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Cambridgeskip

Getting rid of parents

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The thread about why not to let adults do what the scouts can do reminded me of some brain picking I meant to do.....

 

Last weekend, for the first time, I had the issue of the parent who wouldn't let the scouts get on with it.

 

We were camping at a scout campsite Friday night ready to do a long hike to another camp Saturday. Scouts were dropped off by parents with adult leaders having arrived half an hour earlier with a car load of tents. A pretty standard drill.

 

First 3 scouts to arrive also happened to be tent mates, very convenient, they grabbed a 3 man tent and got stuck into putting it up. Dad comes over to say hello to me and the two adults. All very friendly and appreciative. Other scouts start to arrive, I get a bit busier dishing out tents, collecting the last minute permission forms in etc etc. Turn around and there is dad, still there, getting right in the way of the 3 boys by trying to help with the tent! Now they are 3 of the younger scouts but the two older ones had done it before and were perfectly capable of getting it up and had been in the process of teaching the younger scout how to do it (It's not rocket science!) I got rid of dad in the end but not after gentle hints had failed and I had to quite firmly say "they can do it themselves".

 

As I say, the first time I've had to deal with this. Most parents drop and run, particularly when its raining like it was last Friday! And hints on subtle ways of getting rid of parents without being rude?

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The thread about why not to let adults do what the scouts can do reminded me of some brain picking I meant to do.....

 

Last weekend, for the first time, I had the issue of the parent who wouldn't let the scouts get on with it.

 

We were camping at a scout campsite Friday night ready to do a long hike to another camp Saturday. Scouts were dropped off by parents with adult leaders having arrived half an hour earlier with a car load of tents. A pretty standard drill.

 

First 3 scouts to arrive also happened to be tent mates, very convenient, they grabbed a 3 man tent and got stuck into putting it up. Dad comes over to say hello to me and the two adults. All very friendly and appreciative. Other scouts start to arrive, I get a bit busier dishing out tents, collecting the last minute permission forms in etc etc. Turn around and there is dad, still there, getting right in the way of the 3 boys by trying to help with the tent! Now they are 3 of the younger scouts but the two older ones had done it before and were perfectly capable of getting it up and had been in the process of teaching the younger scout how to do it (It's not rocket science!) I got rid of dad in the end but not after gentle hints had failed and I had to quite firmly say "they can do it themselves".

 

As I say, the first time I've had to deal with this. Most parents drop and run, particularly when its raining like it was last Friday! And hints on subtle ways of getting rid of parents without being rude?

 

Well, that is an advantage of the parents actually camping with you. They are busy doing their own thing, that they leave the boys alone.  Have the parents as a patrol, and they are occupied.

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As I say, the first time I've had to deal with this. Most parents drop and run, particularly when its raining like it was last Friday! Any hints on subtle ways of getting rid of parents without being rude?

Don't be subtle. 

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As I say, the first time I've had to deal with this. Most parents drop and run, particularly when its raining like it was last Friday! And hints on subtle ways of getting rid of parents without being rude?

 

Have coffee ready and offer him a cup. If he doesn't drink coffee flat out remind him that we let Scouts do everything unless it is a safety issue.

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Asking Yanks how to be subtle in Queen's English?

You must really feel at wits end. :o

Unless things have changed that much in three decades, Brits doing "blunt" was always lost on me.

 

Anyway, with the SM patch comes a loss of subtlety.

 

You really can't afford to treat adults much differently than you do youth.

In the instance described, I would address the boys:

It sounds like Mr. Helicopter has given enough for you three to get on. Would you mind if I stole him from you, and we let you finish up on your own?

For the larger American audience, that roughly translates into:

Why the blue blazes are you boys distracting my adult leader? Don't you know I need him to watch water boil? Now snap that tent up before we suggest to your PL that he/she should interrupt his/her nap to help you.

 

Once the adult is out of ear-shod of the youth, you then explain the importance of letting the boys work the program and how you need any adult guests to be at the ready for emergencies, relaying football scores, and such.

Edited by qwazse

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Asking Yanks how to be subtle in Queen's English?

You must really feel at wits end. :o

Unless things have change that much in three decades, Brits doing "blunt" was always lost on me.

 

Anyway, with the SM patch comes a loss of subtlety.

 

You really can't afford to treat adults much differently than you do youth.

In the instance described, I would address the boys:

It sounds like Mr. Helicopter has given enough for you three to get on. Would you mind if I stole him from you, and we let you finish up on your own?

For the larger American audience, that roughly translates into:

Why the blue blazes are you boys distracting my adult leader? Don't you know I need him to watch water boil? Now snap that tent up before we suggest to your PL that he/she should interrupt his/her nap to help you.

 

Once the adult is out of ear-shod of the youth, you then explain the importance of letting the boys work the program and how you need any adult guests to be at the ready for emergencies, relaying football scores, and such.

Now you see you've kind of understood! If I'd wanted advice on being subtle I'd have asked over at escouts I came over hear to get advice on being a bit more blunt :)

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How about subtle bluntness - wear a t-shirt under your uniform shirt with a special phrase - when a parent crosses the line - flash them with the shirt.

 

The message on the shirt?

 

Keep Out Of It

           and

Let Them Carry On

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Give him a adult appointment/leader enrolment form. That should get rid of him.

 

If it ever happens again, you need to have a job to give the parent. Holding the permission forms, or making the leaders a cup of tea or something, you can pull him away with that, and then explain straight up "thank you for trying to help, but I'm trying to teach them to be as self reliant as us adults, so they need to do it themselves". Don't be subtle, it's a man you're talking to. Play him with a straight bat.

 

Ian

Edited by ianwilkins
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Give him a adult appointment/leader enrolment form. That should get rid of him. ...

But, when it doesn't, it can become a thorn in your side. I only give applications to adults who show leadership on my terms. For a person like this, it would take me a few months of ovserving behavior that offsets that first impression.

 

The remainder of your advice is spot on.

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Give him a adult appointment/leader enrolment form. That should get rid of him.

 

 

I agree. Have a big sign that says "Adult Volunteer Leader Sign Up" and hang it high. Next time he gets involved simply say, "You're a natural. Why don't you fill out an adult leader form and make your involvement official?"

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Why would one want to "sign up" an interfering parent into the adult leadership of the troop?  That's like inviting the fox in to watch the hen house.  If they call your bluff, you're opening the door for more hassle rather than avoiding it.

 

Why not just explain up front the purpose of scouting and how this troop will be run and then let the parents decide whether they want their boy involved in it or not.  If not, do whatever is necessary to help get the boy involved in an adult-led troop that the parents can sign up for it too and be big people scouts so they can bond with their boys.

 

I can't imagine I'm the only one that can't see that as a potential problem.  I have only one ASM.  There's a reason for that.  The other adults "hanging around" are the committee members that are 100% in the know of what's going on with the boy-led thing and are on board with it.  If they come on an activity, they are fully oriented to how things work.  The only cutesy phrase necessary to keep the adult involvement in check is, "With all due respect...." said by the PL in charge which they are allowed to say any time they feel their leadership is threatened or challenged.  The patrol is his "turf" and he is expected to defend it from adult interference.  They all know the SM will back them on the issues.

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Stosh

 

I think you might be being a little harsh here! As I said at the start, I was just after the thoughts of people who had had to tell a parent to back off. It’s a topic I’ve seen come up here far more often here than over on escouts hence the picking of brains. I think you need to bear in mind though that our age ranges differ. I run 10-14 year old scouts. I don’t have 16 year old PLs to do the leading and that means that while, like you, we get the scouts to do it for themselves whenever possible the age range does mean that my level of adult intervention is probably higher than what you are used to and keeping a decent number of adults involved is far more necessary.

 

As to whether this individual might be the right type of adult I don’t think one attempt to help his son with a tent in the rain dismisses him. Clearly he knows what he’s doing in terms of the technical side, he may just need to learn how to back off. Not knowing it all at the start doesn’t mean you can’t do it. We’ve all been there. In 2009 I switched from running cubs to running scouts. It’s a very different experience and I took a few months to learn to take my hands off and let the scouts get on with it. I made my mistakes and learned from them. He may be no different.

 

As it happens our cubs are currently the age group looking for adults and I may just guide him in that direction….

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Yah, @@Cambridgeskip, this is da fun stuff for us scouters, eh? :p

 

What I'll do lots of times is come over and start talkin' to the boys.  "Hey, Joe, how many times have you set up this kind of tent?" 

 

"Seven, Mr. Beavah!"

 

"Awesome.   Thanks for takin' your time to help Billy Newscout practice.   Practicin' and lettin' him take time to learn is really important.   Mr. Meddlesome and I are just goin' to get out of your way now and let yeh get on with it.  Do you mind if we watch, though?   We might learn a few of your tricks for doin' it in the rain."

 

Then take Mr. Meddlesome aside to "watch", but really to gently clue in about da program.

 

Of course if it's a mixed-age patrol with an older PL, then yeh can really have some fun....

 

"Hey Joe, it seems like Mr. Meddlesome thinks it's best to set up da tent sideways to da wind.  Can yeh explain to him why that's not a good idea, and why you're doin' what you're doin'?"   Then let Joe run a few circles around Mr. Meddlesome.

 

At that point, when yeh take Mr. Meddlesome aside, yeh can say "Yah, Joe there... he's probably got over 100 nights of campin' in all kinds of conditions, eh?  He's an ace canoeist too and an honor roll student, and a lifeguard and a wilderness first aider.   Da magic of Scoutin' is that your son gets to spend time with older fellows like that to teach him and to look up to.   Your son can imagine himself someday bein' like Joe, and workin' hard for that.  He can't imagine himself ever bein' an old guy like you or me.   Someday soon, he's goin' to be Joe for a younger scout, and I reckon you'll just about burst with pride.  

 

So let's let 'em get on with it, eh?   Come have a cup of coffee.

 

Beavah

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@@Cambridgeskip 

 

Harsh?  I think you Brits are a lot more courteous than us Damnyankees.  :)  I take it you've never seen any of our video clips on parents "talking" to Little League or Soccer referees.  These people have blood in their eyes as they do the She-Bear protective thing for their dear little cubs. 

 

We live in a salesmanship culture here in America.  Our people don't take NO for an answer on things they tend to be passionate about and for some this applies to being a parent.  So now we have young boys learning to be independent and breaking away from that parental control.  Once the boy gets a taste of the world outside the nest, he's gonna want to fly and Mamma Bird doesn't always think that's a good idea.  Dad's usually have enough sense not to get in Mom's way either.  :)

 

So there's going to be all kinds of pushing the envelop in the BSA program of which there are parents who will find that difficult to simply stand by and watch.  

 

Yes, your age structuring is different than ours, but one must also remember that by the time the boys are 14 most of them, at least in my troops, have had extensive leadership training and opportunity.  My older boys may hang on to the cherry POR's, but for the most part focus on high adventure, working on Eagle and hanging out with their buddies.  By the time most of my boys turn 14, they can all say, "been there, done that."  I start my boys very early with leadership training and my NSP's generally have their own PL's, APL's QM, Scribe etc. being mentored by a functional TG.  After a year they are expected to stand on their own two feet and for the most part do.  An occasional hiccup or two, but by 18 months, they do just fine.  That puts them in the 12 year old age bracket with two more years to work on fine-tuning their leadership.  I have had 13 year olds running the entire troop popcorn sale fund raiser and each boy by the time they get out of the NSP have taken the lead on some form of service project for the patrol/troop.  My NSP earn the right to be called Regular Patrol.

 

With that time-line defined that tight, I do not have time to deal with interfering parents that will do nothing but slow down that process.

 

On the very first meeting with parents they are told up-front what is going to happen and if they don't like it, we help them find a different troop.  Every parent/guardian is ALWAYS welcomed to visit any and all activities of the troop AS OBSERVERS ONLY.  They have that right as a parent, but they don't have a right to interfere in the lives of boys that are not their son(s) and attempts to do so will be addressed on the spot by the PL's  If that doesn't work, the the SM is called (At this point we don't have an SPL).

 

At first there are a few parents who will test the waters of the troop, but they learn quickly.

 

By the way, with the Arrow of Light Award, there are Cub Scouts crossing over into the NSP's at age 10+ so that we can have leaders well on their way to great things by the time they are 11.  It doesn't happen over-night, but he evolution of New Patrol to Regular Patrol happens as naturally as the evolution of the Regular patrol into Venturing Patrol around the age of 14-15.  No fanfare, just comfort in knowing where one stands in the troop structure.

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