Mark Ritter (ritterme@STNY.LRUN.COM)
Fri, 14 Aug 1998 04:04:10 -0400
Been there ... done that ...
I spent about 8 months as Scout RT Commissioner once upon a decade.
Attendence was pitiful. The DE wanted me to cover the themes in Program
Helps for topics. His theory was that the primary purpose for RTs was
to help first year leaders and/or first year troops get through the
first year. None of the handful of leaders present at the first couple
of RTs were "first year", all the first year folks were too busy trying
to survive the first year to squander another night each month for some
worthless meeting. I fairly quickly determined that none of the troops
in attendance were following the Program Helps themes in the months
suggested, although some of them were being used in alternate months -
usually a month or two before it was scheduled in PH or 6 months after.
I took a survey and vote on what topics to address at RT. I was working
on a 4 month schedule, so the topics could be published in the council
newsletter. Attendance trippled. My best attended session was the
night I invited three clergy for a Q&A session, no presentation, just
Q&A. Then the DE refused to publish the topics requested by the
attendees, and went back to publishing the PH theme topics. I refused
to serve under those circumstances and resigned. My successor followed
the topics in PH. Attendance plumetted.
RTC was my "second hat", my "first hat" was still that of SM. I'd
attented RTs for several years, they were worthless (for me and my
troop) but I went because it was expected. I accepted the job of RTC in
the hope that I could make them useful to me and my troop. The most
useful parts of the RT were the "jaw sessions" before I called the
meeting to order and after I dismissed it". Neither of which I could
participate in as RTC because I was busy making coffee and doing other
setup before and packing up and cleaning up after.
That was my bad news story. But RTs *can* be very good news indeed.
In another council, far, far, away, I was an ASM in a district where
EVERYTHING happened at the RT. The meeting started in the Jr High
cafeteria for a joint cub/scout opening ceremony and announcements.
Then the break-out into various class rooms. Yes, in one room someone
presented the PH themes for those who wanted them (not many, but a few),
and in another room someone was presenting another prepared theme topic
requested by the troops. And in another room there was a JLT training
session in progress, an adult leader training course in another, the
camporee committee was meeting in one, the Philmont or Jamboree
contingent committees were meeting in one or two more, one room had a
troop putting on a slide show of highlights of one of their recent
trips, one had an EMT teaching first aid for both adult and junior
leaders (both cub and scout leaders), and who knows how many rooms the
Cub leaders were using and what they were doing. The cafeteria was not
abandoned however, that's where the coffee and donuts were, and where
several leaders gathered for a general rag chew on any topic of interest
not being covered elsewhere, and where the DE has set up the "district
store" with several suitcases and boxes full of anything he had been
requested to bring. You could pick up or turn in your recharter
paperwork, sign up and pay for summer camp, buy merit badge books, turn
in advancement reports and buy the badges, turn in or pick up tour
permits or fund-raising permits, etc. As long as he knew by noon what
you needed, the DE had it at RT that night! Even with the SM, 2 ASMs,
and 3 committee people attending from ONE troop, we still couldn't cover
everything that was happening, and were really hurting when two of them
chose to attend the same training session.
As far as I know the two districts and their parent councils were
surprisingly similar in demographics. Almost the same size geographic
teritory, similar population, almost exactly the same number of units,
almost the same total youth membership, same percentage of youth served,
and same overall ration of adults to youth. What was different?
In the district where I was RTC, the RT staff consisted of me,
myself, and I. There was a roster of about 20 unit commissioners to
serve 30+ troops; but as far as I knew they were just names on paper,
most of them were ex-SMs who were "burned out" (or at least it seemed
that way to me at that time). In 6 years as SM I don't think I ever saw
mine, except to pick up the charter renewal paperwork, and one year our
charter was late getting in because the office told me "my unit
commissioner had it" and I spend 3 weeks trying to contact the previous
year's commissioner - the office hadn't told me I had a new one.
Average RT attendance was 4-6 leaders for 30+ troops (I'd managed to
build it up to about 10-15), plus maybe a dozen or twenty cub leaders
for 35+ packs.
In the other district, there were NO unit commissioners. None were
needed. EVERYTHING happened at RT. There were plenty of assistant
RTCs. None of them were just names on paper, none of them were burned
out, they were all enthusiastic about what they were doing. Average
attendance, over 150 scout leaders for 33 troops plus another 250 or so
for 42 packs.
My numbers above a probably not quite accurate, I find them hard to
believe myself. Blame it on 20 and 30 year old memories combined with
wishful thinking and rose colored glasses. But that is what I
Oh, I know, there are other factors too. Times change, leaders are
working more overtime now than they probably did in the 60's and early
70's, and kids lead more demanding lives these days, both of which mean
leaders/parents have fewer hours to spend at RT meetings. But if it
were worthwhile, I'd find a way to be there somehow, and I'd like to
think they would too.
Mark Ritter - RitterME@stny.lrun.com - Committee Member
Sea Scout Ship 90 - The S.S.S. North Star - New Milford PA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City