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TundraHawk

Required parental involvement -- your thoughts?

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How would your feel if your pack required parental involvement, where at least one parent per scout would be required to help out in some way with the pack? I have read where some packs do this and think it may be the way to go with the new pack we are starting at my son's school.

 

I'm not saying that they have to assume any type of leadership role, especially for those new to scouting. There are so many ways one can get involved -- DL, ADL, committee member, helping with various activities (B&G, PWD, etc), even volunteering to help with their sons' den during den meetings.

 

As of right now we have three volunteers - myself, my husband, and one other mom (not even enough to charter). I've seen how packs are run when only a handful of folks are made to do every job; the quality of the pack suffers, and those running the pack are overwhelmed and burned out.

 

Do you see folks running for the door in search of another pack if this is required of them, or do you think most parents would be willing to help? Unfortunately, many parents that I have met think that scouting is a great babysitting tool and have no desire to get involved.

 

 

(Of course I know all the parents will need to be trained in their positions and coached along the way.)

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Every unit that I have been involved with has had the expectation that at least one parent must provide some level of volunteer support - be it a leadership position, event assistance, trip planning, administrative, setup, clean-up, transportation, counseling, etc. etc. Most parents DO want to help and be involved in some manner. The real trick is in matching people to tasks/jobs that they enjoy and will feel a sense of commitment and personal responsibility for. Some will no doubt claim they have absolutely no time or talent to offer, consider these folks a challenge and find simple ways to get them involved.

 

If you set the expectations upfront, it becomes the parent's choice as to whether or not to join the pack. Believe me, you will be much happier with a pack of 25 boys and 25 helping adults, then 100 boys with 10 committed adults. During your recruiting spiel, make no apologies for this policy...your pack expects parent involvement because it helps your own son as well as others. Scouts whose parents are involved have more scouting opportunities and will stay in scouts longer (on average). In fact, come right and say that if you want this to be pure baby-sitting dropoff service, then please look for another pack. Those that make a beeline for the door will be few, and not worth your chasing.

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Thanks, Semper. The packs I have been involved with unfortunately look like the "100 scouts and 10 volunteers" packs that you mentioned but on a smaller scale. Both my husband and I thought that required volunteer support of some sort was not unreasonable at all -- it's good to know that we aren't alone in our thinking!

 

This is definitely a topic that will be addressed at all of our recruiting nights. I think this type of involvement from the parents will be so beneficial for several reasons:

- I'm hoping that if the parents are involved, they will develop more of a sense of ownership of the pack. This, in turn, will help foster a deeper interest to see the pack succeed.

- The scouts love to see their parents helping out. I know my son loves it when I can come to the school and volunteer in his class.

- More ideas on how we can run things, activities/service projects the pack can get involved in, etc.

- Spreading the workload will make everyone more productive.

 

 

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As a Cubmaster I recommend to my Den Leaders that we are not a baby sitting service, we are a family oriented activity that requires more than just dropping off a boy for an hour a week. Some Den Leaders take my advice some don't, the ones that don't usually come to me frustrated about little johnny not listening or little timmy disturbing the boy beside him.

 

Tundra Hawk I would express the Family involvement to all of you parents and strongly request that one of the parents be with the boy at every meeting. Let them know that once they get into Boy Scouts that is when they can start dropping off and coming back. If you are starting a new pack (hopefully I remember correctly) then it should not be much of a problem to implement this requirement.

 

Best of Luck on this issue!

 

YIS

Andy

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We do this in our troop, but not the pack. In our troop we ask every family to volunteer one parent as either an ASM or a committee member.

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Who do you want to lead your Scouts?

Are you willing to settle for anyone who can be in someway made to take on a role that maybe they are totally unsuited for?

Get a nominating committee together and select the people that you need.

Eamonn

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I don't think I agree with Eamonn this time. I would hand each new Cub family a Cub Scout application and one or two Adult leader applications and a unit resource form (what kind of things the parents do and know that can benefit the unit.)

 

Of course not all parents should be Den Leaders but you can have gobs of committee members and after you have run out of those 'named' positions, you can use other parents as idea guys and gals, phone tree operators, transporters, craft helpers, assistant snack passer-outers, camping site 'reservers'...HELPERS...you almost can never have too many.

 

And if anything we have seen in these forums, it is; the units with the biggest problems usually have the smallest number of interested and active adults. SIGN 'em all up, then find out where you can put them to work!

 

also remember that a nomination committee can sometimes nominate the wrong folks...you never know who is going to surprise you and turn out to be a gem in the rough!

good luck and thank you for the work that you do!

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As long as the parental involvement requirement (above Tigers) doesn't include necessarily having to stay for every meeting, I agree with it. Let's use my younger son's den - they meet right after school. No way can I be at any meeting at that time. I wasn't asked when meetings would be convenient for me - no problem. But the consequence is that I won't be there. If it's my turn to provide the snack, I make arrangements to get it there ahead of time. If they need another registered adult for camping, I'm there (although I'm troop-registered and trained, not Cub). But I want my son to learn independence so I don't go on every campout. Not to mention that I camp with the troop, too:

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Whoa Nelly! Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are two very different beasts. At the Cub Scout level, a family oriented program where parents and even grandparents may serve as Akela - the expectation that each family should have an adult volunteer is a good rule of thumb. This DOES NOT mean that they should be registered Scouters. They can volunteer to help organize the Pinewood Derby, Blue & Gold Banquets, Pack Carnivals, etc.

 

The Boy Scout level is not necessarily a family oriented program in the same way. Adult association works best with non-parents. Yes, parents can help out with transportation needs and other areas but program and event planning should really be done by the boys with registered leaders providing support.

 

Now for Cubs, how you market your expectations does matter. If at a join Scouting night someone proclaims that "All parents have to volunteer for something." may turn some off. Most want to know what they are getting into before they volunteer. If the Pack presents a list of possible volunteer positions, with a brief synopsis of the duties involved, to each parent and asking what they would like to do to assist the pack (it may be as simple as baking cookies - something I could care less if they have BSA training for) it goes over much easier.

 

(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Communication is key.

 

Our committee chair communicates her needs to the parents. We do this with a Yahoo account for easy posting.

 

The biggest attention catching, volunteer gaining bit of info she puts out is "The cost of Scouting". Parents usually complain that they are nickeled and dimed for every outing, but in this briefing, they find out how much the committee pays towards the outing vs. how much the parents pay. The hook is: "if you want to be "dollared" vice "nickled and dimed", don't volunteer..." Because in our Troop, our major source of income comes from the parents that are working at functions that pay back to the organization.

 

Also, we've found that we have better attendance on outings that the parents have paid something for. >> it goes something like this: The Scout begs to go, parents pay a stipend out of pocket, before outing, the Scout is (fill in the excuse depending on age), then the parent tells the Scout, "you're going, I paid X and you're going", Scout goes and has a great time....

 

Sorry, went out on a tangent, but that's how we get volunteers...

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When I got back into a pack last year, the old cubmaster and committee chair had the pack running (or so they thought) with 7 people doing 20 positions. They got really nervous when I said that we should change and require every family to volunteer. But we did it.....

 

We switched to "mandatory volunteerism" for this year and pointed to the sports model. If you want your son or daughter to play soccer or baseball, you are REQUIRED to sign up for some responsibility with the team (or at least that is the way it is with our local leagues). We had ZERO complaints when we put it out to our parents and 50 percent of the parents sent back a volunteer form. We then held a planning session in June and put all the open positons on poster board and handed the families who had not volunteered yellow stickies with their name. We inroduced the positions and then asked them to come up and put their name on an opening. It worked!!!!

 

Our requirement is that every family must do one of the following:

 

1. Take a one year position working with boys (Den Leader, Assist. DL, etc.)

2. Take a one year position working with adults (Committee, treasureer, etc.)

3. Assist at two pack functions each year (serving as Event chair counts as two).

 

Works well. the only change I want to make in he fall is encourage the Committee Chair to get parents who join during the program year to sign up immediately for any openings.

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Cubmaster Mike - that sounds like a great system! Going to share that with our CC.

 

Thanks,

Vicki

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Tundrahawk,

 

I think parental involvement is important, to the scout, den & pack. When my son Mark joined as a Bear, there were 14 boys in the den & the DL that was their Wolf DL wasn't able to be a leader due to personal problems. The CM held the 1st den meeting & most of the boys, except for my son & another boy who just joined, were running around & their parents just stood there & talked! When things finally calmed down the CM talked to everone & was looking for a volunteer to be a DL. Now I'm thinking to myself how could I do this when I can't get to a den meeting til around 6:30 when I get home from work. Also, in the back of my mind was that most of the moms didn't have a job outside the home & weren't single parents (I am a single mom) & why didn't one of them volunteer to be DL. I looked over all of the books, paperwork, etc. that the CM brought to the meeting & then I decided I would volunteer after I asked my son how he felt about that & he liked the idea. I went over & talked to the CM & told him & I filled out the application. Well, to make a long story short, the CM also became the Bears DL & I helped out as much as I could. Most of the parents were there & a few of them helped out too, one became the Den Treasurer. The den meetings seemed to be a chatfest for most of the parents, the ones from the previous years & I found it very distracting to have them yapping as the DL was going over stuff with the boys. He told the parents that the boys have got to do the work to get their achievements done to receive their Bear Badge. He gave the parents a schedule & unfortunately the next few den meetings most of those boys dropped out. I think it was because their parents didn't want to help/guide their sons to work on the achievements. We wound up with 4 boys by the end of the year, 2 from the previous year & the 2 new ones. It's a shame because I really enjoy spending this time with my son & doing the different activities with him.

 

Even at Pack Night when my son 1st started I didn't want to just sit there so I asked the CC & CM what I could do to help. As time went on, I was able to do more to help & I was glad to be able to. I have gone for the training, enjoyed that because I learned new things & I felt that I could do a better job as ADL being trained. My son has no problem with me being involved & we enjoy our special time together, even if it is hiking & I'm sweating like a pig because I'm overweight!

 

I think you'll find that some parents are more willing to give of their time than others & it's usually the parents with the least amount of time! Some parents don't want to give at all & they're the ones losing out & so are their sons because they're missing that special time together. Most of the parents in our den now stay at the meetings, once in a while they leave to run an errand & return a few minutes before the meeting ends.

 

At every Roundtable, one of the Scouters says,

"The BSA stands for Boy Scouts of America, not Babysitters of America!" & to remind the parents of that.

 

I hope that I haven't "babbled" too much & that this helps!

 

Judy

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Some years back if a unit had Required parental involvement, I would have had to say Thanks but No Thanks. I was busy working earning money to feed and clothe my family. Owning and operating two restaurants didn't leave me any free time, in fact I had my wife and my Mother-in-law helping me.

So making parental involvement a requirement would in fact have prevented my son from joining.

I would hope that we are doing everything that we can do to get every boy into Scouting. Making barriers and placing obstacles only take away from our mission.

I wonder what would happen if we were to make unit involvement in the District Committee a requirement? At present our nominating committee selects the best person or people for the job. Like any other District we have our fair share of twits. Heck we could make all the twits unit commissioners - Boy that would be fun. The units that run merit badge factories and Eagle Mills, let's stick them on the Advancement committee. The units that never sell popcorn or allow FOS presentations, they go on the finance committee. The units that never attend anything or do anything they could be the Activities committee.

If this sounds daffy it is no more daffy than not selecting the right person or people in a unit.

Eamonn.

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If you want additional volunteers, I would suggest giving Tiger Cub parents a pass the first year. After the the cubs that aren't really into it drop out, then approach the remaining parents to assist, with hope of them becoming the leaders of tomorrow.

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