Category Archives: Retention

Troop Committee Challenges


Help WantedIn our small unit, we have a limited number of parents.  This is starting to cause a problem because some of them are just ‘too busy’ to volunteer and help the Troop out.  I’m not asking any of them to run the show (and I know, as Scoutmaster I shouldn’t be asking anyone to be on the Troop Committee – but that’s another post all together).

Recently, a few parents have decided that they no longer want to serve on the Troop Committee.  I suppose that’s OK since they’ve at least served in some capacity at one point.  There are many that have never lifted a finger, and I honestly can say I don’t expect them to any time soon.

So my ‘challenge’ (I know, I know – it shouldn’t be MY challenge – but if I don’t make it mine, it just won’t happen) is this:  how to properly fill the Troop Committee with people who WANT to be there.  We have 9 new Webelos crossing over in less than a week.  I’m hoping some of them will want to help serve the Troop in one fashion or another.  I’ve already heard that one will not, however – and I’m worried that this trend will continue with the other parents.  I hope not, but I’m nervous that’s how it’s going to play out.  I can play hard-nosed or the guilt card – but I’m not very good at either.

I’m wondering if asking non-parents from our Charted Organization if they’d want to be part of the Troop Committee?  Is that something that happens a lot?  Is it a good idea?  I’d hate to open another can of worms if I do.

Anyone have any advice on this?  Comments are more than welcome here on this one.

Thank you all in advance, and keep on Scouting!

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New Scouts = New Patrol?


With another season of Webelos Crossover upon us, I’m again faced with the lingering question of what to do with them once they’re in the Troop.  Ok, to be honest this year wasn’t very hard – but it did bring up the questions I have each and every year we bring new Scouts on board en mass:  have them be their own patrol (the ‘new Scout’ patrol), or mix them among the other Scouts in the Troop.

I can see it both ways.

If you keep them together, there may be a better chance of them sticking around longer.  Thus, you have retention and they will all get more out of the program that way.  They are familiar with each other, so there’s a level of comfort as well.  It also keeps the current patrols intact and hopefully allows them to be a better performing group by not introducing new members.

If you split them up, they have the advantage of having older Scouts in their patrol to mentor them from the beginning.  Yes, there are Troop Guides for that, but our unit isn’t very big and we haven’t had any luck with Troop Guides up to this point.  It also gives the older Scouts who need leadership the opportunity to actually exercise some of those skills within a patrol setting.

This year, I asked the incoming parents what they felt would be the best.  They all agreed that for at least a while, having them start as a new Scout patrol was the best route.  I’m OK with that.

I’m always interested in what others think about this one.  I’ve heard good arguments for both.  For our Troop this year we’re going with the New Scout patrol.  Let me know how your unit does it, or how you feel it ought to go.

Happy Scouting!


Webelos Crossover Time


Webelos to Scout TransitionIt’s that time of year again folks – Webelos transition time!  This year, due to some changes in how our Council does re-chartering, things will be a little different (and in my opinion, better) for the Webelos who are planning on crossing over.

First of all, all Troops in our area only chartered for 11 months last year.  This makes us have to re-charter by the end of January.  All the Packs in our area re-chartered for 13 months, meaning they have until the end of March now before they have to re-charter.  What this means for Scouts who want to cross over at the end of February is they will only need to pay the $1 transfer fee to join the Troop until the end of the following January.  Not a bad deal, huh?  I hope that it makes it a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to any fiscal decision whether to join the Troop or not.  A great idea from one of our newer DE’s who ‘borrowed’ the idea from his former Council.

Of course, our Troop just recently held our annual ‘Transition Night’ meeting.  The Scouts plan for an outdoor activity for the Webelos (which I believe helps them earn one of the requirements for their Arrow of Light).  This year, the Scouts planned a campfire demo outside the church and then brought in s’mores and banana boats to make as well.  Scouts get to demo the proper way to light a fire using the EDGE method – and in the end all are rewarded with yummy goodness.  There was also question and answer time, but I’m not sure how many questions were actually asked.  Everyone had fun, to be sure!

While the Scouts and Webelos were outside – it was time for the potential new parents to get their time with the adult leadership of the Troop.   Our Committee Chair, one of our Committee Members, our ASM and myself briefly discussed the differences between Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to them.  They had lots of good questions, and we tried to make everyone comfortable with how we wind up doing things.  We passed out our Troop calendar, behavior contract, info for summer camp, and the transfer form to transfer to the Troop.  We of course talked about how important it was for them as parents to help the Troop by either serving on the Committee, or becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster – or just helping out when the can.  I’ll talk more on this soon.

Sadly, we’ve only had one Den Chief up to this point.  I’m hoping to get a few more this year, but I’ve found with such a small group of boys in the Troop at this point, it’s tough to find anyone wiling to do it.  I’ll keep trying, though as I know it’s an important link between the Pack and the Troop that we are missing at this point.

We have a potential of having 9 new Scouts in a month.  I’m very excited and hopeful that they will all cross over and become Boy Scouts.  I think we have a solid foundation laid for them, and some great Scouts to lead them!

What do you do for crossover time?  Do you have something like what our unit does, or something completely different?  I’d love to hear what you do!


Overcommitted


First off, I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I apologize to those of you who visited here from time to time hoping I had something new to say.  I’ve been busy finding a new job, and just working on keeping myself and my family healthy and happy.  New job = happy Kyle = Scout musings….

We had a Troop meeting last night.  There were 6 boys who attended.  Only one was First Class or above.  I expected it, however.  See, most of the older boys had a football banquet to wrap up their season.  Not a big deal.  We were also supposed to have a PLC after the meeting, but since only one boy was there from the PLC, I made the call that we’d let the young Scouts who were there plan the next meeting.  It went very well, and I’m glad these boys had the opportunity to see how a PLC meeting runs.

After the meeting, it got me thinking.  And I realized something I think will help not only the Troop, but myself as well.

In this day and age it seems that the older boys are way too overcommitted.  School, sports, other activities….they all add up and as these boys are getting older it seems Scouting is taking a back seat to just about everything.  Some simply drop out – they get ‘the fumes’ as I call it – car fumes, perfumes, etc…  Some stick with it, but just don’t have the time to participate fully anymore.  This raises a question:  How am I supposed to judge ‘active’?  No, they’re not around much anymore.  No, they don’t hold a position of leadership anymore because they’re not around much.  Yes, they do participate fully when they are here, and they are great leaders when they are here.  I know Clarke Green just had a podcast about this….think I need to re-listen to that one and take some notes.

I guess what I’m getting at is this:  I can not assume that the older boys are going to be around enough to be considered reliable.  At least, not the ones that are currently in the Troop.  I won’t generalize, but as of right now, that is the case.  I’m going to have to go back to the days when we didn’t have older Scouts in the Troop – almost like starting the Troop over.  It’s not a bad thing.  I’ve been running under the assumption that some of these boys will want to make the Troop their priority – and sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case.  This has caused me quite a bit of frustration – and I think the Scouts that do participate can notice that as well.  So – away I go!

I think the first thing I’m going to do is sit down with the older boys and find out what other things they have going on that will interferre with Scouts.  What I mean is what extra activities do they particpate in that will keep them from regularly attending Troop meetings.  Outings are a totally different thing – at least where I’m coming from.  Once I know that, then I can move forward.  We have a Troop election coming up – and then ILST….

It’s sad that the boys are overcommitted.  Of course, I’m biased in saying that I feel Scouting will be with them for the rest of their life, and sports most likely will not.  That being said, it’s not always the boys that make the decisions as to what they do – I have seen many parents live vicariously through their son in regards to sports.  I always tell them the door is open to them if they ever want to come back, and I sure do miss some of them.


What is going on?


cancelledToday I had to cancel a Troop camping weekend due to a lack of adults.  This isn’t the first time this has happened to us this year.  Actually, we haven’t gone camping yet this year, and it’s the middle of June.  I don’t understand what’s going on.  I think one was due to expense, but the others – and here’s the kicker – have been due to a lack of adult help.  That’s right, it’s been just me willing to take the boys out and that just can’t happen under the BSA flag.  My wife is willing as well, but that is still a no-no for youth protection training.

So what’s going on?  I think part of it is that for the last 6 years, myself and one other registered adult went on everything.  There was never a worry about adult leadership at outings because her and I would always be there.  Well, now that’s changing.  I’m involved in baseball, and the other leader’s boys aren’t as active as they once were.  So now I’m seeing the results of having the ‘usual suspects’ take care of everything for so long.  And I have to say, I’m not impressed.

So now I have to think on how to fix this.  We have a mandatory Troop meeting on Monday to go over summer camp stuff, and I think since we’ll have everyone there it would be a good time to address this issue as well.  Question is, how do I address it without coming off like a jerk (I’m known to be more than a little rough around the edges and not worry too much about offending)?  Any suggestions you folks have would be appreciated.  I really am getting concerned that without more parental involvement, our unit might just fall apart due to a lack of outdoor programming – not because we don’t want to, but because we’re just unable to.

Chime in please, I could use some advice on how to handle this one.  Thanks all!

From the Northwoods of Minnesota, where the mosquitos can carry you away at dusk…

K


100 Days of Scouting – Day 8


Den Chief HandbookDay 8:

  • Took Den Chief fast start training online, so I can see how it is before I have my newly appointed Den Chiefs take it.  It was pretty good!
  • Our District Executive called me and asked if my wife and I would be willing to do another FOS presentation on Thursday.  We agreed to do it since we were already invited and planning on attending.  This will be our second FOS presentation so far this year.
  • Researched options for sharing Troopmaster data.  We have an adult who volunteered to be our Advancement Chair, so I have to figure out how to get him all set up.  DotNet or Web option.  Anyone wanna chime in on that one?
  • Attended my youngest son’s Wolf Cub den meeting.  They finished up the final requirements for earning their Wolf badge before the Blue and Gold coming up.  Good job boys!