Running the Troop

Administering the troop, solving problems, building on success, and using key program elements like the Patrol Method.

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Running the Troop

Postby scubascout » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:27 pm

How does your troop run

How many patrols- Venturing, Experienced, New Scouts?

Who's elected, appointed

What do you talk about during troop meetings

Where do you go for high adventure

All answers will be appreciated

Add more info if you would like
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Postby RWSmith » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:30 pm

scubascout,

I really appreciate your eagerness; but, here are a couple of suggestions:

Go back and spend some time reading the older posts... some really good stuff there. Also, try experimenting with the "Search" feature. Then, if you still have questions, let 'em rip. :wink:
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Postby scubascout » Mon Jan 08, 2007 9:48 pm

thanks, i found a lot of neat stuff using the search feature
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:10 pm

:cry:
Last edited by kc9901mom on Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby razor_strop » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:04 pm

Yup, it can be incredibly frustrating as an adult to watch Scouts fail to plan, fail to follow up or prepare and then flounder during activities or meetings. That, however, is the beauty of Scouting--its a learning laboratory where mistakes are not only expected, they're (to a point) encouraged in that the Scouts will learn much more from their own mistakes than from having an adult either tell them what to do to avoid mistakes, or worse yet take over planning and leadership to avoid mistakes.

During our new parent meeting each year, I warn the new parents that they will think meetings and activites are barely controlled chaos, but that is what young boys learning looks like. In a world where zero tolerance policies view mistakes as an unrecoverable life changing event, Scouting let's its youth members trying something, see how it goes, and then adjust to have a better result in the future. So long as safety isn't being compromised, it's ok for Scouts to make mistakes, and even repeat mistakes sometimes.

It took me a while to finally come around to this viewpoint and to stop trying to "help" the Scouts avoid non-safety mistakes in their plans and actions, but with time and gentle reminders from much wiser adult Scouters, I eventually saw the light.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby smtroop168 » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:31 pm

KC9901MOM asked "Is there a perfect Troop out there, somewhere? "

My first reaction was to laugh out loud. Of course there is no perfect troop or pack or crew or committee or district or council because you are dealing with people.

You have to use the resources at your disposal to the best you can. A troop of older scouts is a completely different dynamic than a troop made up of 75% 12 and below scouts. Older boys forget to plan and younger ones forget to tell their parents about what time we're leaving for the campouts. If you're looking for strict structure all the time, then don't come to my troop. :) If you make it too much like school, the boys will stop coming. I found that the boys do like to spend time socializing since I have them in 5-6 different schools and Monday nights is the only time they get to see each other.

Frustrating...you bet but rewarding whe they "get it" with regards to leadership and values.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby ronin718 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:42 pm

Be glad your troop is that small. With a troop of ~150 boys, our weekly meetings probably look chaotic to any untrained parent and to some of the ASMs as well. Right now we've got 70 boys at camp... 28 are first-years, 30 are in years 2-3, and the rest are in the 15-17 age group, but only three of those are from the "senior" leadership patrol (our new SPL, our O/A Rep, and our retired Chief of Den Chiefs). I'm getting nightly reports from my son, and it sounds like chaos to an adult, but the boys are managing it. The PLs are overwhelmed, the boys don't want to do any of the usual chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.), but they're all having fun.

Time management is an issue for most boys (and some adults), and the younger the boy, the worse it gets. Our troop used to run late all the time trying to squeeze everything in and let the adults make announcements for upcoming events. The information got out, but it went long. Our last SPL decided to have the senior boys make the announcements, cut off the adults, and implemented a timetable for the weekly meeting. This led to meetings that ended on-time or a little early, but many details were left out of announcements or they weren't heard by parents.

Nobody's going to get it right. So what is the most important to you? Boy-run, Boy-led? Or perfectly run, punctual, carefully orchestrated meetings/events? Let the boys do their job, and provide encouragement and training along the way.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:40 pm

ronin718 wrote:Or perfectly run, punctual, carefully orchestrated meetings/events?


Not looking for "perfect" (I know it doesn't exist).
:wink:
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:53 pm

How about using songs, skits, games, or other hands-on activities to teach skills?

I am willing to help with ideas and suggestions and I am sure that other parents would help if asked.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby ronin718 » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:27 pm

kc9901mom wrote:My biggest concern here is that the acting SPL should have and could have planned the weekly Troop meetings to fulfill these requirements for these two scouts and the other first-year scouts especially because July's theme is Health Care. Instead, at the last three meetings no skills were covered and yet the meeting still lasted an hour. Furthermore, if the acting SPL did not have a plan for skills for the meetings he could have solicited help from the Adults. I would have been happy to provide him with a contact person or called and made arrangements myself. Furthermore, no one likes to be talked "to death" especially 10-14 year old boys.


Could've, should've, might've. Having been an ASM for five years now, a Cub leader for three, and a UC or District staff for a few more, I hear a lot of complaints from parents, many of them also leaders, about what the troop SHOULD BE DOING. I often ask the question, "Have you said anything to...". Many times the answer is "no". The Scouts don't communicate, the parents don't communicate, the leaders don't communicate. If nothing is ever said, then nobody knows there's a need.

Each troop does things differently. My troop doesn't do a lot of focus on the advancement requirements in the meetings. Yes, they work on skills such as first aid, knots, cooking, cleaning, camp setup, etc., but they don't focus on a requirement. In my troop, advancement is solely on the Scout to work. It's on him to get with another Scout to work on learning the skill, and it's on him to get with an ASM for the sign-off. Much of what a Scout needs to learn is in the Handbook. If the material is not there, then he should be looking for ways to get the info. Personal initiative is the skill being worked on, and this is something that the boys will need as adults. Not three-pot cleaning, or square knots, or animal track identification, or a 5-mile hike, or many other items that are advancement requirements.

Yes, young boys don't think of these things. This is where parents mentor for the first year or so. If it's a problem, take some parental initiative and speak with the adult leadership. Don't take no for an answer to "can we talk", and don't be pushed off to the committee. If all else fails, put on an ASM patch and get trained and get involved. It's amazing what you can do from the inside. :D
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby Billiken » Fri Jul 27, 2012 3:45 pm

My dad once told me that, at times, you'll feel that every other troop is better than your own.
"The only problem with Boy Scouts is, there aren't enough of them." Will Rogers
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:51 pm

:(
Last edited by kc9901mom on Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby ronin718 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:04 pm

kc9901mom wrote:"...My point is that when a requirement requires Troop participation then the SPL and ASPL should know and plan to meet the requirement.


That's just it... The item in question does not REQUIRE Troop participation. It is an option, along with school or community. I get that you want the TROOP to do something to help your son fulfill this requirement, but it is not REQUIRED of them to do it, nor are they required to do it in the time frame that you/your son want it done in. You may or may not run into this problem when it comes time for the POR requirements.

Yes, it's frustrating. Been there, done that. However, as I've learned too many times myself, the troop is not there to provide my son's needs at the exact moment he needs them. We've often had to be patient and work within the program to get things done.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:03 pm

Thanks everyone. Troop meetings are getting back to normal now that the Older scouts are back.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:16 pm

Thanks for reading. Sometimes - it helps just to vent. :(
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kc9901mom » Wed Oct 24, 2012 11:05 pm

So, what do you do when the Troop Leadership is failing to properly plan camping trips?

Thoughts? Opinions?
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby kwildman » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:09 am

I wouldn't split the food shopping. When we have tried that in the past it has been nothing but problems. Also you lose alot of your ability to save money by buying in bulk. we typically have one scout buy all the food when they need it for their T21 rank advancement. Frequently, we do have our leaders do the food purchasing because it makes it easier on everyone involved...we do a better job of buying the food and saving money. We also know how much it takes to feed the troop and can adjust the youths menu when it makes sense. Yes the youth should be involved in purchasing the food and if a parent has money issues then i will take the youth to the store and pay for the food.

You really seem to have a lot of issues with this troop. What does your son think about all of this? Is he happy with the troop? If he is happy, then let it go unless things are keeping him from advancing. If both of you are unhappy with the troop, i would suggest that you look for another alternative. I can tell you that there is no such thing as a perfect troop. Also - are these recent changes in the troop or is this how they have operated before you got there? You have also never mentioned what other committee members feel about these things.

In my opinion - these things are not that big of a deal. My recommendation is to focus on the big picture and not sweat the small stuff. If your kid is enjoying his time with this troop then take a step back and let him go.
No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way. - Lord Baden-Powell
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby FrankJ » Thu Oct 25, 2012 10:48 am

I cannot judge the specifics of what any one troop does over the internet. My perspective of how boy scouts is supposed to work is a troop consists a patrols. Patrols are gangs of boys running around with just enough adult intervention to keep it from becoming Lord Of The Flies.

To expect 11-14 year olds to be able to effectively feed a entire troop from meal planning to to clean up on the first go round is asking for failure. One the big reasons that the classic troop structure is the patrol method. Scouts should be cooking by patrols, a much more manageable number. Adults should either be sprinkled amongst the patrols or their own patrol. If you have a high ratio of adults they should definitely be in their own patrol. If your troop is less than 10 then it is really a big patrol & things like PLCs have less meaning.

So how to pay for the food? The classic 300 ft method is for the grub master to collect it from the patrol members. Logistically it is a lot simpler to collect it from the troop treasurer. You still need somebody responsible to handle the money regardless of the amount. Even with an adult paying for the food, the scout or scouts can do the shopping & track what they are spending. The big thing here is to have the scout involved in the shopping & not an adult just doing it & changing the menu in the process. If you don't feel comfortable giving your 11 old son $180 cash (reasonable to me), don't expect the troop to do it.

Anyway, I have a minority view on this. BUT. Nobody starves on a weekend camp out. Short of people with definite dietary restrictions, I don't care if the patrols eat pop tarts all weekend. They do this once on an high activity camp out & they will have a better meal plan for the next one. Meal planning & prep is one place you can learn a lot. Heavy training, light guidance, and allowing the scouts learn from their choices. Sanitation is about the only thing I am strict on in this area. For food, the scout/parent buying it & getting reimbursed is pretty typical. I have seen parents holding receipts for over a month & then expecting the treasurer to drop everything to pay them back.

It is never appropriate for the committee to give the PLC guidelines directly. It course OK for the committee to developed troop policies & convey them to the scout master. The other form of interaction is individual committee member interacting with specific scouts such as the committee equipment coordinator working with the quartermaster.

The cooking merit badge becoming eagle required is going to encourage work in this area.
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I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.--Albert Einstein
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby ronin718 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 11:05 am

Let me start by addressing the grubmaster thing. Yes, shopping for 18 can be a challenge. Ideally there would be two GMs, but there weren't. If the problem is with finances, you were right to speak up. If not, then what is the problem? You said "My son needs to learn to shop with a budget and keep track of how much each item on the list is. He will not learn this if Mom or Dad writes the check or swipes the Debit/Credit card through the machine." Hogwash!!! He can do everything in that budget and that list right up to the processing at the check-out stand. What does swiping the credit card have to do with learning to shop with a budget and track each item? Nothing other than means of payment. He still gets an itemized receipt, he still managed his costs, just give him a calculator has he's shopping and he can track his budget as he goes along.

What does spending $420 this month have to do with anything in your rant? Welcome to an active Scouting program!! If you stay with it until your sons turn 18, you'll be spending way more than that. I've got a 16 y/o son and we both do a High Adventure trip every summer. Guess what... that's freakin' expensive. In 2010 it was Jamboree to the tune of $3000 just for admission. In 2011 it was Northern Tier, another $3000. This year it was Alaska, there went $4000. And none of those figures included gear or clothing. Then there were the regular monthly events and Scout camp. Scouting, when done right, is not cheap. That's why my son had sold popcorn every year. He does well enough to cover his side of the expenses.

When is it appropriate to give the PLC a set of rules to follow when planning camping trips?


That is for the SM and the SPL/PLC to work out, not you. As a committee member, you can discuss this with the committee and discuss AS A COMMITTEE with the SM, but it is not your role to drive this bus with the youth.

Now, I've been sitting for the past few months reading the ongoing saga of your troop(s), biting my lip and holding my tongue. Since everyone has been really nice and danced around, I'm going to poke the elephant in the room.

KC, if I didn't know better, I would swear you were my darling wife. There have been SOOOO many similar discussions in my home. That said, you have a PEBCAK issue. This is a Scout troop. They are going to do things differently. They are not going to be finely-tuned in organization, especially if the boys are in charge. The boys are going to mess up. The Scoutmaster is going to let the boys mess up so long as the mistake is not life-threatening or injury-provoking. That includes menus that are not USDA-compliant. Are the issues life-threatening? Will they put the boys in harm's way? Or are they merely annoyances to the way we would do them as adults and will provide learning experiences for the boys?

Please stop trying to micro-manage this troop, your sons will appreciate it. Take it from a parent/ASM who has been there, done that. If you can't sit back and enjoy the ride, get out of the car. You've already left one troop that didn't meet your expectations, and you were supposedly looking to leave this one as well. Maybe you need to look internally and figure out why you're expecting perfection from an organization that is run by volunteers for a group of teenaged boys who are supposed to be given the leeway to lead themselves. It's fine to make a suggestion here or there, but you've been pinging on these folks since day one. Try stepping back and watching without commenting. Take a few notes, then ask yourself "Is it really important that this be changed? Will it make a real difference in the end result of this event?" If not, let it go.

It's obvious you care, both for your sons and for the program. But you've got to let loose on the reigns. The more you tighten up, the more you're going to choke the fun out of it... for you, for your sons, for the troop. Like I said, I've been there, done that, and I now have the reputation that's hard to get rid of. Your sons will appreciate it.
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Re: Running the Troop

Postby Mrw » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:47 am

Ditto on the responses from Ronin, kwildman and Frank.

Although it was more last minute than you liked, the new PLC learned from the first camp and did better, although not great, with this one. As long as they are not going to truly hurt themselves, let them stumble around and figure it out. Far better they do it now than 10 years from now when the consequences are bigger.

My kids did patrol/troop shopping and cooking many times with a list and keeping track of spending where all I did was drive, swipe a debit card and help them figure out what to put back if they went over budget. And as adults now, they both value what they learned as they spend less and waste less than their friends.

Our troop went through troop cooking periods. Although patrol cooking is more ideal, sometimes the larger group meals make sense. We have 50ish kids on the roster and still have a camp or two a year where they troop cook. Especially the one where they have Webelos as guests and it frees most of the boys to spend the day helping the younger kids with pin requirements.
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