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It stinks being a leaders son

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Yesterday after returning from Webelos resident camp, the son and I were setting up the tents I borrowed from the troop to clean and dry them.


It was 98 degrees, sun beating down on us.


Son looks at me and says, "Dad this sucks, and it isn't fair. They went home and to bed and I gotta clean up their mess." Well ya know the boy has a point, I sent him in to shower and take a nap.


He is right and he has paided a heavier price for scouting all of the other boys in the troop and Pack.


Not looking to ignite a huge debate.....Our Troops gear is very important, we don't have the money to replace it and I was happy the Troop committee let me borrow them.



So long timers......


How do you balance this????


Just have your scout take care of his gear and his share troop gear and that's it?


I use praise and for his help I took him and his best friend to see harry potter last night for his help.






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Yep, being the leaders kid is not always an easy road.


They show up earlier, stay later, and get stuck with extra duties. We expect them to be a better example of a Scout. We expect them to happily let us help other kids instead of them. They get impressed into service whenever we need help.


However - they also have more opportunities to do more, experience more things, meet new people, and grow in different ways.


How do I balance things?


I don't take their help for granted. I show my appreciation in many ways. I let them say no at times. I make sure to spend fun non-Scouting time with them too.

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Its not easy. Its not fair. But you have to balance it by not letting him always be your slave labor. As you did, give him some special rewards so he doesnt grow to resent it.


It would be tough on mine when he was tired, bored and ready to go home after meetings and Im still there a half an hour or even hour talking to committee members, ASMs, parents waiting for all to leave so I could lock up and we could get back for his bedtime. I recognized that I had to ask other adults to alternate with me so I could leave after closing and get him home. He was so glad when the day arrived that he could drive on his own to meetings so he could leave when he was ready. I was saddened as I valued that time together in the car.


Recognize that you need support. You cant do it all. Recruit some of these other boys and adults to help clean the gear. Dont take it all on yourself or you and your family will pay for it eventually. Trust me on this.


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Different kids can react differently to the various aspects of this. Some of them don't mind hanging around afterwards because they have a friend of a second leader who hangs out too. Some of them look at you like keeping them at Scouts for one more minute is going to cause them to starve to death and they will blame you for it.


I try to balance it with the idea of giving some extra perks. There are certainly advantages to being the leader's son too. You can give him some extra input into things. You can take home the leftover ice cream. You can make sure his advancement doesn't get stuck. You can borrow troop gear more easily than others. Find your own little ways to give him some benefit from the fact that you are there.


Sometimes I have my wife pick up my son at the end of a meeting so that I can hang around without worrying about him.

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It's time for the servant leadership lesson for your son.


Every adult in a unit knows that in order to be a leader they have to accept the responsibility of doing more work than anyone else and covering up everyone else's messes. It's a thankless job to do the extra work for your buddies all the time, but they will quickly learn who to look to when things get shaky along the trail. A good leader always takes care of his people.


A good PL does more work cleaning up after his patrol than anyone else.


A good DC does more work cleaning up after his cubs than anyone else.


Etc. etc.


If the only way one can get someone to take on leadership is with a carrot and stick, they will never internalize the importance of the process. Yes a few perks and thank-you's come your way over time, but for the most part it's not always "worth it" and is a thankless job.


If your son ever begins to realize this as more of an opportunity in leadership rather than a dreaded chore, he's going to get some great mileage out of his scouting experience.


I had one young fellow figure this out at an early age. We did a lot of dutch oven cooking as a troop and no one wanted to clean them afterwards. It was perceived as the worst of the worst when it came to camp clean up chores. Most of the time the adults "got stuck with it". :)


After each meal I would announce that I got to clean the dutch ovens! Eventually after a couple of these announcements, one of the younger boys came over and watched me do it. When I was done, he commented that it didn't look that bad and asked if I would teach him how to do it. I did, and from that point on he was the troop-designated dutch oven cleaner. It got him out of washing, clean-up, cooking, and a dozen other camp chores and was never on the duty roster (how could he be, he always had to do the dutch ovens!). Of course, he got so good at it he could done well before the wash water was half heated for after dinner dish washing.


Although challenged many times throughout his career, he hung on for dear life for troop dutch oven cleaner. :) Even as SPL, he always did the dutch ovens. However, what he also realized that even though he was not responsible for any of the other camp chores on the roster, he had the time to help others as needed and thus was appreciated by the other boys as a good helper. When it came time for PL/SPL elections he was an easy shoe-in for any position he wanted.


Servant leadership really works.



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I was a den leader's son, and loved it. I got to see and hear things that no one else did, and as a result had a much deeper understanding of Scouting than most. I imagine I was probably the only Webelos in the district who knew who the DE was, let alone what a DE was. ;)


But I also had to help with a lot of stuff. I set up chairs at the pack meetings, tables at the Pinewood Derby, Genius Kit materials at den meetings, obstacle courses in our back yard ... etc. I thought it was fun. Plus I got to become an expert at the most efficient way of carrying and setting up folding metal chairs!

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My core issue is guilt. I wonder if I ask too much of him. this is his first complaint about gear after campouts and outings.


Setting up tearing down 6 tents 3 times in 10 hours was too much. I was exhausted not sleeping with home sick boys.


I am looking for fresh ideas on how to teach him the value of selfless service. He was exhausted too, I attribute some of his attitude yesterday to it.



He has been in scouting now for 6 years....I have been a leader for that long. He has helped with pack meeting setups all of these years.... He is acting patrol leader and learning his job, but is coming to understand the work that is expected with the position.

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You borrowed Troop gear to help with a Cub Scout campout. Why didn't any of the other Cub leaders, or parents help out with the set up/take down of the tents?


They used the gear, they should have helped too.

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Yeah, the value of selfless service tends to diminish quite a bit when it's 98 degrees and the sun is beating down on you. I'd complain with frustration too if I were hot, tired, in need of a shower and nap.


I was your son most of my Scouting career - both my parents were leaders, both at the unit and district level. I got "volunteered" to do an awful lot of extra work as a result.


One thing that worked out well for us after weekend trips, or even all day events, was to change the priorities. Make showers and naps the first priority, then unpacking and setting up tents. The tents can stay in the car for a couple more hours, and the nap does wonders for reviving the batteries.

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No, it isn't fair.......but it can pay off in the end.


My son was there early, stayed late, there every time the doors were opened, not allowed to miss a campout, got extra duties, etc. The idea of service eventually grew on him as a way of life.


He ended up an Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor in OA, SPL for his 2010 Jambo Troop, Troop JASM and District Boy Scout of the Year. Along the way he staffed summer camp for three years and served on two NYLT staffs.

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I was den leader for 4 years and have been an ASM for 4 yrs.


When a den leader, my son often got/had to test the craft projects before the meetings. Some testing was way more fun because he got to do the cool stuff as much as he wanted. He also learned that there was a lot of planning and setup to meetings, something the other scouts had no idea about. They just assume that the leader shows up with everything ready to go and they have the fun. Great life lesson about planning.


While I have been ASM, he has to often wait around while post mtg wrapup mtgs take place in the parking lot. After 8 yrs he expects this and allows me a reasonable amount of time. Other evenings he explains he has his own tasks he needs to complete and off we go. Fortunately his best buddies are the other leaders sons who also have to wait.


Benefits for him include he always has a ride to every meeting, outing, event and does not have to remind his parents that he needs a lift to another scout event. He always has a parent handy to sign permission slips, even if overlooked until the last second. He knows where all the secret backup and bail out stuff is if ever needed. He does not need to convince his parents he needs a new/different piece of gear for this particular event. He already has the example that was used in the show & tell session for the rest of the troop. He has a better understanding of the behind the scenes stuff, the invisible stuff that makes troop events go well.


My father was an ASM while I was a scout. I saw him spend hours coping maps, highlighting routes, and planning the behind scenes part of campouts. The adults were allowed conviences that the lads were not during campouts. Some scouts complained of the double standard. The other scouts did not see the work that the adults put in before the events so they could relax during the events. It was nice to know that if things got really bad, I had a parent who would secretly help me out behind the scenes.


I can't remember a time when my son has come to me because he left his XXX at home, used up all the XXX, or needed an extra XXX. He has found a way to make do or suffer through it. Occasionally he will ask if there is some specific tool or equipment tucked away so he can accomplish a task easier. On occasion I have reminded him that there was an extra blanket in the vehicle if got too cold. One time I went to get the extra blanket and could not find it. He had beat me to it. Smart boy.


As to the orginal post of having to clean all the tents used by the Pack. That should have been done by the scouts that used the tents and not forced onto the leader & son. I agree with the son that it is unfair everyone else had all the fun and he got all the work. The other participants should have participated in the work as well.

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My son is a leaders child. He find it is fun sometimes because he gets to run around and play with his friends after the meeting. He does find that he has a lot more expected of him. I wonder at times if that bothers him.


He has fun, and lots of it. Like others have said, he gets to see a lot of the projects before everyone else.


As for the question about why the original poster was setting up the tents when someone else used it. Sometimes if you want something done, and done right, you have to do it yourself. I loaned a tent out, (Personal tent) and the person using kept it for a year. (He did not come to meetings that much, Split family, mother for meetings, father for outings) Then when I did finally get it back, the next time I went to set it up, the shock cords were broken. One pole was split. I should have just taken care of it myself and I would have had my inventory and it would not have been damaged. You live and learn, and sometimes you have to do the work yourself.

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I took 11 webelos, my son and my 14 year old den chief to resident camp with my Assistant Den Leader......NO PARENTS. In my opinion this is part of the secret to a high retention and cross over rate. Last year 100% of my cross overs went to resident camp. Of the boys I lost, none of them went to resident camp. What kid wants to go to camp and be yelled at by mom or dad for a week???? nope.



The youth I serve come from poor families......in the past, I have purchased sleeping bags for scouts whose parents sold them on craigslist before the next outing or I drive by their home to see them stretched out in the rain in the front yards...... So I wouldn't trust the families with the troop tents.

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Between being a ADL, Cm, and camp promotions chair, I guess my son gets it both ways.


On one side, I have caught myself being a little harder on him and holding him to higher standards than other scouts. I hate when I do that.


He also rides with me when I show up early to set up this or that for pack meetings, special eventys, and any other camping, PWD or fundraiser events.


On the weekend of our last fundraiser , he was given the oppertunity to go to Myrtle Beach to a NASCAR go park park for the day. I gave him my blessing. It was the first work activity he has missed while a scout.



But on the other side of the argument, he has had more oppertunities to attend camps, events outside of our pack and sometimes the advantage of knowing stuff other wouldn't know .


The only real thing I had to assert with him is trhat his DL still hold the authority of signing off on any and all rank achievements and requirements. I had to tell him that even though I am CM I do not override his DL on wether he has met a rank requirement or not.


So I guess at first glance, it is soooo not fair, but if you pay attention and make an effort to balance it out, he actually has an advantage.


I'm just glad you are not the leader who signs off that his son has completed every beltloops, pin, and activity badge just because yoiu son was present - regardless of wether he actually did anything. I have seen that too many times.


That , and scouts who thought they were above the rules because their parents were in charge.....and those same parents not saying opr doing anything to change that thinking.



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I haven't read all the responses but I will tell you this: it balances out anyways. Yes they have to show up to everything, probably earlier and stay later. Yes, they get pressed into all kinds of "service" that they probably won't want to do if it were up to them alone (i.e. setting up the room for the pack meeting). Yes, they probably have to do activities twice or more and yes, they have to "share" their parents.


But as leaders kids, my sons get more opportunities. They get a lot more out of scouting in terms of actually learning stuff because we practice at home, and then they do it again at meetings. They get more "bling". Sure this may not be the end all and be all of scouting, but cubs like bling. My kids have more simply because they often don't get much of a choice in showing up to activities (since me and dad have to be there). And I would like to think that my sons have better memories.


So one day (I think), you son will look back and say: "Good ole Dad, he sure was there for me. I didn't think about then, but man, what memories!"


Anyways, that's what I want to think! ;)

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