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blackft

Challenging Scout and his dad

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That’s the problem with the parents these days.  Just about all of them have a smartphone in their hand 24/7, but they can’t respond to anything - much less show up and participate.

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1 hour ago, cgail said:

That’s the problem with the parents these days.  Just about all of them have a smartphone in their hand 24/7, but they can’t respond to anything - much less show up and participate.

Along with that smart phone is 200 emails a day.

2 hours ago, blackft said:

I guess he really hit my main hot button lately and that's communication.  ....  We mentioned it in the meeting.  We mentioned it at the Camp out the week before.  It was on our Troop Facebook page, an Email was sent to all parents and it was on the Google Calendar.  ....  I thought I had a plan but communication only happens if the message is sent and received.  

Sometimes smart phones are just black holes for data. Trust me, I have been there before and I understand your frustration.

2 hours ago, blackft said:

We just had an event where the Scouts were to prepare breakfast for the Church congregation.

I really hate to say it, but maybe this is the issue? Is this about communication or buy in? I think it's a great idea but what do the scouts think about it? My guess is they have no idea.

Just a thought but how much preparation was there for this event? Do the scouts have any idea how challenging it is to cook that much food and serve everyone quickly? Did you ask the scouts to take ownership of say, cooking the pancakes and bacon, or serving? I was always more interested by a challenge. If you look at this event as an opportunity for scouts to do something new and get them involved in the preparation then I think the communication will take care of itself. Granted, this takes a lot more time and preparation on your part.

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Paper.  Print out a notice and HAND it to them.   

I am the Clerk of our grounds committee.  Our Committee planned a work day and made up a list of all the chores we sought to accomplish.  Scheduled it MONTHS in advance. Listed on calendar. Listed in bulletin.  Verbally spoke about it after meeting.  Folks still asked, "when are you having the work day?"

We printed out the chore list and HANDED it to everyone one first day , THAT got their attention.  Good attendance,  got  some stuff done,  people were now aware of our desire to get things done.... 

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On 5/31/2018 at 3:10 PM, blackft said:

We have a 15 year old boy who may be special needs, or he may just be difficult.  He'll never answer a question directly and he'll argue and renegotiate everything you ask him to do, all with a smirk on his face.  So many events have been derailed because he seems to innocently mis-participate that I'm left wondering if he simply enjoys the chaos he creates.  Last year I resolved to do my best to give him special treatment because the other boys were distancing themselves.  He was not voted for AOL and the SM was so nice is playing it off like the boys didn't understand the voting procedures.  I've asked my son to also be more inclusive to see if this would change the outlook of this scout, but this guy just won't make anything easy.  

He asks so many questions over and over again that the SM has asked that he does not ask another question without a note pad and pen.  

Last camp out, the boy insisted he was told the wrong time and caused all sorts of problems with our SM's wife needing to get involved to escort him to where we were.  I put the time and location of all of our events on our Facebook page and on an electronic shared calendar and we cover the events in meeting and we re-explain it to him and his parents after the meeting.

The exact same thing was set to happen when last week I overheard the boy tell his father the wrong time for our upcoming camp out.  I took out my phone, showed father and son the information on the calendar and Facebook and spent about 5 minutes covering the details that were just discussed in the meeting.  As I turned around to leave, the dad asks the SM to recap everything I had just covered.  I threw up my hands and said something to of the effect, "I just covered that!" and walked to my car where my son was waiting.  

Last night the father walks in and confronts me to ask if I have a problem with his son being a Scout. Do I have a problem with his son specifically?  I had forgotten about the week before so I'm wondering where all this is coming from.  I start telling him about one of three of today's situations where the boy was being needlessly difficult and he cuts me off to remind me about last week.  The more I try to explain the more of a creep I feel like because I didn't volunteer to be a leader to make anyone upset.  A moment of natural frustration on my part has unraveled years of patience but I can't help but want to distance myself like the rest of the troop has.  What do I do?  Or is this difficult behavior really not supposed to be tolerated at scouts?  Every kid forgets but this kid in particular has me at my wit's end.   

  

I'm not sure what your position in the Troop is and that has an effect on how you should deal with this.  My advice is to focus on what makes Scouting great.  "Friendly" and "Helpful" are good starting points.  Call up the dad and arrange to grab a cup of coffee or a beer.  Make a friend out of him by explaining you are both on the same team.  "Servant Leadership" is the next step.  Explain to him that you are willing to work WITH him and his son to help his son succeed.  Then hit "Trustworthy."  Be honest about your exasparation and you observations of how the his son is affecting the other Scouts.  Acknowledge that you "lost it" at the last meeting and that it wasn't your best moment but put it into context.  See if he can trust you enough to confide in you any issues, frustrations, difficulties he sees with his son and his thoughts about how to work with it.  Ask him if he has any ideas or strategies that you and the youth leadership can put into play to help his son succeed.  If that doesn't work, then you can walk away from the problem knowing you've tried your best.

One strategy I've employed with distracted / distracting Scouts is to give them authority.  Sometimes is it just explaining that at 15, I need them to be a good example for the other Scouts.  In this case, why not have this Scout make the announcements at meeting of upcoming events and the times?  One of my favorite quotes from Richard Bach is that "we teach best what we need to learn most."  How about having him work with you or another adult on the personal management merit badge.  One of the best way's I've seen to make a Scout attentive and responsive is to put them in charge of an event... once they experience a lack of response to their e-mails or people not doing what they are told, they tend to realize the value of being responsive and responsible. 

We have a Scout in our unit who is on the autism spectrum.  What I have found to work best is to build trust with that Scout and his parents.  I've learned how to listen to what is bothering him and to sympathize.  Rather than trying to tell him "don't worry about it" or "now isn't a good time to focus on that" or "stop complaining", I listen, ask questions and then ask him to think of solutions we can do.  If there are no solutions (e.g. we are 2 hours from home and he really wants to be home), I sympathize with him by explaining that I really want to be home so I can relax and take a good nap but that we both have to wait two hours to get there.  "Courteous" means to listen with concern when you really don't have to.  "Cheerful" means being patient and caring and working with kids with a smile inside even when you want to beat them with a stick.

Another strategy I employ is having Scouts talk back to me.  No, not what you think... but when I tell them several things, I ask them to repeat them back to me.  I will then repeat it for them saying, "that's correct, the plan is .... "  For children on the autism spectrum, repetition is provides focus, understanding and structure.  For other kids, it provides a focus and a responsibility to remember what they are told.  Follow up with praise... "you've got it."

 

On 6/11/2018 at 11:25 AM, blackft said:

I guess he really hit my main hot button lately and that's communication.  We just had an event where the Scouts were to prepare breakfast for the Church congregation.  Only two of my boys showed up, but thankfully the Venture Crew and older (retired?) Scouts were there to run things.  I had several folks challenge me that we didn't communicate it properly.  We mentioned it in the meeting.  We mentioned it at the Camp out the week before.  It was on our Troop Facebook page, an Email was sent to all parents and it was on the Google Calendar.  We had a great event, but I agree with you when you say that I need a plan for how we communicate.  I thought I had a plan but communication only happens if the message is sent and received.  

With problems like this, I always go back to "boy-led."  Ask the PLC to think of ways to get greater Scout engagement and responsiveness.  Make it their problem.  YOU are not running the event THEY are.  Let them fail.  Scouting is a safe place to fail.  Once they fail, they will figure out a way to make it work the next time.  Maybe is its having a sign up sheet.  Maybe it is having people raise their hands if they are coming.  Maybe it is asking people at the end of a meeting - "What time are we supposed to be there for the pancake breakfast?" and having the Troop answer.  Younger kids will then pay attention because they will get to yell out the correct answer.  Older kids will pay attention because they don't want to look bad in front of the younger kids.  

Also, push it down a level to "patrol based" -- have the patrol leaders coordinate who is going to be there from their patrol.  If the patrol is cohesive and is used to functioning as a unit, then they should have each others backs and should show up.  

Finally, ask if this is something the Boys CHOOSE to do or the adults chose for them.  In the corporate world, people use the word "buy-in."  It applies to Scouting.  I've found that we get the worst results when the boys go along with something an adult suggests.  The boys don't own it and it shows.

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On 6/12/2018 at 11:00 AM, SSScout said:

Paper.  Print out a notice and HAND it to them.   

I am the Clerk of our grounds committee.  Our Committee planned a work day and made up a list of all the chores we sought to accomplish.  Scheduled it MONTHS in advance. Listed on calendar. Listed in bulletin.  Verbally spoke about it after meeting.  Folks still asked, "when are you having the work day?"

We printed out the chore list and HANDED it to everyone one first day , THAT got their attention.  Good attendance,  got  some stuff done,  people were now aware of our desire to get things done.... 

At least 50% of the paper we hand out at Troop meetings never leaves the meeting hall, and some percentage of that becomes dryer lint.

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24 minutes ago, AVTech said:

At least 50% of the paper we hand out at Troop meetings never leaves the meeting hall, and some percentage of that becomes dryer lint.

its a never ending battle.

 

Our pack used to email lot, and then people complained about the amount of emails.  So then we cut back.  Then they claim they never know whats going on.

The new cubmaster has been pushing Facebook messenger, and Facebook page for info, while doing the minimum emails.  Even with handouts, it still never gets to everyone.  Personally I think he is over doing it with the communication.  I am old school and will set the standard with my den parents on the first meeting.  I email, to the email address they provide.  That's it.  Not going to call, text, or facebook group message. 

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We use the application Remind.  It sends texts to everyone in the troop.  There is no one way that will work for everyone,

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The problem with communication is that there is no one way that works for everyone.  People get communication overload. Not everyone pays attention to email, to texts, to reminds, to applications, to smoke signals. Shoot, I can say something to my wife here in the room, and she doesn't hear me. (and she tells me vice versa)  

So the only way is to try a mix of several different ways. Even then don't expect 100% reception. 

The big statement from most folks, is that people should take the responsibility to pay attention when the information comes from "X" source.  I totally agree. But it never works.

If you have some form of communication that you need 100% certainty that the person you want to hear it gets it, a phone call and talking to the person directly is about the only way that will work. And yes, even that won't work for everyone. "you called?  when was that?  you talked to me? Really?"

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