scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Small Troop Challenges
Gary Rayson (garayson@NMSU.EDU
Fri Nov 19 1999 - 11:30:22 CST
Greetings to all,
I am not certain if this issue has already been discussed on the list. It
is, however, an issue that is relavent to my current situation. After
trying many things, I seek the wisdom of the list.
Here is my situation. I am the Scoutmaster of a small troop. I define the
term "small" as having fewer than 8 scouts (total). At the time of the last
recharter, the number dropped below the critical number of 5. With a lot
of effort, we were able to recharter (with 5 boys) and then got a surge
from Webelos den moving into the troop. Unfortunately, with graduations of
some of the older boys, etc., our numbers did not go above 8 or 9. I have
been through all of the training that is offered at the district/council
level (and have served on staff for each of these events) so I think I can
say that I am aware of how the system is supposed to work (i.e., active
program, patrol method, boy leadership, etc.). However, "the system"
assumes the presence of enough scouts for more than one patrol. Although we
have a fairly active program (camping nearly every month with some sort of
outdoor activity every month) and reasonable advancement, it now seems that
we are "not meeting expectations" of some of the parents and they are
transfering their sons to some of the larger troops in town. As recharter
time approaches, I fear that there will be a repeat of last year (this is
compounded by the fact that the troop has >37 years of continuous charter
and other than a 1.5 year lapse then dates back to the early 1930's).
My question to the list is both simple and complex. How does a small troop
operate using the system and succeed?
I have seen the workings of the larger "successful" troops in the area and
have noticed one common characteristic, they do not operate "by the book."
They are adult run, or advancement intensive (translate, eagle mills), or
do not utilize the patrol method (to name a few examples). I have also seen
some very small troops that survive, but again it seems that the program is
treated as a suggestion. Our council and district are sufficiently over
taxed that as long as the numbers are "good" there seems to be no question
as to "how" it is done.
Should I "discard" the system and provide the parents with more of a "super
cub pack"? Or, should I "keep the faith" and believe that it will all work
out in the end?
I should also indicate that our charter organization also has a pack, but
it is struggling and is weakest in retaining second-year webelos. They have
not been a resource for new scouts and those now in the troop are not
qualified to be den chiefs.
I have been scoutmaster of this troop for more than 10 years and have seen
it succeed. I am now very disillusioned and am having second thoughts
regarding my continued role in the troop (and the integrety of the system
as a whole).
I look forward to your help and suggestions (please do not quote "chapter
and verse" from BSA literature, been there-done that).
Eagle Scout '71
Silver Beaver, Award of Merit, Vigil Honor member WWW
Gary D. Rayson
New Mexico State University
Box 30001 MSC 3C
Las Cruces, NM 88003
fax: (505) 646-2649
"You do not really understand something unless you can explain
it to your grandmother."
- Albert Einstein