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shaner

Trouble collecting required forms

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Hello,

 

I am a parent that has volunteered to be the Summer Camp Coordinator for our troop.  Among other duties, it is my responsibility to collect all of the necessary paperwork from all the scouts (and their parents) that are attending the camp.

 

We are a fairly large troop with approximately 85 scouts...with approximately 50 going to summer camp each year.

 

Problem:  Getting these folks to turn in the paperwork on time is like pulling teeth.  Only about half of the scouts and their parents will get their paperwork turned in on time. Not receiving them on time creates an additional workload that gives this position of "Summer Camp Coordinator" a real bad name...none of the parents who have done it in the past will touch it with a 10 foot pole.  Not receiving these forms on time and the consequential increase in workload, time, and stress is by far and away the worst aspect of this position.

 

Question:  Does anyone have any suggestions, techniques, or processes that the troop can use to help in the timely collection of paperwork?

 

Thanks,

Shane

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Thank you for your service to our boys.

I feel your pain.

 

The only solution is one with teeth. Don't accept payment (I.e., the scout's spot is not reserved) until all forms are turned in.

 

Short of that, any scheme you try will always allow for a percentage of campers to procrastinate annoyingly.

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What paperwork don't people turn in, what happens either for them or the troop when they don't turn it in.

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Thank you for your service to our boys.

I feel your pain.

 

The only solution is one with teeth. Don't accept payment (I.e., the scout's spot is not reserved) until all forms are turned in.

 

Short of that, any scheme you try will always allow for a percentage of campers to procrastinate annoyingly.

In our troop's case, "a percentage of campers to procrastinate" is about 50% (25 scouts)...unacceptable.

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What paperwork don't people turn in, what happens either for them or the troop when they don't turn it in.

I didn't think the exact nature of the paperwork would be relevant.  We made it clear that we needed it by a particular date and simply am not getting it by that date.  For me, that's the problem regardless of the nature of the paperwork.

 

But since you're asking, it's the BSA medical forms A, B, C and a copy of the insurance cards.  Nothing happens to them when they don't turn them in on time....there are no consequences.  Plenty happens to me as I am then required to track down parents and hound them for what we need.

 

It becomes an unnecessarily time consuming process that runs off all of the Summer Camp Coordinators.  Because there is no one taking on the position in back to back years, there are no S.O.P.'s, no development of useful tools like spreadsheets, no training (because the previous year's coordinator runs away), and therefore a tendency for the first-timer to make mistakes.

 

I plan on addressing this issue with our committee after it's all over.  I am now in the process of outlining the issues that i see with the position and am collecting ideas for solutions.

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Teeth. If the forms are not in my possession by this date I will not accept them and my duty has been completed. Period.

 

If someone else wants to step up and process late paperwork they may volunteer to do so. What can they do? Fire you?

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Welcome to the forum, hopefully some of our suggestions will help.

 

Here's my take:

 

Put out a general announcement via whatever medium you use stating that such paperwork is required for camp.without the paperwork and monies turned in on time we cannot hold a reservation.  Now the ball is in their court.  

 

Then as they turn in the paperwork and money, produce a list of the boys going to camp.  Remind the boys and their parents if their names is not on the list they are not registered for camp.  If they wish to wait until the last minute, it will cost extra due to the late fees and availability of slots at camp.  If they wish to have a guaranteed spot at camp, get the paperwork and money in by such and such a date.  If we do not receive the paperwork, "we'll do the best we can to get your boy to camp."

 

This might be a bit harsh but some camps require a certain number of adults attending as a ratio to the number of boys going.  Along with the last minute paperwork, one might also have to find a last minute adult to fill in.  If that is not possible, then there's a limit on the number of boys that can go.  Get the paperwork in so we know how many adults are needed.  If Mr. Smith is asked to go along and the boys all back out on their going to camp, that means Mr. Smith just screwed over this family's vacation time.  Put out consequences for their procrastination.  If you are hard nosed enough this year, I will guarantee you won't be asked to do it next year.  If they like what you did, you could be the coordinator forever.

 

This ridiculous process is a result of many years of teaching from spineless parents.  :)  They see their child doing something wrong and the first thing they say is "ONE!"  The child smiles and keeps right on doing what they were doing so the parents says, "TWO!"  and until the parent draws a breath to say "Three", they keep doing it.

 

My kids had an unfortunate childhood.  They never got to One!  They never saw it coming.  They grew up looking over their shoulder a lot, but they were pretty well behaved.  Surprisingly they don't procrastinate much either.  :)

 

Treat the parents like adults, don't do the ONE, TWO, THREE thingy, they should have outgrown it by the time they reach parenthood.

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Here's your problem: Nothing happens to them when they don't turn them in on time....there are no consequences.  Plenty happens to me as I am then required to track down parents and hound them for what we need.

 

The onus is on you to make this happen, not the parents/scouts. The reason it's on you is because you don't want the scouts to not go to camp, to not fail, to not have any problems. Everyone wants the scouts to go to camp, so you help and do all the work. You're so sweet! And a lot of people are walking all over you. It doesn't matter that you said the rules are to get the forms in by a certain date. Everyone knows the real rules are that you will send them a gentle reminder every 2 or 3 days.

 

So, some guidelines. There need to be well communicated rules and consequences. Also, don't be the bad guy. Use the camp's rules and consequences and modify them just enough so you can work with it. And let the parents know this. Without the competed forms the camp will not let you in, and I need an extra day to collate them. So, no forms, you can't go with us. This way people will call you asking for help against the evil empire (read: camp rules) rather than getting mad at you.

 

Then you have to hold their feet to the fire. Most likely there will still be a few people that are late but they will be easier to deal with. And if it's more than a few, turn them around at the parking lot and send them home. I've never had to go that far.

 

Good luck.

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Put the responsibility where it belongs...on the scouts.  Remind them at every meeting...if YOU don't get your forms turned in, YOU are not going to camp.  Period.  Then stick to your guns.  The day after the deadline, turn over whatever forms you have, then your job is done.  Tell the Scoutmaster that if he wants to accept more forms, it's on him to process them.  People procrastinate and ignore you because they can.

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Good suggesions so far.

I agree with MattR in that there should be consequences. As scoutldr said, no forms, no camp.

Taking the outing out of Scouting can have an effect.

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Put the responsibility where it belongs...on the scouts.  Remind them at every meeting...if YOU don't get your forms turned in, YOU are not going to camp.  Period.  Then stick to your guns.  The day after the deadline, turn over whatever forms you have, then your job is done.  Tell the Scoutmaster that if he wants to accept more forms, it's on him to process them.  People procrastinate and ignore you because they can.

 

When I was a scout in the '60's, this was completely a scout responsibility. Show up at camp with your completed one page, triennial med form or you sat at the camp office awaiting pick-up. This process was the same whether you were provo or with your troop that week.

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Yah, @@shaner, I reckon we all feel your pain.   Da BSA paperwork chase is somethin' we all hate.

 

Remember, yeh volunteered for a service position, eh?  Just keep sayin' that to yourself. :)    Service isn't always easy and often requires patience.  It means sometimes you're on da timetable of those you are tryin' to serve.

 

I'd encourage yeh to think about the sort of things that go on in a family's life that can hold things up, and what yeh can do to be supportive.

 

One of da things you'll find is that insurers will only pay for one medical exam a year, eh?  Dependin' on the need for sports physicals for school or camp physicals or whatnot, the family's health care cycle might not line up with da troop's paperwork needs.  Can yeh do anything to help with that?

 

Maybe yeh can make health forms available throughout the year, to be taken in whenever the family does its physical, and then you collect it and store it.  Maybe yeh can get a friendly physician parent in the troop to do physicals on a couple of nights for the boys who just need 'em for camp.   Maybe yeh can help fill out new forms with last year's information so the parents just have to check "no changes" and re-sign, rather than wade through the form again.

 

If permission slips are the holdup, maybe yeh can switch to one annual permission slip and get it at the same time as the health form?

 

Sometimes families have cash-flow issues, eh?  They don't want to turn things in "incomplete", and they don't want to admit their financial circumstances to other families.   Can yeh work with da Committee Chair or COR to come up with a way to separate the two things, or provide support?  Sometimes there are custodial issues with divorced parents, eh?  Often not much yeh can do about that one, but maybe includin' both parents in copies of da paperwork can help move things along.

 

Ultimately, recognize that departure day for camp is da real deadline for things like health forms, and everybody knows it.   Unless da troop is willin' to create a different Absolute Deadline where they absolutely drop kids from participatin', there's nothin' you can do about this.  Suck it up and get on with the job. ;)   Sometimes tiltin' at windmills will only leave yeh frustrated.

 

Beavah

Edited by Beavah

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There's an interesting contrast of opinions here:  It's on me, it's on the scouts, rules with teeth, suck it up....all good stuff.

 

We are a very active and fairly large troop...85+.  There are close to 70 people going to Summer Camp including adults (I stated originally that 50 were going and that number did not include adults).

 

No matter how I look at it (even after considering cash flow and the timing of physicals as Bevah points out), I can not seem to accept that only half (remember, that's over 30 people) are turning in their paperwork in complete and on time,  leaving the person "who volunteered for a service position" to scramble for paperwork.  I totally get a few special cases, but 50%...over 25 families??.

 

Bottom line here for me, and the reason I'm asking here in the first place is that this problem with compliance is why no one wants to "volunteer for the service position".  One and done.  The problem is real...it's not in my head, and I'm not just crying because I got more than I bargained for.  The one and done syndrome has lead to the fact that there are no processes in place...no How-To's (training), no SOP's, no collection of useful documents, templates, calendars, etc.  No one has been willing to step up and do the job in consecutive years and provide the next coordinator with some some guidance and tools to get the job done without being crushed...they just run away.  I have literally been told "Oh, I'm sorry, good luck with that" when I've mentioned that I'm the coordinator.  They run because of the "paperwork chase".  There is no continuous improvement of the position.  I feel obligated to change this (and add the tools I mentioned).  I do not intend to turn this position over to the next service volunteer in it's present state.

 

 

...

 

Ultimately, recognize that departure day for camp is da real deadline for things like health forms, and everybody knows it.   Unless da troop is willin' to create a different Absolute Deadline where they absolutely drop kids from participatin', there's nothin' you can do about this.  Suck it up and get on with the job. ;)   Sometimes tiltin' at windmills will only leave yeh frustrated.

 

Beavah

 

This is huge: "...day of departure..., and everyone know it."

 

The committee, SM, and ASM's has partially created this culture by not clearly stating and enforcing deadline rules. The SM's and ASM's, while as helpful as they can be, have not provided the coordinators with everything that they need to get the job done without feeling totally used and abused when the job is over.  To expect a first time Summer Camp Coordinator to step in with very little experience in a process like this and not get crushed given the culture and present state of the job is wishful thinking:  one and done.

 

At this point, and based on all of your input, I think I will have to go to the committee with requests for:

  • Troop enforced missed deadline fees.
  • More of the onus be put on the scouts...the SPL should be hearing from the coordinator a lot.
  • That the committee, SM, and ASM's completely take over the paperwork collection process after the deadline has passed.   Like I said, I partially blame the committee, SM, and ASM's for creating this culture in the first place...let them taste it for a week or two and I bet there will be changes.

 

So you will all know:  I have already volunteered to do this job again next year.  I can guarantee you there will be changes.

 

And tons of thanks for the input...good stuff.

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The medical forms are good for one year and Parts A and B with insurance cards are required for most every outing/campout. Are you telling us that summer camp is the only outing your troop does ALL YEAR LONG that requires medical forms? Getting medical forms should not be a last minute effort prior to summer camp. It is an all year effort to make sure every scout and adult has a current form on file prior to attending any campout. Maybe you should consider having one person in charge of the medical forms all year long. I volunteered to handle this for our troop. I created a spreadsheet with the dates that everyone's medical forms expire. I get a list of who is attending each outing from the leaders of that outing. I then make sure I have a current form for those scouts and give all the relevant medical forms to the leader when they leave for their outing. It then just comes down to Part C for summer camp. I remind parents throughout the year that if their scout has an annual appointment scheduled with their doctor, then bring the Part C with them to the doctor's office. We also have a physician come in and do the physicals for those scouts who need them about a month before camp. I collect the completed Part C's right then and there. That cuts down a lot on last minute paperwork. I leave it up to the outing leader to collect the permission slips and file the tour permit.

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I feel your pain as I am the "keeper of the medical forms" for our troop as well.

I keep the forms all year since form A and B are needed for all activities.  The issue with summer camp is the form c that requires the physical. 

Since I keep the forms from year to year I have the dates of the required tetanus vaccine and the copy of the insurance card that, if it hasn't changed, transfer from one application to the next.

I check forms evry couple of months and if a scout is getting close to expiring I will alert the parents via email.  If form A and B expire before a canpout the parents can fill those out at pretty much any troop meeting (remember I already have the date of the vaccine and insurance card)  If there is new insurance, I snap a couple pics with my phone and print them out when I get home.  For the forms for summer camp I know what the camp looks for because I have been doing it long enough so I can pre screen forms for errors when they are handed in.  We do not require forms when camp is paid for but we have an annual camp meeting about 6 weeks out when I will collect them and then usually one night every couple weeks until I take everything to camp to get it prescreened.  If I don't have the form for prescreening it is on the scout and the parents.  Yeah, it's alot of work and it would be easier if parents kept on top of it, but they dont.

 

It does help that I have been doing it for several years so I know what is required, and the parents know that I know what I am talking about now so they listen.

Good luck.

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