My posts are guilty of going off-track. In my post about hosting the camping and backpacking meetings for adults, though, we're not trying to force the parents to become outdoorsy. We're trying to give them the option to see what it entails, in a way that's specifically geared for someone without much experience. It's up to them if they choose to do it, and I did express doubts about how many parents would show up. For some people, you can talk and explain and show pictures all you want, but they'll never really 'get' it without experiencing it. For others, it will be enough for them to see the results of what the outdoor program has done for their scouts.
My boys started in scouting because my grandpa, dad and brothers were all scouts. To be honest, there were times in Cub Scouts that I wondered what the big deal was. Now that my older boy is in Boy Scouts, in a Troop that is not only very active and very service-oriented, but that camps every month and does a host of other outdoor activities, and after camping with them a couple times, I 'get' it. The first time I camped with them it wasn't because I really wanted to. It was because my boy is so very introverted that I was worried about how he was going to interact (or not) with a group of boys he didn't really know. I've camped with them a second time now, and plan on going whenever they're short of drivers or adults. There's nothing like seeing in person the way the Patrol Method functions when these boys are setting up camp, cooking, cleaning, planning hikes, etc.
I'm more than willing to trade two miserable nights' sleep and latrines for these boys to be able to do what they do, after seeing how important it is. Others aren't ever going to do this. I doubt they're going to avoid the unit over it, though it might be worth asking whether they feel like they're being unduly pressured.
Everybody knows that the official socks are the plushiest, most delightful socks in the world, and that it's the ONE part of the uniform that's worth every penny of the cost. And this from a Californian who prefers to wear sandals whenever humanly possible!
Our pack has simplified the PWD as much as humanly possible, and it has turned out GREAT for us. Here are some of the changes we made that have made things easier AND much more fun:
1. We don't have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd - instead, every boy received a participation medal, but then there are extra medals that encourage effort and success of all kinds. Our categories are Fastest Car, Slowest Car (what we call the "Marathon Winner"), Most Creative Car, Scout's Choice Award (the boys all vote on this one), and two other awards that change from year to year. This way, some cars are given prizes based on performance, others by specially chosen judges for effort put into them, and of course a car that the boys themselves get to choose as their favorite. Everybody gets a prize, but there is still the incentive to work hard for whichever award catches a boy's interest.
2. We have totally eliminated all electronics from our PWD. We simply bring in three "Celebrity Judges" (usually from our CO leadership, which is nice to get them involved), and their final choice for each round is considered ABSOLUTELY FINAL. We make this expressly clear beforehand. And after each race they have only 60 seconds to decide who won that round (I have a Den Chief with a timer sitting right by them). This way we don't waste time deliberating over the winner, and we move through each round very quickly.
3. Our track has 4 lanes, so for each round of 4 cars, we have them race 4 times. We know that sometimes the speed of the car depends on which lane it runs on, so by running each set of 4 cars 4 times, switching lanes each time, we get the best idea which car from that set is the fastest. We go through the whole Pack by simply starting them all off in brackets of 4, and then racing the fastest cars from each group in sets of 4 in a simple process of elimination that eventually brings us to the final 4, out of which the Fastest Car is declared. We ALSO take the slowest cars from each set, and race them in rounds to determine who is our slowest, "Marathon Winner" (the only stipulation for these is that it has to make it all the way to the finish line to count - many of our boys consider this category even more desirable than the Fastest Car!).
4. Before the races even begin, we have a short talk about sportsmanship - with the parents! I like to talk about all the worst parents I have seen at these events, exaggerating their antics and then, of course, letting them know that naturally I know THEY would NEVER act so childishly, and that SURELY our parents will be good sports and not contest the decisions made, since of course that would be RIDICULOUS and a TERRIBLE example to our judges (sure it's passive-aggressive, but they get the point).
Hopefully some of these ideas will help make your next PWD a better event for you. Until then take advantage of the lessons your Scout can learn from this kind of an experience, and don't let it get you down!