From a drawing in the 1937 Scoutmaster’s Handbook

Upsizing Your Troop

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 solutions.

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 from you

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

Return to the Pine Tree Web Home Page

Your feedback, comments and suggestions are appreciated.
Please write to:
Lewis P. Orans

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