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  • Struggling CM needs reassurance


    I am looking for some advice from fellow scout leaders. I assumed the CM duties from my predecessor who quit in Nov 2012. I took on a pack that has no committee and a very apathetic group of parents. To provide even the basic experience for the Lions, Tigers, and Wolves, my wife and I had to step up and assume the roles of den leader for all three dens.

    I recently changed our pack meeting structure to two meetings per month where we convene as a pack, conduct pack awards, etc., then break out into dens for an hour, then reconvene as a pack and do a closing.

    This was in an effort to accommodate parents who felt the pack meeting was a "waste of time" and to improve on the roughly 30% attendance rate at pack meetings.

    Sadly, these new meetings have failed miserably (4 of 19 scouts has been my best attendance).

    As CM I have run recruitment nights, popcorn sales/blitzes, and now pinewood derby ALONE. I still have no support from a pack committee.

    As recently as last week my Bear den leader informed me that she'll not be bringing her den to pack meetings since one boy can't make it on Mondays.

    My wife and I have come to the conclusion that it is time for us both to resign from the pack and transfer our sons into a functional pack nearby.

    After 16 months of frustration, would you choose the same option?

    Thanks for letting me vent my frustrations.


  • #2
    No support? No Pack. Boy Scouts Troops can be run by a moderate cadre of dedicated adults. Cubs requires more adult participation, and the level of involvement you and your wife have taken is ridiculous. Your generosity is being taken advantage of. I'd transfer my son. The other parents had plenty of time to step up to the plate.


    • #3
      Hmmm. No den leaders. No committee. No parent interest. A fraction of the meetings you should be having and the boys don't even show up for those. Sounds like you don't have a Pack. How did they even recharter? I would request a meeting of the COR, Unit Commissioner and District Executive and be prepared to tender your resignation. The DE will try to talk you out of it, but be firm. It is the CORs job to recruit and approve leaders and to allow you to function in the position you are registered in (CM). Your first obligation is to your own son and his scouting experience. You can't do it all yourself. Thanks for trying.


      • #4
        Evan. First off hang iin there. Second, the meeting structure is very similiar to the way our pack does it. We meet every other week for a Pack/Den meeting. Not a traditional pack meeting but it works. We meet as a pack and go announcements, opening ceremonry then any advancements or awards (10-15 minutes Max) then we break out into the dens for the remainder of the hour. So the den meeting is 45-50 minutes long. As for parents. The hardest thing is to recruit parents. Make it simple, if you want you son in Scouting, a parent has to attend, period. You need to get your DE and district on board to help. But if you ave a weak district and a weak DE that may be a dead end. Take the kids you have with parents showing up and start doing really cool and fun stuff. They will enjoy it and so will you and your son. The kids who are mssing out because their parents are not helping are going to want to get in on the fun and may get their parents on board. Good Luck


        • #5
          Evan: Congratulations to you for DOING YOUR BEST and helping to MAKE THE PACK GO! No easy feat! Speaking as a former Cubmaster of four years, Good Job! It's hard work to get your vision out there and turn a Pack around. As also to your wife!

          You have worked the system and tried to work a schedule to fit peoples needs to no avail on the Parents/Boys who didn't show up. Also, putting on a Pinewood Derby alone, alone for me would automatically get you an award from me!

          Here are my suggestions.
          1) Call a meeting of the Registered Adults in the Pack and find out what they want to do with the Pack.
          2)Schedule in-person training for all positions and make that happen. These people certianly do not know anything about the program.
          3)Find, fill & train for each needed position.
          4)Have an annual program meeting after all has been done above.
          5)If none of these are going to be fulfilled, tell the Registered Adults that you and family are moving to a new Pack. Sometimes a sinking ship needs to sink so people understand that it is. You will burn yourself out and Scouting will not be fun for your son and you all will quit. And that's the loss right there.


          • #6
            Evan: You may well be podiatrially pummeling a nonresuscitainable equine.

            Sit down with the wife, without the boy(s). Make a list of the adults/parents, all of them. Honestly check off the ones that have given ANY , and I mean ANY help or support in the last year. Then cross off the rest. Call up the checked ones, and ask for a meeting at your local Starbucks. Include the COR and, if possible, the IH. Take over the back area. Buy the lattes.
            Put it to them that THIS is now the Pack committee. Tell them that one of them (THEM!, Not you) must take on the role of Committte Chair. If no one does, then tell them the next Pack meeting will be your last. Point out that the success of the Pack depends on THEM. Point out that their Cub is only 9 years old once, and that if they do not have a connection to their son by the time he is 12, they won't have one when he is 18. If they see Scouting as a worthy activity for their son, it MUST be a worthy activity for them also. Pass out some training calenders for your Council. Point out that they are not alone, that there is lots (I hope) training available, that the quality of their son's Scout career is not wholely your responsibility , but you are there to help. Tell them that as of the next meeting, this is no longer a "soccer" Pack (drop off your boy, come back in two hours).

            Good Luck. Believe it or not, if the Pack does not survive, the boys will remember you. Your boy(s) will go on in Scouting and some of the other Cubs will continue, and you will see them years on, when they appear at Camporees and make Eagle. Boy Scouts can move on with or without the parents support. Cubs cannot move on without it.


            • #7
              As a fellow CM, I commend you for all your hard work. Thank you so much for working as hard as you are. As CM, it can often feel like everyone is looking at you to make this all work.

              First thing I'd decide is if you want to keep trying. I wouldn't question you at all if you said - I'm done. It seems to me that many packs recruit a CM and stop there. They forget that he/she is just one of many players.

              If you want to make it work, there are some fantastic suggestions above. In additional, a few specific thoughts:
              1. In my experience, the most important thing now is get more help. One thing to ask yourself is how are you trying to recruit folks to help? Are you making announcements to the pack? (i.e., parents, I need someone to volunteer to be Committee Chair) Or, are you directly asking people? If you are not directly asking people, then try that approach - it is generally more successful.

              2. Decide what you will do and won't do. Stop trying to do it all. For example, don't organize the PWD or popcorn yourself. As CM, I'd focus on pack meetings, pack campouts, recruiting leaders, and join scouting. Make those pack meetings and campouts fun. Tell parents that if they want a PWD or popcorn sales, someone needs to organize it.

              3. If boys think the pack meetings are boring - listen to that. Don't overlook the value of fast paced, simple pack meetings. Boys love to be up, moving around, and playing games. The best recevied pack meetings we have are the ones full of activity. They are not usually the ones where we're giving lots of awards or having special ceremonies.

              4. Identify your top needs for volunteers. Clearly identify the responsibilities of each role. Recruit teams to fulfill those roles. i.e., recruit a PWD team. recruit a summer activity team. don't recruit a den leader, but a den leader and an assistant. With an untrained set of parents, most of them are unsure of what to do or how much work it is. I'm sure they all realize the hours you put in and assume that they might have to as well. If you get a PWD team, then they know they will not be alone.

              5. Do you have a leader's meeting? If not, organize a monthly one.

              6. Tell parents your first leader's meeting is mandatory. At the meeting, take your volunteer list and explain it. Tell them you need everyone to do something. Then ask one by one what job each will do. From there, get creative - perhaps you broadcast the signup list to all the families. Maybe you call folks who didn't attend and ask which job they will do. Basically, don't ask if they will help. Tell them that you expect that they will help and then ask how.

              7. You mention at least one other leader - the Bear den leader. Are there others? If you have not yet, spend some time with them. Perhaps go out for coffee or a frosty adult beverage (or whatever works for you all). Enlist their help. For example - I'm curious how you ended up in the situation where you reorganized the pack & den meetings, but now that den can't come. Was that den leader part of the decision process? Did he/she buy in to the change? If he/she did, but circumstances changed, then no big deal - go back to the old system. Sit down together, and work out a group strategy.

              With 19 families you've got a nice, family sized pack. Everyone can know each other and work together. Though it can be difficult to get enough folks to help, it can also be a real strength.


              • #8
                My title is Committee Chair... I came on as Tiger Den Leader when our Pack Leadership collapsed. The Bear Den Leader became Bear Den Leader/Cubmaster, I became Tiger Den Leader/Assistant Cubmaster. I then added the Committee Chair role because we needed it to recharter, I also had one wolf (and two joined), so I did Wolf Achievements/Tiger Electives in the Spring, major PITA. It took a year to turn the program around. A functional Pack Committee remains the biggest challenge, that's my goal for 2014, get the Pack Committee meeting monthly.

                My suggestion, stop letting everyone run amuck. We meet weekly (we scheduled some off weeks around campouts, HUGE mistake, parents get confused as to when to show up despite a printed calendar and a digital one).

                We also scheduled every week for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Gives us an hour to meet even with a 15 minute gathering/rolling start.

                Den Meetings: the Cubmaster and I call the meeting to order, line up the Dens in Parallel Ranks, count off members, flag ceremony, and any brief announcements. Then the Dens move into different rooms to do their activity for the week.

                Pack Meetings, monthly: Cubmaster and I call the meeting to order, do announcements, then break into Dens to plan a skit/song. We then reconvene, do our skits/songs, present awards. One month we did a service project as the Pack Meeting, etc. We're playing with the format.

                Pack Activities, when there is a spare week: Cubmaster and I call meeting to order, we immediately move into activities.

                I think for next year, the plan will be one Pack Meeting/Activity, and the Pack Committee should convene at the same time. the Cubmaster and other Den Leaders will run the activity jointly. We plan to meet every week, and week's we'd skip, instead we'll do a belt loop project as a Pack.

                If the Dens meet at different times, the Pack meeting time is confusing. Best to have the same night/time every week, so parents just know to show up, and then the leaders can coordinate.

                Planning is KEY. We convened the Pack Committee 3 times over the summer, we did our budget, our calendar, and worked through issues, it let the year run more on auto-pilot.

                Leader Meetings: we do a leader conference call a few days before the Pack Meeting... this let's us edit the achievements on the shared Google Spreadsheet, so we can enter our order to the Scout Store. In person would be better, it's just hard.

                Pack Weekend Activities: we do this just about monthly, either a Day Activity (three Regattas, five Campouts, Scout Quest at Renaissance Faire). It's either a day event or a weekend campout. Now that we have our trailer, the week before the Campout will be a campout prep meeting.

                It is desperately necessary to have the Cubmaster and Committee Chair be distinct from the Den Leaders... we are failing on this. My doing dual shift means I setup my Den, they work on things while I talk to parents for a few minutes, it drives me wild. A Cubmaster is also a spare Den Leader, if a Den Leader can't make a meeting, the Cubmaster steps up.

                Tiger Go See Its are the hardest part to coordinate. We tend to bring other Dens along that have Tiger Siblings.

                Achievement Tracking is the hardest, good ADLs are critical and in short supply.

                If the parents aren't interested and you can't recruit good parents, give up the Unit and find a good Unit for your boy. He only has one shot at being a Cub Scout, no need for adult drama to interfere.


                • #9
                  First time poster here, but you don't know how good it feels that I'm not alone. We have been with our current Pack since our son was a Tiger, even though he is now Life Scout. During that time we've been in several roles and at one time the Pack had about 40 boys in it. Anyhow, we were asked to come back a couple years ago to take over the Webelos Den. Then CM quit and I was asked to step in. Like the original poster my wife and I have run Webelos I & II, Tigers, & Wolves, as well as CM all at the same time. Not to mention Scouts, Roundtable & District. I know the feeling of no one to help. Last year's B&G, the parents who ran it dropped of two boxes of dried spaghetti and a jar of Ragu two hours before start time and said that was their planned meal, but they were too busy to set up. So I gave my 17 year old daughter the credit card and sent her to the store with orders to do a "dinner impossible" in two hours (which she pulled off by the way) while we set up the tables.

                  We have only one set of parents who are involved and are down to one Tiger, 5 Wolves, and some Webelos. Can't count on the Webelos, they seldom show up for pack meetings, and won't attend committee. Of the five adults who struggle to keep it going, only the one set of parents has a child in the Pack. My wife, myself, and the Committee Chair all have our sons moved on to Scouts.

                  The parents aren't interested and don't care. When two parents got mad and took their kids out of Cub Scouts because they had come pick their kids up TWO HOURS after the meeting was over and we wouldn't just watch them the rest of the day while the parents went clubbing.

                  I know I should just let the den go. I just feel for these kids who so badly need positive adult role models and they aren't getting from their parents. Thanks for letting me vent. I don't know what to do anymore.


                  • #10
                    Welcome to the forums! I am sorry this welcome has to come under these circumstances. When I was CM I had been involved with the pack for years as a DL and I continued to lead a den even after I took the CM position. The pack was about to die and I agreed to take the CM position but only after we had a meeting with the parent remnants. I informed them in direct terms that this meeting was either to restart the pack or else to disband. Whether for good or bad, the parents were shocked into action and we did a successful restart. I would have been fine either way..Sometimes you need to 'stick a fork in it' and move on. Sounds like you're 'there'. I wish you the best of success whether rebuilding or looking for another unit.


                    • #11
                      I have a hunch that this problem is The one problem that the BSA should solve to make everything better; help struggling packs thrive. That would solve the Cub Scout membership problem and would in turn solve the Boy Scout membership problem.

                      My hat is off to those that are doing super human service to these units. It's been my experience that roughly 25% of any non-profit organization will volunteer and help out. So either you're unlucky in the parents you have or just maybe they don't see the it the way you do. You see how a pack should run but they don't. What if you found a pack that does work and for 6 months combined the two packs. At the end you talk to all the parents and ask them if they're interested and what do they think they can make the old pack look like the good one. Maybe if they see it done right you can get the 25% to help out.


                      • #12
                        We put our Committee meeting right after the Pack meeting and bring a movie for the cubs to watch.. We still don't have more people stepping up (yet).. But, we do have about 90% stay for the meeting so we have a way to try to pry them into helping.. At least they are seeing that the Pack does not run itself.. We do have a little better then your we have 2 committed Den Leaders and 2 ACM's a Treasurer and a Cub Master (I am the Unit Commissioner, who is taking on the CC position as our CC is proving to be a paper person).. Our most gung ho volunteer was a guy who last year just came to the committee meetings but stepped up to do nothing.. This year he stepped up to be wolf den leader, and was a little iffy about it, now he jumps in to help out all over the place.. So I have hopes of cracking the other parents after a year of attending the committee meetings..


                        • #13
                          Hi, back again. Discussed this tonight at my son's Troop meeting with other leaders. They're aware and just as frustrated as I am at trying to get parental involvement with the Cubs because it has impacts to the troop down the road. I'll tell you, after having been involved in this, I fully support the teachers who don't want to be evaluated based on the students. When the students and parents don't step up, you can't accomplish anything no matter how much you work at it.

                          This weekend is the combined PWD and B&G. We only have one new member to earn his Bobcat badge since September. None of the others have earned their badge of rank. We will see how this turns out.


                          • qwazse
                            qwazse commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Whatever you do, be encouraging to the boys who haven't earn their bobcat. Tell them they have until May (or whenever your deadline for the last meeting of the year is). That THEY can read their books. THEY can find the things that haven't been signed off. THEY can choose the requirements to work on. THEY can ask their parents to do more with the pack or maybe find a relative who can help. THEY do them with the help of parents big brothers/sisters, DLs. THEY can get it done.

                            Put it on the boys. After all, we're in this because they are our last hope!