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ParkMan

Increasing adult supprort for Troop activities?

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I just took over as the committee chair of my son's troop. It's a large troop - about 100 boys.

 

One of the classic problems the troop has is that there are never enough parents to help with driving on campouts, or serving as adult support on trips. Almost every trip there is a flurry of emails begging for someone to drive. A few times a year, the Troop plans some trips where adult support is crucial. In those cases, it's always a lot of work to make sure there are enough adults to cover the program. The troop has had to cancel trips when a trip's adult leader had to cancel at the last minute.

 

Generally the troop has a great program - I'm just trying to shine some light on this aspect.

 

I'd appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!

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Almost every trip there is a flurry of emails begging for someone to drive.!

Don't use email. Email is easy to ignore. Especially if it looks like it is a blast email. Ask people in person or by phone. You can also word it as I need you to drive here rather than asking. You have 100 scouts that is a lot of parents. You are only asking them to drive to one or 2 activities a year.

 

Make it easy to have people sign up. My son's swim team uses a site to register which meets you will be volunteering at at the beginning of the season. We know who will be timmers, officials, bull pen etc at the beginning of the year. It also guilts the parent who doesn't volunteer when they see the other names in writing.

 

 

 

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We have a similar though not as severe problem. We ask every parent to do SOMETHING and the clever ones latch on to jobs like driving a couple times a year than a commitment as a brown shirt. And we keep track. You also have to do some active recruiting for jobs...we make new parents fill out a questionnaire so we know if we have any old Eagles or Scouts, interesting careers for MBC, etc. But you have to go up and ask (the right) people in person.

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For driving - each Patrol is responsible for getting their Patrol to the campout, and to be picked up afterwards.

 

For all else - we require an adult commitment when boys register, and one adult has to register from each family as well.

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National will not force adult participation, but the troop has many tools at its disposal to do so. In this case the rule should be each parent is responsible for theirs son's transportation. Period. The parents in each patrol will soon work out a carpooling arrangement. You might end up with less than a 100 scouts but canceling outings is not an option. Inform the parents BSA does not stand for Baby Sitters of America, I suspect this is why you have 100 Scouts. If they don't like that idea tell them they can organize a fundraiser to purchase a bus or two and you will gladly get a CDL license. I have no tolerance for this nonsense. I am IH and we just lost our CC, I have started letting it be known that come recharter if we do not have a CC the Troop will disband.

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Our troop bylaws state that the troop size is dependent on the adult participation. There have been a few times I have called up parents and informed them that it's their turn to help drive scouts to an event.

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We've started to run into this as we've become a bigger Troop over the last few years (now at 40 Scouts). We are fortunate that we can borrow our CO's large vans and have an Adult with another large van, so after that it's just gear and have several families with large pick-ups and one with a trailer.

 

In a group of 100 families, you are certain to have plenty of these kinds of resources. I agree that a personal discussion with each family is in order until you find what you need. I would recruit other Committee Members to help with this outreach. It is the Committee's job to ensure the Scouts have the resources they need for the Program - if campouts are cancelled, that's a fail for the Committee.

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Don't use email. Email is easy to ignore. Especially if it looks like it is a blast email. Ask people in person or by phone.

 

 

 

What Sidney said.

 

Having someone physically standing in front of you asking is an awful lot harder to ignore.

 

Also when it comes to camps an outings simply saying "you will need to get your child to point X at time Y" forces them to organise transport themselves.

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Well before the event, circulate a permission slip. My SM had a generic one with blanks for activity and departure and return dates and parent's signature and the boys filled it in at the meeting. They then went home. At the bottom of the slip was the parent's signature and a line that says "I can provide transportation for ___ boys (check all that apply) __ to __ from the trip. I do something similar with an online trip for the crew.

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Others have stated elsewhere that it should be the Scouts responsibility to to arrange transport. "Dad can you drive me and my buddies to the campout?" Will likely be more effective than adults asking adults.

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Good advice here.

 

100 scouts, yowser, that would be 3 to 5 troops around here. Have you looked into hiring or buying a bus or two? 100 scouts + gear + adults might result in caravan longer than a local National Guard unit driving to two week training.

 

And then there is the increasing number of adults decommitting at the last minute. Seems to spread faster than the flu, one decommits then suddenly two more. Would be nice to hire replacements, perhaps some Eagle scouts attending a local college, and bill those parents :)

 

Sorry not much help.

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For driving - each Patrol is responsible for getting their Patrol to the campout, and to be picked up afterwards.

 

This is how my boyhood Troop worked. If the parents wante their kids to camp, the drove.

 

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For driving - each Patrol is responsible for getting their Patrol to the campout, and to be picked up afterwards.

 

For all else - we require an adult commitment when boys register, and one adult has to register from each family as well.

 

EXACTLY! This is how my boys handle it. Everything is done by patrol. If the parents of a single patrol don't give rides that doesn't mean that everyone in the troop has to suffer. Same for parental backup on events to make 2-deep. If only SM or an ASM can make it, the second non-registered 2-deep comes from a rotating patrol roster. We need a 2nd adult for this event? Which patrol is to provide a parent? End of discussion. If that patrol doesn't have an adult back up, they need to find some other patrol to take their place in the rotation.

 

Just because it's the adult's responsibility to "line up rides" for events doesn't mean the boys are off the hook. If 5 patrols want to attend 5 different summer camps, they had better be on the horn lining up rides and 2-deep or they aren't going. That's not the adults countering the boys' decisions, it's a reality of fact that needs to be considered in the planning of the patrol activity.

 

Stosh

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Well, have your troop Webmaster set up a SignUpGenius account for your Troop's activity year, as decided by the PLC. Get the word out that adult help, in whatever form, is necessary. Make sure to have some non-driving tasks included. Parents will be more willing to help if they have some number of months lead time, rather than last-minute blasts. Include "Alternate" designations, too, so you have last-minute cancellations covered.

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I just took over as the committee chair of my son's troop. It's a large troop - about 100 boys.

 

One of the classic problems the troop has is that there are never enough parents to help with driving on campouts, or serving as adult support on trips. Almost every trip there is a flurry of emails begging for someone to drive. A few times a year, the Troop plans some trips where adult support is crucial. In those cases, it's always a lot of work to make sure there are enough adults to cover the program. The troop has had to cancel trips when a trip's adult leader had to cancel at the last minute.

 

Generally the troop has a great program - I'm just trying to shine some light on this aspect.

 

I'd appreciate any thoughts. Thanks!

 

ParkMan,

 

I'm thinking that you may be over-thinking this situation. If the unit is adult-led, troop-method, then you will of course need to follow the prescribed process you have been in the past and hope that you have enough help when the time comes to do the activity. I'm sure it involves a lot of anxious moments increasing in intensity the closer one gets to the time of the event. Think of it like the Titanic. One little hole the the whole thing sinks.

 

Well, engineers learned from that and do a better job of compartmentalizing the ships so that if one gets a hole, they can seal it off and keep the ship afloat. In other words, if one patrol screws up, the whole troop doesn't suffer. This process will of course require the focus to change in the unit from troop-method to patrol-method. That is very difficult to do unless one also changes from adult-led to boy-led. If the adults try to go the adult-led, patrol-method, it is a bit like herding cats. The boys are going every which way and the adults are scurrying around trying to find them. One is going to burn out the adults rather quickly.

 

However, if one were to try the boy-led, patrol-method, one has the luxury of having the boys compartmentalized so that if one patrol falls apart the others don't sink with it. And if the patrols are being run by the boys, any two adults can go along as babysitters, drink coffee and smell the roses along the way. They can do that for quite some time before burning out.

 

With all the scheduling, planning, lining up rides, making menus, organizing equipment by the boys, and defining activities, that doesn't really leave a whole lot for the adults to do except drive cars, camp, eat, sleep, eat, decamp, and drive cars for the event. Everything else should be all set to go before any boys toss their gear into a vehicle.

 

If it was me as the new CC, the first thing I would do is train my committee on the boy-led, patrol-method process. Then I would as the keeper of the BSA program for your unit, pass that down to the adults and boys to work out, but with the stipulation that within 1 year this whole problem if sink or swim as a whole will come to and end and things will be running smoother in the future. As a troop, there are far more important things that need to be on one's plate than whether or not the boys are going to summer camp because Johnnies mom found out at the last minute she was unable to drive the boys, i.e. the car wouldn't start!

 

Part of boy leadership is to have a good Plan A (what the boys want to do) and an even better Plan B (what the boys need to do).

 

Stosh

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