While I was at Melita Island this summer, a Scoutmaster asked me, “What do you think are signs of a healthy troop?”
While there are many indicators to this, including BSA’s Journey to Excellence (JTE) tools, I think there are some simple things that we all can consider and reflect upon to check if we’re headed in the right direction as a troop, pack, crew, or ship. As a Scoutmaster, I tried to keep these things in mind as indicators of our troop’s health:
- A calendar that includes (at least) monthly outdoor activities and camping. That calendar is planned AT LEAST six months into the future (and hopefully twelve or more months). The calendar is shared with families and posted online for all to see.
- No canceling (or last-minute rescheduling) of events or meetings. When the schedule is predictable, families follow it. When we cancel frequently, there’s no reason for families to plan on participating in our events (because families think they will probably be canceled anyway!). If you schedule an event and only a couple of Scouts sign up, hold it anyway! Two can become four and four can become six. “Bring a friend” should be our mantra and a recruitment method.
- Empower youth leaders to lead. When Scouts are given the responsibility to run meetings and campouts, they develop ownership and a sense of responsibility for the unit. When working with youth the results are never perfect. But as a Scouter once told me, “Don’t let perfect get in the way of perfectly good.” Trust the process of developing youth leaders.
- Just do the program. Scouting is designed to develop youth leaders utilizing the outdoors. Don’t make it over-complicated or over-scheduled. Scouts love being outdoors and making their own memories. It is the time exploring along a creek or around a campfire that is memorable to Scouts later in life, not the mandatory all-troop hike.
- Adults should have fun, too! If Scouters enjoy each other’s company and friendship, chances are they will enjoy their time volunteering in Scouting. Many of my lifelong friends are fellow Scouters. We enjoy spending time in and out of Scouting together. These friendships have also helped us lead successful and happy Scouts.
There is no magic recipe to success in Scouting, but there are common ingredients! Thank you for your service to Scouting and youth. If I can ever assist you or your unit, please feel free to reach out.
Yours in Scouting
Director of Support Services