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WisconsinMomma

New Volunteers vs the Old Guard

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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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To be clear: "new" and "helicopter" don't go hand-in-hand.

The first one is easily fixed. Show them the lanes, maybe partner them with someone who's don it before, let them run in those lanes!

The second one is not so easy. Someone has to stand in their way and firmly nudge them back in the lane (i.e., out of the boys lanes). If they are successful, that person will wind up looking back and laughing at himself/herself.  If not, no matter how well the boys do, there will be criticism for every little thing that goes wrong.

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There are different Troop cultures in different Troops sometimes it is easier to find the Troop that is 'doing things right' in your eyes, shake the dust off your sandals in the old Troop, and go where you are wanted. I am all for fighting the good fight but be aware time is of the essence when you have a kid in scouting.

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That said Wisconson I have seen what you have experienced in our OA Lodge where we had to do a merge and one Lodge was more adult run and the other (and in my opinion just more fun) was youth run. Any merge is tricky...someone has to give up some turf...but some of the grumpy old men drove the terrific youth leadership away. And those terrific young men have plenty of better things to spend their time on if not wanted and some of the old timers, who are retired, know they can wait them out.

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I know, but the boys like their Troop and have made some friends there.  So the adult stuff is just a sideshow.  I will try to focus my efforts and relationships with the parents of the current scouts who will be around for a a while.  I believe that our current CC and SM are coming out of an adult led culture but there is room to nudge things more boy led.   Additionally I am not sure that either of the other two local troops are any  more boy-focused than this one. 

Edited by WisconsinMomma
typo

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3 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

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.

Why is it their business?  Why is it their place? Well, that would all depend on their registered positions, wouldn't it? 

My simple answer is that the Chartered Organization gets to choose the unit leadership. Whether they be young or old, experienced or inexperienced,  energetic or laid-back, parent or non-parent, male or female, the CO gets to choose. The authority to make decisions for the unit is based on a scouter's registered position, not on any of these other personal traits.

Edited by David CO

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The CO is nearly completely uninvolved.  It would be nice if they were more involved.  I don't even know who our COR is.  I asked once and the answer was nebulous. 

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4 minutes ago, WisconsinMomma said:

The CO is nearly completely uninvolved.  It would be nice if they were more involved.  I don't even know who our COR is.  I asked once and the answer was nebulous. 

That's the problem. When a CO is uninvolved, it creates a power vacuum, and people start politicking and jockeying for position. That's not good.

 

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Isn't it great that CO's run their units by proxy?  Is it any wonder who's running things.  After all, it usually isn't the boys.

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Old Guard.... oh that brings back memories.  I used the same term.  We had an old guard cadre in the pack that was coming through the pack with younger sons after having "done it all" with the older sons.  They were burned out and didn't want to do it anymore.....but somehow they could not let it go.

Even later when they did let go and I agreed to help, they still didn't really let it go... and continued to not really help that much....and in my view their toxicity even hindered finding my replacement as CM when I was finally done.... some people wanted no part of it.....smart folks, those....

About getting volunteers.... 

I agree that the announcement in the front of the room doesn't work well, nor does the mass email or newsletter announcements..... but in my experience the targeted face to face asks don't necessarily go much better.  I got many "H.. no's".... "I'm too busy".... etc...

The way I figure it..... you either have a group that want to step up, or you don't.  At the pack level, you either have a group of families that like to do scouting things together, or you don't....

It's likely cyclic too.  You'll have a group that has enough to really pull together and do a lot, then the next group won't and the unit wilts and almost dies.... then another group comes in and steps up.  I actually think it's a necessary cycle, like fires in the forest.  And similar to the time when the underbrush and duff builds in the forest and chokes things off, the "old guard" phenomenon actually helps to kill the unit back a bit so that the next group can see something that needs to be done.

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This problem persists all over.  I don't care if it's a scout group, a church group, a civic group, whatever, these political control conflicts are just a part of the process.  Unless one either fully understands the dynamics of running with the big dogs or they take a back seat and keep quiet.  There are other options in that group, but they will drive a person nuts in the process.

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On 12/13/2017 at 1:09 PM, Tampa Turtle said:

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.)

I think new parents need to be guided to useful things that don't interfere with running the Troop for at least 6 months after their son joins the Troop, ESPECIALLY the former Den Leaders. I was the Webelos Den leader for the tenure of my oldest son in Webelos, then I was the Webelos Den leader for the last year of my youngest son in Webelos (they are one year apart in school and Scouts).  Our SM at the time knew to keep me diverted away from the Scouts in terms of meetings.  He had me as Advancement chair, and it was a good way to observe the Troop, and still help out.  There were a few times that first few months that it was a good think I had a job to do, otherwise I would have tried to Webelos III the NSP (aka my former Webelos Den).  

 

Cooking can be a major problem between adult volunteers.  I enjoy camp cooking, but I also enjoy eating other people's camp cooking, so I don't have much ego involved in camp cooking.  We did have a couple of ASMs who would make the adult food their job, and they would pull out all the stops. (downside to that was that they made an awful lot of pots and pans dirty in the process).  

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