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How do you get through to parents?

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Just a small aside, almost the opposite to this problem, but still a parent issue. And I swear this is a true story.


May 2004 when I was a cub leader we were on camp at Gilwell. It was a hot day. All the cubs were told straight after breakfast to make sure that they put on hats and slapped on sun screen.


Leaders kept an eye to check that they did it. One cub was going near the sun screen. I cornered him and told him to get on with it, he refused saying he was alergic to it. This sounded odd as I had checked all the permission forms and no one had any allergies that I had noticed. So I pulled out his form and checked, sure enough, under allergies or medical complaints his mum had written "none". I showed it to him and he said no really I'm allergic.


I asked if he had any with him, he said "yes" and showed it to me in his kit bag. Who packed your bag I asked? "My mum" he said (he was only 8 years old remember!).


So I asked him "let me get this straight, your mum has put in writing you have no allergies, she put the stuff in your bag and you expect me to believe that you are allergic to the stuff?"


"Honestly, he said, I get a rash and my skin starts flaking off" and started getting really quite distressed.


So I phoned mum to check before I began chasing him round with the stuff. And yes, mum, the woman that had packed his bag and signed that he had no allergies confirmed "Oh yeah, it brings him out in a terrible rash and his skin starts peeling off I packed it as it was on the kit list you sent out".


I was left utterly speachless.

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You mentioned you found 3 Digital Cameras, does your unit ban them? As it seems unanimous that electronics be left at home, Cameras, wristwatches and GPS seems to be universally exempt from this ban.


just wondering...






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Scoutfish says:

I just want to make sure I do it in a tactfull enough way to not cause a parent to freak out and want to remove their son from the troop because the think prison wardens took over.




SeattlePioneers says:

Personally, I never made those rules as Scoutmaster for five years.


Twocubdad says:

You may want to consider one reason you have so many folks ignoring your rules is that the troop seems to have a lot or rules and/or expectations. Not every hill is worth dying for.


I think thats part of the answer to how you put your foot down without freaking out parents. You reduce the number of adult-mandated, adult-enforced rules, but increase the enforcement of the handful of rules that are left. And make an effort that the only rules you keep are ones dealing with safety and Troop logistics (e.g. the scout with three totes doesnt get to monopolize space in the gear wagon/trailer). Soda pop at summer camp is not a safety issue. There will be plenty of opportunity for him to drink water when he gets there. Make him carry his stuff from the parking lot to camp and next year he wont want gallons of sugar water. Sunscreen maybe is a safety issue*. A 90 lb pack for a backpacking trip definitely is. Three totes, two of them full of useless electronics and candy, are a space issue for the rest of the troop. If a scout shows up at the rendezvous with completely inappropriate gear for summer camp and it cant be rectified then and there without delaying the troops departure, tell Mom she can drop him off at camp herself after he gets his gear in order. She wont want to make that mistake again, and her son likely wont want to be embarrassed by it again either.


* - picking up on Cambridgeskips story about the scout allergic to sunscreen, some new studies suggest the most common ingredients in sunscreen may be a bigger skin cancer threat than exposure to the sun. Also, vitamin D deficiencies may be bigger problems than realized, with sunscreen decreasing vitamin D production. Of course next week the latest studies will probably do another 180 and suggest something different.

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The most important Scout rules are the ones enforced by physics and such. Ones where actions have natural consequences. Learning that association is one of the best things about Scouting.


I recall two mouthy 13 year olds (brand new to Scouting) who went on a troop bicycle camping trip and thought they were hot shots. They were warned to hang their food to avoid having animals after it.


They didn't and the animals did. They went pretty hungry the next day. They didn't come back, but perhaps they learned something from Scouting after all.

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Laws of natural consequences are handy, as long as they don't bring down the whole unit.


Like with LB's son's crew: depending on how serious the backpacking is, the weight of that droid meant that a desert or packet of ice cream was skipped. Certain crews will not hesitate to point that out for the entire 50 miles! Or a dreaded Seabase scenario: A kid who blows off sunscreen warnings in the tropics might need to be hospitalized for second degree burns by the end of day one, leading to his/her unit terminating their cruise with no chance of refund.


So, you may want to point out to parents that the discipline that boys show in small matters is what makes future adventures successful.


But, the only way to effectively communicate the importance of this is to have the parents come camping with you. For some parents, that may be more trouble than it's worth.

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Yes we have had as much problem from the parents on the electronics than the boys. They keep insisting on an 'emergency' cellphone. I am thinking of recycling material from the USDA "Unplug: Discover the Forest" campaign. They have some visuals and material on getting kids away from all "the screens" and out into nature. Maybe run a video for new parents after crossover.

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My council recently brought in recruiting Xperts from National to talk about new recruiting methods.


They actually LIKED the idea of having cells phones at camp and would ENCOURAGE Scouts to bring 'em.


Their idea was to encourage Scouts to text their buddies at home as they were doing shooting sports, boating camping and other activities during the course of the day, with the idea of inviting those buddies to an upcoming Troop meeting or activity.



When you have to yip at parents as much as Scouts over an issue, perhaps it's time to reconsider the rule?



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Those guys are smoking stuff. They really think middle school and high school kids are going to text their buddies at home and brag about being at Boy Scout camp?


It's really humorous that these old farts from national think they can make Scouting cool. It's like watching your grandmother trying to rap.

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You think confiscating cell phones from Scouts and adults is a good policy? It seems reasonable to argue that it's a policy that is past it's prime.



They had some very good ideas, some of which I'm using myself.


Using Scouts to recruit new Scouts is a tried, true and effective strategy for expanding membership. I suspect that the tactical use of texting to carry out that strategy might indeed be effective.


Often I find that bright ideas need to be experimented with in order to find out how to make them effective.


So I'd tend to look at how such methods can be developed to make them work, and to dismiss the old farts who are nay sayers.



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In regards to the cell phone policy: I get it. You don't want the boys distracted texting their buddies instead of enjoying camp. However, as a parent, I have a slight issue with it.


I have obeyed the troop's policy and my son's phone stayed home. During summer camp this year, there was a nasty stomach bug (that included everything from throwing up to ..um..throwing down) that swept through camp. Over half the boys came down with it. Some troops even left. Some of the boys had to be sent to the hospital with dehydration (their fault, they were refusing to drink) as a result. So pretty serious. My issue was with the communication. They sent very vague e-mails a couple of times about a stomach bug and told us the boys were fine and they were taking good care of them. No mention of who got sick, the seriousness, nothing. Honestly, this does not make a mom's heart leap with joy. I had NO idea how my kid was. I *could* have called, but I didn't want to be "that" parent and I didn't want to risk speaking to my son and making him home sick. I didn't want to bother the staff. But I was VERY worried. And we didn't find out the seriousness until they got home.


I would have given ANYTHING to be able to text my kid with a quick "you ok?". And honestly people, I am the farthest thing from a helicopter parent, but this was very worrisome!

So I am honestly considering disregarding the troop's policy on cell phones at campouts. With the caveat that the phone is NEVER to be used except to respond to a text from ME or an emergency. I no longer trust leadership. And I know what you are gonna say: "Time to change troops, mom". Yeah, we all know sometimes is not THAT simple. And I like the troop and the troop's kids.


Perhaps the policy should be changed to no USING cell phones as opposed to not HAVING cell phones.

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Did it ever dawn on you why the next Jambo is going to have excellent cell coverage.......


The hope is that the boys attending will be posting pictures on facebook saying they are having a great time........Word of mouth is the best recruiting tool.


National needs to remember that facebook is a double edge sword.....If they screw it up....the world will know instantly.....


We went from boys with totes of food on a campout to cellphone bans......Interesting.

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"You think confiscating cell phones from Scouts and adults is a good policy?"


That's not what I wrote. They're nuts if they think boys are going to text their friends at home about what great fun they're having at Boy Scout camp.

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Hmmm.... the last thing I wanted as a leader at Camp was Moms texting my first year Scouts to make sure they're OK.


Perhaps an old Scouter tale, but it's been said that if you let a homesick Scout call home, they're usually on their way home within 24 hours....


Boys need time away from their parents. That includes no "comfort texting" for mom's benefit.


My oldest son trashed two cell phones and an iPod by bringing them to camp. That's a lot of money flushed down the toilet.


There's nowhere to charge phones at most camps. They get lost, stolen, broken. Why deal with that distraction at the one week you're supposed to be getting the kid away from civilization?....


Next year, I think it is time to ban first year parents from attending with their kids... ;)(This message has been edited by Eolesen)

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Two things on mobiles. First they are here and not going to go away. Second, if scouting is about anything it's about preparing kids for the real world, so why not emrbace them?


My troop has a code of conduct drawn up by the PLs. One rule says "phones - pocket and lock it"


Basically scouts are welcome to bring phones to scouts and camps but they stay out of site and don't get used ay inappropriate moments. They get one warning and then they are conifscated.


In the real world I switch mine off during meetings at work, when out for dinner with Mrs Cambridgeskip, in church and all manner of other occassions. I think we have a good opportunity at scouts to train kids in that kind of etiquette. A simple ban does nothing to instill that.


And yes, my scouts do post the cool stuff on facebook and twitter. They know instinctively what will sell to their friends. They do all my recruiting for me by word of mouth and facebook! It's not just about pictures of white water caneoing etc. It's also the more intagible moments that they recognise better than we do as adults, photos of late night bonding (yes when lights should be out) in their tents. Kids know what sells, let them do it!

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