Re: BSA Large Troop Operations
Darla Keller (C60DJK1@MVS.CSO.NIU.EDU)
Tue, 31 Jan 1995 20:06:00 CST
I am a scoutmaster of 60 boys. I have been scoutmaster since 1976.
When I started there were only about 9 boys, then quickly jumped to
20, then ranged 25-30 for the next 8 years, 35-40 the next 5 years,
then 50-70 boys for the past 5 years. Our highest mark has been 70.
During the course of years I have altered my approach to operating
the troop. We are not a sleek well oiled machine, but rather a big,
rusty clanking one, but one that always gets the job done.
One personal note,I don't like working with big groups, just my own
personality. Our meeting room doesn't easily accomodate more than
30 boys at a time. So I approach my situation is a way that works
best for me.
We have two meetings every Monday, early meeting for 5th, 6th, and
7th graders. Late meeting for 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.
They are called Division I and Division II. They each have their
own program for meetings based on their needs. Each is presided
over by an ASPL. Each division has a Librarian, Scribe, QM. We will
occasionally have one large meeting for everyone. We make special
arrangements to use the large social hall in the church. SPL leads.
As I've said, each division is headed by an ASPL. Each division has
4-5 patrols and it's own Librarian, Scribe, and QM. The SPL spends
his time on the PLC meeting, supervising and training the ASPLs, and
the Troop Librarian, Scribe, and QM. This creates 3 Librarians, 3
Scribes, 3 QMs, 1 in charge and 2 assistants, and each is kept busy.
Part of our PLC meeting breaks out in divisions, ASPLs talk to their
PLs to plan troop meetings. I use this time to meet with the SPL.
This keeps the jobs boy-size projects that they can feel comfortable
with. It is not perfect, but it seems to work for us.
We have about 70 activities per year. Yes, I am insane. I call this
strategy, divide and conquer. The number of boys per activity is
diluted by the sheer number of activities. Some weekends we will
have several trips going on at once. We have 6 trailers of various
purpose and condition, lots of tents and gear. We have 20 registered
adults and about 17 others that help out as parents, (but will be
registered with the new charter). Often times our trips consist of a
patrol size group. The boys say they like small group trips better.
We do sometimes have large groups of 25 or 30 or even 50 camping.
There are logistical problems to be overcome with large groups, but
it can be dealt with. Sample program Troop 33....
January 1995 February 1995
Overnight Ski trip Klondike Derby
Day ski trip Vigil campfire overnight
Polar Bear campout Day ski trip
Eagle watching on Mississippi R. N.I.U. Basketball Game
International Adventure Expo
Court of Honor
I cheat. I bought myself a used 17 passenger mini-bus. It saves a
lot of time and hassle. The church also has a 15 passenger van that
we have access to. We still have parents driving, just not as many
as we would otherwise.
We have recently overhauled our committee. Ideally we will have a
32 member committee, each with a specific job. We are still working
on that. A large troop has greater resources to draw from. We also
have so many activities that we have developed leadership teams that
work well together. Some specialize is certain types of trips. We
have two divisions, one advised by the ASM-new scouts, the other by
the ASM-Venture. The same stategy as with the boys, break down the
responsibilities into smaller, easy to achieve pieces. If you have
a gung-ho adult, give him/her more than one small job. With our
activity schedule it is usually a feast/famine situation, we have no
problems finding adults for ski trips, but it is a real bear digging
up people to go camping in the snow.
We have tents that are 30 years old, and we have some new high
adventure tents. We have several old delapidated trailers, all were
donated. They're ugly, but they get the job done, usually. We are
working on a brand new cargo trailer. We have a large garage that is
furnished by the church. The equipment manager (adult) and the Troop
Quartermaster with his 2 Divisional Quartermasters manage the gear.
It is all stored in one central location. The only thing spread out
is the trailers. We also have a resource room in the church adjacent
to our meeting room that serves as our library and storage of props,
teaching aids, file cabinets, pantry, and other misc. gear.
I have served as scoutmaster for the past 18 years in its stages as a
small, medium, large, and supertroop sizes. Each size has its own
advantages. I try to work with the troop in a small sized way,
dividing it into two divisions for meetings. Activities are open to
all boys except for a few high adventure trips restricted to only the
older boys. We have the advantages of a small troop while still
having the resources of a large troop. I am interested in hearing
from other super-sized troops to hear their secrets of success.
We have some problems in certain areas like everyone else, but I
think we're getting the job done for a large group of boys.
I still know each and every boy in the troop and try to maintain a
personal relationship with each boy. It is easy for a boy to get
lost in a large troop. When we had single meetings with sometimes
as many as 50 boys, we were crowded and things were very tense. It
is very difficult for boys to run meetings that size. We clearly
didn't have the physical layout for that group. With two smaller
groups each boy feels a more integral part of the meeting, we have
more room, more control and less problems. I do feel we lose some
feeling of unity as a troop through divided meetings, but we still
come together for activities, and there's plenty of those.
I guess my last comment would be this, the larger the troop, the
more important "shared leadership" becomes. If one person takes on
too much they burn-out and you've lost someone. Break the big jobs
down into smaller ones.
HIGH ADVENTURE. This is the final area I will talk about. This is my
favorite area of Scouting. We do all types of different things.
This year we hope to accomplish the following...
HIGH ADVENTURE PROGRAM 1995 Troop 33, DeKalb, IL
- Colorado Ski Trip <April>
- Philmont Scout Ranch Cavalcade <August>
- Bermuda Island Oceanography Adventure <August>
These two trips are still undetermined.
- Algonquin Canoe Trip, Canada <July>
- Troop 33 Iron Man Challenge <June>
The Iron Man Challenge involves 200 miles of canoeing, 300 miles of
bicycling, and a 10k run. I will lead this if we have enough adults
for the other trips. We are limited only by the dreams of boys and
the committment of adults. I've never found the boys to be the
limiting factor. YIS Cliff Golden Scoutmaster Troop 33
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City