How Do You Scout?


Opposites may attract in romantic comedies, but in real life relationships can face major challenges when people disagree about finances, religion, values, and priorities.

The same is true in Scouting. Troops that look alike on the parade ground at summer camp may be different–sometimes very different–beneath the surface. Consider a few examples: Troop A offers a very full schedule of robust activities, while Troop B holds a relative handful of laid-back activities each year. Troop C has families that can afford to pay for expensive trips, while Troop D is sensitive to families’ financial challenges. Troop E is closely aligned with the church that sponsors it, while Troop F is proud of its multicultural makeup. Troop G is almost entirely Scout-led, while Troop H relies more on adults to guide its young members.

None of these troops is necessarily doing things wrong–unless what they’re doing doesn’t align with the priorities their families have. Such misalignment can led to struggles within the troop or exits from the troop by families that often don’t realize the troop down the street might be a better fit.

What can you do about troop/family misalignment? A good first step is to use the Spirit of Adventure Council’s nifty “How Do You Scout” survey.

Completing the survey is simple. First, for eight aspects of the Scouting experience, each family rates the current state of the unit and their own preference. Second, they mark whether misalignment in each area would be a big deal to them. Finally, they calculate a score that shows how aligned or misaligned they are with the unit.

The council recommends that all families in a unit complete the survey once a year and that someone collate the results. After that, it may be time for some hard conversations about whether the unit needs to change (if many families are misaligned) or whether the unit needs to help misaligned families find a new home in Scouting.

Breaking us is hard to do, of course. But it can be just as hard to stay together when you have nothing in common.

NOW AVAILABLE: The fourth edition of The Eagle Court of Honor Book is now available from and on Amazon! Updated to reflect the inclusion of girls in Scouts BSA, the book features gender-neutral ceremonies, a new Scouting segment called “Scouting for Girls,” and downloadable boys’ and girls’ versions of all ceremony materials. Print versions will be available soon from Amazon and

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