Hello, I am the father of a Tiger Cub and our family is completely new to scouting. We have recently had some less than good experiences within our pack and I wanted to get some advice from objective people that know a lot more than I do about scouting.
Overall, I believe we are probably in what I have seen called a "declining pack". Membership seems extremely low (approx. 8 Tigers and 50-60 total cub scouts)for a city with a population of over 50,000. The pack seems completely unorganized - poor communication, events thrown together at the last minute, no pack website, etc. But, this in itself wouldn't tend to dissuade us from scouts.
The leadership within the den and pack seem to be very exclusive of others. Many (and all of the other families in the den)attend the same church and seem to discuss scouting while they are gathered there. This causes them to "forget" that they didn't tell the other parents what plans were, that meeting times changed, that we were supposed to bring X to the function, etc.
Some of this lack of communication culminated in a very disappointing day recently for my son. To give some background, our Pinewood Derby was last month. Leading up to the event, I did some research on the internet about derby cars, because I knew zero about it, and wanted my son to have the tools to be competitive. We asked for pack rules several times and were told "just the rules in the box". I confirmed this with the leadership until they actually seemed annoyed that I was asking.
The Derby came and it went very well (my son's car came in third in the pack). Some of the cars had a modifications that I had considered beyond what I personally thought fair, but since the only rules were the box rules, I said nothing and believed that overall it was just a more open competition and was fine with the outcome. A good derby day and a happy son.
This month was Raingutter Regatta. Again, I asked about the rules and saw the eyes roll as they said "the rules in the box!". Again we did some research and saw that many scouts cut the regatta boat in half and create a catamaran style of boat with it. Given the derby experience, we thought it safe to assume an open style of competition and that other cubs would have similar boats. My son loved the way it looked, so we built it.
Regatta day comes and when we arrive at the event with his boat, the parent leaders start complaining that they had discussed this type of boat the year before and that they were "illegal". Obviously, we had not been part of the pack the previous year and had no way of knowing. (Again, they assume since they discussed it, that everyone must know)They admitted that the boat conformed to all of the rules, but that the year prior they outlawed them.
They did not immediately disqualify the boat and decided to let him race, hoping that he would lose to an older child and no harm would be done. Much to their chagrin, his boat beat all the others. After many hushed conversations they send the den leader over to explain to us that my son will not get the trophy for the event, and that instead he will get a medal and a "Best in Show" certificate. The way my 6 year old tiger was bouncing around, it was obvious to me that he was not going miss the fact that the trophy went to a cub that he had beaten. And even after I tried to explain that he would not get a trophy he was not convinced.
The look on his face when the other boy received the trophy was agonizing. If someone had shown me a picture of my son's face like this before we joined scouts and said "one day he will have this look because of scouts" I never would have let him sign up. They made no mention during the awards about the incident. Despite trying to console him, he cried for over an hour and said that other boys had called him a cheater as well.
I am not sure if there will be long term affects from this incident, or if my son will just forget about it. I am generally one of those people that just let things go and shrug it off, but I am more concerned with how my son is going to view scouting after this.
I apologize for being long-winded and will wrap it up with a few questions:
Am I overreacting to even discuss this?
Did the leadership handle this as well as they could have?
How would other leaders here have handled the situation?
What, if anything, should we do about it now?
I appreciate your responses.