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#1 stevenb

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 12:20 PM

Hi Folks, I've been a Scoutmaster for 36 years.  Unfortunately my Troop is disappearing.    Our feeder Pack died many years ago.  I help start a new one, but parents refuse to step up into leadership.   So we have two units on the edge.  

 

Been trying using all the methods that current Scouting materials provide, but those are not working.  Love to hear from folks facing this issue that are really thinking outside the box, especially if you have found something that works.

 

StevenB


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#2 RememberSchiff

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 03:12 PM

@stevenb welcome to scouter.com


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#3 Lurking...

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:10 PM

Welcome to the forum.

 

I've started a new troop in a depressed neighborhood and haven't grown much either.  We have never had a feeder pack and the closest unit to us is an Eagle Mill that attracts scout inclined boys in droves.  I focus on the patrol-method, boy-led and that's really not a popular program for most boys.  :)  Even Cub Pack from our CO sends boys to the other troops.


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#4 ItsBrian

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 07:24 PM

Welcome to the forum.
 
Even Cub Pack from our CO sends boys to the other troops.


That’s just not right...

Anyway,

I suggest for small troops like mine, we gained all 12 members by word of mouth. There are 3 troops in the town, and the town is only 1 square mile big. My troop was made because we didn’t like the way the others were treating some scouts. We gained atleast 4 members within a year from word of mouth. No feeder or anything.

Unfortunately, not many parents are involved. We have one ASM, and a SM of course. I suggest getting parents involved and they tel others and that inclined other parents to have their child to join.

If you are in a town that doesn’t have a lot of money for scouting, I’m sure your Council has some type of help form where they will provide a uniform, book, and the essentials. That’s what my Council does, but everyone’s different.
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#5 Sentinel947

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 08:07 PM

Wow! Welcone Steven! Good on you for your service to youth in your community! Just keep in mind everything dies. It's sad, but its not a failure. Each of the youth you've impacted for 36 years is your successes.

Hopefully some folks here can give you some advice. Recruiting Gen X parents or Millenials is challenging.
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#6 Lurking...

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 08:16 PM

Sometimes we focus so much on making a unit grow, we forget about the boys already there.  If one is on the verge of extinction, just enjoy the last hurrah, have fun and go out in style.  That's what I've been doing for some time now and every now and then we take on a loner boy and he just joins in the fun, too.


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#7 qwazse

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 08:58 PM

@stevenb, welcome to the forum. And thanks for all you've done for the boys.
I know the feeling. My crew has been on the brink for a couple of years.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as well.
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#8 ParkMan

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Posted 27 September 2017 - 10:43 PM

Welcome to the forum!

 

I'm a firm believer that the scouts & adults are out there - we just need to find them.  

 

Your instinct to get the feeder pack going is correct.  A good feeder pack gives you some breathing room.  You can never ignore the feeder pack, but it becomes possible for the pack & troop to get into a groove.  That makes it possible for you to do your thing and feel comfortable you'll get a regular group of new scouts every year.

 

Before we start suggesting anything, let me ask a few questions.

 

1. what do you have for other adult support.  Is it just you?  Do you have some partners in this?

 

2. how big is the troop today?

 

3. where is the pack now?  do you have a Cubmaster & Committee Chair?


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#9 stevenb

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 09:21 AM

Our Troop still has a cadre of active adults, all but two are parents of kids grown and gone.  

 

Troop currently has ten Scouts, but five will age out in the next six months.

 

Pack Cubmaster recently moved out of state.  I'm currently serving as Pack Committee Chair and Webelos/Arrow of Light Den Leader.  No other adults currently active in the pack.  Membership is 10 cubs.


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#10 rfd536

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 10:38 AM

Our troop invites the Webelos from packs in the area to a meet the troop night every fall.  The boys this year plan on a brief meeting, a game of capture the flag and cooking s'mores.  The troop also lets packs know that Webelos can visit at anytime to see a normal meeting.  The boys have also made it known to  packs that they are willing to join the pack on family campouts or other events to help.  This year they helped with pack, that we get several cubs from, with their Join Scouting night. There are also 5 scouts camping this weekend at a pack family camp.   We are slowing getting roads into new packs which helps encourage the cubs to consider the troop when it is time to join a troop.  They remember how nice the Boy Scouts were and feel they have friends already in the troop.

 

I have a hard time with the idea of a feeder pack.  No cub scout has an obligation to join a specific troop just because they are located in the same town or have the same CO.  When my older son was ready to cross-over he visited 3 troops, one was the only troop in our town.  The pack in our town was considered a feeder pack to the only troop in town. The pack wasn't encouraged to visit other troops, cubs were just expected to cross over into the troop.  This created a troop that wasn't welcoming to new scouts and didn't seek to scouts to join the troop. When my older son's den was getting ready to cross over, I had them visit 3 troops.  The local troop invited us on a camp out, but had nothing planned.  My son's comment to me as we were leaving the camp out was " Well that was a wasted weekend."  My son  picked  a troop in the neighboring town, as that troop made him feel welcomed.  For the next several years, the Webelos from the pack would visit at least 3 troops to visit.  Every year the same feedback was received when visiting the troop in our town: "They don't want us. They don't include us in anything, just work around us.  This was for events they invited the cubs to attend.  The feedback was given to the Scoutmaster, but the attitude of the boys never improved.  As a result, the troop folded, because they were not getting any new boys.


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#11 CNYScouter

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 11:04 AM

A few years back when I was the District Commish I had a pack that was ready to fold.

it was down to 4 second year Webelos and was ready to fold.

The SM of the Troop that was chartered by the same CO (and ex Cubmaster of the Pack) came to me about what to do.

He knew that the future of the Troop was tied directly to the pack as many of the Cubs in this pack crossed over into the troop.

Mu suggestion was for the Troop to take over the pack until it got restarted.

Do a shared committee and see if one of the Troop adults would be willing to take over as Cubmaster

They found an ASM willing to be CM and one of the Troop Committee members to take over as CC. There are a couple of more adults from the Troop who signed on as Pack Committee members who help as needed.

It took a few years but the Pack is back up to 30 to 40 Cubs. The CM is still there (he really like working with the Cubs) and the rest

 

As for building the troop this is what the SM for the troop did.

He concentrated on keeping the scouts he had and was happy to grow the unit 1 scout at a time.

I see too many Troops who want to grow all at once and get frustrated when they aren't getting a lot of boys joining all at once.

 

The year my son crossed into the Troop (and I became an ASM) 13 boys crossed into the Troop in the spring

since then the Troop still gets a single scout joining now and then but most recruitment/crossovers bring in 4 to 6 scouts at a time


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#12 stevenb

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 11:48 AM

CNY Scouter, what you wrote is almost exactly what we have been doing for the last three years.  Folks from the Troop stepped up the get the Pack on it's feet, but very few of the Cub parents were willing to help.  Now Cub parent participation is down to zero and our Troop adults are three years older and feeling used.


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#13 ParkMan

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Posted 28 September 2017 - 06:32 PM

I was the Cubmaster & Committee Chair of a pack that has a long history of successful recruiting.  What I learned from that was we needed to have a goal, a plan, and to have everyone on board with it. 

 

Our goal was two new Tiger dens every year - or about 15 new Tigers.  

 

Things we did:

- two open houses every spring & fall.

- fliers to school classrooms every spring and fall

- attendance at community events like open houses, school festivals, etc.

- a packwide publicity drive for scouts to invite their friends.  We printed invitations for the scouts to have out,

- yard signs & banners up around town

- signs hung in local places like post offices, schools, ice cream parlors, etc...

You may find some of these work and some don't.

 

In terms of recruiting adults, what I've found works best is to recruit den leaders.  What we've done is gone to the den meeting and said - "I'll lead the first few meetings, but then one of you need to take it over."  Usually there is someone who is hesitant, but will do it if they have to. It's always worked for us. 


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#14 stevenb

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 08:42 AM

ParkMan - We can usually get a goodly number of potential cubs identified, but no leadership.  Tried the "we'll run meetings for a while" idea.  Folks enjoy the free ride and drop out when pressed to step up.


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#15 qwazse

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 12:28 PM

ParkMan - We can usually get a goodly number of potential cubs identified, but no leadership.  Tried the "we'll run meetings for a while" idea.  Folks enjoy the free ride and drop out when pressed to step up.

Definitely, press from day 0.

Nobody step up? No den. Talk next year.

 

Offer to come along side whoever will step up, but you're counting on those couple of people who will take point. It's the opportunity of a lifetime for them. They don't want to miss it.


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#16 blw2

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Posted 29 September 2017 - 01:11 PM

......

I have a hard time with the idea of a feeder pack.  No cub scout has an obligation to join a specific troop just because they are located in the same town or have the same CO.  When my older son was ready to cross-over he visited 3 troops, one was the only troop in our town.  ......

 

Yeah, I tend to think like you, in theory anyway.

In practice I think most are probably like my son was....

I tried to encourage him to visit the other troop options just to see.  He really had no interest but we did visit one.  

 

Our pack was split, feeding essentially two troops.  some years more would go across the street and few would stay with our CO's troop but when we were there it was flipping back the other way....we were feeding our CO's troop.

Complicated, but the other troop was out of consideration for  my son but the troop we visited was "fed" from his school's pack (our CO is our church)

Most of my son's friends were going to our CO's troop

He was familiar with the building and surroundings, since it's our church and also where he was a Cub for years....

He was familiar with a majority of the scouters involved...

....a natural feeder situation.

 

Meanwhile the other troop was a bunch of strangers for scouts

a bunch of strangers for scouters

a strange meeting place

yeah, that aint gonna fly....

 

 

BUT, to the OP's question....

You've been involved a lot longer than me, but when I was active in the pack, we were on a strong down cycle.... parents wouldn't step up or step in, membership was waning...

I figured it logical that these things are cyclical.  Wait a couple years till a new crop of energetic parents come aboard and things will swing the other way.

 

 

My other observations....

- people won't step up to fill a job if someone is already doing it...even if they aren't doing it well.

 

- and the best thing long term to maintain membership, to me anyway, seems to be have a strong program.  Recruiting doesn't do it.   A strong program being whatever it is that the boys want to come for.  They would be having fun....and I think yes, patrol method may not be that draw of appeal on the surface, but if done "right" it really seems that it opens freedom that any boy would enjoy.... then they just need adults willing to take them on these adventures they dream up.

then, word of mouth kicks in, friends are recruited...

 

Boils down to this...If a scout isn't having fun, then he's not likely to invite a friend to join him....


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#17 ParkMan

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Posted 02 October 2017 - 10:43 PM

Hi StevenB,

 

I've been thinking about your troop over the past few days.  Sorry in advance if this seems a bit preachy!  I just keep thinking about what I'd do in your shoes and this is what comes to mind.

 

What it comes down to me is that there are basically five key traits that I think a troop or pack needs to grow. 

- a fun program.  You need something that keeps the boys wanting to participate and talk to their friends about it.  My bet is you're OK on this one - but not all troops & packs are.

- a sense of friendship among the boys.  Scouts needs friends in the troop - or they lose interest.  Again, I bet you're doing this now.

- a well organized program.  You need the parents to understand what you're doing & when so they can encourage their son's to participate.

- a good new scout recruiting program.  You need a system that makes it easy to include new scouts

- effective adult recruiting.  You've got to have more than a few people involved.  
 
If I were in your situation, I think I'd get my volunteers together and come up with an achievable plan to make those five things above a reality.  I'd pick a couple of items in each category and do them each year.  For example, I'd do:
 
- a fun program.  I'd plan a fall event & a spring event that are really a blast.  Perhaps a really good fall pack campout.
- a sense of friendship among the boys.  Plan some less formal, but fun events.  
- a well organized program.  I'd plan out my entire year and write it down.  Send it out to families and say "this is what we're doing this year".  This helps adult feel comfortable volunteering when they know the plan.
- a good new scout recruiting program.  I'd set a goal of 10 new scouts in the troop and another 10 in the pack.  Think through how to really go do this, and then do it.
- effective adult recruiting.  This sounds like your toughest problem, but perhaps also the most important.  Again, I'd set specific goals of what you want to recruit this year.  i.e., a den leader for every den, a Cubmaster.  Then, figure out how to really do that.  Ultimately though, the best way is the direct ask.  The BSA has some new online training that might help you through a process to do this.
 
Anyways - this is how I'd approach your scenario if I found myself there.  In a way, it's what we do every month at our committee meetings.  In our case, we don't have an immediate problem to fix - but most every decision gets looked in light of these goals.
 
In your case - you have two units to fix.  Me, I'd invest some time to shore up the pack adults.  That would then give you more time to focus on the troop.  

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#18 blw2

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Posted 03 October 2017 - 09:17 AM

 

.......

 
- a fun program.  I'd plan a fall event & a spring event that are really a blast.  Perhaps a really good fall pack campout.........

 

I think you make some excellent points.

One thing though.... about the "fun" part.  I think it imperative that it's more then just certain few events. Much more

From my perspective.... my son has completely lost all interest in scouts.... it seems to me that the scouts need to be encouraged and allowed to have fun at almost every meeting or gathering.  Not adults setting up a fun program like for cubs, but they need to be free to do it.  I've heard some of our adult scouters say before something to the affect of it's not all about fun, when referring to other dropped scouts in the past, saying that some guys just want to come and play, and that's not what this is about...

I observed my son have fun on almost every outing, but dread the meetings.  Fun outings are not enough.


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