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How do I start and continue a boy led troop. I have started a troop from a Webelos den a year ago. I have 9 scouts that are 12 years old. I have an older scout of 14. How do I make the transition from adult led to boy led??

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Hmm interesting. I know there are more knowledable folks out there onthis topic, but I'll put my $.02 worht in.


1) Get a copy of the 3rd ed. SM HB, the 2 volume set that GBB wrote in the 30s, as it is not only comprehensive on this topic, but in scouting overall. While the syllabus for starting and training may be somewhat outdated in the technology and equipment department, the foundation of starting a scout-led troop is there and valid today as when GBB wrote it.


2) When workign with your scouts initially, use the Socratic method of asking questions and then letting them come up with the various answers.


3) Once a scout has mastered a skill, "empower" by having him teach the others that skill and signing off in the BSHB when he is satisfied they knwo the skill. I've found that the Scouts are tougher than some adults on judging their peers skills.


4) While you initially do lead the troop, over time and as you train them start backing off and lettign the scouts do the work.


5) resist the urge to jump in and correct things. Scouting is designed for scout to try new things, succeed or FAIL (caps for emphasis)in a safe environment that will allow them to learn form their mistakes. Some of the best lessons I learned in scouting came from mistakes.


6)When talking tothe scouts after a mistake, resist the urge to tell them how to improve. Instead use the Socratic Method of askign openended questiosn and let them come up with way to improve. Gives them ownership.


7) Find other SMS who truly use the PM and talk to them.

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Here is what we did. I appointed my son as SPL, not because he was my son but because he was the only 1st Class Scout in sight and I knew communicating with him would be easy. We held Troop elections after 9 months, by which time he was starting to burn out. An SPL you can work easily with is good during that storming period.


We treated the whole troop as the PLC when it came to semi-annual planning but limited their choices at first. I printed up 13 or so choices for monthly activities, with pictures and a descriptive paragraph, posted them on a bulletin board and gave each scout six stickers color coded by patrol. I recommended to the Patrol Leaders that they vote in blocs and we held 15 minute patrol meetings before any voting actually happened.


We asked my son's old troop and another nearby troop to mentor us. At summer camp one of their (highly bemused) JASM's came by to do a highly publicized campsite inspection. The attention the younger boys paid as this tall Eagle Scout walked though camp with his clipboard was rapt. The other Troop loaned us a troop guide who ended up joining our troop and is currently the SPL.


We also sent SPL and ASPL to Grey Wolf, Council's name for NYLT, even though we had to get permission to send them so young. And when we finally held our TJLT, I made sure to bring a couple of the younger Scouts along as "cooks". Those younger guys, both APLs now, spent a lot of time peeking from the doorway of the kitchen watching as we worked the program (we did the old style full day Troop Junior Leader Training, not the three hour TLT.)


The adults tent, cook and eat separately, with the exception of cracker barrels and other social events.


I also consistently refer decisions to the Scouts and the PLC, whether the questions come from the Scouts themselves or the committee.



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The two volume BSA masterpiece, Handbook for Scoutmasters, that Eagle92 encourages you to read is available through AddAll for about $15 per volume. See:




William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt's six-month Patrol Leader Training Course, "Intensive Training in the Green Bar Patrol" can be read at:




If you have access to a school, you will find that 70% of sixth-graders will sign a list (in front of their peers) to join your Troop if you describe it as dangerous adventure. Of course your outdoor skills have to be up to par to make good on that promise. See:




Is the older Scout a natural leader? When I work with a Troop of ten Scouts that young, I keep them together as one Patrol under a Patrol Leader, and skip all the SPL, ASPL nonsense.


Separate the Patrol from the adults as far as possible. Start with 50 feet and work up to Baden-Powell's minimum standard of 300 feet.





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We started with almost the same thing, just over a year ago. We had 6 Webelos cross over at age 11 (all with arrow of light).


In my mind, we're on a 4-year plan to get the troop completely Scout-run. Why? Because they don't have any older scouts to model themselves after, so I have to teach them while letting them lead.


I spent the first couple months showing them how scout meetings go, following the guide in the SM handbook, including the suggested outline. After that, we elected a patrol leader (one patrol, no SPL or anything yet). Then, for the next month, I worked with the patrol leader until we got to the point where the patrol leader was responsible for openings.


After a few months of games, we are now to the point where each month (at our PL Council meeting -- which is everyone staying 15 minutes after the regular meeting) we get one volunteer to handle the gathering game, and another to do the meeting competition game.


At the August planning session, we did similar to Mr. Irish, in giving them a lot of ideas and voting on the next year's plan. They picked the theme for each month and we've been following that since last August. They have helped pick and decide locations and activities for campouts, but I have generally followed through with details and specifics for them so far.


Since that time, we've added two more scouts who are now a bit behind the others in advancement. Not enough for another patrol yet, but to the point where the "older" ones can teach basic skills to the others. So patrol time is now planning campout menus, duty rosters, and teaching basic scout skills to one another. The patrol leader is only 12 now, so he's not completely setting patrol meeting agendas, but we're working to that point.


Next Spring we expect to get a full patrol from our feeder Pack. Then we will have two patrols and scouts with 2 years of experience. Not quite enough for a guide, but maybe, we'll see. In another year after that, only after a 3rd patrol shows up, will we likely add a SPL and leadership corps -- again, we'll see.


My main idea is the slowly give more and more control over to the scouts. And oh yes, let them fail. Our first campout I let the scouts pack the patrol box. They forgot a spatula. Its fun trying to cook hamburgers on a open fire on a grill with no spatula -- and they haven't forgotten one since that time. They plan the meals, they pack, the prepare. I'm only there for suggestions and to keep them safe at this point. I figure in a couple more years, they'll be able to do all the campsite planning and I'll have even less to do!

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