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  • Frustrated with troop

    After many months I finally decided to ask for advice. My son's troop is going through a a really rough transition and I am really frustrated. People/leaders are dropping out right and left due to burnout and troop politics. The Scouts are lost and the patrols are suffering as boys leave and are not replaced. I feel bad for my son who used to love scouts(ever since tigers). Now it's a real chore to get him to go to any scout outing. He's not a sport loving boy but has loved the outdoors since Cub Scouts, he used to be real excited about camp outs, COH and summer camp and service opportunities. I am way to busy to be more involved with the troop. I am active in the PTA, sports(younger son)and am a committee member for the troop. Becoming a leader is not something I can do at this time. On the other hand I believe that my scouting son is on the right path for him and hate to see lose interest in it. I have looked into other troops but my son balks at changing troops. Do I just bail out like everyone else or wait it out and hope that things work out.

  • #2
    Hi - I am pretty new to these boards too.

    First, what age is your son? There is unfortunately an age at which scouting is no longer "cool". Is he in 5th grade or above?

    My son is in 2nd and its still fun for him. However my daughter is in 7th and just rejoined GS's as her old troop broke up. But she would rather have her eyes poked out with a stick than admit this to her friends and folks in school not in scouting. Luckily with girls, they have really cool shirts at this age, but she wont even wear those unless she is around only her troop.

    My personal feeling is that its the energy and involvement of the pack parents that make or break the group. Are the leaders good? Are they doing things the boys like? are the parents positive or negative? Are they open to suggestions/change?

    If your son likes the boys I would try to band together with his friends parents and make it work, and make sure to do things that meet requirements AND the boys like. I ended up with some good friends when we as a Den banded together to do whatever it took to make it work.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the feedback. My son is in middle school and it's been brought to my attention "that at this age teens do tend to feel weird about scouts". I have asked him if that's it and he said "No". He's sad that his favorite asst scout leaders are leaving and not saying "goodbye". I did ask my hubby to get more "involved in the troop for our son's sake" but he works crazy hours and it wouldn't be a good fit. I was a Girl Scout growing up and have done the Cub Scout Den Leader for both my boys, I just feel so bad that my son and other scouts are hurting and I can't fix what's wrong. I don't know what why the leaders are leaving but have my ideas, it's a shame that one bad apple can ruin the whole crop.

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      • #4
        we went through a unique situation with our GS troop. They were really active til 4th grade but half the scouts were a year older, as was the daughter of the leader. When the older girls went to middle school in 6th grade, the troop fizzled to only doing about one activity every other month. Then last year when my daughter started 6th, we just stopped getting emails. Another mom said she was putting her daughter in a new troop, but it seems in middle school, the troops were by age only.

        We just started a new troop and its a great fit for my daughter. Kids all REALLY want to be there. But my daughter missed a whole year AND missed the bridging ceremony. Many kids in CA bridge over the golden gate and she missed that entire experience.

        Maybe you can check out some other Boy Scout groups and see if you can combine the ones interested in it - it will make for a more fun time. Also I recently learned about Venturing which sounds really fun - as they said "and we include girls".

        Good luck!

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        • #5
          Hiya boysmom3,

          Welcome to the forums, eh? Sorry it took a bit of a mess with your troop to get yeh to your first posts, but I'm glad to have yeh.

          IMO, there's nuthin' worse for Scouting than "adult wars" in a unit. It's why I always encourage folks to think carefully about goin' down that road. Few things hurt boys and programs in the way that does.

          It's really hard for any of us out here in the ether to offer advice, since we know less about your unit than you do. Here are some thoughts to consider.

          1) How old is your son? If he's been a couple of years in a troop, then perhaps a few of those former leaders who left might be interested in goin' somewhere and startin' a Venturing Crew. Even more exciting outdoors, maintain connections that your son has made.

          2) Even if #1 isn't possible, I'd encourage yeh to talk to one of the leaders your son really liked who has left. Share your concern. Scout leaders are by and large good people, and will be helpful if they can be helpful. They might have ideas we here do not.

          3) Talk to the parents of your son's friends in da troop. Get their perspective. Find out what they're thinkin' and what they intend to do.

          4) There are three places locally where you can also voice your concern.
          a) Yeh can approach the Troop Committee or the Committee Chair. Yeh might not get help, but you can convey your concern and perhaps learn a bit more about the issues.
          b) Yeh can approach the BSA Council, and ask for the contact number for the District Commissioner for your district. Commissioners, both district ones and unit ones, sometimes can help a unit strugglin' with "adult wars" by bein' outside friends for perspective.
          c) Yeh can contact the Chartered Organization Representative or Institutional Head of the Church, school, PTO or club which owns the troop, and share your concern. If the organization is "active" in the troop, they are the ones who can really make changes. If they aren't "active", they are still da ones who can really make change, but they may need some guidance from da troop committee or a commissioner.

          5) I reckon this last bit is most important. Keep showin' support and encouragement for your son. Kids of his age like and need "connections" to people and programs, eh? Fact is, though, sometimes people move on for a variety of reasons... and even if they didn't, he will as he grows. It might not be as good as when Mr. Beavah was there, but Scoutin' and the great outdoors can still be fun, and with Mr. Beavah gone, his troop needs your son. Fill him up with hope and a sense of responsibility, and maybe he'll find rekindled, but different, fun in his troop.

          Yours in service,

          Beavah

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          • #6
            Boysmom,
            Have you even considered dropping PTA to do the scout mom again? It is an option if you feel that passionate about your son & scouts. I do feel your frustration. We're going through similar feelings in our pack. (see already burnt out in cub scout forum) Yes it is sad that 1 or 2 people can ruin it all for everyone. But this is the end result of being a complacent.

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            • #7
              If you are frustrated enough to leave then what's the harm in doing an exit interview with the person you feel is the problem, or the Scoutmaster or CC or even the COR?

              It might give people who can influence the problem a chance to intervene or to realize that what isn't going on is NOT the occasional cycling of parents/youth which also occurs from time to time and may be what some of the Leaders may think is happening?

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              • #8
                boysmom3 ... all that I can say is that the assistant scoutmaster(s) who left there left for one reason. Find out what that reason is and correct it as a united committee. Yes, you can participate and influence through the committee. The assistant scoutmaster(s) who left are out there dying to get back and work with the boys. He (they) doesn't want to because the issue that caused them to lose the fun in working with the boys is still there in the troop. For reasons only they would know, they chose the path less taken to remove the adult conflicts from the troop! All it takes is for the troop determines the worth of the person(s) who left and find a solution so that they can come back. They are either waiting for the wind to change or they resigned themselves to sit out until asked. Have you talked to the leaders who dropped out? Has the troop done anything to change? At work, if I lose a great staff, I'd do everything in my power and influence to keep him/her. The troop should too. I should know this very well. I am of those assistant scoutmasters who are sitting on the sideline. Just recently, several of the parents told me that the current scoutmaster and committee chair will be approaching me to see if I would take over. The parents were exicted. The boys were excited. Heck, my sons and I were excited, but that was 2 months ago! Something just doesn't change! I am at peace on the sideline, working with the scouts outside of the troop wehn I can.

                All that I am saying is that if the leaders who left are worth keeping than the ones remained, then make the necessary change for the sake of the Troop and your son. As Beavah suggested, talk to your COR or the non-offending adult members of your troop or any of the BSA groups. Influence or act as the catalyst for change!

                Good luck,

                1Hour

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                • #9
                  boysmom...,

                  Ditto what Beavah and OneHour said...

                  I was an ASM who felt compelled to leave the Troop I was serving in. In my case, I left because of lack of support from my SM other ASM's and my Committee. Everything, became my responsibility and I simply did not have time to continue because of my job requirements. I made sure to have a discusion with each boy and his parent(s) before actually leaving. I would never have left without some kind of explaination to them and asking parents for help in the hopes that I would not need to leave.

                  I tell you this, because I would hope that any leaders that have left would be sensitive to your son's feelings. Perhaps just knowing how much one Scout misses them and appreciated them would be enough motivation for them to give it another try. So do mention it to any adults who have left that your son liked. At the very least invite them to talk to your son about it.

                  You mention "one bad apple"; who is that bad apple? Would the Troop be better off with this bad apple gone and those who left back?

                  ASM59

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                  • #10
                    Oh man, this sounds all too familiar. My son moved up from cubs to boys almost 2 years ago. He was so excited to be able to hear all the things he was going to be able to do that he heard so often in cub scouts "When you're a boy scout you'll get to........"

                    We joined our local troop and found a mess... older boys being disrespectful, campouts being cancelled, SM only involved if it benefitted his son.

                    A few of the adults tried everything to make changes, but SM wasn't accepting of any of it. My son told me he wanted to quit scouts, and I asked him if he wanted to quit scouts or that troop. He said that troop, so we set out to find one that did the things that he liked and that enforced good conduct from all the scouts. I was his den leader in cubs and when he moved troops the other 2 that I had as cub scouts and 1 boy that was a year older moved over as well. The oldest boy in the troop actually wanted to switch too, but he was so close to eagle he thought it would be hard to switch so he decided to stay and suffer through until he got his eagle and then he was done with scouting.

                    pretty sad when it gets like that. But, now these 4 boys that switched troops are really loving scouts. They attend almost all troop meetings and only miss a campout if there's a conflict. Only reason for us having occassional conflict is from different school districts, but it works out. It is a bit more of a drive, but I'll tell ya what - it is sooooooo worth it!

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                    • #11
                      You know its sad that this continues to be a problem in scouting, adults who fight instead of delivering a quality program to the boys. One reason is that some adults when they become a SM or CM think that they are somehow infallible and want everything their way. This results from poor or no training and a real lack of unit commissioners who could normally nip this in the bud.

                      Now what should a parent do? IMHO present your complaints to the troop committee one time and tell them you want to see some action taken. If they do nothing you have no choice but to move your boy to a new unit, it is not your responsibility to try and reshape the troops leadership, that belongs to the committee. The needs of your boy is your only responsibility and while he may not want to switch once he is in a properly run troop with a great program his interest and enthusiasm will be back in full force. Shop around and let your boy find a good fit for him.

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                      • #12
                        One thing I am continually surprised to read here is how often it is suggested that when things arent going well to go find or start another troop. Stating up front I have a real problem with quitting anything, I do recognize at times it is the best solution; have seen it myself. And maybe by the time it gets to someone posting on a forum that is the best option. I still cringe a little each time I read it. Please make sure all options are exhausted before going that route. I sadly see it all too often from others. How can we lead by example to our sons to do their best and follow through (a Scout is loyal) when we are so willing to chuck and run without really trying to do our best 'loyally' ourselves?

                        Boysmom you all had a good troop, you had a good thing going on before you all decide to leave too, please do all you can to salvage the situation. Like printman and others have said, if its that important for you to have your son involved, maybe backing off something else may be necessary. I think it IS our responsibility to CONTRIBUTE to reshaping the troop leadership, because thats what involved and caring parents do.

                        Good luck in your dilemma.
                        Jack

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