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tblessin

Getting Volunteers in a Cubscout Pack

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Hi everyone,

 

I am a newbie to this forum, and have a question that is dogging me. I've been a pack cubmaster for little over a year (this is my second season), and have found that getting replacement volunteers for the parents with kids 'graduating' seems to be getting tougher and tougher.

 

We live in a fairly affluent community, so many of the dads travel frequently on business or otherwise claim they are really busy with work. Also, sports are very popular so they also claim that they have no time left after that.

 

Moms have been filling more of the roles, but obviously many claim they can't help since the dads are so busy.

 

Net result is that of a pack with 55 kids, about 5 of the parents do 70% of the work, 5 do about 25%, and a few more cover the rest. That is leading to burnout and my fear that more of the leaders will leave (myself included)

 

We instituted a mandatory volunteer program this year, but many are just ignoring it and I hesitate to follow through and actually ask some boys to leave. I am also fairly unhappy with the amount of 'browbeating' that it takes to get someone to volunteer (the positive benefits of volunteering just seem to fall on deaf ears).

 

Any tips on what other people have tried!?!

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One thing I've learned (the hard way) is that people don't like to be brow-beaten, begged for, whined to or made to feel guilty. These are turnoffs when it comes to recruiting.

 

The best success I've had is by first hand picking the one or two people I want to have involved. Then I talk to them 1-on-1 about the benefits of being involved. "We can shape the direction of this pack... Your son will benefit from having you involved with the program... The uniform is tax deductable..." . Well, the last one hasn't worked very well, but the others have.

 

The only success I've had in publically asking for help is when I've been just totally overwhelmed. I've had parent's meetings where I've just laid it out to them. "Folks, I'm swamped and can't take any more on right now. I really need some help from you, even if it's just coordinating one activity or playing one small role. Anything would be appreciated.". This approach has worked to some degree. The two times I used it, I did get some people to step up to take specific roles (popcorn chair, treasurer, etc.). I don't think this method works to recruit den leaders.

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We've had trouble too. One thing that we keep telling them is that their son will take from the program exactly what THEY put into it. "Tuck-n-roll" kids will get almost nothing from their Cub Scouting years, if they even last a year. Kids who's parents get involved- whether as DL's, activity coordinators, or even as field-trip chaperones, will enjoy their time much more.

 

We tell them at recruitment nights that BSA does not stand for Baby Sitters Anonymous. There are no bench positions, everybody has a turn at bat.

 

Just tonight I had to cancel a denmeeting. Our DL had a funeral today and couldn't be there. The battery in my van is dead, and none of the parents will stay to help the cubmaster run the meeting. I should point out that none of us- the DL, myself, or the CM- has a son in this den. The parents would rather cancel the meeting that stick around for it. Their choice.

 

You may have to lay it right out for them- you can't expect 5 people to run the whole program. If they don't have an hour or two per week to spend with their own son, maybe scouting isn't for them.

 

It stinks to lose boys because their parents can't step up.

 

Oh- another thing I have done with my dens when I was a DL- I told the parents right at the start of the year, that if we came to a time when I could only take part of the den on an outing, I would start with the kids who's parents had helped me more. If they wanted their boy to be one of the 4 who got to go, they had better put some time in now. Every one of them did something to help. Easy things- sit in a chair for a meeting when my assistant had a family emergency. Make a bunch of phonecalls for me so I am not on the phone all evening when my husband is home. There is always something small anyone can do. Heck- babysit my other kids while I run a denmeeting. Something/anything.

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The pack committee should be recruiting adult leaders. The CM has already got his hands full. EagleInKY has the best plan. Identify the individual you want for the position, then sell him on it. The Cub Scout Leader Book has a section on selecting and recruiting leaders. There is also a phamphlet "Selecting Cub Scout Leadership" #13-500 that is a how-guide. Also the Family Talent Survey Sheet #34362 helps you identify who has what skills, interests, and hobbies. Use it when you get a new boy application.

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"Every one of them did something to help. Easy things- sit in a chair for a meeting when my assistant had a family emergency."

 

How is sitting in a chair helping?

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Welcome to the forum. Sorry that our first talk couldn't be about a happier topic.

 

Actually, as depressing as it may sound, your numbers and percentages seem pretty typical to me for a cub scout pack. But, you don't want to be just another 'typical' pack, do you?

 

I have found that the offer to volunteer and acceptance rate is much higher when you set the stage for success. Creating a fun and exciting atmosphere in your pack, led by your unbridled enthusiasm to lead the development of a truly engaging program, is the first step. If others see you having a blast, then they will be more receptive to the idea of helping, thinking it may actually be something they could have fun with as well. On the otherhand, if you seem bedraggled, hurried and beaten down, then you can pretty much forget about getting anyone to join you in that endeavor.

 

With a positive, can-do attitude infused in your pack's leadership culture, the next step is to form teams for many of the large pack events (PWD, B&G, Crossover, Party, etc.) Appoint your most trusted and team-oriented adult leaders to head these teams and empower them to recruit their own team members from each of the different ranks/dens. Each den leader should be prepared to inform and motivate different parents in their den to be an active participant on a team. Using a team approach, recruiting volunteers becomes everyone's opportunity (and no longer just yours alone).

 

Your job then becomes one of motivation and quality control over events. Stay informed and gently redirect, as needed, while supporting creativity by giving each team as much freedom as possible.

 

It sounds like you have a small core of folks you can trust to help you implement an environment more conducive to getting people involved.

 

Good luck in scouting...it does get better (or maybe you just get numb to it) :)

 

 

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Thanks everyone, for all of the good advice so far. I am going to use it at our parents meeting next week.

 

I agree that CM and recruiting volunteers should not be the same job -- and I didn't make things any better when I ended up being the popcorn chair since nobody else would do it.

 

I think I do a pretty good job keeping the atmosphere upbeat at the meetings, but still get the sense that many of the parents are grateful that someone else is 'taking care of things'.

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I assume that you problem is filling Committee postions and similar responsibilities rather than locating DLs. At least that is what I read.

 

While the ideal situation is to have committee responsibilities separated from DL responsibilites, that almost never happens. Your CC can assign responsibilites such as fundraiser chair, special activites chair and other "2nd tier" roles (i.e. not treasurer, CC, or CM) to DLs. Make this known that it is expected when they sign up - it's part of their responsibility. I am not saying that this is a surefire solution as it borders on mandatory volunteering but if it is seen as part of the "job description" of a DL then they would probably be less resistant. While this would put extra burden on the DL (not a good thing) it will help spread the workload.

 

A better solution would be as suggested here - pick parents that would be best suited. Have your CC work with your DLs to determine which parents would be most likely to volunteer with just a little "encouraging". In a Pack of 55, you should be able to find at least 2-3, maybe more. Start small. Ask them to help with a single fundraiser or a single Pack outing.

 

Jerry

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Several folks have suggested picking the parents you want & recruiting them. Sounds good on paper, but I'm guessing that's where the original 5 that do 70% of the work came from. The problem is getting the uninvolved to get involved. I've done the recruiting & gotten a few parents that I can REALLY count on to help out. Problem is as stated in the original post...they (& I) are burning out.

 

One thing I've done with some success is to let an event fail. It's harsh, but it does drive home the point. Since becoming CM 3 years ago, our Pack's parents had gotten to the point that the parent committees would happily sit back & to do nothing for an event, knowing I would jump in & make sure everything ran smoothly...they knew I couldn't stand to disappoint the boys & used it against me. I was burning myself out & I don't even have a boy in the program. So last family campout, I forced myself to do nothing to help the parent committee other than to tell them what they needed to do...it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, holding back & watching the trainwreck unfold. The result was a truly unmitigated disaster...pathetic bonfire program, almost no firewood (collecting firewood in advance is a MAJOR undertaking when you live in the Arabian desert), no planned games / activities, no songs, rampant boredom. Lots of parent complaints about the lack of organization, to which I calmly responded that this is what happens when parents ignore their responsibility to the program...I can't do EVERYTHING.

 

Harsh? Yep, but they got the point. Two months later, parents were stepping up & putting together the BEST B&G we've ever had (although I ended up doing the cleaning because the family on clean-up duty bugged out), followed a couple of months later by a PWD that went off without a hitch, despite the fact that I was completely uninvolved due to work committments I could not escape.

 

"Ahhh...Cub Scouts...the boys are GREAT. The parents are the problem."

 

mark

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Cubmaster3947, you hit the nail on the head exactly with your post.

 

It has seemed that the better things run, the more the parents' volunteer 'skills' and willingness fades.

 

This year my wife has stepped in several times and brought things across the finish line ('just this once').

 

I am going to reverse this trend starting with our parents meeting next week.

 

Your right -- I love all the kids in cubscouting, but am starting to sour on about 1/2 the parents.

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"2 deep leadership! ;-) "

 

It was mentioned earlier in this thread that a den meeting was cancelled because the assistant was not available and no parent volunteered to stay. It is sad that the boys lose out because of a lack of leadership. Why not hold the meeting anyway using one leader?

 

While I would agree that it is easier to hold a den meeting with an assistant, is it really so difficult to hold a meeting in a pinch without a parent or assistant to help??

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Momentary sidebar - I see it mentioned in here from time to time. Two-deep leadership is not required for den meetings. While it is always a good idea to have two adults present (for many reasons, including the legal ones), the BSA does NOT require 2-deep leadership for meetings. Cancelling a den meeting because an assistant can't show up is not a good thing. The 2 deep leadership rule only applies to activities.

 

Sidebar is over. Return to your normal broadcast.

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"Several folks have suggested picking the parents you want & recruiting them. Sounds good on paper, but I'm guessing that's where the original 5 that do 70% of the work came from. The problem is getting the uninvolved to get involved."

 

 

Why is this a problem? You have already said that is most likely how the original 5 were recruited. Why not try it on the "uninvolved" masses too!

 

My experience has been that it's not that folks do not want to help, they just do not want to VOLUNTEER. You need to go up to a likely suc-eh-eh (sorry!) RECRUIT (yeah, that's it!) & personally ask them to do something. You can start small, like help organize who's bringing what for a Pot Luck dinner, call around & find an place to do a hayride & hot dog roast (not to necessarily make the reservations, etc, just do research), run a game at a Pack meeting (not find or create, just run), be Pit Dad for PWD, be photographer for PWD driver licenses, be Chief Griller at Pack Campout, etc.

 

Have each Den be responsible for a Pack meeting. That would include flag cermonies, gathering activity, snack, set/clean-up, & a song/skit. Make sure the Den Leader puts a parent in charge of each part & does not just do it himself. That spreads the work & involves the parents in both the Den & Pack without a long term commitment on their part.

 

Make sure, as CM, to recognize, in front of the whole Pack, the folks who do help out. Do something like have the parents who helped with that Pack meeting stand up, then pull a silly cheer out of your Cheer Box & lead it in their honor! Everyone likes a pat on the back & a thank you.

 

 

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Here are a few quick thoughts. What about grandma or grandpa. They may or may not be able to run with the boys, but they sure can help out with the administative parts. Most communities may have a RSVP program. Retired Senior Vollinteer Program. If you have this program, you may be able to tap them for some extra help.

If you are selling something, there are different ways that it can be packaged. Point out JFK's speech with a small twist. Ask not what your Pack can do for you. What can you give to the Pack. The enjoyment they can get by helping out.

Break down the job area=s into smaller pieces. For example. We need 3 or 4 adults to do the following jobs for pinewood derby. Help set up and tear down track. Judge the cars. Gather awards. Log in cars when the arive. When these things are broken down into bite size chunks, then they are more likly to come back for seconds.

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