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Parent Involvement

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With the new school year, some active parents won't be as available as their scouts are going to high school. What does your troop's CC do to organize/increase parent involvement?

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First, your CC needs to know what you (SM and ASMs) really need in terms of assistance from parents.

Then for those tasks where you still really need adult support, he/she needs to find a parent of your younger scouts who might be able to "help" the parent(s) who can no longer be as active.

By "help," we're talking train to be their replacement, but really only want to say that when those folks are confident that they can make a seamless-as-possible exchange of responsibilities.

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Parental involvement for me usually is limited to giving kids rides to activities, filling out the roster on the committee and working on fund raisers for the financial benefit of THEIR children.

 

1) Rides - no parents, no rides, no activities. The boys usually get their parents to help out...

 

2) Committee - fully filled out on paper... somewhat functional.

 

3) Fundraisers - They seem to be pretty involved with having other people pay for their kid's fun. They always have the option to pay for their kids on their own.

 

Other than the committee members we have 1 registered SM and 1 registered ASM. Don't see any reason to change that at this point. My previous troop only had the SM/ASM team as well.

 

Stosh

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I'm recently the CC of my son's troop (about 90 boys). We've got about 30 adult leaders.

 

My understanding is that the path to adult involvement includes:

- get adults camping. Have them experience your program first hand. This helps the to see what how it works, what you need, and how they could help. When they get on the trip, give them something they can do - and be successful at.

- identify small, specific tasks that they can do to help and then ask them. Plug them in to be an adult on a hike, support the scouts when they organize a small event, etc.

- develop mentors. Get some friendly faces (that are not already overwhelmed) that can show a new parent the ropes.

 

Personally, I think a part of the reasons troops struggle with this is that it really shouldn't be up to the CC to do this. To get a robust set of parents involved, you need a culture where adults are encouraged to get involved. Existing adults should welcome new parents. Adults who have been leaders for a couple of years should be looking for ways to get parents to help them.

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Well, that's a whole thread unto itself. It's interesting as a brand new CC coming into such a large troop.

 

Before I comment, let me just say that it's a very active troop with a number of dedicated volunteers - I'm very impressed with what they've accomplished and their dedication. That said - would I have structured it the same way - no, probably not. But they've evolved to where they are and there is a method to it.

 

Basically, adult involvement breaks down as:

- 4 people - Asst. Scoutmasters with specific roles. Two who lead the new scout program. Two who serve as summer camp SM (we go twice).

~10 people - general Asst. Scoutmasters. They attend campouts, might serve as adult contingent leader for specific trips.

~15 people - general troop committee members. They attend troop committee meetings, discuss issues, help with specific projects as directed. Some take of specific roles such as maintaining the troop email list or website, serve as treasurer, merit badge coordinator. We have good help for specific support tasks. Right now, we're lacking on the function owner side (such as an activities coordinator or membership coordinator).

 

This doesn't count the folks who serve as merit badge counselors.

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14 ASM's and 15 committee members? That seems like quite a lot, even with 90 Scouts. And of the 15 committee members, not one is the activities coordinator? Do you have an advancement coordinator?

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14 ASM's and 15 committee members? That seems like quite a lot' date=' even with 90 Scouts. And of the 15 committee members, not one is the activities coordinator? Do you have an advancement coordinator?[/quote']

 

I was kinda thinking the same thing. 30 adults and they still don't have enough. My question is: what are they doing to help the ones they have be effective?

 

Stosh

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My experience with the home Troop and others is this:

If the adult was a Scout (BSA, GSUSA), they will usually stand up and ask, "what can I do? What needs to be done?" and we find something for them to do....

If the adult was never a Scout (or had a bad experience in Scouting), they are noticeable because they stand on the side and watch. These folks need to be approached, welcomed and ASKED to help in some small (or large!) way.

Both of these folks, it must be remembered, are there in the meeting room either because they want their boy to be a Scout or the boy REALLY wants to be a Scout and has dragged his folks there! Either way, the Troop looses if the new parent is not soon involved in the culture of the Scout.

Then, too, there is the third type, who drops the boy off at the door and disappears for two hours , only to show up later to pick the boy up . These you really need to approach and make to feel welcome.

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14 ASM's and 15 committee members? That seems like quite a lot' date=' even with 90 Scouts. And of the 15 committee members, not one is the activities coordinator? Do you have an advancement coordinator?[/quote']

 

It's historical. The SM and prior CC have been here for about 15 years. They both would routinely put in 20 hours a week, not including campouts. About 10 years ago, it was a troop of 35-40 boys. Over a decade, it grew larger. So, as the Troop grew and new adults showed up, they'd invite them to be leaders. So, we ended up with a bunch of leaders, but not necessarily people filling specific roles.

 

We don't have an activities coordinator because the prior CC liked to do that himself. That's also why we don't have a membership coordinator and fundraising coordinator. For example - we do someone serving as popcorn kernel and someone who handles camp cards, but there isn't a person who watches over fundraising as a whole.

 

We do have an advancement coordinator. He focuses on boards of review and Eagle applications. We have another person who coordinates merit badge classes. The SM likes to handle all other advancement items (advancement reports, purchasing awards). We have a wonderful treasurer, troop secretary, great troop webmaster, and an active COR. I did neglect to mention that some of our ASMs are very involved with organizing our OA involvement as well. Many of these folks are models within our district.

 

I didn't mean to suggest that we don't have enough adults - we are incredibly fortunate to have lots of adult volunteers. In our case, the Troop has evolved a structure that just didn't fit the usual model. I suspect it's because the prior CC wanted to build the best troop he could and was willing to put in 20 hours a week to handle so much of it himself.

 

As the new CC (and one who is not willing to put in 20 hours a week), my challenge is how to work with this. My gut feel is that we need to rearrange folks a bit, but I've not figured out yet how to do that yet.

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Who's doing the asking? Other adults or the boys? Patrol A wants to go on a hike. PL asks patrol members to ask their parents for a ride, need two drivers. PL notifies SM they need 2-deep, will the two drivers work? Once the call has gone out, what else is there to do? If the adults drop the ball, the activity is cancelled. Once this happens a couple of times, the problem usually resolves itself.

 

Other than that, an adult committee to assist the SM in this process is all that is necessary. As a backup support group, maybe one ASM per patrol. 3 patrols, 1 SM and 3 ASM's That should be able to handle two-deep without a whole lot of hassle and could use parent drivers to support if necessary.

 

I for one as a parent would really find it annoying to repeatedly be asked by parents when the boys could do the job very well and probably more effectively and they would be asking only if they really needed it.

 

Stosh

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We ask that at least one of the scouts parents fill out an application and do YPT. They serve as scouter reserves. They are drivers and stay with the scouts during fundraisers. When the adult shows promise they are asked to help with a specific task. As they get more involved we move them to committee members and their job becomes more permanent. Drivers who do not get In the way during campouts can be ASM's only if they go through training.

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30 adults is normal for a troop of 90 scouts. That is about 15% of the total resource which is a typical number for any size troop. And, that doesn't mean they are all together at the same time. Typically only half the ASMs will attend each campout. Usually summer camp is where most volunteers will attend. The best way to increase the number of volunteers is to ask face to face. Some folks are better at asking than others. Identify who that person is and use their skills. Our troop developed a one month of training new parents. It usually involves just observing the boys in actions and explaining how all the parts work. We get a lot of volunteers from that group as well.Barry

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