drawing in the 1937 Scoutmaster’s Handbook
We know your task as a Scoutmaster is not organizing
troops, though on occasion you might be called on to
help. You should, however, be vitally involved in
upsizing. Before we discuss this issue, let’s review some
facts. First, the median troop size is sixteen Scouts.
Second, as stated earlier, the quality of program
increases significantly when troop size reaches
twenty-one. Our best troops (11 percent of the total)
serve thirty-three or more youth. Remember that in our
study of dropped troops, 71 percent had five or fewer
adults and 78 percent had fewer than sixteen.
How do you upsize? First of all, you must be willing to
move out of your comfort zone. Sit down with your troop
committee, parents, or your commissioner—someone who
will help you take an honest look at your troop. Look at
your program, adult leadership, and youth involvement.
Determine what you need to do to serve more Scouts. There
are no pat answers, because every troop in America is
different. Your solution may be as easy as buying more
equipment; more likely, it will involve a number of
Develop a plan for success and set some realistic goals.
Bring the committee, chartered organization, parents, and
Scouts along on the ride. It must be the troop’s plan,
not your plan. Don’t expect overnight success but do set
some checkpoints along the way to monitor your progress
Plan a troop celebration on the target date you set for achieving
your goals. Remember that the bottom-line goal is to
"deliver the promise."
Once you have the program on track, you might ask, Where
are the new Scouts? Unfortunately, they may not be
standing in line to join you’ troop, unless you have convinced
your current Scouts to sell the program to their friends.
(If you have, drop us a note at Boy Scouts of America,
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane, Irving, TX 75015-2079, and
share your success story.)
In some communities, Boy Scouting still has a poor image.
What others perceive us to be is not what we really are.
We are a values-based program, but we are also a lot more.
Our challenge is to get boys to sample our program. Is
there an activity your troop does that would entice
potential members? How do you let others know about the activity.
Remember, school announcements may not be the route to
take. One alternative is sending potential members a
personal letter describing the activity and inviting them
to attend. Build up the exciting, challenging aspects of
the event. You may not wish to mention Scouting. Your
district executive can probably provide you with a list
of potential Scouts. Let them sample the activity, then
let them know that what they have just participated in is
a part of the Boy Scouting program. This approach is much
like the blind taste-tests used to sell soft
drinks—you don’t know which brand it is, but you
know you like it. Dare to be creative, and when you find
a method that works. be sure to write and let us hear
Now is the time to answer the big question, "Am I
delivering the promise to the Scouts in my troop?"
If your answer is yes, then congratulations! If your
answer is no, then this is the time to begin making that
promise come true.
Adapted from Delivering the Promise,
No. 18-251, Boy Scouts of America, 1993
Your feedback, comments and suggestions
Please write to: Lewis P. Orans
© Lewis P. Orans, 1996
Last Modified: 10:18 PM on December 14, 1996