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How do you get through to parents?

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I keep chuckling at the statements that the parents need to trust their scout leaders. Our troop was at summer camp a few weeks ago, the camp had almost no cell reception and poor wifi. A mom of one called the camp office after no news for several days, looking for news. The kicker to the story is that her husband was also at the camp as an ASM with the troop. You would think she would have trust in her son's leader(s), right?


Our troop balances the parental need for updates with the SM's time to give them by having the SM call and give general updates to one person who shares the update with everyone else via phone tree, email or FB as appropriate. The person is usually the SM's spouse but also could be another leader who didn't attend camp. I worry, I expect other parents to worry even if I do trust the scout leaders in charge of my sons. That makes us good, involved parents who care, not problems. The problem comes when that hovering keeps the scout from growing and maturing into a responsible person, and that goes far beyond a parent wanting updates during a week at camp.

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Again, I care not a jot for "updates" or pictures or newsletters during camp. But this was not, in my opinion, a "minor" issue. It was MAJOR. over 60% of the scouts at camp came down with this. And it was NOT a minor bug. They were throwing up and down for 24 hours. Some had to go to the hospital. Yes, I do assume that the parents of kids that went to the hospital were notified.


But I am upset at the MANNER in which communication was handled. A vague e-mail stating that "some" scouts came down with a stomach virus fills you with apprehension because we ALL know that if it had truly been "some" (i.e. 3 or 4 scouts) there would have been NO need for an e-mail. They sure didn't sent an e-mail saying that "some" scouts had gotten a cut or a scrape, did they? And I'm sure it happened.


This was a serious enough ordeal that some of the troops there decided to leave. So how would *I* had handled it if I had been the adult in charge? One of two ways:

1. Option 1: say NOTHING. There is no need to know they were puking at camp, IF (as it is assumed) it was truly a minor illness.

2. Option 2: send a list of the "fallen" to one of the adults that is home and have them contact the parents and say not to worry, junior came down, he is fine now.


A blanket e-mail does nothing. It only serves to worry people. And this is my 1st year as a troop mom, but I didn't just discover scouting yesterday, I DO know a thing or two.


And I know what you are gonna say: well maybe next time you can volunteer to go to camp. Touche. But I probably will next time. That's assuming my kid even wants to go ever again.

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Interesting thread. Back when I was young, my family did next to nothing when it came to my scouting involvement.


It was actually a good thing, opened up a chance for me to learn to be an adult and stand on my own two feet.


Something to be said for this.

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We had 38 people at camp, so that means the SM would have spent at least 38 minutes on the phone...


Anyone besides Sasha heard of a phone tree?


Maybe IOLS should add a sesson on them.


I'm not saying whether or not the phone tree should have been deployed in this situation, but there certainly are situations where it's needed (even simple ones like "traffic is bad, we'll be an hour late getting to the pick up spot"). It's not going to work if the SM has to call everyone personally.




(This message has been edited by JMHawkins)

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I was addressing the thought "How difficult is it to make a 30 second phone call?"

Sure you can use a phone tree to have 1 person call 2 and those 2 people call 2. I know from experience thought that often the message gets kind of watered down by the time it gets to the last person in the list--like a game of telephone.


So you get a 2nd hand-phone tree message from some parent that you may or may not know--depends on how far down the phone tree you are says the scoutmaster called and wanted us to get you the message that some scouts are sick at camp, but they are drinking water and we are tryin to avoid dehydration. They have a 24 hour bug of puking and diarhea.


As a worried scout parent, you probably aren't going to be too happy with that, you'll want to talk to your scout and hear for yourself that they are ok, and aren't going to be reassured by a 2nd hand phone tree message like that.


I think if it's something that needs to contain information about your particular scout, it needs to come directly from the scoutmaster or asst or the camp nurse, etc.

If it's something in general, then the email/blog/facebook thing would be ok.

If every parent wants the specific message of how their scout is --well OR sick that's going to take up a lot of time.


in the specific example, it would have been better to not send out a generic some scouts are sick message, without a follow up, they are all ok and no worries going out as well.

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A phone tree works perfectly well in this situation, assuming anything needs to happen at all. Unless the Scout is in a life-threatening situation, Mommy needing to talk to her little guy is, while understandable, over-reacting. As other's have said, if you don't trust the Troop leadership to look out for medical issues, then you're in the wrong troop.



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This "mommy" wouldn't have NEEDED to talk to her son if I had known nothing at all. And I wouldn't have "needed" to talk to my son if I had know that either a) he was fine or b) he did get sick, but he's fine now.


Vague info is a million times worse than no info at all.

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we ALL know that if it had truly been "some" (i.e. 3 or 4 scouts) there would have been NO need for an e-mail. They sure didn't sent an e-mail saying that "some" scouts had gotten a cut or a scrape, did they? And I'm sure it happened.


You are generalizing our ability to extrapolate a second hand message.


So, how many boys fron your troop succumbed?


I agree that you didn't need that message. But there was no way they could be more specific. The only obligation your leaders may have had was to call the parents of the boys who were in the worse shape. Sticking to that would have marked them as pros. As it is, they are a bunch if a amature dads.


If this is the only way they give you grief, you have it good!

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Hate to be sexist, but I have to... mostly tongue in cheek.


The message home from camp was obviously written by a dad and for other dads.


My son can tell me three or four words about how his day is, and I'm OK with that. I'll repeat them verbatim to my wife, and she'll ask ten questions about what those four words were really supposed to mean...


In case you didn't know this, Dads are very literal, and don't add unnecessary details. We don't always see a reason to ask for more details than are required. They read that cryptic message, and see no reason to read anything more into it.


When someone says "don't get me anything for Christmas/Festivus/my birthday", that's exactly what we are programmed to do...


Moms don't deal well with cryptic. They want details. Full details. They want details between the details. Even when they don't exist, they expect details.


My shopping list will be three or four words. My wife will write a two page list with descriptions.


Maybe next year I'll let one of the mom ASM's write the note home... ;)

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Your explanation fits the situation pretty well. A lot of moms really do thrive all all the details, and the messages from dads are often cryptic. Luckily I've kind of gotten used to communicating primarily with males over the years (I'm surrounded by them) so I am pretty good at reading between the lines.


It's best to remember that if there really was a problem with your child, you would have gotten a direct phone call. But otherwise it was a hey this is what is going on at camp right now kind of message. I'd take it as a heads up that there would be stories to tell (we survived montezuma's revenge) and extra laundry.

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qwaze: lots. There were over 100 attending and around 60% succumbed. So as I type this, maybe it can't be reasonable to expect a phone call to all the parents of all the fallen. However, maybe a list sent to a leader at home would have been better. Or really, and I know I sound like a broken record, say NOTHING AT ALL.

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What is the responsible thing to do if you have custody of a child and the child's welfare and the child gets sick?


I suggest that informing the parents of the illness and the nature of the illness when reasonably possible to do so is the reasonable thing to do.


Perhaps that's burdensome for camp staff. Tough.


This is one of the things Camp Directors should plan for and be ready to do if necessary.



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