A recent email asks about Choosing a troop
My son and I visited seven Troops, two of them twice for a total of nine visits.
We finally found what we feel is the best Unit in the county. This Unit has very strong leadership – two of the dozens of registered adults have over 45 years of experience at this Unit Additionally, they have a large wooded property with a Scout Hut, a campground, a shooting range, a very nice fire ring theater, trailers full of equipment, a fleet of canoes, and free use of a privately-owned reservation with amenities. The Unit has also graduated 63 Eagle Scouts since forming in 1963 with six earning rank in one recent year. Because it’s about 13 miles away and many of the boys had made up their mind on their second or third Troop visit, I was only able to convince one other family to join us for a visit to this Unit.
We visited this troop with one of my son’s best friends and his dad. Dad loved the troop, but my son’s friend wouldn’t be swayed and wants to follow his other friends in the Den to a small Unit close to home where the rest of his friends are going. I don’t mean to disparage the Unit the rest of the boys have chosen because it does have its positives, but it seems to
have less to offer all the way around and was my son’s lowest scored of the seven.
What is your opinion on this situation? How much more persuading should the father try to do to influence him towards what he and I feel is the nicer Unit? Are we naive, ourselves, thinking that a larger Unit with deep leadership and endless facilities will provide a better Scout experience than a smaller Unit with fewer leaders and amenities? Are we making a poor decision by choosing a “safe” Unit? My son, in the meantime, is resolved to go to our Unit of choice, even if he has to go it alone but will miss his friends, especially the boy we are trying to persuade to join us.
You’ve certainly done your due diligence (nine visits to seven Troops, wow!).
Goal number one here is that your son be happy, right?
You’d rather have a happy, well adjusted Tenderfoot than a harried, pressured unhappy Eagle, right?
If your son was able to take a trip to Disney World on his own do you think he would enjoy it more than playing in the back yard with his buddies? Some guys would do fine on their own at Disney World, they would make friends and have a great time. Others would find most of the experience pretty hollow because they had no one to share it with.
I love to go backpacking. A few years back I decided that it would be fun to go out for five or six days on my own. I soon discovered that one of the most important reasons I liked to go backpacking was the people I went with. Going alone was just not the same and I ended the trip early.
There’s really not a right or wrong decision here. Is your son good in new unfamiliar situations on his own or is he happier in unfamiliar surroundings with people he knows?
Give your first choice a try and remember, Scouts don’t marry a Troop. It’s not about ‘until death do us part’ it’s more like buying a pair of shoes. If his first choice doesn’t work out he can always try other Troops until he finds the right fit.