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How do you get parents to volunteer???

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Hello all...Frustrated volunteer here. While I'm not new to cub scouts (my oldest is a bear), I was recently volunteered to be Committee Chair. Our cubmaster moved on to Boy Scouts last year and took most of his commitee with him. My husband was volunteered to be the new cubmaster. While we are trying to do our best, we're still new at leading the pack. Our problem is getting volunteers for just about anything. I said I was committee chair but I'm actually jack of all trades, in addition to the CC, I'm my oldest son's asst. den leader, my youngest son's tiger adult leader, and also had to do our popcorn fundraiser recently. We have through perservance gotten two new den leaders, and are lucky enough to have on our committee a mom whose older son just made Eagle Scout, so one of us knows what we're doing!! Our problem is the majority of our pack's parents seem to think we can do it all even though we've told them that we can't, over and over again. Still no volunteers. Blue and Gold is coming up and I'm panicking at the thought of planning it all myself. How in the world do you guys with cooperative parents get them to help out? I'm on the verge of burnout and have only being doing it since September. Please help!!!!


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Gee, I'd be thrilled to be asked to help our Pack. I know, I know, I should just go tell them I want to. As far as I can tell from the phone list they provided, they already have all spots filled. I never hear a request from our pack for volunteers for leadership positions. Of course there are always the standard requests for helping with the Halloween party and such which I do. I would love to get training and help. My son just started Cubs as a Webelos 1 and Boy Scouts is not too far around the corner. I'd like to get my feet wet now and be active in his Troop throughout his Scout career. I guess I'm no help in answering your question, because I'm willing and you're wanting.


From my observations, many parents don't want to help and some leaders are rather shy about asking for help...even though they desparatly want it. I would keep asking during dne and pack meetings over and over. Perhaps taking time at a pack meeting to go over the organizational structure of the pack leadership would help. Let them know how many positions are available and how many are unfilled. Let them know that it is too much for one or two people to do and that if they want a quality unit, some of them are going to have to step up or their sons could be wasting time that could otherwise be a valuable experience.

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Hi AbbeyM:


This is the one subject that boggles every organization and every leader. Don't be discouraged. It is difficult to get volunteers for any project.


RULE #1. Take care of yourself. If you can't get help, DON'T DO IT ALL YOURSELF. If you do, you will be doing it all by yourself forever.


The best way, and most difficult, to get help is to sit down individually with your parents and ask them if they think the program is worthwhile. Explain the various tasks of the organization, and how it can be better with many hands helping. Get to know the parents. What skills do they have that will fill the jobs you have? Is someone better at speaking in front of a group? Does someone like crafts? Does someone like working with adults better than children? Try to look at your jobs as tasks, rather than titles. The master of ceremonies at a pack meeting. The person who arranges for the awards for the boys. the person who assists with snacks at meetings. etc. Ask for help with small tasks rather thank big jobs. When people do help out, thank them sincerly.


RULE # 2. Have fun. If it stops being fun, stop doing it. If you demand a big show for the Pack meeting, and you end up doing it all yourself, and you get burned out, is it really better than having a low-key meeting where the boys still enjoy themselves without all the trappings?


Keep on Scoutin' ora

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I have to agree with ExperiencedUniforms on getting to know the parents. I think this is the biggest problem I personally have noticed in Cub Scouts. I'm used to sports where we had multiple practices and/or games per week and tournaments on weekends. The parents all got to know each other pretty well. With Scouts, you go to a single one hour den meeting per week full of boys with the heebie jeebies. The den leader has little time if any to spend with the parents. Then you just repeat the whole process the next week. Pack meetings are pretty much the same. Trying to keep the boys interested and impart any info the parents need to know. It is the best time to request help, but when done from the podium it goes in one ear and out the other. there needs to be a time where some team building can occur between the leaders and the parents.

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Pay attention to the parents who are particularlly into different elements of the program. The dad who goes overboard with his son's Pinewood Derby car needs to run the race next year. Recruit people for the outings committee on a camping trip.


There are lots of ideas for recruiting volunteers on boards like this and at leader training. You can take advantage of all that, but one important piece of advice is to pick you battles. If no one wants to take the blue and gold, drop it. Stuck being popcorn chairman again, forget about it and tell the parents dues will be raised to cover the lost income.


You can only do so much yourself. Prioritize those activities that mean the most to the boys (den activities, pack meetings and outings) and can the rest. If something isn't important enough for the parents to support it, move on. Ultimately, the parents must step up carry the program.

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I found this paper written awhile back and it may help. Pardon the length.


Keeping Volunteers

Michael Lee Zwiers

The Leader, June/July 1991.

The definitive volunteer, like Mother Theresa, needs no thanks and will run many miles without support.

The rest of us will go the distance on the memory of a handshake of recognition or vote of confidence

from an adult and a hug or thank you from a child. But, when the going gets tough and we haven't been

given a boost recently, our thoughts may turn to getting out or taking a break.

With meetings and fund raisers, group committee members can easily log from 150 to 250 hours of

volunteer time in a year. A typical youth leader will put in 14 to 25 hours a month just for meetings and

planning. Add 54 hours for a weekend camp, multiply this by a season that runs for eight or 10 months,

and you're looking at 200 to 500 volunteer hours a year. And that's a typical volunteer year. Many

dedicated Scouters will log more than 1,000 hours annually.

Volunteers have always been a valuable commodity, and Scouting has always been able to attract them.

But changes in the structure of our society are putting increasing pressures on individuals and making it

more difficult for them to be regular volunteers. Society is increasingly mobile, and we lose volunteers

as families relocate. Many Canadian workers are forced to go on the road, leaving fewer volunteers at

home. Our demand for services at all times of day and night have placed increasing numbers of people

on rotating shifts, and again, there are fewer available bodies to volunteer.

Scouting is also in intense competition with other organizations, many of them going to great lengths to

entice and keep volunteers. Volunteer coordinators orchestrate the work of large teams of people.

Volunteers are wined and dined, presented awards, and generally treated with a great deal of respect.

How can Scouting deal with all of these factors to keep our volunteers?

1. Accept whatever time or services volunteers have to offer.

Most parents are willing to provide transportation to a special event, help with a fund raiser, or

attend an outing as an adult supervisor. But they may not want to commit themselves to any more

because they are concerned that work might take them away at the last minute (or they are afraid

they'll be saddled with the whole job!). Gratefully accept their tentative and short term

commitments, and thank them for what they can do.

2. Encourage volunteers to come up with creative solutions to the problems caused by changing

work schedules. In our troop, the leaders could no longer afford an extra night a month for the

Court of Honour, so we held it on the first troop meeting night of each month. In exchange, patrol

leaders and assistants met with their members on another night.

We also shortened every second camp by leaving on Saturday morning rather than Friday night.

Because one Scouter I know worked every Saturday afternoon, he held early morning hikes

(starting at 6 a.m.) instead of camps. Another Scouting friend often has to cancel meetings at a

moment's notice, but his Scouts know how to hold their own patrol meetings at a member's home.

3. Keep track of volunteers. When Scouters move to other parts of the country we need to take the

time to send a letter of introduction to the Scout council in their new locale. This way, we will be

less likely to lose them in the transfer.

4. Spread out the work. Many hands make light work. Volunteers abound; all we have to do is ask

them. Overworked Scouters who, in addition to holding exciting weekly programs, are expected to

coordinate field trips and camps, service projects, and fund raisers may soon tire and quit. By

involving a variety of people, you can free section leaders to do their important work with their

young members. We had three leaders in our troop last year. No one was able to attend all our

meetings but, between us, we usually fielded two adults for every troop night.

5. Recognize the contribution of our volunteers. So often, it takes little more than a card, note, phone

call, or handshake to keep a volunteer going. Recognition is the key word. Leaders can have youth

members make a thank you card or poster for members of the group committee. An awards night

or leader appreciation evening is a nice way to end the year.

You don't need to organize elaborate events or spend large sums of money to be effective. Annual

service pins and long service awards are available through your regional office. The Scout Shop

sells an amazing array of awards, rewards, and memorabilia. Use them to recognize the

contributions of your volunteers.

6. Finally, recognize the special contribution Scouting makes to its members. No matter what your

abilities or status in life, Scouting offers you the opportunity to grow as an individual. At all levels

- section, group, district, region, province, and national--there is room for an amazing variety of

contributions and growth experiences.

Scouting has a lot to offer. Believe it and then convince others of it. Your enthusiasm for the movement

will bring in more volunteers than any elaborate sales campaign or awards scheme. Scouting is an

important school of citizenship for young people and adults alike. Invite a friend to be a part of it.

Michael Lee Zwiers works as a Service Scouter and trainer in Edmonton Region, Alta.

Last edited: March 29, 1998

The NetWoods Virtual Campsite, Steve Tobin, Campmaster




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Hi All

Lots of good suggestions have been posted. I have found that in most cases the parents just havent been asked. Our Pack made a commitment that Den leaders would do nothing other than Den Leading. If we couldn't get parents to do Blue and Gold, Pinewood or other activities, then we wouldn't do them. We never failed to have these activities because when we asked, they came.


Nine out of ten times a parent will say yes when you talk to them personally. A phone call or just walking up to them during a meeting works fine, but you have make the personal contact. There are a couple of suggestions to help. When asking, tell them you are looking for assistance, not directors. Most fear the leadership, not the work. But once you have the first meeting, you delegate the task off to the adults, including someone to track the task, who becomes the director.


Get plenty of help, the more help, the more FUN it becomes. When I got four dads together to run the pinewood derby, they had meetings just to meet. Those dads recruited all the next Pinewood committees from that day on. Same with Blue and Gold. We asked a few Webelos moms to do Blue and Gold one year and they turned it into a tradition that Webelos moms do Blue and Gold. I am not suggesting you get all Webelos moms, but they had so much fun, they wanted to continue it the next age groups.


If it becomes a real pain, then change it. Sometimes the effort to do an Activity is not worth the pain of trying to get it running. We had an opportunity to make a lot of money at a fund raiser but it became clear that the work involved was a lot greater than the money made. After three years we gave it to another Pack. We never regretted it.


If Cubs is to be fun and rewarding for the boys, it has to be fun and rewarding for the family. Get the whole family involved. But they aren't going to come to you. Get on the phone and find you assistances to do your Blue and Gold. Have a meeting to get organized and delegate those duties off to other parents who deserve to have fun.


Give them a chance to say, "I love this Scouting stuff".




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Thank you all for suggestions. Some I have tried and some I haven't. I've always had a problem saying no ,which is probably how I ended up coaching my 6 yr old's soccer team even though I knew nothing about soccer. But it turned out to be a rewarding and learning experience. Now with all of your encouragement I don't feel like throwing in the towel just yet.

Thanks Again.


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One easy thing that our Pack does is make the Blue and Gold banquet planning the responsibility of the 2nd year Webelos den parents. That is when they cross over in our pack and the majority of the pomp and circumstance is for them so have their parents involved.


I would not recommend having the CC and CM be a husband and wife team.


We circulate a sign-up sheet at the beginning of every scout year asking what voluteer position that each parent will fill this year. Some years it gets a great response, others not so good. Don't try to take on too much yourself. I know what can happen when that occurs! My wife and I have been den leader, assistant den leader, committee chair, unit commissioner, assistant scoutmaster, scoutmaster, popcorn chair (unit & district!), pinewood derby chair, blue & gold banquet chair, etc.). That one hour a week is really a L O N G hour!

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Hi again,

Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I didn't become CC and CM by choice. No one else would do it. We tried asking for volunteers at pack meeting, personally one on one with other parents, begging, cajoling, pleading you name it we tried it. We have done this only so our pack wouldn't fold. Our last CC had a personal loss and couldn't continue with the position, no one else would step up. So when the pack was on the verge of folding, I volunteered, but I am still actively recruiting someone else for my position. Can't hand over the Blue and Gold to the Webelo leader because she was the same person who was the CC, and her parents won't help, so she's on the verge of quitting. Sorry guys just venting...I'm doing the best I can and if things don't happen, the parents have no one to blame but themselves, and my husband and I have finally found the courage to tell people that. So I guess you could say the pack is going through transition. I'm sticking with it because my boys enjoy scouting and so do my husband and I. Hopefully, we'll all all come out better people in the end.

Thanks Again


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How about talking to one of your Bear parents about B & G? As ADL you should know them pretty well by now. Let them know that they will not be on their own and they can put the arm on any other parents they want to help!


Talk to your other den leaders and find out if any of their parents seem like good prospects. Announcing at a Pack meeting that you need volunteers for such & such rarely works. People assume that someone else will volunteer so they do not bother. It works much better to ask an individual. Don't give them a choice of positions either. Ask them to help with 1 specific thing. I have found that if you can get them hooked for 1 thing they are usually hooked for good!


One other thing, look for people who already volunteer in some other aspect of their childs life. Once that hand starts going up it is often hard to sit on it again! Just look at you!! LOL!!

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Success on getting the parents to volunteer can be measured by how much the boys talk about the event afterward and how willingly the parents volunteer again! Good luck ... 'cause it's one of those elusive answers that everyone of us leaders is desparately seeking! Sometimes, wouldn't it be nice just to be one of those "parents"? ;)

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Okay guys, went to the BSA office today and turned in our charter and our popcorn money. Whew.........what a load off. Now I can take the time to start closing in on those parents who show an inkling of interest ;-)

Thanks for all the help


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