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greenreddew

Cub Pack Parent Handbook

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Hello all :) I did do a search but did not find what I was looking for.

I have been with my cub pack for years now and as far as I have been part of the pack, there was NEVER a pack handbook. This always sat wrong with me. The Com. Chair at the time never gave a real reason as to why just that it is how it was done.

As the Com Chair, I and along with my other leaders want to put one together. The only reference I have is the one for my Troop I am also part of. We do have Bylaws but they were never shared with the parents unless they were on the committee. Yes, I know, your mind just exploded right? How can we enforce something the parents no nothing about? So I am changing things up.

Anyone have ideas WHERE to start? We are working on our outdated Bylaws tonight again. I know once we have those sorted out, it may be easier to start working on a guide/handbook but just looking for ideas or guidance or even other packs that would be willing to share.

(I have a parent handbook for my GS troop and have considered piggy backing off that but things are SO different between the organizations.)

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4 minutes ago, greenreddew said:

Hello all :) I did do a search but did not find what I was looking for.

I have been with my cub pack for years now and as far as I have been part of the pack, there was NEVER a pack handbook. This always sat wrong with me. The Com. Chair at the time never gave a real reason as to why just that it is how it was done.

As the Com Chair, I and along with my other leaders want to put one together. The only reference I have is the one for my Troop I am also part of. We do have Bylaws but they were never shared with the parents unless they were on the committee. Yes, I know, your mind just exploded right? How can we enforce something the parents no nothing about? So I am changing things up.

Anyone have ideas WHERE to start? We are working on our outdated Bylaws tonight again. I know once we have those sorted out, it may be easier to start working on a guide/handbook but just looking for ideas or guidance or even other packs that would be willing to share.

(I have a parent handbook for my GS troop and have considered piggy backing off that but things are SO different between the organizations.)

Hi @greenreddew,

If you were to do a survey of packs around the country, you'll find wide differences in whether packs have handbooks or not. 

Our pack had one, but only as a getting started tool for new parents.  It covered basic questions like what kind of uniform to buy, where's the Scout shop, when are our meetings.  It's really for those parents who like to know how things work prior to going to the first meeting.  Most of what is covered there a parent would learn in the first meeting or two anyways.

Our doesn't have pack bylaws.  We're a large pack (70 scouts) with a leadership team of 15-20 people.  There are clear delineations of who is responsible for what.  When folks are in doubt, they defer up.  i.e., if a den leader isn't aware if they should make a decision, they'll ask the Cubmaster.  Further, our rules are the rules of the BSA - we really don't add or subtract.  For events, we'll usually set clear expectations.  i.e., check-in rules for the Pinewood derby.  But, those are done as an email sent out at the planning stage of the event.  In our world, I cannot fathom how bylaws would help us.

So (and I know this isn't the answer you're looking for) I'd first start with a discussion among your leaders about what you are looking to accomplish with bylaws.

 

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1 minute ago, ParkMan said:

Hi @greenreddew,

If you were to do a survey of packs around the country, you'll find wide differences in whether packs have handbooks or not. 

Our pack had one, but only as a getting started tool for new parents.  It covered basic questions like what kind of uniform to buy, where's the Scout shop, when are our meetings.  It's really for those parents who like to know how things work prior to going to the first meeting.  Most of what is covered there a parent would learn in the first meeting or two anyways.

Our doesn't have pack bylaws.  We're a large pack (70 scouts) with a leadership team of 15-20 people.  There are clear delineations of who is responsible for what.  When folks are in doubt, they defer up.  i.e., if a den leader isn't aware if they should make a decision, they'll ask the Cubmaster.  Further, our rules are the rules of the BSA - we really don't add or subtract.  For events, we'll usually set clear expectations.  i.e., check-in rules for the Pinewood derby.  But, those are done as an email sent out at the planning stage of the event.  In our world, I cannot fathom how bylaws would help us.

So (and I know this isn't the answer you're looking for) I'd first start with a discussion among your leaders about what you are looking to accomplish with bylaws.

 

The bylaws our pack has are from like 2013. They have not been updated since and we have had things pop up that are not covered in it. Also, we have had things pop up that are IN them but bc parents had no clue on how something is done ( refunds example), they are mad when we show them. So to me, how can we enforce a program if parents do not know the rules unless they are a leader or on the committee.

I sent a copy of the bylaws to my leaders in May and again a couple weeks before our big planning night to start going thru and making sense of it. Told them to make notes and see what they think on things, questions, changes, etc. We are hoping to get thru it tonight as we ran out of time last week.

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, greenreddew said:

The bylaws our pack has are from like 2013. They have not been updated since and we have had things pop up that are not covered in it. Also, we have had things pop up that are IN them but bc parents had no clue on how something is done ( refunds example), they are mad when we show them. So to me, how can we enforce a program if parents do not know the rules unless they are a leader or on the committee.

I sent a copy of the bylaws to my leaders in May and again a couple weeks before our big planning night to start going thru and making sense of it. Told them to make notes and see what they think on things, questions, changes, etc. We are hoping to get thru it tonight as we ran out of time last week.

Why not just have your treasurer publish an update periodically on how your pack does things?  Our approach is basically - if you don't cost us money, we don't charge you.  If you sign up and then don't show they we'll charge you.  If you cancel with plenty of notice so that we can adjust we'll do that.  When a new family joins, our treasurer take 2 minutes to give them an overview.

What I mildly dislike about bylaws is that they hide the fact that Scouting is an activity run by volunteers.  When I was Cubmaster & then Pack CC, I would get questions like "what is the pack policy on buying gear" or "what is that pack policy on cancellation deadlines?"  In all of these instances, I'd take a step back and explain that "our" pack is a group of families that have come together for the purposes of providing a Cub Scout program to all of our kids. 

The cancellation policy is what I wrote above.  If you don't cost the pack money, we won't charge you money.  The signup deadline for an event is whatever the leader for that event set and communicated. And so on.

Every so often someone would complain about now knowing something and we'd deal with it.  What it usually meant is that our leaders got better about communicating things.  i.e.,

Families, please remember to sign up for our Camping trip at the Zoo by Sept. 1 so we can submit the payment.  If you need to cancel, please do so before that date as once we pay, we won't be able to handle refunds.

We could have captured much of the above in a set of pack bylaws.  Instead is seemed to work better to simply communicate it like I just did.

Edited by ParkMan
typos

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2 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Why not just have your treasurer publish an update periodically on how your pack does things?  Our approach is basically - if you don't cost us money, we don't charge you.  If you sign up and then don't show they we'll charge you.  If you cancel with plenty of notice so that we can adjust we'll do that.  When a new family joins, our treasurer take 2 minutes to give them an overview.

What I mildly dislike about bylaws is that they hide the fact that Scouting is an activity run by volunteers.  When I was Cubmaster & then Pack CC, I would get questions like "what is the pack policy on buying gear" or "what is that pack policy on cancellation deadlines?"  In all of these instances, I'd take a step back and explain that "our" pack is a group of families that have come together for the purposes of providing a Cub Scout program to all of our kids.  The cancellation policy is what I wrote above.  If you don't cost the pack money, we won't charge you money.  The signup deadline for an event is whatever the leader for that event set and communicated. And so on.

Every so often someone would complain about now knowing something and we'd deal with it.  What it usually meant is that our leaders got better about communicating things.  i.e.,

Families, please remember to sign up for our Camping trip at the Zoo by Sept. 1 so we can submit the payment.  If you need to cancel, please do so before that date as once we pay, we won't be able to handle refunds unless.

We could have captured much of the above in a set of pack bylaws.  Instead is seemed to work better to simply communicate it like I just did.

Many of our pack parents are not interested in the financials. They just show up to meetings are events. Getting volunteers to help is a topic of another day haha.

I am not sure if the bylaws are from another CC or if it is something our CO has asked us to have. It could be a council thing as well. The former CC did not give me ANY training or heads up on the position. Just did a 'tag your it' and poof gone. She was a treasurer last year but then just drop the bomb of her leaving so that left us with another mess we are dealing with.

Again, the bylaws we are all talking about tonight. I am hoping we get them all figured out and can begin building a parent handbook. Something both leaders and parents can reference together so everyone is on the same page.

I feel like my brain and hands are not communicating lol. The only time the parents are 'informed' on how our pack works, is when the former did a power point presentation and it as a generic one from council. That was it. So we would have to field questions blind as she was never around to or give contradicting information. She would never clue us in on things and when we asked about them, we got a duh look or a dont you know type question.

I want to build a better pack. A better relationship between leaders in a whole and also with parents.

 

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Good luck! 

As a former Pack CC here are some of the things that I think helped us to have a good relationship with parents.

1. think of the CC as the Pack's cruise director.  I always felt part of my role was to help parents navigate the process.  Never assume parents already know something.  Always be ready to explain things.

2. the value of communication.  We had a very active pack email list for parents.  Something would go out to every family two or three times a week.  Announcements about sign ups, service projects, pack meetings, etc...  Parents are busy, so I always remembered to send information 3 times.  Once well ahead of time.  Once when we were ready for parents to start taking action.  Once near the event or signup deadline.

3. at pack meetings the CC has one job - to talk with parents.  Meet them, get to know them, answer questions.

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20 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Good luck! 

As a former Pack CC here are some of the things that I think helped us to have a good relationship with parents.

1. think of the CC as the Pack's cruise director.  I always felt part of my role was to help parents navigate the process.  Never assume parents already know something.  Always be ready to explain things.

2. the value of communication.  We had a very active pack email list for parents.  Something would go out to every family two or three times a week.  Announcements about sign ups, service projects, pack meetings, etc...  Parents are busy, so I always remembered to send information 3 times.  Once well ahead of time.  Once when we were ready for parents to start taking action.  Once near the event or signup deadline.

3. at pack meetings the CC has one job - to talk with parents.  Meet them, get to know them, answer questions.

Other than the email, that is all I do each meeting.

We have a Pack FB group that we post events on. We have parents stay for announcements along with posting them in the group and texting out as we need. I am hoping that with Scoutbook, I will not be able to send out a weekly email like I do for my GS troop with upcoming things, deadlines, and schedule.

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Posted (edited)

Sounds great.  BTW - didn't mean to suggest you were not doing these things.  It's just that these are things I found helpful.  In fact that you're doing them may be why your the CC :)

FWIW - I'm not a big fan of Facebook for Scouting communications.  Since Facebook is essentially an "opt in" system, people have to go check it.  I find that email in this era to be more like a commercial.  People get them on their phones now, see the emails come and and then register they saw something on that topic.

One of thing about email that a Troop Committee Member taught me was - one email per subject.  If you have 6 things to announce, send 6 emails.  People tend to scan email subjects and so are more likely to respond to:
"Campout signup deadline tomorrow - Wednesday August 21"

than
"Pack updates for the week of 8/20"

We did look at Scoutbook for emails - but decided to build our own Google group for emails.  Google works really well for us.  The pack sees about 10-15 emails a month on the Google group.  Our troop is at 50-75 a month.  While that seems like a lot, we almost never have parents complain about the volume.  To go back to the original topic though - I think this is why we don't need things like bylaws.  We push out information at a level where parents really understand what is going on and how things work.  

 

Edited by ParkMan
typos

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3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Our doesn't have pack bylaws. 

I'm just wondering what the advantage of bylaws would be. I got a box of papers from one of the previous pack leaders. I think theres some papers in there that claim to be bylaws, but I don't think anyone in the pack currently has read them.

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Once you write stuff down, you have to start abiding by it.  Use the documents from BSA on structure, etc.  Everything else should be situational.  Don't reinvent the wheel.

We have a 100 +/- Scout troop.  No troop rules, by laws, etc.  We do give out information on how we do stuff.  Maybe 1 page??  Only written rule not covered by BSA is no cell phones on the outings, summer camp. 

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4 hours ago, ParkMan said:

Sounds great.  BTW - didn't mean to suggest you were not doing these things.  It's just that these are things I found helpful.  In fact that you're doing them may be why your the CC :)

FWIW - I'm not a big fan of Facebook for Scouting communications.  Since Facebook is essentially an "opt in" system, people have to go check it.  I find that email in this era to be more like a commercial.  People get them on their phones now, see the emails come and and then register they saw something on that topic.

One of thing about email that a Troop Committee Member taught me was - one email per subject.  If you have 6 things to announce, send 6 emails.  People tend to scan email subjects and so are more likely to respond to:
"Campout signup deadline tomorrow - Wednesday August 21"

than
"Pack updates for the week of 8/20"

We did look at Scoutbook for emails - but decided to build our own Google group for emails.  Google works really well for us.  The pack sees about 10-15 emails a month on the Google group.  Our troop is at 50-75 a month.  While that seems like a lot, we almost never have parents complain about the volume.  To go back to the original topic though - I think this is why we don't need things like bylaws.  We push out information at a level where parents really understand what is going on and how things work.  

 

Oh I know you didnt mean it that way.

In our pack, FB is our best route. Emails never get answered and many times I get " oh i never read the email" so Facebook and text are our main sources outside of announcements at our meeting. We have our parents come in and sign their boys in. This keeps them from dropping and running. When we do announcements, we repeat things for a good month so it sticks along with sign ups if needed and me reminding when I see them.

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3 hours ago, malraux said:

I'm just wondering what the advantage of bylaws would be. I got a box of papers from one of the previous pack leaders. I think theres some papers in there that claim to be bylaws, but I don't think anyone in the pack currently has read them.

For us ( as we just went through ours) it is about keeping order. Having a protocal to go back to and no more he said she said. It is ' this are the rules. this is how we have decided things are done.'

And no more deciding with emotions.

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1 hour ago, Jameson76 said:

Once you write stuff down, you have to start abiding by it.  Use the documents from BSA on structure, etc.  Everything else should be situational.  Don't reinvent the wheel.

We have a 100 +/- Scout troop.  No troop rules, by laws, etc.  We do give out information on how we do stuff.  Maybe 1 page??  Only written rule not covered by BSA is no cell phones on the outings, summer camp. 

See, we have a short 1 page that goes out with our info, leader info and short rules. But we also feel parents need something that how the pack is run, a more details how it works etc. this way they do not have to ask us the same thing a ton of times.

My troop has a handbook and it has been very handy in the sense of referencing as needed or when there is a parent that is arguing us on something.

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34 minutes ago, greenreddew said:

But we also feel parents need something that how the pack is run, a more details how it works etc. this way they do not have to ask us the same thing a ton of times.

Thanks for all the conversation today!

FWIW - I always welcome the same questions over and over again from parents.  I know that seems counterproductive - but every conversation with a parent is yet another opportunity to build a relationship with a family.  In my book, talking with parents about what we do and why we do it is a good thing.  

But - again - I'd go back to my earlier point about cruise directors and communication.  If you've got families confused about what is going on, then that says the adults on your team could be communicating more effectively.  The answer in my mind isn't point them to a book and saying "read this". Instead, it's one on one conversations with parents to bring them into the pack/troop community.  It leaders who get questions and learn what kinds of info is useful to families.  That builds relationships.  Those relationships turn into friendships and community.  This is why at our troop meetings it is very common to have 10-15 parents sitting around having side conversations while the Scouts are off being Scouts.  Those parents then turn into Committee members, merit badge counselors, and sometimes ASMs.  Those parents then enable the Scoutmaster to better serve the Scouts.  In my mind, that's my job as Committee Chair.

 

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41 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

Thanks for all the conversation today!

FWIW - I always welcome the same questions over and over again from parents.  I know that seems counterproductive - but every conversation with a parent is yet another opportunity to build a relationship with a family.  In my book, talking with parents about what we do and why we do it is a good thing.  

But - again - I'd go back to my earlier point about cruise directors and communication.  If you've got families confused about what is going on, then that says the adults on your team could be communicating more effectively.  The answer in my mind isn't point them to a book and saying "read this". Instead, it's one on one conversations with parents to bring them into the pack/troop community.  It leaders who get questions and learn what kinds of info is useful to families.  That builds relationships.  Those relationships turn into friendships and community.  This is why at our troop meetings it is very common to have 10-15 parents sitting around having side conversations while the Scouts are off being Scouts.  Those parents then turn into Committee members, merit badge counselors, and sometimes ASMs.  Those parents then enable the Scoutmaster to better serve the Scouts.  In my mind, that's my job as Committee Chair.

 

Thank you as well! It has been nice to go back and forth.

It is not about the same question 20 times ( which sometimes yes it is annoying) but also the former CC was very contradicting. We would say one thing and then she said another confusing everyone. Or we would do x and she would come in going no no no it has to be done y. So not only parents became confusesd, but also leaders would get annoyed at the situation and us looking unprofessional so to speak.

We are rebuilding the Pack in sense of communications, rules, leadership, etc. Even going over our stuff tonight, many where like 'ummm we dont even follow this!' By all of us sitting down and going thru the bylaws that were created and now me working on a handbook, we are all on the same page and have a combined mindset going into the new year. Clean slate. Clean minds. Clean borders. No misinformation.

I LOVE spending my time talking to parents! I agree about it building relationships and bringing them into the volunteer circle. We are a small pack of about 15 boys with recruitment coming up. We are a small town with 2 other packs in the area. ( We all do not play well together... not my end but theirs) so we always have a smaller group. I totally get jealous of large packs but I also love how small we are and able to have a quaint close knit relationship if that makes sense with parents.

 

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