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swilliams

How Do You Deal With CC/Cubmaster Issues?

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A little background: I'm just a lowly grunt.  Ran our Blue and Gold last year, then took over Advancements at the beginning of this school year.  No one stepped up to take over Blue and Gold, so I'm still involved there, though at least I've been able to divide up the work load between myself and some other parents.  (I've also been unofficially acting as Assistant Den Leader for Webelos, since the Den Leader's son has been quite ill.)  The CC and Cubmaster don't seem to be trying to actively fill committee positions, have no plans for recruiting, have little interest in actually tracking advancements, etc.  I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of leadership.  Here's an example of what's going on.

Another parent and I are trying to get our scouts' and leaders' information into Scoutbook.  (The Cubmaster let our Packmaster subscription run out because "it's too hard and no one uses it".  We only have records for one den from the previous year.)  I asked our Council for BSA numbers for the leaders, so we could get them entered into Scoutbook, and I found that two of our den leaders didn't turn in an application, but did take Youth Protection, and four other adults turned in applications, but never took YPT so the pack was refunded and the applications are sitting in an 'error file'.  At least two of those four adults are active in the pack.

That's just one example of many little and not-so-little things.  So the question is, how do you all deal with these kind of issues (assuming you're not the CC or Cubmaster)?  Part of me says ignore it, it's not my problem, and my son will cross over in a year.  The other part worries that if our pack continues to flounder, our older boys won't have anyone to lead when they've reached Star and Life.  Maybe I'm making too big a deal about the records or having adults registered and trained properly?

I've offered to lend a hand with whatever they might need, but that's gone nowhere.  I've found it's usually more effective to say to someone, "I can do _____ for you", but I don't know what, specifically, they might need help with.  I don't want to come across as a complainer/critic - I'd rather find a way to help fix things - but not sure what I can do without offending.  Any advice is appreciated!

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The professional paid scouters will tell you that the most frustrating part of the scouting program is the volunteers. 95 percent of them either don't take their responsibilities seriously, or they are just terrible at doing it. That being said, thank goodness for the FIVE percent because they carry the weight of the program.

swilliams, you are the five percent. You are the parent I look for when I go recruiting for dominating unit leaders. You not only have the passion, you have the will. You don't see it yet, but you are the unit leader in the purist meaning of the word.

So, how do you get your unit program on track. Well first remember it's your track that you want the unit to be riding. That can be good or bad depending on YOUR vision. Be careful not to step on any toes or burn any bridges as you push forward. Just like dripping water that changes the shape of rocks over time, gentle nudges forward eventually shape big changes in program, over time.

Next, keep doing what you are doing. Volunteer to fill in where you see gaps. And don't ask for permission so much as just state that you VOLUNTEER to do this and that, and go do it. Just be that nice parent who has the time. What typically happens is you will buoy yourself into the dominating leadership position by default. Most likely the CC. That is where you can force big changes toward your vision. From there you can use your recruiting skills to fill positions to get the pack righted.

I believe Wisconsonmomma can help you a lot as well and hopefully she will respond. But be patient let the gaps of the program pull to helping shape the program. If you push too hard, you can find yourself going two steps back for every one step forward.

Barry

 

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If it helps, these are all very common issues in my estimation

My advice -

1)focus on your den (in the ADL role).  Of the things you've listed, that is the most important.  that is the thing that affects the scouts' experiences.  I take it you are registered as a committee member. I'd suggest talking with the Den Leader, and depending on that conversation either send in an application to register as Den leader or as ADL....so that you are more "official" with some level of "authority" in the job.

2) drop the B&G cold.  nobody will ever step in if you are doing it.  And if it doesn't get done...well something will get done, trust me.  It could be that the CM just has a more or less regular pack meeting and calls for a simple potluck from all parents.  that's all it really needs to be anyway.  So you just drop it. Actually it you said you are already spreading it to others....so step out and let them run with it!

3) drop the advancement thing - and scoutbook.  recording and tracking all of it simply is not necessary.  it all means pretty much nothing at the cub level anyway.  Scouts record their own stuff in their own books....or they don't....the Den Leaders monitor and try to stay on top of instant recognition....and the CM can lean on the DL's to know who to recognize at the next pack meeting.  

4) don't worry about the other leaders' applications or the rest of it.  That's somebody else's  job.  The only exception i think is to let the CC know about any YPT violations...and if they do nothing maybe drop a word to your DE...then drop it.

The focus should be on scouts having fun.  Focus on your den, and secondarily helping the CM have fun pack meetings.

All that record keeping stuff is really just busy work that causes stress and worry in volunteers that are spread too thin anyway.

 

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oh, I wanted to comment on the stepping on toes thing,...

Clarke Green once advised me, then everyone in a podcast... not being in a key position (cub master, CC, or COR) then there's nothing you can really do.  I thought his analogy was good.... he said it's their house.  It's kinda like you showing up at your neighbor's door with a gallon of paint and saying ok, I'm here to paint your living room, it is the wrong color.

I think it was in his podcast on "Cooperative Volunteering".  I was the one that emailed the question to him.....basically his advice was to cooperate and earn trust, that's all you can really do.  the rest of it, my advice....let it go.

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Well, here's one positive thing that has come about from trying to get a system in place for advancements - even if we never use it.  A Webelos scout showed up as being registered to our pack, but I had no idea who he was.  I called council to see if maybe there was a mistake.  There wasn't: he transferred to us from another pack in town that fell apart and didn't recharter.  He's been on our roster since December, but no one ever reached out to him.  I called and spoke to his mom - he'll be coming to our next den meeting.

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Posted (edited)

Good advice above.  I think the order of priority would be ensuring the pack is safe, then the activities are fun and in line with teaching scout ideals and finally the advancement tracking. 

The lack of YPT/Adult applications (background checks) is a concern.  I'm surprised the CC wouldn't be driving that issue.  Not much you can do now, other than raise the concern. 

You didn't mention actual den/pack activities beyond B&G.  Are the pack activities fun, appropriate & well attended?  How are the individual dens run?  Do you see high attrition in the pack?  If there are issues with the actual program the scouts see, then you are facing a much bigger issue then some incomplete forms & tracking software. 

Finally, I don't see advancement tracking as a major concern for Cub Scouts.  Our pack uses Scoutbook and as CC I help enter in the data, but our main mechanism is simply having Den Leaders talk with the parents.  If we miss tracking pins/belt loops we don't consider an issue as long as the scout completes the required ones and we make sure to track the rank advancement.

As you only have ~12months left in the pack making lasting change will be difficult without recruiting a parent of a young scout (Tiger/Wolf).  If you COR is active (to ensure a good future CC) but your activities are strong, then you may just need a member or two on the committee to help the paperwork issues above.  If your program is also starting to suffer, that could indicate an issue with the CC and/or CM.  Again, find that young parent that has similar goals and have them join the committee.  Depending on when the CC will move on (assuming they are there due to having scouts in the program) the parent can take over CC eventually.  That is the role where you can really influence and improve the pack.

 

Edited by Eagle1993

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It's great to see your passion, but you need to find a balance. Either you let your son move on and stick around in an official position with the pack, or you move on with your son and plan for a period where the pack will be in a slump.

We have involved adults who do both, and it either works as long as everyone is welcoming and flexible.

But, let's say you move on to the troop, and nobody takes up the slack. Time for a plan B. Use your experience with your "found Webelo" to ask for help looking for middle-school boys who aren't on anybody's radar because they are no longer or never have been cubs. There's lots of ways to do that: plan boy-talks at schools, visit PTA meetings, community fairs, put up flyers, etc ... One dad did that for us and we had some awesome boys join our troop.

In other words, you have options with or without a pack. Be prepared to leverage them.

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2 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Good advice above.  I think the order of priority would be ensuring the pack is safe, then the activities are fun and in line with teaching scout ideals and finally the advancement tracking. 

The lack of YPT/Adult applications (background checks) is a concern.  I'm surprised the CC wouldn't be driving that issue.  Not much you can do now, other than raise the concern. 

You didn't mention actual den/pack activities beyond B&G.  Are the pack activities fun, appropriate & well attended?  How are the individual dens run?  Do you see high attrition in the pack?  If there are issues with the actual program the scouts see, then you are facing a much bigger issue then some incomplete forms & tracking software. 

Finally, I don't see advancement tracking as a major concern for Cub Scouts.  Our pack uses Scoutbook and as CC I help enter in the data, but our main mechanism is simply having Den Leaders talk with the parents.  If we miss tracking pins/belt loops we don't consider an issue as long as the scout completes the required ones and we make sure to track the rank advancement.

As you only have ~12months left in the pack making lasting change will be difficult without recruiting a parent of a young scout (Tiger/Wolf).  If you COR is active (to ensure a good future CC) but your activities are strong, then you may just need a member or two on the committee to help the paperwork issues above.  If your program is also starting to suffer, that could indicate an issue with the CC and/or CM.  Again, find that young parent that has similar goals and have them join the committee.  Depending on when the CC will move on (assuming they are there due to having scouts in the program) the parent can take over CC eventually.  That is the role where you can really influence and improve the pack.

 

Attendance at pack meetings is okay.  I've found they're a little late for some families (7:30 - 9:00), mine included, but at least they're on Friday nights.  Some meetings have received a better response than others - a favorite for a couple years running now is 'Parents vs. Scouts'.  We haven't lost too many scouts, but we have lost some.  When we moved here 2 1/2 years ago our pack was at about 50 scouts.  It's hard to know how many we have now because we have some listed that I know have dropped, and some that are active but never turned in applications.  We had 37 scouts who attended Pinewood Derby, so that's some sort of measure.

I'm hearing increasing frustration from parents that they don't know what's going on, like upcoming events we'll have outside of pack meetings.  We had an overnight at Battleship NJ in January, and there was at least one family that would have liked to have gone, but they didn't hear about it until after the deadline to sign up had passed.  It seems we had a couple families that had been left off the email list.  Probably because they never turned in applications, but I don't know for sure.  I suggested last year that we have a 'new parent' meeting at the beginning of this year, but couldn't get it off the ground.  I suggested using a Shutterfly share site, like our troop does, but that was nixed.  This is that tricky issue of not stepping on toes again.  If the CC and Cubmaster don't want to do it, then it's not likely to happen, and there's a limit to how hard I want to push.  I really do like both these ladies, plus, it's kind of a small town.  We're all going to be in each others' lives for the forseeable future, and bad blood doesn't help anything or anyone.

I can't speak, really, to what other dens are doing.  Ours has suffered a bit, but that's because of the illness our den leader's son is going through, and why I stepped in to help.  We built birdhouses for the 'Build It' elective last meeting, and the boys really enjoyed it.  We're trying to line up a visit to a construction site for this Saturday - hopefully we'll be past this winter storm by then.  We actually have a formal Assistant Den Leader, but he's also our Treasurer and works full-time (and then some), so he hasn't been able to offer too much.

I'm on the committee for our troop, and we're working on recruiting right now.  Maybe I can find a diplomatic way to take some of the tools the troop is using, and get them applied at the pack level.  Thinking on this now, recruiting is one area where I could probably say 'I can do X, Y, and Z', so that it's something concrete, rather than 'how can I help'.

The CC is aware now, if she wasn't before, of the leaders who haven't done the Youth Protection.

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Thanks so much for everything you are doing to help the families in your Pack. I'll share a few things that might help.

Are you having committee meetings where the den leaders report on how they've been doing?  This is how our Pack generally keeps track of where the boys are at in advancement.  If the den leader says -- they're done with their requirements, great, they're done.  If they say, we've got a few things outstanding, then that''s where they're at.  Our Advancement Chair orders bling based on progress reports from the den leaders.  And recognition is important, so I think a major job for you will be to get reports from the Den Leaders and all the stuff you will need for crossover - rank badges, neckerchiefs, pins, any of that stuff -- based on what the den leaders are telling you.  You should also generally keep track of who has their Bobcat, who is working on it, etc.  I agree that the formal tracking is not critical in cub scouting.  Just make sure that kids are progressing and they are getting their stuff -- belt loops, whatever they need. 

Great that you are helping your den.  Keep at it.  Supporting your den is job #1.

At our monthly committee meeting, we plan the activities for the pack meetings.  We make an annual calendar of pack meetings in summer.  Our pack uses a google mail account and a google drive for our stuff -- mailing list, rosters, forms, whatnot -- and so anyone on committe or the den leaders can go into that Google drive and email people.  So I recently sent out an email to the whole Pack about Pinewood derby car specifications and a few notes about Pinewood Derby night.   Then our CO sent out a sign up for snacks and volunteers for Pinewood Derby night using Sign Up Genius.

Hope that stuff helps.  Do your best, don't sweat the small stuff.  Have fun! 

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Welp, the parent who has been helping me get Scoutbook rolling met up with our CC to show it to her.  She told him she has no interest in continuing as CC.  (As you can see from the original post, that's no surprise.)  Might be time to put my money where my mouth is.  We'll see if we can get another committee meeting scheduled before the end of the year and see what the other leaders' thoughts are.

In the meantime, we're building cardboard box ovens, tying knots with rope (and licorice strings), and planning our three-mile hike.  I found a packet of compass games to help teach compass skills, so maybe we'll try that as well.

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The CC made an official statement today that she would be stepping down.  Maybe I should start a new thread, and I'll definitely search through some older ones, but talk to me about what the best and worst parts of the CC job are, and why you would or wouldn't consider the position, along with what you think are important qualities or qualifications for someone in this position to have.

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12 minutes ago, swilliams said:

along with what you think are important qualities or qualifications for someone in this position to have.

I think one important quality for a CC is to remember that the other members of the committee are also volunteers and are not servants to be ordered about for one's amusement.

If you suspect that I have experience with a CC who forgot this, you would be correct.  :)

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Well, I guess the main attribute of a CC is a knack for asking adults for stuff.

I think there are real advantages to a pack CC who also serves as a troop MC.

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I'd suggest this, if you haven't already read it.

http://scoutmastercg.com/far-good-new-scoutmasters-story/

Short book, easy read.  Fiction based on a 30 year scoutmaster (or something like that)

It's really more about the SM, but I think he did a great job outlining a good way for the relationship to exist between two of the "Key Three".  Important to support the SM, but equally important to have a SM that supports the CC and shares a similar vision.

I was troop CC for a very short time, at the request of the then SM.  At that point I knew so little about troops and patrol method that it was really a laugh when I think about it now.  I went at it just trying to lead an organized committee and to support the SM. 

Now I realize that the CC could play such a key role in shaping a troop, so I think it is imperative...as in seriously a big deal important.... for a CC to understand the patrol method (and there is, I think, a lot of misunderstanding out there about what it means) and to have a vision for the troop.

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