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Below is part of an e-mail I received:


"The activities that the kids planned at the beginning of the year were great activities, however, when it came time to do the things that we had planned, no one wanted to make a commitment until the night before the activity. As you know, it takes planning to put together a quality program, and I'm not a night before planner."


The person who sent it to me is a leader who I admire and respect.

He serves as a Venturing Crew Advisor, but is retiring from his job and from Scouting.

At this time no one seems willing to take his place and the Crew will fold.

I asked him about giving a pitch for the Ship to the youth he has. A vast number on paper but about 15-20 active.

This thread isn't about the Crew it's about how much do we (Adult Leaders) beat ourselves up when things don't work out?

I had a moan and groan at the Quarterdeck members last night for not returning or answering e-mails and letting people know if they will or will not be attending events.

When things don't go to plan, I tend to go over my mental checklist doing what I can to take as much responsibility for not getting it right.

You know the sort of thing:

Did I do a good job of selling or supporting the idea?

Did I communicate well?

Did I check dates to look for conflicts?

The list goes on.

I know at times I'm too hard on myself.

Lately I have set minimum numbers for events.

Bu then I beat myself up for not serving or meeting the needs of the Scouts who did want to participate or do whatever the event was or I beat myself up because someone has worked hard planning and doing the work, only to be let down by their pals and I feel bad.

I used to allow Scouts to get by with "Yes I'm coming and I'll bring the money" But sadly I got burned once to often! Now if the forms and money aren't in by the deadline. It's a case of "I'm sorry you can't go - You missed the deadline!! Then I feel bad for being so mean.


As if I wasn't beaten up enough?

I have made a choice that will severely cut back on the time I can devote to the Ship. I know that it is going to hurt the program and might even kill the Ship!!

I keep telling myself that Family, Work,and Church have to come before Scouting!

I wish I'd done a better job of training the other adults, I wish there were more adults, I wish 101 things!!

Then to make matters worse I beat myself up for beating myself up.


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A few years ago the Troop was absolutely singing. A very full and active program with very committed Scouts who gave anything a go.


I got busier.


The Scouts were less adventurous.


Now I am about to retire as SM, the Troop is smaller than it ever has been and the Scouts are not motivated. My own kids have been in there as the decline has arrived. Not what I planned.


And although there may be some truth to the correlation of my busy family and work life and the decline of enthusiasm I don't buy the line.


It happens to be that there is an ebb and flow. We've all seen it in Scout units.


We just happened to get one with a bunch of 'can someone else organise it all' Scouts running the show and me unable to contribute the time to work the Troop through the tough time.


I'm not beating myself up. But 15 plus years and six with this Troop has ended very unsatisfactorily.


I'm more sad that others could not do for me and mine what I did time and again during the last couple of decades. My efforts have certainly not been wasted - but I do feel a little cheated. Time for a cuppa (tea) I think...

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Just this past Monday, we were told by a Scout dad that "Johnny won't be going to summer camp after all. My work schedule has changed and our family vacation had to be shifted to that week." BAM, now we're out $300 bucks, because Johnny has been telling us for 6 months that he would be going, and we fronted the money to meet the Early Bird deadline of 1 March and ensure our reservation at this new camp. Most of the others have paid up, in installments, but Johnny has not paid anything yet. Never again will we front the money. THe deadline is the deadline, and if you've not paid, you don't go. Welcome to the real world. I suspect we may not be going to camp next year, because not many will commit (with real money) that far in advance.

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You can put me in the, been there, done this category.

I dont know how many hours I spent as a CC tracking down registration money.

The frustrating thing was even after making contact most wouldnt give an answer either way and in almost all the cases they ended up dropping anyway.

Now after all the newsletters, e-mails and announcements at meetings, if I dont hear from them they are dropped from the roster.


Im going through this right now over the Memorial Day Regatta.

Its not the Sea Scouts that havent paid its the other adults that have said they are going.

I am the only adult that has paid for the trip.

With the registration deadline on Monday I need to get everything in the mail by tomorrow if we are going to attend.


I am trying to decide to pay for another adult (out of my own pocket) and hope that one of them comes forward to attend, find another adult from another unit that can go or cancel.


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CNY - contact all of your scouts and tell them that if you don't receive the $ from the adults (parents) by (deadline) you will have to cancel the trip due to lack of adult leadership. That might light the fire under the scouts to bug their parents. Far more effective than you doing it!


You aren't a bank and shouldn't be fronting money for other adults - especially since they apparently have not asked you to do so and might not pay you back.



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I hear you Eamonn. I've been frustrated by it lately as well. We started this troop four years ago, and got off to a great start. The first three years brought us an enormous amount of adult support, as well as some great kids. Last year was a challenge, as one of the parents sought to sabotage the process. In the wake of this, we only got a handful of crossovers, from various backgrounds, and most with fairly dysfunctional families. No leaders came from the bunch, and only a few semi-active adults.


We've been challenged as of late getting adult coverage for activities. Typically, we have more than enough adults involved. Summer camp and other "big" activities will have scout to adult rations of 3-1 or 4-1. But the average monthly campout has been an issue of late.


There are a variety of reasons for the challenge. Several of the dads who have been in for several years (including myself) find ourselves with more unmovable conflicts as our kids have gotten older (proms, college visits, varsity games, etc.). Three of our most active adults are pilots, and their schedules are at the whim of their airline. Without the support of the younger kids parents, who all seem to have a "drop and run" mentality, it's hard to get the minimum coverage for a campout.


Here's two recent events:

1) Backpacking trip. We had a backpacking trip scheduled for a weekend in March. There were numerous conflicts (church confirmations, a big school activity, etc.). We had one adult (me) and about eight scouts. Needless to say, this wasn't working. After several pleas, we decided to bump it a week. We got more scouts, but only one more adult. I was personally unwilling to go to an unknown trail, two hours from home, with two adults and 13 scouts. Again, I put out the pleas and got no response. At the Monday night prior to the event, after talking to several adults who had every excuse under the sun, I announced that for the first time in our history, we were canceling an event due to adult support. Of course, the next day I had a couple of adults who suddenly could make arrangements to be at "this part or that part" of the trip. I declined their help and hoped to make a point.


2) Last weekend we had our traditional campout for newly crossed over scouts. The older scouts go and teach them basic scout skills, play games with them and just get to know them better. It's one of the kids favorite campouts and has never been a problem. Again, excuse after excuse came from the adults. I was not going to cancel the campout. But, when we were at the church Friday afternoon, I asked again for a parent just to help drive (an hour) and drop us off. After getting nowhere, I finally announced (to the parents) that we were going to draw six names out of hat and they wouldn't get to go. And, my son and the sons of the other dads going, were definitely going. We finally worked out arrangements, but of course it involved someone who already goes "above and beyond" to step up and do it. The ones who never helped, still didn't help.


So, yes, Eamonn. All those questions you asked "did I sell the concept? did I communicate well?...., they all keep bouncing around in my head right now. How do we get them to step up? I'm afraid of what might happen to this troop after those of us who have been so dedicated move on.

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Part of another e-mail from the father of one of the Sea Scouts:

"but I am sensing his heart isnt in it. He has also been talking about going on staff at Northern Tier for the summer or working at Philmont. I told him he needed to make a firm decision and communicate it to you"

It goes on to say:

"He needs to go back to the drawing board and figure out his summer, his college plans and even where he will be living. These are decisions he needs to make on his own and in his own time. Im advising him, but not pushing right now."


I do understand that many 18 year olds get overwhelmed.

I don't understand how when a Lad is graduating within the month:

He hasn't made plans for college?

I seem to have been completing forms for the last nine months!

I would have thought at this late date all the staff positions at N. Tier and Philmont would have been filled? And if this was something you really wanted to do -You (me) would have made plans long ago.

This was a Lad who wanted to attend SEAL, was selected and is bright enough to have gone and done well. The "but I am sensing his heart isnt in it." If I read between the lines is really saying "He didn't make time to complete the outline "

He is a super nice Lad.

How people raise their kids is up to them.

But I know if OJ asks me if he can do something. We sit down and talk about the pros and cons. The what, where, when along with how much will it cost and what will he miss if he does whatever it is.

If after all that he still wants to do it or not do it the decision is made.

For my part I come hell or high water I'll do everything I can to get him to wherever. (The bank of Dad is now open!!)

So far he has never decided at the last minute to change his mind. Sure there have at times been a few moans and groans about missing out on something else.

But hidden in all of this there are life lessons.

At some stage your word becomes your bond and honor starts to mean something.

(I'm venting now!! Sorry.)



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Eaglein KY - sounds to me like you need to have a parents/adult leader meeting. Since your troop is still new(ish) and you are only now reaching the point where there's beginning to be some serious adult turn-over and shortages as your original group moves up, moves on, it seems this is a critical juncture for you to bring new parents into the fold.


What I am finding is that a lot of new parents do not understand how a boy scout troop works. They joined "your" troop because you do all these great things and have all these adults in place already. They often do not understand that not all of those adults are willing or able to be there in perpetuity, and so if they want to see the program continue along on the same footing, THEY are going to have to be actively involved too. Nor do they understand how to do that, or what support (training) is available to help them do that - and I mean seriously, in some detail - not just a matter of "hey council is holding some training next week that'll help you."


Sometimes, it is a matter of willingness (parents who are dysfunctional adults or uninvolved with their kids, or unbearably self-centered - ugh). Often it is a matter of not knowing how they "fit" into your needs, or of thinking they don't have the right skills, or of being wary (afraid?) of committing themselves to doing something where they're not sure what they're getting into. In the first case, you're out of luck. In the others, it is a matter of education and you do have some control there.

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Ever since the Ship decided to go to this event back in Jan. there has been a reminder that at every meeting and get together they needed to find another leader to go.

For the last month or so the Boatswain has sent out e-mails saying that we needed another leader to attend or this was going to be canceled.


It just seems I have a group of youth that are "siting back and waiting for someone else to do it".


One problem I am now facing is that a couple of weeks ago an adult has said they will go.

I have two members of our CO, with no kids in the Ship, which are registered leaders.

My son saw her last weekend and she said that she was going.

I received an e-mail from her on Sunday stating she was going and the other CO member wanted to attend also.


But since everyone waited until the last minute to get their money in if I dont get the money and the forms into the mail by tomorrow we will miss the deadline for signup.


I know that all the ship members (even my son) have actually gone out and worked odd jobs to pay for the trip. I dont think I have ever been in a unit where there wasnt at least one kid whos parents paid for everything.


I know I shouldnt be playing bank but canceling because one adult cant get their money in on time feels like I am punishing the Scouts for someone that didnt live up to their promise.


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More detail is always good. OK so either you or your boatswain need to call this other adult today and explain the situation to them in (polite) blunt terms. Chances are they'll say oh, well I can drop off a check to you tonight/tomorrow if they're the CO, repeatedly have stated that they're going, and are just oblivious to the deadline. Or, if they've been on the fence, this will give them the push they need to say either yes or no. Then you'll know for sure what the situation is. At the moment it sounds like you're mind reading. Sure they should have given the money already. They didn't. Ask them why and you'll be out of the mess. If they say no, let your boatswain know you'll need to cancel unless there's someone else pronto.



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"For the last month or so the Boatswain has sent out e-mails saying that we needed another leader to attend or this was going to be canceled. "


CNY, sorry but this reminds me of all the times I naively stood up at pack meetings and announced we needed "somebody" to do "something." "Somebody" was never in attendance and so if "something" was going to get done, I often ended up doing it. First rule of recruiting - ask individual people to do individual tasks.

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In no way did I mean that these e-mails were the only way that we asked for help.

I privately asked her a few weeks ago if she could attend when I saw no parent stepping forward.


I know she is not oblivious to the deadline as I had discussed with her, on more than one occasion, that if she couldnt make that she had to let me know as we needed to find a replacement or we couldnt attend.

I think she is just expecting me to take care of it and will contact me when she gets around to it.


I am trying to decide what is better for the Ship:


1) As we are less than 1 year old we are still in what I consider in a start-up phase. I think that if the ship attends it will be a great recruitment tool as very few units around here attend events like this. I also see that if the Scouts have a good enough time it may work to get them motivated to attend more activities.




2) Are the lessons the Ship will learn by canceling more important?

Not only the youth but it looks like the parents and the other adults need to realize a few things.


When the Ship decided to attend I let the Ship members know that is was their responsibility to secure leadership to attend. They have been reminded of this but it seems I have youth members who just want to sit back and wait for someone else to do it.


One of the reasons I would have to come up with the funds is that both Ship fundraisers were canceled when at the last minute everyone said they couldnt make it so there are not enough funds in the Ship account to cover this Leaders expenses.


I can easily make this trip happen as I am reasonably sure, if I have to, I can get a leader from another unit to go with us but I dont think its right to ask them to pay to go.


I also think that if I keep bailing the Ship out they will keep expecting me to keep bailing them out but I also want to keep the Ship going and need new recruits to do so.


It is hard to ask kids to join a program for fun and adventure when you are not doing things.


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Wow, this is a topic close to my heart right now! I'm the Camping Chair (Pack level) and it has been a mess getting other adults to step up and take a role in any of this. I'm most upset about the other leaders, frankly. LisaBob is so right - ask specific people to do specific tasks. I'd pretty much bet that specific parents outside of my own Den have not been even asked as their leaders were asked to do.


Thankfully I have enough parents in my Den who are living vicariously through their little Scouts that we manage to get stuff done. And, hopefully, in the case of the Spring Camp-out, we will liven up the program (and Pack meetings, too, for that matter) so that people will find it something fun that happens rather than something simply to be endured. I know that the other Leaders are starting to perk up now that they realize there really IS a program - they are starting to ask what, exactly, they can do, at least.


It is going to be really difficult, IMO, though, to get boys to belly up to the responsibility bar when that is not the example their parents set. I fear we are raising a generation that has not been asked to sacrifice much in their lives - for God, for Country or for Family, let alone for Scouts or Community.


CNYScouter, if it were me, I'd recruit the adult from the other unit, have your unit pay their way, and let your boys know that it is THEIR money that paid the way. It's not you bailing them out, it's THEM making up the deficit - even if it is with activities they will NOT be able to do in the future. Use it to teach them that other peoples' irresponsibility has a wide circle of consequences. Good luck with it. I hope your boys get to go.

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I should add that this is not an inexpensive trip.

The registration, berthing and food is $55.


It's an almost 900 mile round-trip and at $3/gal the gas costs are going to somewhere around $25-$30 per person or more.

We will have a meal on the way there and one on the way back to buy.


and if it was under $20 I would just pay the fee and not worry but this in enough that I have to really think about paying it or not.




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I'm tempted to add my "ain't it awful" to the chorus.


I have observed that many parents and families have a TV set mentality about Scouting. Meaning that, just like turning on a TV set, they want there to be an outstanding activity well planned an carried out if they plan to show up.


However, just like a watching a TV set:


1) They want nothing to do with the planning or organizing

2) They want to make no commitments to participation or non-participation

3) If something better comes up at the last minute, they want to be able to do that something better

4) If the weather is bad (or good) they want to be able to decide to do another weather dependent activity at the last minute

5) They expect to be able to complain loudly and long if the quality of an activity is not what they want

6) They want to pay at the last minute

7) They even feel free to leave (change the channel) when their son's activities are finished


As far as your crew activity, you may or may not teach the lesson that you want at this early stage if you cancel the activity. It depends on how personally they identify with the Crew, it's leadership and it's activities


If they identify strongly, then cancelling the activity will teach a lesson. But if they don't, they they'll only say to themselves and to each other "See. We told you that the Crew and Venturing don't work. They cancel their activities and are poorly planned."


The question then is whether you are cancelling THEIR activity or YOUR activity which they may attend if they don't have something better to do. And this pertains to parents as well as to the youth.


This isn't saying that you shouldn't cancel the activity to avoid being taken advantage of yourself. But unless you hold a pretty serious reflection, you may not be having the learning experience that you desire.

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