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Marbling Packs and Troops Together

Has there been any effort to look at marbling Troops and Packs together?

I understand that kids develop at different paces and some activities are better served through separate programs. But from an administration perspective, the “super unit” would be more productive requiring 1 leader for recruiting, 1 leader for advancement, 1 leader for Training, 1 leader for YPT.

The other benefit is that Cub Scouts will look at older Scouts and see what they do and may be more likely to stay,

Our Webelos AOL effectively became a Patrol in our Troop for the AOL year because virtually all of the AOL requirements are Scout Rank requirements. The transition included having a Scout as a Den Chief. It seems to me that merging the finances and the overall administration would make a more efficient program and the delineation between Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA could be less overt.

Our Pack shuttered due to the pandemic and the placement of Scout Reach into our inner city schools (those kids got dropped when Scout Reach ran out of money). We have been getting inquiries for Cub Scouts but then look at the volunteer requirements and it becomes a heavy load to pick up.

Any thoughts on bringing the programs together for efficiency, retention and viability?

I know in my community the delineation between the two is nonexistent. It is all boy scouts to them. I think it would be difficult to combine the two programs. They each have different ways of doing things and to put that on the already overloaded volunteers, I think, would be unfair.

It is true that the troop and pack should work in harmony with each other. That doesn’t always happen the way it should. The scouts from the Troop should absolutely be visiting and helping with the activities of the pack. As you said that’s how we get scouts to keep scouting.

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That’s what we did as well. I still think you have Den Leaders, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, but the administration is a little easier with SB or TroopTrack. Every time I have seen older Scouts with Cub Scouts it’s like magic. And every Scout wants to make a PWD car!

We get that alot from people outside of Scouting thinking the program is the same and we have to explain they are not and who fits where (have done this three times in the last two weeks - hence the topic). It would seem easier that your Scout signs up for Scouts and then just roll into their age appropriate unit.

I agree with that.

You also would have the issue of the genderized units. How would you place a family cub scout pack?

Our charter is at a City Park so we could support both genders in the Pack and Troop. It again becomes one of those things that there could be 3 or 4 charters for one unit. The admin again would still be able to work multiple charters and avoid redundancy. One of the comments from our charter sponsor this year was that our paperwork for multiple units was odd. Coming from a major metro city… LOL

I’ll admit, this is one of the few new ideas I’ve seen that made me think hard about how I feel about it. I like the idea, in theory, but I think in practice, the huge difference of youth led vs adult led make the idea unfeasible. I wonder if there would be some wisdom in blending/combining the Troop Committee & Pack Committee into one Committee as a structural change, and combining things like finances, and logistical tasks. That said, I think this change is too massive to realistically happen anytime soon.

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Good point - how to maintain the youth led group in the mixed format. When I have seen mixed units, the Cubs met in a different place than the other Scouts. I can imagine if they meet in the same room that the Cubs are going to be looking at what the older kids are doing all the time. LOL

Mixing the Committees would be a step in the right direction.

We came close to this. Pre covid, the cub pack and the boy and girl troops shared a meeting location. The pack met at 530 and the troops met after at 630. It was pretty convenient and helped reduce the hesitation of my cub parents not knowing the troop leaders and being unsure of crossing over. The troops in my district had a bad habit of looking down on cub packs and not getting involved and then trying to figure out why they don’t have crossovers. Slowly a new group of leaders are trying to change that mindset. Not that everyone is back to meeting, we’re back to being in separate locations but the troop leaders are taking steps to being more visible and active with regards to the pack.

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The same meeting location has a benefit to our units that had kids in both programs - they did not have to go to two different places at two different times. We have two Scouts who are “kid magnets” and when they walk in the door all the Cubs go right to them. It’s because they listen to them. Go figure.

Sounds a little like the group concept in Scouts Canada and other countries. The pros include a more seamless transition between programs. The cons include the scouts joining the troop in their group rather than the one that’s the right fit for them.

If I remember correctly, from what I have read Cub Scouting was first run by Boy Scouts, and later the adults (parents?) wanted to control Cub Scouting,

There are single gender troops because teenage girls and boys develop at different ages with the girls being a year or so ahead of the boys.

I have very serious reservations about this idea. Not only are there vast differences between the kinds of activities appropriate for elementary-school-aged Cubs and middle-to-high-school-aged Troops, the very nature of the programs are wildly different.

Cub Scouting is inherently a family-oriented program stratified by grades and run by adults. The smallest unit in Cub Scouting is the Cub-parent team. Scouts BSA is a youth-led program geared exclusively toward the Scouts who develop at their own pace. In a Troop, adults are a necessary evil to provide support and logistics.

Granted, no unit truly lives up to those ideals - but your proposal would completely erase them. Scouts BSA is not Webelos III no matter how much some parents want it to be.

Scouts from the Troop can and should help as Den Chiefs but that’s a volunteer position for a reason. Some Scouts shine as Den Chiefs. Others would be miserable at it and would make the experience as unhappy for the dens as you’d be making it for the scouts.

That said, there is some potential benefit to combining the Troop & Pack Committees. We’ve had some success with blended committees for B & G Troops so maybe there are lessons we can build from.

The other way to make this proposal feasible would be to change Cub Scouting to be more like the original program - that is, more like Troops. But that would require convincing the adults to give up control. That would be a massive culture shift for the Cub program.

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And that decision was made what, 50 years ago? And since then, most households now have two parents working out of the house. In my unit, 92% of the families are single parent households. They have kids from 2-12 and two different programs is nearly impossible for them to do, let alone two different locations. Things have changed since Cub Scouts were Boy Scout led. In a former Pack, full of affluent, married, mostly Catholic families, you could not get an adult to volunteer if you begged them to. They wanted to work and for the kids to experience Scouts and with it connected to the school and after the after-school care, they just picked them up later.

Good points on single gender troops - but as we keep swearing by them developing separately, they spend 2/3 of their day in the same classrooms together. Not sure our insights there are accurate.

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I don’t know. I like the granular control the pack committee has over the pack program and business. Our pack committee meetings already run 90+ minutes. The idea of one committee managing two or more units seems daunting, especially since the units function so differently. I would think there is already enough on the plate of each committee to handle. I suspect the real issue is getting the units to interact and generate more crossovers. But those goals can be achieved without merging programs or committees. Honestly, I think the onus is on troops to be proactive in engaging with packs. Things like having a troop liaison sitting in on some pack committee meetings, inviting the pack to some fun activities, volunteering to show up at pack meetings and teaching a song or performing a skit, and of course, ensuring that every den is outfitted with a den chief. I suspect the reason this doesn’t happen very often is because the troop committee already has its hands full managing the business of the troop.

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I can understand the reservations for sure. But you are looking at the Cub Scouts and Scouts as separate units instead of Cub Scouts as a Patrol in the Scout unit. And the Patrol would still go through similar activities that are age appropriate, just like the other age grouped patrols do, and at times, with the right adult supervision, the Cubs could camp with the Scouts and keep them interested in doing what the older kids do. Not all activities are for all levels of maturity or preparedness.

My concern and interest is that the volunteers are going to plummet. The kids might come back, but the volunteers won’t. In my neighborhood, all of the Cub Scout programs were idled and we now have an area with over 50,000 kids and not one Cub Scout Pack. Our ScoutReach Council program foundered when they ran out of cash and released the Cub Scouts. And the anger from the parents has been receive loud and clear.

I think with the current state of decline, there should be no options off the table. I live in the 15th largest metro in the US and we have 10600 Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Exploring COMBINED out of a service territory with over 450K children scouting age (2.3%). Reimagining the programs may be the only way to save them.

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While the cub scout side might benefit from such an arrangement, I think the scouts BSA side would suffer. Sure, young cubs might enjoy “being with” older scouts, but at some point the older scouts will want to be by themselves, without a gaggle of kids and parents in tow. The appeal to adolescent kids would lessen if they knew dozens of 6-10 year-olds would be at all their activities and events. If the root issue is lack of parent volunteerism, then let’s address that. That issue have been discussed many times before, and there are several theories that try to explain the decline. Related to my comments above, if you increase the level of commitment required to volunteer, you’ll lose more volunteers than you’ll gain. The current volunteer base is already barely knowledgeable on YPT, advancement, and so on - for a single program. Asking them to be proficiently knowledgeable in two programs is probably asking too much. Seasoned veterans whose kids have been in both programs could probably handle it, but getting new cub parents to fill those roles will be a tough sell, in my opinion.

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Cub Scouts would operate as separate Patrols with an ASM replacing Cub Master. It has not been my experience that older kids view younger kids as intruding on their time. Even Norman Rockwell illustrated older kids mentoring younger which should be one of the goals of the program. And at Summer Camps you often see older Scouts mentoring the new ones with a 6-year age differential.

I believe on the current track the Cub Scouts will outlast ScoutsBSA when you look at the poor retention rates between the two programs.

I think you are making part of my point, the administration of two completely separate programs is difficult to handle and I have run them both simultaneously to try and get initiatives moving in poor neighborhoods. And the burden is considerable but much of that is alleviated with Den Chiefs as Patrol Leaders, ASM as Cub Master and a unified committee overlooking both.

Scouting is a commitment of essentially your entire youth, it should not offer a breaking point so obvious as Webelos AOL where you now have to literally reapply to be in Scouts.

If I read this right the simple solution is one committee for all, that makes a lot of work for those leaders but I assume you are a small unit. That way administration could be done by just a few leaders (1 leader for recruiting, 1 leader for advancement, 1 leader for Training, 1 leader for YPT.) registered on one charter and then multiple on the others. I would keep the CM and SM and below unique to the units. The programs differ until they get to Webelo level and then could be joint adventures based on BSA requirements for scout to Scouter ratios.

Yes - some Committee roles in Large units would be complex to have only one person in them - but you can easily add another or have people just help like the Recruiting Committee leader during peak periods. In small units, the Committee is a different beast altogether.

I agree that the SM/CM are different beasts, but with the 4 packs I have worked with, Cubs were invited to camp with Scouts 2-4 times a year. It required parents as well but the Troops saw it as investing in future Scouts and not everything the Cubs do has to be programmatic - they could go and just climb the Monkey Bridge or learn to cook.

That is pretty much what we did when we started linked boy and girl troops and a pack 2 1/2 years ago. We had one committee for all three units back then, we all met at the same time and location, and we coordinated all of activities with each other. We eventually set up a separate committee for the pack, and we regretted that. We had a major fallout with a couple of cub families over a false claim against one of the pack leaders and then COVID hit and our pack is now struggling to rebuild membership and leadership. So we may yet go back to one committee for all three units. Our linked boy and girl troops have used what we are calling a “cooperative leadership model” whereby each unit has its own scoutmasters and SPL’s, but there is one PLC and our leadership teams all work together and we do all activities together. This strong linkage and treating both troops as one unit has been critical to our growth in membership and leadership, obtaining equipment and resources, building financial health, and developing our program. And it has also been important to creating an inclusive environment given that we have several non-binary and transgender scouts in both troops. We have more than doubled our membership in just two years. It has presented some challenges as we sometimes have some disagreements on policies and program, but both adult and youth leadership are gaining some great experience and skills in problem solving and working toward building consensus. And since we have adult leaders involved in all 3 units, we all support each other and the success of each individual unit comes from all three working together. And our cubs love having our older scouts working with them. 100% of our cubs are bridging in to our troops and we are seeing fewer cubs drop out of the program.

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