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shaner

Trouble collecting required forms

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Dontcha just love it when Council decides what is best for your unit?  I hope they offered to also find the scout a provisional troop?

Yeah, no they camped with us. I would not re-submit the troop merit badge/program selections or roster. Any paperwork changes, someone else handled. Oh, I was too busy sitting in my chair to attend the Tues night BBQ with the SE. :p

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Another logjam is that many scouts have their annual physical at the start of the summer to accommodate summer sport camps and fall school requirements.

 

Not uncommon here to send scouts soon-to-expire BSA Health form to Council in May/June only to have the scout bring his new Health form to camp in July/Aug.

 

We had this problem too. One of our parents who is a nurse administrator hit upon a great idea which we use to this day. We recharter in January so we collect all applications and med forms (all parts) as part of the recharter process. For us that starts in late October through mid-December. We collect parts A-C and keep them on file. If anyone's part C will expire before summer camp or high adventure outings we let the family know so they can get an updated physical. This process also gives us 6 months to fix any problems (missing or outdated tetanus, incomplete immunization record, improperly filled out forms). This process has worked great for us and significantly decreased the administrative time preparing for camps.

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The best solution I've seen is the camp coordinator who constantly focused on making the job easy for her.  She'd ask the SPL to regularily announce that we need the forms and the money.  But she had a system where she checked things off and kept complete and incomplete sets.  

 

No nagging.  No emailing the people who have not handed in XXXX.   She made sure people knew it was their job and not hers to chase down paperwork.

 

The real deadline as 8am leaving for camp.  She'd have her truck tailgate down to use as a desk.  If the scout didn't have everything, then the scout could not go.  Parents were asked to not leave before making sure their scouts were checked off.  We had some parents that drove their scouts up late after finding a way to get a physical done.  We had parents write a check.  

 

IMHO, she had it right.  Don't sweat the late parents.  Be there for the parents that are organized.  Beyond that, make it easy for yourself.  

 

*** AS A PARENT ***, I hate arbitrary deadlines they are not real deadlines.  I probably know the real deadlines better than the other leaders.  IMHO, just communicate the real deadlines.  Deadlines that are true stopping point. 

 

For my troop, it's leaving for camp.  And the hard rule is the health form and/or permission slip.  We'll even be flexible on money if we trust you.  

Edited by fred johnson

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We had this problem too. One of our parents who is a nurse administrator hit upon a great idea which we use to this day. We recharter in January so we collect all applications and med forms (all parts) as part of the recharter process. For us that starts in late October through mid-December. We collect parts A-C and keep them on file. If anyone's part C will expire before summer camp or high adventure outings we let the family know so they can get an updated physical. This process also gives us 6 months to fix any problems (missing or outdated tetanus, incomplete immunization record, improperly filled out forms). This process has worked great for us and significantly decreased the administrative time preparing for camps.

This is our system as well. We don't put you on the Charter if we don't have your forms.

 

I do wish there was a master health form that could be used for schools, Scouts, and sports sometimes. Luckily for us our doctor's office will allow us to drop off the forms if our child has had a recent physical.

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*** AS A PARENT ***, I hate arbitrary deadlines they are not real deadlines.  I probably know the real deadlines better than the other leaders.  IMHO, just communicate the real deadlines.  Deadlines that are true stopping point. 

 

For my troop, it's leaving for camp.  And the hard rule is the health form and/or permission slip.  We'll even be flexible on money if we trust you.  

 my thoughts exactly.  The problem is though, that most all dates are arbitrary to some degree or another.

If the place you're going needs the forms submitted say this friday.  They will almost certainly accept them Monday.  

Meanwhile, The volunteer doing the paperwork might want them my the week prior to have a little time to process the stuff and get it through the mail... reasonable perhaps, but it's arbitrary.  and The parents will know it.

It's really a no win as I see it.

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 my thoughts exactly.  The problem is though, that most all dates are arbitrary to some degree or another.

If the place you're going needs the forms submitted say this friday.  They will almost certainly accept them Monday.  

Meanwhile, The volunteer doing the paperwork might want them my the week prior to have a little time to process the stuff and get it through the mail... reasonable perhaps, but it's arbitrary.  and The parents will know it.

It's really a no win as I see it.

 

That's why you go to an out-of-council Summer Camp - if they miss the deadline, they don't have someone to whine to.  Let 'em sign up for an in-council provisional week on their own, on their own dime.

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As for summer camp, I think a lot of adults make it too complicated.  Our camp has an early registration discount.  Parents need to get the permission slip and the check in to get the discount.  Anyone else can register up to the time of our camp preparation meeting which is two to three weeks before camp.  Our camp needs final rosters a week before we arrive.  We get 95% of the folks registered early if you exclude Webelos.  This year we had two scouts out of 25 register after the early deadline -- one who decided to go late and one who was a Webelos crossover.

 

The medical forms are due at the camp preparation meeting.  The boys can't go to camp without them.  We make it clear that they need Part C filled out to go.  The one or two folks who need extra time bring it to the parking lot before we leave.

 

People respond to real deadlines, not arbitrary cut offs with unnecessary consequences.  We do one e-mail providing all of the materials, one e-mail reminding people of the early deadline, one last call e-mail in early June and one e-mail reminding people to bring the medical forms to the summer camp preparation meeting (sent about two weeks in advance to give time to get Part C).  Actually, it is pretty much the same e-mail with an additional line or two at the top.

 

The key is not to stress about it.  To quote Mick Jagger, "you can't always get what you want (i.e. forms turned in well in advance") but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need (everything in order by the time you start off to camp).  

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Ok, this will probably result in a flaming.  I am a VOLUNTEER doing a job that nobody else wanted because it's a hassle.  If I say I need the forms by a certain reasonable date in order to get them turned in and meet all my other responsibilities of work, family, etc., then I get to make the rules.  THAT is the real deadline.  Don't think my deadline is reasonable, find someone else to do it.  It's really as simple as that.  Parents will find the time to get things done if it's something THEY are interested in.

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I think you're right Hedgehog, but not JUST for summer camp.  We have a natural tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be.  I'll admit I'm often guilty of that..... but I'm learning and trying all the time.

....Parents will find the time to get things done if it's something THEY are interested in.

 

This is why I have been pushing to put more of this stuff back onto the scouts where it belongs.  I have been suggesting and planting the seeds with the committee, and I'm starting to putt the stuff I am responsible for as treasurer back onto the scouts.  If a scout wants to go, remind HIM through the scout leadership (Scribe) that HE needs to get the required stuff from HIS parents.

I have little to no intention of contacting parents directly.  Parents will be copied of course if I need to for example send an email, but the email will be addressed to the scout.  My hope is that this will clue the parents in more to the idea that it's up to the scout, not them..... and will clue the scouts into the idea that mommy isn't gonna do it for them.

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What is the difference between a real deadline and an arbitrary one? If a troop leader says they want all medical forms turned in one month before camp departure so they can make sure all forms are properly filled out and ready for presentment to the summer camp director upon arrival, is his an arbitrary deadline or a real deadline? I am no expert but if I ask for forms on a specific date it is because I have looked at the work load and timeline, as well as my personal schedule, to determine when I need the forms so that my work is complete. This way I can make sure that every scout registered for camp will not be turned away because mom or dad didn't realize that a current tetanus shot was required. You can't get a shot the day of departure. Besides why inconvenience the other 40 scouts and parents that can follow directions?

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your sense of urgency does not necessarily make it mine

   (I'm just making the point of how a lot of folks think)

I get it.  I like to be organized, do things early, make sure they are correct.....really I'm among the few that will strive to get it in by the requested time

 

but in reality almost everything is arbitrary in a way....

      you determine you need a week to process. If you have only 6-1/2 days instead, is it really not gonna happen?

You know we always make it work

even the deadline of having the medical form in-hand when you step "on the bus", isn't real.....because odds are very good somebody could figure a way to fax it on over or email it to the camp while you are driving out there....

I don't like it, but that's the way it is....

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@@blw2

 

We had that experience a couple of yours ago. Not sure what happens but one boy was missing a part C that his parents insisted they turned in. The camp just said he had to leave within 72 hours if they didn't get it. The fax went through.

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As for summer camp, I think a lot of adults make it too complicated.   

 

RAH RAH RAH !!!!    So so so true.  Scouting is a simple program that continually gets over complicated.  

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We had a parent who did not have a current tetanus and the form was turned in the day of departure. We had told him repeatedly that missing our deadline would mean we could not confirm his compliance with the camp policy. Come check in the camp director would not let him attend camp. He had to drive four hours to a clinic that would give him his shot and proof thereof. He missed two days of camp but had the audacity to be made at our scoutmaster for him missing camp.

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Ok, this will probably result in a flaming.  I am a VOLUNTEER doing a job that nobody else wanted because it's a hassle.  If I say I need the forms by a certain reasonable date in order to get them turned in and meet all my other responsibilities of work, family, etc., then I get to make the rules.  THAT is the real deadline.  Don't think my deadline is reasonable, find someone else to do it.  It's really as simple as that.  Parents will find the time to get things done if it's something THEY are interested in.

 

No flaming necessary.  Your statements are reasonable.  
 
I just believe there are other approaches that work too.  
 
IMHO, it's only a hard deadline ... IF ... your other troop leaders stand hard with you and don't let scouts sign up late.  In our troop, we'll bend over backwards to help the scout get to camp.  It's at camp where scouts learn the hard lessons by working with the other scouts and developing their own independence and responsibilities.
 
I also think it's a matter of viewing how the job should work.  One way is more orderly with a strong process and lots of communication.  The other is more organic and rolls with the punches.  
 
Ultimately, scouts can't go to camp without the health forms.  If parents don't provide them, that's their issue.  For our troop, the deadline is leaving for camp ... and even then it's not always a hard deadline as we've had clinics fax the physical form to camp after the scout already left for camp.
 
IMHO, let the parents do the work.  Keep your records simple.  Keep your organization simple.  And most importantly, don't sweat it.  It's parents money and kids.  It's the parents kid who loses out if the parents blow it.  

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