Scoutmaster Musings - Competing Troops

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Scoutmaster Musings

Competing Troops
Boy Scout Competition We should all be trying to keep a scout active, engaged, and growing in character, citizenship, and fitness until he's an adult - that should be the mission of every troop. So, troops basically have identical goals. The way adult volunteers strive to reach the goals, and keep the goals clearly in sight, are what differ.

There happen to be nine troops within a 5-mile radius from my home. Scouts have a wide range of selection for the type of troop to join. When a Webelos scout "shops around" with his parents, he sees small and large troops, chaotic and quiet troops, crisp and scruffy troops, and hopefully one of those appeals to him and his folks.

I posted about competing scouts and warned about having a winner and many losers too often. Expanding the thought, what about competition between troops?

Camporees often have competitions between troops. A Klondike Derby usually has a race or challenge to gather the most gold rocks. These are fun, appropriate competitive activities for bragging rights and patrol/troop pride. Competition on this level helps scouts work on the Scout Law, especially trustworthy, loyal, friendly, courteous, kind, and obedient. But, outside of staged competitions, how should troops interact?

When troops compete for members, I think that is where we run into trouble. If you shower a Webelos with attention and trinkets and promises so he joins your troop, do you win? If someone joins a different troop, are you the loser? If you get 8 new scouts and the other troop gets 24, who's the winner? When the district report comes out and you have 2 new Eagles while the other troop has 12, who wins? The trouble starts when we get too caught up in the great American numbers game. To succeed, you need to grow. To win, you need to be the biggest. To be number one, you have to beat everyone else.

In Scouting, that is all wrong! Big is not the same as Good. Growth does not equal Success. Everyone really can be number one. Unfortunately, since the Boy Scouts of America is a big business, the "numbers game" exists at national, council, and district levels in the metrics of success. So, naturally, this seeps down to many individual units trying to earn the latest 'growth' recognition.

Wouldn't it be better if troops cooperated more? Heck, we're really all on the same team anyway. How can scoutmasters foster cooperation rather than competition between local troops?

Scout On

Challenge Your Scouts
Posted: 17:53 01-07-2011 553
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