More Limiting Troop Size
Anthony J. Mako (ajmako@APK.NET)
Thu, 5 Feb 1998 21:21:35 -0500
I don't want to start a war. I don't want to cause a canyon to grow between
The discussion concerning troop size has been very interesting, and most of
the suggestions I've read have been things that popped into my head when I
first read the problem. What concerns me is that several folks have
suggested immediately starting a new unit. This is certainly a valid
possibility in this situation, but it should hardly be the first thing we
My (former) job as a Unit Commissioner was to help units grow and prosper. I
would not have been doing my job properly if I had immediately suggested
starting a new unit every time a disagreement cropped up among the
leadership of a unit. My first response has always been to help find ways to
save the old troop first. Splitting off and starting a new unit has always
been an extremely last resort.
In this case the problem may simply be a lack of confidence on the part of
the committee. They may think that they don't have the patience or ability
to handle a large unit. All they may need is a little encouragement, some
communication from the parents and Scouts, and a kind word or two from the
UC. At most they may only need a bit of refresher training.
On the other hand, the committee may be very possessive of their percieved
power and not want to give too much of it away to other adults. In that
case, the troop size limit is their way of ensuring that they keep as much
power as possible without overburdening themselves. If I were the UC I would
invite myself to a committee meeting and observe who runs what. After
analyzing the power structure, I could then suggest how things might be run
better. I'd start with a few subtle reminders about the purpose of the
committee, who's supposed to do what, and why we're all here in the first
Perhaps there is a true personality conflict between the adult leadership
and several parents. This would be a very sticky situation for anyone. Why
would the UC be called in in this case? Someone has to bridge the gap and
coax each party into seeing their common ground. If I went into the
situation believing the best thing was to start a new troop, how could I
even see the common ground.
I have seen too many battles, and heard too many horror stories to believe
that starting a new unit is always best. In the cases that I have personally
been involved in either the new unit or the old unit folded within two
years. In at least one case, both units folded. In the most interesting
case, the old unit's membership swelled to about fifty within two years
while the new unit remained at about twenty. That is the only case I've
encountered where both units survived.
To be honest, there are cases where splitting the unit would be beneficial
to both sides. But that is no reason to think that it should be the first
thing to do. The choice of what to do becomes that much easier when we
remember the reason we are involved in Scouting in the first place and
concentrate on the knowledge that there must be some reason all these boys
want to be in _this_ troop.
Anthony J. Mako, email@example.com
Scoutmaster, Troop 381
"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)"
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