scouts-l Mail Archive for August of 2000: limiting troop membership
Thu Aug 31 2000 - 11:26:54 CDT
> Does anyone have any succesfull stories of how to pick and chose
> or limit the
> number of boys you take?
Well, I have been there and done that. Instead of giving you the emotional evils
of turning away or grabbing as many Scouts as you can, I' ll just give you facts
as best we learned the hard way and from other units in our area. Hopefully they
give you some insight.
First of all, the SPL in a truly boy run Troop can only handle a max 50 Scouts.
Really 40 is better. You can rearrange, move around and split groups all you
want, but in the end, if the SPL is in charge, 50 Scouts is the limit. Anything
more, and the adults have to get more evolved. It's a sad story, but true.
Second, I was told this when we were in your shoes, and now our experience
supports it, your Troop will form itself to a size that fits the program. In
other words, if you work to be a true boy run Troop, you will probably never get
larger than 50 ACTIVE Scouts. If your goals are a large Troop and boy run is not
a primary concern, then your Troop will handle that large number. Whether they
know it or not, and most don't, it's usually the SM who determines the size of
the Troop by how he guides the program. If he works through the PLC, the Troop
will grow to a size the PLC can manage. After that, the program fails and the
Scouts and parents start leaving for a better program until the numbers fall to
a size the PLC can manage. If the SM works the program though PLC and ASMs, it
will grow to that size. If the SM works through the adults, well the unit can
grow very large.
Your adults need to agree to what they want the Scouts to get out of the
program. If it's rank and advancement, then it can be more of an adult run
program that will handle lots of boys. If leadership and behavior are more of a
priority, then your Troop may have to slim down a bit to allow the Scouts to
learn from their actions.
Everyone here has a preference and can list the pros or cons of each unit. There
are some very fine units with all numbers of Scouts. Usually what makes a unit
great is a group of adults who focus on what the Scouts get out of the program,
not what the adults get. Each one of us has our own experiences of life, our own
way of doing things and our own way of handling situations. We are called
Scoutmasters because we supposedly have mastered our life from our experiences.
Scouting allows us to hand down what we have learned. How the dominating adults
hand those experiences down to the Scouts is going to determine what kind of
program your Troop will form to and how large you can get.
A few myths:
The myth that you should feel obligated to accept these large numbers of scouts
so they can enjoy your wonderful program. Truth is, if you take about 50% new
scouts, your program will change. Logistics, equipment, number of Patrols and
adult leaders will change just to keep up. If the adults and scouts are not
ready, you will loose about 25% of your Scouts while the Troop leadership
scurries to catch up. Your wonderful program may no longer be wonderful. I
suggest your leadership plan now for that large group so that you don't get lost
when they do come. And prepare yourself for a different program that fits your
new size. Not good or bad, just different.
Another myth is you have to keep your numbers low to stay boy run. Well, yes and
no. Today we are the third largest Troop hovering around 80 Scouts. And we brag
to be very boy run, maybe the most boy run Troop in our District. What we found
that is working for us is that at any given time through of the year, we average
about 40 to 50 Scouts at meetings. Sports and other outside activities keep us
to that number. So the program is still manageable for the SPL and we maintain a
very active boy run program.
The myth that splitting your program solves the big Troop problems. No, not
really. We look at this several different ways and talked to a lot of units who
did it. Every unit said that it doubles the logistical problems of the Troop for
the leadership. The split didn't really solve many of the big Troop problems
except space. Fact was every leader said the program still felt big and the
problems tripled because now you have to double the communication and
management. Even though each group was smaller, they were still run like big
groups, so they still lost the Scouts and adults who wanted a small group
program. Units that liked and worked well with the split program had more than
200 Scouts. That's a lot of scouts. You might go this way, but don't expect to
solve your big group problems. Splitting the Troop just allowed the big Troops
to get bigger. If you split, I suggest split into a whole new Troop at a
different charter. STILL difficult, but it forces each adult to focus on one
Troop, one program.
The myth that you have to take every Scout that comes to your Troop. No you
don't. You don't have to do anything. We have never turned a Scout away from our
Troop, but , I always give visitors names to 4 or 5 other Troops in town. I know
how important it is to find a Troop that fits the family. Those Troops are
grateful for the help and isn't that the Scouting way. Some troops control size
by high initial dues cost. Some control it by only inviting a small limited
number of Webelos Dens. Troops that I have seen turn away Scouts up front
usually regret it later by the reputation developed from that method.
What I am trying to say is you don't really have the much control on numbers.
You can try, but it's difficult. You do have a lot of control on your program.
And your program will probably control your numbers. You need to sit down with
your adults and discuss your goals, and your experience in the program that will
lead you to those goals, like training and help from other sources. You need to
decide what you want the boys to get out of their experience in your Troop and
build your plan of action to reach those goals. This may all seem vague and
difficult, but if you don't do it now, you will later when your standing there
watching 100 screaming scouts running around waiting for the program to kick in.
Gather your adults and ask them to speak openly to where they want the program
to go. Agree on a plan and explain that plan to everyone in your Troop and
visitors to your Troop. Then drive the program, with your PLC, to that plan.
Eventually your numbers will fit into the program that comes from your plan. Oh
yes, the plan will change to get to your goals, but that is a given. Just
recognize that there needs to be a plan and everyone is working towards it. Ask
for prayers, they help a lot. Ask for help from Scouts_L, there is a lot of
I wish you the best because you are going to influence a lot of souls out there.
Your Troop will change a lot of lives. Your in a good place right now. Have a