drink all that much and don't smoke cigarettes...certainly don't like the company of alcoholics....



Not sure how appropriate it is for the BSA to recruit membership in these organizations.

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My local legion post is a bar....


It is in an old convenience store....The bar runs the length of the back of the building... There are tables and chairs lots of ash trays.....No grounds to speak of, other than the asphalt parking lot....The couple of times I have been in there not much going on.


I don't doubt what your sayin frank.....just the way it is locally. I looked at your link...looks great.....But my experience is the local post is dark smells like smoke, stale beer and runs a fish fry friday nights.....


Who knows those fish frys might raise a million bucks a year towards their cause????

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Legion Posts come in all shapes, sizes, and odors. I find the people within those walls to be extremely generous when it comes to Scouts, regardless of the building. Bars and fish frys are how they keep their post going, and provide services and scholarships. (I got one of those scholarships 30 years ago.)


Last winter, I was talking to a member about an upcoming camping trip that the troop was planning. "How much does it cost you guys to do that?" he asked. The cabin at the council camp cost us $50 at the time for the weekend. He reached in his wallet, and said, "This one's on me, OK?"


For the remainder of that evening, his drinks were on ME.(This message has been edited by FrankScout)

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