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Tiger Cubs parent participation

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I have a great bunch of boys that are really getting into the Tiger Cub program and I am blessed with a few parents that are diving in and helping and selling popcorn like they were born to do it! Then I have the other end of the spectrum - the parents who are very low participation (as I'm sure everyone does). I'm talking don't think their child can learn the requirements for Bobcat, when I know the kids can do it (5 minutes twice a day is how I taught my son).


As a veteran Scouter (and newbie CS DL), I may be a little too enthusiastic for them to handle. I am following the new 2010-2011 (2 meeting a month) den meeting schedule. My Pack leadership has expressed concern over scaring parents off (they had very low Tiger Cub retention last year) by giving them "too much too fast".


The trouble is half the parents (in my den) are thrilled with the well-planned activites and scheduled advancement and work with their sons at home (and are loving it). The issue in my mind is that the boys with low parent involvement are the ones who (IMHO) will benefit the most from Scouting (thats why we do it, right?). So without boring the hard chargers, I need to help the other boys (I guess I'm looking for the "middle ground" here).


So how do den leaders deal with the challenge of low parent participation? Especially in Tiger Cubs where it is a requirement right up front? I'm just fine with putting my shoulder against the grindstone, I'm just not sure about where (and when) to push. Any help on how to have this talk without totally ticking off parents would help.(This message has been edited by RipVanScouter)

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Advice from someone who only last year returned to Scouting as a Cub Scout parent after a hiatus similar to your, FWIW:


I'd say it sounds like your on the right track. Tigers (and often their parents) seem to need a lot of structure. They are new to the program and frequently don't quite "get it" yet. But if you gently but firmly bring them along they should eventually figure it out. Take some time, especially during the early meetings to lay out the program for them, how it's structured as a mix of activities done with the den and at home, and what's needed to accomplish the goal. A positive and enthusiastic attitude (without being overbearing) is contagious and can keep both the Tigers and there partners involved.


Some may decide along the way that the program isn't for them, don't let that get to you, work with what you've got. Be sure to ask for their help and involvement of the adults, make them part of the process; whether setting up Go See Its, leading an activity or part of a meeting, or just bringing snacks, if they feel invested in the program without being overwhelmed they tend to be more involved.


Dest of luck to you and your Tigers (and their partners).





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I agree with DwS . . . sounds like you're on the right track if you get to know them and draw them in.


My sense has always been that first year parents (at whatever level) are always sitting back, sitting on their hands, assuming that "someone else" is supposed to take the lead. With Tigers, it's worse, since unless you have a parent who has an older son in the Pack, they're all new and all sit back.


It's almost like some of them are in "kidshock": OMG, I'm a parent! I have responsibilities!


That's actually one of the ways to draw them in: get to know them as fellow parents, get to know what they do and what their hobbies are. (On a Den Level, I suggest just talking with folks, and ignoring the "talent survey", as in a small group it should be a discussion/dialog, not some administrative trap thing to be filled out and filed).


You'll probably find that many of them are thinking "ya know, I gotta get around to teaching my son x, y and z" (whether reading a neighborhood or other map, or safety stuff), and as you sense you can set the hook, you can show them that this is a good way to get around to doing those things.


And if you give them wee bits of meetings to help out with, and praise 'em for getting it done, you'll hook them (or the kids will hook them when they ask 'em to come back and do more). I actually did a whole "Tom Sawyer"-esque first Tiger meeting with a handful of parents who ended up taking over all of the meeting, even though when they arrived none of them was at all interested in being a leader. During the gathering time, I handed out Meeting Plan One, the Code of Conduct example, and a Scrapbook handout, and asked parents:


To Parent 1: "hey, could you lead this opening? Here it is, and here's how you do it . . . "


To Parent 2: "I'm gonna talk about fun things they can do as Cub Scouts, and I know they will all start talking at the same time. When they do that, can you step in and say 'hey guys, we ought to set up some rules about how we're gonna behave when we meet', and then prompt them for these sorts of Code of Conduct points . . . ".


To Parent 3 (hanging out with Parent 2): ". . . .and could you write those on the board when she starts getting ideas, and chime in with your thoughts . . . ."


To Parent 4: "Take a look at this scrapbook idea, and these 'templates' they can start working on today. Can you take a look at that, introduce it when it's time, and hand out these crayons and pencils from the Cub Tub?"


And so on. Now, I did size up folks, and some got smaller or just assisting parts, as all volunteerism is local (and some will do more than others).


In the after meeting gaggle, one of they agreed to be the Den Leader, and they all did an awesome field trip two weeks later, and are off and running (literally, having done a day at Camp a couple weeks ago) . . .


My $0.02.


Bert Bender

Pack and District Trainer

South Fulton District, Atlanta Area Council

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In Tigers you should have a parent (or other adult partner) attending all activities with each Scout. These parent adult partners should not be allowed to simply sit in a corner and watch and chat.


When you set up the room put enough chairs around so that every Partner is sitting right next to their Tiger.


When you hand out crafts, make sure you give one to BOTH the Tiger and his Partner.


When you have a Tiger TEAM do an opening flag ceremony have the Tiger hold the flag (use a smaller, hand held one), and the Partner lead the Pledge/Law/Promise. Everyone (Tigers, Partners, siblings,etc) stands, salutes, and recites.


When you have a closing ceremony (I do the Living Circle) include all Tigers, Partners, and any siblings.


See who can do your den cheer louder, the Tigers, or the Partners.


Include the Partners in EVERYTHING. No one sits on the sidelines. The boys are only half of your den. The Partners are the other half. Make sure they know that, feel that, and are having fun right along with their Tiger.


Every Tiger Team signs up for at least ONE activity/meeting. Make sure they know that you will be there to help in any and all ways. The more creatively challenged can easily put together a trip to the Fire Dept, library, or nature center. The more gung ho can do more. But everyone must do something.


You are naturally going to have some parents who are more active than others, and that's OK. Some might need a bit more encouragement to sign off on the things they did at home, and that's OK too. Don't ever assume that they are not doing things at home. They usually are, and sometimes they don't even know it (game with a purpose remember). Ask questions, give suggestions, and work with them.


Tigers is EASY. That is not just for the boys either!


You will need to explain the program, and set these expectations from day one. If you can get your parents to feel involved, like a real part of the den, instead of a bystander looking in, they will get hooked on Scouting. When that happens you will not have to worry about scout retention, or parent help. You will have a cohesive group that will work together, and have fun together, for years to come.


Your mileage, as they say, will vary. But, in the 12+ years I have been Tiger den leader, I have lost very few Scouts, and I have never had a problem getting 2, or more, adults to step up as den leaders.



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Our pack has, probably since the inception of the TC program, tolerated parents who do not participate as required. Some do, but because of the absent ones, it is run more like a Wolf or Bear den. I have discussed this with the CM and others, and we have considered being more strict about it. We basically agree with the original poster, that these kids are generally probably the ones who will benefit the most from scouting in the long run, and we want to get them hooked on the program as soon as possible. In general, these kids have been well behaved and it has not been an issue. In fact, some of the most disruptive kids have been the ones with parents there. Trying to view our TC program objectively, it certainly seems like the kids are having fun and getting a lot out of it.

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This seems to happen every fall when we get back in the swing of things. Your Pack is very fortunate to have someone with Scouting experience as TDL. Most, as has been stated before, are just a bunch of clueless parents and kids (not being "mean", that just what it is).


I (CM) have a TDL in my group this year that sounds very similar to you. An Eagle, he has scheduled an active Den program for his group in addition to several "go see its" already. We'll see how this works out. The parents, thus far, have been apprciative of his committment to the group.


Now, here's the ugly truth. You will NOT retain them all. You probably would retain more if you did the bare minimum. These days (IMO) parents seem to be more concerned with quantity instead of quality. Simply stated: "Bobby is in Cub Scouts, Soccer, flag football, baseball, basketball, karate, 4-H, Church activities, etc. etc etc....AINT THAT GREAT!?" Whereas "Bobby" and mom/dad would be much better off if they would let him pick one or two activites and actually give them the time and effort they deserve. It's a shame. what you end up with is a tired kid who can't muster up the energy to ENJOY the program and parents who start rolling thier eyes pulling out schedule books every time you schedule a meeting.


I wouldn't change my program one bit. Why punish the families that are embracing the program to pacify the slackers? If they can't come to every meeting, tell them to catch up at home. High standards produce high quality Scouts. Good for you for setting the bar high.

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Thank you all so much for your replies, your advice and your reassurance that my experience is common (I suspected as much). Your advice has convinced me that I should sign up for the upcoming University of Scouting that I was considering (there's still more to learn - WAY COOL!).


Just had our first Pack leadership meeting - about halfway through I was feeling like Clint Eastwood's character Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway in "Heartbreak Ridge" - the old grisled veteran that was a bit "out of step" with things "today" and way too gung-ho. But since then I 'quietly' got e-mail from another den leader asking me how to set up a field trip - so maybe my 'scary', 'hyper-organized' 2-4 month lookahead scheduling style wasn't lost on all of them (even though the 30 something DL's rolled their eyes :-).


I'm trying to engage the parents as I get to know them. Of course with just learning the program myself - it may take a month or so. But as interests and skills/talents are revealed, I try to capitalize on them as quickly as possible. I've had a couple of parents notice this (the gung-ho ones), so it's becoming a Tiger den parent joke about how fast I draft/volunteer people.


Again, thank you one and all.


(This message has been edited by RipVanScouter)

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