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MattR

Teaching new parents

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@Eagle94-A1's and @CodyMiller351's threads and a recent conversation with a really great cub master begs the question: What are good ways to teach new parents, both prospective and those that have already joined, what scouts is about? It's not just let the boys lead but that we're not a paramilitary group (and all the other bad ideas out there). I realize there's the intro to scouting training but clearly that doesn't work. Aims and Methods could be a good start but The Right Way to Fail might also help.

What do people do that works really well?

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And any suggestion of a good, brief, something that can be handed to new parents to read?

I'm starting to meet the parents of some of the local girls interested in Scouts BSA.  A couple have brothers already in BSA,  but others have no previous family connection with BSA at all --- including immigrant parents some of whom did scouting in their home country, but some of whom grew up in a home country that had no scouting movement at all. 

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For me, much of the "formal" training that is intended for adults gets into the aims and methods, but the depth is different between "scoutmaster" track and "committee" track.  Both sides should really have understanding of the other IMO.  Then you have IOLS, which I feel is helpful for anyone, regardless of how much experience they have with Scouting.  However, the material for that course is so condensed to fit a weekend, and it is a lot to digest and can be difficult to really implement - what I mean by the hard to implement, is the schedule to at least cover all the material is generally so tight, that when a participant (or several) have questions or want to spend extra time on an area, it can be hard to give that additional time without sacrificing something else.  At the Boy Scout level, one exceptional challenge, aside from asking people to give up their time, is that there are a great number of folks out there that have what I feel is an air of "this is a youth group, let's not make it overly complicated" mentality.  Overcoming that is really the big challenge to me.  Another challenge is the mentality that it really isn't that different from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, which is so not true.  It should feel different to the youth, as much as the parent, for that transition- it's a "growing up" transition, and that has always been the perception that was intended.  I do feel it incumbent on the SM and Committee Chair (I would love to say COR as well, if you can get them to be involved) to spend time in a formal way to give an overview to each new adult leader.  Even if the person spent 4 years as a Cubmaster, or spent a few years as an ASM in another troop, I feel there should still be this formal sitdown.  I would say structure that training similar to the ILST that we should be using with all Scouts.  Take out the icebreakers and whatnot if you see fit, but truly show the commitment to "youth led" and what that should be meaning for the Scouts is a good start.  If you are the SM or CC, this could feel very repetitive if you are doing this a few times a year, but stay vigilant.  Adults too often go rougue, or don't adjust well if they aren't given the instructions off the bat on what is expected of them (and of everyone else).  In some units, adults may have to wear a few hats, but as much as you can help them to know what their lane is, and how to stay in it, that is better for organizational harmony too.    

The ILST guide from BSA can be found here:https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/training/pdf/ILST FINALS 2011 - Item Number 511-016.pdf

You can also google 'ILST presentation' and find a number of versions that various troops have put together, and adapt as needed.  There also are a number of troops that have put together 'parent handbooks', which can also be a good idea.  In most work environments, you have an employee handbook and a code of conduct you are expected to follow, so why not have these for your unit?

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This is what I have done.

I've begun the "Cub Scout to Boy Scout" transition as soon as possible when I was a DL, usually Tiger year. At PWD, I'd point out to both Cubs and parents the Scouts helping out. If I had a Den Chief, work with them to let them run meetings. My council has council camporee and Cub Family Camp the same weekend. Areas are specified either Boy Scout or Cub Scout with a common midway area. Take my Cubs to the midway obviously, but I also take them to watch any Boy Scout events between the midway and Cub Scout area. I focus on how the Scouts are doing things for themselves, pointing out key things, and if possible have the Scouts talk to the Cubs and their parents.

Webelos I is the big year. This is when the focus shifts from the parents doing things for them to the Webelos doing things for themselves. Constantly reminding parents to wait it out and LET THEM FAIL (emphasis). We have a council Webeloree, think of camporee for the Webelos, and they compete in different events just like the Boy Scouts. For those Webelos dens that are doing things for themselves, this is a great opportunity for them and they surprise a lot of parents. Sadly many WDLs continue to treat Webelos as Cub Scouts. They are allowing parents to help and do things instead of letting the Webelos try things on their own. And these are the parents I have had problems with.

What I have seen done.

SM and/or CC riding herd on the new adults, keeping them occupied and away from the Scouts. They also mentored and explained why things are done a certain way. I know I always hated when we got a new Cross Overs because it took some time for the SM, CC, and ASMs to "deprogram" the Cub parents. As a Scout, it infuriated me when parents interfered with what I was doing in regards to my patrol and troop.

 

What is key IMHO.

1) NEED TO LISTEN TO THE SCOUTS!!!!!!!!!!! (major emphasis) If the Scouts are having problems with the new adults, and they are coming to you about it, IT NEEDS TO BE ACTED UPON ASAP! If the problem continues, you will lose the Scouts' interest and lose  the Scouts.

1a) Watch the body language and listen to their tone of voice if discussing this problem in a group. We did this one time. and while several Scouts were not shy about talking about the problems, several did have problems talking about it in a group. When talking to me privately, they were in agreement with the problems. In a group situation, they became listless, and would not look people in the face when they said there were no problems. Also their tone of voice changed to monotone also puppet like quality.

 

2) Key adults need to come up with a plan to protect their Scouts and follow through with it. A unified vision and approach to keeping new adults out of the Scouts way is very important. If there is no consistency, then the problems will continue.

 

3)If there is a problem, it needs to be corrected immediately. Allowing things to keep happening only makes it worse over time.

 

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Our CC has a troop handbook (mostly power-point print-out). It's not too detailed, but goes over some basics step-by-steps, who-does-what, key dates, etc ....

He prefers to get new parents in the same room to go over it. He then asks one of the ASMs to drop in an fill in some of the blanks.

@Treflienne, it sounds like you're doing one-on-one with prospective parents. (Even if they are in the same room, their diversity will make any given presentation feel like one-on-one.) That's a little different.

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Has anyone used or considered using this official presentation?

Up- or down- vote if you've used it and liked/disliked the results. Pick an emoji if you have an opinion without having actually used it.

Edited by qwazse

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@qwazse, I've seen this presentation, it doesn't cover what's important. It doesn't talk about the change from adult to boy led. The challenges of doing as your PL asks you to do. Failure as a tool. Having to solve some people problems on your own. Eating burnt food because the cook is learning to cook. Adults not jumping in and saving the day. How the parent can best help their scout with frustrations. This is how the calendar is created and how your scout can influence it. Conflict happens, this is how your scout resolves it. This is the boundary between the scouts and the adults.

The training I've seen doesn't really cover this. We've mentioned how the patrol method is now one paragraph in the SM handbook.

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19 minutes ago, MattR said:

@qwazse, I've seen this presentation, it doesn't cover what's important. It doesn't talk about the change from adult to boy led. The challenges of doing as your PL asks you to do. Failure as a tool. Having to solve some people problems on your own. Eating burnt food because the cook is learning to cook. Adults not jumping in and saving the day. How the parent can best help their scout with frustrations. This is how the calendar is created and how your scout can influence it. Conflict happens, this is how your scout resolves it. This is the boundary between the scouts and the adults.

The training I've seen doesn't really cover this. We've mentioned how the patrol method is now one paragraph in the SM handbook.

Agree 110% on this. Since I've never seen it before AND @qwazse asked us to use emojis, I had to pick the "Gag me with a spoon" emoji.

 

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I wonder if the group here could collaborate to produce something better which we could all use? I am sure we all already do something quite good, but perhaps putting all our good together might become something great?

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3 hours ago, DuctTape said:

I wonder if the group here could collaborate to produce something better which we could all use?

So I actually see a couple of different needs

1) something quite brief to explain to a parent who knows nothing about BSA (cubs or boy scouts) why Scouts BSA will be a valuable program for their daughter or son -  including the benefits of patrol method, scout-led, failure as a tool, etc,  and also listing the oath, the laws, and perhaps the methods.  (This is for parents you are trying to convince that Scouts is worthwhile,  after your kid has convinced their kid that scouts will be fun.)

2) once the kid has committed to joining -- then training for parents on how to be helpful (and what not to do in trying to be helpful).

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For need #1, I think i would ...

  • Show them this video from scouts South Africa: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpMFkcSn5IM
  • Say that
    • We help youth grow up strong and good.
    • We do that by instilling a vision of the pinnacle scouting experience: hiking and camping independently with your mates.
    • Scouts who stick with it master skills that help them make the world a better place.
  • Introduce them to my SPL.

I already do the second and third step. I usually don't have a device with me to show the video. But, any scouter who does, should.

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What's interesting is I asked what troops do that works and I didn't get a lot of response to that. I'm certainly not denigrating anyone. It just looks like everyone is in the same boat. Everyone uses an ad-hoc approach. We have a couple of meetings where we talk about how the troop runs and we have a section on this type of material but I'm not sure how effective it is. It's probably due to the person talking about it.

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