Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
dedkad

Coming to terms with my son's troop choice

Recommended Posts

Fred,

 

In my neck of the woods, pack shopping is the norm. You might have 2-3 packs visiting a School night round up, so you visit the packs at their meeting. Even after Round up's are over, you still get folks switching around. different packs meet different needs. So your argument for pack shopping does exist and is viable.

 

As for why do you want leaders at the Cub Scout level who are involved in another CO's troop, maybe they have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to get the job done and be an asset to the pack. After all it is the SCOUT'S (emphasis, not shouting) decision to join a troop, not the parent's, at least it should be.

 

I know in my situation, 1 Boy Scout at one CO, and a Wolf and in about 6 months TIger at another CO. I knew the troop had some challenges, I and many others tried to advise and counsel to no avail, but I wanted my son to see them anyway as I could not believe the situation was as bad as I kept hearing and reading.

 

It was. Son went camping with them and it was a complete charlie foxtrot as I described in another post. I went away several times to keep form interfering and expressing frustration. He noticed the issues and, yes, when he asked me if that was a normal troop, I was 'trustworthy" and told him no, it wasn't. He wanted to see other troops, and we did.

 

I hope and pray that the troop situation improves as many of my former Cubs are in it. But one, who did have reservations about the troop, has commented ' If I don't like it, I transferring."

 

While the UK model may be a viable one, in fact I do like it myself, one key ingredient is the GROUP LEADERS ( again emphasis) who supervise the pack's, troop's and crew's leadership. Group leaders are similar to our commissioners, but more involved.

 

But as I mentioned, when you got leaders who think they know better than the folks who have 'been there, done that," and won't listen to their advice, or, more importantly, won't listen to the youth at their SM conferences, and with their election results, and then wondering why the youth are transferring or quitting scouts all together, troop has a problem.

Fred,

 

If my pack's CO was to ask me to leave because my oldest son decided to join another CO's troop, this is what would happen.

 

1) They pack would lose a Scouter with over 30 years in the program, including as a professional. I've been able to help out in some sticky situations b/c of the expereince.

 

2) The pack would lose their only consistent member to Roundtable. Yes, I can be replaced in this matter, but at the moment I'm it.

 

3) The pack would lose their only active member of the district committee. Yes, the COR is a member of the committee, but I have only seen him at one scout event in the 5 years I've been with the pack, and that was actually a Boy Scout camporee.

 

3) The worst thing that would happen is the pack would lose 1/4 of it's members at a minimum. My 10 Wolves would move, and probably a few others as well.

 

Unfortunately I saw #4 happen, not when a CO kicked out a leader, but when a church decided to restart it's pack and troop. They asked one of my pack's leaders, who was a member of the church, to restart the pack. Kinda hard to say 'No" to your minister. He ended up taking his entire den with him when word got out he started a new pack. He didn't actively promote switching over, but when people found out, it happened.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again every situation is different. Most of the leaders in my neck of the woods would rather have someone in another unit and stay in scouting, than get out all together. And a few would rather the youth be in some type of positive organization, even Trails Life, if that as a better fit than a troop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, there are many arguments both ways. Another aspect I see is that a real informed choice rarely happens.

 

Most brothers join the troop their first brother joined. Only one he's seen, family association and family pressure.

 

Most den members follow the decision of the den leader and his son. Loyalty.

 

Most packs feed the same troop until something happens. Then the pack feeds another troop until something else happens. Such trends and statistics reflect herd movements and not real "choice".

 

It's much less about a real decision and much less about unit quality and much more about adult influence and adult friendships.

 

Anyone who really things the current system promotes "choice" is fooling themselves. Heck, Eagle92's last comment reflected the reality. Scouts move in herds and usually follow their leaders. It's not a real choice.

 

I'm all for scouts continuing and finding the right unit if the current unit isn't working. But there is a lot to be said for continuity, loyalty and helping make things better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last night my son went to his 3rd meeting for the troop that he will be joining. I am now convinced that he made the right choice. The meeting was boy-led, organized, fun, and they included my son and made him feel welcome. Although it would have been nice to have had a hand in trying to improve the CO troop, it would have been a long haul. The boys in the CO troop aren't respectful to each other, several adults hover and interrupt during the meeting, and I just get the feeling that some of these adults are there trying to relive their youth through Boy Scouts. Their troop is set up to attract a certain kind of boy, and unfortunately for the troop, I have to say that most of the boys in our pack aren't those kind of boys, so I don't think the pack will be a very good feeder pack for them as it currently stands. Although I do agree with Fred that there are some fundamental issues that arise with troop-shopping, I do think that different troops meet different needs. The 5 boys in my den are joining 3 different troops because there was something in each troop that sparked an interest for them. Unfortunately, none of the troops is the CO troop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dedkad,

 

Give it time with your son's troop. I know the troop I grew up in would put new Scouts parents in committee roles before asking them to be ASMs. Part of it was to get them 'deprogrammed" from Cub Scouts, as there are BIG differences between the programs, also it gave the parents the chance to 'get away" from the Scouts and see the troop as it is suppose to be run. Also it gives them a chance to get trained.

 

I think it's a good thing, heck I am now a MC with my son's troop and know I need "deprogramming" ( Let's just say I had fun poking fun at me and reviewing summer camp).

 

I think the reason why the Pack's CO's troop is having the problems they are is because the current SM was a boy scout leader less than 12 months and wasn't fully trained until after taking over, and the parents on the committee were all CS leaders with less than a year as BS leaders.

 

Fred,

 

The mass exodus had more to do with the parents than the Scouts. The parents were comfortable with the leader.

 

And while what you describe is the case most of the time, it is not always so. My old den didn't follow me to a different CO's troop. Only 1 of the guys is in a troop, and in all honesty he picked it b/c my son was going there, or did my son pick it becasue he was going there?

 

Also I know of 4 brothers who were in 2 different troops. I pray that doesn't happen to me, but the Scout need to decide.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with much of what you've written, Fred, especially regarding the herd mentality. No, there isn't much informed decision making, mostly just following the den leader or the alpha kids in the den. Our troop was on the road to oblivion when my older son and I joined for just this reason. Prior to our joining the troop split off another troop and for three years all the Webelos from the pack followed their older brothers and den leaders to the new troop. I'm proud to say, that my son was the one to make the decision to stay with the CO troop and pulled a handful of his friends along. My first 18 months in the troop I was still Cubmaster and invested a great deal of effort into recruiting the Webelos and rebuilding relationships with the pack.

The relationship between a pack and troop is a two-way street. Unfortunately, too many Pack leaders have a 'what have you done for me lately' attitude toward their brother troop. I've sat through any number of Webelos Transition classes and Roundtable presentations which reinforce this attitude. They tend to be long laundry list of things the troop should be doing for the pack and not much more. I've literally had pack leaders elbow me and ask, "why aren't you doing all that stuff for us?" For one, the guy doing the presentation is full of mud. But mostly because it's not the troop's job to serve the pack. We are here to serve the Scouts in our respective units. In many cases, the troop leaders HAVE served the pack for many years, establishing the pack program the current leaders inherited. That fancy Pinewood Derby track you're using? My guys sold the popcorn to pay for it. The scripts you still use for rank presentations, Arrow of Light and crossover? I wrote them 12 years ago. Neither bragging nor complaining, just pointing out there is a longer view that last week's den meeting.

Which is precisely the point of the UK-style Scout group and an assumed continuum through one CO's units -- institutional legs. It does give you the opportunity to build more sustainable programs. To a lesser degree that still applies despite the unnecessary and artificial divide between Pack and Troop.

All that said, we put a great deal of effort into the care and feeding of our brother pack. As SM I probably attend half the pack leaders' meetings through the year. We make a BIG DEAL (emphasis AND SHOUTING, E92) of our annual Webelos campout. We do our best to recruit and train capable Den Chief’s for the pack BUT we expect the Den Leaders to take the time to understand what a Den Chief’s actual job is and that the DL is the DC supervisor and mentor in what is a Troop-level position of responsibility. We work together with the pack on Scouting for Food and invite the pack to breakfast the morning before we do the collections. Our patrols spend a month or more preparing a great program for the Webelos campout every fall. We expect the pack leaders and parents to understand the campout is a big deal and important part of the transition and supporting our efforts by showing up with their Webelos.

 

In return we get Cubs, Cub leaders and parents who have a better-than-usual understanding of Boy Scouts and are excited to join our troop. Shopping is not a question.

 

As for Den Leaders with a foot in another troop, I do believe they owe the chartered organization’s troop something. A reasonable expectation should be for them to not influence their den’s decision to go to the other troop. If, as a parent, you believe your boys are better off in a different troop, fine. But at minimum you should be neutral about the troop the other boys in your den/pack select.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Twocub,

 

Although I cited an example of 2 brothers joining a different troop than their 2 older brothers, I have to agree with ya on the "herd mentality." I think part of it is the familiarity and relationships that have developed, i.e. they know what their brothers are doing, here the stories, get jealous, etc. But sometimes the being with their friends does win out. That is what happened with my friends younger brothers: their pack had a great relationship with the troop, and the entire den went together into the same troop. I will admit, I do hope that all my boys join the same troop, just to make my life easier :) , but if they go their different ways, then I don't have a problem with it. SWMBO may have issues, but I won't.

 

I agree with you 100% in that the troop-pack relationship IS (emphasis) a two way streak. The comment about Den Leaders properly using Den Chiefs is 110% spot on. I remember not being utilized by the DL I was a DC for and hated it. I had to move on to another den. And the same thing happened to my old DC. I gave him up to the Webelos Den that needed someone with outdoor experience when they lost their DL. New DL utilized him for camp prep, but then quickly stopped using him. DC stayed until the end of the pack year, and stopped being their DC. Glad he's back, and I will shortly have him running the den meetings totally while I sit back and drink water. :p

 

And I also admit I may be somewhat guilty of Webelos-to-Scout transition problem. I know when I've talked about it to scout leaders, I've emphasized their role, i.e. developing a relationship with the cub leaders, contacting the packs and setting up a visit and overnighter, sending DC's if possible, etc. I haven't really talked about the roles of the pack, i.e. promoting the troop visit and overnighter, using the DC’s properly, inviting them to some Webelos activities, etc.

 

One of the problems I see with the implementation of a UK group method is leader exhaustion. Let’s face it, Cubs is leader intensive, and most leaders look forward to moving on and dealing with less stress. Heck, I am already counting down until I am no longer a Cub Scout leader ( 5 more years, 5 more years! LOL).

 

Locally, I see this divide on the district level where I am the only active Cub leader on the district committee. If I don’t interject CS questions and stuff, we get overlooked.

 

OH HECK YEAH THE WEBELOS OVERNITER IS A BIG DEAL! In my experience, the Webelos Overnighter is what hooks the Cubs on the troop, or in the case of my son, completely throws them off. It does need to be well planned and executed, although I did experience one Webelos Overnighter that everything was pulled out of the magic hat the nite before when the troop discovered all of their tents and most of their gear was damaged beyond use and repair when they went to load up the trailer the nite before the overniter (don’t ask, BUT that overniter started a new tradition with the troop: Wilderness Survival Weekend with the Webelos. BEST. RECRUITING. TOOL. EVER! and yes that is me shouting in joy at the memories of that, and succeeding overniters. ;) )

 

The visit before the overniter is where the parents get comfortable with the troop, at least when we didn’t have a feeder pack. Once we had a feeder pack, you are 110% correct in that joint activities are the best to establishing a healthy relationship with the pack.

 

I will admit, being neutral about the pack’s CO’s troop was the absolute hardest thing for me to do. I did not want to hurt the troop, and my fear in having my son announce where he was going too soon was having the entire den follow the “Alpha Cub.†In fact I hope and have prayed that one of the CS leaders who just moved up takes over as SM and turns the troop around as he made some comments about what he sees the troop needs to improve, and he has knowledge, skills, and abilities to do a great job.

 

But what has made neutrality really difficult for me was listening to the older Scouts who have lost interest in the troop, and either transfer, leave Scouting altogether, or as in my Den Chief’s case, only remain registered with the troop so that A) he can be in the OA still, and B) serve as a Den Chief for his cousin. Further, it really hurt me when I saw boys that I recruited for the troop 6 months later, and find out that they are no longer interested in scouting because it’s boring, too much like school, and they didn’t do any camping.

 

I did my best to help the troop in offering advice to the troop's adult leaders to improve the troop, recruiting new Scouts for them when I had some reservations about them, offering ideas to have a good Webelos Overnighter that would hook my old den onto them, and have even stayed overnight camping with them in order to have 2 deep leadership when everyone left but the SM, his son, and 1 new Scout whose mom was out of town that weekend. So I do have a bit of loyalty to them, and will remain neutral.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I want to apologize if I ranted a little in my posts on this thread. Dedked's situation is very similar to the one that I'm in, and it has been extremely frustrating for me to see the troop start failing. I helped get some of the original leaders trained when the troop was started. I've worked with the old SM when he was having challenges with the troop getting started. I've camped with them, worked with their Scouts as an MBC, etc. etc. I admit I took my oldest son to their feeder pack first not only b/c the pack was extremely active, but also because they did have a good relationship with the troop, and I really wanted him in that troop because they were a boy-run, hiking and camping troop. They reminded me a lot of my troop growing up.

 

And if I got a bit defensive, please forgive me. There was a very public facebook incident on our council's facebook page in regards to not having enough training available for this unit that hit a nerve with me. SM was complaining that SM specific and IOLS are only offered by our district once a year, that the dates are inconvenient for folks, and that leaders shouldn't have to travel to another district over 10 minutes away to get training they need. That hit a sore spot because I organized an IOLS class specifically for that troop, using their own calendar to schedule it, only to have 1 leader show up from the troop, with the excuse that "it's too cold to camp." When I tried to tell him what is involved in in organizing these courses, and how in my metro sized council growing up the course were only offered twice a year by clusters of districts instead of every district doing their own (so in my council there are 9 opportunities to do IOLS a year) he said it shouldn't matter, and if we needed to bring in outside folks to do the training, then we need to do it.

 

As you can imagine, this is a very raw, sore point still for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×