Tag Archives: Leaders

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!


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…


Day 100 – Limping Across the Finish Line

100 days ago, I thought it might be ‘neat’ if I tried my hand at writing a Scouting blog.  It just so happened that the 100 Days of Scouting was kicking off for its second year and I found it a great excuse to get it going.

Here we are – and what a long, strange and eventful journey it’s been.  My last post was kinda my wrap up post – so I won’t do it again – but I do have something I’d like to get off my chest.

I think my wife summed up my irritation pretty well:  “I find it amusing and exhausting when people complain and rant about rules and policies in BSA or other youth organizations. Bottom line: if you don’t like it, then volunteer for a different organization. Pretty doubtful that a nationally based group is going to change their ways because you think you’re superior to their rules.”  Thank you dear, you have a way with words sometimes when I’m so frustrated all I can do is sigh.

Today, I also had to deal with a set of parents who tried to get their Scout signed up and paid for this weekends activities.  Sign up for it was due over a month ago so we could plan transportation and such.  What kind of lesson would we be teaching both the Scout and his parents if we let them slide on it?  Not to mention, we already have the tour plan filled out and ready to go.  Yea, I also struggle with excluding a Scout because his parents don’t know how to keep things straight.  But I even reminded 2 weeks ago thinking if they somehow forgot about it, they could take care of it then and it would have been ok.  It’s not fun to play the bad guy, but sometimes you just gotta in order to keep everyone from taking advantage of you.

Well, I kinda just went off for my Day 100.  Sorry.  Wait, no I’m not.  I’ll bet you there’s someone else out there who’s dealing with the same stuff, or worse – and maybe they’ll read this and feel just a wee bit better because they realize that they’re not alone.  That’s one of the lessons I’ve gotten out of this 100 Day of Scouting deal.  I’m not alone in how I feel, or the issues that I have to deal with day in and day out.  So, our Troop is at least sort of ‘normal’.

My last hashtag with #100DaysofScouting for the year…..*sniff*



Day 79 – Re-thinking Roundtable

Not a whole lot happening this week at all for Scouting in my world.  As we don’t have a Troop meeting on the 4th Mondays of the month, this tends to be a little slower time for me and for all the Scouts and adults in the Troop.  And that’s OK in my book.  Very soon, it’ll get pretty busy with camping, and the summer madness.

Tonight I put together the final report for our District after gathering data from the survey I put together for the Roundtables.  Interesting results, to say the least.  Some people were very honest about stuff, and other took it as an opportunity to tell the Council just what they think of our program.  Some of the answers made me giggle, as they just didn’t make much sense to me, but I put them all in the report so everyone can see what our volunteers think and feel about the current Roundtable situations.

I read a comment by a fellow blogger, Clarke Green the other day about Roundtables, and I’m starting to wonder if Roundtables – the traditional monthly meetings – are past their prime, and need to be re-thought and re-tooled to accommodate today’s Scouting leaders.  Our District is huge (covers parts of 3 states) and although we’ve been holding several Roundtables each month, the biggest issue for Scouters attending seems to be distance.

Roundtables have traditionally been used to pass information on at a District level.  Before cell phones, internet, e-mail and other technologies this was pretty much the only way to ensure that leaders had the information they needed.  It was also a really good way to add supplemental training and even some required training.  With the majority of training being available online these days, it’s hard to offer much training that will interest people to attend.

I’ve already thrown out the questions to our Council about web meetings – and other forms of communication that might better serve our District.  In fact, that was one of the question on the survey.  There wasn’t one favorite answer, either.  It seems like there’s a mix of people who still want that face-to-face meeting, just less often it seems.  There are those who would prefer just electronic communications (podcasts, newsletters, ‘online roundtables’).  I hope we’re able to do some, if not most of these things soon.

I’m not saying get rid of the traditional Roundtable all together.  I’m saying we need to re-evaluate the purpose of Roundtables.  We need to figure out what our Scouters need now – and not just rely on what has typically been done.  If we’re able to move in the right direction for the majority of them, I think we’ll see more participation in Roundtable, and possibly in all Scouting events at the District and Council level.

“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.”
– Gallagher

Day 51 – I don’t need training! (or do i?)

“I don’t need training!”  First off, I don’t believe that for one minute.  But there are those out there who feel that their other trainings in their jobs/life mean that they have all the experience being a leader that they’ll ever need.  I think each and every leader deserves to be trained so they can successfully deliver the Scouting program.  If we all have the same ‘base’ BSA training, then we’ll all be on the same page and understanding while trying to deliver the Scouting program.  All of our outside training and life experiences should enhance our core training and be a great compliment to each of us.  I also firmly believe that there’s always something new to learn, something new to experience – otherwise this thing would get pretty boring after a while.

Some also feel that since they’ve volunteered to be a leader, and give of their time, that they shouldn’t give of their money in order to become trained.  I can see their point here.  That being said, I feel that most of this training that costs (Wood Badge, for example) is not only training for BSA – its quality leadership training for life.  I’ve used so much of what I’ve learned at Wood Badge in other aspects of my life that I have found it to be a very valuable thing.  Also – most, if not all training that is required for each position is free.  It’s the supplemental stuff that typically costs.  And that’s a personal choice, really.  I would encourage all leaders to consider Wood Badge, however.

Every Scout deserves to be led by trained leaders.  I urge you to get the training needed for your position in Scouting, no matter what it is.  There’s always something to learn!

Day 41 – training & hoping

This weekend I’ve been thinking of how our Troop needs to be much more boy-led.  With our Troop elections on Monday, I’m hoping that this will be the start of good things.  I’m hoping that no matter who is elected – with the proper training and guidance – that they’ll be able to lead our Troop in a way I don’t think anyone here has ever seen.

Since this Troop started out with 6 very green 11 years old 6 years ago – I felt the need to help them more than if I had joined an existing Boy Scout Troop that already had leadership in place.  Trouble is, I don’t think that I’ve ever really given it all up.  I realized this at our last PLC, when it seemed that our SPL just really didn’t understand that it was his meeting to lead.  Is that his fault?  Nope.  That’s mine.  It’s one of many things I’m hoping to fix in the coming weeks and months.

First this is to hold Troop elections.  We’re WAY past the 6 month term – and no one noticed.  Again, my bad.  Elections are tomorrow.

Secondly, Troop Leadership Training (TLT).  Haven’t held one of these in years.  It’s scheduled for early next month, and I will have my stuff together by then.  I will also have the SPL and ASPL trained prior so they can help in the rest of the training.  Once they complete TLT for their current position, they can wear the ‘trained’ patch, correct?  I’m also thinking of having quick ‘mini-PLC’ meetings after each meeting so we can go over what worked and what didn’t, and offer suggestions as to how to correct any issues for next time.

I realize that this isn’t going to all magically happen overnight.  There’s going to be some meetings and plans that won’t work.  There will be some moments where it will seem like none of the training is working.  But I know it’s just a rough spot, and if I can help the boys use it as a learning tool, it will only help them grow as leaders.

With these two things taking place in the next few weeks I’m hoping that we’ll be taking some huge steps towards an actual boy-led Troop.  I think if I set the tone and lay it out for them from the get-go, it should help.  If you have any other suggestions how to, in essence, turn this thing around – I’m very open to suggestions!

I’m just curious

I’m just curious what the level of experience is with those of you who frequent my site.  If you’d be so kind to take a moment and participate in my tiny little poll, I’d appreciate it.  Thanks!

Day 32 – Feeling good!

The ScoutmasterDay 32 already, wow.  Seems like I just started this crazy ride and we’re already this far!  I have to say that I’m loving this journey – and I’m glad that so many of you at least take a peek at what I have to say!  I have discovered a whole new dimension of Scouting – and I will continue to explore it and enjoy!

I’m feeling really good today about Scouting in general.  Last night the Mrs. and I held our second Roundtable as Commissioners – and it went very well, in my opinion!  We had a few more people attend (first good thing) and we had some very good discussions.  I think we’re on the right track, at least!  I hope those that attended enjoyed it as well…

We’re finding that we don’t need to have as much material ready as I thought we would.  What was supposed to be an hour meeting turned into almost two hours!  No one complained, as it was all good information and discussion.

One of the things brought up was training, and how very soon all registered leaders will need to be fully trained in their registered positions in order to recharter with the unit.  Does anyone know what training a Roundtable Commissioner needs to take to be considered ‘trained’?  I would very much like to take the appropriate training not only for myself, but for all those who come to Roundtables.  The Mrs. and I really want to improve the program for all leaders however we’re able.

The Troop is, in my opinion, heading in the right direction once again – and I think we’re making progress on the Roundtable side of things.  I’m feeling good….really good about Scouting right now.

Here’s hoping each and every one of you have a wonderful weekend!

‘The Scoutmaster teaches boys to play the game by doing so himself.’
– Robert Baden-Powell

Day 31 – ‘floaters’

I don’t know if our Troop has the distinction of being the only unit out there with this particular issue, but I doubt it.  What I’m talking about is parents (and sadly, some leaders) sitting in the back of the room during Troop meetings and chit-chatting with each other the entire meeting.  At times, they are disruptive, and at other times seem to be there so their Scout doesn’t have to be responsible taking notes on upcoming events or things like that.

I don’t have issue telling the parents that if they want to stay during the meetings, that they kindly head to another room so we can meet without the distractions.  I’ve done that before, and I can do that again.  It’s the leaders.  How do I bring something like that up  to them and not sound all Mr. Mean Scoutmaster on them?   I think that’s something I may bring up at our Roundtable tonight.  Hopefully I can get a suggestion or two from the good folks who come to them.

I’m also going to ask the boys at next weeks PLC what they think we ought to do about it, or if they even perceive it as an issue.  It is their Troop, after all and I need to remember that.  Maybe they’ll see it another way…

Today I wound up staying home with a sick boy.  So, I looked up Leave No Trace info for tonight’s Roundtable.  And of course, I’ll be co-heading our Roundtable this evening.  Any suggestions on how to get more Scouters to attend?  Does anyone out there go to Roundtables that have the ‘hook’ – that thing that gets you to want to attend?  I’d love to hear what others are doing!

I think I”m going to keep my podcast dream just a dream for now.  I don’t think I have the material to talk about  that isn’t already talked about on other podcasts.  I’ll keep it in the back of my mind, however.  If anyone wants to chip in ideas or thoughts – I’m always willing to listen!