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Here is what I see causes change.


1) Mass exodous of the youth, either out of scouting or to another unit.

2) Scouts over the age of 14 or 15 are dropping like flys and they are always a young troop.

ie.. Reasons that the current leadership start to ask themselves "What are we doing wrong?" or get honest answers from scouts leaving as to why they are leaving.. They then choose for themselves to change.


3) A new Scoutmaster or COR one with the ideas to turn the Troop into a real Boy Scout troop.


That is about all that I can think of that will turn a bad troop with no interest in changing around.


For struggling troops I would add, an new large influx of crossover parents who become involved in the leadership of the unit. Because a struggling troop usually is one that wants to be good, but just doesn't have enough involved adults to make it happen. To make a bad troop turn with this, the influx of new parents would have to outnumber the current leadership, and signon to the committee and vote for change. Still what the committee votes on can be ignored, or followed through half-heartedly by a SM who feels they have no buisness interfering in their program.


Jim I don't know if the current leader being malicious is what I sense from you. But, that they do not want to listen or pay attention to you is what I pick up. The shrugging off of using the flags as dodgeball boundry lines is one incident. Your speaking to the SM about change, and he just directing you to the PLC (which is correct to go to the PLC) but first should be his interest in what you have to say, or his discussing ideas further, then coming to an agreement and working as a team to approach the PLC would mean he has real interest in your ideas. Not just sending you off as a 'lone wolf'.. No they have chosen to ignore and/or humor you until you go away. That is the impression I have.


Now take this current attitude, from them that they have for you and your ideas of change, then have you approach the committee to push for change that the SM has "hinted" by lack of interest that he does not want. This will buy you no friendship, or cooperation, they will see this as you sidestepping them to push for what you want. They are shutting you down by ignoring you, the last thing they want is for you to push your ideas on a group of people that might as a group listen to you, and then have more then one person nagging them for change. This is a formula meant for disaster. They will look at this as you forcing them to change by underhanded means..


Committees & SM/ASM can work well if they are all on the same page, They listen to each other, respect each other and both can have alot of say in the shaping of the program, as long as they are all working together. If the SM/ASM & committee have different views as to how the program runs, there is war between the two parties and the only one that can step in and lay down the law and get the two sides to work together is the COR. An absentee COR means full out war with no end in sight. If there is already tension in this unit, between the two parties the SM will not want you riling up the enemy. If there is peace, the committee is still they 'other side' that they wish to maintain peace with, and you would be threatening that peace. Someone coming to the committee with one or two ideas is fine, someone trying to change the whole program through the committee. If it's a committee member, it is expected. If though you want to sit in the SM/ASM camp rather then be a committee member, you take your ideas to the SM, and they are accepted there. Maybe if you are in a committee meeting, and a discussion arises were the discussion leads you to make suggestions, then the committee hears from an ASM without the issue being raised and approved by the SM first. Otherwise you pick your camp, and work within that camp and present ideas for change to the other side as a coheasive unit.


If you want to be in the SM/ASM camp, but they are not buying into your ideas of change. End of story. You have lost.

If you want to be in the committee camp, then you will have no ability to work with the boys in order to bring about the change. You will need to rely on the current Leadership to bring about the change. End of story. You have lost.

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Jim.. I missed this comment by you entirely.



Once again I am looking for advice in approaching the leaders and parents in the committee meeting. I already have talked with the scouts on numerous occasions, they want the change, they are willing to work at it. The scouts themselves have told me the reason they don't go to the camporees is that they do so poorly, and who wants to go to a competition that you aren't prepared for, over and over again. I just want to come away from the meeting Thursday, with at the very least tacit approval so I am not banging my head against the wall. "


That changes things. Because you also mentioned the SM told you to go to the PLC.. You have the SM blessing to go to the PLC. And if this statement is correct the PLC is not a bunch of boys into dodgeball, but wanting a good program.


Therefore Do just that. GO TO THE PLC!!! The SM can't get upset if you win your battle there, because you have not done so underhandedly, HE gave you his blessings. This is your one and only window for success that I see.

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To paraphrase a few BSA "guidelines", Scouting is intended to help our young people learn to make good ethical decisions. Along the way, they should also learn some skills and techniques that can keep them hale and healthy both in wild and urban settings, and perhaps help others in poor circumstances. They should be able to take pride in those skills. The rank awards (and others, like Tottin' Chip) give witness to those skills (or should).

If the boys in the Troop seem to be lax in their skills, then tutelege and practice is in order. Games? Sounds like they are good at dodgeball. No need for practice there. Knots? Splices? Map and Compass? Flag ettiquete? Organizing things? Leadership? I would take the SM at his word, go to the PLC (such as it is) and the other ASMs and parents (you implied you had some agreement about the problems you described) and help the PLC (teach them and they teach the Scouts?) to organize knot tying games. An axe yard and tent peg making practice. Cut some sufficient poles and lash together a modest tower they can climb on. SAFELY (not 20feet tall, only 5 or 6). A schedule over several months' meetings and outings. It ain't gonna happen overnight. Work slow. Address the Scouts' concerns, the rest will follow. Pull out that old Field Book. Make copies of the pertinent pages. Make sure the boys have their Handbooks and share the instruction therein with them. They may never (by your description) have SEEN the pertinent pages in their handbooks, only the sign off pages.

Do not go behind the SM's back about any of this. Make sure he is "in the loop". Help him to see the benefit of your efforts. You are making his job easier. Do not plan these activities without his knowledge and OK.

Never embarass the Scout for his ignorance, but teach ALL the Scouts the skill, show ALL them how to tie the bowline, go down the line and individually help EACH be successful. Some, the technique will come naturally. Some, the lack is so usual, they will even challenge you to MAKE them successful. It will sometimes seem like one or two will CONSCIOUSLY try to make it IMPOSSIBLE for you to teach them. Trust me, concentrate on the others who are eager to get good at the skill (knots, canoeing, whatever) and the "proud" ones will come around. Eventually, you will find one or two Scouts who are good at the skill. Let them instruct/help the others. I had a new Troop learning knots and ropes. One young Scout was obviously a natural with things fibrous. He just naturally helped his brother Scouts. Guess who became their first SPL?

Again, arrange to teach the PLC, and let them teach the Scouts. The "proud" ones ("I've already passed this") will come around as the others surpass them in REAL skill and knowledge. Make Scouting the game they play (now, where have I heard that? Maybe the GAME has a PURPOSE?), not dodgeball.

One can lead, but leading is "come on" not "pushing on" and not "pulling on".

As to removing a rank for punishment, I agree with friend Beavah, it may not be according to BSA standards, but encourage the boy to re-earn it, rather than insist that he already has it. "Prove the SM wrong" with his(the Scout's) good effort. He passed the requirements once, it should be a snap the second time. With good instruction, practice and encouragement, he will be the better for it. Along the way, the SM and other adult leaders can be encouraged to take the training (if they haven't) and see the benefit to their boys of the REAL Scouting program.



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Yah, I agree with moose's number 3, eh? Da thing that causes real change in a unit is changes in leadership. And I agree with moose that it's best to try to see da best in people... all da people, including those being talked about negatively by the poster.


It's very clear that JimFritz wants a traditional, outdoors-school scout troop, eh? One with a substantive advancement focus, real patrol competitions, flag and uniform etiquette, etc. Most of us, including myself, are sympathetic. We come from that side of scouting, eh? We run programs like that.


It also seems pretty clear from what JimFritz is saying that this is not that kind of troop. It's a scout program that is run as a church youth outreach. Church youth outreach programs have a different character, eh? They tend to spend a lot more time "hanging out" and creating a comfortable but values based social environment for teens. They tend to be non-competitive, even anti-competitive. They tend to place a much higher emphasis on adult and youth relationships and not so much on advancement. They definitely do not have an outdoor-school focus. More even than a typical scout troop, a church outreach type program would be appalled at a new assistant adult bypassing both da SPL and the SM in order to lecture the group about flag ettiquette.


JimFritz thinks this use of da scouting program as a church youth outreach ministry is "bad" scouting that needs to be fixed. That's in part because his adult experience in scouting is relatively limited, and tied to one troop. In reality, it's just different scouting, which can be very successful for kids but in different ways.


Since it seems from what he writes that this troop is running da way the CO wants, the other leaders support, and the Unit Commissioner endorses. I don't see much change being likely. In fact, I think aggressively trying to push such change is disrespectful to da other leaders and to the CO that JimFritz is working for. Especially the go-behind-the-SM's-back stuff, eh?


If instead of a church youth outreach ministry he's looking for an outdoor school, he needs to go find another troop, or start one.


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I'll take your word for it Beavah that some troops are like that.


Would be nice if leaders of these type of troops came out and said that when people join and are not happy with the lack of a boyscout program they are expecting in the boyscout program they run. Just a nice, "well we don't run a BSA program, we just use their name to offer our kids a social program" would be benifical to all. Why have you spin you heels in aggitation? I can see maybe them wanting to use the BSA camps, or insurance. But, why give out ranks?

Here is a prime example of when maybe Varsity scouts should not have the stigmatism of being for only LDS, they should be promoted for LDS and any social outreach group programs.


This troop as described seems they would make a great Varsity group, but as far as Boy Scout troop is concerned.... Nope I just can't call it good.


So maybe that is the first step Jim. Have a talk with the SM or COR and find out if their direction is to be a social outreach program, and they really don't care to follow the BSA program. If so, the answer would be to walk. And any of the boys who you mentioned who are not happy they are not getting to learn outdoor type skills, should know what type of program they are in and decide for themselves if they want to have a social program or a BSA program. If BSA they too should walk.


Now the kids left are happy the Leaders left are happy, and the kids you want to help have been helped to find a troop with the BSA program they are looking for. You are happy and your son is happy.


If though, you talk to the SM and/or COR and they truely want a BSA program, or don't know what they want, they are just going through the motions with no direction.. Then you can try the root of the PLC and help the boys make the changes they want to see in the program. With the SM knowledge.


Beavah, I was not thinking badly of the leaders of this unit. I don't think their program is good, if they are calling it a BSA troop, some other club then OK. But my statement of they will be threatened by Jim, was not because they are a--holes, or anything like that. It is just that it is normal human reaction to feel threatened when someone with alot more experience and knowledge then you comes in demanding you make changes and pushing you to do so, by either pushing you or pushing others (the committee) to get you to change. If you are the one who is suppose to be the leader, and you feel you are no longer in charge of the situation you resent the one who is putting you into an insecure position. Jim couldn't push if Jim didn't have a firm knowledge of how the program should run. His knowledge and his desire to put it into action will make them feel threatened.



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Moosetracker, they are a BSA troop, eh? They do run da BSA program. What makes 'em a BSA troop is that they have a BSA charter from the BSA. So long as they have a BSA charter from the BSA, da claim that they aren't a "real" BSA troop is a lot like da claim that some kids aren't "real" Eagles or some fellows aren't "real" Woodbadgers because they did the WB21C course. It shows the kind of program you prefer, and its a bit mean/nasty to youth and adult members.


Only da BSA gets to determine what a BSA troop is, not you, not me. This unit is a BSA troop, with a BSA program. Full fledged. They have no less right to use da ranks and badges as a part of their program than anybody. They are using da BSA program the way they are supposed to - to advance their own mission and goals. They are using some parts well, some parts not as fully, same as every other unit out there.


If yeh really want an organization that is uniform and implements da materials the same way across the country, good luck. I wish yeh the best in finding one. That's certainly not the BSA. We provide a service to support COs.


And if yeh think da diversity of unit programs is too much in Boy Scouting, just wait until yeh get involved in Venturing! I think yeh should also read da Varsity program materials; that would not be a good fit.


Now, would it be nice if all troops were up front about their scouting vision? Yah, sure. I encourage it. But yeh don't often see a troop saying "Hey, we're an advancement mill" or "Hey, we're an adult-run outing club type program" or "Hey, we're an olive-and-khaki Young Marines type program." :) Most unit folks only have experience with one unit, so they always see their program as the BSA program.


That's the reason I disagree with yeh about Jim knowing better. Jim knows different. He knows a different way to use da BSA materials. The conflict and resentment come not from Jim having more experience, but from Jim having a different vision, and different values. That sort of conflict at the adult level is intractable, eh? Yeh don't get adults to change easily, and adults are less tolerant than kids about differences in vision.


Jim does have some skill and some vision, eh? And some stated desire to work as a mentor with kids. He should probably be a SM somewhere, after he builds up some more time supporting youth leadership and using advancement for a purpose rather than as a goal. I might be steering him toward a Scoutmastership in a receptive unit. But I think we all agree that havin' him start a war in this unit is goin' to be at best unproductive and at worst do a lot of harm to the program.


Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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So now you went and confused me again Beavah.. Are these groups that have conciously defined themselves as using the BSA program to run a youth outreach program, or are thes groups that are running a social outreach program and thinking they are running a QUALITY BSA program?


If they have conciously chosen to run it as a youth outreach program, they should be able to articulate that to anyone who joins and then is dismayed over the fact that it is not being run the way the expect it to be.


As for anything that signs up will be accepted as a BSA program. That is true, BSA will take anything with a pulse that signs on the dotted line. As for all units in the BSA program are defined as quality units? Sorry, no.. The BSA program is well defined and structured. The definition of a quality unit is well defined.. It's defined in the Quality unit patch. It's defined in the unit of Honor patch. It's defined in the Scouts specific Training. It's defined in the outdoor Leader Skills training. It's defined by the fact that National is making Training manditory so that Leaders must know what a quality unit is defined as.


When the BSA training changes the training of how a troop is run as going through the structure of the pregame, opening, skills, Patrol meetings, Interpatrol activity, closing and PLC reflection time. To you can do this or hold a 1 1/2 hour dodgeball game.. You choose, both are quality meetings.. Then I will agree they are holding a quality meeting. If we start doing two types of outdoor trainings one teaching the camping & first aid, and another teaching dodgeball & basket ball.. Then I will agree they are holding a quality meeting.


But, if you tell me they know what the BSA program is, and they choose not to follow it, just use the name and follow their own youth outreach program. Then that's ok too.. But, don't tell me it's a quality BSA program, because they are a BSA troop and anything goes...


Now as for Crews.. They by definition is that anything goes. So, I have no issue with them forming a group to do whatever.. They may even be considered a quality unit, but how you can judge apples & oranges and decide quality unit except for maybe enrollment and retention I do not know.

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Yah, good luck JimFritz. Let us know how it goes.


So now you went and confused me again Beavah.. Are these groups that have conciously defined themselves as using the BSA program to run a youth outreach program, or are thes groups that are running a social outreach program and thinking they are running a QUALITY BSA program?


Yah, folks here on scouter.com always seem to like drawing these bright lines in the sand so they can label another group or argue a point. I don't think that's the real world. Da real world is mushier. Yeh just have a troop that has a certain character, eh? Da character comes from da CO, and the adults, and in some cases the youth in it. It's self perpetuating, because folks that like a troop like that are attracted and stay, and folks that don't like it leave. A few folks can describe their vision and program use well; they tend to be experienced or exceptional scouters. Most don't have that clear a focus, or haven't seen enough other units to know where they fit in terms of program use.


"Quality" is a different thing, eh? First, I think quality depends on what your goals are. If your goals are teaching outdoor skills, then quality is an Eagle Scout who is ready to be hired by a guide service. If your goals are to run a church ministry, then quality is kids who deepen their connection to their faith.


Da old BSA Quality Unit was mostly a numbers gig. The new one is a bit better, but is mostly more of da same. I don't remember any lines on da form about whether the boys could still tie knots after a sign off, which seems to be what JimFritz finds most objectionable about his current unit. Don't remember meeting plan reviews either. So I reckon his troop has a decent shot at hitting da BSA's definition of quality unit, eh?


Now is da BSA Quality Unit award really a good measure of quality? Probably we should spin that off as a new thread. I don't think so myself. When we played the "what should new parents look for as a sign of a healthy troop" game a while back, not a single scouter here mentioned Quality Unit patches or da criteria.


As for da sample meeting plan stuff (troop program features, used to be Woods Wisdom), those are just resource materials, eh? I confess I've almost never seen what I'd consider a quality troop run with that meeting plan. When yeh see troops do that verbatim, it's almost always very adult run. Some of da troops I think of as strong units often just have their patrols show up at a meeting and go on a bike ride or a hike or a service project. At the end, they gather briefly for fellowship and then go home. None of this adult foorah and agendas and ceremonial.


But that's me and my scouting is a kids game viewpoint. Someone like Pappy of Amusing Memory I reckon would delight in a unit with spit-and-polish ceremonial. :)



Beavah(This message has been edited by Beavah)

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I don't remember any lines on da form about whether the boys could still tie knots after a sign off, which seems to be what JimFritz finds most objectionable about his current unit.


You still don't get it. Yes, I do have a problem if a scout never really learned a knot, and can't tie it 6 months later; however, the problem here is that the scout never, ever learned to tie the knot in the first place.


The meeting went better than I thought it could have. The COR, which in this case is also the CC was in complete agreement that what I was saying is how the troop should be functioning, especially since it has grown, and continues to grow so much. He acknowledge, not in so many words, that this is a BSA troop that the church supports, not a youth outreach program that calls itself a troop. Big load lifted. Imagine that, the COR wants things to be done the BSA, it apparently has just been an issue with no one being able to make it happen. It's looking bright.


One last question though, tonight at the committee meeting the current SM announced there would be a new SM starting shortly, as the current one is having time constraints put upon him. After talking about this, I find that the SM is changed almost annually, has anyone else seen a troop that operates this way? It almost seemed like the CO looks around it's membership to find someone to do the job for a year. It seemed odd to me, maybe it is more commonplace than I think. All I do know for sure, is now I have to get to know yet a new SM, and learn how I can work with him to accomplish the changes.

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No, not everyone will have a well formed sense of purpose. But, if they do, then looking to change it is disrespectful.. Like fighting for women leaders in an LDS Troop would be disrespectful, but choosing not to belong to that type of unit is your right. So if it is a well formed mission statement, Jim shouldn't mess with it. He should just find a troop that has the correct formula.


If it is just some are comfortable with the flow, while others (not just one, but if what Jim states is true, there are other boys in the troop) that want change, then it is not disrespectful to try for change, as long as it is done correctly (meaning without going behind the SM back). Those who may resist the change, simply because it is change.. may soon adjust to the change and get their comfort level back. If the PLC are approached and wish for the change, why would it be wrong for Jim to work with them? Mind you I still think it is a very hard uphill battle to do so without the full backing of the SM.


Reason why my council (and I know others, but don't know if all) have gone to Unit of Honor patch.

Which is in our district a whole shoulder patch which is similar, but different then the normal council patch and has the year earned on it. Those who get this quality patch get other awards too, like the council pays for the next year for all rank advancement patches for the troop. Anyway this Unit of Honor was because the Quality Unit was so easy to obtain. This Quality patch is harder to get and what a quality unit is, is more spelled out. Our troop won it 3 years in a row, we are now in a cycle where the adult leadership is not there to support a great program, so we haven't won it for 2 years. It averaged about 10 Units in total a year obtained this quality in our district.


I don't know if anyone truely follows BSA training to the "T" but it definately defines what a quality unit should be striving for, and it is not as structured as cub scouts, but way, way more structured then Venturing. And Yes if the unit has a defined purpose such as a church ministry, then they may have quality in what their purpose is, just as a YMCA program can have quality, or the football team could have quality.. And the children who come out of the program could have quality of charater or whatever. But they still are not achieving what BSA defines as a quality BSA program.


It will be "interesting" to see those leaders resistant to running a BSA program the way it is meant to be run being forced to go through manditory training in the next few years. If they are set with a alternate "mission", then I guess they will not enjoy it or be converted.

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To be honest I've seen it happen in a few instances:


1) LDS units as their leaders are "called" to be leaders. this is the most common.


2)new units that haven't found the 'right" leader. this happened with one of the units I started


3) units that are having leader challenges. this has happened twice with established units I know. In one instance, the 1st SM went back to school and needed to step down after 10 years. 2nd SM took over for 1.6 year, then received a promotion with work, requiring a move. In the other unit, 1st SM retired after 20+ years. 2nd SM did 2 years, but stepped down due to work.



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You prompted me to look up our troop history. Our troop has been continually chartered for 73 years. During that time, we have had 26 scoutmasters. Some facts:


Average time served: 2.8 years

Longest time served: 9 years

SMs serving 1-2 yrs: 16

SMs serving > 5 yrs: 6 (but these 6 SMs cover 39 years of troop history, over half the age of our troop)


6 of the 25 previous SMs are still involved with the troop, dating back to 1960 (who is now our COR who is much more involved than just being a name on a sheet of paper)


Not really useful, but prehaps informative. I agree that often times the length of time is often (but never always) representative of the long-term health of the troop.


Let me add that one of my favorite expressions is: "Scoutmasters, like diapers, need to be changed every so often, and usually for the same reasons."

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Did they announce who the new Scoutmaster of the Troop is going to be or did the current Scoutmaster just announce that time constraints is going to force him to step aside?


The COR (often with advice from the CC and committee) is the one that normally selected the Scoutmaster. Does the CO always look around it's membership for the Scoutmaster?


If your interpretation of the COR's/CC's feelings about the future direction of the Troop is accurate, I wouldn't be surprised if one of your next posts is as Scoutmaster of the unit.

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