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ShutterbugMom

What do you do about Scouts that miss meetings?

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My husband is the bear den leader and I do lots of "behind the scenes" preparation. What do you do about boys that miss meetings? For example, we had 2/14 boys miss when we did the Whittling Chip. My husband stayed late to do it with those boys at another meeting. However, our last meeting in December (which was the 11th) we had only 4 boys out of 14 there. We knew 3 would miss for basketball practice and had made arrangements to get them the stuff to complete the requirements since we knew ahead of time.

 

However, we were making bird feeders which required preparing the seed ahead of time for the meeting and keeping it in a crock pot. We had to use the leftover seed..it couldn't be saved. Also, we had all the stuff to make Christmas ornaments. Should we make the effort to "catch these boys up" at the next meeting? This would require basically repeating everything we did at that meeting. After the meeting, I sent a note detailing what we did at the meeting and the information that they would need to do this at home, (plus a link to the simple bird feeder we made.) I am not sure what to do here...of the 7 that we didn't know were missing I have not heard a word from them at all. They were very active before this meeting, So I just think it was a random occurrence before Christmas for most of them (one is *very* sporadic unless it is a purely FUN meeting...I'm sure he'll be at the Pinewood Derby for example.)

 

Also, we have only 5 meetings left before Blue and Gold. We need 3 to complete the rest of our requirements. We plan to keep the others as "catch up" meetings. However, if it snows, we could lose meeting days (we do not meet if school is not in session.)

 

I am not sure what to do, and get minimal response from the parents. I am frustrated as several of the kids and parents are very dedicated, however, about half of them are not. Do we just press forward and not worry about it? I do send out PLENTY of e-mails (weekly) so they know the schedule, upcoming events, and what we did at each meeting. I also send out individual e-mails to the parents of kids that miss. Frankly, it is taking a toll on me when I get no response. One parent did tell me that sometimes it goes to SPAM, but there is nothing I can do about that on my end. (Which I told her...I told her she needed to check with her e-mail provider to determine how to prevent that.)

 

Thanks for any good insights you might have!

 

 

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Thank you for the "hour a week" you spend on behalf of our future.

You sound like you are an organized person.

I am reminded of a "Cathy" cartoon of several years back. Cathy is talking on the phone (with a cord attached!) to a colleague at work, and she is asking them , "I'd like to find out if you received the email I sent you asking if you got the letter about the memo I posted about responding to voicemails in a prompt manner?"

Ultimately, if they aren't there, they aren't there. If they don't earn the badge, they don't get the badge. Sorry. Either YOU or the PARENT must sign off on the requirements, yes? You can only provide opportunities, you cannot guarantee anyone will avail themselves of that opportunity.

I would first type up a schedule (you can always change it if you must) and either GIVE or MAIL it to your parents. NOT email. Handing personally is the best, of course. I would try to limit the emails, as folks do get tired of that. Schedule a regular date for meetings, if anyone can't make it, make your policy for "make-ups" known. And stick to it. Get money for projects and materials UP FRONT. When I was DL, I would say " I need $10. for the coming weeks, I will let you know if I need more for craft materials. Here is what we intend to do" and list the projects. Once, a boy did not come to the meetings for a while. I saw the handwriting on the wall, they were dropping out. So I visited their house one Saturday afternoon, Tommy was surprised when he answered the door and saw me there! His dad came up, I said "I saw Tommy wasn't at the meeting, but he paid for these kits, he should have them" and handed the kits to Tommy. His dad said thank you. Tommy said nothing. I said I hope to see them again at next weeks meeting, but I didn't hear from them again. I did my duty. I know you will "do your best". It will make a difference for some of them, for sure.

Remember the Cub Scout Mantra: "KISMIF, KISMIF" . Keep it simple, make it fun.

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What SSS said, plus nobody has to make rank by B&G ... Only those who make a good faith effort to do each of the requirements.

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If you buy concert or movie tickets, and don't show up, will they hold a "make-up" concert for you? Deal with the boys who show up and don't worry about the others. THeir parents have made the choice that they didn't need to attend, for whatever reason. Also, my opinion is that 14 boys should be TWO dens, not one. Just my two cents...

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Also' date=' my opinion is that 14 boys should be TWO dens, not one. Just my two cents...[/quote']

 

I agree with this and it's an important point. You will know your families, but this could explain your attendance problems. Too many kids, too much chaos.

 

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As a Bear den leader with 15 regulars, I understand where you're coming from (I also know we should be two dens but it just wasn't happening this year.)

 

Normally, 12-14 attend as of lately, which is wonderful. I always send a text to the parents that didn't attend after the meet letting them know what we did and to message me if they have any questions. Some will reply back, some won't. Most complete it at home by the next meeting. If they don't - as everyone else has said here, so be it. I know we'll have a couple that will not rank up in February. Their parents bring them to most meets but they don't make up what they missed or they disregard the few things they need to do at home. I'm not going to break my neck to make sure they do it.

 

This may sound wrong but I'm trying to help 15 scouts rank up (one being my son.) If a fellow parent can't help their one scout do the same (or encourage them to do the work that they do not need assistance with) - well, they just won't rank up until its done (or at all if they're not done by June 1st.)

 

I did also want to add that I do not do Facebook messages or emails anymore. Calls and texts, yes. But the other two seemed more problematic than anything. We have a pack group on Facebook but nothing for our den specifically. I was running myself ragged emailing this person, calling that person, etc. So they all agreed to texts or to find out what was missed by calling me or seeing me at the next meet.

 

I also agree on money up front before doing a craft. We are building birdhouses in a few weeks, for example. 12 of 15 have paid their part for materials. 3 have not. I talked to all 3 parents privately and told them if they were having financial issues, please let me know and we'd work something out. None have since replied to me. So come that day, 12 of 15 will be building birdhouses. I never wanted to do something like that but this is the first year I haven't paid over $30 out of pocket for materials. And I'm enjoying that!

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For cubs and girl scouts when I was leader I wrote up Den/Troop news and printed off for everyone each week. It included upcoming schedule with planned activity. With something that was needed to be made I kept the parts that were keepable and gave them the next meeting they were there - to get that signed off they needed to bring finished product or a picture (allowed to email or send by phone) When there's something that can't be stored then the scout needed to find a way to get what was needed.

 

For a teaching thing - like learning first aid for example. They were taught to seek out that information: ask mom/dad, find out online (my girl scouts when they were old enough), check out a book, etc... and were then to ask to speak with me before or after a meeting and just go over what they learned.

 

All this was discussed at 1st meeting of the year where scout was required to come with adult. We made sure all paperwork was filled out (some required by pack/unit and some required by me), went over dues, how to's, expectations, and RULES

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December is always a really busy time of the year for everybody so I wouldn't get too stressed out just yet. Send out a reminder about the next den meeting or activity via e-mail/text/tweet/IM or whatever your pack uses and then see how many show up. My guess is most of them will be back.

 

As far as getting the boys caught up - I know this is going to sound kind of hard in todays "everybody gets a trophy" world. But, If the kid doesn't show up for an activity he just doesn't get to do that activity. If it is an activity that counts towards his rank or some other award by all means offer him and his parent the information on how to complete that activity on their own. But if they choose not to follow up that is on them. If the parent has an issue with that remind them that this is a FAMILY based program and while you will certainly do what you can to help the boys earn their rank the parents are going to have to help as well.

 

There is no rule that says boys have to complete their rank by Blue and Gold or any date other then the end of the school year. So while you might have 7/14 complete their requirements by B&G, the other 7 can continue working towards their rank until they finish or the end of the school year in your area. You would just award them their Bear badge at a pack meeting or other pack event. And sometimes seeing their friends get awards when they don't lights a fire under some kids and/or their parents. If they don't complete the requirements for their rank by the end of the school year then they don't get their patch and they move on to Webelos with the rest of the den. Life goes on.

 

On a more positive note - To earn the Bear rank you must complete 12 out of 24 achievements. You must pick 1 achievement from the "God" group, 3 from the "Country" group, 4 from the family group, and 4 from the self group. If you choose to do more than 12 achievements the extras count towards your arrow points. What I am trying to say is the boys can complete their rank by doing DIFFERENT achievements.

I assume you are going to continue having meetings after Blue and Gold. I believe the whittling chip and bird feeder activity fill requirements for 2 achievements in the "self" group. So pick two other achievements from that group to do at den meetings in March. The 2 that missed whittling chip and the ones that missed the bird feeder activity will earn another achievement toward their rank and the kids that have already earned their rank will earn one more elective without anyone repeating an activity or you having to plan extra meetings or activities.

 

Sometimes I think we forget what Cub Scouts is all about. Sometimes we put way too much emphasis on earning badges and awards.

Cub Scouts is supposed to be about having fun with friends and family. It's about getting outdoors and learning about the world around us. It's about doing new exciting things that other kids don't get to do. Yes we want boys to earn their ranks. But you (or your husband) shouldn't have to jump through hoops to get everyone their rank. Like someone else here said, concentrate on the boys who are showing up and that everybody (including your husband and you) is having fun.

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Thank you for all the replies. I guess I try to much to be a people pleaser....I do not want any of the boys to be disappointed at Blue and Gold.

 

In response to having 14 in our den....we started the year with 9, and had 5 new scouts sign up! In addition to a DL, we also have an ADL and a Den Chief. Typically, we open together and then divide into two groups and do two different activities, or two groups doing the same activity...one with the DL and one with the ADL. It works out fine since several of the parents are willing to help, and we have a large meeting area with plenty of indoor and outdoor meeting space.

 

From what everyone says, I feel like we are doing all we can. I will make a copy of the e-mails I send out to hand out at the next meeting also. I love the way there are 24 achievements and you only need 12. We have two more to do to meet our 12 (they were required to do two family requirements at home and have known about it for months.) That will leave us three meetings to add additional requirements to help boys that have missed. Assuming our meetings don't get snowed out.....

 

We do still meet after Blue and Gold, but with a couple pack meetings, Spring Break and testing week at school (we don't meet) it only leaves us 5 more meetings. Also, I notice a dramatic drop off in attendance after Blue and Gold because a huge amount of kids in the area play baseball (including mine.) We will still have meetings, and either the DL or ADL will be there. They have plenty of time to finish but the parents do have to put out effort.

 

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Lots of great advice above Shutterbug. I found a lot of success in using a visual advancement doodad for my bear den. (I used a poster but almost anything would work.) This had a line for each boy and stickers for achievements completed. (Mine was color coded for the categories and with the achievement number on the top for achievement). At most meetings we took a tiny bit of time to add to the poster. (You could also add a line for what the DEN did.) Then each boy could be more aware of his advancement and den as a whole is reminded about all the stuff they have done. Arrow heads and other awards were on there also. (The poster does not need to be a big deal as the FUN is the focus of scouts right?)

 

If a boy missed and made up with his folks I talked that up a bit.

 

(I would also call those lower attendance families and let them know about the poster. "Just wanted to let you know that we are adding this, boys are pretty competitive with each other, so if scout has completed anything at home make sure the book is marked off.") Invite the parents in to see the poster at pickup, or have it at a pack meeting.

 

You seem like the organized type who could probably pull this together easily for the DL. (who with 15 has his hands full.) Congrats on your successful program. Enjoy the boys.

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Had someone ask me last night at the meeting. "We have a new Bear signing up, do you think you can rush them through before Blue and Gold" my response, "Bear Rank isn't required to advance to Webelos, so no they might not get their Bear patch but I am more than glad to teach them what I can until they move into Webelos"

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Ditto to most of what everyone else said. But I'll also add I think (of Tiger, Wolf, Bear) Bear is the year most conducive to being done individually. For Tigers, a full third of their requirements are Den Activities and another third are Go See Its intended to be done with the den. For Wolves there is very little flexibility. My numbers might be off but I recall something like 52 out of 58 individual activities being required for Wolf. The Bears on the other hand have tons of choices and very little restrictions.

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Jason- Why does your B&G have anything to do with Rank Advancement? The B&G is Cub Scouting's birthday party, not the end of the Scouting year. I'm not trying to single you out- this timeline seems to be present in several of the active threads right now. Rank advancement is NOT a Den activity either- if someone is working faster than the rest of the Den, he gets his badge sooner- at the next Pack Meeting. Tiger is hard to get faster than the rest of the Den, since 2/3 of the requirements are Den-based, but Wolf, Bear (more than Wolf) and especially Webelos are more individual (as a prelude to Boy Scouts, which is ALL individual Advancement).

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I agree with Torchwood, but we must be old-school. The trend now seems to be that the entire den marches in lock-step and is spoon fed at the same rate, so they all are "rewarded" at the same time. Maybe the program has changed...?

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