I was looking for a way to get involved in my local community, and it dawned on me that helping out with the Scouts would be perfect. I was a Cub Scout/Webelos/2nd class Scout when I was younger (didn't stick with Boy Scouts for a variety of reasons), and now I have a greater love for the outdoors, camping, and working with kids.
Anyway, scouting seems to be pretty active in my area. Practically every church has signs advertising that "Troop XYZ meets here," although there isn't a troop at the church I attend. I emailed the local district executive and said "Hey, I don't have a scouting aged child or any direct contacts with local troops and their leaders, but I'd love to get involved, where would I be put to good use?" I was told that a local church wanted to start up a new troop, so that'd be a perfect fit since they would need some adult volunteers.
There are 5 of us adult volunteers (The other 3 attend the church, and the 4th is the pastor, so they all know each other and I'm sort of the outsider) that met to get started with this new troop. I volunteered to be an assistant scoutmaster, since I didn't feel I have the time or experience to take on scoutmaster right out of the gate, and that worked out perfectly since another volunteer had already been a scoutmaster several years ago when his boys were in scouts. The district guy actually steered us toward starting a Webelos pack, as he said recruiting unaffiliated kids may be easier with younger kids, rather than trying to start a Boy Scout Troop from scratch. I guess the idea is that the pack will morph into the church's troop once the boys all cross over.
The district has conducted "scout nights" at all the local schools, and made it sound like there was interest. We finally held our first meeting/meet-and-greet/info night at the church...and 1 boy showed up. It's now almost November, so I'm realizing we may not get this thing off the ground at all.
Here's what I'm seeing and thinking about:
-The church itself doesn't have much (any?) youth at all, so we can't rely on the congregation to fill up our membership.
-There seems to be a lack of communication with the district executive. He ran the scout nights and supposedly talked with interested parents, but that obviously didn't carry over to the first meeting. Also, he is somewhat in contact with one of our volunteers, our chartered organization rep, and our cubmaster, so each of them gets SOME of the info. So we showed up to our first meeting and had to compare notes: "yeah he told me 3 families wanted to sign up" "oh ok, yeah he mentioned to me that there were 5" "He said there were at least 3 showing up tonight". And I'm not getting any of these phone calls or emails, so I'm totally out of the loop.
-Disorganized meetings...we've met as leaders twice and the others threw out all sorts of ideas about fun things we could do with the boys..."Oh I have a friend that could teach about astronomy," or "We could go camping up by the lake, that'd be perfect." But then the meeting wraps up and it doesn't appear we have any structure/calendar/plan going forward. Everyone just said "This will be so fun! See you next week!" Since I was not getting all the communication that some others were, I assumed there was more planning and preparation going on between the cubmaster and the CO rep, but apparently that's not the case.
-Confusion on the program - Everyone volunteered assuming we would start a Boy Scout Troop, but obviously that has now shifted to a Webelos pack. The problem is, no one has a good grasp of what that entails, other than "it's just a younger version of Boy Scouts." The cubmaster was going on and on to the 1 boy and his mother about what merit badges he could earn, and how great of an honor Eagle Scout is, and how Boy Scouts is wonderful because it's a boy-led program. I kept trying to chime in and say "and that's what he will transition to in a year or two, but for now, he will be in Webelos." He also talked about making sure the boy brings his weekly dues (we had already decided we were just having them pay up front, so I guess he forgot that) Someone else was telling the mom she should sign up to be our merit badge counselor in her field of work, and again I had to remind them "Hey remember, they don't earn merit badges in Webelos." Another volunteer was telling the mother that we probably won't wear uniforms, because "they're pricey and I never liked wearing them. We may just ask you to get a shirt..." this is something we never even discussed.
-It's clear that all the volunteers are excited about this, but no one has a full grasp of what to do or what this process should even look like. I had hoped the district exec would fill that gap and help us get things rolling, but it seems like his involvement peaked at the school scout nights and it's now in our hands.
-I totally understand the problem of overselling and underdelivering...and everyone was filling this boy's head with plans to "go camping in the snow, go whitewater rafting, build rockets, etc," and again these are all things that we had not planned or even talked about yet. I was hearing all this and thinking "We had better do every one of these things, or this kid and his mother will be disappointed."
I feel like I'm stuck because I would have to:
a) step up and just take charge, plan the meetings, make sure all the pieces are in place BEFORE we show up to start, etc. Make it clear what Webelos is (not boy scouts...yet), follow the more-scripted meeting plans that BSA has already created. This basically can't happen for me because I don't have the necessary hours in the week to make it happen, which is the main reason I can't be the cubmaster. Also, as the 1 non-member of this church, I'm just not comfortable telling them how they should run "their" pack. I have no problem offering constructive criticism and trying to step up to the plate when I'm able to, but I'm worried that this is already off to a rough start and there's only so much I can do. I definitely don't want to make the other adults feel bad or challenge their judgment or ideas in any way.
b) find another already-existing local troop to work with. The problem is, I believe we needed 5 adult volunteers to even charter the new group, so if I leave, that screws over the rest of them. For now, I plan to keep working with the current group the best I can, and if it doesn't pan out, I can always find another troop to volunteer with later on.
I realize this is mostly just venting, and I guess I don't have any specific questions. Overall it feels like this process is lacking in organization, substance, and communication big-time, but no one else seems to be concerned, which is kind of shocking to me. I suppose if you have any words of encouragement, throw them my way!