Jump to content
SCOUTER Forum
Sign in to follow this  
WisconsinMomma

New Volunteers vs the Old Guard

Recommended Posts

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It took me awhile to break in; it took much longer for my wife. Sometimes it is just simple turf issues that I have seen again and again at lots of organizations (school, PTA, Church). Another is that it takes a long time to develop a good Troop culture and it can easily be undermined by a well meaning new parent; I was that parent! Luckily I was shunted off for some other work for a while. But there is a "tyranny of those who show up and do the work"; the ones who show up day in and day out eventually grow their influence.

But yeah we once had a guy who loved cook for masses of people and he would roll out a huge mobile kitchen for events; but he wanted to do it all himself. We ate pretty well for a while (though violating the Patrol method on them cooking for themselves) and as I was a new guy I went along after a few comments. A fellow new dad also liked to cook and offered to help (you know chop up, clean up, basic prep or any scutt work). The old timer threw a fit--it was all him or nothing. One campout he could not make it due to another commitment and the new dad made breakfast on a campout (it was pretty good too). Someone teased the old timer about the new guys cooking being almost as good and the old timer NEVER cooked another campout and event again. (I have also found that the biggest territorial battles are over the Kitchen followed closely by the Money and then Advancement.)

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ya'know despite all their groovy new ideas one reason the Old Guard might view the New Volunteers with a jaundiced eye is the turn over in new leaders; a lot more is proposed than followed up with....

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As the new parent briefer I used to have a "Everyone Must Do Something' Speech as the first shot across the bow at the 1st meeting. The lazy smart ones start looking around for the easy to stuff do and we got a few more Merit Badge Counselors that way. A few parents were perfectly willing to drive scouts a few hours if they didn't have to stay over night --every little bit helps, right. We always had a list of suggested jobs, understudies, etc etc. ASM's were always a more controlled class --you had to make some commitments to break in there. A few Dad's were all gung ho until they had to WEAR a uniform shirt and if that was a deal breaker than they weren't gonna be that reliable to begin with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

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

She was a MBC but did not feel welcome for the 1st two years. She helped out at some fund raisers - the "all hands on deck" ones. She was not interested in camping or doing advancement. She was much more sympathetic to my stories after dealing with the scouts!

In the last year when the Scouts and Scouters are away on a big trip or Summer Camp the ladies plan a ladies poker night or party. I think it is a good sign.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×