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Burnout has arrived

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I don't think we'll strive for the Summertime Pack Award again. :-(

We got it, and I presented it to the Pack yesterday, along with Den ribbons. Everyone was excited and it was the first time our Pack had gotten it since 1999 so it was a big deal as NO ONE in the Pack was involved (and NONE of our Scouts were born!) in 1999. Man that makes me feel old! With that being said, I am so incredibly TIRED of it all. I have worked and worked and bent over backwards to keep the Pack involved thru the summer. Planning events, making phone calls, recruiting Tigers (we have 7 new ones). I've had the CM spot for just over a year now and have taken it from a unit with 9 Scouts, 3 leaders, and $0 in the bank to a unit with 40+ Scouts, 6 leaders, 5 committee members, and over $5K in the bank. I say that NOT to say "look at me", but to say THAT WAS ALOT OF WORK!


Yesterday we had our first Pack meeting of the season, it was a zoo. I guess it was partially my fault, maybe I tried to fit too much in one meeting. We set up a display at the local elementary school during open house and invivted whoever was interested to the Pack Meeting. We had 4 new families show up and I ***KNOW*** they thought they had walked into downtown crazytown on a full moon. The issue was the boys weren't very disicplined after a summer of fun and not-too-structured events. The biggest issue was the boys' siblings who WOULD NOT sit down and be quiet. We also had several parents that couldn't seem to understand the idea of "when CM is talking...kids AND parents (scouts or not) shouldn't be running around like crazed chickens! I was yelling "SIGNS UP!!" "SIGNS UP!!" until I realized that my Scouts were sitting quietly with signs up it was EVERYBODY ELSE who would shut the #?*! up! Whew... I'm also having issues with recruting. My personal goal has been 50 Scouts for our group and we're stuck at 40. Not that I'm complaining, it's alot better than 9 but..well you know how some folks are when they want something...that's me. Sorry if that's "petty". :-( No matter what we do, we can't seem to pick up any more Scouts. I've pulled every trick in the book, INCLUDING having a VERY active program. The fact of the matter is we have too many Packs in our area. Our "saturation" rate is 28% overall for the area versus national average of 12%, so we're doing well...it's just streched too thin for the area (too many packs). The problem is we have the "preppy" pack, the "unofficial white boys only" pack, the "deep woods hillbilly" pack, the "sit around and do nothing but get badges/loops/pins for it anyway" pack, and then you have MY pack..the "culturally diverse, middle-class, mom/dad work for a living, work for what your receive" pack. If we could all put our differences aside, we'd have a really big Pack or 2 (not 6 or 7 with 10-20 boys in each PACK). Sorry, just lettin' off a little steam on that one.


So anyway, back to the meeting. As usual, the new parents were sitting there looking ambushed over popcorn even though we tried to emphasize earning your keep, prizes, etc and I even had one to DROP OUT (yeah...Drop) over "having" to sell popcorn again. "Well, he was getting tired of it anyway, he wants to play football", yeah good luck with that. This, of course, put me back in my "oh gosh, I'm never gonna recruit" mode.


Anyway, thanks for listening and reading. I hope I can get pumped up about the fall season. We've got a few things planned and I'm hoping the committee gets to work on the rest of the year. I remember being so pumped at the beginning of last season, I WISH that I had the same energy, but all I can see is disgruntled (unwarranted) parents and rowdy siblings. I have TRIED to delegate activities to other adults but EVERYBODY always comes to me with questions and "issues". I had a literal LINE of parents who wanted to talk to me yesterday while I was trying to register new boys, pack up my materials, take notes, and (gasp!) talk to my existing boys and see how they were doing.


Ok...done complaining. Gonna go throw some gasoline on my head and hope the fire for Scouting I've had re-ignites!





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So what did you do with the pack for fun this summer?


A few thoughts:


What's magic about 50 Scouts and who cares? 40 seems like a nice number, with one good den for every year.


Where is your committee chairman? Recruitment should be a function of the membership committee, not the Cubmaster.


Divide and conquer. Have a separate new parent's meeting to do paperwork and answer questions. This should NOT include children, but if would be nice if a den leader or two was available to do something with the kids, just so parents don't have to get a sitter.


During pack meetings don't talk to anyone over age 11. All questions from folks older than that should be directed to the committee chairman.


Chill out with the summer activities. You're trying too hard. You only need one per month. Here are your three, easy, summer activities for next year


1) everyone goes to day camp.

2) a pool party. Find a community pool which will have you then just tell everyone when and where to be. Don't program ANYTHING. The kids just want to play. Don't feel like you have to "run things." Take a chair and cooler. You can play Marco Polo with the boys, if you feel you must and as long as you don't try to organize it.

3) a baseball game. Minor league or maybe the local American Legion. Again, don't try to organize anything, just pick a date and tell everyone the pack will sit behind the visitors dugout. If you really want to, ask the PA announcer to recognize the pack.


Adults think they have to account for every minute of an activity. Kids don't. If you let them, they will have a perfectly wonderful time playing Marco Polo in the pool or just running back and forth through the woods.


One year as Cubmaster is too early to be burned out. You're trying to do too much or at least trying to make things too complicated. Worst yet, you're setting the expectation with the other parents and leaders that you will take care of everything. Why should they volunteer if they know you've got it covered.


Unless you change that expectation, it's only going to get worse.


(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Everything Twocubdad said. At this point focus on the boys you have and giving them a real CS experience. The only recruiting you need to do right now is for 5 or 6 people so you have a functioning committee. And they don't have to be pack parents.


Do you have an troops scoped out for den chiefs? Look for one that has your same philosophy, not just the same CO.

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Twocubdad made some excellent points.


Change the criteria upon which you are deciding success/failure. Is your son(s) enjoying himself? Do you have healthy-sized dens at each rank level, with enthusiastic leaders? Are you putting together a program that you are proud of?


Learn a lesson from this summer and apply it towards next summer! Take advantage of that down time to recharge your batteries.


Our Pack offered 6 events over this past summer, but we wouldn't come close to earning the Summertime Pack award because participation at each of them varied greatly. I'm not going to stress that, though. The important thing is that we offered the events, and that the families who participated in them had fun.


My wife and I worked at one of our schools' open houses last week, doing the recruitment thing. It was her first time doing so, and she was surprised by the number of parents who pulled their son past our table rather than let him stop and look at our display. For whatever reason, for some parents it's just not an attractive program. I'm not going to be discouraged by that, though. We'll follow through with our typical recruiting process and let the results be what they are. I'll leave the numbers game to somebody else.



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Thanks ya'll Looking back at my post kind of made me feel a little silly. 40 cubs in a town with 6000 residents and 3 other Packs is pretty good I guess.


I do have 2 qualified Den Chiefs from our "brother" unit, the Troop. My son does have a good time and has since his Tiger year (He's a Web I now). The Committee is brand new so I do plan on diversifying thier duties to take some off of me. Yesterday's meeting was just too packed to be efficient. I'll know next time.


Thanks for the replies.

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I find myself asking the same questions. Then I see The hate being spewed by Glen Beck and his like and feel scouting has never been needed more.


Sports are easier for a parent to talk about and explain. There are clear winners and losers and there is always someone to blame if the team fails. Blame the ref, the small kid on team, the coach, the ball, the sun or the weather. It isn't your sons fault they failed.



Scouting makes parents answer the hard questions about themselves and the way they live. The will end up having live changing conversations with their sons and daughters. More than uncomfortable for the Internet Twitter generation.

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Burned out? WOW! I bet so. You did quite a bit of work there.


The only thinng I would say you ought to do differently ( keep in mind for next year) is the first meeting after roundup.


Actually, not sure how your signup goes, but our goes like this: The DE goes to school and a rally is held in the gym for the boys. He does his little presentation and gets the boys excited so they talk about nothing but Scouting all week to their parents. The following week, we hold a sign up night, where the DE does 90% of the talking to the parents who are sick of their kids talking about scouting and want them to shut up!


The Cm's of each pack stand up, introduce themselves and say a little something about the pack.


Pretty standard stuff.


Okay, back to first pack meeting.


As the new Cub Master, this will be my first time to stand up and say some stuff to get the kids excited. Then I tell the whole "signs up' concept. I ask them if they want to have fun in scouting. They yell YES!


Then we kick the kids outside with the existing scouts and den leaders.


Now we talk to the parents only. We lay down the law:

We love kids, We have fun with kids, we like mentoring and teaching kids...but we ARE NOT BABY SITTERS! WE expect parents to maintain control of their Tigers and we expect parents to let their kids know how to behave or else!


3 or 4 parents usually figure out this is not what they trhought it was ( babysitting) and leave with the kids in tow.


Everybody else tend to keep trheir kids somewhat managable and as time goes by, the kids turn out to be pretty god kids as long as your program doesn't sound like Ben Stein doing roll call : "Beuller, Beuller, Beuller..." :)


I mean, basically, we don't expect too much out of the kids during the first meeting, but let the parents know that we do expect something from them!


Anyways, Your doing fine. You had a summer to chill out ( ha ha ha ) and now it's back into high gear.


I will bet that in 1 month, you'll have that familair smile back on your face again!



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You've done a lot in a year's time - no wonder you're feeling burnt out.


My advice to you, aside from getting the committee working to handle the behind-the-scenes stuff, is to scour the parental ranks to get an ACM, stat! Find a Wolf or Bear parent who maybe hasn't stepped into a DL role, or perhaps is an ADL, someone who's naturally good with the kids, whom you can groom to be your successor and fill in from time to time. (Yes, I know it's the job of the COR and committee to pick the next CM, but really, how often does that happen?)


Once you have an ACM, you can relax a little bit. Split the long line of parents into two. Take an event off once in a while. At least you'll have someone able to step right into your shoes if you get sick! (What's your pack's plan right now if you do get sick one meeting night? They need to have some sort of Plan B.)


Also, I'd encourage you to take a look at the questions you were being asked by that long line of parents the other night, and see if perhaps you can cut down on that in the future by more information-sharing with your DLs. If the parents were just asking about pack-level stuff, that's one thing. But if they were asking about upcoming events, dates, awards, paperwork, etc., those are all things you can hand off to the DLs or committee members. If you get the parents properly trained in the chain of command, it'll make your life a lot easier.

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I can empithize with you. With our Pack of 170+ Scouts burnout is an ever present danger. Large or small, a good active pack can be a lot of work for one person. It sounds like you've done a great job, but don't keep carrying the load alone. There should be a Pack Committee helping with every roundup/registration event. These 40 parents should be stepping up and helping. Even if it is only setup and teardown at an event, this takes an enormous load off of you. Be sure to space your major events out. Unless there is an unusual reason, there should never be more that one major event in a month. It is too much for your parents, too much for your volunteers and too much for you. If you have a PWD one month...put off the campout or the service project or whatever to the next month. Your doing a great job, but remember, it doesn't help anyone if you burn out! There are alot of really good ideas here. Judge your success on most of the boys staying in Scouting and having fun, not new numbers! :)


KISMIF_Works, you said your Pack won't earn the award? All that it has to do is hold an event every month. Attendence doesn't matter, that is for Den Summertime Award.

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Generally, I'm with shortridge on this.


I'd not only look for adults to help out with events, but also try and develop some additional adult leadership help.


Build up a team of some ACMs & develop a stronger pack committe. And then instead of delegating activities, give these folks some long term jobs. Maybe one person organizes logistics for pack meetings and coordinates which dens do what. Perhaps someone else organizes events and another person handles join scouting & recruiting. My experience has been that when folks realize who's calling the shots on an activity, they go to that person. If they realize that you're not directly handling the new boy sign-ups or the sign-ups for the next campout, they won't ask you about that - they'll ask that person. Even if they don't, your job can then become facilitator.


Hopefully, then as a result, you as CM can have the bandwidth to focus on the areas you can add the most impact and enjoy.


I'm in a similarly sized pack now with a CM who delegates a little, but not as much as he could. As a result, we have a couple of guys who do 95% of the work.


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What caught my eye was your recruiting goal. And I get it, because I helped revive a pack that went from a small-ish handful, to about 40 boys in the space of a year. After we moved on to boy scouts, the pack settled in at about 20-25 boys. For a while I felt as though that was a failure. But think about this. A lot of boys who are involved with scouting need some individual attention. The larger the pack gets, the less likely they are to get that.


This is not to say that some groups can't do it all, well, with huge numbers. But I don't think I would be happy to have my kid in a pack or troop with 50 or more scouts. Not enough chances for most kids to get the full experience and develop really strong relationships with a few caring adults outside their family structure. In my book, 35-40 is about the upper limit of what most groups can do well.


Regarding the summertime award, I also used to think this was a very big deal. We used this as a benchmark of whether the pack was providing "quality program" in the rebuilding years for our pack. Turns out, you can drive people away by asking too much of them, too. Be careful not only about burning out, yourself, but also about putting more pressure on your other adult leaders and even "just" parents, if they don't share a common zeal for tons of summer programming.


Finally, about recruiting. You are going to lose some folks no matter what you pull out of the hat. Let them go, with good graces. The boys may come back at some point but even if they do not, they will probably remember their cub scout days with a smile when they are older, and that's important, too. The fact that you had more people trying to talk to you about joining than you really had time to deal with, says a lot about your success. And you might just want to divide up the job of running your first couple of pack meetings each year, from talking to new and potentially-new members and parents. Get a good recruitment and membership person!





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