Too much growth ?

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jimclark
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Too much growth ?

Post by jimclark » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:09 am

Hi all,

Happy to meet everyone electronically. I have an odd scenario for your consideration. We have rekindled a previously retired Cub/ Scout group. Currently in our second year of scouts we have 19 scouts and run a fairly decent program.

With the trend of new recruits that I am seeing, I am considering capping the troop off at 20 scouts to protect the integrity of our program. I truly hate to do this, however I equally hate to jeopardize a thriving troop by swelling the ranks so much that leadership gets swamped and scout participation diminished as a result.

Anyone have any insight for me?

Troop Scouter Jim
Troop Scouter Jim Clark
1st North Sydney Scouts

ayates
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by ayates » Tue Oct 25, 2011 7:33 am

You can certainly cap it at what ever level you are comfortable with. You also need to consider number registered vs number who actually turn up. A few years ago when we had 30+ Cubs registered, we would only have about 24 turn up on a regular basis (due to sickness, away, etc) which we found to be a good number. Anywhere between 24 and 30 worked well for us, but there was no doubt that at 30 it was a little more hectic. I certainly wouldn't want a pack with less than 24 kids. Not having experienced a large troop, I can't really comment on your situation, but I would guess you could go up to 24 Scouts vs 20.

Angus Bickerton
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by Angus Bickerton » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:07 pm

Jim, I would strongly urge you the opposite way, i.e. to not cap growth. The reason I say this is that we can't afford, nationally, to be turning kids down, though locally you are doing great. It sounds like it is time for your Council and Area Service Scouters to pay you a visit. Looking at your introduction, you guys are doing amazing things, creating a Group of almost 100 kids in 3 years, and getting some attention from the service Scouter for your area is overdue if you are thinking of capping. With 40+ cubs waiting to get to Scouts, you need more growth room. What about doing an "A" Troop and a "B" Troop? Keep your ranks open and actively recruit new leaders, and then split the Troop when you have the graduating cubs coming up next fall.

BTW, with kids clamouring to get in, use the defence of "ratio!" to to recruit leaders. ;)
Last edited by Angus Bickerton on Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Angus Bickerton
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Sam Wallis
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by Sam Wallis » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:31 pm

Angus I agree with most of what you say. but using ratio as a defence when recruiting leaders will get you some who are there to be numbers. leaders who are numericly present are realy just a drain on the group. I like the idea of National helping to develop a strategy to recruit more leaders.

if a leader is talked into the role, they just dont do as well.
Truth is a perception, and a individual perception is their truth

southpaw_1979
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by southpaw_1979 » Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:49 pm

We had to recruit leaders this year simply for numbers but they have turned out to be good leaders. We have also capped our group sizes. Next year if we are to get any bigger we will have to start a second colony, leadership and gym space permitting. We capped our beaver colony at 30 this year, cubs at 24. Part of it was due to ratio. We actually weren't considering that scouts would end up coming so close to ratio. We had a waiting list at the beginning of the year for beavers and had to tell parents that we couldn't accept youth until we had more leaders. Parents who signed up, could skip the waiting list with their children. We also held parents meeting in each section to start the year to let them know our current status with leaders as well as our fundraising initiatives for the year. We gave a high level of the years plan at this time as well.

This was well received by the parents, fundraising has been more succesful this year, as I believe the parents previously thought the registration fee they paid stayed mostly in the group, but we gave them a bit of breakdown. We recruited 4 new beaver leaders and a webmaster through the whole process, a cub leader returned from years past and we have a lot of SITs and ALs in our group who have nearly all completed their WB1.

I hope that in future years we can encourage additional growth but it will only be through additional leadership.

Angus Bickerton
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by Angus Bickerton » Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:49 pm

firstairdriesona wrote:Angus I agree with most of what you say. but using ratio as a defence when recruiting leaders will get you some who are there to be numbers. leaders who are numericly present are realy just a drain on the group. I like the idea of National helping to develop a strategy to recruit more leaders.

if a leader is talked into the role, they just dont do as well.
I have since added a smilie to indicate that I was, in part, joking. Southpaw makes my non-joking point. I was a strong-armed leader myself, and now I have become the keener of the 1st Brockville Group. Sona (from Airdrie (I've driven though it many times, back in the 1990s)), I do get your point too. We had a few "empty shirts", there just to make ratio. One of them dropped out in spring, and the other went on to do some training and has really grown into a good leader.
Angus Bickerton
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Brockville Troop
1st Brockville Group Committee
1st Gilwell 2011 (Colony) 2013 (Pack)

There is no armour made that can withstand the truth - Karsa Orlong

Sam Wallis
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by Sam Wallis » Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:03 pm

I was sort of strong armed into being a beaver leader, did my WB1 and never felt comfortable or productive in the role. went to cubs the next year and did much beter. probably an age thing. I guess most people who let themselves get talked into a role do try, I have seen a few who act like scarecrows and dont do as much good.

I may have put too much emphasis on those in my thought though.

I see great recruiting campains from girl guides that might help...
Truth is a perception, and a individual perception is their truth

ScouterJamie
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by ScouterJamie » Wed Oct 24, 2012 2:07 pm

We had to cap our group due to space to hold the meetings as well as places that would take large groups in the evenings. At registration night,, we had the details of all the other local groups that had space so we could direct people there.

Currently 4th Orleans has:

Colony A - cap:20, members:20
Colony B - cap:20, members:20
Colony C - cap:20, members:20

Pack A - cap:24, members:24
Pack B - cap:24, members:24

Dragon Troop - cap:24, members:24 (we had 35 last year - way to big)

Venturers - cap: 12, members: 8

norma
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by norma » Wed Oct 24, 2012 3:28 pm

We ran into 'too much growth' one year.

We went from a Colony of 15 to a Colony of 30. We had 28-29 attending regularly for the first few month, then it started dropping to 23-24 showing consistently. At which point we were actually contacted by a couple parents telling us they were switching groups. Their child who loved our group last year just was uncomfortable with the number of kids around and wanted a smaller group.
The following year we were back down to 15-20 which seems to be where the group works the best (at least for us and our space)

Since then we have had a cap of 20 on our group. Though we do try to have 'extra' leaders hanging around for 'just in case' help. This we can comfortably hold in the space we have (30 was a bit tight, though if forced we could do it would just need some extra planning to keep it going) but I think when you get that large it is actually better to split into two rather than have 'too many' in one. Two groups of 15 would work, you could come together for camps and trips and such, but to be 'constructive' during the meeting there is a limit to how many you can have running around in the same space.

Hawkeye3
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by Hawkeye3 » Thu Oct 25, 2012 3:41 pm

Hi Jim,
Here is my suggestion. Let the troop grow this year to your max size (for ratio). When you do it, recruit leaders under the auspices that this year, they will be learning the ropes. (My line for leaders joining at the halfway mark is "Now you can learn the job without the pressure".) Next year, if your leaders are strong enough, split. If not, use your best judgement. If your patrols are strong enough, the new leadership should be able to "take over" next year with only some coaching.

FYI, our colony is experiencing the same growth. I am going through this now too. Congratulations! It seems that you are doing something right!
Tom

ScouterJamie
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by ScouterJamie » Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:49 am

Ours isn't really a leader problem. The big issue is that if we wanted to visit somewhere, like a police station, in the evening of our meeting, they'd only have a small staff working then and wouldn't be able to accommodate a troop of 30+ kids and 7 leaders

Nora Bugeaud
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by Nora Bugeaud » Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:58 am

Okay I may be a little late joining this discussion but our group too is experiencing this same "problem" . Even now we are still getting new youth in at least one section once a week on average. We are even now already sending out information to parents for kids that will actually be joining us in time for the price reduction in February. Personally we are growing so fast that we have discussed the possibility of caping sections but are also discussing every possible option as well.
Perhaps we are luckier than most but our sponsor is fabulous and can, it seems, almost always provide us additional space in our church even if it is only a Sunday school room.
What we are considering especially with our pack, (as we have lots of great Leaders that are feeling overwhelmed with the shear mass of kids although we are actually only at about half our possible ratio) is to divide the group in half by sixes (different combinations of sixes each week) and have activities set up in different rooms.

As GC I am actively mentoring the main Leaders in the "Team Leadership" approach and they are mentoring some of the newer Leaders, including them more in planing, encouraging them to think outside their own little world etc. Each and every Leader I have ever met has their strong and weak points, by encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone it is amazing what they learn about themselves and it usually sort of forces them to gain more knowledge in all things Scouting.

We are also actively educating and including the parents in all that we can (screening permiting) it is amazing how already some are coming to us and actually asking to be registered as Leaders so that they can come and "help out". We are now registering them and completing their training and screening, we will mentor them through the rest of the year and I truly believe we are about to develop a whole new Leadership team.

Have discovered that many parents seem to think that Scouting is almost a "secret", once they register their kids they seem to believe that every thing is a secret, that they are not involved and can not even educate themselves, WOW! Have been developing relationships with the parents and so far have a brand new Fundraising Committee of 11 (with the co-chairs and Treasurer registered and currently completeing their screening and training), a new Cub Leader who is coming initially, just be present for her own child but also eager to help with all of the kids. Heck we even have one family that unfortunately are moving to a neighbouring town (20 minute drive in good weather) this week. with no Scouting, they will bringing their child back for Beavers when ever possible this year (work commitments and weather permitting), but are eager to reestablish Scouting in their "new town" (has been non existant for at least a decade). We are already in discussion as to how to make this happen and actively pursuing this option.

The long and short of this is: 1. Develop the Leaders you already have
a) encourage additional training and mentor, mentor, mentor
b) Develop a strong "team mentality" with your current Leaders (call in Leaders from another section to help cover ratios etc )
2. Educate and develop relationships with the parents
3. Think outside the box as far as program space goes
4. Provide the best possible programs you can

Keep these families happy and Retention and Growth will take care of itself, with both Leaders and Youth!

norma
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Re: Too much growth ?

Post by norma » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:19 pm

ScouterJamie wrote:Ours isn't really a leader problem. The big issue is that if we wanted to visit somewhere, like a police station, in the evening of our meeting, they'd only have a small staff working then and wouldn't be able to accommodate a troop of 30+ kids and 7 leaders
That's interesting. We have to go through the main police headquarters with our request. We let them know which night of the week we would like, timing and how many people, ages, etc, and they arrange for the 'best' date for them. We have to be a bit flexible, usually its 3-4 weeks at least. But they then are prepared with the 'community officers' to be able to handle the number of people we indicate. They assign those officers shifts such that they can accommodate the community activities.
We had no issue going to places when we had 30 Beavers, we just had to make sure that we contacted the location and made sure to let them know we had upwards of 30 that would be attending and they were typically understanding of parents hanging around in the background.

I do find there is a 'sweet spot' of around 20-30 that makes things work the best. For all sections.
Once you get that large it would actually be more helpful to split the section and run two smaller sections.
The leadership *should* work. With 30 Beavers you need 6 leaders, with 15 you need 3. But the leadership has to be willing to split also. And then the logistics of splitting the youth into the two groups is another issue.
Though with Cubs and Scouts you would have to get 1 more leader (or have a leader help in both sections) as 30 youth would need 5 leaders and 15 needs 3.

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