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dfscott

Dealing with grubmaster issues

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First, an update:

 

Just got back from the grocery store (where in addition to the adult patrol food, I bought a bunch of boxes of Mac and Cheese, just in case). Checking my email, my inbox was on fire -- mostly parents of the patrol members trying to figure out how to bail out the boys.

 

Well I have to admit there is something wrong here, the parents of older scouts should know by now to let the troop handle this situation. These aren't boys anymore, these guys are adults acting like boys. And I have to agree with stosh, it appears the adults are treating them like boys as well. The parents should be disappointed in their sons and want them to learn a lesson here. Barry

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Well I have to admit there is something wrong here, the parents of older scouts should know by now to let the troop handle this situation. These aren't boys anymore, these guys are adults acting like boys. And I have to agree with stosh, it appears the adults are treating them like boys as well. The parents should be disappointed in their sons and want them to learn a lesson here. Barry

 

 

To clarify, the parents of the older boys weren't the ones on the white horses. Two of the 8 boys in the patrol are 12, and it was their moms jumping in. (Both former Den Leaders -- sometimes I think think it's easier when the parents were not in involved in Cub Scouts!) Even a year in, they're still having trouble going from ringleader to spectator...

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... it was their moms jumping in. (Both former Den Leaders -- sometimes I think think it's easier when the parents were not in involved in Cub Scouts!) Even a year in' date=' they're still having trouble going from ringleader to spectator. ...[/quote']

 

Den moms ... tough on the SM, but great to have in your woodbadge patrol when you're dirtying a dozen pots making tiramisu! ;)

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Yes, these moms can be a challenge. One of our Den Leader moms caused so much trouble that we restricted her from troop activities. She was extreme and scary, but most moms are kind and just well meaning. We had one mom that love the idea of boy run and what her son was accomplishing from the program. But she was a classic helicopter mom and was always calling me. I give here credit, she knew to always asked me first instead of reacting to her instincts and she always followed my directions. She admitted her hovering problem and was always kind and opologetic. When he was 17, her son asked me to present and pin his Eagle at his ECOH. I told the family that was a tradition for the dad, but they insisted. I don't know who was honoring me more, mom or her son. Now that I understand there are younger scouts involved, the situation is much more complex. You seem to have a handle on it dfscott. Barry

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To clarify, the parents of the older boys weren't the ones on the white horses. Two of the 8 boys in the patrol are 12, and it was their moms jumping in. (Both former Den Leaders -- sometimes I think think it's easier when the parents were not in involved in Cub Scouts!) Even a year in, they're still having trouble going from ringleader to spectator...

 

I wouldn't be so quick to justify this situation by dumping on parents of the newer boys. Why should they be chastised because they want a good experience for their boys and their boys got stuck in a non-functioning patrol? If my kid was 12 and missing out on meals because older scouts are not trustworthy and the adults are letting them get away with it, I would be right in someone's face, and I would surely expect someone to be in my face if this was happening in my troop too.

 

I'm first in line to limit limit parental involvement in troops, so for me to stand up for parents is really rare, but in the case described where boys are going off having paid their money and then not getting food for the weekend, has so many things going wrong on so many levels it's hard to even consider this thread might not be a troll-thread. And if I paid $15 for 4 meals of a mac and cheese coverup by the adults, I'm gonna say something, maybe more than something, maybe a lot.

 

These younger scout parents have a legitimate beef, don't be justifying away a proper response by saying they're former den leaders, who in many cases know "how the program works" and expect it to function that way.

 

Getting my kid fed after paying $15 is not being a ringleader, it's following the Scout Law on THRIFTY.

 

Boys need to learn what TRUSTWORTHY really means. The adult leadership needs to start teaching leadership skills and the boys need to retain basic TF-FC knowledge beyond FC. Once this patrol becomes minimally functional, I could almost guarantee, the "former den leader" moms would back out of the picture. Until then I think it's proper they hold the adults' and older scouts' feet to the fire until they start acting like Scouts. Any boy half way through the program that isn't acting like Scout has some serious problems going on and I surely wouldn't be putting them into PORs where they are expected to mentor the younger boys on skills and attitudes that undermine the scouting program.

 

All my boys know that in our council an Eagle candidate needs a recommendation from their SM. It is not required by National, but the council will not process the Eagle application without one. I am under no obligation to provide one either. The boys also know that I have sat on recommendations for up to a year for certain scouts over the years. One for 6 months and one for 12 months. As harsh as that may sound, I wear two Eagle mentor pins on my jac-shirt collar. One from a boy that took an extra 6 months to grow up and the other from a boy that took an extra year to grow up.

 

I have never, ever had a patrol go off on any outing without proper food and equipment, because if any patrol ever tried that, THE BOYS would have cancelled an event. ... and yes, I have gone on trips without the boys because they couldn't get their act together in time.

 

Over the years older boys have tried to push the envelop many times. It's normal for them to do so. I have come to expect it and have adapted to their games. They cancel an activity and I go anyway and bring back great pictures of what they missed. I eat better than they do for the same price and give out recipes when asked for them. I expect the boys to be real leaders having been taught how to do it. I've never had to kick a boy out of scouting, nor have I ever had to discipline one either. Remember, if it's boy-led, patrol-method, it doesn't mean the boys lead the adults... they are a separate entity that can assist the troop, but only if it is willing to do so. By the time my boys are 12-13 years old, they fully understand the consequences of their decisions. If not, by the time they are 14-15 they will... :)

 

Where in the boy-led, patrol-method book does it say an adult has to step up at the last minute and bail someone's sorry butt out at the last minute? That may be in the edition you have, but not in mine.

 

And by the way, fishing for the weekend because they didn't bring any food? Sounds like fun. Went to Canada fishing for a week in a similar situation, it was a blast. Coffee, rice, and spices.... and life goes on. :)

 

Stosh

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Youth led does not mean youth led off into a ditch. This isn't "controlled failure," just failure. Part of the job of the adult leadership is to ensure that the consequences of failure fall to those responsible for the failure AND you are still delivering a quality program to the younger Scouts.

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My kids hit the ditch many times because there is no adult safety net for them. Once they know this, things run rather smoothly. Part of the adult leadership is to assist the boys and I have assisted them into the ditch many times. Of course they were warned repeatedly "this probably isn't a good idea" along the way. But they have to learn. And listening to adults is probably not the way they want to learn. They get that at home, at school and at church, even at sports programs. After a while we all sound like the adults in a Peanut cartoon.

 

Many times I have said, "This isn't a good idea, but if that's what you want to try, go for it." People learn best from their mistakes and after the crash, a thorough evaluation of the situation makes for some of the best lessons these boys will ever learn. By the time they are 12-13, they are pretty much over the experimental stage of leadership learning and are taking a longer view into the future of consequences before they decide. If they knew nothing bad was going to happen because some adult will come charging in and save the day, then they will never learn that lesson and will push the envelop every time and somewhere in their later teens when they have pushed so far the adults can't bail them out anymore , then all hell will break lose and the adults will be on this forum explaining how terrible their boys are. Sorry, that's a crash and burn that the adults need to learn, there is no safety net for them either. One can whine to the council office, but that doesn't always help.

 

Twocubdad: there are ditches of various sizes. The little ditches for the 11-12 year old boys is a good thing and it's not supposed to be controlled failure. Your idea of "controlled failure" implies a safety net and adult directed controls. Boys react different between failure of a slap on the wrist bad (controlled failure) and crash and burn failure. The first lesson my boys learn in their first year of scouting is that there is no adult safety net.

 

Adults can control, warn, direct, etc. all they want and the boys are going to do what boys do. By the time they are older scouts that can get to be quite challenging for the controlling, warning, directing adults. If, however, they really fail and suffer a bit for it, they will become self-cautious and mature at a rather rapid rate. If nothing else, they will think twice before making major decisions. THAT is a quality program. I have had 16-17 year old boys functioning at ASM levels of maturity and the nice thing about it is that they CAN control, warn and direct the boys in the troop! It's called boy-led, and led by boys that know what they're doing and if they don't do it right, there will be a crash and burn.

 

Stosh

 

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I also have no problem with the ditch. The only time Adults are encouraged to step in is when something really unsafe is happening or about to happen.

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So, my take-away is that I have destroyed this troop and I should step down. I'm running a "a lip service, boy-led program that is really adult-led bailouts". I don't teach leadership skills and I should have my feet "held to the fire" (sorry, not familiar with that expression but it sounds bad -- is it some sort of torture like waterboarding?)

 

Stosh, you talk about all this stuff that "your boys know." You said your boys cancel events when they didn't have property food and equipment. Are these the events your go on yourself and take pictures? That just sounds little strange to me. Do these get posted to your Troop's site or are these used to just taunt the boys and show them what they missed? Do you use the pictures to show how things are supposed to run, or is it more of showing them a good time? Most of my boys like to camp, but they like it more for the fun that they have with their friends. Showing them pictures of *me* camping would just make them glad they didn't go!

 

Look, I freely admit that I'm not Super-Stosh. I *do* occasionally have to discipline my boys. When a 16 year old joins the troop and has never had any significant supervision at home, I often have to deal with bullying and hazing until they are made to understand that it's not allowed. And despite being SM, my word is *not* law -- I dance to the Chartered Organization's drum, so I am limited on how much "tough love" they will let me apply. I'd love to be perfect at this job, which is why I've been trying for the past two years to learn how to do it.

 

Most of what I've read here seems to imply that I'm not doing it right but the options provided are not going to work. Fishing for food? Seriously? You said the parents should be angry with me for not supplying them food. I have yet to see any of our boys successfully catch a fish, despite plenty of trying, so unless Jesus joined our outing, I think they'd be even hungrier than the "foraging" crew.

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So, my take-away is that I have destroyed this troop and I should step down. I'm running a "a lip service, boy-led program that is really adult-led bailouts". I don't teach leadership skills and I should have my feet "held to the fire" (sorry, not familiar with that expression but it sounds bad -- is it some sort of torture like waterboarding?)

 

If your boys are still hanging around, then you haven't destroyed the troop. Sorry about the cross-generational expression. I don't always follow the Valley Speak, Ebonics and Texting Codes very well, and I guess I shouldn't expect the younger generation to understand the older slang. Holding one's feet to the fire is holding them accountable for their actions.

 

What a lot of people don't realize while they are in the middle of a situation they don't always see solutions. Those on the outside looking in who don't have the pressure of the situation often see things better and can offer up alternative solutions to try.

 

Don't worry too much about the adult-led bailouts, parents are notorious for them, caring, dedicated people are notorious for them, people who don't think the boys should have their self-esteem disturbed, are notorious for them. Jerk leaders that force the boys to actually function and produce results are aware of the dynamic and will stand their ground and let the boys struggle. No one really likes you while that is happening, but everyone of the boys will someday thank you for it. Basically what they realize is that you are treating them like an adult, the thing they complain about the most about their parents and teachers.

 

Stosh, you talk about all this stuff that "your boys know." You said your boys cancel events when they didn't have property food and equipment. Are these the events your go on yourself and take pictures? That just sounds little strange to me. Do these get posted to your Troop's site or are these used to just taunt the boys and show them what they missed? Do you use the pictures to show how things are supposed to run, or is it more of showing them a good time? Most of my boys like to camp, but they like it more for the fun that they have with their friends. Showing them pictures of *me* camping would just make them glad they didn't go!

 

My boys know this stuff because once they pushed the envelop and it didn't go well. They now have a tradition that one doesn't push envelops unless they know what they are getting into and basically the common lore amongst the boys is, we tried that once, didn't work very well, but if you want to put up with the hassle go for it. It goes along way towards not repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

 

Be sure to never hand out brochures on any fun activity out there the boys might want to be thinking about. They might have some pictures in there that taunt the boys and show them what they are missing. I'm sure showing them pictures of other scouts who have their act together would just make them glad they aren't going.

 

I go to great lengths to constantly research new recipes to do on outings. Do I do that to make the boys feel bad that they are settling for hot dogs and pop tarts? My new troop is getting ready for fall camporee and want pizza. They are all new Webelos crossovers from last spring. After a long drawn out discussion on how they are going to pull that off with a Dutch oven, one of the boys came up with the pudgy pie alternative. Crisis averted, feelings soothed over and it sounds like it would be kinda good. Better than boxed mac/cheese with hotdogs in it.

 

Look, I freely admit that I'm not Super-Stosh. I *do* occasionally have to discipline my boys. When a 16 year old joins the troop and has never had any significant supervision at home, I often have to deal with bullying and hazing until they are made to understand that it's not allowed. And despite being SM, my word is *not* law -- I dance to the Chartered Organization's drum, so I am limited on how much "tough love" they will let me apply. I'd love to be perfect at this job, which is why I've been trying for the past two years to learn how to do it.

 

:) Do I get a cape with that title? I discipline my boy on occasion. I just find I don't have to do it very often. A 16 year old joins has problems, the boys usually straighten him out on their own. Bullying and hazing? They get an annual refresher ever year on the topic every time we take on new scouts. Anyone participating in bullying and hazing is out of the troop, no questions asked. Rule #2 in our troop is Look and act like a Scout. Once you get 30 - 40 years in you'll have a pretty good handle on what works and what doesn't. Until then just keep learning.

 

Most of what I've read here seems to imply that I'm not doing it right but the options provided are not going to work. Fishing for food? Seriously? You said the parents should be angry with me for not supplying them food. I have yet to see any of our boys successfully catch a fish, despite plenty of trying, so unless Jesus joined our outing, I think they'd be even hungrier than the "foraging" crew.

 

I don't imply anything on this forum. I try to express it as best I can and for the most part everyone's agenda does a fine job of messing it up. I didn't imply you were doing it wrong. I only offered another suggestion you may want to consider. Others on this forum do the same thing. The "solutions" may sound like total opposites but in one troop they work great and the same thing in another troop would be disastrous. People define things different and have a whole mixed bag of expectations for the boys in the program. In my situation I find that what I do goes along way to expedite the leadership learning. I've dealt with small troops 5-40 boys over the years and have no experience or desire to work with a larger troop. More power to those who do. What I do with my boys is try and get them to a functional level of leadership as soon as I can, which tends to be quite early in the program. This way I don't have the hassle of waiting until they get older and have an attitude about it.

 

I had a school teacher explain it to me once. Grade schoolers (Webelos crossovers) are like sponges and soak up everything you put in front of them. They are avid and excited learners. When they get to the middle school years they basically lose their brains. Nothing in, nothing out. :) Then the high school years they get their brains back.... with an attitude. If I can get that leadership learning process of taking care of your boys and watching out for others, get the program in their hands, set them on the right course,etc. etc. right from the get go, it avoids a ton of problems down the road when they lose their brains or get them back with an attitude.

 

As a last note. Another scout leader with 2 sons and I with one son went up to the BWCA with my brother (another scouter and his son) who was well versed in the process, to learn how to take up the troop up there. We were told the fishing was lousy by both guides as well as the bait shop people. We didn't want to drag a weeks worth of food in so we went quite light on the grub.

 

My brother, son and I fished the shorelines and the other scouter and his 2 sons fished the reefs. Every day we both caught enough for everyone to eat that night thinking the others may not have been successful. We had a ton of fish to eat and with foraged greens and cattails we had plenty to eat all week long. I wouldn't have tried that with the troop, but a small group (patrol of older boys) can do just fine and have a great time.

 

Stosh

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One of my patrols (made up of mostly older boys 14-16)' date=' consistently has problems with the grubmaster role. The PL is very forgetful and laid back and doesn't follow-up. As a result, grubmasters often forget about grub until the last minute, and on the last two occasions, forgot completely. In the first instance, I picked up their food for them since I didn't want to "punish the boys that didn't screw up." After warning them that this was their last bailout, things went ok for a while, but then a couple of campouts later, again, no food (actually partial food -- only enough for two meals). On that trip, I later found out that they begged and borrowed food from the the NSP.[/font']

We are boy-led and use the patrol method, so other than periodic email reminders, I try not to interfere with the patrol workings. But I feel bad for the scouts that are trying hard but being let down by the rest of their patrol. (I'm also worried that it's just a matter of time before the parents start getting upset about little Timmy Teenager not getting fed well enough on campouts).

Today, here we are again, two days before the campout, and the PL tells me that the grubmaster says he doesn't have time to get the food and on top of that, no one can find their menu anyway. I've told him that he either needs to find another grubmaster pronto (they all go to the same school so it's not a communication issue) or be prepared to do it himself. His response was "OK", but based on past experience, I'm not expecting them to arrive with any food.

Any thoughts about ways to get this patrol back on course? I'm grubmaster for the adult patrol this weekend, so I'm thinking about while I'm at the store, grabbing something bland like PB&J and Ramen as an "emergency grubmaster kit." They'll have food, but I imagine they'll get tired of it pretty soon and hopefully learn a lesson.

 

 

 

Your not boy led, you bailed them out. let them fail and then figure it out.

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Your not boy led, you bailed them out. let them fail and then figure it out.

 

I agree with you BD, but I've got a couple questions.

 

1.If you kids go hungry the whole weekend, does that hurt their enthusiasm for the program? Would a weekend with no food or little food make the scouts be like "Screw this Scouting stuff?"

 

2. How does the wrath of angry pack of parents not come down on your head? I'll admit I'm not as bold a man as you. I don't blame a Scoutmasters for bailing his Scouts out if it means not having to deal with parental rage.

 

I agree with you in principle (the Scouts ought to be responsible and we shouldn't save them from themselves in situations where they aren't in danger.

 

If you could expand on how you deal with the situation, that would be really helpful and I'd appreciate it.

 

 

 

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