Jump to content

New Troop & Leadership

Recommended Posts

I just started a new troop in Nov 07 with 7 boys, all but one 11-13 y/o. We have been blessed because we started with an Eagle Scout (17), who was willing to give back to the young guys. We also have a very gung-ho committee of adults, who have had no previous experience with Scouting. Six months later we have 15 scouts, 8 committee members, 3 ASMs, and me. We are ready to make a second patrol. I am a little shocked at our growth and would like some guidance on how to really get my PLC working together to plan their events. Particularly, what kinds of things do I need to train them on, encourage them in to prepare the troop for summer camp?


I am really trying to get to a boy-led troop. The SPL, ASPL, PL, and APL are trying but they are leading in a vacuum since they haven't seen boy-leadership demonstrated before. How can I help them?


I remember my time as SPL, but that was over 30 years ago. This is my first time back in Scouting since 1978.




Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah, T78. Welcome to da forums, eh! And congrats to yeh on your new troop.


You are asking a really big question in some ways, eh? One that all good scout leaders are workin' on day in and day out - how do I encourage/help/coach my guys to grow and lead? You're gonna be asking yourself that question forever if you're a good SM.


For where you're at right now, be aware of a few resources:


Troop Leader Training: A brief syllabus/program for introducing your PLs and other youth leaders to leadership roles. Along with that, yeh can also find good help in the Patrol Leader's Handbook and da Senior Patrol Leader's Handbook which you should give to your lads in those positions.


Junior Leader Training: An older, out-of-print program that had da advantage of bein' more detailed than TLT. Yeh can probably ask an old SM in your district to borrow his copy.


National Youth Leader Training: A program offered by your council that a couple of your key up-and-coming leadership boys might be encouraged to attend.


For my part, I'd encourage yeh to think about stayin' age-appropriate and thinkin' long term. You've got a young group, eh? Don't expect 'em to be doin' everything. Figure on teachin' 'em how to do simple stuff and letting 'em solo on that before you go on to bigger things. Developin' a really youth-led program is a multi-year, ongoing effort.


If you're gettin' ready to make a second patrol, consider carefully whether to be age-based or mixed-age in your patrols. That's an important decision, IMO, and will affect how yeh run for years and years. Lots of old threads here on the topic.


Be careful about bein' too top-heavy. You describe an SPL, ASPL, PL, and APL for a unit with only one patrol. Too much! Figure on a PL and an APL for each of your patrols. No need for an SPL to coordinate between two people. Yeh want to build Patrol Method leadership, especially with the age of your lads, not Troop Method leadership. If yeh keep the task manageable and the patrols independent, you'll do your unit a world of good.


Stick to practical, concrete tasks rather than leadership theory for the guys you have. A good Patrol Leader should really know how to cook, plan meals, set and break camp, handle simple first aid - all that T21 stuff, eh? And teach it by word and example. If yeh aren't comfortable letting a lad go camping and hiking for a weekend without any adults, he hasn't really passed First Class and isn't really ready for leadership. Do some PL/APL - only adventure/training weekends to push 'em and make 'em confident in their skills.


The goal is to turn over camp tasks and hikes to the kids first. Let 'em be successful and grow in their independence. Then work on handin' over small planning, then bigger planning and teaching and safety. As you work toward that, you and your ASMs are the "older kids," and will be settin' the example while pulling some of the planning load. Just don't do it behind closed doors. Participate in a PLC and let 'em watch you run a meeting and do planning and stuff. And then gradually you guys "age out" as they grow up.


Remember, you've got a few years! And don't worry, your next round of young guns will see that kids can do camp tasks and hikes on their own and they'll want to be that cool, too! They'll learn by watchin'.




Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say that the best thing you can do is allow your youth leadership to see an example of an effective boy-led scout troop in action. If your council has an NYLT program coming up this summer, that would be an excellent opportunity for your SPL and other leaders to see first-hand how a boy-led troop works.


Another idea - is there another troop in your area that is boy-led? See if you can identify such a troop, that shows good youth leadership and a healthy program. If you're friendly with the SM, see if they'll allow some of your youth leadership to attend a couple of their troop meetings and maybe a weekend campout as guests. If this is not possible, try attending camporees, summer camp, and other events with multiple other troops. Pay attention to how the other troops operate - note what works and what doesn't work.


I'd recommend using this type of strategy in addition to the training resources provided by the BSA. The BSA resources will provide objective "educational" type information about how the troop program should work. The opportunity to see a real unit implement the program will supplement the training, allowing your youth leadership to see how it all fits together in the "real world."

Link to post
Share on other sites

I became SM last year to a troop that had been adult run, but with scouts in "leadership" positions, but who never made any decisions.


The first thing I did was hold an outing planning session. I got the troop together and put up a blackboard with the 12 months of the year on it. I then put up a board with 15 choices of locations for camping. One was summer camp, one our ski trip, one a scout district event. I asked the boys where they wanted to go. I then put up a third board with activities listed. I asked for additions to the 15 things I came up with. By the time we finished, we had for each month a location and an activity. The boys picked from our worked up lists. We had a years camping schedule.


I had PLC's where I would put a discussion topic on the table and let the boys work it over. We only had 3 on the PLC. I had the SPL ask for other topics after that, and there were none. But the one I had brought had ended in a decision being made. I, of course, had no vote, only a veto (which I have used once).


I think it is the SM's job to bring the leaders up by giving them more and more dicision making power over the troop. I will veto if I feel it goes contrary to scouting policy, or the aims and methods. (I would not let them vote to abandon uniforms, of course, but I would lit them pick uniform pieces, like a troop hat, or non standard patrol patches).


Next year I hope the outing selection goes smoother. I hope the boys will take up more of the troop decision making, and actually develop their own vision of our troop. It takes time.


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>I will veto if I feel it goes contrary to scouting policy, or the aims and methods. (I would not let them vote to abandon uniforms, of course, but I would lit them pick uniform pieces, like a troop hat, or non standard patrol patches).

Link to post
Share on other sites

My one comment here is about economics. Gas just blew through 3.20 a gallon in Flyover Country.


This isn't an area where SM can veto, but he has to help teach that money does not go on trees, and the cost of fuel is rising faster than most of our real world pay raises.


Some outings will need the Scouts to collect cans for $$ in recycling, or other creative ways to get the $$$ to get the youth from here to there.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...