There goes another unit - can anything be done to save them?

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There goes another unit - can anything be done to save them?

Postby scoutaholic » Fri Aug 14, 2009 2:52 am

First some background:
In the LDS scouting world, cubs and 11-year-old scouts (who are not part of the troop) are run by the leaders of the church childrens auxiliary (primary).
12-13 year-olds are in the troop, 14-15 year-olds are in the varsity team, 16-18 are in the venture crew. These groups are all run by the Young Mens church auxiliary.
All the adult leaders are 'called' by their church leaders to fill the scout leadership positions. Often that means that someone is called to do something they don't understand, they don't seek opportunities to be trained, and they flounder about attempting to do what they think the job is until they are 'called' to do something else and a new person is 'called' to do scouts. Sometimes someone will be called, learn to do the job, and their branch of scouting will work well for a while until they are called away. This is how scouting in my church group has worked for decades. The units all exist on paper, and there is an occasional flash-in-the-pan when real scouting gets done.

Some years ago, I convinced the church leaders to let me work with the boy scouts. Over the next 10 years, I took the floundering troop, taught them what scouting is supposed to be, and did my best to run a good troop. (As close to BSA style as I could get and still trying to fit within the church scouting guidelines). Just over a year ago, the church scouting leadership politics got bad enough that I didn't feel I could stay involved with the church troop. #1 was almost old enough to move into Varsity scouts, and #2 was just entering the troop when I left.

The new SM has tried to keep the troop going as it should. He frequently asks for my help, and I'm willing to help where I can, but he doesn't have much other support. When he is sick or busy, the troop program suffers because there is noone else to step in.

#1 has been in Varsity scouts since March. He is the team captain. At first there was no adult leader (there was one, but he wouldn't do anything, and never showed up). I encouraged my son to take his position seriously, and he got the boys together and planned some team meetings, and a backpacking trip. (Boy-led scouting !?!?)
Just as they were starting to do some of the things they planned, the church called a new Young Mens President (adult in charge of the youth boys programs (12-18)) and a new adult leader to work with the varsity boys.
Coach comes to planning meetings and listens without giving input, then leaves early. Sometimes he shows up to the Wednesday team meetings.
YMP saw the backpacking trip on the calendar and decided that they hadn't planned well enough, so he cancelled it. Instead of helping them with preparations for the trip that they had planned for their team meeting, YMP told them they couldn't go, and made them sit and do nothing for their team meeting. YMP then planned his own 'camp'. They met as his house for all night junk food and rock band. (Fun, but not camping, and certainly not the backpacking trip that they had looked forward to.) Then he wouldn't even let them do it all night and sent them to bed early.
YMP keeps inventing new rules and changing the programs. He cancels their planned outings, plans over weekly meetings, and told them they can only camp every-other-month from now on. (Because scouting isn't about camping, it's about building character.)

Troop program in beginning to slack off, because SM has been sick and he has little adult support, and YMP told them they can't camp so much any more and when they do, they have to have at least 3 leaders.

Varsity program is stalled. Boys plan things, but adults cancel and plan over, or don't show up.

Venture program has not done any scouting in years.


Is there any hope of getting these units to do scouting?

If not, what options might there be to get real scouting experiences for my boys? (Because scouting is such an integral part of the church young mens program, my wife doesn't feel that non-LDS scouting is an option.)

How far should I as a parent and trained scouter step in?

What can be done about leaders who don't/won't lead?

What can be done about a leader called by the church (CO), but inventing his own rules?
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Re: There goes another unit - can anything be done to save them?

Postby wagionvigil » Fri Aug 14, 2009 9:08 am

WHy is a Non LDS Unit not an Option?
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Re: There goes another unit - can anything be done to save them?

Postby WeeWillie » Sat Aug 15, 2009 9:25 am

What does your bishop say about the situation?

What do the other parents think about the situation?

Can you enroll in another ward's troop?

Would you consider moving your family to another ward?

Can you get a non-LDS adult to volunteer as SM? It is allowed.
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Re: There goes another unit - can anything be done to save them?

Postby Cowboy » Sun Aug 16, 2009 9:23 am

Echo: Why is non-LDS Troop out of the question? I understand that you value and need your faith and the support of your church, but.... As I see it: If the adult leaders are not there to support and guide, why should the boys show up to sit and twiddle thumbs? I have found that usually when no one shows up anymore, the adults look at the problem and try to fix it. If not, the boys are still ahead of the game. Unfortunately with LDS it is very hard to seperate Church from Scouts, but it can be done. One final option: Get in touch with your DE, or even Council Exec. Quietly explain your concerns and ask him to show up once in a while. He can force the issue without creating problems for you.
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Re: There goes another unit - can anything be done to save them?

Postby ronin718 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 2:28 pm

I know I typically ping on these "anti-LDS-Scouting" topics, but I understand where scoutaholic is coming from since we're in similar circumstances. It was easier for us to make the non-LDS decision since the ward troop was non-existant when it came time for our son to cross over from Webelos. He would've been the only EYO Scout, the boys in the 12-14 age group had no interest in Scouting, and we wanted him to have an enjoyable and "traditional" Scouting experience. Three years later he's working on his Eagle project, enjoys the troop he's in, and we have two EYO boys from the ward in the non-LDS troop plus another LDS boy from another ward. We also have the ward SM as an ASM in the community troop.

Unfortunately, due to the nature and organization of the LDS Scouting program, there does not seem to be any recourse for LDS families interested in Scouting if the ward troop is dysfunctional and the leadership is not interested in fixing it. There is no firing of the SM or CC if the ward leadership is "fine" with the program as is. Likewise, if the majority of the families of the boys are not interested in Scouting, then it's not going to function, and any families interested in doing Scouting are going to be swimming against the tide.

Most LDS folks don't ever think about using their feet when it comes to Scouting. Part of it is due to the LDS culture, part of it due to the Saturday night camping issue. Considering where scoutaholic is located, he's got the added problem of the high concentration LDS community. He may be willing to "buck the system", but it's even less likely than outside of the Wasatch Front (aka Utah). Definitely the cultural stigma thing.

I think a good way to look at the problem is as a three-legged stool. You have the ward leadership, the frontline youth leaders (i.e. SM, Coach, etc.), and the families/boys. As long as there's solid support from all three, you'll have a functional program. If there is no support from any single leg, you may stay up for a time, but at some point you'll fall flat on your... back. If you only have one leg... :x :evil: :!: :!: :!:
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