scouts-l Mail Archive for April of 2000: Re: How to "Shape Up Troop"?
Anthony Mako (ajmako@NLS.NET
Wed Apr 05 2000 - 23:34:42 CDT
<Kris Swank wrote>
My husband took over as Scoutmaster of a small town troop that has been said
was always a "maverick". Since September he has taken Fundamentals and is
about to do the 3rd weekend of Wood Badge. He has been trying very hard to
get the Troop with the program,boy run etc., but the boys are fighting him
tooth and nail. Previously, things were all done for the boys, and most kids
stayed for a couple of months before getting bored and quitting.They didn't
do District events or go to summer camp.
They did the same thing over and over at Troop meetings, knots and lectures
on the Scout promise and law. The old Scoutmaster would cancel campouts if
there was even a strong prediction of rain. This past weekend we had a very
wet campout and this evening at the Troop Meeting the boys complained
Resistance to change is a natural human reaction. Perhaps it would be best
to change things slowly. Take it one step at a time, and give the Scouts
some time to get used to the new way of doing things. It is probably better
to change the program without trying to change the Scouts. Start by planning
real Scouting activities. Encourage the Scouts to come up with ideas, but
don't be suprised if they don't.
Encourage participation on campouts. You may have to bribe them in the
beginning, but sooner or later they'll get used to the way things are. DO
NOT cancel any more campouts unless it's absolutely necessary! Leave
attendance on activities up to the Scouts. If the weather turns bad, get the
Scouts into an activity that is still fun.
When he tries to teach the Spl and Patrol Leaders something to pass on to
the boys he is resisted by at least one of the Patrol Leaders. The boys want
to make campouts into hazing and play time. There were complaints that they
couldn't spend the whole time fishing and puttering around in the canoes.
They don't want to cook and do KP, They want to play War, complete with
tying up captured enemy and drop tents on each other (the tying and dropping
both expressly verboten). At Troop meetings it is very hard to keep most of
the boys attention or keep them on task. The SPL tries hard but the kids for
the most part won't listen or pay attention and the of the 2 Patrol Leaders
one is ineffectual and the other is a rabble rouser. The Troop is small,
about 15 registered, and very few of the kids are dependable. A classic
situation of "Baby Sitters of America" at times.
Two things need to be done here:
First, make it absolutely clear that Scouts are expected to follow the Scout
Oath and Law at all times. When a forbidden activity is suggested, calmly
explain to the Scouts that you don't think it's very Scout-like and, if they
can demonstrate that is DOES follow the Scout Oath and Law, you will condone
the activity. Don't argue with them. Try something like this:
Is dropping someone's tent Trustworthy? Is it Loyal? etc. There answer is
no, but they will try to convince you otherwise. Turn their arguments back
on them. Do you enjoy setting up your tent? How do you feel when someone
drops YOUR tent? Etc.
Second, the SM should take some time over the next couple weeks to sit down
one-on-one with each Scout. The purpose of this talk is mostly to get to
know the Scout and find out what he likes and what he doesn't like.
Ultimately, though, an understanding should be reached about what the SM
wants for the troop, and what the Scout wants for the troop. Use this time
to convince the Scout that Scouting can be more fun than just knots and
When asking the advice of his Wood Badge Patrol they said jokingly, let us
know where you are going to be camping so we won't go there. Not much help.
Any advice out there? Do we keep plugging away and pull our hair out? I am
on the fairly non existant Troop Committee and help with the meetings. I am
trained and finishing up my Wood Badge ticket but my suggestions haven't
helped. We have no experience with a properly functioning Troop between us.
The frustration level after a weekend campout is very high and we are
beginning to dread the next one.
Try to remember why we are here. The boys may not see it yet, but they will.
You may have to win them over one at a time. Encourage the SPL to take
charge and help him find ways to reach the other boys. It will take time,
and I can't promise you that there won't be more frustrating time ahead.
You should also get some help from your other resources. Your questions are
good discussion points for Wood Badgers, and they can be helpful if you let
them know you really need their help. You unit commissioner should also be
pretty helpful. You might also want to bring the subject up at a
Roundtable - there is very likely another Scouter out there who has been
through the same thing.
AJ Mako, Scoutmaster, Troop 381 http://www.scouts381.org/
Great Trail Council, Old Portage District