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How do you counter "I'm too busy to be involved" in Cub Scouting?


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This past year, our pack has been operated by 4 people, with 2 doing all the heavy lifting.  Those 4 are a university professor who often has evening jobs, a physical therapy assistant student who has now graduated and is working full time, a clinical pharmacist, and a veterinarian.  Somehow, they have managed to find time in their schedule - one family has 2 kids under 7 and the other has 3 from 7 to 12 - to perform every single job needed to make the pack run - Cubmaster, Committee chair, treasurer, Den Leaders.  For some reason, no one else is able to help out.  Luckily, this past week we have recruited another family where the mom wants to be the secretary and the dad wants to be the ACM.  That will help a bit, but their son is a Webelos.  I'm not asking for much.  Looking for someone to manage advancement - pull a report once a month and go buy the awards.  Need someone to find outdoor activities and promote them.  Someone else to manage membership and registration.  Another to handle fundraising.  We have a mom who spends all day on Facebook promoting downtown businesses, but can't find time to be the PR chair for the pack!  

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Death is a strong word. Worst case scenario is the pack will be dissolved. Let me rephrase: Your family didn't fund the entire program, you all enabled a co-dependent relationship.

Not really.  For the bulk of the small committee jobs, there's no need to become a registered leader.  Any parent can be the popcorn person.  Any parent can find places to go for outings.  Any parent

We have it in our by-laws, with some exceptions - spouse deployed, single parent family with no supporting adults.  It's just really insulting when a stay-at-home parent tells 4 people who work full t

1) Make it declaratory. All families are expected to participate in some form or fashion. You'll lose scouts, but you won't run yourself into the ground.

2) Lay out the commitments honestly and spell it out as you just did. This job is 1 hour a month every month. This is etc.

3) Make it clear that the pack cannot and will not function.

I googled around and found this years ago from a Pack and modified it for the troop (every FAMILY helps). It makes things clear upfront: refuse to help? There's the door.

https://www.atlantabsa.org/files/26825/Every-Parent-Helps-1-DOC

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So, the Every Parent Helps Rule is that each Parent must be an assistant leader at Two Den Meetings (in a manner that fits your interest and abilities), and take on at least one Rank Level or Pack Job (more below), and Communicate with Other Volunteers.

 

 

Edited by CynicalScouter
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10 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

... Every Parent Helps Rule ...

I'll have to think thru the pros and cons of this.  I could see this as painful in the short run and very beneficial in the long run.  Beneficial in weeding out those not really committed families or stragglers that would drop.  Those tend to influence and cause further loses.  It would help those on the fence by causing buy-in ... aka those more involved tend to stay.  ... still need to think thru this.  It probably is good.

 

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1 hour ago, Armymutt said:

I'm not asking for much.  

You really are.  You are asking someone to become a registered scout leader and go through an intrusive application process.  Some people simply don't want to do that.  Others know they wouldn't be acceptable to BSA as scout leaders, and don't want to embarrass themselves, or their children, by admitting it to strangers.  Not everybody is qualified to be a scout leader.

We shouldn't pry into the personal lives of the parents.  If someone politely declines our invitation to be a scout leader, we should just let it be.  Those scouts whose parents do not meet the qualifications to be a registered scout leader might actually be the ones who need scouting the most.  We shouldn't drive them out of the program.

 

Edited by David CO
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Not really.  For the bulk of the small committee jobs, there's no need to become a registered leader.  Any parent can be the popcorn person.  Any parent can find places to go for outings.  Any parent can go to the scout shop and buy awards.  Any parent can find a place to hold the B&G and coordinate who brings what.  For the positions that involve direct contact with the kids, sure, but for the bulk of what we need, not at all.  At this point, the pack will fold at the end of the year if no one else starts picking up some of the load.  

 

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28 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

I'll have to think thru the pros and cons of this.  I could see this as painful in the short run and very beneficial in the long run.  Beneficial in weeding out those not really committed families or stragglers that would drop.  Those tend to influence and cause further loses.  It would help those on the fence by causing buy-in ... aka those more involved tend to stay.  ... still need to think thru this.  It probably is good.

 

We have it in our by-laws, with some exceptions - spouse deployed, single parent family with no supporting adults.  It's just really insulting when a stay-at-home parent tells 4 people who work full time that they don't have time, but expect a quality program, and then they sit and play on their phone during the meetings.  

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20 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

Not really.  

Yes really.  A parent who volunteers for a non-contact job in the unit will inevitably be asked to become a registered leader.  This puts them in the same awkward position I described earlier, only now without the face-saving excuse that they don't have the time.

Many parents do not qualify to be registered scout leaders.  We should not cause any unnecessary embarrassment to either these parents or their scouts.  

 

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That's a slippery slope fallacy.  We're more of a "get the easy job first" kind of unit.  Can't have a unit if you expect 4 people to run everything.  Which is worse, a parent filling a small role or not having a unit for the kids that need Scouting the most?  

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6 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

Which is worse, a parent filling a small role or not having a unit for the kids that need Scouting the most?  

The worse situation is having unqualified adults participating in the unit.  No matter how acute a unit's volunteer shortage may seem, or how likely it is that a unit may fold as a result, do not lower your standards.

 

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There's a whole lot going on at the cub level. Just being a parent doesn't qualify them. They've had at least five years to find out how talented with kids they are (or not).

  • As @David CO points out, the best some parents/guardians can do for the unit is bring their child and hang back. It's not merely a matter of them having an adverse history. It's that they know they aren't up for the task.
  • Other parents/guardians have not learned that they may have a lot to offer. At the very least, they could hold the rest of you accountable. You really need them to surmount that training hurdle. If you've identified one or two folks like this ... it's time for you to become a cheerleader and let them know you think they are the right person for the job.
  • Other parents have just said "yes" to too much. And this isn't just kids' activities. They've committed to some American dream with a house too big for them to clean/repair a lawn too big for them to maintain, vacations too far from home, and a financial profile that precludes hiring laborers. If one of them is right for your team, you're gonna have to convince them that they can say "no" to other things and do something that will yield biggest return on investment they have ever experienced.

Sort through your parents, get to know a few a little better, and see if anyone seems to click.

If nobody's available, some of your program will have to be curtailed. It really is just that simple.

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21 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

What standards?  We aren't bringing in people who don't have kids in the unit.  

I am trying to not lose my temper at this remark.  

Parents can be predators.  Predators are not limited to single men without kids.  In fact, it is just as likely for a married person with kids to be a predator.  Scout units should not let down their guard because someone has a kid in the unit.  I cannot stress this enough.

 

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Typing from the UK so the culture is a bit different but some things to consider.

Do you really want every parent involved? Fact is some just wont be suitable. You are looking for someone who is enthusiastic, a team playing, willing to understand and follow rules, willing to get dirty, willing to allow kids to learn by doing and not just hover them. Not everyone is the right person.

Decide what it is you need someone else to do. It's very easy to say "I need help", but what do you need help with? Fund raising? Driving a van full of camping gear? Running a Den or Pack evening? Teaching a particular skill? Make a list of what exactly it is you need.

Once you know what needs doing then go ask someone. Massed emails, letters, social media posts etc just don't work. Everyone inside and outside of scouting gets bombarded with them every waking hour. I had 3 pieces of unsolicited mail this morning advertising something. I couldn't tell you what. They went in the recycling bin without me even looking at them. Instead identify who you think might be useful and go and ask them in person, or in a phone call or whatever. Make it clear it is them specifically you are asking because it is that person that you want. It is amazing just how well people react to that approach.

Accept that some people just don't have the time in their life and often the most useful people are all ready taken. There was a scout mum I once quickly identified as useful and approached her. Turns out she already volunteered with a local atheletics club, her church and a food bank and worked 50 hours a week as a doctor and some how found time to be a mum to 4 kids, she simply couldn't squeeze us in. A shame but that's often the way.

Some people though can be flexible. It may be that parent you asked to help on a Tuesday night can't do Tuesdays but actually might be able to do some shopping for you or help fix something at the weekend or whatever. Make sure you hear them out.

Be positive. I can't emphasise that enough. The message of "this pack will close without help" simply isn't very good at attracting people. The message needs to be "Cubs is fun! The people are great! Look! Here are photos or video of kids and the adults with them doing fun stuff and they are all SMILING". 

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33 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

What standards?  We aren't bringing in people who don't have kids in the unit.  

Silly question but why not? Again I know I type from another country but whats wrong with an adult without a kid in the unit? My troop doesn't have any parent leaders at all, in fact I don't even have any kids of my own at all. Is this a specifically BSA thing not to have non parent leaders?

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Let's wargame this.  What opportunities are available for predation for someone taking on jobs that do not involve contact with kids?  I would think there are far more opportunities for predation at a meeting than there are by driving to a Scout Shop to pick up awards, or by conducting reconnaissance to find us places to hike, or coordinating popcorn sales with parents, etc.  That seems a bit of a leap to me.

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