scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Looking For A Troop
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Mon Nov 15 1999 - 10:23:12 CST
You tell me. I'll answer your questions about my own troop. You tell me if
you would recommend my troop to a Webelos Scout. Please keep in mind that I
am being brutally honest here:
1) Is the troop run by the boys or the adults?
A: That really depends on what part of the meeting you're talking about. The
opening, closing, game and patrol meetings are run by Scouts. Skills
development is primarily done by adults. At any given moment, though, it
would appear to a bystander that the unit is run by adults.
2) Is there good scout skills instruction for newer scouts?
A: If you mean "Does the unit split up into 'experience' groups for skills
instruction," the answer is no. If you mean "Is skills instruction geared
toward the experience level of the Scouts," the answer is yes.
3) Is there strong patrol activity or inter-patrol activity, like
competitions or games?
A: There are games and some competitions. Visitors, however, are more likely
to see a "free-for-all" than anything else. To the outside (and sometimes
inside) observer, there wouldn't appear to be anything like a patrol.
4) Are the boys just sitting around or are they busy most of the time?
A: This one is a coin toss. While the adults (and some of the Scouts) would
much rather keep busy, I have to admit that more than one meeting has
involved sitting around.
5) How often does the troop go on outings of some sort?
A: Outings are planned for each month of the year. Our last campout was in
September. Our October campout was cancelled. Our next campout is this
6) Is it a back packing/hiking troop or car camping troop?
A: Our size, experience level, and available equipment determine that. We
are primarily a "car camping" troop.
7) Is there a diversity of ranks throughout the troop? All Second Class and
Tenderfoot ranks will tell you it's a pretty new troop with no maturity in
leadership. All Life and Eagle scouts means it's a troop about to graduate
and disappear on you, and a troop full of leaders with no followers.
A: Median age for my troop is 14. Median rank for my troop is Tenderfoot.
The median experience level is 1.5 years.
8) Is there sufficient adult help around for the size of the troop?
A: No. While this might not be evident at our meetings, it will become
painfully obvious shortly after joining the troop.
9) Have any of these Troops contacted you, or did you contact them? This
means are they actively recruiting?
A: Most likely, you contacted me. See answer to #8 above.
<Marcia Trudeau wrote>
This is not "Marcia's List".... Please reference BSA Publication No.
18-251 1995 Printing entitled "Are You Delivering The Promise".
As outlined on page 2, Paragraph 3, the BSA surveyed thousands of
Scoutmasters and Scouts. From that information, BSA was able to determine a
number of attributes common to successful troops.
I think what concerns most folks is that the publication you mentioned
wasn't intended to help Webelos (or anyone else for that matter) choose a
troop. That publication was intended for unit leaders (and parents) to use
to evaluate their units and find ways to improve.
I compared my troop to your list and came up with quite a few no's. In fact,
more no's than yes's. This concerns me greatly, but it's something I'm
working on correcting. Unfortunately, if the Webelos in my area were to use
your checklist to choose a troop, it would create a catch-22 situation my
troop could never recover from. I need new blood (both youth and adults) to
continue to work toward my goal.
I'd also like to point out that there are many other factors Webelos should
look for that don't involve the criteria many have mentioned:
1) Is the program primarily geared toward a certain age group? If the
program seems to be mostly high-adventure, older Scout stuff, younger Scouts
may find it difficult to fit in. They certainly won't be able to attend
every outing. If the program is mostly geared toward new Scouts, older
Scouts will be getting bored soon which means the troop will probably
experience a loss of experienced Scouts.
2) Is the personality of the troop and its members compatible with the
Webelos? No matter how much we try, there will always be personality
conflicts. I have seen more than one new Scout driven away by older Scouts
(by 'older' I mean anyone who's been around longer). This is something that
happens even in the most successful troops.
3) Mostly for parents: How open are the adult leaders to you? Do they
immediately invite you to help out, or do they ignore you hoping you'll go
away. Some units simply don't want any new parents hanging around,
regardless of their level of experience. The troop I went to after
graduating from Cubs was more than happy to have my father around (at least
the committee was). After a year, when the SM still couldn't remember my
dad's name, we booked!
Finally, it's nearly impossible to determine from one visitation if a
particular unit is the right one for you or your Webelos. You can use what
you observe to make a decision, but every Webelos should know going in that
he can always change his mind. If he spends some time in a troop and
discovers he doesn't like it, he should know that nothing is stopping him
from trying on another troop. Many Scouters don't have the same attitude.
They believe that a Scout who doesn't fit in their troop, probably doesn't
fit in Scouting. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A Webelos joining
my troop will know from the very start that he still has options. If he
decides he doesn't like my troop, he's free to go to another troop. If he,
or his parents tell me about it, I'll even offer to help him find a troop
he'll like. It's easier to transfer a Scout to another troop than it is to
A. J. Mako, firstname.lastname@example.org, SM Troop 381 http://www.Scouts381.org/
Old Portage District, Great Trail Council, BSA
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