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kramr1

New leader needs advice

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Hello to all. My son has been in cub scouts for a couple of years now. The entire time I was never satisified with the way things were being done by his den leader. Being a former scout myself i decided to become a leader and see if I can change things. I am now co-den leader with the den leader that I was not satisified with. Among the many things I disagree with is the fact that she gives credit for achievements/electives that are NOT completed by the boys. She says she does not want to hold anyone back and gives them credit whether they have done it or not. I say they either earn the awards/rank or they don't get it. Giving them something they did not earn is not going to teach them anything other than giving a half assed effort will get you by. She awarded the bowling belt loop to my son at a past pack meeting. After the meeting I let her know that my son has NOT completed the requirements for this her response was "oh well, i guess he gets a free one". That boiled my blood. I did talk with my son and let him know that I will hang on to it for him and when he does complete the requirements he can have it to wear. How do I handle this? She is already doing the same things again this year. I had a conservation with the cubmaster but he didn't do anything about it. Being a new leader I don't really know what to do next. Anyone have any advice for me???

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I read into this that it isn't just an occasional oversight, but a conscous decision to pass out awards for showing up. Have you tried having a discussion with her about how praise and rewards for achievements not being met may boost self esteem in the short term, but long term is detrimental? Perhaps she doesn't see past the short term.

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Offer to take over all of the administrative duties of the den (including advancment records and reports).

 

If that doesn't work, try and have a thoughtful, uninterrupted discussion with her about the issue.

 

If she doesn't want to talk about it and shows no intent to change her ways, maybe arrange to have the CM present her with an award that she has obviously not earned...then let her explain to all those that question it how this could be (or live with the guilt of getting an award she did not deserve). :) It might help her better understand the position she is putting the boys in.

 

 

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Welcome to the campfire.

 

You didn't indicate the age, although I'll assume your son is a Bear or Webelos. How you respond depends a little on age. We're taught that we have to treat kids different at their different levels (Ages and Stages video in NLE training). That holds true for advancement. Tigers usually get credit for "showing up". After all, it's pretty much about getting together, making friends and having fun. In Cubs (Wolves & Bears), you're asking the boy to "Do Your Best". It's a little more than showing up, but you aren't really testing for proficiency either. By the time they get to Webelos, they should be working on a more individual basis. The den leader should be testing and verifying that the boy is doing the work and - to some degree - understands it. This progression helps them prepare for Boy Scouts, where they truly must advance on their own merits.

 

With that said, I would base my actions on the age you are dealing with. I'd use Cub Scout training materials to explain to her where they are headed. She might not understand Webelos and Boy Scouts at all. If she did, she might look at it differently and see this as a preparatory step for them.

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I am not a fan of 'co-leaders'. Why are you not the den leader? Is she reluctant to give it up, are you reluctant to take it all on?

 

I think my take would be to talk to her about how excited you are about the chance to run the den for a while, and that this is her big chance to follow her dream of (committee work, sitting back, fill-in-the-blank). I WOULD NOT make ANY noises about trying new things or changing stuff, just about trying to fulfill your life-long dream of den leadership.

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Does your pack have an advancement chair on the committee? This is usually the person who handles the record keeping for achievements and buys all the awards for the pack. If you've already had conversations with the den leader and nothing is changing, this is a good place for the advancements chair to step in. If your pack doesn't have someone in this position, maybe this is a place for you to offer help.

 

I served as our pack's adv. chair so I saw this happen occasionally. My stance was to explain, very politely, what the requirements for an award were, and what the boy in question still needed to do in order to meet them - to both the boy and his parent/leader. (I also bent over backward to provide opportunities for the boys finish requirements when necessary - as did many den leaders) Especially with parents of older boys (bears, webelos), I also pointed out that the boys would really struggle in Boy Scouts if they had everything handed to them, earned or not, in Cub Scouts.

 

And anyway, the BOYS understood just fine about needing to actually do the work. It was the ADULTS who couldn't understand that self-esteem comes from actual accomplishment and not from hand-outs and freebies. Besides, most of the "requirements" are fun.

 

That advancement chair position can be an integral part of pack leadership because so much of cub scouts includes recognition and awards. Just be careful though, to walk a fine line between maintaining standards and becoming the "award police" if you get involved in a position like this.

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

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"Just be careful though, to walk a fine line between maintaining standards and becoming the "award police" if you get involved in a position like this. "

 

Or what I should've said: "be careful to walk a fine line between delivering the program as defined by BSA..." I certainly didn't want to suggest anyone's own "high standards" should be substituted for the actual requirements.

 

Lisa'bob

A good old bobwhite too!

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The Cub Scout motto is "do your best." That has been my benchmark in determining if a boy has completed an requirement/achievement/rank. As the boys in the den I lead have gotten older, I've raised the chinning bar each year for what I considered their best.

 

I'm also the advancement chair in my pack and while we haven't had any similar problems, it's the responsibility of the DL to report accurate progress to me. I purchase the awards once a month just before the pack meeting and generate a chart showing advancement progress for each den and give it to the CM because it's the CM's responsibility to ensure that the dens are putting on quality programs and advancement progress is really the only quantitative way of measuring that at the cub level.

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Greg was one of ten Webelos Scouts in the Den and lagged behind on most projects both years. Sometimes, I would help him and sometimes the Assistant would help and sometimes other Scouts or parents would help. It was the same with some of the games and other things that don't seem so important now. Greg completed every requirement because we all agreed to do it together. Greg passed everything but he could not remember the ideals of Scouting because it involved memory work and Greg's ability to remember was his weakest area.

 

It was time for a home visit. I spoke with his Mom, so she and Greg's older brother agreed to help. It took him most of the last two months before we had our ceremony for the AOL. Greg completed it and went on to be a Boy Scout. He was probably the happiest young person that I have ever had in any unit at any time. He taught me that even a person with a severe disability could not only do his best but could complete all of the requirements. In route, Greg brought nine other Scouts and two leaders closer together in ways that we did not expect. His gift was one of happiness that I still think about even today.

 

Yes, all of the Scouts in your den should do their best and complete every project. I am sure that Greg would say the same thing.

 

Cub Scout advancement always emphasizes doing, not getting. The experience the boy has as he works on the requirements is more important than the badge itself. Boys are awarded badges to recognize their accomplishments and families should not overemphasize the awards. Signing Boys Handbooks. Cub Scout Leader Book

 

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Kramr1,

Sounds similar to my current issue with my son's pack. You've run into what is known a "Good Ol' Boy System." In my opinion, this system is a killer in any organization. It is basically made up of people who think way too highly of themselves, stubbornness, and politics. You are what is referred to as the "FNG" or "Flippin New Guy." You don't really matter in this system because you are new and obviously don't know anything about anything. (I hope you picked up on the Sarcasm.)

 

At my son's first den meeting his den leader was late, she was not in uniform, and she had nothing planned except to make some bug-head pencils with glue and googlie eyes.. At his first pack meeting he received his Bobcat (my fiancee and I worked with him extensively for 2 weeks.) The "Advancement Ceremony" was a farce. Since then (October) he has had 1 other den meeting and 1 outing. I volunteered to be the Asst Cubmaster, because they said they really needed one. Since I volunteered, I have taken all the online courses, attended PowWow, and am signed up for Leader Specific Training this weekend and First Aid the following weekend. Every idea I bring up to my Cubmaster or to my Commitee Chairwoman gets rejected. I am being both praised for my enthusiasm, and then stonewalled/stalled/micro-managed on everything. Most recently, I was reprimanded by my Committee Chairwoman for trying to do something that I was asked to do by her and by the Cubmaster. My son's den leader had to take a couple months off and there was some confusion over who was filling in. I volunteered to do it, they (CC and CM) approved, and I began planning a short notice den meeting and outing. After planning it all, and including the Den Leader in the e-mails, and getting the OK's and thank you's from the parents, the Den Leader came in and said that she was back and that she was doing the den meeting at her house. I backed off because it is her den, and I communicated to the parents that I was on-board with the Den Leader. I did let my CM know that I was a little frustrated by the whole affair. My CC decided to reprimand me about my "Attitude Problem" and remind me that everyone here is a volunteer. Vent Vent Vent!

 

Ok, so now that I've vented, I feel a little better. I guess the bottom line is that Scouts belongs to the kids, not the adults. The pack doesn't "belong" to the CC or the CM or the DE, it belongs to the kids. We, as adult leaders, MUST put aside our own feelings and differences and power struggles, and focus on how to deliver this program to the kids in the best way possible. Not the easiest, or most convenient way, but the BEST way. The new people with the fresh sets of eyes can often make the greatest contributions. I've been doind my job as an engineer for 7 years. Every now and the I hit a snag and someone comes over and finds the problem (that I've been working on for 2 days) is about 20 seconds. Fresh set of eyes. I stay up till midnight sometimes going over my leaders guide, and I volunteer for every bit of training I can. Why? To make myself a better leader so that I can deliver more to the kids. I spent way too much money on a full uniform. Why? To lead by example so these kids pull their pants up and wear a belt when they turn 18. I am constantly looking for feedback and input from other Scouters. Why? Because they know and see things that I don't, and they can make my kids' program better by sharing. If you really feel that your son's den leader is delivering a poor quality program, escalate it. If your CM and CC refuse to do anything, let them know that you plan to bring it higher. No one likes to shine a light on the bad stuff in their pack, but occasionally it needs to be done.

 

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Instead of being an Asst CM, which they obviously DON'T need, why don't you volunteer to be Asst Den Leader for your Wolf den? That is a position that obviously NEEDS filling!

 

Your CC was out of line - you are a volunteer too & don't deserve to have your time (which you could have spent working with your son on his Wolf requirements!) wasted.

 

BTW - Your council provides First Aid training? Is CPR included & how much do they charge?

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Yes, it is CPR as well. I believe cost is $20 per head.

 

An update to the situation with my CC, we had our committee mtg last night and I had a 3-way meeting with the CM, CC, and myself. Both apologized to me for the outburst and for the lack of support, and I acknowledged that I am too motivated and need to turn it down a notch or 2. I am now Assistant Cubmaster, Assistant Den Leader for my son's den, Pack Growth Coordinator, Outing Planner, and possibly the Pack Trainer. In the end, it all comes down to putting personal feelings and politics aside, and having some honest communication.

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