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We were afraid we'd starve if we joined your troop

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"We're afraid we'd starve if we joined your troop." Yep, that's what I was told last night was a big reason why some of the Webelos I mentioned in other posts that came to visit us on a campout a few months ago did not join our troop.


Isn't feedback a wonderful thing? I had asked the Den Leader and a couple of the other parents if they would tell me what had been the deciding factor(s) on choosing one troop over ours. One parent told me that he wanted his son to advance quickly and the other troop runs a more advancement targeted program (which is true). Another parent did not feel comfortable with a troop that had a female SM. I was amazed that these folks would actually tell me why they did not choose our troop and appreciated their honesty.


But the response I loved the most was the one posted here. On that campout our guys planned tacos for lunch. Well, they didn't plan very well on the amounts and only had enough meat for one taco each. Plenty of the toppings, but not enough meat. A couple of the Webelos on returning home with their parents complained that they would starve on campouts if they joined our troop.


Talked with their (former) Den Leader last night and she told me that story. Seems she was also afraid herself of joining our troop because "you guys are doing it right and that just scares me." She meant that we do, in fact, turn the leadership over to the boys and allow them to make mistakes along the way.


I've been in kind of a funk these past couple of weeks and some of my posts have had a rather desperate tone. But, that comment last night just made me laugh, brightened my spirits, and got me excited again about my journey with the boys.

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I can sympathize. At a recent meeting with Webelos parents, where we described the troop, types of outings we go on, etc., one of the ASMs went into graphic detail on some of the less than successful meals prepared by new scouts on their first campouts. I was afraid none of the parents would allow their sons to join. Fortunately most seemed to have a sense of humor and it looks like we'll get most of them.


But I would not recommend tales of new scout cooking failures, (er, learning experiences), as a recruiting tool.



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When B-P was asked, "Be prepared? For what?" He answered, "Well, for anything . . . . " Here is an excellent example of what he meant, when the SM needs to guide the PLC in a more positive direction, and what gran'ma meant when she said, " Got company coming? Put on a big spread."


The Unofficial Modus Operendi of the Boy Scouts of America is " If you're not having fun and you don't have food, you're doing it wrong." Make that " . . . enough food . . . ."


Try this and start now: Have one of your ASM's visit the pack's Webelos den(s) at their den meeting. At least one of the parents of each of the boys will be there. Have the ASM explain to the parents about the Patrol Method and the boy-led unit concept. Two or three visits will go a long way towards having the den migrate to your troop.


BTW - Tell the parents that they will be welcome on campouts and that they will be eating with all of the other adults ;-)




This is an excellent example of a "boy-led" troop. Good job!

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A few years ago, another scouter (he is an wise old scouter, who is younger than I) and I where watching the first and second year scout struggle with cooking, not really struggling more like not being as efficient as they could have been. He asked me if I was frustrated watching how they where cooking, I said yes, he just smiled and said wait until these guys get into college or leave the nest they will be the ones that now how to cook and eat well, cheaply, not eating fast food every night.

They may have a few not so good meals in the beginning, but in the long run, they will eat better.


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I circumvented a bad meal plan for our new scouts on our last campout. It was the first campout for our new scout patrol. There were 11 new scouts and 4 troop guides. We have one troop guide who is rather ambitious and needs to be reigned in on occasion. I was occupied with other things while menu planning was going on. This TG asked them what they thought about pizza. Of course 11 boys aged 10 and 11 were thrilled with the idea. Our troop has 12 dutch ovens shared between the adults and patrols. These are 12 inch dutch ovens. You might be lucky if a boy found half of a 12 inch pizza filling. If each boy only had half a pizza, they needed 8 dutch ovens for 15 scouts. They were also planning to make dutch oven cobbler which would have taken up another couple ovens. Normally, we would make sure they had peanut butter in their patrol box and let them learn the hard way about planning and preparation. Since this was the first campout of the new scout patrol, I called the TG's up and told them to make alternate simple plans for dinner. While it would have been a memorable experience, Mr. Beaver didn't want half the new scouts to NOT show up for the next campout or get calls from parents asking why their new scout went hungry on the campout. We'll get to that when they have a few months and campouts under their belts.

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I would certainly agree that I wouldn't want new Scouts to have such a terrible experience on a campout that they'd never come back, but it honestly did not occur to me that Webelos and parents would be scared off by a less than perfect lunch.


We have all probably had to step in to help prevent an obvious menu disaster, especially when dealing with very new Scouts or older Scouts that just never had the proper training and experience to plan menus - but this was not one of those times.


In the case of the campout I mentioned, the food amounts planned were actually appropriate to the group size including the Webelos visiting. What unfortunately happened, as I was told later, was a couple of the guys decided they were not going to have any toppings on their taco so loaded it up with meat only. That is what led to the shortage of meat for 2 tacos for all.

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>>Talked with their (former) Den Leader last night and she told me that story. Seems she was also afraid herself of joining our troop because "you guys are doing it right and that just scares me." She meant that we do, in fact, turn the leadership over to the boys and allow them to make mistakes along the way.

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Barry, what wonderfully thoughtful questions. Short answer is: no, I have not yet learned how to explain the values and worth of our program as well as I'd like.


This year was the first time I've had so many questions from parents - we've never had Webelos dens visit us before. The thing I find most difficult is promoting the methods used in our troop without disparaging another troop. You know, when a parent says "well, Troop XXX cooks all together as a troop and the leaders always have extra food." Or, "everyone in Troop XXX has 26 merit badges after only two years."


As for the female leader thing. I completely understand that it is a fair question and perhaps even a fair feeling that some do not want to be in a troop with a female SM. Been a tough two years on that one. But, once I got the chip off my shoulder that I wore for a little while, I was able see how fortunate our troop is to have two very strong male role models as ASMs, both of whom go on almost every campout we have. In many ways, ours is shared leadership, with me as SM doing the indoor SM stuff and our ASMs doing the outdoor SM stuff.


One thing about being a female Boy Scout Leader that I think may actually work to my advantage is that in our area at least the vast majority of boys I've dealt with over the years come from single (mom) parent households. So, yes, while they want a strong male role model for their sons, they also may feel more comfortable sharing their concerns with me, rather than a man. May or may not be true, and not something I use as a selling point for our Troop - just an observation I've made.


I truly appreciated the feedback I got from those Webelos parents that did not choose our troop. While I may not be able to (or feel the need to) fix some of the concerns, I can certainly work toward improving the way I present, define, and defend them.



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Oh the dreaded "Mom fears."

I found out the one boy who had left our troop last year wasn't allowed to come back by his mother. The reason - because we made the boys put up their own tents and do their own cooking while we stayed off to the side.

Back to starving - We had a campout to the state park at Lake Guntersville this past weekend - the new Scout patrols menu.

Fish for every meal except Saturday lunch. Their choice then - raccoon.

Had to give them a gentle nudge to a more suitable menu for the weekend.

BTW - for the whole weekend the lot of them caught two small crappie.

My SM minute Thursday may have something to mention about all this.

Anybody had raccoon lately?

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You can't please everyone.


Last fall, I was my son's Web II DL, took the WEB I and II on a campout, had lots of parents, the other DL, about 25-26 people in all, charged $9 or $10, had a good menu. I noticed that a couple brought their son, but the kid (let's call him Johnny) didn't eat much and the parents didn't eat at all, though they paid for food.


In this mix was also a a Hindu mom and her son. She mentioned that they are vegetarians, and asked if i cold plan accordingly. Knowing in advance, of course. In stead of beef stew, they had veggie stew and some pasta on the side. Johnny asked me if he could have some of the pasta,. I told him that it was for two other people who had a special dietary concern and that the stew, salad, bread would be for him and everyone else.


After eating bread only, the parents let Johnny try some of the beef stew, he loved it! even had seconds. There was some pasta left, so I made sure he had some of that too.


The next morning, I asked Johnny's parents why they were'nt eating. They told me on Sunday morning that they are vegetarians. I said we had salad, fruit, bread, they was plenty for everyone. Then they said they only eat organic food. I told the dad that if he didn't say anything in advance, how could anyone know? Eat up!


He was afraid they would get fat eating our food. But he was amazed that Johnny like the beef stew.

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