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  • Bear Scout Refuses To Attend Den Meetings

    This is my second year as a Den Leader. One of the boys that has been with our Pack all three years now, under my leadership for the last year and a half, stopped coming to Den and Pack meetings a few months ago. I communicate regularly with my Den parents (via texts, emails, and phone calls) to update them on meeting activities, achievement requirements, and so on. I have reached out to them numerous times over the past months and received no responses. I have mentioned it to our Cubmaster too and he has claimed ignorance.

    Recently we had our Pinewood Derby and they dropped off a car they'd made at home with our Cubmaster the night before but did not attend. I was quite surprised to see that they had a car racing and I asked our Cubmaster if they told him whether or not they'd be starting to attend meetings again. He told me that they had decided to participate in some Pack events but would not be returning to the Den meetings. Apparently they have decided that I don't focus on the boys enough at the meetings. This is based on our very first meeting, which was for the parents and was an introduction to Scouting because we had four families join this year that were completely new to Scouts. I acknowledged ahead of time that it would be a parent-based meeting and was the only meeting parents were required to attend. Every other meeting has been straight out of the suggested meetings handbook. I am the only Leader of this Den; I have a few parents who attend meetings regularly and help out when they can but I don't even have an official Co-Leader. It has been very difficult to get volunteer participation this year. I don't have a choice to do anything BUT focus on the boys at the meetings! My Cubmaster has attended a few meetings to help out when he has been able and consequently has observed my leadership and says I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. He discussed this with the family and for whatever reason they just don't like me and won't attend Den meetings.

    Given the amount of work I put into running the Den, I won't lie, it stings a little. I know you can't please everyone but it bothers me. It bothers me more that they are complaining yet refusing to help. As a volunteer-led organization, if you don't like something, the best way to fix it is to PARTICIPATE. I suspect I am preaching to the choir there though. I am trying to put my personal feelings aside as best I can but it's difficult. I also think it's incredibly unfair to the Scout - making a Derby car but not allowing him to attend to see it run? Refusing to allow him to participate in the Den meetings, where he would learn more about Scouting and build lasting relationships? He always got along with the other boys and they ask about him. He attended the last Pack meeting but the family wouldn't sit with the Den.

    Now our Blue and Gold dinner is three weeks away, and they have approached the Cubmaster asking if there is still time for the boy to complete his requirements and earn his Bear badge at the dinner. To the best of our knowledge he hasn't completed any of the Achievements. Our Cubmaster is inclined to just let them do the work at home and if they report that they've completed it, he will grant the boy his badge. Typically at our Blue and Gold dinners the Den Leader awards the badges to all the boys in their Den but since they don't like me he would do this one award himself.

    This seems wrong to me but I am not sure if I am letting my personal feelings cloud my judgment. Should a boy be able to participate in Scouting but refuse to attend their Den meetings? Do we have a policy on that? It seems to me like it goes against some of Scouting's core values. Am I wrong to take it as a personal slight, especially at the Blue and Gold, if I am to present all the Bear badges save one? Won't that seem strange and exclusive to everyone else in attendance? How do I explain that to my other Scouts when they ask why Scout X isn't getting his badge with the rest of our group? Should they be able to go 'over my head' to the Cubmaster to have all of their Achievements verified and basically cut the Den Leader out of their Scouting experience??

    As much as it stings personally I do not wish to exclude this boy if he has a genuine interest in Scouting and has done the work, but again, it just seems like they are handling the situation in a very un-Scoutinglike manner. Our Cubmaster doesn't want any trouble and is inclined to just let them handle it however they want. I find it awkward and embarrassing, especially the thought of not presenting his award at the Blue and Gold (if he does indeed earn it). Is this the sort of thing that, as a Leader, I'm supposed to chalk up to "can't please everyone" and just let it go? Or do the Scouts have a policy on HOW Achievements are completed and Den attendance?

  • #2
    Dropping off a car for PWD but not being there? What's the point? I'll bet he does not come to Pack meetings either.

    Sounds to me like the parents have some reason to dislike what you did or may simply disagree with your approach. Whatever it is I would not let it worry you. You cannot drag Scouts over the finish line. At the Cub level it is a joint effort between scout, parents and their leader. If the parents want the scout to complete the requirements they should get with the CM and make that happen if they don't want to do it with you.

    Personally, I would be cordial to the folks but would not go out of my way for them. If this was important to them they would have acted back in September and not three weeks before B&G.

    Comment


    • #3
      Welcome to the campfire, MDM. Before I comment, you need to understand a few things about the group here. Number one, it isn't for wussies. The good, the bad and the ugly is posting problems here is much like filing a lawsuit against someone -- you pretty much have to expect the other folks are going to come at you full bore. You should expect folks to question your motives and operations. Much of that is because we're only hearing your side of the story, folks try to devine and/or assume the other half. Secondly, being a written, online forum, comments and questions come off as curt and rude when that wasn't the intent (well, yeah, some folks may intend it, but you'll figure out who they are soon enough.) Online you don't get the nuance and sympathetic body language you would face to face. So take stuff with a grain of salt. Take the advice you get here, process it and figure out what works for you.

      Number two, I think you are wise to accept you're personal investment in all this. We all put a lot of time into the program and it does hurt when folks criticize or drop out. Especially when the clod doing the criticizing never lifted a finger to help out.

      You seem to have a good handle on the program. You don't mention it, but I'm sure you understand that the Bear level the parent is Akela and if these parents purely pencil-whip every requirement for their son, you don't have much to say about it. Yeah, it sucks for the other kids who, by the way, clearly know the score and probably don't really care anyway. And we know the one who is really being cheated in all this is that kid, but that's the parent's issues. They can cheat their son if the like.

      The important thing here is your relationship with the Cubmaster. You two have to work together to deliver the program. Apparently, he's willing to cut these parents more slack than you are. Maybe it's because he has no backbone, but maybe because he knows something about this family you don't. He may know these folks have real issues and need a break or he may know they are true PIAs and this kid getting his Bear badge isn't a hill he's willing to die on. Talk to him. Buy him a cup of coffe and a piece of pie. (You'll also learn the folks on the forum REALLY like coffee and pie.) Building and maintaining a good working relationship with him/her is much more important than the outcome with these parents.

      Understand your role and it's limitations. If the CM decides to go appease the parents, that's his call. Let it go. I've had issues with Eagle Scout awards which have been appealed to the council. At that point, the decision was out of my hands. If the council wants to award the kid his Eagle, it was their call. I don't take their decision as a reflection or referendum on my program at all. I run the troop program, they run the council advancement committee. We look at things differently and make different decisons. Same between you and the CM. You've had your input, now he gets to handle the situation as he sees fit. To me it's a big statement that he would award the kid his Bear award separately from your presentation to the den. Take that and move on.

      A BIG PART OF THE CONVERSATION with the CM needs to be an understanding about the Webelos program. I'll assume here you plan to track along with the den as a Webelos leader. You may need to concede on the Bear badge, but you need to set clear expectations for next year. In Webelos parents DO NOT sign off requirements for their sons -- the DLs do that. And those sign-offs tend to come at den meetings and are frequently based on participation in varioius activities. In otherwords, mommy and daddy signing Dear Sweet Thang's book two weeks before Blue&Gold won't be an option. You need to set that expectation HARD. Frankly, if the family is this unhappy with your program, they need to move on.

      Currently, you are in a much better position to set the terms for how the Webelos den will be run and your expectations for participation. Do it. If you leave it unresolved, same time next year you'll be back in damage control mode with much fewer options.

      Good luck!

      Comment


      • #4
        Now this is a harsh reality check.


        Too many I's and me's in your post. It isn't about you, the program you provide is for the boys. Park the ego at the door.

        I can speak from experience, I wasted a lot of time chasing boys that I thought needed scouting, sweating missed acheivements and outings...... The boys missed them because either the parent didn't see the value in them or the boy wasn't interested. Yes my ego was involved.



        Don't waste your time on chasing the boy or the family. Don't waste your time feeling slighted by them trying to get their son his bear patch.....Because honestly in a year they will not be wearing the blue shirts anyhow.


        Spend your energy in a more postive manner......Give a great program to the boys who are interested and show up.


        Far as the CM's meddling in your den. I would ask for this scout to not be a member of your den next year if the CM choses to award the patch to him. Because at this point the Bear patch is just a patch.






        Comment


        • #5
          As we have had a low participation scout for the past year, I can understand your feelings. It is sad when a boy is unable to participate due to lack of parental involvement, busy parents, or busy siblings.

          There are no active attendance requirements until Webelos and Arrow of Light ranks.
          If the boy complete requirements at home (and through Bear, parents can sign off), then he earns his rank.
          If he earns his rank and is a no-show at B&G mention his name with the rest of the den. If he didn't earn it, he didn't. Don't call his name. T
          here is nothing to explain to the other boys other than he didn't earn it.

          If the family wishes to "go over your head", I guess that's between them and the Cubmaster. The Cubmaster is the final arbitor of achievement verification anyway. He should ask them to go through you first, but if they don't wish to, then that's the slippery slope for the Cubmaster eh?

          Personally I would chalk it up to "can't please everyone". If you have more than one Bear den, let the family know that if they would feel more comfortable with another den that the option of switching is available.

          I wouldn't weat it past that, unless you're his Webelos leader next year. If so, make sure the families know up front that only den leaders are to sign off on Webelos requirements (which doesn't mean they can't do something on their own time) and what the expectations are for active membership.

          goo luck. I know it still stings, but you can only do so much.

          Comment


          • #6
            That is messed up. I understand how you feel, it's only human. We all bust our tails to try to put on a good program. I can see him getting through Bears with only parent sign off. Next year in Webelos, it's the Den Leader or Asst Den Leader that signs off on requirements. Webelos badge requirement is "Be an active member of your Webelos den for 3 months." Arrow of light is "Be active in your Webelos den for at least six months." I'm of the mind that if I can keep them a little active there's always a chance of them getting back in eventually. All you can do is all you can do. Why doesn't he transfer to another Pack?

            Try not to let it get to you. Put on the best program you can.

            Comment


            • #7
              You are stressing too much about this. Prior to recently, Cub Scout Advancement was all done at home, outside of Den Meetings, so if the parents were expecting that, its their call.

              If the Cubmaster wants to keep this boy on the roster, it's his job to chase down the registration fee.

              The important lesson of the Pinewood Derby is designing, building, and painting the car, not watching some adult place it on the track and push a button. If the Pack wants to allow non-attendee entries (which I would, personally), it is again up to them.

              I have a family that started last spring, was involved all summer, but stopped in the fall. They just couldn't handle evening meetings with getting up for early school. But they want to be involved (and they sold popcorn), so I keep them updated as to what we're doing and welcome them on the few weekend events I see them. And when school is out, I hope to see them again.

              Comment


              • #8
                I think that you are justified in stressing or being hurt about this..... but I would advise you to try and not give these people the power to upset you. Beyond the effort in trying to take away something form this, It's just not worth it to be upset. Maybe teh take away is some nugget on how you might run a better program...... or maybe the take away is just simply how not to act.

                Regardless, I would suggest to continue to be cordial to this boy and parents, and continue to make them welcome if they choose to come back.
                Re. handing out the Bear patches. Not sure if this is the best advice, but for what it's worth ..... given what you have written, i think I would just pass the awards out to the other boys..... not even mention it. Let the CM handle it in whatever way he sees fit. The only other option I can imagine, is to just hand the boy the award just like all the other boys, and forget it.

                Another thought. Does you pack do attendance awards? If not, this might be a good time to start!
                I'm picturing an award for perfect attendance
                another one for good but partial attendance
                and no award for lack of attendance.
                After all, isn't the secondary purpose of the perfect attendance award to encourage attendance?

                Originally posted by Fehler
                The important lesson of the Pinewood Derby is designing, building, and painting the car, not watching some adult place it on the track and push a button. .
                I disagree. While that might be one of the important lessons...... coming together with friends and peers - good sportsmanship and fellowship are also important.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I can't believe you guys are saying she is justified for being hurt by it????

                  She shouldn't take it personal......Because it isn't personal.



                  Comment


                  • Twocubdad
                    Twocubdad commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Perhaps the parent's don't intend to aim their behavior at MDM, but that doesn't invalidate her feelings it is directed at her personally. People are going to have different outlooks on this, Base. Some folks are hard-wired to separate business, some aren't. If I didn't take the program personally, I wouldn't put the 20 hours a week into it I do. Someone tells me they don't think I focus on the Scouts, I'm going to take it personally, I don't care how business-like they intended it.

                    I will allow, however, from MDM's description, these parents sound like self-centered jerks and probably treat everyone shabbily.

                    Andt I agree with your comments about learning to move on and focusing on the boys who are there and want to participate. But that doesn't mean you don't feel badly for the boys who aren't.

                  • Basementdweller
                    Basementdweller commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I was in her exact shoes.... I took it personal....

                    Went above and beyond to make sure those I thought needed the program got one.....Spent thousands of dollars on sleeping bags tents and backpacks Because I thought they wanted the program and couldn't afford it.

                    Truth was, they never really cared that much for the program and my efforts were wasted.

                  • Krampus
                    Krampus commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I am with TwoCub. You put that type of time into something and the parents essentially pull their kid from your Den with no reason. Then they appear to even duck Pack meetings or events? Lord knows why they are doing it but volunteers who put that amount of effort in are going to take it personally.

                    But sure, you do not dwell on it. You move on and chalk it up to them being prats and go on with what you do best.

                • #10
                  Welcome aboard. Yeah dont take it personal (easily said). I agree...let the CM handle it. Concentrate on having the boys taht do show up have fun. If and when the kid shows up welcome in--dont hold your breath when he doesn't show up. I had this happen too.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Who knows the real story behind why the boy doesn't come to meetings.
                    you can take the high road, genuinely congratulate the kid for making up the work to earn the badge. Speak to him, shake his hand Nd do it in front of the CM and parents of the kid. Invite the parents to come teach a Webelos pin next year, their choice - again nicely and in front of the CM .....
                    Show you are the adult and willing to work with them for the good of thier kiddo.


                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Good advice Momleader.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        I understand how you feel in this manner MDM. You put a lot of effort in trying to put on a positive program for your den and there always seems to be that one issue. I agree with taking the high road is the best option. Congratulate him and the parents, and then put your energy back into making an exciting program for the newly arriving bears next year. To be honest, I really dont see this scout family continuing too much after your B/G banquet. Its like we have DL who ditches on his den a lot without notice and good reason. It frustrates the living hades out of us, but the best thing to do in that situation as well as your current predicament is to be nice, congratulate, encourage them to stay and be active in the program and move them on to Scouts. However, I just dont see this happening.


                        Interesting arguement,

                        Is it time to add an attendance req. for AoL? If the Boy Scouts have attendance req. or what "active" is for rank advancement, this sounds like a great idea for AoL. If your going to earn CS highest honor, then I think this is necessary.

                        Comment


                        • Basementdweller
                          Basementdweller commented
                          Editing a comment
                          There is an attendance requirement.......The Parent can/should not sign webelos advancement. Miss the den meeting you don't get the pin......Pretty simple

                      • #14
                        I understand how you feel in this manner MDM. You put a lot of effort in trying to put on a positive program for your den and there always seems to be that one issue. I agree with taking the high road is the best option. Congratulate him and the parents, and then put your energy back into making an exciting program for the newly arriving bears next year. To be honest, I really dont see this scout family continuing too much after your B/G banquet. Its like we have DL who ditches on his den a lot without notice and good reason. It frustrates the living hades out of us, but the best thing to do in that situation as well as your current predicament is to be nice, congratulate, encourage them to stay and be active in the program and move them on to Scouts. However, I just dont see this happening.


                        Interesting arguement,

                        Is it time to add an attendance req. for AoL? If the Boy Scouts have attendance req. or what "active" is for rank advancement, this sounds like a great idea for AoL. If your going to earn CS highest honor, then I think this is necessary.

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Thanks BD, Im not the WDL so Im not up to snuff on it as much. Saw it today when I was looking at MB.org for some items for one of our kids AoL ceremony coming up.

                          Comment

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