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Tiger Foot

Rapid growth, few volunteers, parent conduct, advice?

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Hello, all thoughts appreciated, I'll try and keep the backstory brief.

 

We have very few leaders... 5 including the cubmaster. We don't really have a committee to speak of, we all wear multiple hats.

 

We had a very (overwhelmingly IMO) successful recruitment, and we are piloting Lion. We now have a lion den with about 15 scouts, and a tiger den with 23 scouts, plus a few additions in the older dens. Our pack has more than doubled in size, but we have not yet been able to add any new leaders.

 

We do not have a leader for the Tigers, but do have a few parents who have agreed to run the first few meetings, the first of which happened tonight. It was a near disaster, leaving me with a few shell shocked moms. Ideally, this monster tiger Den would be split into 2-3 dens, but I'd still be short leaders. Adding to the chaos, most of these parents (excepting the few willing to run the initial meetings) dont seem to be willing to do anything. After I finished with my wolf den tonight, I checked on these new moms, and they told me the rest of the parents sat in a corner, talking even louder than the kids, made no effort to assist their scouts with the activities, or help manage their scouts inappropriate behavior.

 

Adding to the mess, I guess a few of these understandably frustrated parents approached the old cubmaster about starting a new pack in another town. I'm not sure why they wouldn't just volunteer here, and he made that suggestion, but I don't know what, if anything, will come from that.

 

I **think** the best thing I can do for now is to try and set some expectations with the uninvolved tiger parents... Shared parent/leader roles, working alongside their scouts at the meetings, scout like behaviors from their sons, that sort of thing. I have two wolf parents who will run my wolf den next week, so I'm free to devote that night to the new tigers. I'm hoping that will help the couple of parents who have stepped up so far have a better experience next week.

 

I don't know. Last year was my first year in scouts, and this seems an overwhelming mess. I'm doing the lions on one night, the wolves the next. I guess I don't really know where to go from here, and any advice would be appreciated. I think if I can just get the majority of the patents to actively participate with their own sons at meetings, I can quickly develop three or four into den leaders.

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Explain to the adults that their kids are counting on them to step up, and nobody will do it better.

Share a vision of two or three tiger dens, each with two caring adults and every parent part of team.

There are a lot of negative opinions of the Lions program on this forum. Never having experienced, I can give you no advice.except that if you cant do it all, don't.

 

Give the old Cubmaster a call. You'll need his help. A second pack is not a bad idea. But like you said, the aggrieved adults will need to

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@@qwazse is correct.  It is a matter of developing at Pack culture or faking that there is one until everyone believes the myth.  With our Pack, Troop and now Crew, the expectation is that EVERY adult helps out in some way.  In Lions and Tigers, the adults are supposed to be experiencing Scouting along with their kids.  They are the "adult partners" not going off into a corner and chatting.  

 

Last weekend we had our leadership retreat for our Troop and in my e-mail to the boys I told them, "Scouting is as fun as you make it.  You are in charge.  Lead."  The same applies to parents in Cub Scouts - the program is as good as they make it -- take the lead.  The key is to explain that many hands make light work.  The Den leader is the coordinator in chief.  He or she assigns each meeting theme to a parent or parents.  The Den leader leads the meeting (starting out with the pledge, oath and law, and then turns it over to the parents.  He or she then thanks the parents with a round of applause (or a cheer), previews the next meeting, wraps up the meeting (we always used the Scoutmaster's Benediction and then a cheer.  In a den of 10 kids, each parent takes one requirement or elective and runs one meeting and you have a year.  This also get the parents to behave -- they don't want the other parents in the back being a distraction when they are running a meeting and therefore should show the same respect that they would like.  Parents are expected to follow the Scout Law - helpful, courteous, kind...   Sell it to them by telling them that the best way for their children to learn those values is for their parents to lead by example.

 

My advice is for you to break the Tiger den in half.  Twelve is the maximum for a den.  Have everyone find a buddy.  Then have the pairs of buddies find another pair.  Then have the quadruplets each find two other quadruplets.  This way, everyone is guaranteed a buddy in their Den.  Then have a movie for the kids to watch OR plan an activity that the boys can do en mass (and get other adults that don't have kids in the Dens to help you).  Send the adults for each Den off into another room with instructions to pick a Den Leader and an Assistant Den Leader and then to plan out the year with each parent taking one requirement or elective per meeting.  The Den Leader and Assistant Den Leader don't have to take a meeting (asuming you don't have meetings during July and August).  A group of disorganized parents go into a room and a well oiled and planned Den comes out.  This is similar to what I would do for the new Tiger Dens in our Pack.  I would run the first meeting for them, teaching the Pledge, Oath, Law and Motto, playing games and having fun while the adults would figure things out.  Actually, one of the Dens asked me to keep doing that each year to allow the parents to plan -- so I would teach one of the requirements (my son was a year ahead of that Den, so I just used the materials I had developed for my son's Den).

 

Fill the front line leadership positions and then worry about the Committee.  In our Cub Scout pack, the Committee roles (other than the Treasurer) didn't do much.  We had the program down and the Cubmasters knew what they were doing.  When I took over as Cubmaster, we actually started having Committee Meetings because I wanted a group of involved parents to buy into some changes I was making so that they would continue after I crossed over.  Again, get the program running well and then get some folks on the Committee -- that realy isn't a big commitment.  We sold it as attending two one-hour meetings during the year.

 

My last piece of advice is to ask specific people to do specific jobs.  Don't ask the group if anyone wants to be Den Leader.  Ask one person who you think will do a good job.  It is easy to ignore a request made to a group, hard to ignore a request made just to you.

 

Thank you for what you are doing for scouting.  Being the Cubmaster is the most fufilling job there is.  Nobody can thank you enough -- but the kids smiles are more than enough payback.

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Looks like I got clipped! :eek:

 

Give the old Cubmaster a call. You'll need his help. A second pack is not a bad idea. But like you said, the aggrieved adults will need to step up to the plate. If some of them are more willing to do that under different leadership, it's a win for the boys. If the old CM is able to exhort them to be better leaders in your pack, it's a win for the boys. If he's able to give you wisdom as to anything he learned the attitudes of parents in your community, the boys win.

 

The rest, well @@Hedgehog covered it mostly.

I would only add that you might want to let these parents know that whoever steps up as den mom deserves regular "recognition" by way of whatever flowers or chocolates the rest of them can afford to send her. :D

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Wow... sounds like you had a great recruiting night!  Way to go!!  I think the place you need to improve is in your new parent orientation meeting.  Here's what I've done successfully the past couple of years as a Cubmaster.  On the first meeting night following recruitment, divide your leaders into three groups: 

  • Returning Scouts - two leaders will take this group outside to do a service project cleaning up the neighborhood.  Bring small plastic bags to collect trash.  Following that, take the group outside or to the gymnasium for some games.  Recruit parents of returning Scouts if you need extra supervision.
  • New Scouts - two leaders will group all of the new Scouts together (Tiger-Webelos).  Divide them by den.  have them stand in straight lines and then run through the Bobcat requirements.  I start with the Cub Scout sign.  Explain what it means (be quiet, listening ears on).  Then ask them to make as much noise as possible, and have them stop as soon as they see the sign go up.  Do this a few times - the boys love it.  After that, you've burned up some energy and can work on Scout handshake, motto, oath, law.  Maybe mix in some games as well.
  • New Parents - Take this group to a different room and go through a new parent orientation session. 

For the new parents, here is what I'd cover:

  • Explain the Lion and Tiger Adult Partner expectations.  Maybe play "Cat's in the Cradle" as opening music before you get started.  Ask them to close their eyes and do a visualization exercise.  Ask them to think back to childhood.  Imagine a happy time with their mom and/or dad.  Ask them to think about that time.  What were they doing?  How were their parents participating?  Were their parents focused on them or distracted by the TV, friends, or a smart phone?  Hopefully the answer to that is no, their parents were focused on them.  Now ask them how they would have felt if their parents were there at that happy time, but instead of focusing on them their parents were playing with their smartphone.  How would that have made them feel?  Would it still be a happy time?  Stop the exercise.  Explain that you get it... nobody is perfect and we are all guilty of being distracted and trying to multitask when our attention should be on the here and now.  At work we use a phrase, "Be Here Now."  It applies to our job, while on a call, I should focus on that call, and not be distracted by email or personal matters.  But it also applies in my personal life.  When I'm with my son or daughter, I should 'be here now' and focus on them, not worry about that project at work or the bills I need to pay tonight.  Explain that the Adult Partner is an active participant, with his/her son.  It shouldn't be the den leader helping little Timmy or Johnny, it should be the Adult Partner.  This is bonding time for them.
  • Explain the Lion and Tiger shared leadership model.  Explain that each parent/son team must pick one adventure to lead.  I use denner cords as extra encouragement to the boys (they get to wear the cords during the month they are leading an Adventure).  Explain that the Leaders Guides tell them everything that they need to know to lead that adventure.  Explain that the most they'll need to do is gather required supplies, lead songs/games, and coordinate outings.
  • Explain that every den must have at least one registered den leader.  Explain that this person goes through about 3-4 hours of training to learn more about how the Scouting program works, and how to deliver the program safely to our youth.  Explain that the training can either be done in person (Saturday morning in our District, some do it during an evening session) or online.  Suggest that it works better when there are two den leaders - that way one can cover for the other in the event of an emergency or illness.  Ask the parents to divide up into groups of 6-10 boys per den.  Ask them to pick two leaders amongst them who will take the training.  Then ask them to pick which Adventure each will lead.  Give them the five required, and suggest a few electives as well. For our Tigers, we like Good Knights but you may prefer a different one.
  • Explain the Pack Committe Roles.  I think you should probably review them closely yourself.  A Pack Committee is essential, and it shouldn't be the leaders.  The leaders handle the program, the Committee handles the behind the scenes stuff.  If you don't have an active Committee, your leaders will get burned out, it's only a matter of time.  Personally, I wouldn't push for Lion or Tiger parents to step into the named Pack Committe Roles (Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Public Relations, Advancement, Outdoor Activity, Membership) unless it was a new Pack that was just forming.  I would encourage them to be Commitee Members to help out with these things or other things (such as Blue and Gold or Pinewood Derby).  Ideally you'd have Wolf-Bear parents filling these Committee Roles.  By the time their youngest boys are Webelos, the Committee leads and Cubmaster should be stepping down into Assistant roles to allow the next generation a year to try out the role with their predecessor as an Assistant/mentor).  I've used various demonstrations to get the point across.  One of my favorites involves a bunch of ping pong balls, each with a role or task written on it:  Blue and Gold, Pinewood Derby, Den Leader, Cubmaster, Advancement, Rechartering, Friends of Scouting, Popcorn Sale, Camping, Newsletter, Pack finances, etc. etc.  I like to use the Cubmaster for this example... I ask him to hold the balls, and keep giving him more and more balls until he starts to drop them.  If he has really big hands, and doesn't drop any, once I've given him a dozen or so of these I'll ask him to start juggling them.  Hopefully everyone will laugh at this point, but you've illustrated the problem your unit has right now - a handful of leaders being asked to do all of those roles.  Next you can illustrate how much better it works if each person in the room takes on one of those things.

I came from a broken Pack in much worse shape than yours, but if you don't fix things soon your Pack will crash and burn much quicker than mine was when I became Cubmaster.  It took about 2 years to get our Pack on the correct path, but by my third year as Cubmaster our Pack was one of the strongest in our District.  A strong Pack has a strong Committee.  It also has a den leader for every den.  Healthy dens have 6-8 boys (too few and the den will fail, and too many and it will succumb to chaos).  You might be able to push a den up to 10 boys (especially a Tiger den since you have Adult Partners), but I wouldn't go much beyond that.  You must have enaged Adult Partners at the Tiger and Lion level.  You must use the shared leadership model for at least Lions and Tigers, but ideally beyond that as well.  I know of a few packs who use it for Wolf-Bear-Webelos and it works well once you have instilled that culture into your Pack.

 

This will be a major culture shift for your returning parents.  You may need an additional parent meeting with them to go over the named Pack Committee roles.  If you need some help, engage your Unit Commissioner.  The Commissioners are great at helping in situations like this.  Many hands make for light work, but too few and your Pack will not be as good as it can be, and that only hurts the boys.

 

Hopefully the advice you get here will help, use some or all as you see fit.  Just remember that you can't give people an out, explain that this is how it must work if your Pack is going to survive.  Good luck, and let us know how it is going. 

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yep, Hedgehog covered it pretty well.

 

I think it's important to set the expectation early and strong, of everyone helping.  

 

Tough love is needed..... point of fact, a den can't exist without a leader, so if you don't have a leader you don't have a den.  So everyone goes home early.....

 

I'm not sure about the new program, but in the old program Tigers was meant to be a shared leadership role..... meaning that it doesn't ALL fall on the one parent that steps up.  Each week or each month is handled by an adult/scout pair.  the registered leader is there to help guide and steer..... making sure it stays on the track of the underlying scout aim and program..... rules, and so on.... but it shouldn't all fall on one set of shoulders to run the meetings.

That changes as the scouts get older.

 

I agree that 12 is the max for a den.  Actually based on experience I think that is a little too big but it can work.

 

Another thought.... it might help to run things like some packs I've heard of, where ALL dens meet the same night in the same place.... so EVERY meeting is like a pack meeting with breakout sessions for each den.  I'm just thinking this could help in sharing the load as things get started

 

Encourage older scouts to help younger scouts..... especially the WEBELOS, if you have any.

 

And for WEBELOS, really encourage the WEBELOS leaders to study the patrol method of the troop level and work towards that.  Something we failed with as I was coming up through with my son.

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I think that with 23 Tigers - in other words, 23 first-graders - you are not going to have productive den meetings with fewer than 3 dens - 2 dens of 8 kids and one of 7.  Even a den of 12 first-graders is too much.  A beneficial side-effect of three dens is that once the dens are divided up and everything is running like a well-oiled machine (one can always hope), word of your great success will leak out and a few more boys can join without splitting dens again.  Ten first-graders is probably just barely manageable.  I wouldn't go higher than that.

 

I think you need to tell the parents that if they want this program for their sons, they need to be den leaders.  I remember as an Assistant Cubmaster, with my own son probably a Webelos I at that point, sitting around with a group of Tiger parents and telling them that without two of them volunteering to be leaders (one DL and one assistant), there was not going to be a den.  I heard back later that they had been pretty shocked about this.  Nevertheless, two of them volunteered, and they had a den.  It's a difficult thing to tell a group of people who walked into a room with their sons expecting that a program was going to be magically provided for them by other people, and then finding out that they are the ones who are going to be doing the providing.  Any parent who was once a Cub Scout or Boy Scout is not surprised, because they know that's how it works.  But for everybody else it is a surprise.

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I found this script someplace, maybe here on this forum....

I used it but unfortunately I think it was too late to get much impact..... the night I did it was a very poor turn-out and so I made the same point but just abbreviated it....

 

I don't know, I thought it was impact-full, to think about how little time we have to be influential with our kids.... and it might wake some folks up.

 

The script says cash register tape.... I used just a long measuring tape, 50 ft or 100 ft....

 

  • “Start with a cash register tape that is very long-the longer the better. Use this tape to represent the lifeline of a Cub Scout in your pack-no need to name someone. Place highly visible marking at equal intervals across the tape, numbered from 0-90. Have a Scout hold on end of the tape and another Scout hold the other end so the entire tape is visible to your audience. You’re ready to deliver your message….â€

  • “Folks this tape represents the lifeline of one of our Scouts. I would like to spend a moment to a moment to explore the times in there lives when as adults; we can make the highest impact in their lives that they will rememberâ€
  • Walk from the low numbers to the high numbers of the tape, saying “At the far end of the tape-we can all acknowledge that it is out hope that as adults, our kids outlive usâ€.
  • Tear off any of the tape beyond the number 65, and allow the scout to let it drop to the floor as he now hold the tape at the number 65

  • Walk back towards the low numbers on the tape and share, “of course-who among us can truly recall those early years when out parents fed us, changed our diapers and taught us how to talk?†Tear off any of the tape before the age of 6, and allow the scout to let it drop to the floor as he now holds the tape up at the number 7.

  • Next say “Once our kids reach college age-they tent to move out for school or careers. We really don’t get to see them nearly as often from this point on-as we do nowâ€
  • Tear off an of the tape beyond the number 18, and allow the scout to let it drop to the floor as he now holds the tape at the number 18.

  • “In some families, once kids reach their teenage years-it can be challenging to find ways to stay connected with our kids. They develop relationships out of the home, explore new interests-in short, it may no longer be as cool to hang with mom or dad or the family.â€
  • Tear off any of the tape beyond the number 12, take both ends of the remaining tape from the scouts and raise it up for the audience to see.
  • “As you can see-it turns out that that years your son is in Cub Scouts are the ones that they will be the most receptive for you to make and impact in their lives that they will remember. Out pack can use your help on a task or two to make this experience memorable and impactful for all out kids. Please see us right after the meeting and we can tell you how “

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Explain to the adults that their kids are counting on them to step up, and nobody will do it better.

Share a vision of two or three tiger dens, each with two caring adults and every parent part of team.

There are a lot of negative opinions of the Lions program on this forum. Never having experienced, I can give you no advice.except that if you cant do it all, don't.

 

Give the old Cubmaster a call. You'll need his help. A second pack is not a bad idea. But like you said, the aggrieved adults will need to

I agree.  You need to recruit them like I was recruited. If nobody steps up, the den will have to be disbanded. 

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I found this script someplace, maybe here on this forum....

I used it but unfortunately I think it was too late to get much impact..... the night I did it was a very poor turn-out and so I made the same point but just abbreviated it....

 

I don't know, I thought it was impact-full, to think about how little time we have to be influential with our kids.... and it might wake some folks up.

 

The script says cash register tape.... I used just a long measuring tape, 50 ft or 100 ft....

 

  • “Start with a cash register tape that is very long-the longer the better. Use this tape to represent the lifeline of a Cub Scout in your pack-no need to name someone. Place highly visible marking at equal intervals across the tape, numbered from 0-90. Have a Scout hold on end of the tape and another Scout hold the other end so the entire tape is visible to your audience. You’re ready to deliver your message….â€

  • “Folks this tape represents the lifeline of one of our Scouts. I would like to spend a moment to a moment to explore the times in there lives when as adults; we can make the highest impact in their lives that they will rememberâ€
  • Walk from the low numbers to the high numbers of the tape, saying “At the far end of the tape-we can all acknowledge that it is out hope that as adults, our kids outlive usâ€.
  • Tear off any of the tape beyond the number 65, and allow the scout to let it drop to the floor as he now hold the tape at the number 65

  • Walk back towards the low numbers on the tape and share, “of course-who among us can truly recall those early years when out parents fed us, changed our diapers and taught us how to talk?†Tear off any of the tape before the age of 6, and allow the scout to let it drop to the floor as he now holds the tape up at the number 7.

  • Next say “Once our kids reach college age-they tent to move out for school or careers. We really don’t get to see them nearly as often from this point on-as we do nowâ€
  • Tear off an of the tape beyond the number 18, and allow the scout to let it drop to the floor as he now holds the tape at the number 18.

  • “In some families, once kids reach their teenage years-it can be challenging to find ways to stay connected with our kids. They develop relationships out of the home, explore new interests-in short, it may no longer be as cool to hang with mom or dad or the family.â€
  • Tear off any of the tape beyond the number 12, take both ends of the remaining tape from the scouts and raise it up for the audience to see.
  • “As you can see-it turns out that that years your son is in Cub Scouts are the ones that they will be the most receptive for you to make and impact in their lives that they will remember. Out pack can use your help on a task or two to make this experience memorable and impactful for all out kids. Please see us right after the meeting and we can tell you how “

 

 

Generally, when people use props to try to convince me to do something, or team-building exercises or games intended to teach me a lesson instead of just telling me what they want to tell me, I walk out, if I can.  (Good thing I never took Woodbadge because my program would have ended right after, or during, that game that everybody always talks about.)  Maybe it's just me.  But if it works with people who aren't me, well, whatever works.

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Sometimes you just have to have to engage in tough love.

 

First, because the Lion program is a pilot program and is trying to measure it's effectiveness, you really should keep the Lion dens to 5-8 members each, anything else will skew the evaluation results.  Thus you need at least two coaches (not den leaders) for your Lions program.

 

I agree with others that the Tiger den is also too large, and it will only be worse as the boys become bears and Webelos.  Break the den up now.

 

My suggestion for the Tigers ...

1. First, set the expectation.  Tiger parents are to participate in all things with their Scout, they are not there to socialize - that can wait until the Scouts are Wolves.  :D

2. Since all parents have to participate at some level anyway, this reduces the excuses for potential den leaders.  Maybe even make everyone do the YPT so that is also not an excuse.

3. Have 3 copies of the tiger leader guide there.  Give the parents 3-5 minutes to look it over, maybe give each parent an activity/chapter to look over (they can trade later if they want).  Remind them that each parent will need to lead an activity, and that the Den Leader's job is to coordinate the parents when they lead, not to do it all for them.

4. Let them know about the other support and training tools available including experienced leaders, the unit commissioner (I hope you have one), Roundtable, in-person and on-line training, pow wow, baloo's bugle, etc. (maybe hold off on telling them about this forum ;) ).

5. Then, if you will pardon the blasphemy, you need to have a "Come to Jesus" moment.  Tell the parents that right now there is the one Den leader (whomever it is), hand them one copy of the guide.  This den will take 8 boys.  If no other parents step up to lead the second and third dens, you will hold a lottery / draw straws for the seven other boys (since the Den leader's son get's in automatically) that will be in that Den.

6. If necessary, do the drawing, and you have your first Den.  If no one from the remaining parents step up, sorry, try again next year :( ; if one does, have a drawing for the next seven boys.  Repeat as necessary.

7. Supervise and keep an eye on the new Den leaders to see how things are going, and help as you can.

 

While it would be cruel to the Scouts if it does not work out to get you three dens, consider having the scouts there to draw their numbers to put additional pressure on their parents to step up.  What parent can look at Johnny's heartbroken eyes and say "sorry you can't be a cub scout, I'm too busy" (at least once the parent and child has already gone to the meeting).

 

The Lion overcrowding is a harder issue, since while the Den Leader can come from the new parents, the Coach is supposed to be an experienced scouter - although does not have to have a child in the den.

 

Believe it or not, it's a good problem to have - you have Parents who value their children being in the program, you have lots of membership.  If you get similar numbers for another year or two, you really should consider splitting up the pack.

Edited by gumbymaster

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I agree with all the advice here.  Except a den of 12 tigers is too big.  You need 3 dens.  Boys do not feel necessary to the club in a large group.  (For Tigers this is their first 'club'.)  Full participation will suffer.  

Part of the advantage of scouts is working on social skills in small group settings.  You don't get that in a room full of 24 people (plus younger siblings.)

 

If some families drop out and dens are as small as 5 that is a-okay and very good.  (My eldest's tiger den was 5 and they all bridged into boy scouts together.)

 

I always capped my dens at 8 because that was what I could handle with the mix of boys I had.  I kept a waiting list of boys who wanted on.   

 

One resource we provided in our pack was an every so often (roughtly monthly) den leader lunch where we talked through planning for the dens.  This mostly was mentoring the younger leaders.

 

Your growth is a good problem to have.

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Generally, when people use props to try to convince me to do something, or team-building exercises or games intended to teach me a lesson instead of just telling me what they want to tell me, I walk out, if I can.  (Good thing I never took Woodbadge because my program would have ended right after, or during, that game that everybody always talks about.)  Maybe it's just me.  But if it works with people who aren't me, well, whatever works.

yeah, but I think you need to remember this is not he first time you would have been asked/told

 

Seems like you might be an auditory person.

 

This idea....It's just a visual aid to come at it from another angle for the visual types.

 

 Perhaps to offer a little paradigm shift for folks.... to help put things into perspective.

 

I'm sure you would already be wearing the shirt, based on the first several verbal &/or written attempts that @ tigerfoot made asking for help.  

The props might come out for those that aren't you.  Don't be so quick to poo poo on it for them....

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Thanks everyone so much for the ideas and advice.

 

I've got two wolf parents who will take over my next den meeting. I plan to spend that meeting with the Tigers, talking with the parents, incorporating the ideas you've shared.

 

I feel a bit like I'm jumping the chain of command here, but I will contact the old scoutmaster and ask for his help, because the current cubmaster doesn't seem inclined to do much to rectify this,despite my efforts to address this with him.

 

Hopefully I can turn this into something positive. I really appreciate all the supportive comments and ideas!

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