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RookieMom

My kids love scouts, but....

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1 hour ago, David CO said:

Let them quit. Scouting isn't like school. If they don't enjoy it anymore, they should try something else.

 

I agree.  When they were cubs, I would ask my boys at the beginning of every school year if they wanted to continue with Scouts. When they were Boy Scouts, I would ask them in November (just before rechartering).  They both are Eagles.  

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On 1/15/2019 at 4:33 PM, RookieMom said:

 Unfortunately the committee chair is best friends with the CubMaster, so I don't know how far any of us would get on that track.

This may actually work in your favor. Perhaps the CM will listen to the CC if concerns are brought to him in friendship. 

A few principles to consider applying in your approach:

1) There are no "bad kids." There are kids whose behavior is a reaction to some problem, whether that's environmental or biological or whatever. But kids' behavior is a reflection of how they are feeling. 

2) This is a problem looking for a solution. Not a complaint. Approach this from the angle of "What can I/we do to help?" All the adults in the unit should be invested in helping every child succeed. Your experience with a child with special psychological needs may be valuable here. Maybe there is something you can do to provide the kids with the attention they are seeking during meetings, but in a positive way. 

3) Moving packs is not a threat. It's just a potential reality. Be clear that your children are not thriving in this environment and that if this cannot be solved, you'll have to take them to another environment, whether that's another pack or out of Scouting all together (last resort IMO). Be careful to remind yourself that this isn't out of spite, and that will help this be communicated in the most effective way. 

I took my daughter out of a dysfunctional pack a few months ago. We joined a pack clear on the other side of town, which is far from ideal and absolutely does NOT work for our schedules and getting the kids to bed on time. So those of us who are on my side of town and are refugees from the dysfunctional pack get together to do den activities at a parent's house, and some (but not all) of us make the trek across town once a month or so for pack meetings and special events like the Pinewood Derby. It's not ideal, but it's better than what we had. I hope to have a better solution by the time my 4 year old joins Scouts, but we had an immediate need for a change and didn't have time to explore too many other options. 

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One bit of advice - do not do the transfer process in paper. If you want your children to complete their AOL before crossing over, pay to create new accounts for them online with national directly and log their achievements there, and even call the hotline later to merge the accounts with their previous scouting history. Otherwise you risk a transfer, then another transfer before the first is complete, and the whole AOL rank getting lost in the suffle. Of course your council may be run like a machine, but from what I've seen my dysfunctional council is pretty much the defacto standard. I was just laughing - albeit darkly - with my sons new Scoutmaster at Crossover last night that we have a 7 month wait ahead of us before the council will get around to processing his paperwork, and that's only if we are lucky and they don't loose it. 

 

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On 1/15/2019 at 3:08 PM, fred8033 said:

I fully agree.  I hate troop shopping as a default hoop to jump through.  But, if your current scouting unit is not a good match at any time, look for a better situation.  There is no reason you can't change at any time.

Fred, tell me more about what you dislike about unit shopping? Shouldn't scouts go to the unit that best fits them?

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Posted (edited)
On 6/6/2020 at 3:58 PM, Scouter_Chris said:

Fred, tell me more about what you dislike about unit shopping? Shouldn't scouts go to the unit that best fits them?

It promotes an unhealthy US vs THEM attitude.  I live in a city where there are probably 10+ troops within 10 minute drive.  It is wholly natural for parents / adults to adopt "that's our feeder pack" attitude.  Then, another troop learns and improves recruiting and starts succeeding recruiting from them.  So then hard feelings develop, etc.  It's a hard hard pattern that I've been on both ends of.  Then while one unit is good with recruiting, that unit grows to 50+/60+ scouts and the other crashes to 15/20.  And, the pendulum shifts.  

I entirely believe the correct approach would be umbrella based (charter or org or ...).  The committee serves that umbrella group and has a CM, SM, OA advisor and committees for cub camping, troop camping, etc.  Different ages help each other.  For example, our boy scouts always enjoyed running pinewood derbies, especially if we bribed them with post-derby activities / movie / bowling / ???  They took pride in the derby stuff and enjoyed fellowship with other scouts.  Same with cub camping.  Our scouts enjoyed cooking etc.  

I believe emphasizing a transition causes divides.  Age based divides.  Unit based divides.  US vs THEM divides.  It's wholly unhealthy.  

Scouts should always be welcome to shift or change at any time.  AND, we should make that easy easy to happen as possible.  But encouraging shopping is just not good.  

Edited by fred8033
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11 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

Scouts should always be welcome to shift or change at any time.  AND, we should make that easy easy to happen as possible. 

Program sells...if you camp every month, and let the PLC run the show, it just kind of works.  Not great at first if they haven't done it, but it gets better...

And your Scouts are your best, or worst, recruiters.  They are the ones who run our recruiting events...monkey bridge (they build it), fishing, canoeing (only with an adult swimmer if no swim check), ropemaking, geocaching, etc etc etc

Also be up front.  I tell parents, "We are not just recruiting your Scout.  We are recruiting you!  We expect parents to pitch in to support a good program."

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2 hours ago, fred8033 said:

Scouts should always be welcome to shift or change at any time.   

Of course they should.  Scouts should never feel trapped in a unit.

However, I think it is a valuable lesson for scouts to learn how to get along with other kids and resolve problems.  I would not encourage scouts to unit shop as a way to avoid having to learn those useful skills.  

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Posted (edited)

So many good points.  So much good experience in this forum. Here's my two cents & worry.

We know that bad scouters make for a bad experience, both adult or youth.  In dysfunctional units, boys can learn to control an environment through their actions.  

I pulled my son out of a toxic Pack after 11 months because of the habitual hitting.  The following day we joined a pack 3 miles away and had the best time there.  That Pack is why I became a UC and am still a volunteer to this day. 

So, telling a parent it is okay to look for a better fit, without any guilt, is huge.  However, my compliments to Fred's counter points for not 'unit shopping'. 

Units are falling everywhere, and I blame bad scouters for it.  Doesn't matter if it's at the CS, BS, District and Council level.  Bad scouters are a dime a dozen in this generation.  Looking for a better unit now doesn't work like before because there are fewer units still alive.

I want to target Liz for her post.  In it she covered ways an average parent can try working the problem using her own experiences as a guide.  (We have similar stories)

My concern is this: The BSA and most Councils won't address problems of bad scouters because they are afraid.  Most Charter Org Reps just don't know their roles or that they are needed to get involved from time to time.  Unit Commissioners are supposed to help the unit, but who knows if the unit even has one assigned to it.  

This site does a lot of good empowering average volunteers to address their local issues (families breaking BSA guidelines) in their own backyards.  Bad scouters make for bad experiences, and eventually lead to units going dark.   Empowering parents is the best way I've come up with in slowing the collapse of scouting.  The amazing collection of scouters in this site are able to give their opinions to new parents that will give them a better than average chance of changing the culture...  if they are willing to stand up and address their unit's problems. 

About Liz' no "bad kids" thing.  While it's a minority, there are bad youth in all youth programs, BSA, PTA, LL, AYSO, etc.  We had one sociopathic youth in our district who had assaulted 8 first graders in his first year as a Tiger.  His parents were awful but were large contributors to the Council.  He's estimated to have harmed over 30 youth.  He was working on his Eagle project in spite of it all, but that may have been put on hold since being sent to a juvenal detention facility in a neighboring county. 

We also had two adult psychopaths in our Council who drove away hundreds of families over the course of 20 years.  One was dismissed, the other not.  Both got silver beavers.  

I think it better that new parents get the good AND the bad when participating.  At least they won't be so confused then things don't work out as promised.   My hope is that they will hunker down and work towards making the unit comply with BSA guidelines rather than pulling their kids out and walking away.

Edited by CommishJulian

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FWIW, I fully supported and encouraged troop shopping when I was still Scouting.  I told prospective new parents that each unit had its own persona and style and that different boys would fit in with different units.  IMO, it shouldn't set up an "Us vs. Them" mentality if the troops are participating in Roundtables -- the goal is to get the boys (and now girls) situated in an environment that best develops their skills and meets their needs to be productive members of society with a healthy appreciation for the values and heritage that Scouting brings (or used to).

In addition, I very much disagree with the idea that there are no "bad kids".  I've seen far too many of them.  In some cases, you could lay the behavior down to bad parenting but in other cases it seemed the parents were exemplary and the boys just flat out had personality problems.  One I'm ashamed to say made it to Eagle, I suspect mainly because his parents had given SO much to the program (and I think they did so because they were hoping the program would help iron out his problems, not because they expected any quid pro quo).

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2 hours ago, HICO_Eagle said:

I very much disagree with the idea that there are no "bad kids".  

I avoid the "bad kids" debate.  My view is scouting can be good for everyone, but everyone is not good for scouting.  Each individual has to be willing to work within scouting's boudnaries and expectations.  If the individual can't, then the individual should find somewhere else to spend their time.  

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