Re: Limiting Troop Size
Anthony J. Mako (ajmako@APK.NET)
Tue, 3 Feb 1998 20:29:47 -0500
The rationale which is being used for these proposed changes is that the
troop size could potentially reach as high as 50 scouts over the next 2 to 3
months and key committee members feel that if the troop grows any larger
with the current level of active adult leadership, the quality of the
program provided would be significantly degraded.
My first reaction was that the committee obviously was in dire need of some
fun. It sounded too much like they were incorporating a business rather than
running a Scout troop. While there are several good reasons I could think of
to limit the size of a troop, what the committee is proposing is major
legislation of the size and scope of the troop.
The first question they should have asked (if they had been thinking like
Scouters who are interested in providing a good program) is not how they can
limit the size of the troop, but where they can find more adult help. From
the list of proposed rules designed to limit the number of youth in the
unit, it sounds like they hadn't even considered ways to attract more
My personal experience with Scouting has shown me that limiting the number
of Scouts in a unit will eventually leave the troop top heavy with older
Scouts and very little to offer graduating Webelos. In some cases I have
seen, the troop committee succeeded getting the limits they wanted, but
missed out on a couple years of graduating Webelos. Then, suddenly, the
program concentrated more on what the older Scouts wanted to do and the few
younger Scouts they managed to get into the unit got bored and went to
another troop. That troop is on the path to recovery with a very small group
of Scouts and a large gap in ages.
The best troop I ever worked with, on the other hand, was FORCED to impose
some kind of limit on the size of the troop due to the fascilities they had.
That troop had an average membership of 52 Scouts during the three years I
worked with them. They also had about 25 active adults including 14 ASMs
(Hello everyone in Troop 59 Oak Harbor, Washington!). Their program includes
something for everyone and was the best example of a well run unit I have
ever seen. The leadership of that troop was more concerned with providing a
good program and attracting the adults needed to support it, than it was
about the number of youth members. It's an important lesson I'm trying to
make work for me in my new troop: "Take care of the Program, and the
recruiting will take care of itself!"
Now, some suggestions: Rather than limit the size of the troop, start a
campaign to recruit more adult help. The easiest way to do this is NOT to
ask parents for help, but let them know you EXPECT their help. Be sure they
know that they don't have to volunteer as an ASM or CM, but they may be
asked to help out in some way. Get ideas from them on what they are willing
to do to help. Most importantly, once you get their help, give them enough
to do that they will stay involved. If they volunteer to help and you don't
give them anything to do, they won't last long. To borrow a phrase from
every training course I've ever been involved in: "Use your resources!"
One interesting note about Troop 59. About half of the adult leadership are
military (US Navy) and half of those were on Sea Duty (meaning they
frequently went on deployment). After experiencing life in that troop, I can
safely say there is no excuse for not being involved in some way as an
adult. Anyone who has to work nine hours a day in the military, be subject
to duty days, deployments, temporary assignments, flight schedules, and
everything else the military can throw at you, and can still volunteer two
hours a week and the occasional weekend proves that anyone can do it.
Anthony J. Mako firstname.lastname@example.org
Scoutmaster, Troop 381 http://members.aol.com/Scouts381/
"Home of the Unofficial Boy Scout Desktop Theme!"
Great Trail Council - Akron, Ohio
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City