The Troop Newsletter

on April 12, 2007 in committee, Promotion

**Warning – Rant Alert**
I began writing a monthly newsletter for the troop soon after becoming the scoutmaster. In those early days it was literally a “cut and paste” method to create the newsletter. You see, those were the days before home computers. I would type the articles using a typewriter, cut them out, and then tape them to a blank sheet of paper with some pictures or graphics. The look of the newsletter changed dramatically once I bought a home computer in the late 1980′s.

I began writing a newsletter for one simple reason – the information given to the Boy Scouts during the troop meetings was not making it home to the parents. You could say the newsletter was a way to keep parents informed more then the boys. The newsletter would usually take two to three evenings to write, organize, print, and mail. The look of it changed over the years as computer programs changed, allowing for bigger and better things to be done.

During the last three decades I have had to deal with newsletters “lost in the mail”, families losing their mailings, Scouts who would grab it before their parents see it and hide it in their rooms, and other problems. But the one thing that irritated me the most was when parents and Scouts admitted they did not read it. After all the work I did to create a newsletter I discovered that for some people it was not even worth the time to read.

So, in 2005, writing and printing the newsletter became a low priority on my schedule. In 2006, I pretty much quit writing them. Why should I if no one reads them? After 25 years I finally decided that if this troop wants a newsletter then a parent, or even the troop scribe, could start writing them. Besides that, I was tired of doing them.

Well, the troop has gone for one year without a newsletter. No one, parent or Boy Scout, has stepped forward to write one. The troop has fallen back to having parents in the dark about troop functions. It looks like if there is to be a newsletter I will have to write it, even though I really do not care to do it. I did break down the other night and put a newsletter together. The troop has several important functions coming up that the parents need to have information about.

Should the scoutmaster be in charge of creating the troop’s newsletter? As a scoutmaster myself, I would answer, “No!” The scoutmaster does need to assist in the preparation of it but he should not be expected to do it all. He already has enough to do between troop meetings, troop functions and outings, training sessions, and district events. I understand the parents and Scouts are also busy, but a troop works best when the work load is spread around to several people. When a scoutmaster is expected to do most everything you will end up looking for a new scoutmaster when he burns out from doing too much.

I ask you, is it easier to assist a current scoutmaster then it is too find a new one? Is it important for parents and Scouts to know all the information needed to carry out a successful program?

Thanks for Sharing!

    2 Responses to “The Troop Newsletter”

    1. Lone Star Scouter says:

      Steve, I agree with you. With Troop elections every 6 months, one position is scribe. A Scout is responsible for at least 2 news letters a month. As with all positions I hold them responsible, so if they do nothing, they do not get credit for the position. We have a troop website with group e mail, and that is how I get the info out, because the news letters either become paper airplanes or spitwads. I admire your efforts. With everything we as Scoutmasters are responsible for, delegation is key. Good Rant!

    2. Anonymous says:

      It is hard to get anyone to volunteer on their own. Almost all of the adults that have a position in our troop have been asked (perhaps recruited) into the position.

      We do make it clear from the beginning that each family is expected to help in some role. We give them a list of positions and responsiblities we need help with. However, we never get them to speak up on their own.

      Usually, one of our better known adult leaders needs to go to the parent and specifically ask them to handle a specific responsiblity.

      I am 20 years old. In my short time as an Adult Leader I have been charged with recruiting a Newsletter Editor, Website Adminstrator, Membership Coordinator, Cartridge Recycling/Fundraising Coordinator, Assistant Scoutmasters, and am currently chairing a Spaghetti Dinner where I have had to recruit adult volunteers to help make tickets, coordinate a Silent Auction, promote the event, etc.

      Delegation is key and the key to that is know what each adult in your troop is willing to do, and then ask them to do that.

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