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cardinal50

Brand New Troop

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I'm just getting back into scouting after about a decade hiatus. I'm serving as a UC since I have most of my experience in Commissioner Service. Having come from a major metropolitan area, I've always worked with existing scout troops. Now I'm Serving in a rural area and, for the first time, I'm going to experience the formation of a new troop comprised of crossing over Webelos. One drawback(I guess) is that it is "sponsored " by a group of interested parents. On the plus side, it has a good beginning group of trained adult leaders and committee members which have a can-do attitude, A potentially large source of troop income, no problems with equiping troop and commitment to proper uniforming. With only 7-8 fresh tenderfoot scouts, what would be the best method for arranging to troop in order to preserve the patrol method? 1 SPL and 1 6-7 scout patrol? 2 patrols of 3-4? 1 patrol and no SPL? Obviously this will only be a problem for the first year.

 

I haven't actually checked BSA material for suggestions yet. I thought I would get more practical info by asking here first.:-)

 

Yours in Scouting

Dave(This message has been edited by cardinal50)

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Making the Patrol Method work with a small Troop can be a real challenge, making it work with a brand new Troop is even more so.

I kinda think you already know where you fit in as a U/C.

Still maybe it's worth mentioning that you are not the SM and he or she is the person in charge.

Your time might be better spent working with the adults ensuring that they understand that the Troop should make plans to be around long after they and their son's have moved on.

I think if I were the SM of this Troop.

I would not have an SPL, I'd go with each Scout serving as PL for six weeks.

Once everyone had served I'd then hold an election with the Scouts electing a SPL and a PL.

Hopefully by the time next year rolls around the Troop would be ready for a NSP, again with each of the new Scouts serving a term of PL and again holding another election.

Of course recruitment and retention would be a big focus for all involved.

Eamonn.

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cardinal,

We started a Troop in the fall of 2007 with 6 boys who had crossed over into another Troop in March of that year. We had one patrol and no SPL. In March, 2008 we had 6 more boys cross over and we formed 2 patrols of 6, each with 3 2nd year Scouts and 3 cross overs, and no SPL. Last week we had 14 boys cross over, so we now have 3 patrols of 8 and an SPL.

 

Our focus was letting the boys really learn how to work as a patrol. We didn't need an SPL, and I didn't want to have one boy pulled out of a patrol just to fill the position. The boy's time spent in a patrol at that age is much more valuable than being an SPL with very few PLs to work with. They will have plenty of time to be an SPL down the road.

 

In my short-term experience, I would suggest that having an SPL under the age of 13 in a young Troop is a waste of time. The downside to this is the SM has to act as SPL. In the end, it worked out for us as we slowly handed off more planning duties to the boys as they could take them on. I think we now have a very good foundation to build the Troop on.

 

Green Bar Bill said there is on fundamental principle for organizing a new Troop: START SMALL (emphasis not added). His other piece of advice we have tried to follow is: "You will find that the most successful Troop is the one which achieves success with a small group first, and develops in size as success continues."

 

Good luck!

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6 boys = one patrol, no SPL. I wouldn't worry about an SPL until one has at least 4 patrols. I would emphasize working on developing a good PL structure of having the boys listening to just one leader at a time. Once the group gets up around 30 boys, then it would be ok to consider an SPL to assist the PL's. I find that troops that hussle to quickly to fill troop officer personnel will do so at the expense of the patrols. Once a troop officer corps is established, quite often the troop method begins to take over and the patrol method takes a back seat to the dynamics of the group. As the group grows to signficant numbers, the temptation is to exert more adult "supervision" to quell the observable disorientation of the patrol method, i.e. each patrol doing their own thing and soon one has an adult-led, troop-method approach to unit. Not many adults can let go and let the boys lead, thus there's always the desire to rush to establish an SPL and his concern takes precident over the patrol method as he tries to "run the troop". All patrols thus must conform to his program rather than maintaining their own.

 

Stosh

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We are in a similar boat here. We just started in January with 6 boys: 1 Eagle, 1 Life, and four new to scouting. We are expecting 4 or 5 more in the fall (long story). We have an SPL and an ASPL. Our Eagle will age out in September and I am not to sure about our ASPL. Great follower but not quite ready to lead. Amazing group of guys though.

 

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I dont think it really matters whether you use an SPL or PL, the goal at this point of time is to develop a patrol method type program. As Eamonn said, that is a challenge on its own.

 

I suggest that all the scouts and all the adults involved get the Patrol Leaders Handbook. That gives everyone a guideline toward where they should be going, and how to get there. I also suggest that the adults, at least the SM, get the SPL Handbook for himself and the youth leader so they can work together under the same guidelines. These books are a quick read and very clear. They are enough to point the program in a direction that everyone agrees.

 

See, the biggest problem at this time is getting a grasp of the ultimate goal. What is the purpose of all this work? If everyone has a different goal like Eagle or character or leader, then the group will struggle. It is probably a good time to start with review BSAs Vision and Missions statement and then follow that with Aim and Methods. Even the SPL Handbook talks about those goals and methods, so everyone should get acquainted with them to have one path to work toward. Let the SPL and PL Handbook guide the program as best as it can be followed by such young scouts. If either the scouts or the adults have some question about how to do something, they can sit down together and refer to those to guides. Likely it will have some advice.

 

I also find that scouts this young wear out pretty quickly, so I like the idea of four month elections the first year just to give the boys a break. Depending on how much responsibility the adults really give the boys will depend on how fast the fatigue.

 

One very important bit of advice is that an 11 year old should have all the same responsibilities of a 16 year old. Just not as much. In other words, dont ignore a part of the program because the boys dont seem mature enough to do them. Build the program you want five years from now. Again the SPL and PL handbooks are the source. I know a SM who waited until his scouts were 14 before letting them run PLCs. When handed them over, they didnt have clue what to do and it took about year to get it under control. And 11 year old can run a PLC meeting, but his experience and maturity must be taken into consideration.

 

Also, no matter the situation, the adults should never takeover leadership of the scouts. Instead the adults need to ask for permission to say a few words or explain something. The SM should never stand with the SPL or PL while they are talking but instead behind the scout to show his respect for the scouts authority. That keeps the authority on the scouts. In our troop, the adults never put up the sign first, they wait for the scouts to put it up, then follow in support. It can be very trying for the adults, but eventually it works ouytIts just another way for the adults to remember not to take over. Yes, there will be some chaos at first, but that is how we learn.

 

Finally, even though this group may have plenty of funds, I find that fund raising to aquire all the troop equipment is an excellent way to bond. Working hard together is the best team builder I can think of for both the scouts and the adults.

 

Good luck, the results from building a successful troop are quite rewarding.

 

I love this scouting stuff.

 

Barry

 

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By the book a patrol is 5 to 8 Scouts. I will caution you that even patrols of 5 can be difficult to work with because if two Scouts don't show the division of labor is gone. Similarly if you have a patrol of even 9 or 10 temporarily until you see if you are growing or shrinking it is okay because it is unlikely every boy will show up for every event. If they do you are doing a great job and the boys can decide to split the patrol.

 

I never worked with a troop with only one patrol. Oddly enough the SPL seems a bit superfluous one only one patrol but I wonder if the ASPL is still needed. By definition the ASPL not only helps and covers for the SPL but helps the PORs other than PL. So if there is no one but the PL who directs the Librarian, Historian, Bugler, Scribe...

 

Initially you could say the SPL takes up the ASPL job as well. But in a one patrol troop couldn't an APL do that? The obvious wrong answer is an ASM because boys should be leading boys and Scouters should be guiding a single boy to oversee these PORs.

 

The troop the next town over worked without an SPL for two years in a similar situation to yours. As the troop grew the SPL position was brought into the program. It seems to have worked out. I wonder if the SM worked just through the one PL or if he ran the meetings. I will have to find out.

 

I looked in the SM Handbook. There is no diagram for a troop with one patrol.

 

Personally I think if there is only one Patrol the PL and APL should take on the SPL and ASPL responsibilities respectively until the troop is big enough to need an SPL.

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That was our reasoning with using SPL and ASPL. Our ASPL works with the positions (scribe, historian, and quartermaster) while the SPL does all the planning with input from all the boys. It is just a bit more of semantics than anything else, but if a boy functioning as an ASPL he should get credit for it. The fathers are all present but hands off. The boys are preparing for an upcoming challenge: one of the W1's is deaf and our boys are all learning sign language to communicate with him. He was invited to join our pack (same CO as the troop) by 4 of the boys. (Who gets the recruiter patch?)

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Icongratulate you on your new adventure. As a newly minted DDC whose "specialty" is officially new units, let me second all that has preceded. And add one suggestion.

 

If the nascent Troop is, as you say, sponsored by "interested parents", this implies a seperate incorporation. This can be well and good, but if you search these forums, you will discover some threads that discuss the pros and cons of such a self-sponsored unit. It almost always turns out easier and better if the overall charter org is a seperate self sufficient institution.

 

As you no doubt know, Scout units are successfully chartered to many types of institutions: churches, volunteer fire departments, granges, Lions Clubs, American Legion Posts, schoolPTAs, even hardware stores. Yes, a CO need not be a non-profit.

I would suggest as you build your Troop's program, also seek out a sympathetic CO.

Good uck and Godspeed, Scouter.

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Thanks to all of you for your advice. Obviously, as unit commissioner, it's not up to me to decide the ultimate arrangement. however, I feel the new SM will be facing this issue and I needed some ideas to present to him if asked. I knew with all the great scouters here, I'd get some good responses. You didn't let me down. I've always felt that an effective commissioner is one who is wise enough to consider the good advice of those who are "in the trenches" so to speak.

I've worked with some commissioners who "knew it all."

They weren't very effective or welcomed by their units.

 

Your in Scouting,

Dave

 

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