Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Camping Merit Badge
Re: Camping Merit Badge
Anthony J. Mako
Sat, 13 Feb 1999 01:29:19 -0500
<Mark Arend wrote>
A few years back (well, perhaps more than a few) I heard of a study that
had been done on the sizes of Troops. As I remember it stated that
Troops tended to stay about the size the Scoutmaster felt comfortable
with (either consciously or unconsciously). If the Troop got a large
influx of new boys within a year or so they'd be back to the old level.
Mark, I can't remember anything about that study either, although I real
sure there was (or is) one. That's the sort of thing that the BSA likes
to know. Regardless, it's really not something that NEEDS to be studied
because it's something most unit commissioners recognize as their
Anyone else remember this. And more to the point, how does a SM fight
these "unconscious tendencies" towards a certain sized Troop?
The best method of fighting the tendency to maintain a "comfort" level
is to recruit more leaders. If an SM who is comfortable with a troop of
around 30 Scouts, he can help keep the troop growing by emphasizing the
patrol method, and delegating much of his responsibilities to several
By emphasizing the patrol method I mean real, honest, functioning,
patrols. Some of the troops I've dealt with think patrols are a
convenient way of dividing up the Scouts into easy to handle groups.
This is exactly the opposite attitude we should have. Patrols should
function as a group always. They should have the opportunity to plan and
conduct their own activities (outside of regular troop activities). If
the patrols function properly, and there is plenty of adult leadership
to delegate to, an SM should be able to handle any size group without
We have maintained a fairly constant size through the years , it looks
as if we'll be getting a fairly large group of Webelos in this spring,
and I would like the Troop to be a bit larger (at least consciously).
This is actually one of those areas where a lot of reflection and
evaluation is in order before you decide what to do.
* First off, you want to ask yourself (you, your SAs, and the committee)
why the troop has maintained a constant size over the years. You want to
know why the troop doesn't get larger on its own, and why it doesn't get
smaller. Basically, "what are we doing right?" and "what are we doing
wrong?" Don't get me wrong, there are always one or two areas where
improvement is in order.
* Second, you want to ask yourself where _you_ think you can do better
(have each adult leader do this on his/her own). Here you're looking for
things the people involved with the unit think can be improved. These
first two items, of course, are something we should do every year.
* Thirdly, you want to do a little research. This is where you try to
figure out why Scouts have left the troop in the past. If you have a
history of recruiting large numbers in the spring and watching these new
Scouts trickle away by fall, that should tell you that there may be a
problem keeping younger Scouts interested. If, on the other hand, you
have no problem recruiting and keeping younger Scouts, but your older
Scouts tend to fade away, the problem is more likely keeping the
interest of older Scouts.
All of this information should give you some good ideas about where your
troop needs improvement. Once you know that, you can move on to setting
a goal of growth. This goal doesn't necessarily address a problem with
the troop. It merely helps you prepare the troop for the growth you
want. You can then start putting together the extra structure you need
to keep the troop growing (i.e. more SAs, more MCs, wider variety of
Anthony J. Mako, email@example.com ,Scoutmaster, Troop 381
http://members.aol.com/Scouts381/ "Home of the Unofficial Boy Scout
Great Trail Council - Akron, Ohio
"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"