scouts-l Mail Archive for May of 2000: Re: When to Start a New Troop?
MAJ) Mike Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle (blkeagle@USSCOUTS.ORG
Fri May 12 2000 - 21:41:02 CDT
Chuck Bramlet wrote and asked:
>Getting my new Troop off the ground has proved a bit slower than I
>had anticipated. This leaves me at mid-May, and the Troop still
>isn't ready to start. I still have to fill at least one position.
Man, that sounds SO familiar, Chuck!! It REALLY, REALLY DOES!!
I am looking into the dining room area, right now. The dining room area
normally has a set of chairs and a table, along with Jessi's computer and
desk tucked into a corner. Right now, it is a sea of binder, USPS blue
boxes, and other associated pieces of paper and articles.
When Jessi and I committed ourselves to this "binder thing" (she called it
that!), we were *so "gung ho" on it...like any Scouter would be when they
started a new project or a new position. Then, the months wore on. We
each took our turns at getting ill. Then it was my mother-in-law's turn,
and because of her age and condition, it took both of us extra time to get
her back into the "plus column again".
Then it was the "are you going to go to Europe or not" deal for another
month. And then....the binder stuff started to come in. We were EXCITED
once again...and then, the work...the REAL WORK...of separating, filling
and stuffing each Binder started in. And then there were the reminders.
"I know you're busy, but..."
Last week, Jessi asked me, looking around our home which now looks like a
"box warehouse", "Are you still excited about this project....you won't
hurt my feelings if you're not..."
I looked at her and said "Are you KIDDING, WOMAN??!! This is GREAT!! NOW, I
CAN LOOK FORWARD TO THE NEXT PROJECT!!"
Chuck, my advice is to STICK WITH IT...even though things feel like they
are just dragging. Your District's Executive would agree with me, but he
or she is pretty biased...they need the new unit and the members!!
Yes, when I said "I know how you feel", I've been there as I've worked to
organize new units and had to have that one or two *more people*. There's
a great tempation there to "create a name for the books" or to "find
someone -- anyone" and register them.
Let the unit stand on it's OWN merits, with it's OWN membership and
leadership. Make another call upon the chartered organization, explain
your situation and ask for their assistance...even if you do all of the
work for them. Do what I did as a youth member many years ago...I went
door-to-door in Scouting uniform, introducing myself and explaining that
I'm organizing a new Troop and would like their cooperation. For every
four or five doors that would be closed, with the words "we ain't
interested", there were three or four others that would not only open up
wide, but invite me in to deliver my "pitch" to the entire family (dog
and/or cat included!). It is something about that personal contact that
really works a lot better than those flyers or posters.
Also, do some things I did NOT do. Go to shopping centers and set up a
booth for a few hours. Explain that your Troop is NEW and that those
joining would be on the "ground floor" of something really different and
great (and please DO NOT OVERSELL WHAT YOU'RE PROVIDING....you're providing
Scouting, and everything that Scouting is about: character and citizenship
development and personal and mental fitness. You're NOT selling "high
adventure", nor "rappelling" nor anything else other than Scouting!).
Get some time on your cable TV station and ask them to assist you with a 20
second "appeal" for youth. You're NOT being desperate, Chuck....you're
just "using your resources".
When we couldn't get pens for our binders, Jessi went out and found a
friend of hers whose husband ran a novelty shop. While he didn't have the
pens we were looking for, he led us in the direction of someone who did.
That's the approach you have to take with regard to organizing your Troop.
Organizing a new unit is HARD WORK; that is why in many places, many of us
volunteers "leave it to our pros" to do...and to be honest, they don't do
any better or worse than we would do if we would have done it ourselves.
And every time, it DOES GET EASIER TO DO...because you KNOW what works for
YOU and you know what works for the PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
Final comment: When I teach a session during the Commissioners'
Conferences, I always close out by asking "How many of you were recruited
by another Commissioner?" I see the hands go up, and in most cases, it's a
sizable handful of Scouters. Then I ask "How many of you were recruited by
If I get one or two hands up, that's a special day. "Remember: no matter
how hard we think our job is....imagine that Scout out there, wanting
Scouting but can't find the adults needed to keep a Troop going. They
don't want to ask adults...for to them, WHY SHOULDN'T YOU volunteer to be a
Scouter?? But they do. And when we keep marginal Packs and Troops going,
that's exactly what those kids are out there doing....until they get tired
of asking and find other things to do.
Chuck, let's give 'em something BETTER for them to do. Something that's
going to help them to grow and have fun doing it. Let's give 'em Scouting."
I hope all of this helps you...and those others in the back there wondering
the same things!
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
[Purchase Your Binder! for Scouting's Y2K's publications!]
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