Scouts-L Mail Archive for June of 1999: Re: Importance of Goals (Update)
Re: Importance of Goals (Update)
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 19:44:56 EDT
In a message dated 6/4/99 1:19:27 PM, ajmako@NLS.NET writes:
<<Now the results. As I suspected, the Webelos transition rate for our
district this year was absolutely terrible. No reasons were given, and
there wasn't much discussion about the problem, but it seems NO troop
in the district picked up more than three Webelos (there are 15 troops
in the district and 14 packs). This means the transition rate was
somewhere between 10 and 15 percent. We didn't address the results of
the spring recruiting effort.>>
I am glad from your second post that things are looking a bit better. I had
hoped to write earlier but sometimes, work gets in the way :) I totally
agree that just because one has experience in Scouting doesn't mean that
things always go right -- far from it. But I did want to share a couple of
thoughts on your post and on the other one about starting new units vs
keeping old units going.
1) The boys in your troop -- We sometimes think of Boy Scouting as one
"program" but it really isn't. In any good, large BS Troop, there are
several programs going on simultaneously. There are, at least,
a) The new boy program for new Scouts and Webelos Scouts
b) The Patrol Leadership program for boys 12-13
c) The Troop Leadership program for boys 13-15
d) The Older Boy program for boys 15-17
e) The Almost an Adult program for boys 17
etc. etc. etc. The point is that the characteristics and needs of each of
these boys are very different, what they want do is different, whom they want
to associate with is different, etc. This certainly isn't news, but I did
want to talk about one of the implications of it.
You wrote about your Troop being small but also about the large number of
older boys that you have. You said, I believe, three were about to go over
boy age. Realistically, 17 year olds don't want to have much to do with most
10 or 11 year olds. So your older boys may talk about wanting younger boys,
but really the much younger Scouts don't do anything for them. At the same
time, 17 year olds are really SCARY for 10 and 11 year olds. The younger
boys aren't particularly comfortable if the leadership of the troop that they
see (PLs, instructors, etc.) isn't just a little bit older than they are; not
so much older that there is a wide gulf. Neither group is particularly
comfortable with the other. Lack of comfort means lack of fun. Lack of fun
can mean boys don't join, or drop out etc. etc.
What to do? If you think that this might be some of the case, I would almost
write off most of your older boys as a force in reviving your Troop. If you
can get them going as a Venture Crew, that is great with an infrequent
presence in your Troop. But you are probably going to have to recruit the
new boys just the same way that a new Troop does who has no boys in the 12-13
year age range. If you do have a couple of good boys in that range, arrange
for them to be highly visible, senior Troop leaders. Don't make them wait in
line for the 17 year olds to move out. Otherwise, figure on an adult guided
New Boy patrol until some of the new boys get enough seniority to be leaders.
Young boys are comfortable with adults as leaders in a program like Webelos
Scouting or a New Boy patrol. But if your Troop program has become more and
more adventurous as your Troop aged, it may be quite daunting for the new
members if there isn't appropriate leadership and mentoring by slightly older
boys. You may want to consider taking a quantum leap downward in the
sophistication of the program which the new boys will see.
Of course, it you think I'm all wet and don't understand what is happening in
your Troop, that is possible too.
2) Starting New Units versus keeping an old one alive -
There was a suggestion that a DE's "scoresheet" would give more credit for
starting a new unit and having an old one die than in keeping the old one
alive. That isn't true for any such "scoresheet" that I have ever seen. At
best, the DE would be considered a break even and not even that, because the
DEs, DCs, etc. are rated on what fraction of current units reregister on
time. When an old one drops, it doesn't reregister and that is a minus.
However, there might be a reason why a new unit would be started even if an
old unit is floundering. Over time and with guidance, I have come to realize
that each unit leader has a comfortable size of unit and, by and large, that
is the size that the unit will be under that leader. If a "10 boy"
Scoutmaster takes over a 40 boy Troop, then before too long, the troop will
have about 10 members. And if a "60 boy" Cubmaster takes over a 10 boy
Pack, then if the boys are there, before too long, it will be a 60 boy pack.
So it is possible that your District leadership judged that the leader of the
old unit is a "small unit" leader, possibly a "very small unit" leader. If
that is so, then funnelling new boys to that unit is simply a waste; they
just won't remain. So to create better Scouting for all, it is better to
start a new unit for those additional boys.
I expect some disagreement with this assessment, but I can only say that
through experience, a DE or Commissioner can learn the tell-tale signs of
when a leader is doing the things that will make his or her unit smaller and
when they are doing the things that will make it bigger. And sometimes, it
isn't even conscious on the part of the Unit leader. It is just that some
leaders are personally happier with a small unit.
This is not a priori saying that a small unit is bad. There are some great
small units in the BSA. However, as a generalization, a larger unit is
"better" (more fun, more advancement, more camping, more activities, better
uniforming, more excitement, more people wanting to join) than a smaller unit.