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SeattlePioneer

Pack Expectations of Parents

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What does your Pack expect parents to contribute to the Cub Pack, and how do you communicate and/or enforce those expectations?

 

 

The Pack I'm working with is developing a great program, but Pack leaders are hesitent to clearly communicate the help they need to continue it.

 

In past years, the Big Mistake was that one person did EVERYTHING. When that person left, the Pack collapsed.

 

Now, we have three Pack leaders doing the same thing. They apparently don't see that they are still making the same mistake.

 

When two pack leaders and I took BALOO training a couple of weeks ago, the trainers had one pack paticipant relate that they required each paren t with a boy in the program to take on at least one important function or responsibility. That seems like the ticket to me ---adding new boys isn't an additional burden that way, instead he is a source of more help and a richer program.

 

We are having what should be an outstanding Pack Overnight Camp June 4-5. It would be an ideal time to corral the parents in a parents meeting and lay out expectations for participation and sign them up to perform needed jobs in the Troop. But I was shot down when I suggested this by the pack leaders (I'm a Unit Commissioner).

 

Any ideas on how to turn this situation around?

 

 

The Pack Committee recognized that they needed help to to the campout. Their solution was to e-mail parents asking for parents to attend the committee meeting ---but no one showed up. So the Pack leaders are organizing the overnight.

 

I would think they would put two and two together, but they don't want to infringe on the parents having an unimpeded good time at the campout.

 

From my point of view, I see another organizational collapse when these three fine people get tired of being overworked and exploited.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

Frustrated

 

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As unit commissioner, you can only do so much. I think you're right to identify the problem, but you can only lead the horse to water.

 

We have found that generic requests for help do not do much. While many of our parents are willing to help, most won't step forward on their own. What we've really had success with is by asking specific individuals to do specific tasks. In general they are happy to do what we're asking.

 

We do tell parents that we expect everyone to contribute in some volunteer fashion, which helps to set expectations.

 

Oak Tree

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I think part of the problem is the "Little League" mentality that many parents of new Cub Scouts bring to BSA. Unless they are clearly told otherwise up front, they are perfectly happy to let the "coach" do everything except for maybe bringing a snack now and then. They are happy dropping their kids off to be "babysat" an hour every week.

 

The easiest way out of this (very common) situation is to avoid it up front of course by insisting at joining that ALL new parents sign up either as a leader or on one committee or another. The pack calendar including committee meeting dates should be handed out at this time.

 

You are right on about these key 3 using the campout to try and make it work, but it may be too late for the current (school) year. Urge the 3 key volunteers to do things differently next year. They are to be thanked for their dedication but they should be helped to see that they are encouraging the problem to continue by allowing everyone else off the hook. Next fall should start with a clean slate for this pack. Some handouts explaining all the different roles would help, along with a roster/signup sheet that makes it clear that EVERYONE is expected to volunteer.

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I'm dealing with that kind of situation now. We had some very active leaders in our large WII den that recently crossed over. With them gone, the pack is quite a lot smaller, with very few leaders. Most of the parents are used to sitting back and letting others do everything, but that has to change.

 

I'm taking over as CC this month with day camp as my first big responsibility. I've sent several e-mails explaining the need for volunteers at day camp. At signup, I was happy to see that two families volunteered who had not previously helped with anything. This is progress!

 

When school starts next year, I plan to have a meeting with all the parents. At this meeting, while handing out the calendar, I will remind them of the requirement to volunteer for something that was announced in March, and give them a chance to sign up to help with the year's activities. I've been thinking about other ways to encourage more involvement, especially ways of enforcing this requirement, which I'll have to discuss with the rest of the committee.

 

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Start small- phone calls, clean up, making copies etc. As our DE explained it at our graduation (we have the same few people doing everything in our pack as well) "One person could not possibly eat a 20ft sub by themselves in one sitting, but if you had each person take a small bite or two it could get done." Don't be afraid to ask the "busy" people, they get things done quicker because of limited time. Instead of waiting for someone to offer help, be direct in what you want and need. Good Luck!

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Heh, heh! Sounds like there are a lot of us singing the same song in the choir!

 

 

One additional comment: The Scouts have a good handout on SELECTING leadership. It emphsizes that the best practice is not to wait for people to volunteer for positions, because you may not get the best people for the job.

 

Instead, it suggests that the Pack/Troop (whatever) should conduct an inventory of leadership positions that need to be filled, and decide on which people are the best people to fill those positions. Then go to those people and ask them to do those jobs.

 

More work. Better results, I'd bet, in most cases.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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I have to agree. You must start with inventory of positions needed. Always add an assistant to all positions in hopes of finding a new parent to fill, that will in turn be the experienced leader next year with a new assistant.

 

I've noticed in my first year that 8-9 people volunteer for everything. I see the same people leading the Dens, cooking on campouts, and running camp activities. I sometimes wonder if that has happened because it is easier for the same people to jump right in rather than seek new help.

 

 

In my Den, I actually have a designated photographer for all activities (I supply the digital camera) and assitant Den Leader. All my parents hosted a meeting, but this year, they will each contribute to the pack in some form.

 

I am urging my Pack Committee to breakdown each major event with sign-up sheets that each Den must fill (such as different people cooking each meal).

 

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I just described how the Scouts recommend that the best people be SELECTED for the job, rather than taking pot luck IF people, even the wrong people, volunteer.

 

I just had an expert show me how this is done.

 

Our district had it's annual recognition dinner tonight, a nice affair. I had the honor of being given several awards, which perhaps with benefit of hindsight should have made me suspicious.

 

One of the things done was to introduce district officers, and lo and behold, I was listed as District Membership Chairman, responsible for recruiting new members and setting up new units.

 

Well. My District Executive had pitched me on doing that job several months ago, but I turned him down since I was already doing several other jobs and it was work I didn't feel I would be especially good at doing.

 

Somehow or another, I wound up agreeing to head up a Council project to train Cub Scout Pack leaders in how to do a good job of recruiting new boys.

 

Now I've been selected to do the whole job.

 

So, folks, meet the new District Membership Chair! How can you turn that down, anyway?

 

I'm making notes on that process, because now I'm going to HAVE to use the same strategy to get the help I need to do the work.

 

Let's see:

 

1. Identify the best person for the job.

 

2. Butter that person up by recognizing their talents and efforts.

 

3. Volunteer them for the work you need done, and do so in a way that they can't turn it down.

 

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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