By Robert Peterson
For successful units like the Atlanta Area Council's Troop 1011, national BSA awards provide standards for achievement and incentives for improvement.
There are good troops; there are troops with some room for improvement. There are very good troops, and then there is Troop 1011 of Marietta, Ga.
Consider some facts. Troop 1011's membership runs from 90 to 100 boys. Scoutmaster Henry Mingledorff III gets help from 15 trained assistant Scoutmasters. At troop meetings, 10 dads and moms show up to lend a hand. The troop holds about 15 outings every year, including monthly camp-outs. It has its "own" campsite at the Atlanta Area Council's Bert Adams Scout Reservation. The troop built a pavilion campfire ring and made other improvements at the site.
"We think of the site as our own," said Al Friel, a troop committee member and former Scoutmaster.
Friel has been in the troop's leadership ranks since 1975. The troop was three years old then, and a lot has changed since, he noted. "We had 12 Scouts when I joined."
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Troop 1011, which is chartered to Marietta's Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church, regularly earns the BSA's national Quality Unit Award. In fact, the troop has earned the award every year since the recognition was established in 1978.
Success begins with quality
The BSA Strategic Plan 1998-2002 recognizes that packs, troops, teams, and crews are "the most important link in the delivery of the Scouting program to youth." In outlining the keys for bringing Scouting into the new century to more youth than ever, the national BSA plan calls for all units to aim for the standard established by the best units in America.
The Strategic Plan points out that the best units achieve success by action in 11 key areas, such as "Use the unit budget plan," "Recruit a full unit committee," and "Make sure every member is fully uniformed."
But first and foremost on the action list is "Achieve the Quality Unit Award."
Making a troop even better
Not surprisingly, Quality Units like Troop 1011 year after year meet or exceed all the award's requirements, mandatory and optional. (See sidebar below.)
The 15 outings Troop 1011 schedules each year are more than twice the required six. Its 15 assistant Scoutmasters are far beyond the single assistant the award requires. And 75 percent of its Scouts advance a rank each year, well above the standard of 60 percent. In addition, 117 Scouts have achieved the Eagle Scout Award.
Troop 1011 committee member Al Friel noted that working toward the annual national Quality Unit Award helps the leaders focus on ways to make the troop even better.
"We use the requirements as a guide for running the troop," he said. "It's a blueprint for a good troop."
Scoutmaster Mingledorff agreed: "The requirements focus on what makes a good troop. We involve the patrol leaders' council in working on the award's requirements, just as we do in all aspects of the troop operation. And the kids really do enjoy getting the Quality Award."
Troop 1011 prides itself on a strong outdoor emphasis, which extends beyond a schedule of monthly camp-outs. The troop's Venture patrol, for example, provides an exciting program for older Scouts. The program specializes in backpacking, with five or six high adventure treks every year, and regular trips to Philmont.
A key element in the backpacking emphasis is a training class for incoming Webelos Scoutswho spend eight hours over four sessions learning backpacking. This class was begun by a returning Eagle Scout giving service to the troop.
Troop 1011 also sends youth to the Florida National High Adventure Sea Base on a regular basis.
Planning is important
Planning the troop's yearly camping schedule begins with all the Scouts voting on their preferences for different locations. Then the patrol leaders' council selects the sites for the monthly camp-outs.
Each year's sites are chosen from a selection of new and different locationswith one exception.
A visit to Black Rock Mountain State Park in northern Georgia is an annual tradition. The Scouts are so attached to the location that they have rebuilt a cabin and constructed four Adirondack-style lean-to's at the campsite.
To maintain a roster near the 100-member level, Troop 1011 welcomes about 20 graduating Webelos Scouts each year from Pack 121. The pack, which is also chartered to Mt. Bethel United Methodist, is a perennial winner of the national Quality Unit Award for Cub Scout packs.
As is true in most good troops, service is an important part of Troop 1011's program. In 1999, members worked 1,765 hours on various Good Turns, such as furnishing color guards for flag ceremonies and collecting used clothing to aid the needy.
"Earning the National Quality Unit Award is an honor for Troop 1011," concluded Scoutmaster Mingledorff. "Qualifying for the award every year is recognition that we provide an attractive program for boys."
Robert Peterson is a Scouting magazine contributing editor.
In 1999, 57 percent of the nation's troops, packs, Varsity Scout teams, and Venturing crews earned a Quality Unit Award. That statistic, however, also underlines the fact that four of every 10 units came up short in achieving Quality Unit status.
Requirements for the award offer some flexibility. For example, a Boy Scout troop must achieve designated standards in at least six of 10 areas of unit operation or program. Of these, four are requirements that all troops must meet, with two more coming from six optional areas.
The four "must" requirements are the following: (1) The Scoutmaster must have completed Fast Start training and Scoutmastership Fundamentals; (2) there must be at least one trained assistant Scoutmaster, plus one registered adult assigned responsibility for Youth Protection training; (3) the troop must have held at least six highlight activities (camp-outs, hikes, trips, and tours) and attended a council-approved long-term camp during the program year; and (4) its charter must be renewed on time.
Optional achievements include: (1) hold an annual program planning conference, (2) do community service, (3) have at least 60 percent of the troop members advance one rank during the year or have an overall increase of 10 percent in rank advancements, (4) have every Scout's family subscribe to Boys' Life or have a 10 percent increase in subscriptions, (5) maintain or add to the troop's membership total, and (6) conduct junior leader training and hold monthly junior leader meetings.
Quality Award facts and figures
May-June 2000 Table of Contents
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