How Healthy is your Troop?

Summer Camp Wrap UpAs in the business world, Scouting is something that can and is ranked and rated.  The things that we do in Scouting, in keeping with all great organizations that have a purpose and direction, a vision, measure what they do to stay focused and on track.  We measure our Packs, Troops, and Crews with the standard of the Journey to Excellence.  In past we used the measurement of the Quality Unit to make sure that we at the unit level are delivering the promise of Scouting.
In other words, we have systems in place to measure the Health of our units.  We can look to those systems to analyze numerically how we are doing, but does it tell you the story of the health of our units?
Last week I had the pleasure to sit behind a Scout from my Troop as his advocate during his Eagle Scout Board of Review.  My Scouts always joke after these Eagle Boards that it is the quietest that I am during their Scouting career.  This is the eleventh Scout that I have sat with as he answers questions and demonstrates to the Board that his is in fact an Eagle Scout.
This last board however I really watched the process and listened.  What I came out of the board with was the fact that our unit is healthy.  As I listened to this Scout tell about his Scouting experience, the places he has been, the awards he earned, the leadership he developed I could not help but think back to when this young man came to our Troop.  Like most young Scouts he crossed over from a Cub Scout Pack and followed his friends.  They all came to our Troop with the understanding that they would be a part of a great adventure.  It was up to the older Scouts and our adult leaders to make the promise come true.
We have always took great pride in the way that we deliver Scouting’s programs in our Troop.  We use the eight methods to achieve the goals of Scouting and place at a premium the Scouts overall experience in Scouting over one method or another.  Advancement being one of the methods that we believe will happen when a Scout is engaged in his unit.  The age old adage of the more a Scout puts into Scouting, the more he gets out of it.
This has played out over and over again, and listening to Matt, I could see that it would play out again with him.
He participated fully, going to Summer camps every year, attending monthly camp outs, ultimately becoming a Staffer at one of our Council camps.  He we to Philmont with the Troop and enjoyed a fun time with a patrol of great Scouts.  He carried his leadership learned in Scouting to his participation on the Football field and on the Track as a two sport athlete in High School.  Being a Scout was not always easy, but he managed to do well and come out of both Scouting and his time in our Troop with an understanding of how to be a leader, skills for life, and a good citizen.  The aims of Scouting can be seen in him.
So we measure Scouting and the health of our units using metrics and systems that place our performance in categories and rankings.  We are either Bronze, Silver, or Gold but what does that mean to our Scouts.  Free patches or a price break for summer camp?
The real measure of the health of your unit is in your Scouts. Are they staying?  Are they attending activities?  Are they seeking leadership opportunities?  Are they advancing?  Do they wear the uniform and take pride in belonging to their Troop?  Do they take advantage of the programs of Scouting. Jamborees, High Adventure bases, and the Order of the Arrow?
When they sit with you during Scoutmaster conferences is it a chore or a conversation?  I find that the easiest conference that I do is the conference for a Scout earning his Eagle award.  If it has not been said or discussed prior to this conference we have missed something along the way.  By the time he is having his conference for Star, we have discussed his need to be of service and to develop leadership.  We look to the Scout to take a bigger role as a trainer for the younger Scouts.  We look for him to become a servant leader.
By the time he is having his conference for Eagle he has already demonstrated all of those things we are looking for and as he stumbled along the way we helped him up, encouraged him to keep going, and had many conversations about what he is doing good and bad.  He has had many opportunities to learn, grow, and develop.  He has earned his Eagle.  He has lived the Scout Oath and Law and made the most of his Scouting experience.
As I sit and listen I can’t help but think that these Boards of Review, whether it is for Star, Life or Eagle are the true measure of the health of the unit.  They satisfy the adult interaction method and allow the Troop and District a peek into the life of our Scouts and the health of the unit.
So how healthy is your Troop?  How do you measure the health?  Do you take advantage of listening to your Scouts?  They will tell you everything you need to know about what kind of program you are running and how well your Scouts are doing in it.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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