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djknight

Pack Leader's Communication Problems

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I am my son's Wolf Leader. We just finished up nine months of Tigers. I am very frustrated with my Pack Leaders lack of communications. They seem to contact me at the last minute for everything. Even then, it gets changed somehow before it even happens. I get knots in my stomach almost every time that we have an activity going on. My son really likes his friends in his den and doesn't want to change. I, however, am very ready to change to another Pack, if they are more organized. Please send suggestions my way.

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I have been in your shoes! We changed packs and the second pack was just as bad. It wound up that those of us willing to work hard and stick to our schedule are now the new "Pack Leadership". That's not the way we planned it, but the other leaders quit and we were left holding the bag. We are currently down to 10 registered scouts but we hope to pick up a few at Scout Night at School. We feel that this small group will give those of us who just finished our 1st year (my son was also a Tiger Cub) of scouting time to get the training we need to run an effective unit. It's difficult but you can make changes with alot of hard work & determination. I wish you the best!

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We also switched our sons to another pack. My guys had been in a pack associated with their school. They go to Catholic School so we originally had them with their class mates. When my oldest (now a second year webelo) was complaining about lack of meetings and fun things to do, we looked at a couple of local neighberhood packs. At first we weren't sure that we should switch, they wouldn't know the new kids. But we did switch. It was the best thing we could have done. My wolf (then tiger) knew one of the boys in his den from daycare and a couple of the boys from the other tiger den from karate. My oldest quickly made friends with his patrol. Communication is very important. If it's not there, then look for another pack. If you can't find it locally, then think about starting your own with some other parents that feel the same way. It will take work and dedication, but this is for the boys! My guys thank me every week for making the tough decision.

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First of all, do you know who your Unit Commissioner is? He/she is the individual who should be able to assist you with your frustrations. A unit commissioners job is to work with the committee and individuals to assist with questions/ concerns and issues. They don't know it all but have the resources to pull from to assist you.

 

Communication is always an issue in any Pack whether its a great pack or one struggling. I've seen both and even in my own we struggle too. But it's a two way street and the committee needs to understand your frustrations and hopefully want to work with you to make things right. Leaders and boys and retention are always very important in every pack.

 

If organization is the issue and you can't commit more time to help, then do you have any other parents in your den, which may be willing to assist? More organized hands make the job easier.

 

Maybe suggest to the committee to break up the jobs into smaller task and get more involved.

 

Hope this helps.

 

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First and foremost remember that the program is for the boys and not the adults.

 

I have seen many a Pack come apart at the seams over communications problems. I prefer to have a written in stone calender for everything but have learned over time that this is not always possible. Things always happen that force changes even though we don't like them. If it is just poor communication from the Packs Leadership then keep in touch with them more than they do you, communications is a two way street.

 

Maybe your pack can establish a phone tree and use it to pass along messages

this really should be from Cubmaster/Committee and then to Den Leaders and then to parents. But there are many variations dependent on the people involved. You sound like one of us that likes to organize things, maybe you can volunteer to do this for your Pack.

 

If you do decide to change Units please visit more than one, more than once and if possible go on an outing with all of them before changing. Better for the kid if you only change once. Another thought is that if you change because of another adult at the other unit remember that we all move along and they may go away and you may be right back in the same boat again.

 

My most prefered is that you get very involved with the ooperation of your current Pack ( try not to be a pest ) and help it to grow. You are on the way to this already as you mentioned that you are the Den Leader. Utilize every resource you can find. Talk with your Unit Commisioner, your District Exec., your roundtable staff, and anyone else you can confide in for advice.

 

 

 

Wish you the best

 

JB

 

PS: Go to every Training session that you can. You will be surprised what you can learn by training out of your activity area.

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I currently live on both sides of the communication sword, nicely put as a two way street... but sometimes your D*&^ if you do and D*&^ if you don't. As cubmaster, I put out a monthly Pack Newsletter, handed out to DL's at pack night to hand to every boy in their den. The pack (80+ boys) has a great bunch of leaders who understand the need to communicate effectively, but we seem to always have a few families who don't get the message... They normally are the same families month to month who don't bother to read the newsletter, rarely show up but get incensed when little johnnie did not know about some "cool trip" or camp. Newsletters are great for those who read them!!! The pack also encourages DL to put out their own newsletters concerning the den.

It is important that the CM and the committee work together to get the info out. I wish we had a committee secretary (I don't like that word) or information person to help accumulate the info for the newsletter.

It is also important to keep in mind, that with many district or council wide events, at least in our council, that the info on these evetns seems to come last minute. Please don't punish the pack for that.

In our registration packet, the committee chair and I put in the years calender, if we don't have an exact date, we put TBA in that month.

Also, as a den leader... please get to roundtable where you can learn first hand about district events. It's also a great place for fellowship, getting answers, learning new ideas, etc. It's only once a month and worth the extra "hour".

Good Luck,

YiS

John

CM, ASM and asst. CRTC

 

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I currently live on both sides of the communication sword, nicely put as a two way street... but sometimes your D*&^ if you do and D*&^ if you don't. As cubmaster, I put out a monthly Pack Newsletter, handed out to DL's at pack night to hand to every boy in their den. The pack (80+ boys) has a great bunch of leaders who understand the need to communicate effectively, but we seem to always have a few families who don't get the message... They normally are the same families month to month who don't bother to read the newsletter, rarely show up but get incensed when little johnnie did not know about some "cool trip" or camp. Newsletters are great for those who read them!!! The pack also encourages DL to put out their own newsletters concerning the den.

It is important that the CM and the committee work together to get the info out. I wish we had a committee secretary (I don't like that word) or information person to help accumulate the info for the newsletter.

It is also important to keep in mind, that with many district or council wide events, at least in our council, that the info on these evetns seems to come last minute. Please don't punish the pack for that.

In our registration packet, the committee chair and I put in the years calender, if we don't have an exact date, we put TBA in that month.

Also, as a den leader... please get to roundtable where you can learn first hand about district events. It's also a great place for fellowship, getting answers, learning new ideas, etc. It's only once a month and worth the extra "hour".

Good Luck,

YiS

John

CM, ASM and asst. CRTC

 

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Ah communication. As a Districr Commissioner I get this one often. ?Leave and go to another Pack?? Well I would cencerely hope that would not be the answer in this case. From the Council to the Den Leader there should be a seemless flow of information that goes both directions. (BOTH DIRECTIONS)!! The flow chart for communication is a simple one. Let's say you need information about a District event. As a Den Leader you go up the flow chart to the Committee Chair, or Pack Secretary to see if they have the information you need. If not you don't stop with them and expect them to get the information for you, you go to the Cubmaster. If the Cubmaster has no info then you call the Unit Commissioner (if your Pack has one). (The Unit Commissioner should have the information and should always be willing and ready to assist you in any problems you are having with the Pack.) Don't stop here. Continue on, District Commisioner, District Executive, Council Office. Somewhere along the line someone should see there is a communication gap and see what can be done to correct it. My first thought is to check the Unit's Leadership Roster to see how many Leaders (Committee personell included) for training status. If certain Key positions are not lead by trained scouters, then this could be the problem. Please don't give up. Please see what help you can get from others (and give to others) before you abandon ship. Food for thought - (it has been said that you could place your finger (you) in a glass of water (the Pack), remove the finger and watch the results. The finger would be gone, and a few ripples would occur, but the water will still be there.) Are you sure the Leader that will take your place will care about the boys as you much as you do. There is no reason why you should not have as much fun being the leader as your boys are being boys. Please remember, from the Den Leader to the District Chairman, all are volunteers. Volunteers are what makes scouting the success it is. You are a volunteer. Volunteers deserve the respect of the District and the Council. Please please please be kind in your efforts, try not to lay the blame on an individual, try to come up with solutions instead of problems, and above all stay COOL.

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One of the major reasons we left the pack we did was because we felt they weren't really there for the boys. For example: November is scouting for food. Takes 1 to 2 hours on two consecutive Saturdays. It is also popcorn drive pick up. There were NO den meetings for my Webelo that month because it was felt that there was already too many things going on. One meeting was held in September and one in October. Sorry....this was unacceptable. Too many times if it was convinient for all parties there was nothing. Summer time pack events? A baseball game and that was it. While I realize that it is run by volunteers, ( I am a den leader), I always thought scouting was for the boys. Yes communication is a two way street, but enough is enough. My boys wanted to do things. They are happier now and plan on continuing in scouting. Information was not passed on by the committee chair nor the cubmaster. Information was gotten at roundtable and if anyone in the pack participated (and it had not been announced at a pack meeting) the cubmaster and committee chair were not happy. I have learned that there you need to pick your fights and when you are in a losing situation, know when to fold. It's not the same for everyone, but there are times when switching packs is the best thing to do.

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Communication is a major issue in all organizations: Scouts, Business, Church, and Family. As others have said, it is truly a two way street/edged sword. If you are not informed of what is going on you need to contact the Committee Chair and Cub/Scoutmaster and let them know you are not satisified and EXACTLY why. DON'T JUST CALL TO COMPLAIN, PROPOSE SOME SOLUTIONS! Hey here's an idea, volunteer to be the information officer of your unit. Scout leaders have a lot to do to run an effective unit. We need help and lots of it. If you just find another unit without attempting to fix the problems in your own unit you are part of the problem! As a Scoutmaster, I don't want people like that in our unit. Why? Because all they do is complain about problems and don't help fix them. I want people who will step up and help me with my weak areas and make the unit better for everyone, but like puppy30's case you do have to know when enough is enough. No communication AND no activities?!! I'd leave too.

 

SOLUTIONS:

(Please note these are from the perspective of Boy Scouts, but I think it applies to everyone.)

 

Meetings and lots of them regularly. We hold meetings to teach, to learn, and to pass on information. If you miss a meeting, you need to get on the phone and call someone. That is the responsibility of the boy in Boy Scouts. It is also the job of the Patrol Leader to keep in touch with his patrol.

 

Newsletters are great but someone needs to take charge of it. (Does the Cub/Scoutmaster need to also be a part time publisher?) Newsletters need to be put out regularly, once a quarter is good. Anything that slips in or changes late could be covered in a mailer or flyer handed out at the next meeting.

 

Websites are not difficult to make and many internet providers offer a service to help you create a site and a home page is included in most service packages. Talk to your provider, you my already have this service and not know it. This does not have to be fancy at all, a simple calendar of events and some contact numbers would do nicely. Please make your site easy to read, no odd typestyles and no patterned or jarring colored backgrounds. Put email links to your adult leaders on the page. You must update it regularly (see a pattern here?) out of date web pages are annoying and people will stop checking them. Oh yeah, always display on the page when it was last updated and when you expect to update it again.

 

Email is a very powerful tool, use it. In no other medium can you type one message and send it to everyone in your group with one shot.

 

Telephone calls in my unit are the last resort. We only make calls when we need an answer right now, to discuss personal issues, or to give out last second information. It is not appropriate to expect a unit leader to chase down twenty families to inform them of things they would know if they were at the last meeting.

 

Volunteer your time to help implement these solutions.

 

Talk to other units and see how they handle it. I guarantee we all have the same issues.

 

Unit Commissioner, District Commissioner? You guys must rock. Mine are useless. I hope I'm alone on this one.

 

I have to say I am not the most organized Scoutmaster out there. We have lapses in communication and not everyone is always informed, but we keep going forward. I am currently battling the communication problem myself and these are the methods that I believe will work.

 

There is nothing more important that any of us can do than to be heavily involved in the lives of our children. That means get involved in the unit. I know I'm speaking to the chior on this one, the fact that you are reading this means that you care and are involved, but we need to reach the Scout parents that are not involved and get them involved.

 

Many hands make light work.(This message has been edited by Mike Long)

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Just a few years ago, I was in exactly the same place as you. Not only was there a communication problem throughout the pack, but it was especially bad with the Tiger Cubs. One of the parents in our den spent a great deal of time on the phone trying to get the correct info for events and activities. All of us parents spent a great deal of time moaning among ourselves about how the pack was run, etc. I became the Wolf den leader so that I could become more involved in the pack decision making process. Basically, we parents decided to stop complaining so much and do something about what we thought the problems were. Someone stepped forward to become the new Tiger Cub Coach and put some effort into the position. Last year's Tigers had a great year with a minimum of problems. When other positions on the committee needing filling, some of us jumped up and volunteered. We know have a new committee chair that wants the same things from scouting that we want. To help solve the communication problems, we ask for email addresses and send out any new info to anyone whose address we have. I also put up a website with the pack's calendar on it and email links for committee members and leaders. I volunteered to be webmaster because I knew I would have to get any information on events and activities. Yes, I had an ulterior motive but it not only benefits my son, but my den and the whole pack. So what is my point? It would be easy to change packs in the hopes that things change but maybe it would be better to work hard to change your current pack and know things are better, not just for your sons but for all the boys involved.

 

YIS,

Scoutermom

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I was on the committee and a den leader for my middle son. The leaders in positions of cubmaster, committee chair thought they were doing a great job. While I didn't really want to leave the pack, my oldest would be leaving at the same time as the current cubmasters son and committee chairs son. I agree that sometimes you have to start the ball rolling in changing things, there are also times when you have to fall back and rethink things. The "click" if you want to call it that ran the show and didn't want to hear about anything else. There were enough in leader positions to vote anything out they didn't want. I spent several years trying to work on changing things. I am not going to apologize to anyone for switching. This new packs not perfect either, but committee meetings are held once a month in stead of twice a year, news letters are more informative and they ask for parents help.

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as a district cub roundtable comm, district training comm. acm, member of scout troop comm. i hope that i can help you with your problem. we have a pack of 70+ boys and that we came up with is a "Paws port". this is a list of pack meeting and events dates and times that are printed on a piece of paper that is small enough to glue into the back of the boys book (i know that this won't work for tiger cubs, but the parents can glue this into their big book) as the events took place was then stamped their books. this helped the parents keep up with what was happening at the pack. i also recommend that you as a den leader attend your district monthly roundtable meeting. here you can find out what is happening in your district and council - you can then go back to your committee and report to them. get all the training that you can this also helps. hope that is helped.

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