Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: The Importance of Goals (long)
The Importance of Goals (long)
Thu, 3 Jun 1999 02:55:22 -0000
While most of us are to busy preparing for summer activities, I will be
preparing for September. That's one reason I would like to talk to everyone
about the importance of setting goals and getting everyone in the troop
behind those goals. You see, last September the PLC, such as it was, and I
sat down and planned out the coming year. While most of the program was
uninspired, there were a few gems included that even I was looking forward
to. We also set some goals.
By February, it was becoming increasingly clear that not everyone in the
troop was on the same page when it came to realizing our goals. Due to the
small size of our troop, the Scouts had a hard time keeping the program
going. Two campouts were cancelled due to illness, one due to a lack of
preparation. Then it was recharter time.
Since the committee had been mostly absent since September, I had to handle
the charter. Needless to say, February was an extremely stressful month for
me. I was in danger of not having enough Scouts to charter the troop due to
the fact that three of my "Scouts" had turned 18 during the year. Our fall
recruiting resulted in 0 prospects. Of the two prospects who showed up to
our Christmas party, only one expressed any interest. I was one Scout short
of the five I needed.
On top of that, one of my Scouts spent three meetings climbing the walls and
generally daring my SAs and myself to try to physically restrain him. At
another meeting at which a group of Webelos visited, the SPL and most of the
rest of the troop decided to be 20 minutes late.
By the last week of February, I had managed to round up enough Scouts to
charter the troop and was just about to let loose a sigh of relief when the
CC showed up to a meeting. I handed him the charter and went about trying to
motivate my junior leaders while he met with the advancement chair. At the
end of the meeting he handed me the charter paperwork and an envelope. Of
the nine adults listed on the charter, he had crossed out six. The envelope
contained money orders representing the troop treasury. Goodbye.
It took March and April for me to recover from that. It took so long because
I next concentrated on Spring recruiting which was set up by our DE. That
resulted in 0 prospects because of some alleged min-communications between
the DE and the school. I was assured something would happen in April - then
May. Nothing did. I heard a lot of talk from the Scouts about kids they were
trying to recruit, but I didn't meet anyone new.
Actually, in May things started to look up. Troop meetings were actually
accomplishing something and the Scouts actually seemed interested. The Scout
who had been climbing the walls so recently had calmed down enough that he
actually completed five Tenderfoot requirements in three weeks. It was still
like pulling teeth to get my junior leaders to do anything, and the troop
hadn't been camping since February. April's campout was so bad I sat in the
meeting room for an hour waiting for ONE SCOUT to show up - none did.
As of June 1, 1999 we are in danger of folding. Assistant SM #2 is working
and going to school and doesn't have two minutes to rub together. Assistant
SM #1 had to take a minimum wage job so he could still have a house to live
in while he looks for a new job, and his wife keeps glaring at him strangely
every time he mentions Scouting. My troop committee consists of four people:
1) the advancement chair - presently working two jobs; 2) his mother -
confined to her house because of a medical condition; 3) our COR who is 75
years old and can only manage to be the #2 adult at summer camp; 4) SA#1's
wife - presently working about ten hours a day, seven days a week.
All of the lofty goals we had set in September (two FULL, fully functional
patrols; a fully functional committee, at least one major fundraiser; NO
cancelled activities or meetings), have been suspended. It is likely that at
least one major summer activity may be cancelled. It's clear now that the
only people in the troop who were serious about their support for the goals
we had set were me and my SA. With effectively no committee and two SAs who
can't do much, my only goal now is to make sure this troop survives.
Last week the PLC (actually the entire troop) fired the SPL so it's possible
they are finally getting serious about what happens to the troop. On Tuesday
I explained to them what kind of situation the troop was in, but I don't
think they quite understand. Tonight I will have the pleasure of informing
the district staff that the oldest continuously chartered unit in the
district is in serious trouble. Then I will sit down and figure out how to
fix this. One step forward - two steps back.
This story isn't meant to depress anyone. It is meant to accomplish two
things. First, I'll feel better after sending this to the list because I
know I'll get more than a few notes of support and a few ideas. Second, it
illustrates something that's been going around the list lately. I can't
stress more the importance of getting ALL of the troop leaders, youth and
adult, on the same page. It is vitally important for youth leaders to
understand that the work they do directly affects everything the troop does.
The troop committee has to be willing to actively support the troop. They
have to know that lack of activity on their part makes everyone else's job
much harder. And Scoutmasters (and their assistants) MUST realize they can't
possibly do everything themselves. Everyone must be on the same page and
going the same direction. If one group is out of place, the whole unit is
spinning its wheels.
This is especially important if you're trying to rebuild a troop. In our
case, our biggest obstacle has been recruiting new Scouts. It is likely that
I will discover, through reflection, that I failed to do something I should
have, but mostly it's been a lack of cooperation from the local middle
school, lack of understanding from our DE, lack of salesmanship from our
Scouts, lack of contact with the local packs from me, and a good bit of bad
publicity from our brother troop (who have recently been through some
problems of their own). At least I still have summer camp to look forward
A. J. Mako, firstname.lastname@example.org , Scoutmaster Troop 381
Home of the Unofficial Win95 Boy Scout Desktop Theme,
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"I used to be an Eagle (C-7-97), but I'll always be an Eagle (1981)"