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WisconsinMomma

New Volunteers vs the Old Guard

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Here's what I have observed in some committee meetings where I am.  A few of the parents of Scouts who are no longer in the troop complain that current parents are not volunteering and honestly, they start to come across like the only ones capable of getting anything done.   Do they go out and ask the current parents to volunteer?  No.  They  put a note in the minutes saying they need someone to volunteer and then complain that no one shows up.   I asked a mom from my former den if she would take over the wreath sale.  She said yes as long as she doesn't have to attend committee meetings.  Voila!  A new parent is volunteering.   The mom who was doing the wreaths  and her son is leaving is happy, and she was very nice.  Score one for the new parents.  Now some of the "old" parents are complaining that their fundraisers suck.  (My family sold $700, but whatever.)   I volunteered to our committee chair and Scoutmaster to run a candy fundraiser if the PLC supports the idea, and I offered to get them info. and candy samples so they could check it out.  I have heard back -- nothing.  So here I am, a new parent trying to help out, appropriately, and I'm getting nowhere with it.  So I try to wait patiently until one of the more experienced adults actually wants assistance.   We need a new Treasurer, but the outgoing Treasurer basically said that he trusts no one else to do the job.  It's frustrating, really!    I've made like 4 or more nominations for a new Treasurer.  My fingers are crossed. 

So, I have some frustrations with old Scouters who complain about new parents. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma
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All too common.

I joined a troop where only the ASM's had scouts in the troop; the Troop Committee  were all grumpy lifers. Term limits anyone?

Let me know if you want the Topic title changed.

 

 

Edited by RememberSchiff

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Good for you for going to the SM to propose a fundraiser for the PLC to approve. Maybe they were not interested.

One challenge we had was new parents "persuading" the PLC to do a joint fundraiser with the pack.  PLC had to cancel their trip in order to do it. While the Cubs sold the bulk of the tickets, I discovered the troop 95% of the manpower. And that 5% was either parents in both the troop and pack, or about to cross over parents. And you are not mandating what the monies are going to. We got some extra money from the fundraiser due to providing manpower. However, the folks in charge said the troop can have the money only if we put it towards equipment, and nothing else. Fair enough. I just hope they don't want us to buy what they want to get. Looking at some of the stuff they proposed in the past, it was not practical, nor cost efficient. Plus the Scouts won't have ownership, and will not take care of it.

 

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As a 15-year troop committee member (and a pack and den leader before that), whose son aged out 8 years ago, I guess I am one of those old timers.  I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, from just about every angle.  I have seen good conduct, not-good conduct, lack of conduct, and everything in between, from "old" leaders, new leaders, "medium" leaders and non-leaders.  And not just in Scouting, but other volunteer organizations as well.

Part of what I have seen coincides with some of what you have seen.  Our troop had (emphasis on past tense) a CC who was trying to do about three committee jobs (in addition to CC) themselves, and often asked for help, but was never really able to "let go" from the things they were doing.  Even when someone else was supposedly in charge of one of these jobs (or activities), the CC still held on to part of the information required to do the job and did not trust the person to actually do the job.  When someone tried to help with something outside of their specific responsibility, they were sometimes met with a hostile response.  And, referring to an issue that you mentioned, this person did not know how to ask for volunteers and would not listen to advice about it.  Telling a roomful of parents that a particular job needs to be filled rarely produces a volunteer, and when it does it is not necessarily the right volunteer.  The correct approach (and the one advocated in BSA materials on the subject) is to figure out who is the right person for the job, see if the committee agrees, and then personally ask that person if they will take on the job.  And if that person cannot do it, go on to the next person.  In your case you took matters into your own hands and asked someone to do the wreath sale.  Not really how it is supposed to be done but it produced results.  If I had done that in the time of the CC I mentioned, I would have gotten yelled at.  Meanwhile this person never once cracked open the troop committee guidebook, and the one time I tried quoting from it, they looked at me like I was a three-eyed visitor from another planet. (So I eventually took matters into my own hands in the ultimate way, and recruited a new CC myself, got agreement from the other MC's (not the CC), and my recruit presented themself to the old CC, who saw the handwriting on the wall and stepped down.)

On the other hand, dealing with "new parents" (and sometimes not-so-new parents) is not always a bed of roses either.  I have seen parents who WERE properly asked to take on a job, and declined (often with "I'll get back to you," which often means the same thing), for no other reason than they are "busy" (which everybody is) or they feel they have already done enough volunteering for their sons in Cub Scouts or sports.  (This one really rankles me now that I haven't had a son in the troop in years, and someone can't spare an hour per month or so to join me in doing boards of review for THEIR SON.  Well, not their son of course, but you know what I mean.  And yet when their son's EBOR comes around, some of them do find the time to hover around in the hallway during the board.  I had one parent trying to give me hand signals or something, during their son's EBOR.)

And then there are the people who selflessly serve others, follow proper procedures, read to learn about what they are supposed to be doing (beyond the official training) and treat fellow volunteers with the respect they deserve.  I try to be one of those.

And every unit committee or leadership group is different, but many of the challenges are similar.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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My experience is type A personalities will persevere. Either the unit leadership will learn to use the volunteers energy to the units advantage, or the type A person will eventually be the unit leader.

As for recruiting, nothing works better than asking in person.  I learned to match personal skills to the required need. I was rarely turned down because our human nature is to feel flattered when our  time is requested specifically for our skills.  And more often than not, the volunteer stayed in the position for a long time.

Barry

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1 hour ago, Tampa Turtle said:

It took me awhile to break in; it took much longer for my wife.

What does your wife do with your Troop and what was it like for her? 

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1 hour ago, NJCubScouter said:

  In your case you took matters into your own hands and asked someone to do the wreath sale.  Not really how it is supposed to be done but it produced results.  If I had done that in the time of the CC I mentioned, I would have gotten yelled at.  Meanwhile this person never once cracked open the troop committee guidebook, and the one time I tried quoting from it, they looked at me like I was a three-eyed visitor from another planet. 

I am sure that our old CC who is now the Treasurer would have loved to yell at me for finding a wreath person, except, the old wreath person was delighted, and I included another committee member who seemed to buy in in the process.   I just hope that the new wreath volunteer is treated well.   Volunteers seem to be taken for granted, and I see this across our Pack and Troop.  At our last committee meeting, after the popcorn kernel gave a lengthy report about declining popcorn sales, I said -- thank you for helping with the fundraising.  I think people were shocked I said thank you!   But he put a lot of effort into that report and people don't get thanked enough in Scouting.  (This could be a whole 'nother topic.)   At the Pack last year, I bought cheap flowers for the ladies,  and service star pins and Payday candy bars (oops, peanuts, must not open at school) for all the adult leaders because I wanted to do some recognition for the adults in our Pack, who really never hear thank you, unless it is individually from a parent. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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A view from across the pond....

First of all NJ Scouter is exactly right. That massed email or announcement to a room full of people very rarely gets results. You have to go and ask people in person and that is what gets you pairs of hands.

In addition.... you have to give them something to do. Now that might sound odd but consider this.

The scout movement is a much respected institution (despite what some might have you think) with many traditions and ways of doing things that, to the outsider looking in, including that new parent who may not have been a scout themselves, look frankly a bit strange. That parent who comes to help with whatever event it is may be standing at the back looking lost because, frankly, they are lost! It's that simple. So when they turn up to something tell them what it is you want them to do. And find out what they can do. It's no good asking them to review a patrol's hike route plans if they don't know one end of a compass from another. So tell them, I need you to count the cash at the end of the fund raiser and write it in that book over there. Tell them you want them to check what material is already in for the repairs weekend on your building. Whatever it is. And then say thank you! And afterwards go for a beer with them. If you just ask them to turn up and don't give them anything to do they will end up drifting away.

And for old timers (does that include me? I've been doing this 20 years without any children of my own involved) be ready to let go. Yes it may be a labour of love but remember someone with fresh ideas may just have something there that will work. 

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I treat the parents like I treat the boys.  Here's the task, if it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done.  Fundraisers?  Not my problem, you want your kid to go to summer camp, either pay out of pocket or organize a fundraiser, the boys will help if asked.  CC?  I dunno.  I never saw the charter this past year, not my concern.  COR?  Got one because he told me he was COR.  MC?  I guess everybody.  I have 1 active ASM and 1 inactive ASM that will step up on an as needed basis.

I need a new ASM?  I get an application form have the person fill it out and sign it and I give it to the COR with fees to take care of.  Then I don't worry about it anymore.

My 1 active ASM does all the $$ paperwork and accounts and keeps track of advancement.

I work with the boys and the ASM helps out as needed.

I haven't had any drama anytime for the past 3 years.  It's not my problem and I have no intention of making it so.  Stay in your own lane.

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This is all a game for those old school scouters Wisconsin. They relish in patting themselves on the back for all that they do for their unit while simultaneously complaining about how clueless and ungrateful the parents are and how those parents never really volunteer to help. However, the caveat to that is that those leaders don't genuinely and sincerely invite the new parents to help and that's why so many new parents don't get more actively involved.

Deep down I believe the old school scouters really love things just the way they are...they like to be in control, they like to be the center of attention at committee meetings and they like to have their egos stroked.

There are a lot of good scouters out there, but there are also far too many bad ones, who are in this for all the wrong reasons.

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Since we got a negative sterotype of old school Scouters, let me offer this negative stereotype of new volunteers.

You have these just crossed over parents who had little to no interaction with the troop their sons have joined who try and take over. Since they never visited the troop, let alone camped with them, while their sons were Webelos, they do not understand the "unorganized chaos" of the Patrol Method. They complain that the leaders are not doing an effective job and want the Scouters to jump in and do stuff that the Scouts are fully capable of doing. Just not up to an adult standard yet. They complain that meetings are not advancement oriented and their sons are not earning anything. They complain when other Scouts who joined at the same time as their son is advancing ahead of their son. They are constantly following their child around on camp outs, jumping in and helping their child until either A) they finally listen to the SM and ASMs or B) they  throw a temper tantrum and threaten to leave (if I'd known that that one was not going to fully complete a commitment he made, I would have said "Go.") When work on a MB isn't fully done by a campout, they expect the  Scouters to change the PLC's plans so that their sons can earn a MB. They are constantly trying to get their sons signed off on advancement, even when not fully earned. And they try to play two different ASMs against the SM trying to find a MBC for their new Scout ( SM was trying to find a MBC since the one the troop used was dying. Mom would not take "let me work on it as an answer"). And when they are not getting their way, they go around the SM, find MBCs from other councils they know, and organize their own trips, which can cause conflicts with existing plans the PLC has made.

In essence it is all about their son getting Eagle as soon as possible. They do not understand the goals and methods of Scouting. They see Eagle as the only thing.

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It takes two to tango.  In many respects @SSF and @Eagle94-A1 are correct. The clash of generations has been around since day one.  The problem is not that the Old Guard is stoically entrenched or every Newbie Parent is looking to gain some advantage for their scout, it's the fact that neither of them of them are willing to get on the same page and work at doing what's best for all the boys in the unit.

For centuries, the conflict has settled down on the cusp of level 4, sometimes slipping into level 5.  Level 4 is the Game of Conflict and Level 5 is Divorce.  The old guys think it's fine just the way it is because it is working, "it ain't broke, don't fix it" and the new guys have some relevant new ideas that could make things even better, "there's always room for improvement".  Yet once an agenda is developed by either side  "it's game on!"  Whenever either side doesn't get it's way and their "agenda" is threatened enough to hold sway, it's time for Divorce, someone's gotta go.  This forum is loaded with all kinds of such games identified.

Yep, I'm a "stick in the mud" member of the Old Guard.  And yet I have seen the progression of 50 years of Scouting and it's decline from when every kid in the US wanted to be a Scout to a rather embarrassed young man admitting to his buddies that his parents force him to be in Scouts.  Now, as an Old Guard who's been fortunate to have the experience of 50 years watching, I know it's broke and needs fixing.  So where's my agenda?  "Well back in the day when things were great....." and the eyes begin to roll.  So the New Guys come along and say, "I have the miracle cure" for all that's wrong.  Game on!  Neither side is all that excited about the way it is and no one's going to give an inch to do anything to effectively change it, and the slippery slope slide just continues on it's inevitable decline.

Until everyone recognizes, neither side is going to sit down and start talking about what the real problems are.  It's a lot easier to put bandaids on symptoms than come up with a cure.  Until both sides put aside their personal agendas and set a clear goal, we will only wallow in our petty little game.  This program is not about Old Guard egos or Helicopter Parent interference, it's about the boys and what's best for them.  THAT is seldom the common goal of the two groups, but it's the only goal worth fighting for.  Everything else is what is dragging down the program.  We are on the brink of Divorce level conflict, and each side is positioning for an advantage as to what's best for them.  Not much, other than token lip-service, is dedicated to what's best for the kids.  They are the unfortunate side of collateral damage.  Who's really speaking for them?  No one with any sort of adult agenda is, that much I know.

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I think we need to start a separate thread about new parents -- or do we already have that in the helicopter parents thread?  :)     I've read several threads here about new parents mucking things up, and I believe your experiences are real.   

My experiences with just a couple old scouters is real too, and some of it is rough -- one is really, IMO, bad, passionate about Scouting but it comes out in all  the wrong ways. The other is just down on the next group of parents.  He seriously said when I said that the Troop might like to do high adventure in the future that with "these parents" the boys won't be able to do high adventure, because for some reason, they won't be able to pull it off.  I said -- your kid went to Philmont,  and then the other one gave a lecture about how hard it is to plan a Philmont trip and we don't have the adult leader resources for it.   And then he said, as a committee, we will give you permission if you want to lead a Philmont trip you can.  And I thought -- dude, I don't need your permission to plan a Philmont trip and I can find plenty of information on how to run a Philmont trip over the next two or three years, I know where to find  plenty of people with Philmont experience, and I can recruit the right adults from inside or outside our Troop, and it's possible so don't tell me what I can and can't do.   If the boys want to go to Philmont or Northern Tier or Seabase or anywhere else and need adult help, I will help them.   See I'm new, and fresh and I got fire in my belly.   All these older Scouters don't want to go to Philmont anymore or whatever, big hairy deal, they don't have to go.   In one of our Fall meetings the old CC says -- I want to go camping at XX, and the camping chair plans a trip to go to XX and the boys are just told where they are going.   According to what I hear here about how things should work, that sucks and this group can do better. 

We have several other old parents but most of them are low key, one more that's sticking around seems to think that it's still their business to do a lot of talking about how the Troop should be run.  Like, why?  Why is this your business if your kid is long gone and you are not volunteering in any way?   Now this outspoken person is connected in the community and I know that has value, there is value to old Scouters experience, but it's not their place to direct the Scoutmaster or try to control policies and funding, etc.  Even the stories about the scouts and volunteers from 5 years ago are largely irrelevant.  Other old Scouters are very low key,  merit badge counselors, etc, but they show at the committee meetings and some are helpful and volunteering.  So, it's an interesting group and it's been slow getting in.  I rock the boat a little here and there, but I have to balance it with being laid back so I don't get shut out.  

I have to be careful because I am tempted to say things like -- If you don't have a kid in the troop, why are you here? (I can't say that!)  and let's let the parents who have kids in the Troop give their input, or I have two Scouts in this troop, or, when my den were AOL and they were learning about Scouting they leaned that Scouts plan their activities, not the adults etc. etc.    But it can easily come across as rude, even if it's true!   I do say some things that show that I'm with the current group and my kids are Scouts right now. 

I need to not develop a bad attitude -- ack, I need to get over my bad attitude.  I feel that the two most negative Scouters need to back off, and they are both in the process of backing off, and that is good.   I do not want any adult  in the troop automatically telling any Scout that they cannot go to Sea Base or wherever as a default answer.  But, that's a little out of  my lane, as Stosh would say, at the moment.   

It's a slow thing, and committee is really a pain.  But I need to be there to help the Troop adults have more exposure to the idea of boy-led Scouting.   I will also put these ideas in front of the Scoutmaster, but for now the Committee has a feeling that it's the Committee that decides things.

ETA:  I feel like I'm dealing with -- a few of --  the prior generation's helicopter parents who ran the troop and are still helicoptering.  All their kids Eagled, so they must know what's best.  Blah! 

Also, I'm not saying every old Scouter is a bad Scouter, not at all -- and I am thankful for the  many old Scouters who are helping in the right ways.   These are examples of a few individual Scouters I am dealing with that are, IMO, too involved. 

 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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20 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

All too common.

I joined a troop where only the ASM's had scouts in the troop; the Troop Committee  were all grumpy lifers. Term limits anyone?

Let me know if you want the Topic title changed.

 

 

I am just thankful to know that I'm not alone with this kind of experience. 

There are a lot of wonderful, helpful, kind people in Scouting, and then there are a few kind and well meaning people who might just be grumpy lifers. 

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1 hour ago, Stosh said:

Until both sides put aside their personal agendas and set a clear goal, we will only wallow in our petty little game.  This program is not about Old Guard egos or Helicopter Parent interference, it's about the boys and what's best for them.  THAT is seldom the common goal of the two groups, but it's the only goal worth fighting for.  Everything else is what is dragging down the program.  We are on the brink of Divorce level conflict, and each side is positioning for an advantage as to what's best for them.  Not much, other than token lip-service, is dedicated to what's best for the kids.  They are the unfortunate side of collateral damage.  Who's really speaking for them?  No one with any sort of adult agenda is, that much I know.

SO.VERY.TRUE.

That is the challenge, getting both sides to sit down and talk out the issues. If one or both sides will not sit down and talk, it will only get worse.

When my troop was having major adult issues last year, it wasn't until we all sat down by ourselves and talked it over. Neither side got everything they wanted, but compromise was made. IMHO, I think I made a few converts to for the Patrol Method. Now if I could just make them realize they need to give responsibility and authority to the Scouts, and have them sitting down, playing card games, and drinkin coffee. :) But we got a goal, and worked in it. Conflct between the two groups ceased.

Sadly we have some of the new parents who either have not attended any of the adult meetings, or refuse to follow the policies implemented by the troop to insure the Scouts get the most out of their experience. We have meeting for every adult involved in the troop this weekend since we have a day activity scheduled for the Scouts. Word has gotten out that it is important that everyone attend. Unfortunately it seems as if the most challenging new parents, the ones causing so many problems that 4 Scouters are saying the heck with it, (and all 4 have kids in the troop and have less than 6 years with the troop, Don't know if you would call them "Old Guard" or "Expereinced"), look as if they will not attend due to "other commitments." Yet this is the date everyone agreed upon, except me and one other person. And we will both be there.

 

 

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