I hope you all had a restful, enjoyable Thanksgiving weekend. My family visited all the relatives and we were lucky to have good weather for all our driving times. No big family arguments, either, so that's a bonus. :-)
The Troop Committee discussed and approved the troop's 18 month schedule last week so the SPL will present it to the troop at tonight's troop meeting. There will be a lot of excitement about the new outings that have never been done before - geocaching, military base, biking, huck finn - and the high adventure trips to Wyoming and Utah.
Then, at least by the parents, realization of the costs to do these things will sink in. :-( So, the new fundraising plans will also be announced to hopefully soften the blow. :-)
One challenge of having a very active troop is that outings to interesting places tend to cost quite a bit. We need to provide opportunities for scouts to pay their own way.
The troop has historically sold Christmas wreaths and Trails End popcorn in October to raise funds. Our policy has been to have money from each sell go into an individual scout's account so that scouts making more sales have more money to pay for camping.
With the popcorn, Trails End receives 1/3 the price, the council receives 1/3, and the troop receives 1/3. Our troop keeps 1/3 of its 1/3 and puts the other 2/3 of its 1/3 into the scout's individual account. Not confusing, is it? Anyway, a scout sells $90 of popcorn and receives $20 in his account while the troop receives $10.
With the wreaths, a scout receives $5 per item sold no matter the price just to keep things simple. Prices range from $12 to $40 with $15 being the most popular.
We have 6 troops and 8 packs in the area and competition to sell wreaths and popcorn has gotten pretty strong. So, the troop has begun looking for new fundraising ideas. The scouts came up with ideas, from selling Girl Scout cookies to Saxophone reeds. :-) They then whittled down the ideas to a few and the troop committee decided to support a Flag Service idea for this year to see how it goes.
The criteria used to determine how good a fundraising idea is included:
- renewable - will the customer buy again next year or just once?
- investment - what costs will the troop have to get started?
- profit - how much will be made from each customer?
- pay rate - how much per hour can a scout make? how many customers can he manage?
- competition - how new is the idea? are other organizations doing it? will it take work away from someone's job?
- appropriateness - does the product or service reflect well on the values of BSA?
- accountability - can the income be fairly distributed to scouts that put in effort?
The flag service met our guidelines and we are now in the process of surveying the community to get an idea of the level of support for such a program. If it turns out that enough probable customers exist and enough scouts will participate to manage them, then we'll go ahead in 2006. I'll let you know how it goes.
Yesterday (Nov. 21) the site was not available most of the day. I'm sorry about that - I've been told the hosting service where I run this site was attacked and had a bunch of problems. If I can't rely on their servers, I'll start looking for something better, but bad stuff happens when there's bad people out and about.
Last night, our troop committee approved all the monthly campouts and the 4 high adventure trips planned by the scouts for the next 18 months! So, now each patrol can start organizing the next outing they are responsible for while I present the schedule to the adults and try to get an adult to be a resource for each outing. I'll also be getting adults to volunteer to drive for each event.
Our outings have gotten much better now that the patrols understand how to organize them rather than having adults do most of the planning. Summer of 2006, the troop will take our first self-directed backpacking trip. This entire trip - food, hike route, campsites, travel, costs, training - will be planned by scouts with guidance as needed from an adult. I'm very excited to see how it comes together over the next 6 months.
Last weekend, the troop put together its 18 month plan. The Senior Patrol Leader, ASPL, Scribe, and 7 patrol leaders met to figure out what the scouts want to do. What a great job they did!
Three adults attended just to give input about school calendar conflicts and other district level events such as Camporees. Other than that, the scouts did it all.
Each patrol leader brought ideas from his patrol. The ideas were listed and then narrowed down to about two dozen. From there, the scouts marked which ideas made sense to do in summer, spring/fall, or winter. They then plugged them into months of the year.
With the campouts for each month in place, a weekly calendar was used to list every holiday, troop meeting, PLC meeting, and district event. That showed which weekends made the most sense for campouts.
From this activity, the troop had its schedule of meetings and weekend campouts for the next year and a half. Each patrol leader then chose which campouts his patrol would take responsiblity to organize, plan, and lead. They will have an adult resource for each campout and will report their progress monthly at PLC meetings.
After a break, the scouts tackled the task of High Adventure trips. The same process of sharing ideas, prioritizing which sounded the most fun, and then choosing the best was done. We now have the high hopes of a week-long backpacking trip to the Bighorns of Wyoming in 2006 and Arches National Park in 2007. These are in addition to SeaBase in 2006 and Philmont in 2007.
These will be the first trips of this magnitude that the troop will have scouts completely plan. We have been preparing them for this for the past 18 months by asking them to perform a larger and larger part of weekend campouts. In the past, scouts made the schedule but then adults would organize and prepare for individual campouts. Now, a patrol does everything for a campout except pay for reservations, drive, and other tasks requiring an adult. Of course, the patrols of the younger scouts need more adult support than the older ones, but it has been working out great.
Historically, our troop has planned 12 months of outings in October. Since our SPL holds the position for 6 months, this means the SPL elected in March did no troop planning. Now that we have 18 months scheduled, each SPL and his team will do scheduling. The upcoming 6 months is firm, the next 6 months can be modified if necessary, and the next 6 months needs to be filled with activities.
It was rewarding to see the scouts have ownership of the troop's plan and I'm excited to see how well they take on the organizing and promoting of their trips.
Hey, if you are one of the two people that read this blog then you noticed it hasn't been available or updated recently.
I just finished moving the site to a new server and it took awhile for everything to get hooked back together correctly.
Anyway, I'm baaaaaaaack.
Our troop hasn't been idle the past month, though. We had a Shooting Sports campout in October that was a hit. One of our adult volunteers went through the Rangemaster training so he can manage us while shooting 22s and shotguns. This was the first time shooting shotgun for a lot of the scouts. We shot about 600 shells and there are about 550 completely good clay pigeons laying in a marshy field now - not many hits.
One scout brought a pumpkin for a .22 target. Another brought a plush Sonic the Hedgehog doll. Firm things make better targets - plush dolls just absorb the bullet and get a black freckle at the entry point. I'm taking some circles of sheetrock next time, hoping they will explode into puffs of dust - we'll see.
Well, its now really trying to become winter here, but thats ok because we've got skiing in December and snowhuts in January to look forward to.