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Robert_ND

Starting from scratch ... so here's the plan

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This is a long post. Im writing it to serve two purposes:

 

1) to vent.

2) To share my experience so far and to solicit feedback on what I could have done differently and where I should go from here.

 

Ive been a den leader for two years (Tiger and Wolf) and in that time have seen two CMs come and go. The first CM was good but with a few major flaws. He and his wife ran the pack pretty well. The kids had lots of activities, there was good scout retention and the pack grew in size by almost 30% in one year (were a town of about 2000). The two major flaws are:

 

1) They did not delegate any responsibilities but rather tried to do it all. It was all magic to everyone else. Stuff just happened.

2) They did not help the den leaders. No training. No materials. I didnt even know the Program Helps existed up until about 2 weeks ago.

 

The second were worse but probably not all their fault. The first CM was leaving and he needed to find a replacement in a hurry so this other guy stepped up before considering how much time it would take. All that stuff that magically happened stopped happening. Pack meetings would be canceled at the last minute (literally the day of). The den leaders had even less help (if that was possible).

 

That CMs own boys lost interest (you cant miss 2 pack meetings in a row and expect kids to want to come to the third) so he has stepped down.

 

I dont begrudge him. He just took on more than he could handle.

 

So enter me - the new CM. I dont know everything I need to do but I know its going to take a lot of my time. To help stay balanced I disengaged myself from all of my other volunteer work (which was hard - but will be worth it). My wife has been a GSA troop leader for 5 years and will now (also) be my asst. CM so she knows what shes getting into as well.

 

First order of business was calling the charter org contact and all committee members to find out when the committee last meet and to introduce myself.

 

Turns out 3 of the 4 committee members didnt even realize they were on it and the chair hadnt signed a paper in 3 years (which made me wonder how the old CM became official) and does not want to continue to be involved. She has agreed to stay on long enough to sign the papers making me the CM.

 

So there is no committee.

 

The charter org. contact wants to remain involved (though re-chartering isnt until January).

 

The treasurer has also stayed on board (his son is a 2nd year Weblos) good too only he can write the checks!

 

Next order of business was to call all of the den leaders.

 

They all quit. Every last one. I understand their frustrations with the pack and hope they will consider helping with a few summer time activities while we found new leaders (actually - Im hoping they will see the pack is changing and get that excitement about being a leader back). Most wouldnt commit to helping this summer but Im still hopeful.

 

So I called our district office to get some help. They were wonderful. I walked in clueless and walked out still clueless but with an arm full of training info, hours of videos and lots of phone numbers I can call when I need help (and they have always answered and helped).

 

So Im sitting here with two choices:

 

1) Do nothing until September and hope that something magic happens.

2) Try to jump-start the pack by holding a pack activity each summer month (why not earn the National Summertime Award, I figure). Hopefully that will build at least some momentum going into fall (people might at least realize Im serious about not letting the pack die without a fight)

 

If I do #1 then the pack might as well send our gear over to the charter org and fold. By the time back to school night happens the kids will all be in other activities and well have to scramble so hard to find leaders that nothing will get done.

 

So I choose #2. Without a committee or leaders to call on were running solo.

 

Tomorrow we have our first activity. Its a fishing derby at the local reservoirs followed by a (weather permitting) campfire program and camp out (the most common complaint I heard from parents was why arent we camping?). I got the idea when I visited the state DNR website to find out about local trails/parks and learned that June 4/5 is the weekend when resident adults dont need a license to fish.

 

The district office loaned us 10 rod/reel setups. A local Sportsmans Warehouse has donated about $50 worth of gear to give as prizes (plus there is a special prize that any scout who brings a non-scouting friend is eligible to win) those guys were great all I had to do was ask and 10 minutes later we were setup. And after about 10 hours of planning and shopping Ive about gone insane trying to make sure were ready (I swear planned less last time our family went on a 10 day camping trip through the Black Hills).

 

I ran a notice in the local paper inviting any family in the community interested in scouting to please come out and join us and every active scout (even ones I know have quit) got a personalized letter inviting them to come and to bring a friend.

 

Im not nervous about what to do to fill the time. Im not nervous about the weather. Im not even nervous that some kid will get a hooked on the pier.

 

What Im nervous about is that no one will show up (ok I know at least 6 people will be there my family is practically a den on its own! :) That this year went so bad that the sour taste hasnt left peoples mouths yet.

 

No matter what happens we are meeting in July. Momentum takes time I can be patient. People are more willing to volunteer when they see things happening and a plan.

 

For July Im thinking of trying to involve our charter org (local volunteer fire dept) perhaps having the kids learn how to use a compass and some outdoor skills and have the fire dept. run a clinic on first aide and/or fire safety for the kids and perhaps CPR for the adults (kids can learn that too but that might help attract parents who might not have otherwise come).

 

So what did I do wrong (or could have done differently) and where do I go from here?

 

I have thick skin and lots of time. Lay it on me.

 

Thanks it was nice to vent.

 

Robert.

 

 

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Things you should have done differently -

 

Taken training 2 years ago

Encouraged other leaders (including CM) to get trained

 

What you should do this month -

 

Get all of the committe members that you have & the COR (Charter Org Rep) together again ASAP. Go over a membership list & decide who to approach to be den leaders & committee members. Go visit each person you have targeted & ask them personaly. It does not matter if you have 100 boys, without leaders your Pack is sunk. You need committed, trained leaders NOW.

 

Once you have commitments from people have them do the online Fast Start training:

 

http://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/faststart/

 

Then have them take the online Youth Prtection training:

 

http://www.scouting.org/pubs/ypt/ypt.jsp

 

Then have them commit to taking the rest of their training as soon as your council offers it (does not have to be in your district only).

 

Have these people help you plan & run any other summer activites you do.

 

Get on your Council's and District's e-mail list. Many send out e-mail newsletters which will keep you up to date on what is happening. In August your District should be having kickoff meetings. Find out when & where & get as many of your leaders to go as possible. Also in August, get your leaders & committee members together again to plan your Pack calendar for the upcoming year. Include on your calendar monthly Pack meetings & monthly committee meetings. You can have some events that will "TBA" or "More Info Later", but most of your times & places should be figured out then.

 

ASAP after school starts do registration rallies at whatever schools you would pull boys from. Sign up a Tiger leader & get them trained!

 

Use you parents & form committees to do specific things. Even once a year things like Blue & Gold.

 

HAVE FUN! Make sure the boys & their families have FUN!

 

 

PS) One thought, you said you were planning a campout this weekend. While I hope you have fun, know that unless you have a BALOO trained person & Youth Protection trained person with you & have filed a Local Tour Permit, you are not covered under BSA insurance should something happen. Everyone is covered by their own personal insurance only.

 

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Robert- been there. You have my sympathy and deepest admiration!

 

In my old pack, I was brought in during the Fall registration- to a pack with a 50 year history and no leadership or boys except for a single CM, whose wife was treasurer and had one kid. We grew to having a decent group of 30 Cubs and good leaders. In our case, the fall registration bit worked well, but I applaud your decision to use the summer!

 

At some point, as early as possible, get yourself trained. If possible, take the training for as many pack positions as you can so you know their jobs as well.

 

I would work to assemble an interim leadership team to help take the full load off your shoulders for right this minute. Build the team from whatever ex-leaders or parents you think you can work with. Invite them personally to help and explain that at this point, they are noto committee members or den leaders, just the 'Pack Summer Events Committee' or some such.

 

Put together a 'summer events newsletter' with the calendar of events for as far in the future as you can. Send it to anyone you can, especially youth and adults who were involved in the last couple years. Do not fall to the temptation to ask for more help in the newsletter, but rather let them assume everything is going great. Include your phone number as a contact.

 

Use your temporary leadership team to put together good events and to make sure everything is kosher.

 

Now- once that is rolling pretty well, start thinking about yhour leadership structure for the fall. Get recruiting materials from the district, and see what schools, churches, etc. will let you post stuff. Find out about having a recruiting drive, etc.

 

Using your 'interim team' try to sense which ones are open to the idea of giving it a second shot. As the events occur, see which adults you think are really into it and might be willing to listen to a sales pitch. Try to recruit specific people for specific jobs (the BSA way you'll learn in training) and put together at least a skeleton roster. If you can hit the fall recruiting fest with a Chartering Org. Rep, a Committee Chair, a couple other committee members, and a couple Den Leaders, you'll have a big head start.

 

One hint- as you recruit new people, encourage them to be trained ASAP as well. If your pack has the money, consider having the pack pay for it. Even if they can't do the whole thing, get them Fast Started before they start their new position. Trained leaders make the Cubmasters job a LOT easier!

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Two more suggestions:

 

(1) find out when & where your district holds its monthly Roundtable; make it a point to attend regularly and bring as many of your leaders and parents as possible. Your district and Council may sponsor many activities that will take the load off of your Pack to come up with so many things on your own.

 

(2) find out who is your District Commissioner and ask him or her to assign your Pack a unit commissioner. Your unit commissioner can be a great resource to act as a neutral third party in dispute resolution, to suggest program ideas, to be a shoulder to lean on, etc.

 

Good luck,

 

Fred Goodwin, UC

Alamo Area Council

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Robert,

 

Welcome to the forum and best of luck to you. you are doing many things right and, as others have said, there are several things you can be doing.

 

You said all of your den leaders have quit. Do the dens still exist? Do the boys (and their parents) even know if the pack is still functioning. My suggestion to add to the great advice the other esteemed scouters have given is to (and I know this may take some time) call each and every scout family on your pack roster, introduce yourself and personally invite them to the next pack summertime meeting. Let them know that scouting is alive and well again in the pack and allay their fears that the dens have disintegrated. Then start hitting up the parents to join you in this opportunity to create a pack that everyon can be proud of.

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Robert--you got guts old man,

Thank you for your service to the organization.

 

Call a meeting of the parents and let them know

"theys a new sheriff in town".

 

Let them know in no uncertain terms that this pack runs on it's parent volunteers. You need committed folks in key billets.

 

Without Den leaders you are dead in the water(nautical term for "your engine isn't running)

Training, Training, Training.

Require that all billet holders do YPT online. and within one year be trained for their position.

 

Ask the local Scout Troop for a Den Chief for each Den . Some of those boys must have been Cubs.

 

 

Come up with a list of billets and let parents know that if Scouting is to continue on your town that they each need to do something on that list. Big or small you need them to do something.

Set up committees for PW derby,Blue and gold dinner, sunmmertime activities etc.

 

For short term assistants,Dig around the charter organization. rotary, Kiwanis VFW etc. See if there's any Grandpas or Grandmas, that were den leaders in their day, that might lend a hand as assistants.

 

Your subordinate leaders are key. Make the Den Leaders know that you are in this for the long haul.With out dens you got no pack.

 

See if District will help you by having training very close to your town.Then all go together.

 

For now keep the activities small and simple. Don't make many promises but require that your staff and you keep the promises you make.

 

Final suggestion ask other other Scouters at roundtable if they would help run and train one activty. If there's a flood, Scouters will usually come to help. It looks like you've had quite a bit of rain in your pack.

 

If you were in Castleton NY I could help you a lot more.

I've never been to Casselton ND.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Robert, WELCOME!!!

 

Don't forget to use nearby Packs, Troops and Crews as resources. There's a load of talented, trained Scouters out there looking to do one more thing for the good of the cause. They might not be able to help carry the load long term, but on individual events their presence often lends a sense of excitement, learning, and Scouting continuity. They'll have equipment to lend and experience to share - some may even be willing to serve on your Committee till you're up and running.

 

Don't forget to say thank you! - personally, but also formally from the Pack. Pack stationery is easy to create on any word processor. It's cheap and gives your Unit a public image of professional and personal caring.

 

KISMIF!

 

And every once in a while take a moment to reflect on your efforts. Whether they succeed or fail, what you're attempting is nothing short of heroic for the boys of your town. Be humble as you work, but know that we're all proud to have you on the team and caring about the young men in ND.

 

Thanks!

 

 

jd

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Robert, Good luck to you. I was in a similar (but not quite so bad) situation several years ago. You've gotten good advice, so I'll say very little.

 

Get passionate about it. Get your thoughts together and then get your key folks together. Especially the registered leaders, but perhaps some other influencial parents as well. Sell them on what's going to happen. Be straight about what happened in the past. Make them excited about it! (Think like that Soccer coach who convinces you that soccer is going to change your son's life). Get them excited about the program ideas you have and the rest should follow (with good training and everything else that has been mentioned!).

 

Good luck!

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First - thanks to everyone who responded. This amount and quality of advice has been great. Immediately important was the advice on the rules regarding campouts and the required training and forms needed to be proper. Thankfully I read ScoutNut's response a few hours before the event started and was able to get everything squared away by getting a former Webleos leader with the appropriate training (and still registered with the pack) to agree to camp out with us (I had already filed a tour permit).

 

It turned out the weather was not agreeable for a campout so when the derby ended at 7:00 we packed it in for the night but it was nice to know that we were on the up-and-up.

 

But despite the weather it was a great day.

 

The kids learned how to tie their own lines (I took some 8" sections of 2x4's and put a 3/4" eye hook in them and let them practice tying the knot on a large scale before having them tie off their own barbless hooks). After that they had a few contests (fishing themed - I made some plugs using dowel and small eye hooks to let the kids cast on land and we had distance and accuracy contests as well as practice for the kids who hadn't fished before). After that they played a few games (Ballon Battle Royale) and guessed the number of fish eggs in a jar (the fish eggs were just the white jelly beans - made counting them easier even though there were probably 500 beans in the jar overall).

 

Then it was a few hours of fishing and a hot-dog cookout.

 

The kids didn't catch much (there was a bad kill this winter when the reservoirs froze hard - they won't stock until later this June) but there was enough action to keep them excited.

 

If anyone cares to see there are some pictures here:

 

http://www.thehorvicks.com/

 

I'm a little disappointed at the low turnout but I did have several familes call and say they couldn't attend because of a local wedding. It turns out about half the town was there! :) But since this was our first time running an event of this scale (5 hours of activities and a meal) it was nice to have it be a little less crowded. We didn't run out of food, had enough rods for everyone, there was enough kids for games but not so many that we couldn't keep track of where everyone was when we were near the water. But considering the weather and the wedding we did alright (though my wife did have to run home three times to get little things we forgot).

 

Two scouts brought friends - both took forms and one signed up on the spot. His father has even expressed an interest in being a den leader.

 

It was a good day.

 

 

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Hey Rob, glad I could help! Those pics look great! Don't worry about a low turnout. As long as the kids that were there had a great time, that's what counts. Get them all a fun patch for their vest (or whatever they use) & make a big deal when you present it to them at your next Pack meeting! When the other kids hear how much fun it was they will make sure to make it next year.

 

Speaking of next year, check this out:

 

http://www.kids-fishing.com/

 

It is sponsored by Wal-Mart. They send you a nice big box of all sorts of give aways.

 

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Robert_ND, keep up the great work! Your pack is lucky to have you as its Cubmaster. I think your plan of earning the Summertime Pack Award is excellent! If you conduct your August activity early enough, and turn in the paperwork right away, you can have the Unit Commissioner or District Executive present the award (a certificate and a streamer for your pack flag) at school night recruitment. That ought to impress the parents, who want their sons involved in a winning organization. Make sure school night opens with a flag ceremony and the pledge by uniformed Scouts.

 

When I became a Cubmaster, it wasn't under quite as dire circumstances as you, but I sure felt challenged. Training and the internet made it easy for my comfort level to rise and I truly enjoyed my two years as Cubmaster. A few more recommendations:

 

Have the committee set very clear expectations about adult leadership: training, uniform, meetings (both den and leaders), following the monthly themes, etc.

 

Make sure potential leaders are aware of these expectations up front and then, enforce them.

 

Ask leaders to make a two year commitment to serve.

 

Use the words "serving our community's youth" when recruiting.

 

Hold a pack planning meetings now, or as soon as you feel is appropriate, and plan out the entire year through August 2006.

 

Use the program helps to set the themes for each month.

 

Be sure to go to Cub Summer Camp next summer, this August, if you can swing it.

 

We're all rooting for you! Good Luck! :)

 

 

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Rob,

Great pictures!

Please respond to my personal post so I can forward the soda bottle rocket stuff to you.

 

Ps. Did you remember the fishing belt loops for the kids. You can't forget the bling bling

 

Keep up the good work! Don't forget to delegate

 

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As your pack grows this year, get Pack t-shirts made for those long days in the sun as an informal uniform. It helps everyone identify your group as one unit, including the kids in your Pack!

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Champ,

 

That's a really good idea. When the saw the pictures and realized (I was too busy to notice the day-of) that no boys wore their uniforms I felt like next time I should do something about that. I hadn't figured out what and your idea is just what I needed.

 

uz2bnowl,

 

I must have missed your personal message? I don't see anything about soda bottle rockets in your reply to this thread so I'm not sure what you mean.

 

Thanks.

 

Robert.

 

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Wow, great effort Robert!

 

Your decision to operate the Pack program over the summer is the right one. Hit up the adults who show up at your events to be leaders, and work towards having your leadership team together by fall.

 

Also, you need to have someone figuring out how to recruit new Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts this fall. You need a good organizational person to do that, and need to investigate how the Pack has traditionally done that, if those methods worked well.

 

You are getting a lot of excellent advice in this thread.

 

 

A good Pack in our District had a Cubmaster who did "everything, and did a very good job at it, just as your describe. The problem is that when they leave, you have a huge hole to fill.

 

Fortunately, this Pack didn't limp along with a poor leader as yours did until the whole Pack had mostly dissipated. The only person paying attention was a lady who had volunteered to be "Popcorn Colonel," and didn't have anyone to sell popcorn! No One even had a roster of Pack members.

 

As Unit Commissioner, I'm glad to say I helped get that Pack up and running again. We just had a very succesful Pack Campout, and recruited more adult leaders. If the leadership keeps hammering at adults to be leaders, they should do OK.

 

So it can be done! And you are proving it yourself. I'm very impressed, and wish you the best.

 

 

 

Seattle Pioneer

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