Dianne sent in this question:
My son has been in a very small Scouts BSA Troop for 2 years now. We started with about 20 scouts, and now here are only 9 active scouts. Most have earned their Eagle rank and left. We haven’t had any new recruits. Our scoutmaster had a meeting to discuss the fact that the boys’ scouting experience is very limited because of the troop’s size and suggested that the scouts transfer to another troop. All the scouts said that they wanted to stay in their troop and maintain troop meetings and activities while the leaders worked on a growth plan to recruit more scouts. A few days later the scoutmaster sent out an email to all the parents saying that he was suspending all troop meetings and activities and recommended that everyone find another troop. My son and several of the scouts do not want to go to another troop. They like their small troop and the friendships they have made. They feel that they want to preserve the troop’s legacy as well since it is the oldest troop in our district and has been around for over 45 years. Does the scoutmaster have the authority to suspend meetings and activities like that? What if the scouts oppose to his decision, can the SPL resume meetings and activities without the scoutmaster’s approval? I would appreciate any feedback on this. Thanks.
Thanks for the question. First of all, it is possible for a very small troop to have a good program. But one of the most common problems in a troop like this is that the pool of adult leaders is very small, but if the parents are all willing to dig in and fill all of the adult leadership roles it can work.
The Scoutmaster is appointed by the troop committee with the approval of the chartered organization. So my suggestion would be that the committee recruit a new Scoutmaster to keep the troop together if the parents are really behind the idea. If somebody steps in and offers to take over that role, perhaps the current Scoutmaster would see that in a positive light. If you have not done so already, meet with your troop committee and discuss this with them. The committee will make the decision whether or not to recharter the troop for the next year.
If nobody else is willing to be Scoutmaster, than the issue could be that the current Scoutmaster does not have enough adult support to provide what he feels is an appropriate and meaningful program. In that case he might be correct that the Scouts would have a better experience in a different troop.
Readers, what do you think? Add your comments at the bottom of this post.