By Darryl Alder
Sep 23, 2019

Scout Ambassador Toolchest: Building Troops

To get a new troop up and running you will need a team of five adults, a Scoutmaster, an Assistant, and at least a three-member Troop committee.

As Scouters who have served in Scouting through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have not had to worry much about troop operations and the support of Troop Committee. For example, Church headquarters has paid both membership and charter fees, usually registering every boy in the ward’s boundaries, now that will be the unit committee’s job. Someone in the Primary welcomed new Cub Scouts, that task belongs to the New Member Coordinator. Ward budgets have paid fees, now the unit will need to have fundraisers such as popcorn sales. The need for parental involvement was negligible, but now getting the whole family involved will be very important, maybe even job #1!

As successful Ambassadors, you need to understand pack, troop and crew operations, but initially, this post focuses on Scout BSA Troops.

Troop Operations

Once you know your market, in our case this year, boys on the trail to Eagle and you have committed a charter partner, it is time to build the troop. This includes:

 Recruit and Organize Five Primary Registered Adults Volunteers for the Unit Key 3, Scoutmasters, and Troop Committee
Selecting Quality Troop Leaders, Recruitment, Leadership Succession
Training Troop Leadership
Planning the Troop Program
Recruiting Ten or More Youth
 Fundraising and Budget Plans
 Recognitions

Recruiting at Least Five Primary Adult Volunteers

The first priority of the organizing team is the selection of quality unit leaders and building a unit committee to support those leaders. The bare minimum will be five, including the Scoutmaster and assistant, and at least three adults for the unit committee. To get a charter with BSA, a troop must have a Chartered Organization Representative, a Committee Chair, at least two committee members, and a Scoutmaster, but an assistant Scoutmaster and more committee members.

Organizing the Team of Five—The Unit Key 3

Troop 2019 Journey to Excellence

The Scoutmaster, troop committee chair and  Chartered Organization Representative comprise the troop’s executive leadership team. The unit commissioner serves as an advisor to the Key 3. This group usually meets monthly to discuss troop challenges, upcoming events, and progress toward completing the troop’s action plan and Journey to Excellence (JTE) goals.

This monthly meeting is a time for the troop’s Key 3 to spot early warning signs and work together toward the continued success of the troops and to support the troop’s youth leaders. The unit commissioner meets with them to support those efforts, to help solve problems, and to keep the troop moving in sync with the district and council calendars.

Together they make sure policies relating to Scouts BSA and the chartered organization are known and followed. The unit Key 3, along with the unit commissioner, reviews Voice of the Scout feedback and makes recommendations to the troop committee to strengthen unit service to youth.

Organizing the Team of Five—Scoutmaster and Assistants

The Scoutmaster is responsible for training and guiding youth leaders in the operation of the troop, and for managing, training, and supporting his or her assistant Scoutmasters in their role.

The Scoutmaster (21 years of age) is responsible for training and guiding youth leaders in troop operations to help them create the troop’s program by providing direction, coaching, and support for youth leaders. The Assistant Scoutmaster(s) (18-year-old or older ) help the Scoutmaster in delivering the troop program and takes other assignments from the Scoutmaster.

The Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmasters are not formal members of the troop committee but act as advisors to the committee. They may attend committee meetings to coordinate troop needs and communicate program plans.

Organizing the Team of Five—The Troop Committee

The organizing team also recruits and appoints a committee chair and committee members. These people may be members of the organizing team, but whoever serves they have a large number of tasks in support of the Scoutmaster and assistants.

Positions and Duties include
  • The troop committee chair is appointed by the chartered organization and registered as an adult leader of the BSA. The unit committee chairman appoints and supervises the unit committee and unit leaders.
  • The secretary is appointed by the committee chair to keep minutes and records, send notices, and handle publicity.
  • The treasurer is appointed by the committee chair to handle unit funds, pay bills, maintain accounts, coordinate the annual Friends of Scouting (FOS) campaign, and supervise fundraising.
  • The advancement chair is appointed by the committee chair to ensure that the unit has regular boards of review, quarterly courts of honor, and that the unit has goals of helping each Scout advance a rank each year and for new Scouts to reach First Class rank during their first year. The advancement coordinator is also responsible for record-keeping and submitting advancement through Scout Book.
  • The equipment coordinator is appointed by the committee chair to work with the youth Quartermaster and is responsible inventory, storage, and maintenance of unit equipment.
  • The outdoor/activities chair is appointed by the committee chair to secure tour permits and permission to use campsites, serve as transportation coordinator, and ensure there monthly outdoor programs.
  • The membership chair is appointed by the committee chair to help ensure a smooth transition of new Scouts into the unit and orientation for new parents.
  • The unit training chair is appointed by the committee chair to ensure training opportunities are available, maintain training records and materials, and is responsible for BSA Youth Protection training.
  • The unit public relations chair is appointed by the committee chair to inform parents of their responsibilities in Scouting and with the chartered organization. Provides news and announcements about the unit to newspapers, bulletins of sponsors, web sites, etc. Promotes and stimulates service projects, Scouting Anniversary WeekScout Sunday or Scout Sabbath, and family participation in unit events. Promotes new membership and lets people in the neighborhood know that Scouting is available.
  • The unit Friends of Scouting chair is appointed by the committee chair to work closely with the unit committee on public relations for FOS; conducts annual FOS campaign to enroll family members and adult leaders in FOS; gives recognition to contributors and enrollees.
  • The unit Scouting for Food chair is appointed by the committee chair to coordinate an annual food drive for the unit and reports the result to the district.
  • The unit fundraising chair, also called the “Popcorn Kernel” in some councils, is appointed by the committee chair to supervise Fundraising and ensure that every youth member has the opportunity to participate in Popcorn sales or other council Fundraising events.
  • The new member coordinator is appointed by and reports to the troop committee chair. The role is to welcome youth and their families to the unit and engage with them so that they stay in the unit.
  • The parent coordinator assigns and coordinates the participation by parents with at least one specific task, assignment, or project annually for the troop. The parent coordinator can also register in the same troop in other registered adult position.

Once the Committee is operational it functions to:

  • ensure quality adult leadership is recruited and trained, replacing Scoutmasters and other committee members as needed.
  • approves leadership and ensures they registered, trained and current in Youth Protection Training.
  • ensures that Youth Protection policies are followed.
  • provides adequate meeting space
  • support leaders in carrying out the program.
  • manage finances, ensuring adequate funds, and disbursements are kept in line with the approved budget plan.
  • obtain, maintain, and properly care for troop property.
  • ensures the troop has an outdoor program (minimum 10 days and nights per year).
  • provide boards of review and courts of honor.
  • support the Scoutmaster in working with individual youth and problems that may affect the overall troop program, including youth behavioral problems.
  • provide for the special needs and assistance some youth may require.
  • run the annual  Friends of Scouting campaign.

Don’t let the size of the committee be an obstacle. The key is to divide the tasks, which is critical in giving the Scoutmaster a greater ability to work with the youth. Remember that the committee can be composed of a minimum of three members.

Near the end of each charter year, it is helpful for the committee to evaluate itself and the support it has provided to the Scoutmaster and youth leaders, and consider the number of new people that need to be recruited to serve. If there are empty positions, invite parents to join the committee and give them a task to accomplish or a committee assignment. People like to be involved and know they are really contributing. It is the responsibility of the troop committee chair to recruit and develop a strong committee with the assistance of the chartered organization representative. This is an ongoing process.

Other Adult Leaders

The Troop Chaplain is appointed by the committee chair to provide spiritual tone, guide the chaplain aide, give spiritual counseling, and promote the regular religious participation of each member.

<<Selecting Troop Leaders   Training Troop Leaders>>
Scout Ambassador Toolchest: Building Troops

Author: Darryl Alder, Scout Ambassador

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