From a drawing by Baden-Powell

 Are You Delivering the Promise?

The first acquisition a new Scout is likely to make is his personal copy of the Boy Scout Handbook. The pages fast become dog-eared because of constant use. The handbook is a book of dreams, dreams of "Adventure . . . hiking along trails . . . canoeing across misty lakes . . . a patrol bike-hike . . . [a] plunge into a cool mountain lake." It also talks of being prepared to help others, and of the values Scouting stands for. It tells a new Scout that he will have a voice in how his troop operates. and may even have the opportunity to lead.

Boy Scouting is a great program that yearly attracts almost one million young men. How do we fulfill the promise for these Scouts? Do we provide a program in which boys can truly be leaders and be involved in shaping their future and the future of others around them? Do we provide a program that is exciting and challenging, one that every Scout wants to tell his friends about? This brochure will give you an idea of how successful troops "fulfill the promise." It also provides some suggestions on how, you, too, can fulfill the promise for the Scouts in your community. Only you and the leadership of your troop can determine whether your troop is fulfilling the promise. To do this, you will have to ask some hard questions and answer them honestly.

In the past year, the Boy Scouts of America has surveyed thousands of Scoutmasters. Hundreds of Scouts and Scoutmasters have been interviewed. From this information, we have been able to determine a number of attributes common to successful troops.

You may ask, what is considered a successful troop? This is a good question. The ultimate answer is probably a troop where a boy feels that the promise has been fulfilled. Since that feeling is hard to quantify, we focused on some program items that relate to the promise. We looked first at the level of program planning in the troop and the amount of youth involvement in the process. We examined key ingredients such as troop elections, junior leader training opportunities, and frequency of patrol leaders’ council meetings. We sought information on the outdoor program. We checked the level of training of the leaders, and even how many assistant Scoutmasters were active in the troop. We evaluated troop meetings to make sure all Scouts were being involved. We asked the troops if they were Quality Units.

We received a lot of useful information. Most of it you have heard before. Good troops do things by the book; they go camping frequently, and have lots of quality adult and boy leadership. What we did find was that as a troop grew in size, the number of quality indicators also increased. It’s the old chicken-or-egg problem: which came first, the size or the quality? The fact is, good troops with good programs serve a large number of Scouts. In fact, once a troop reaches twenty-one Scouts, the level of quality changes significantly.

So let’s talk about how we can help you get your troop to grow. Growth will come when you deliver the promise to your current members and have a workable plan to attract new members. Focus on the elements that follow.


Adapted from Delivering the Promise, No. 18-251, Boy Scouts of America, 1993

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Copyright © Lewis P. Orans, 1996
Last Modified: 10:18 PM on December 14, 1996