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GS-CS_leader

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  1. GS-CS_leader

    In favor of adding a sewing merit badge

    I'm guessing that the "Stitchmagic" Gunny2862 is referring to is either a glue or a iron-applicable fusable webbing. Girl Scouts used to sell a glue that was a lot like clear silicone caulking (complete with toxic fumes), and then replaced by the iron-on mesh stuff. Neither of those products worked that well. But the "Badge Magic" (badgemagic.com) adhesive sheets do work quite well. It is BSA-approved and sold at most council shops and scoutstuff.org. They even have kits with the badge shapes pre-cut, although if you cut your own shapes out of the plain sheets you can cover more badges per sheet. Yes, I know I sound like a walking advertisement for the stuff, but I truly do not have any vested interest in the company. I do still prefer to sew on most patches. Since I have the Badge Magic around after pre-testing it before recommending it to my scout families, I like to use a small piece of Badge Magic to hold the patch in place while I sew, sort of like the way local1400 uses a loop of masking tape. Then you don't have to take the tape out. Otherwise, I use masking tape around the edges on top of the edges that I am not sewing and just remove sections tape as I sew. I also find it easier to use Badge Magic for the patches that are solidly embroidered (no plain fabric showing). Those patches are really thick and stiff so are hard to sew on by hand, and also tend to have very irregular borders so are hard to sew on by machine with transparent thread. Like local1400, I've also had the experience of sewing on a badge that I had used Badge Magic to attach and having the needle get all sticky. Now when I use BM and I know that I'm planning to sew it on once I have more time, I trim the BM a little small so that it doesn't go out to the very edge. That way the border where I'm going to sew is still clear of the sticky adhesive.
  2. GS-CS_leader

    Moral dilema

    >>>I have told my son that if he becomes an Eagle he will need 22 merit badges as the one merit badge he earned from old SM didn't cover all of the requirements. He seems OK with this. I expect more from my son than I do from other kids and I don't expect them to do the same thing. Given that the official record says that your son earned the MB, that you are not proposing to revoke the MB, and that you are the only one holding your son up to a higher standard, couldn't your son just properly do the requirements for the badge that he didn't do before? If the requirements are not something that you yourself can verify, then you'd need to *very tactfully* ask the MB counselor to verify those requirements. (In particular, you would need to avoid sounding like you were accusing the MB counselor of not having done a proper job before, assuming that it is the same MB counselor who signed off originally. ) Then your son will have completed the requirements as he should and the only slight irregularity is that he received the badge too early. I am a Webelos den leader, and this is basically how I handled a similar situation. One difference was that the "badge" (pin) was awarded early because of my own mistake, not something done by someone else. I had thought that a scout had done a requirement for a Webelos activity badge on a family camping trip, but I found out after the pin was awarded that I did not correctly remember what his mother told me, and that the scout had not completed the requirement. I did not want to take back the pin, particularly since this scout is mildly autistic and would be more likely to be upset by that than most 10 year old boys. Also, I knew that he could do the requirement and have the badge properly earned by the next pack meeting, so I'd just be giving it back to him at the next opportunity to do so. Since it wasn't a difficult requirement, I just asked the mother to make sure her son did it as soon as was convenient. This mother is completely trustworthy, so I knew that she would make sure it was done. While I understand your wanting to hold your son to a tougher standard than you do the rest of the scouts in the troop, I think you need to ask yourself if that is really fair. In fact, the GS leader materials specifically warn leaders to be aware of this tendency and to try to avoid it. It's similar to the difficulties of being a school teacher with your own child in the class (unavoidable if it is a special class not being taught by another teacher). I think that being a scout leader's child tends to mean that they already have to do a lot that other scouts don't. For instance, they usually have to get to meetings earlier and stay late. They may end up manning a product sale booth for more than one time slot, while the other scouts do only one slot. They are more likely to be forced to go to a scout meeting or event when there is another event that is at the same time. I try acknowledge to my own children that I am aware of the extra stuff they have to do or put up with and that I am proud of them for understanding that sometimes *someone* has to do something extra and that it is better to be the kind of person who volunteers to do that than to be the kind of person who always lets someone else do it instead. I'm not saying that there aren't also advantages to being a scout leader's kid, but I think that leader's should think twice about requiring anything of their own child that they wouldn't not require of other kids.
  3. GS-CS_leader

    In favor of adding a sewing merit badge

    Yes, you could integrate sewing requiremtns into the current "Textile" MB. For requirements, see: http://meritbadge.org/wiki/index.php?title=Textile I agree that some components of sewing could (should?) be added to the Textile MB. After all, a piece of canvas or other fabric is not very useful before it is cut and sewn into something else. And I also feel more specific "home ec" skills should be required in the "Family Life" MB. Some boys probably do these things as part of the "home duties" or "chores", but I think that specifically household chores should be mentioned separately. I do like my son to help with weeding the lawn and raking leaves and other "manly" chores, but not everyone has a yard, while everyone's home has routine indoor maintenance duties that need doing (very few families have all these tasks done by hired help).
  4. GS-CS_leader

    In favor of adding a sewing merit badge

    I like scoutldr's suggestion to make sewing on a badge a rank requirement. That way any time after that rank, there would be no good excuse for badges stapled on, although these days with Badge Magic perhaps that doesn't happen as much. I sew on my own badges (just earned a Leader's knot ) and the badges of my Cub Scout son (I'll teach him when he crosses over to BS), but even after teaching my GS, I have to admit that when I found out about Badge Magic, I told my GS families about it and collected a group order (along with my CS den families) to buy it directly from the manufacturer for a somewhat better price than at the BS council shop. That's because even after teaching my GS to sew and having them all make sewing kits (even with green thread to use for sewing badges onto their vests), some of them still neglected to attach their badges. Sigh...
  5. GS-CS_leader

    In favor of adding a sewing merit badge

    Maybe "Tailoring" would sound less "feminine". That reminds me of the son of one of my mother's friends who was an amazingly accomplished tailor before he was even in high school, sewing many items of clothes for himself. Since he was a small, skinny kid, it allowed him to have the clothes he wanted in a size that fit. I expect that he also altered store-bought clothes, but it was hearing about the suits that he sewed himself that impressed me. However, this boy hid the fact that he sewed his own clothes because he was afraid that other boys would make fun of him if they knew that he sewed. Somehow I don't think he would have believed that calling it "tailoring" instead of "sewing" would make the other boys think better of it. (I have to wonder if he has taught the skill to his own sons.) Then there was a male college student who was in a class where I was the T.A. as a grad student. I complimented him on a really nice-looking backpack which seemed unusually sturdy with a nifty double layer closure on top. I was floored when he told me that he made the backpack himself from his own design. He said he got tired of backpacks that fell apart after a few months of hard use, so he designed his own backpack with specially reinforced sections and double layers at points of wear. I do think that "tailoring" is a bit limiting in what that term covers. From an online dictionary: "Tailor: To practice making men's clothes; to follow the business of a tailor." So strictly speaking, I think that repairing outdoor gear would not be tailoring. I think the term would also not cover learning to applique and making a nice new patrol flag, for example, which seems like a nice application of sewing to BS. But if the term "tailoring" would be more acceptable, then I'd be all for it. On the other hand, "Basketry" and "Pottery" don't sound particularly masculine either. I also agree about the need for youth to learn what used to be called "home economics". Our local middle school calls it "family consumer science". As mentioned in the thread this one was spun off from, "laundry" skills are really practical. That was one of the sections taught in the FCS mentioned above. Household cleaning is another one that I'd add to the list. I taught my husband how to clean a toilet and bathtub and he in turn taught the skill to a roommate (when he did a foreign post-doc and I stayed in the US). Turns out that the roommate had always just let apartments he lived in become increasingly filthy and considered it normal to lose the cleaning deposit when he left. It makes no sense to me that knowing how to fix a toilet (Home Repair MB) is considered good for boys to learn, but not how to clean one. (Contrary-wise, I don't understand why some women seem to think that only men can do basic home repairs.)
  6. GS-CS_leader

    Cook MB Vs First Class

    I've spun off a new thread about the idea of a sewing merit badge: http://www.scouter.com/forums/viewthread.asp?threadID=171435 In brief, I think that sewing can be seen as an outdoor skill and thus relevant to Boy Scouts.
  7. In discussing the required merit badges for Eagle, a poster suggested the idea of a sewing merit badge. I think that it's a great idea. Here are my comments: I agree that there should be a sewing merit badge. Before I mention my Girl Scout troop, let me say that I'm also going to discuss why how a sewing merit badge is relevant specifically to the Boy Scouting program with its outdoor activities emphasis. I had my GS troop work on a sewing badge when they were bridging to the "Junior Girl Scout" level. They got new vests, so I taught them how to sew on badges (two techniques depending on whether or not the badge has a bound edge) and had them all sew on all the basic badges (e.g. council ID, troop crest and numbers...) themselves. It even saved the troop a small amount of money because the council shop was selling off the old non-iron-on council ID patches for half price. I was so tired of parents telling me that they couldn't put patches on their daughters vest because they didn't have a sewing machine. (And glue gunning them on only to have them fall off and get lost.) More recently, it pained me to hear a Cub Scout dad talk about how he went to his BOR for Eagle with badges STAPLED on. If I can teach 3rd and 4th graders to sew on badges (even a few who had somewhat poor hand-eye-coordination or lacked patience and immediately declared "I can't do this!"), then surely any Boy Scout with two functional hands can be taught the skill as well. Sewing is relevant to Boy Scouting because it is actually an *outdoor* skill. I once repaired a stuff bag that had been torn open by a bear using dental floss and a needle (and duct tape too, but the repair was better with both). [And for those of you who are wondering, yes, we did hang a proper "bear bag", but it we were camping in Yosemite where the bears knew lots of tricks for getting down bear bags. These days I hear you can't get a backcountry permit in those areas without showing that you have an approved model of bear barrel, but those did not exist back when this incident occurred.] Just recently, I sewed up a rip in the outer layer of my husband's rain jacket. The Goretex membrane below was still intact, so being able to sew saved an otherwise still very functional jacket. I always carry a needle and dental floss (stronger than most thread) on wilderness trips.
  8. GS-CS_leader

    troop recruiting

    Hi, Lisabob! You gave me some wise and understanding advice a year and a half ago when I was trying to find a new pack for my den. Now that the scouts of my den are second year Webelos, maybe I can offer you the perspective from the other side of troop recruiting. I am very much in the process of trying to arrange for my den to visit Boy Scouts for the Arrow of Light requirements as well as speaking extensively with SM and visiting three different troops to try to find the best one for my son. I think DonM has a good suggestion for attracting Webelos. I recently learned how much "fulfilling a requirement" motivated one of my den's families to attend events. I had encouraged my den's families to attend a big Council Camporee just a few weeks ago which invited Webelos to come either just for the day on Saturday or to also camp for one night. I told the parents that this would be a good way to fulfill the AoL requirement of "visit a Boy Scout-oriented outdoor activity" for those scouts who had not attended our district's "Webelos Woods" (hosted by Boy Scout troops) last year. The Camporee was only an hour away, and I told the parents that although our affiliated troop has welcomed our Webelos to visit ANY meeting or activity (they are a very small troop and really hope to gain new members), most of their camping trips are much further away. So the Camporee was really one of the "easiest" ways to fulfill the requirement (and that they'd have to make their own arrangements with a BS troop if they didn't attend this event). In addition, I stressed how much I thought the boys would enjoy the advertised activities such as catapults and tower building. The day before the event, a mother called to ask me, "What is the minimum time that my son has to spend at the Camporee for it to 'count' for the Arrow of Light award?" Before then I hadn't realized just how much motivation "fulfilling a requirement" was for that family. Clearly, the son would not have attended the event just on the merits of the activities. In fact, the mom has told me that her son is not planning to cross over to Boy Scouts. My feeling is that the Camporee was the best chance to "sell" Boy Scouts to them. Her son doesn't really like outdoor or physically active activities in general, but if there was any chance to convince him (and his parents) to reconsider, it would have been the Camporee with all its exciting and fun activities. Anyway, I think you should also try to make your recruiting efforts attractive to the Webelos leaders. It can be tiring to plan and get ready for den meeting after den meeting. So I would set up a meeting for Webelos with Boy Scouts that would be a "freebie" for the den leader---the BS troop would provide all the planning, materials, and leadership for a meeting in which the Webelos would fulfill requirements for a badge and/or AoL. Ideally, it would be at the same time that the den meets anyway, so scheduling is not a problem. To avoid being "stood up" again, I'd first get some Webelos den(s) to commit to coming before you publicize the event really widely. I "feel your pain" about having such a poor turn out at a recruiting event. A couple of years ago, I attended three different Cub Scout recruiting nights for two different packs at two different elementary schools (in two different councils because we live near the border). Each of those had a turn out between zero and one! For the first night, we thought the zero turnout was due to a snow-storm. But the other nights were also duds. The second low turn-out was despite the fact that my son said that there was a very good presentation at the school given by a district staff person. He handed out mini-"Boys Life" magazines and got the boys so excited that many of them left the assembly saying that they wanted to go join Cub Scouts. The reason they didn't show was probably their parents. Many at our school have limited English or come from other cultures where they might not want their son to join or not understand that CS is really open to all boys. Others probably felt that their schedules were already too full from soccer, music lessons, Hebrew school, etc. For non-scouts, I agree with other posters who suggested you should offer something other than presentations to lure them in. Best would be something that the boys you want to attract would go out of their way to do and might even come for even if they aren't (or don't think they are) interested in scouting---like the rappelling tower idea. Also, as I saw mentioned in a thread about Cub Scout recruiting, food is a good lure. Make dutch oven doughnuts or hand-cranked ice-cream, for example, and be sure to advertise that you'll have food. I believe that our district's "Webelos Woods" hosted by BS troops and offering either camping with a parent or day participation with den or parent is reasonably successful. I think quite a few BS troops participated, so I'm assuming that they find it valuable for recruiting. When my ADL's son and husband camped with our affiliated troop at Webelos Woods, they liked the troop enough that the family has decided that the son will cross over to that troop this spring. Families can also see more than one troop in action which is good. This program does have a small fee of $10 per person. I think it would also be possible to invite scout-aged non-scouts to visit with a parent as well.
  9. GS-CS_leader

    Exactly who am I obligated to please?

    Excuse me, Torveaux, but you seem to have been so anxious to lecture about bedtimes that you didn't bother to read the original posting carefully. The meeting was only moved to *7pm* so it is almost certainly finished well before 9pm (I'm guessing by 8pm which is why I suggested that the girl could just be picked up a little early). And the members seem to prefer the slightly later time too since they are now getting to the meeting on time. Anne doesn't say that anyone else is complaining or not coming. So why do you say "nobody comes"? I agree that 10pm does sound like a late bedtime, but it's irrelevant because the meeting is not lasting until any time near that late. If some girls stay up another couple hours after the meeting, that's the choice of their families. The main issue is that one mother seems to be demanding that the meeting time be moved to suit her daughter even though it would not only be hard on the leader, but would evidently be more early than the rest of the members are comfortable with as well. I also think you are being insensitive to the fact that as a single working mother, it is very difficult for her to have earlier meetings. I applaud Anne for being willing to be a GS leader given how hard it is to find extra time if you are a single working parent. I don't think she needs to give herself extra stress to satisfy one demanding mother. You can't always please everyone and scout leaders should not be expected to put everyone else's preferences above their own. Alternating times is likely to lead to girls being late for the early meetings and showing up early for the later ones since families will not necessarily check their calendar every week, or may get confused. Besides we are back to whether it is reasonable for *everyone else* in the troop to have to do something confusing and inconvenient because of one girl. As for weekends, my own troop has met on Sunday evenings for several years now. But it is still a *night* meeting because weekend days are taken up by religious services, religious school, and sports games. So weekends might not help with the lateness issue.
  10. GS-CS_leader

    Planning for Combined Den Meetings

    I didn't subscribe to Scouting when I was in our old pack, but the new pack just buys a subscription for every member out of the annual fees it collects. I was just going through the Sept 2007 Scouting magazine before tossing it into the recycling bin and I found some great information for new leaders. Turns out that you can get the "program helps" in other ways besides as an insert in the Scouting magazine. The current, next, and past months are available in pdf online at www.scouting.org/cubscouts/resources That webpage also has a lot of links that would be very helpful for you, especially those listed under "Program Planning": The Pack's First Three Months, Cub Scout Den Leader Kit, Welcome, New Den Leader, Program Ideas for Your First Month of Den Meetings, Cub Scout Program Helps, Cub Scout Program Themes, Cub Scout Outdoor Program Guidelines. The "Leader Training" files might be useful as well. You can also get the full year of program helps in a book sold at the scout shop or www.scoutstuff.org. The key with "word of mouth" recruiting is to get the right parents into the pack and putting out the word for you. There are always some parents who seem to know more of the other parents and are more involved in the school than others. They are often PTA officers, and they are likely to be parents with one or more older children so they know how things work at the school. These people can make more contacts and are more influential in getting other parents to consider your troop. Speaking of PTA people, in our old pack, the parents who organized the PTA-sponsored pizza and entertainment nights organized the pack's Blue and Gold Banquet. It was easy for them to organize that kind of thing because they had experience. The only criticism I had was that they hired professional entertainment, whereas I think it would have been better to have focused more on the scouts and to have had them do some skits or other things. The other good "word or mouth"-type recruiting is when boys in the pack tell their friends about it and bring them to pack meetings. Boys can earn a "recruiter" strip to put on his uniform if he helps to recruit a new scout to the pack.
  11. GS-CS_leader

    Planning for Combined Den Meetings

    DenZero, Now I understand why you would rather have a small pack. Nearly 20 boys in a den does not make for an ideal program in my opinion. I truly sympathize with your situation, having been in similar situations myself. Like your pack, my current small pack has a nearby very large pack. However in our case, the big pack at a neighboring school has not been nice in the way they have aggressively tried to recruit from my pack's main school. They got some scouts from my pack's school a few years ago when my pack had problems and have let our CM know that they think it is inevitable that our pack will fail and have to join theirs. They seem to aspire to become huge like a couple of enormous packs in another part of town. However, this year a boy did transfer from the big pack to ours, so perhaps the tide is turning. One thing you should know is that you probably do not absolutely need 5 DLs to recharter. In our old pack, we initially had a Tiger den and a Wolf den, and then two den-less Webelos who just came to pack meetings and worked on Webelos projects at home, I think. The mother of one of those Webelos was our first CM. The following year, the Webelos dropped out, but we got two denless Tiger scouts---one younger brother of a Bear scout and one new boy. These boys just came to the monthly pack meetings. In our new pack, last year there was a large Wolf den (the DL was also the CM and had pretty much single handedly saved the pack from dying), my small Webelos I den (just joined after our old pack died), a small Webelos "den" of only the den leader's son (several others dropped out from the previous year) and a Webelos scout who transferred from another pack. There were three interested Tiger scouts, but no parent would step forward, so our do-everything CM/Wolf DL actually served as DL for the Tigers too. I don't know if one of the Tiger parents was put down on paper as the "Tiger DL". In the case of the main den, the ADL who was officially listed as DL so that the CM did not officially fill two positions. Note that the "do-everything" person led two different dens on different nights---not combined den meetings. I once tried to do something similar in leading both Brownies and Junior Girl Scouts with some meetings that were separate. The fact that I am now both a GS leader and a CS leader doesn't bother me as much because at least I have a child in each group. It was when I was giving up time with my own kids for a few girls who weren't even my daughters and who unfortunately weren't mature enough to do much on their own or appreciate the sacrifice I was making for them, that I finally realized that I wouldn't want to be a leader at all if I kept that up. Anyway, I think that you should consider having den-less scouts rather than combining CS levels. Otherwise, all the scouts in the combined den have a less than optimal experience, while the parents of scouts that would be den-less have less motivation to step up. You'll have to talk to your district people to find out if you have to put down some adult's name as "DL" or if you can simply have den-less scouts in your pack. Although I advised against it in my previous post, in your pack's case, if you can't get anyone to be DL, you could try the "cooperative" method of having parents rotate responsibility for den meetings. Although I don't know much about the Tiger program because my son joined as a Wolf, I believe that this is the way the Tiger program is supposed to work anyway. So you should explain this to the Tiger parent(s) and coax one of them into being the "on paper" DL. For the other levels, it is not an ideal way to run a den, but you can always hope that once parents try leading one or more meetings, that they might realize that they are capable of doing it and will more willing become the actual den leader. You need to reassure potential leaders that it's not as hard as they might think. One thing to be said for the BSA is that their Cub Scout leader materials are excellent---GSUSA leader materials are not nearly as detailed. Also, the "program helps" section that comes in the Scouting magazine sent to all CS leaders has very detailed instructions for running the CS meetings. Get the Cub Scout Leader Books and one of those "program help" Scouting magazine sections to show to the parents so that they can see that they just have to follow the directions; they don't have to create a program by themselves. There are also some great online resources. Check out this link for Wolf scouts, for example: http://www.boyscouttrail.com/cub-scouts/wolf-scout-schedule.asp This website is amazing. I think it is actually better than the official BSA Webelos Leader Guide. Also, perhaps you can coax some of the parents to go to your district's leader training sessions. Tell them that it will help them to understand the program and will not obligate them to be "The Den Leader". Another idea is that if your affiliated troop is truly interested in helping your pack to survive so that it can recruit from your pack's Webelos, then you should ask if the troop can provide one or more Boy Scouts to be Den Chiefs for the dens in your pack. As for recruiting from the kindergarten class, I would start moving behind the scenes NOW. In particular, find out if you or if any parent in your pack knows the parents of any of the kindergartners. Then start talking to those parents personally now. Plan some fun activities for your pack and invite those parents and to bring their sons and join in as "visitors". Word-of-mouth is the best way to recruit. One key kindergarten parent can more easily recruit a whole den's worth of boys than any "recruitment night". For recruitment events, I'd also advise having some kind of fun activity for the boys rather than just a dry information session. Special activities that are really appealing are best. Free food is a always good incentive. Our rival big pack has an annual recruitment cookout hotdog dinner. Even busy parents figure that at least it saves them from having to make dinner that night, so it doesn't seem like they are having to take extra time in their schedules for a meeting. Our pack has had outdoor movie nights (movie projected onto a sheet tacked to a garage) with hotdogs and popcorn. If your rival "big" pack usually has a recruitment at a particular time, consider trying to schedule your event BEFORE theirs and avoid scheduling it at the same time. The reason to be early in recruiting is that you want to have potential scouts learn about your pack before they commit to the other pack. And if you have an active summer program (a good way to recruit and to keep up momentum for your small pack), then the new Tigers can start to participate the summer before first grade. Also new leaders can get trained at the end of the previous school year so that they are all ready to go when the school year starts up. I hope some of these ideas are helpful. Best of luck.
  12. GS-CS_leader

    Planning for Combined Den Meetings

    Denzero, is your pack a relatively new one just trying to get off the ground or an old one that has fallen on hard times? And if the pack has no den leaders, then what adult leadership does it have? I notice that your profile says you are a CC. Does the pack at least have a really good CM? However, regardless of what other adult leadership the pack has, you really can't have Cub Scouts without DLs. You can get by without ADLs, and you can even get by with a DL who is also CM (my son's current pack is like this), but what you have won't really be CS without DLs. And I think that without DLs your pack will not survive. Sorry to be so pessimistic and blunt, but I say this having come from a small pack that did fail. It started up after a 10 year hiatus of CS at the school, never got above 2 dens and about 20 scouts, and collapsed within 2 years. After the initial start-up recruiting, additional recruiting failed to bring in even new scouts let alone other adults to help, and then the 2nd CM and a few of other families moved and one DL decided not to continue. And our old pack was in better shape than yours in starting out with DL for each of the two dens as well as a CM and CC. Bear with me while I tell you about my experience because I think it relates to your situation. When it became clear that our first pack would fail, I went hunting for another pack for my son as well as any of the others who wanted to change with us. I found another small nearby pack to join, with the complication that it was in a different council (I live a 1/4 mile from the council border). The whole small den of 4 boys (2 moved away) changed packs and I changed from ADL to DL (the DL was burned out and happily became ADL). I also tried hard to get the other den to move to the other pack with us, but the DL really just didn't want to continue at all and seemed relieved that the pack's demise gave him an easy out. The end of the story is that we've been happy in our new pack (although we'll be leaving in a few months as the boys earn their AoL and the boys who are interested cross over to BS). Our den is particularly valued by our new pack, since we filled in the gap the pack had in age groups, and I've tried to help out by planning and leading some activities at pack meetings (kind of being part-time unofficial ACM as I did for our previous pack). However, I have admit that our new pack is also struggling in part from the inability to recruit new leaders to lead new dens of younger scouts. So based on my experience, I would suggest that you think about whether it might not make more sense to try to find a more established pack to join rather than continue to struggle with what is clearly not enough adult leadership, as well as what sounds like too few boys for a complete den at any level other than Wolves. Frankly, the scouts in a badly understaffed pack will miss out on what a strong CS program can offer. And although my den moved to another small struggling pack, I would recommend finding a good-sized, solid, well-established pack to join. I would not advise you to combine dens to be dual-level. I have the experience of being the leader of a GS troop with girl from two grades in school. However, the girls in the lower grade are all "older" (winter birthdays), and except for the first couple of years when it was spread over 6 grades, the troop has been single level (ie. Brownie, Junior, Cadette). For Cub Scouts, while combining levels might sort of work right now, it really will not work at all when any boys are Webelos since that program is very different from the lower levels. Webelos will have a hard time earning their Arrow of Light if the program is not really followed due to trying to accommodate Bears in the den. I agree with the other poster that if it takes a lot of "arm-twisting" to get a DL, it's not likely to work out. It can fall apart once the unwilling DL realizes how much time and effort that "one hour a week" takes. I speak from experience as a GS leader of over 8 years and a Service Unit "new leader orientation specialist" and even a SU manager for a year. I've seen GS troops that try to run as cooperatives (families take turns running meetings) when no one is willing to be The Leader. It doesn't work because a completely headless group can't run itself. And the person who doesn't step back fast enough and ends up being "it" is often not very happy about the situation, and doesn't necessarily rise to the occasion and become an ideal leader just because they got stuck with it or pushed into it. Good luck. Just try to keep the goal of providing good experiences for The Boys. You may find that there are district-level and council-level people who will push you to make a go of it on your own because they tend to want a larger number of units rather than fewer, larger units. They get more credit for a larger number of units. And they may make it sound like it is easy to recruit if you just do it "right", implying you've done something wrong or just not tried hard enough if you can't build up your pack yourself. But if you've tried hard, and you can't build up your pack, do look into joining another pack before giving up on CS altogether.
  13. GS-CS_leader

    Exactly who am I obligated to please?

    You are absolutely right, Jayne. I came close to burning out myself in the first few years until I realized that I couldn't be everyone's mother. I do feel sorry for children whose parent(s) are so unwilling to go to any effort for them. These parents are often so self-centered that they resent even spending a few minutes to take their children to scout meetings, so they certainly do not take their children to museums or sports events or do crafts with them---which is why their children tend to benefit the most from scouts. This same self-centered attitude causes them to expect that schedules will be changed to suit them (never mind the rest of the troop let alone the leader). They will not be grateful if the leader personally delivers permission slips and newsletters to their home, or has to make repeated calls to get them to turn in their cookie money (several days late), etc---they will simply come to expect that special treatment because it will not occur to them that the leader is probably just as busy as they are (if not more---since leaders often volunteer for lots of other things too). It's definitely a case of "If you give an inch, they'll take a mile". Note that the same mom who made the campout late now wants the meetings to be early. Anne, favor your own schedule when setting things up, and if it is also what works for the majority of the other families, be sure to emphasize that and not your own schedule when you talk to a complaining parent. It sounds like many of other families also prefer a 7pm start time because of afternoon activities, work schedules, and dinnertime, which is why you have fewer families arriving late. I'd say something like: "I'm so sorry that 7pm is late for your daughter, but the rest of the families even had trouble getting to meetings on time when we started at 6:45pm. 7pm works much better for me and for most of the rest of the families, so it can't be moved up. If the time is too much of a problem, I'd be happy to check with our registrar to see if there is another troop in the area that meets at a time that is better for you." You could also suggest to the mother that she can pick up her daughter 10 min early, with the caveat that it may be hard on the girl if she keeps having to leave before things are finished. Having that mom coordinate awards for the troop can't possibly be worth all the extra stress to you and all the other families if every single meeting is really too early for comfort. As for your campout starting late, I would not have made the campout late to suit one family. I would have explained that the time could not be moved later due to the difficulties of having the whole troop set up in the dark, but that she was welcome to bring her daughter later herself. I have often had parents drop off or pick up their daughters later/earlier from overnights because the girls were performers in music or ice skating or theater shows, but the parents are then responsible for the transportation. One thing that helps is that I give my parents lots of advance and repeated warnings about the dates and times of major events, so if there is a conflict then they obviously chose to schedule the other thing even though they knew about the GS event. For your next campout, set a reasonable start time, and if someone asks to move it later, you can simply point to your past difficulties in setting up in the dark as a reason that the start time will not be changed.
  14. GS-CS_leader

    Exactly who am I obligated to please?

    Jayne, in my 9th year as a Girl Scout leader, I sure appreciated the chuckle your GS leader phone answering system gave me! Anne, I've had my share of difficult parents over the years. Sad thing is that it's usually the girls with the difficult parents that you feel would miss out the most if they left GS, so you tend to bend over backwards for them. But if you bend too far, you'll break, and give up being a leader at all, and then all the other girls will miss out too. I agree with the person who suggested that you respond to unreasonable complaints by telling the parent how sorry you are that they are not happy with your troop and suggest other troops that they might look into joining. (Although if they take you up on that, you'd better warn the troop leader of any troop that they transfer to!) A "threat" to quit the troop if you don't cave to a demand only works if you allow yourself to feel like you're a failure if you lose a member. Honestly, your life would probably be a lot easier if those kind of parents took their daughters out of your troop, so stand firm and be relieved if they leave. I often felt guilty for secretly wishing that I didn't have to deal with some of the difficult parents, so I almost tried extra hard to be nice so I couldn't be seen as pushing them out, but I always ended up finding it was SO much easier when they did leave. Luckily, the difficult families seldom stick around for more than a year or two. They end up getting tired of the *burden* of simply having to get their kids to the meetings and events. One of the best things about my current Assistant Leader is that she keeps reminding me that our time is worth something too. I agree with other posters is that one of the prerogatives of being a leader is being able to schedule things to suit your own schedule.
  15. GS-CS_leader

    Webelos and Camporees

    Our district usually has an annual "Webelos Woods" in which troops camp from Fri-Sun and Webelos are invited for Saturday (with den and/or parent) and optionally Saturday night (with a parent). I was not able to attend that event last year, but my ADL's son did with his dad, and that experience pretty much sold them on our pack's affiliated troop whom they camped with. I attended our council's 100th anniversary Camporee with my son two weeks ago. Most Webelos visited only during the day on Saturday, but my son and I stayed overnight. It was certainly interesting for me to wander around the tent city looking at the various different kinds of troops. The huge troops with lots of gear; the ones with unruly, disorderly scouts who thoughtlessly tramped through other troops' camps; camps with a lot of adults in their own little social groups; troops with patrols cooking their own meals and troops with what seemed to be a troop menu and an organized chow-line. At the Camporee, my son could not do the water-activities since he had not earned his swimming merit badge, and he would have been a spectator, not a participant for any of the competitions. However, there were definitely some activities more aimed at Webelos (by council-design, I'm sure), and there were a number of activities that would be appropriate for either Webelos or BS. My son probably has more advanced camping experience than many of the newer scouts since he has spent many summers at a nature day camp (which does some camping overnighters) and he has camped with his family, including a couple of 5-day wilderness canoe trips in the Boundary Waters. In the case of second year Webelos like my son, he will be joining a BS troop in only a few months, so it seems silly to maintain that there is a firm dividing line between Webelos and BS-appropriate activities. Yes, there are some BS activities that my son is not ready for yet, but there are an awful lot that he is able to do. In fact, at this point, the Webelos in my den are getting a bit old for some of the pack activities which after all have to be manageable even for the new Tiger CS. I personally feel that it is extremely important when looking into potential BS troops to be able stay for an extended time and preferably overnight with them on a camping trip. If you just see a troop for a few "visiting hours" I think you're less likely to see what the troop is really like. You especially need plenty of time in order to judge whether a troop is *really* boy-led. More time and also time at night or morning when scouts may be tired allows for more opportunities for little things not to go quite as planned. And which things those are and how the situation is handled says a lot about the troop. I'm certainly glad our council allowed Webelos to attend the Camporee. I think it was a great way to show off scouting at its best to Webelos and their parents and will really encourage more of those Webelos to cross over to BS.
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