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A Rant on this Past Weekend

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  • A Rant on this Past Weekend

    For those who have read some of my posts on the challenges that Ive read and heard about in regards to the troop affiliated with my pack, if this past weekend is the norm, the problems are worse than I expected. I am placing this in Patrol Method because I think the bulk of the problem lies in the lack of it being used.

    Camporee was this weekend, the Webelos were invited, and it was a major Charlie Foxtrot from the get go. Yes I know the Patrol Method is messy. Yes I know kids will make mistakes and learn from them. but this is beyond that.

    1 day prior to camporee, I found out that 1 patrol hadnt even done their menus for the weekend. And forget about the duty roster, that same patrol didnt have one at all, and the other patrol had one but didnt follow it.

    SM told me that the troop will be meeting at the CO at a specific time, and leave at a specific time. Now he did tell me he would not be there as he was going straight to camp from work. I thought no problem, ASMs will be there. Well I show up, about half the troop is there, no adult leaders are there, and the parents are looking to me to tell them what to do. Ask what is normally done and am told, they usually just meet at the campground whenever. To make it more interesting, all information handed out to the leaders state the Scouts will be backpacking to 1 mile with their gear. Kids, or more specifically parents, didnt know that, so people are not prepared. Finally get to the camp and the other half of the troop is there already waiting for the group that went to the CO to show up and hike in.

    Finally get to the campsite, and instead of separating into patrols, its a hodgepodge with some 4 man tents only having 1 person in them and the patrols are all mixed up. The trailer is an unorganized mess that they then spend 2 hours fixing. During the cleaning they realize they do not have enough propane for their stoves for the weekend. Also the patrols are missing some supplies. SM goes out of camp to get propane and missing supplies for the patrols, only to miss the SPL and SMs Meeting. While talking with friends Friday nite, find out that the campsite we are in was not the one we were assigned, and in fact the SM just had the trailer dropped off in it and took it over.
    Saturday morning between campwide revile and flag raising, I had to leave several times to keep from acting like the stereotypical CS leader. Instead of getting the cooking and cleaning over and done with right away, the patrols lollygagged with scouts wanting to play with the campfire, not wanting to do their assigned chores, or for the patrol with no duty roster, arguing over who is doing what. Long story short, both patrols were about 10 minutes late for flag raising and opening announcements with some scouts still eating their eggs in a bag breakfast as they walked up.

    Because they missed announcements, and also Im betting the SPL didnt pay attention at the meeting the nite before, one patrol waited about 2 hours before going to another event. And to my knowledge they didnt complete one of the events. Then again, the patrol which the Webelos were suppose to shadow and when in camp help them do some of the camp chores so the Webelos could get a feel of what life in a Boy Scout patrol was like, forgot about us after lunch Not only did the Webelos help out, they literally forgot about us.

    And then there was lunch. Lunch. was an OA fundraiser: a NC pigpicking. Ok not everyone eats pork. My son and I dont, and we made plans for lunch. But one of the Scouts in the troop is Muslim and cannot eat it. Neither the patrol nor he made provisions for him, instead his grandmother stopped by and dropped off Chinese takeout. How the heck are Scouts suppose to learn if parents and guardians do everything? An believe it or not, the parents of the Boy Scouts did more interfering than the Webelos parents, at least until we Webelos parents had had enough, more on our interference in a minute. Boy Scout parents were pantomiming how to do things in one competition. The SM was telling one patrol that included his son what to do for another event. And one patrol had the PLs dad cooking their dinner while the rest of them played.

    It got so bad that one parent told me he would not allow his son to join the troop even if they were not moving out of town. And I dont know what happened after dinner as I had to leave and do some OA things for the campfire, but things like cleaning did not get done with one patrol.

    It was after the campfire that I and another Webelos parent decided that if the Boy Scouts wanted to act like a bunch of Cub Scouts, we would treat them like a bunch of Cub Scouts. We were doing KP for the adults and heard a loud boom from the trailer. Someone fouled it all up and no one wanted to admit who it was. As I mentioned it took 2 hours in the rain to fix it the nite before, and worse weather was a possibility so after several attempts to get the SPL to do his job as the SM was at the leaders' meeting, I and the other parent ended up taking over. We both had had enough. I got everyone in the troop save the SMs son who was a problem child all weekend fixing the the trailer. The other Webelos parent got everything ready for the two of us to wash but the cleaning pans. When the scouts got them out of trailer for us, they were disgusting, as if they havent been clean in ages. He had to get them to rinse out the pans, but instead of bring them back, they put them in the trailer soaking wet. The pans had so much water in them, they WDL probably poured out 8-10 ounces of water. Since that patrol still had stuff to clean, but hadnt gotten any water ready, He told them to go ahead and use our water when we were finished. When we were done I had to remind them they had stuff left from dinner to clean which resulted in arguments on who was to do what. I finally had to settle the matter.

    I admit I left early. Son saw a tree limb fall which sparked a panic among the 3 Webelos moms there. This lead to others, both Webelos and Boy Scout parents leaving early with their kids. Simple solution would have been to move folks to the shelter, which eventually they did after I packed up and ready to leave. I admit didn't think of it, part of the reason was the shelter was a mess and part was I don't know how much I could have taken. Part of me regrets leaving, but part of me was glad b/c I was so frustrated. I am not looking forward to camping with them again.

    I do see potential with some of the older scouts, but they too are getting frustrated. The soon to be Eagle told me point blank that once the paperwork come back from national and he has his ECOH, he is quitting the troop, joining the summer camp crew as his primary unit, and doing OA AIA. Another Scout told me that when he gets Eagle, he may be around some, depending on soccer and other extracurricular. But after this weekend, I saw the frustration in his face this weekend. And the one I saw with the most potential, is ready to quit now. He is tired of the entire situation.

    Sorry for the long vent, but needed to get it off the chest, and the wife has already stated after listening to part of this that she doesn't want to hear anymore and to join another troop when the time comes.

  • #2
    And I thought my troop was bad
    Honestly some of this stuff is just typical boy led stuff that needs a little work.

    Some thoughts:
    "SM goes out of camp to get propane and missing supplies for the patrols"
    This is why we carry extra instant oatmeal, so nobody starves. Eat it cold or borrow a stove from another patrol.

    "instead of separating into patrols, .... the patrols are all mixed up"
    Yea, I'm big on the patrols sticking together. The SPL and I would have a discussion over this and some tents would be moving.

    "Long story short, both patrols were about 10 minutes late for flag raising"
    Being late is rude. This is why I don't like organized outings like Camporees. On a troop outing if the patrols are running late everyone waits and it cuts into their activity or free time. Peer pressure is a great persuader.

    "It got so bad that one parent told me he would not allow his son to join the troop"
    Different troops for different boys. I just had one boy quit because we actually expect the boys to learn the skills and attend in order to advance. Oh well.

    " after the campfire that I and another Webelos parent decided that if the Boy Scouts wanted to act like a bunch of Cub Scouts, we would treat them like a bunch of Cub Scouts"
    Why is anyone treating the scouts like anything? The SM and ASMs are the ones that work with the scouts not the parents.

    "Another Scout told me that when he gets Eagle, he may be around some, depending on soccer and other extracurricular."
    This is typical of older boys who have lots of teenage activities such as dating and cars. I don't expect them to hang around until they're 18 even though many of mine do. It says something that he's still active now and not an Absentee Eagle.

    Anyway this is just my opinion, your's may vary. And your opinion is the one that counts when it comes to your boy joining this troop.








    (This message has been edited by Eagle732)

    Comment


    • #3
      Hmm..., I to took a small group (3) of 2nd year Webelos to visit a Troop at a Camporee. And some of your observations bring back memories.

      Although, the Troop had a group of Webelos from their CO's pack, mine were expected to be in the "Potential New Scout Patrol" with them (we brought our own tents too)....

      We had visited the Troop before the event, but took no part in the menu planning. My Webelos were prepared with their mess kits to eat whatever (no allergies), but I had some dry stuff so I knew they would not starve. I did not tell them that though I did their parents). They knew ahead of time, to try it.

      One of the few things I did tell the Webelos, I pointed out the SPL/ASPL (or senior most Scout that ACTUALLY went on the outing) and told them to ask him what they can do instead waiting to be told.

      The only thing as I did as CM (stepping in for my WDL) would be to intervene if the safety of my Webelos (or another Scout) came up.

      But, I had prepared for the Event with a copy of the event info/agenda, camp site location, time & place for event flag, etc...

      So, I'll address a couple of your main points.

      #1 - Menus not done - no big surprise, hunger is the best teacher (no one really starves over 2 days).

      I would have kept my Webelos in the Vehicle, not represented the Troop to any Troop parents. Your group is a guest. If you had hike-in info, share that sure, but not your responsibility to "help the Scouts prep" .

      I don't how many outings I have been on with the Troop now (8 years+) where Scouts/Parents signed up the day of or just showed up unprepared.

      Trailer a mess? Unbelievable! QM not doing his job? Again unbelievable! Supplies left or not purchased, unbelievable! Sarcasm aside, the only troubling issue was the SM leaving to get that stuff squared away. He should have stayed for the SPL/SM meeting and some one else made the run for stuff... or wait till lights out.

      #1 - the SM needs ASM's, that's a support role. Get trained now.

      Poorly organized Patrols don't get stuff done... chore schedule should have rotation so everybody works. Patrols get squared away before fun-time. Patrols run late - miss fun time, the Troop is NOT late.

      #2 - The SPL can always send a runner/Patrol to get announcements/represent the Troop if you are running late.

      #3 Don't worry about what other parents do for their Scouts.... The best idea is to show you son, and let him know you are not gonna do that to him because you want him to learn from success and failure on his adventure. Some Scouts will never get the chance to learn on their own... life is too short to fight that battle.

      There was alot of "taking over going on" and should not have ever come from a guest adult leader. That was a mistake unless safety was involved.

      You obviously took on a role you should not have to.

      The SM has the problem child, big surprise there.... I have seen a lot of SM's that if they weren't stepping up to be SM there would be no way that "problem child" would be able to be in Scouts. $5 says he was worst when dad was out getting propane?

      If you were the WDL or CM representing your group, and threatening weather (or unsafe camp site location was being used) you are good to leave early. But it should have been all your Webelos.

      Sharing this story with people is 2nd hand and does no good for anybody... but in all what did your son or thew other Webelos say about the weekend?

      Comment


      • #4
        '732,

        I think a lot of work is more like it. And to be honest I think it will more of getting an SM who will mentor more AND more importantly keeping the parents away and allowing the kids to grow up.

        A few cooments.

        1) No one had enough propane. For whatever reason, they are using the large propane tanks that you can use trees with and the xlarge one pot burners used for tailgaiting. Don't know why they don't use the campstoves that they have, but all cooking was done on large burners. And the supplies were disposable cutlery, plates, bowls, and paper towels.

        2) I know where you are coming from and normally would agree with ya. Esp. since modern tents are easy to move. But it was raining, and the threat of worse rain coming was a possibility. So I can cut a little slack for Friday. But would have moved them Saturday.

        3) Agree with you, let them suffer the loss of activity/free time under normal circumstances. Especially since they had 1:45 to cook eggs in a bag (one patrol) and oatmeal (second patrol). problem was everyone was goofing off and no one was cooking, getting water, etc. Trust me I tried my darnedest to not butt in but let the SPL do his job, hence me walking away during this. I have a feeling that the SM got involved as the adults had the same Eggs in a bag breakfast as the kids. I mean how long does it take to boil water and either A) drop in you bag of eggs or B) poor boiling water into you disposable bowl for oatmeal and disposable cup for hot cocoa?

        4) Yes different troop for different folks. But what was disappointing was not only have I talked up this troop in the past, our den chief came from this troop, he's the Eagle who will leave for a crew after his ECOH, and he talked it up too. And the troop has made a 180 degree turnaround within the past 10 months. Instead of camping, working on basic outdoor skills, etc. they have cancelled campign trips and meetings are focused on Eagle required MBs. Kinda interesting to have a patrol with everyone save the Guide as only a Scout, not even earning Tenderfoot within the past 10 months, but all have 4 eagle required MBs.

        5)I agree with you that the parents should not be interacting with the Scouts, but feel the SPL and older scouts should be dealing with the scouts and the SM and ASMs do the mentoring, coaching, and advising of the SPL. But with the SM dealing with his son, the SPL not doing anything, and seeing how the parents have intervened, it gets to the point where you get so frustrated, you get involved. And believe me, I tried to get the SPL to do something for some time before saying the heck with it.

        6) I agree with you 110% on this one, Having folks stay until 18 and beyond is a very good sign. heck having them stay irregardless of getting Eagle or not is a good sign. And this troop did have folks who stayed in after 18 and/or leaving for college. Not many as it is a relatively new troop, about 6 years old, but a few. Unfortunately they are not hanging around anymore.

        Comment


        • #5
          DG,

          My position this weekend was "DAD." I had to step down as the DL for this group to be a TCDL for middle son. Prior to being a DL, I've been in a bunch of positions: ASM, Explorer AA, Venturing AA, Sea Scout ??? (don't ask, all I know is I was on the charter) etc. So I know how things can get things. But trust me, this was the worst I've seen things.

          And I've been telling the parents that the Patrol Method can seem like "organized chaos," and explained how we can allow the kids to make mistakes and learn. But again this is the worse I've seen a troop; worse than when I camped with this troop many years ago after they just started and were getting organized. At least then they were all green, no really experienced scouts yet, and everyone was learning. And worse than my BROWNSEA 22 Patrol which spent one nite up to 1:30AM cleaning dishes and really didn't come together as a patrol until the last nite. So I am not exaggerating things. if anything I think I am under describing the problems.

          Funny thing is, I took one of the parents to visit another troop that may be closer to where his son is moving with mom and step-dad. We were there a little while talking about scouts, trips, views on advancement, and good restaurants and as we talked, their patrols were coming in. Dad said the leaders seemed nice, but what impressed him was seeing the patrols coming in and getting to work right away with dinner without anyone telling them to. That and the number of alumni who came out to help run various events after being out of the troop 2, 6, 8 years.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm sorry that your worst fears were realized.
            The PM is not that messy.
            No excuses.
            This is a dysfunctional troop, and until they decide to fix themselves, er's nothing you can do about it.

            Comment


            • #7
              This fish is rotten from the head down.

              I know some will disagree, but this is a failure of the adult leadership. The youth leadership is either not trained, lost discipline or just doesn't care.

              The most telling part of the weekend was the lack of adult supervision at the CO. That's unacceptable on any number of levels.

              It would take very competent youth leadership to overcome the multiple failures you describe. This is a cluster which has been months in the making.

              As a perspective parent with a lot of program knowledge, E, I'd want to have a very serious heart to heart with the SM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Some of this you can overlook as kid stuff and the results of being boy led. But some of it sounds like it more than that.
                You and your son have to decide whether it worth joining a troop like this. Mostly I guess it depends on what your son wants.

                I have to say that the troop I am SM of today was several years ago, very much like what you describe. My son liked the troop so he joined. During his first several meetings there were no adults in the meeting room, just scouts and it sounded like a riot going on in there. All the adults sat in another room talking, I mean no one ever went into the scout's room. I went in and sat and watched, it was crazy, kids running around, wrestling and screaming. There was nothing Scout like going on at all. On the way home that night my son turned to me and sad "dad, no adults are allowed in the scout room, you're not allowed to come in"
                Two SMs later they asked me to give it a shot, 5 years later I'm still trying to get them to lead themselves.
                (This message has been edited by Eagle732)

                Comment


                • #9
                  We used to have this happen. Now things run pretty smooth--the occasional hiccup--but not like that. Took about a year and a half to straighten out. Now the boys plan the food, check the equipment, load the trailer, set up and knock down with little help. Really we just stand around and watch. The boys do everything but drive the van and pay with the credit card.

                  The boys need training and the consequence of a few bad campouts to get their act together. We no longer get Propane for patrols that forget. Patrols have to turn in a meal plan and the SPL has to OK it. Patrol Leader is responsible for following up with the Grubmaster and Patrol Quartermaster. Bad performance leads to the sack. Etc, etc.

                  The Patrols may need some adult mentoring (mostly suggesting to the boy leadership some things to consider)

                  As to loosing some Webelos--it is a real bummer but another sign they need to get their act together.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The situation described seems to be an implementation of the Patrol Method without any prior training as to what it is all about.

                    Those troops that rely on the "Lord of the Flies" approach are setting the boys up for failure and a real headache getting to it.

                    If the SPL is functional, a lot of what was described would have been avoided.

                    If the PL's were functional, the tents would have been set up properly.

                    If the grubmaster was functional, meals would have been planned accordingly.

                    If the Quartermaster was functional, the trailer wouldn't have been a mess.

                    etc. etc. etc.

                    Too often we expect the boys to act like adults when they have not been been taught what that means. It's a lot easier to throw up one's hands and announce they will be treated like small children than teach them what it means to function at an adult level.

                    Until proper training is provided each subsequent outing will be just like this one and eventually everyone will quit. The adults need to start teaching, NOW so that tomorrow will be better. Notice that I said start teaching, NOT start doing for these boys.

                    If one has to rant about this outing, I would start with the SM and his ASM's and direct them to begin proper training of these boys so they have a chance at success on their terms. If one is to have a functional troop, they have to have functional leadership and the only way that happens is with proper training and in this case from the SM on up. Servant Leadership requires the PL's to provide leadership support for their patrol members. SPL is to support the PL's and the SM is to support the SPL. If none of these are functioning, problems are going to occur on a regular basis.

                    Does the SPL know what he's supposed to be doing? Does the QM know what he's supposed to be doing? Do the PL's know what they are supposed to be doing? etc. Without appropriate training in the Patrol Method, the answer to each of these questions is an emphatic NO.

                    Stosh

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, it just sounds like a program with no vision. Scouts don't have a clue what they are supposed to do, adults don't know either, so it's a bunch of cats running around trying to find something to keep their mind busy.

                      Sometimes a leader here will spout out let the scouts figure it out and I cringe. This is the perfect example of why you just can't send young scouts into the woods without skills or goals and expect them to come back a well oiled machine. That is not boy run. There has to be some expectations to guide a transformation of personal performance. Chaos is not fun, even for young scouts.

                      It doesn't sound like a bad bunch of kids really. Given a good leader of vision, I think these guys could run a great troop. You up for the task Eagle92? Time to see just how good you are. As frustrating as it seems at first, the rewards of building a good program are much more satisfying than just maintaining one.

                      Barry

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That's the problem, I don't have the time to commit as I am stuck in Cubs for at least 7 more years. And trust me, I was reminded of the fact that I was asked to be SM this weekend, and I think that is why I as concerned as I am.

                        I have tried my darnedest to help train the adults. When I found out they were getting a new SM, I rushed through the approval process to put on an IOLS since we hadn't had one in the district for about 2 years. I promoted heavily and personally invited their leaders since one ASM's son was in my den at the time. Only the SM showed up and the comment I was told was that "it's too cold to camp" was made by the other leaders..heck I had more leaders show up out of council than from my council, let alone my district.

                        When I saw on their FB postings that they were focusing on MBs, I asked about it, and was told essentially that MBs were what the Scouts wanted at meetings, and Scouting needs to change with the times as the SM was told at training. Hence the thread a few months ago on that. But in talkging to two scouts, it's group work on the MBs as the younger kids goof off.

                        When it appeared that the new parents were doing the meeting planning and they were not camping on a regular basis as they use to I started posting Green Bar Bill Quotes. I also talked to some of the older scouts the past two weeks to try and resolve the matter, but it looks like part of the matter is the adults..

                        More later.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well then the troop is probably in a bad place because it appears there is nobody at the wheel. You certainly can't hold the troop on track as the occasional visitor, especially at this difficult stage in the program.

                          There is certain finesse in using just enough adult guidance to nudge scout independence in a positive direction and that requires a full time mentor. The mentor doesnt even have to be all that experienced, but they do need to know where the troop is going to know when the program has stalled. Until then, its like a blind man herding cats. Eventually the adults will take full control because they don't see boy run working.

                          You seem to have a lot invested in this troop, but I think you are going to drive yourself miserable if you dont either take more responsibility or get completely away.

                          Barry

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Yeah, sounds frustrating.

                            I think that most troops can probably identify with one or the other of the items on the list. There are always growing pains and trying to make sure that all the bases are covered with adult and Scout leadership that is in flux can be a challenge.

                            But having this entire series of things happen would be exceptionally frustrating for me. I like more organization. This troop really has a vacuum of adult leadership / vision / organization / training. It sounds like the Scoutmaster is just barely able to show up and let things happen. He may be overwhelmed, maybe he didn't really want the position, maybe it was just a bad weekend. But you need the leader to provide more communication all the way around. And since the other adults take their cues from the SM, it's hard to fix the problem if it starts with the SM.

                            I'd recommend finding a troop more to your liking.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I understand your frustration. Keep looking for that troop that works best for your son and you.

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