Re: Starting A New Troop
Ronald W. Fox (ronfox@MINDSPRING.COM)
Tue, 18 Aug 1998 22:27:47 -0500
At 05:59 PM 8/14/98 -0400, Mike Krautwurst wrote:
>My friend and I are starting a new Troop and would like to ask for your
>help. Can anyone help with either sending a copy of their bylaws or
>pointing me in the right direction here on the net, also what problems
>have any of you encountered starting a troop or, in an existing troop
>that you think we should avoid. On the other hand what has worked for
>you that we might be able to use?
Bob Fierke and I started Troop 69 a year ago last March. So far things have
gone fairly well, considering.
I'm not much on bylaws.
Your statement left a few things out. Are you starting your Troop with all
brand-new crossed over Webelos Scouts, or will it be a mix? What is your
personal experience with Scouting: were you a Scout? How high a rank did
you achieve? Were you a junior leader (PL, SPL, JASM, etc.)? Were you on
camp staff? Etc., etc.
I first decided I wanted to eventually start a Troop after my son's Wolf
year. I started working on my sponsoring organization, preparing them for
the idea that we wanted to add a Troop. I presented their Board with an
annual report on the Pack's activities, and had the Pack do service for them
so they got the idea that a Troop would be a good thing to have around. I
told them about the differences between the Cub Scouts and the Boy Scouts so
that they understood where the program fit into their programs. I talked it
up with all the leaders and parents, looking to recruit them as Scouters and
Committee members. I took Boy Scout Leader Fundamentals, and got one of my
ASMs to do so as well, before the Troop started. I went to all the
Roundtables and talked it up there. I got plenty of ideas from the SMs
there on how to start out, where to go, and how to run a Troop.
One of those Scoutmasters had a very experienced Scout who became our first
SPL. I told our Scouts that they could elect their own Patrol Leaders, but
that we would borrow an SPL for a while. This worked out REAL well. I'd
advise hunting around to see if anyone in your area has got an experienced
Scout, one who has been an SPL and now has to sit out and let someone else
have a turn. Our 1st SPL was SPL of the Council's Junior Leader Training
Troop. Great kid. He's getting his Eagle August 30th. It'd be great to
borrow a Troop Guide from someone as well.
If you are starting out with all new Scouts, it's going to be hard to let
them lead. They'll need a lot of guidance from you and from whatever older
Scouts you can dig up. You need to make sure you understand the difference
between Cubs and Boy Scouts. The Scoutmaster's job is to develop junior
leaders. While it's going to be somewhat like a super Webelos den for a
while, you have to let them make their own mistakes. Help them plan, but
let it be their plan as much as possible. You can plan the first
half-year's campouts, but let them burn their own dinner (then you show them
at 9:00 P.M. how to make an apple cobbler so no one goes to bed hungry).
Do a lot of camping. Get them all to summer camp. Get the local OA lodge
to run a Summer Camp promotion at your Troop, and be sure parents are there.
Get the parents involved. Get someone else to handle organizing
transportation to outings and filing the Trip permits. Get someone else to
drive over to Council to pick up patches. Make sure they know that if you
and the other leaders have to do everything, this unit will fail. Scouts
don't join Troops, families do.
Get the Council to give you an effective Unit Commissioner! Plead, beg,
demand. Get your District Executive in your corner. He owes you a lot.
His compensation is keyed in part on creating new Troops, so you are putting
money in his or her pocket. Make them act like it. Be sure that he helps
you out in working with the Sponsoring Organization.
Get an organizational meeting of the parents together. Solicit them for
Troop committee jobs. Your District Executive should help make the
presentation and help you with putting together job descriptions. People
are much more likely to sign up for a job if they know exactly what that job
is. Explain to them what the differences is between Cubs and Boy Scouts,
and what a great advantage it is to their sons that they'll not only be
having fun, but will be learning leadership and planning skills. Make sure
they understand that you're going to let the boys make mistakes, that they
learn more when adults don't make sure everything goes perfectly. Lay out
to them what the first few months or first year's program is going to be.
Explain to the boys what the difference is between Cubs and Scouts. Get
them excited about making their own decisions. Hold up a short term goal of
First Class, Patrol Leader, their own Patrol. Hold up "get ready for Summer
Camp" as a goal, and the merit badges they can earn there. Tell them about
the things they can do in Scouts they couldn't do as Cubs. Hold up long
term goals: High Adventure, OA, Senior Patrol Leader, Jamborees, etc.
Go to your Summer Camp's work weekend and pound a few nails or dig some
postholes. Get to know the staff members there, and tell them what you're
up to. They'll know people who can help, and will help you plan for Summer
Camp. Staff always pulls a little harder for people who pull for them. As
an added benefit: Staff are usually a great bunch of people who are even
more committed to the program than the average Scouter is. You'll have a
great time working with them, and probably make a few new friends. Then go
home and listen to your spouse ask why you'll drive 200+ miles to work
harder than he/she can get you to work at home. Come up with a good answer
("I'm doing it for the Troop").
Get them in uniform. Keep them in uniform.
Sell summer camp. Sell summer camp. Sell summer camp.
If you have a disruptive Scout, talk to the parents fast. If the Scout is
so disruptive that it makes it impossible to give the program to the rest of
the boys, tell the parents that either one of them shows with the Scout, or
the Scout stays home. I may get flamed for this. Sorry, but this happened
to me and it ended up the only way to solve it. Don't keep 10 boys from
getting the program because of one who can't be controlled. My major regret
is that I waited too long to do this. Don't. I had one Scout who had to
leave the Troop because he was too disruptive. Guess what? All his friends
stayed in the Troop, so he came back and now behaves himself a lot better.
If a Scout is disruptive due to ADHD (and don't be bashful to ask, too many
parents won't volunteer information about ADHD or learning disabilities),
make sure he's on his medication. Don't let the parents tell you that they
want to wean him off of his medication while he's at Scout functions, unless
they're going to be there. Get all your parents numbers: home, work, pager,
mobile. Make sure they understand that they are not free to disappear from
being contactable while their son is at a Scout function. If you can't get
ahold of someone when you need to, tell them that the next time it happens
the boy will have to start staying home.
You need 3 adults at the meetings. Two for two deep and one to deal with
situations such as the above.
I've left a lot out. I could write for another 4 hours on this. Maybe more
P.S. : If the Troop's sponsor is going to be the same as your Pack's
sponsor, and if there isn't already another Troop with your sponsor, your
Troop's number should be the same as your Pack's.
Go to Wood Badge after a year or so.
Be patient with the boys. They're learning to be Scouts, they aren't there
yet. If I could do one thing differently over the last year, I'd be more
Scoutmaster, Troop 69, Des Plaines Valley Council (W&SW Chicago Suburbs)
Pachsegink Lodge 246 | >>>------> |
"... and a good old Eagle, too" (C-19-96)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City