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Scout Step Parent with Issues

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I'm the stepdad of a 1st year Boy Scout. For the past three years, I've watched some, participate some with his scout meetings, pinewood derby, etc.


I also coach youth baseball one season a year (we have three here in Arizona), so I have a fair amount of experience with groups of kids and parents.


One thing I've definitely noticed in both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, is that step-parents are definitely not welcome at any of the functions. I go to them because I want to support my stepson, just as I support my own kids, but yeesh these people need to lighten up a bit.


If I treated my team parents they way I've been treated, I'd not be allowed to coach again.


At this point I don't see much benefit to Scouting, outside of social group. Lots of hokie antics and pseudo-life lessons. And lots of expensive uniforms/camps/activites all year round and not much benefit.


I hope I'm missing something, otherwise it'll be a long 6 more years of Scouting.


Confused in AZ.

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I'm sorry you have had that experience.


It is not true in all BSA units across the country. As a matter of fact, I feel safe stating that it would be true in only a very, very, few.


Cub Scouts is a family program. BSA specifically states it does not define what constitutes a family.


Boy Scouts is less family oriented as the boys learn to do for themselves. However, parents are still encouraged to be involved.


Maybe if you registered, and volunteered with your son's Troop, you might feel a bit more included.


If things are very bad, I would suggest that you and your son look for a Troop that is a better fit and more welcoming.


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I guess I have a lot of questions.


First, is the Dad in and around the boys' life as well? Do you two get along? Is he part of the Scouting life of your stepson?


Second, what is the relationship of your stepsons' mother to the Troop, to its Scouters, and to the other parents? Are there perceptions not seen?


My basic advice is to ask your Committee Chair for an adult leader app, get the right training (whether you help the Quartermaster or the Treasury or learn Advancement or are the committee secretary), and join us on the trail.


BTW, I'm the bio-Dad of my EagleSon. My then bride decided I was not to be part of her life about a decade ago. I'm not exactly in your shoes, but I've been on the trail. I've been active and involved in Scouting for a decade now. Great people are out there.

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If I may I'm open to any parents helping out step or otherwise. My only condition is that they are involved for the benefit of the boys.

Unfortunately I have seen stepparents made unwelcome by parents because of mom and dad being at each others throats. I don't know what your situation is I hope that isn't what is going on. as for the benifits of scouting a well run boy led scout troop is a scary thing to behold to the outside world. we as adults can do all of the things the boys are expected to do fasted and much more efficient.

True learning comes from experiencing setbacks. forgetting a pot to cook dinner, in striking out, dropping a pass ect.Thats life but when the boys are teaching younger scouts the ropes. helping them fix their mistakes and succeed ,there are real life lessons there.


Have you ever seen a young man part of a tight group of friends get a promotion and go from one of the boys to a supervisor or lead person? Its not always a pretty site. A boy who learned to be a patrol leader at 13 or 14 can usually do it after all he already has.

enough rambling

you should be welcome in the troop maybe you need to try another all troops have slightly different takes on things.

Kind of like wife's there is one that is "right " for everybody that doesn't make the others wrong!

good luck



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I'll see if I can answers everyone's questions.


Bio-Dad lives many states away and was never involved in Scouting with his son. So, it is not a issue of conflicts between the three parents.


Volunteering....well actually I have during the Cub Scout phase overseeing a couple of projects for patches or belt-loops (I don't know which), step-son has only been a Boy Scout for a few months.


Wife's Involvement - She is very involved already, was before in Cub Scouts as well. Not certain what her position is now.


Wish I could be more positive, but I don't see any positives. I think he would be far better off being more involved in school groups than what he'll get from Scouting.

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Welcome to the forum and thanks for bringing your concerns. I take it you were never a Scout as a boy. I was, so I am admittedly biased. I was a fat bookworm, much to my Dad's dismay. Never interested in sports or outdoor stuff. Dad spent a lot of time at sea, and I was a Momma's boy. I joined as a Cub Scout at age 9 and have been at it ever since. I'm now almost 55, my own boys are 31 and 27. But I'm still at it. Why? Because it's one of the few things I've done in my life that I think mattered. IN Scouting, I blossomed...gained lifelong friendships and confidence, and did things that I (or my Dad) ever thought I could. Swimming, Lifesaving, Hiking (three 50 milers), survival skills and leadership skills that i still use on the job today. It was a different time, but I was really "into" the uniform. WHen I came home from a COurt of Honor, I sat up late sewing that new badge on the pocket, then I hung it on the doorknob where it would be the first thing I saw in the morning. Hokey? Maybe. But that was me. I earned Eagle at age 16, and it wasn't easy for me. I still have a picture of my 16 yo girlfriend admiring my new Eagle medal. We've been married 34 years next week. She blessed me with 2 boys, who became Scouts. The time I spent with them in the woods was priceless. Neither one made Eagle...they both had other interests as well. But they learned how to do for themselves, lead others. And more importantly made lifelong friendships and had fun. When my oldest went away to college, he called me one night and said "I just want to thank you, Dad. These kids here don't know how to do ANYTHING for themselves!"


In the troop and Pack I've served, we have always had "steps"...it never mattered to me or anyone else that I know of. Perhaps your uneasiness is more in your head than in reality. Having a step-parent is pretty much the norm these days. As long as you're "legal"...i.e., a legal guardian or adoptive parent, there shouldn't be any issues. Otherwise, there may be some "youth protection" policies that need to be addressed.


I have looked at the Masonic Rite and think some of their stuff is "hokey". They have strange rituals, dress funny, but do good works and enjoy each others' company. But those who are Masons are just as passionate about it as I am about Scouting. So be it. Who am I to judge? To me Scouting is a fraternity...a Worldwide Brotherhood, and I am proud to be a member. Whenever I meet someone socially or professionally and we discover we are fellow Scouts (or Scouters), there is an instant bond and trust. We are immediately on the same page, and I am confident that the business we conduct will have the subtle influence of the Scout oath and law underpinning it. Can you get that from playing soccer or tae kwon do? I doubt it.


Scouting isn't for everyone. But I hope it's for you and your family.

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Thanks for the feedback.


Clearly, it was a different era back when you and I were growing up.


I do remember asking about Scouts when I was a kid, but it wasn't something we could financially afford.


In general, step-parents are NOT legal guardians of their step children, so it sounds like there's a problem with my participation.


Thanks anyway.

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I may be repeating what someone has said but I sill still say it anyway.


This is not the same with all troops. Some troops welcome ALL adults that are intereseted in helping.


If your current troop is not what you are looking for, or does not fit your family values, look around for another troop.


Just don't give up on the program by seeing a few bad examples.

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I'm kinda thinking along the same lines as ScoutNut. What you may see as "supporting" your son may be seen by the troop leaders as a hovering parent interferring with the program.


I'm butting heads right now with a new dad who very overtly is involved with Scouting because he wants to spend time with his son. That's Y-Guides -- Kids and Dads Building Memories -- meets the third Thursday down the road. That's not Boy Scouts. We're about letting the boys work with the youth leaders to plan thing, run the troop and solve problems. Our role is to create a safety net and only get involved when necessary.


I don't know about you or your situation to really have an opinion, so I'll only ask that you step back and ask yourself is this is the problem, or even if the troop leaders' perceive this to be the problem. Try to get in their heads.


Of course they may just be a bunch of clannish jerks. Scouting does have a propensity to create lots of little Ol' Boys Clubs which are hard to break into.

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"In general, step-parents are NOT legal guardians of their step children, so it sounds like there's a problem with my participation."



No one said there was a problem with your participation.


What was said was that "there MAY be some "youth protection" policies that need to be addressed."


This is WAY different than "a problem" with you participating with your stepson. There is really no big problem at all.


You have not said why you feel unwelcome at Scouting events.


You stated that you "oversaw" a couple of projects at the Cub level, but do not know what they were for. You also said your wife was involved in Cub Scouts, and, after only a few months, is also very involved in the Boy Scout Troop, but you don't know how, or as what.


Could it be that you feel left out by your wife?


Could your feelings about Scouting have a bit of the "sour grapes" about them?





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Regarding changing troops... that's really not my call to make. If SS (StepSon) is happy there with the boys, I certainly wouldn't make him change troops because of what I think. And to be honest, the troop he's in is the best of what my wife and SS could find apparently.


"Of course they may just be a bunch of clannish jerks. Scouting does have a propensity to create lots of little Ol' Boys Clubs which are hard to break into."


Yeah, I suppose that's a possibility as well. I haven't really analyzed it from that side. But I have noticed that when I introduce myself as the Step-Dad that 99% of the time the conversation ends with a kind of "your not needed here" eyeroll look.


"Hovering parent" ... That would be the first time I'd ever been accused of that one. I guess I could refer to my baseball coaching rule #1.... Players play, Coaches coach, Parents parent. I strictly observe at the meetings.


I've been to a couple of troop meetings so far. Quite frankly, they are total chaos. A couple of way to soft-spoken teens holding up two fingers trying to control about 30 boys that are 99% out of control. If any school classroom ran the way those meetings do, there would be parent uprising.



Well, I have to finish tagging equipment for the camping trip today....



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Sorry about what i am going to type, in no way intended to hurt or disrespect you but,...maybe you are the one putting the tag around your own neck by using the tittle "stepdad" or referring to your SS as my "stepson". After dealing with the BSA for a couple of years( maybe not that long compared to others here) and with kids in general as I am a teacher, that self tittle puts a lot of people on their toes and make it difficult to other adults to approach you because the word step creates a barrier. I have an older son and he hated when people or my husband put the "step" before the name of the relationship. He felt as not wanted and just an outcast like you described. Maybe from now on you should just be "Dad" or "my son".I don't know the details on your relationship with your SS, but you sound like looking for an excuse not to do Scouting with him.We project how we feel and in many ways words can be read in different ways and not as intended. If everone knows that you are the stepdad, then don't rub it in, if his real Dad is not taking part of the program with him everyone will realize that you are the male figure that do the scouting thing with him and you will become XX's dad on all eyes. BSA does not make or creates the "you are not the real DAD(or MOM) atmosphere", you are. For us Scouters, every adult involved in the direct daily care of a scout is treated welcome to get with the program.Once again, sorry if my words are harsh but sometimes we have to call it the way we see it.

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"I've been to a couple of troop meetings so far. Quite frankly, they are total chaos. A couple of way to soft-spoken teens holding up two fingers trying to control about 30 boys that are 99% out of control. If any school classroom ran the way those meetings do, there would be parent uprising."


Sounds like you may have two issues. Boy Scouts is supposed to be run by teenage boys and usually looks like total chaos. That sounds normal. Cub Scouts is run by adults and is chaotic because of the little kids running around. Boy Scouts is led by boys mentored by adults and is commonly chaotic because teens are learning how to lead. Things are getting done, just not neat and orderly.


Like any organization, the newer parents need and want more direct contact to ensure that their children are getting the best, to develop trust in the adults watching over the kids. Most troops always need another volunteer. A few hours of training so you know the basic rules of the org, and you could be in their helping out.


Your expectations of what scouting is may be off. Boys Scouts is not about dads spending time with their sons. It is about boys spending time with boys while learning new skills. Adults are around to keep things safe and taxi them to the locations. Certainly the adults are mentoring the boy leaders, providing one on one guidance if necessary, bringing new ideas to the boy leadership.


I have two sons in the program. I spend more time with them at home then during scout events. They are off participating in scout activities. As an adult, I am usually on the sidelines looking for safety issues.

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Thanks to all for the comments.


I wish I really knew what to do here...but at best I think the most I can do is sit down and shut up. Watching these meetings and today's start of camping was just too chaotic for be to see it as useful.


Thanks again for all the advice...



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Take some time to read through some of the threads here related to the patrol method and boy leadership. Being freaked out by the chaos of a scout meeting is common among new parents. A couple years ago I was really looking forward to one of the really good den leaders from the pack crossing over to the troop. This guy was wound pretty tight and ran a really tight ship at den meetings. When his son got to the troop, he couldn't stand the chaos. He made it only a couple months and we never saw him again. His son dropped a year or two later.


The chaos is a just part of the program. Those soft-spoken kids with their fingers up trying to get control of the meeting are a big part of what it's all about. Come back in six months and I bet you'll see two self-confident young men at the front of the room doing a much better job of running things. Of course that will be about the time two more soft-spoken kids step into those roles and we start over again.


Take some time to learn the program and see how you can best contribute. In my experience, the first year as a Boy Scout parent is much more difficult than the first year as a Boy Scout.


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