Jump to content
WisconsinMomma

What's the most effective way to give feedback?

Recommended Posts

I am considering giving feedback on our recent Court of Honor.

It was OK -- it was about two hours.  It was about 1/2  hour to 45 minutes of Scout led, the rest was adult announcements, incuding a lengthy FOS presentation.

OK, if we're going to have high standards, it sucked.   I have been to a few COHs now and the pattern is the boys do their thing and then the adults go on and on informing the parents of every little thing -- calendar, upcoming fundraiser, camperships, FOS -- it really shouldn't have taken that long, but it did! The boys had to sit through all of it!   I had to sit through all of it!  Gah.   No refreshments until after the whole show. 

I think we should make a parent newsletter and cut out all of those COH announcements.  Do you think that' a fair suggestion?  (I am secretary.)    I don' t think that the boys at PLC would be willing to tell the grownups to cut their portion.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My troop had this problem but we were able to fix it by revising the script. Announcements were moved to slides that showed before and after the ceremony or were posted to the website. Ranks and mbs were all awarded at the same time by name. Guys were called up and given their merit badges and ranks all at one time and brothers were called up together. This was much faster than doing ranks in groups and calling a line of guys up alphabetically to get mbs. Our biggest change was in adult announcements and awards. Those were done at the end and in bulk. Friends of scouting was limited to 5 minutes at the end with no long videos or discussions. They were given a table in the back of the hall to sit and collect money after the ceremony. We went from two hours or more down to one hour. We gave out 27 ranks and 145 mbs last summer along with several special awards for a retiring scoutmaster all in one hour. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't understand why anyone has to drone on about upcoming events. Does the Troop not have a website with a calendar? Does leadership not send out reminder emails? I spend more time writing and sending emails to the parents as a backup to the SPL's weekly announcements than I do on most other Scouting business. We use a website from SOAR that sends out a weekly eBlast to all Scouts and their parents. It has all of the events that are open for registration- they can register and pay for all trips online too. They can also (and this is HUGE) sync the Troop calendar to their phones or even Outlook or Google calendar, so no one has to waste time reminding them about every little thing at these few events- for some parents CoH are the only time we ever see them. As for FOS- I told my DE a long time ago (back when I was a Cubmaster) that coming to any Unit event looking for handouts from the families that already support them is barking up the wrong tree. They need to go knock on the doors of businesses that have deeper pockets, a much better return on their investment in time. I also told them that the presentations were awful and boring, and an unwelcome distraction from the purpose of the gatherings that they asked to be added to. That was the end of any FOS presentations at our events.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh I forgot that no adults were ever on stage except the sm to give a 5 min update and those accepting awards. The spl or emcee were scouts running the show. 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


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

@AVTech  tell me more about the website.  I will google it.  We use Scoutlander and its OK, definitely not great. 

 

He means this company and it’s the same one my troop used. It works with troopmaster which is what the adults used to track stuff. Our youth Webmaster worked with an adult to post announcements. The demo doesn’t really show how good it is. I could send you my troops site but I don’t want to post it here  

https://www.mytroop.us/

Edited by Back Pack
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No need to have a long recitations on events at meetings, that should be done in another format.  Our longform COH runs about 1.5 hours, but we have dinner and the FOS presentation is done while everyone is eating.  Keep it brief.  Most run 45 minutes.  The one after summers camp(s) runs long due to handing out 250 + merit badges and many rank advancements, but that is expected.

For communications much better way than droning on

  • We have the Troop Website, which details events, you can sign up for outings, etc etc
  • The Troop website kicks out an e-mail every week which highlights the events and announcements updates within a week
  • We have a Troop Facebook page where we post photos, updates, TBT photos, some announcements
  • We have a troop instagram where we post photos and some announcements
34 minutes ago, Back Pack said:

Oh I forgot that no adults were ever on stage except the sm to give a 5 min update and those accepting awards. The spl or emcee were scouts running the show. 

Agree.  Scouts do the MC and banquet person works with them on a script.  Leaders give out badges.  We have a reminder on the next outing, typically reminder to sign up for summer camp (literally what was written is that sentence is the length of the announcment) and then SM minute

Scouts run the program

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

@AVTech  tell me more about the website.  I will google it.  We use Scoutlander and its OK, definitely not great. 

 

2 hours ago, Back Pack said:

+1 for SOAR as a website. 

Our unit has used it since 2009 and we love it. It makes keeping in touch with folks VERY easy. It also allows Scouts to take control of their advancement and see their status. It allows patrols to communicate, as well as other troop entities (OA, troop committee, PLC, etc.). You can integrate with PayPal, register and pay for camp outs, etc. For the price it is worth ten times what we pay. As a former unit lead I can tell you it 1) saved me HUNDREDS of hours in communicating and information dissemination (e.g., "Read the website...it's under xxx), and 2) it kept the adults from pontificating at COHs and other events.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, WisconsinMomma said:

I think we should make a parent newsletter and cut out all of those COH announcements.  Do you think that' a fair suggestion?  (I am secretary.)    I don' t think that the boys at PLC would be willing to tell the grownups to cut their portion.  

This is a great idea.  It is also 100% within the description of your job (Secretary).  

To me this is one of those things that if you do it well it can have a tans-formative effect on a troop. A newsletter forces:
- up front planning.  You can't just wait until two weeks before to say - "hey, we've got a camping trip"
- consistent messaging.  You, as secretary, figure out length, format, etc.  Parents get used to that and love it.
- families rely on it.  My daughter's middle school has a newsletter.  When I can't remember something about a upcoming event I go back and check the latest newsletter.  9 times out of 10, it's there.

My troop does not have a newsletter.  We literally send of 20 emails a week about all sorts of things.  Someone forgot a book - SM sends an email.  A reminder to bring shoes on a camping trip - ASM sends an email.  I'm convinced that if we had a newsletter our emailing would instantly drop by 75%.  So instead of 20 emails, we might send 4 or 5 a week.  Parents would be much more likely to actually read them.  Now - it's like we're shouting above the noise.  This is exactly why the just spent 45 minutes having adults make announcements at the COH.  Because no one reads emails, it's the time to tell them everything you've already emailed 3 times about.

Go for it!
 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

My troop does not have a newsletter.  We literally send of 20 emails a week about all sorts of things.  Someone forgot a book - SM sends an email.  A reminder to bring shoes on a camping trip - ASM sends an email.  I'm convinced that if we had a newsletter our emailing would instantly drop by 75%.  So instead of 20 emails, we might send 4 or 5 a week.  Parents would be much more likely to actually read them.  Now - it's like we're shouting above the noise.  This is exactly why the just spent 45 minutes having adults make announcements at the COH.  Because no one reads emails, it's the time to tell them everything you've already emailed 3 times about.

We solved this by posting to the website. Reduced email traffic to 1-2 emails to the troop a week. The automated nature of the eBlast -- the weekly "newsletter" of the updates to the website -- handled the rest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Col. Flagg said:

 

+1 for SOAR as a website. 

 

SOAR does one other thing that really helps. Put an announcement on the front, whenever you want, and one day a week it emails a synopsis of all the most recent announcements. So, no flood of emails.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In our troop, announcements by adult leaders at a COH are redundant because communication between Scoutmaster and parents happens by email list, and our troop calendar is published on Scoutbook.

Our troop typically has three COHs per year. The COH at the end of the summer is, of course, the biggest one because of all the advancement earned at summer camps. That particular court of honor went on for almost two hours. It included a report by two Scouts on their Jamboree experience. It included two different slideshows (created by Scouts) of summer activities. It included an OA election which was conducted by Scouts (OA elections require at least 50 percent attendance, so a COH is our best opportunity). And it included lots of advancement and awards being handed out at the end of a busy summer camping season. While having lots of advancement and awards is a good problem, two hours is still a long time to sit in any meeting.

Our troop is trying to adopt a pattern of giving out rank patches immediately after the successful completion of a board of review. That has the benefit of immediate recognition and also shortens the court of honor. However, that solution is only possible if you are able to keep a stock of extra rank patches on hand specifically for that purpose.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
@WisconsinMomma  Something to consider: Item #10 on the Journey to Excellence (JTE) criteria for troops involves holding 2-3 courts of honor, "where troop plans are reviewed with parents."
 
However, that doesn't mean that they need to go on and on trying to inform the parents about every single little thing.  They could hit the highlights and leave all the details for the newsletter, weekly e-mail, e-blast, website, or whatever communication(s) you want to use.  Over an hour for announcements and FOS seems excessive.
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My gut says:
- 15 minutes for announcements.  summer camp, philmont trip, whatever.
- 10 minutes for FOS or other special presentation
- 15 minutes for a scout talk or two.
- balance on awards.

Do most of you do refreshements too?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@ParkMan  That seems pretty reasonable to me.  IMO, the announcements and other stuff with adults talking shouldn't last longer than the actual court of honor.

We usually do refreshments of some kind (not necessarily the same thing each time).

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

×