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  • Summer Camp Only Scout?

    I was hoping to get some wisdom from those of you that are more experienced than myself on an issue I'm about to face...

    This is my second year as Den Leader and my boys are about to become Webelos. Well, most of them are. There are eight boys in my den, seven of them have been with us since Tigers and a new boy joined last year as a Wolf.

    Last year the new boy came to a total of one pack meeting and two den meetings the entire year. As you can imagine he didn't come close to completing any requirements and did not earn his Wolf badge. I e-mailed his mother several times during the year asking about his participation but never heard back from her. Our Cubmaster (whose son is in my den) reached out to his family multiple times saying that she would carpool and drive the boy to and from meetings, but the mother never took her up on the offer. I figured that they were just too busy (they have 5 children) or that he just wasn't into Scouting. I know that Scouting isn't for everyone so I didn't lose any sleep over losing one boy and I moved on.

    Much to my surprise, this boy attended Resident Camp with us! I hadn't seen him in months but I was happy that he attended Resident Camp with the Den. He had a great time at camp and I figured that this would get him hooked on Scouting and he would begin to participate with our Den this year. That didn't happen. He has not attended a single Den or Pack meeting or event the entire Bear year. He is still on the roster of my Den but I figured that was just a formality or a record keeping issue since we thought he would be participating. Despite my hopes, I have not seen him or heard a word from him or his family since last summer.

    This leads me to my problem: At our last Pack Leader Committee Meeting my Cubmaster told me that this boy is planning on attending Resident Camp again this summer! I was completely shocked and, frankly, rather mad. I don't believe that Cub Scouts just is a summer camp program. If someone wants to just go to camp and not make a year-long commitment then they should join the YMCA or some other organization. I think Cub Scout Resident Camp should be a fun reward for a year of hard work and a leg-up on the requirements for their next rank badge (that they actually plan on earning!)

    I told the Cubmaster that I had a problem with him going to Resident Camp with us and she said that we would talk about it later. I asked if the boy had even paid his dues this year and she said that she wasn't sure and we would talk about it later. I'm not sure when "later" will be, but the more I think about it the more annoyed I become.

    One additional issue to complicate the matter: The boy is the only African American in our Pack. I assumed this was one reason he was kept on my roster this year despite his complete lack of participation. I don't know the specific details but I know that he has received financial assistance from the Pack in the form of a free uniform (which he has never worn) and the Pack and/or District significantly offset the cost of resident camp for him last year.

    What do the rest of you think? Am I being too exclusionary? Should I be completely open-armed and just happy if the boy participates in anything at all?
    Last edited by That Scouting Guy; 04-30-2013, 11:40 AM.

  • #2
    The way I would be looking it is whether he is keeping anyone else from joining? How limited are you on space? Do you have a waiting list of other boys wanting to join? If so I'd say his parents need to be told that he needs to attend regularly or you will assumer he has left. If that's not the case though then I would let him come along as long as he has paid up. The consequences for him will of course be that he doesn't earn all the badges or develop the skills everyone else does and no doubt he will realise that as he goes along and will probably either come along more often or, more likely, drop out.


    • #3
      Personally I wouldn't have a problem with this unless it's disrupting the program in some way, getting subsidies for non participation or preventing someone else from participating in the program.


      • #4
        If dues are paid, let him attend. The camp experience, as well the spirit of camaraderie, may motivate him to be a fully involved Boy Scout, or adult scouter. You just never know.


        • #5
          Originally posted by desertrat77 View Post
          If dues are paid, let him attend. The camp experience, as well the spirit of camaraderie, may motivate him to be a fully involved Boy Scout, or adult scouter. You just never know.
          Yup, if his dues are paid he's covered by BSA. BUT....isn't the Cub Scout path one travelled by the Scout AND his parent? If he's just coming for the summer camp and he paying for the whole year to join your Pack that's a pretty hefty fee.

          If, however, dues are not paid up then he is not "street legal" as far as BSA is concerned and you and the District are at risk if he gets injured.


          • desertrat77
            desertrat77 commented
            Editing a comment
            Very true. Once the admin/legal/insurance issues are ironed out, I think it's important to get scouts--especially this one--to camp, regardless of his involvement the rest of the year. While we don't have all the details in this case, in my experience, the semi-involved scout often has family issues...and scouting is the best and most positive thing in their life. Even if they show up once in awhile, they need scouting. Just a hunch.

        • #6
          The way I look at everything with our cub scouts, is : What is best for the child.

          It probably isn't the child's fault that his parents aren't bringing him to meetings or letting him participate. It isn't the child's fault that his parents aren't working with him to make up the work he missed to earn his rank advancements.

          The way I see it, if you can give this kid the best and greatest summer camp, DESPITE his parents being totally apathetic, then you have done your job and done it well. That kid will grow up with the memories of a fun summer camp even though, all throughout the year, his parents didn't care enough to help him attend all the other scouting Den Meetings and Pack meetings etc.

          It may motivate him to sign up for Boy Scouts and since he will be older, he can have more of a hand in his ability to be able to attend meetings and other things.

          You really need to separate the child and parent in these types of situations.


          • #7
            Every boy is in Scouting for his own reasons, maybe he just wants to go camping. Maybe this is the only outlet from a bad situation at home.


            • #8
              If he is a registered Cub Scout, I don’t see how you can keep this lad from attending unless your Pack has a minimum attendance/participation policy. Delinquent dues can be an issue but that depends on what the dues are used for in your Pack’s budget. In my Pack, dues are used to pay for awards, belt loops, new handbooks, etc. A scout that is delinquent on his dues would not receive his awards, but would not be barred from going to camp.
              Ultimately, what determines the success of camp is an adequate number of adults attending from your Pack. Sometimes, one extra boy that signs up late creates a “seat belt” problem and the need for an extra car which may require another adult to attend. If you are maxed-out on the adult leader to scout ratio, then you can close registration to other boys until you get more help.
              In my Pack, boys that have this amount of excessive absenteeism are usually dropped from membership at recharter time. We give the parents a warning first, then they are dropped from the recharter. Once dropped, the camping issues are resolved.
              Should you take this kid to camp? He may not deserve it, but he may need camp more than your other boys. Going to camp might be the highlight of his year and you can help him make some great memories.


              • #9
                I am so glad someone posted about this, we have a somewhat similar situation in our den but as many have suggested, I'm trying to not let it bother me and going forward as best I can. (I apologize if this is considered hijacking but I didn't want to start a new thread on the almost same topic.)

                We have a few boys in our den that started out strong last year but come December, quit attending all den meets. They are still included on all emails that go out and know about all the goings on in the group. They only attend the field trips, parties, etc. but none of them pay the monthly dues that we use to pay for these outings/supplies. These are the same scouts that did not finish all the requirements for Tiger but I was told to promote them anyways as their parents did pay the yearly dues for the cub scouts to the cubmaster directly.

                They haven't helped out financially OR participated with any of the prep work for the cubmobile race, multiple trips or the party we've had but they attend them. I had two of these parents ask me to make sure to get their sons a gift as well as they'd be at the end of the year party. We have 5 scouts that work their behinds off on all that we do and I wanted to reward them but it seems unfair to them to see the scouts who didn't attend get the same treatment. I would say money may be an issue but 3 of the 4 scouts I'm referring to go to a private school here in town (my own son couldn't attend due to financial reasons.) I end up covering all the extra out of my own pocket so they can participate in each of these activities (I don't hold it against them, I know its the parents making these choices) but I don't know if I can fork out another $50-$60 next year per child if they don't show up to any den meets but only comes to the 'rewarding' ones (as one mom put it.) I even went as far as emailing them separately about the financial cost of one of the trips awhile back and got no reply but they made sure to show up and attend.

                Since this is my first year in this, I'm not sure if I'm going about this right or if I'm being too hard/too nice or what. I tried to discuss this with our cubmaster but she just recently stepped down and our new cubmaster is trying to get everything situated so I don't want to overwhelm him with this as well.


                • Basementdweller
                  Basementdweller commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Ya, boy shows up for an event and hasn't paid to attend....Nope, boy and parent get sent home.....

                  Remember every scout leader from this point forward will have to deal with the expectation you set now in cubs

                  Dues are a waste of time........ Have the parents pay a den craft fee once a year.....after the first year you have a pretty good idea what ya spent. If it is $20 or $50 each per year so be it, your not chasing parents down monthly or weekly for money..

                • Faith
                  Faith commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thanks BD. I agree on the dues. Our previous cubmaster put those into place but all the den leaders I've spoke to also think they're a waste of time and effort (too hard to get.) If each parent could pay a one time fee over around $25, I think we'd be more than good to go (and that's if we stay at a low number.) But getting them to pay that is a whole 'nother story. We have a roundtable meeting tonight (with the new leader), he asked us last time to think of some topics we need to discuss and I think this will be one of them.

              • #10

                They are taking advantage of your generosity and you are being too nice. They may think you have "deep pockets" and enjoy doing this for the Den, but it's time to say "no" to outings/events to those that do not pay. Once you learn to say "no" and re-set expectations, the freeloaders will catch on pretty quick. What's the worst thing that can happen? - They will stop attending and that will be okay for your Pack and your sanity.


                • #11
                  If he is paid up, registered and doesn't keep anyone else from attending, let him go. I've had issues with some cubs not participating in the past. I finally decided I didn't care about the times they were not there, as long as they had fun the times they were there.


                  • #12
                    At some point in your life you have to learn to say no. Next year I will inform the den we will be working on building a birdhouse. You may bring your own kit or I will have some available for purchase. No money, no kit. Just can't deal with "I will bring it next week" parents anymore.

                    With the troop if you show up at departure and are not paid up, you better hope YOUR parents are driving you and feeding you. Although there are only one or two problem families with the troop. The thing is, if the parents or Scout came to the committee and explained they were having financial difficulties we would find a a way for their son to participate. Every child deserves the opportunity of scouting. It is just the freeloader attitude we just can't deal with.


                    • #13
                      I actually had another den leader tell me to avoid confrontation and just purchase the items for them (I'm pretty sure her financial situation is much better than my own.) I appreciate the info (and again, sorry for hijacking!) and will definitely put my foot down when the new year starts. We live in one of those towns were everyone knows everyone and I can guarantee you these aren't families that have money issues (we do have a couple scouts that are in that kind of situation but even their parents refused financial help and came up with what was needed.) So I know there isn't much of an excuse for the others (financially anyways.) I think my biggest concern is when they show up, if I confront them about the no money issue they will either stomp off (which I'd prefer), go complain (which I'm not worried about as far as my position goes as I shouldn't have to pay) or make a scene and disrupt the rest of the scouts. Considering how they react when I mention cost, I highly doubt they'll pay up then and there. I hate turning a child away but yes, I will go broke if I have to do this again (and I don't think my husband is too thrilled with the whole situation either.) Again, thank you!


                      • #14
                        Email just doesn't work for some folks. A phone call MIGHT work, if the conversation is diplomatic , nonaccusatory and sympathetic. After all, you do not neccessarily know the family dynamic at work there unless it is shared with you.
                        A written letter , hand delivered, that details the need for HELP in the Scout activities, the need for DUES to be paid up for attendance to happen; the reality that if the boy enjoys the Cub experience, if the parent sees the benefit, then the parent needs to communicate and HELP the boy get to the activities. Such a letter should, ideally, be delivered INTO THE HAND of the parent early in the Scouting year, to ALL the parents in the Pack/Den, so no favoritism can be claimed. Schedules need to be defined and kept. Make no promises (threats?) unless you intend to abide by and keep them.
                        "It's for the kids"


                        • #15
                          For the four in question, I have at least 2 phone numbers for each and have only had them answer maybe twice each (some, not even that.) I've been sent to voice mail quite a few times (one reason I resulted to email, so I had proof I did send a correspondence.) Paperwork was handed out at the beginning of the year detailing how monthly dues worked, what they went for and any other extra costs that may pop up (trips, etc. + yearly dues.) That was with our first den leader (she drew up that paperwork) - everyone agreed. Once she dropped out (barely 3 months in), they pretty much did the same. The dens in our pack are night and day depending on which ones you speak to, so it would be hard to get them all to agree on something like that but this upcoming year I will have lots more written down and recorded early on so this doesn't happen again (and I will not be leaving early on to have someone pick up the pieces if I can help it.)