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Challenges of Scoutmaster/Dads

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I grew up in scouts as a "son of a Scoutmaster".  Now I'm a scoutmaster and dad of a scout.  Scoutmaster Ron mentioned in another thread a question that was asked his son in a BOR regarding how many merit badges his dad had signed off for him.  That sounds like someone is hinting that there could be some favoritism going on.  This hits close to home as my son deals with that from time to time.  I also remember that when I was a scout.  Some of the other boys occasionally make comments like "yeah, but your dad helped you...".  You've probably heard it as well.

I started the thread because I'm sure several of us have dealt with this, and probably learned a few dos and don'ts.  What do you do to eliminate the appearance of favoritism with your son?  What practices have you seen (good or bad) with Scoutmaster/Dads that you've worked with.

Here's some of the things I do:


I don't sign off anything for him at home.  He has to bring it to the troop meeting just like anyone else.

I typically don't remind him of specific things he is supposed to do.  The most I may do is say "is there anything you need to do for Scouts this week?".

I probably "bend over backwards" for other scouts far more than him.

At meetings or activities, I try to treat him as just one of the boys.

Any other ideas or suggestions?

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I'm in a somewhat different position than a Scoutmaster, I'm the advancement chair, but I do sign off on advancement for boys. I have never signed off on anything my son has done, except when it has been part of a group instructional/test/or demonstration activity. And then he is required to do the same thing as the rest of the scouts in the group.


Another thing I have done is deliberately not attend some outings so he has the experience of being outdoors with his patrol/friends without his dad around or if we are on an outing together and the Troop splits into different groups for various activities I will go with another group. There are other times I'm pleased to share the experience with him.


On meeting nights it is usually my son who is telling me, "Common Dad, the Troop meeting's in 10 minutes we have to get going!"


I too will be interested to see how other scouting dads handle things.


Thanks for asking EagleinKY.

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In our Troop, Scouts sign off all most all of the rank requirments, so this isn't a problem for us.


As for Merit Badges, we've talked among the adults about this over the years, and we all are convinced that all of the adults in our Troop who are MB Counselors handle this situation without any favoritism. Our SM does the Citizenship badges. He does an UNBELIEVALBE job. I think it would be ashame to prevent his son from having the same learning experience all of the other Scouts get just because he's the Counselor's son. Same with me doing Personal Management, or one of our ASMs doing Pioneering or Personal Fitness.


The only time I have ever suspected any type of favoritism is when I have been working with a boy on a badge, and one of my sons have approached him to sign off a rank requirement. I've been told I was crazy, but I think I've seen a few times when my son caught breaks from a guy who I was working with.


Summary - If the adults are honorable people who live by the Scout Oath and Law, don't let it bother you.



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Tks for the thread Eagley in Ky


You posted the question is there any other ideas..not saying this is good or bad or you should be but during a meeting or outing what does your son call you? Dad or Mr. Eagle in K.Y?


I always wondered if I should have taken offense to that question posed to my son or if I should have questioned the committee of the purpose of that question.


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I made the personal decision many years ago that I would not hold a position as Scoutmaster while my son was in Boy Scouts. The reason I chose this was because of the difficulties I saw other scouts and dads go through in that situation. It is impossible not to be too hard or too easy in almost any situation. Even if mom or dad was totally impartial every time, there would be those who would cause grief for the scout, simply because his parent was the Scoutmaster.


As an ASM for my son's troop the last 4 years, I have supervised my son in his role as a Troop Guide, ASPL, and SPL, the same way I would any scout, IF I was asked to do so by the SM. I have been a MB counselor for only one of his 18 merit badges even though I could of done more of them but he chose to go to other counselors, and I am doing another one with him this month.


But by staying out of the SM role I believe we have both had a more enjoyable scouting experience and bypassed all of the external interference and silliness that so often accompanies SM parent/Scout son relationships.




(This message has been edited by Bob White)

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I was a Den Leader and a Cubmaster while my son was a Cub Scout. He said that he didn't want me to be in "His" Troop. So I didn't go there.

Still I do hold him to a higher standard then I do other Scouts because he is my son and I know better. He never leaves the house in a partial uniform it is all or nothing. He is a reflection of me. He is my son. I don't push him to do stuff. That is up to him. This Scouting experience that he is experiencing is his. If he came home tonight and said that he wanted to quit. Sure I would be disappointed - But it is up to him. We do discuss things when he brings them up. I don't want to get in the way of him or the leaders in his troop. That is not my job in Scouting.

One area that seems to have really caught his imagination is the OA. I now have the time to do more stuff with him but he feels that people are a little scared of me (Not True!!)He likes and respects the adults in the Lodge and is doing a fine job working with them. So I only attend the odd weekend - Mostly when he asks me to.

He knows that I am here for him. Here to listen and love him. I'm willing to move heaven and earth to help him after he has shown that he is willing to help himself. Right now he has been a Life Scout for two years all the merit badges are done and his Eagle is only a project away. He isn't doing anything and is happy not doing it. It is his Eagle. When he is ready I'm ready.


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Perhaps I can answer this question from a slightly different perspective. My dad was the den leader during Webelos. When I moved into Boy Scouts (along with the other members of the den, all of whom joined the same troop I did) he was soon asked to serve as Committee Chairman. So, for the next several years he was heavily involved in what the troop did. Because he was the CC he wasn't at every meeting or every outing, but he was at many of them. Generally I never really minded dad being around. There were at least a few times it was good to have him around. I definetly was proud of the fact he was willing to step forward and help out as needed, but still knew how to step back. The only time things were a bit odd were the trips where both my parents attended. I eventually got used to that.


I would just suggest communicating with your son about things. Find some sort of balance. If you are comfortable with it and he is, then I think it should work out.

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Hi Ron,

It was a very easy decision. I do understand how it could be a challenge in some communities to find a scoutmaster if every parent made this decision. I had no problem being his Cubmaster, and my wife was his Den Leader. But my experience showed me the many pitfalls of being his Scoutmaster, at least in the majority of cases. Had the it been the right troop at the right time perhaps I would have changed my mind. As it happened, when he was ready for scouts it did not, and has not yet, become and neccessity.


I'm not saying this is the right choice for everyone, but that it worked well for us.

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I was my son's Cubmaster & Scoutmaster. I didn't treat him any differently than I did the other kids. He had to follow & lead the was the others did. When we were Scouting, he was just another Scout.


Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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Great input everyone. This is what I really come to the forums for.


Ron - I'm "dad" most of the time. Only when he is trying to get my attention is it "Mr."


My son actually asked me to be SM. We started our troop last year with our graduating Webelos. The boys were not impressed with what they saw in other troops(discipline issues, chaos in one troop, etc.). They were used to a little more organization. My son, who is quite a "by the book" sort of kid, said he didn't think any of the troops were acting like Scouts should act. He felt we would do a better job if we started our own. How can a guy pass that request up??? ;-)


We haven't had any real problems. I always try to manage perceptions. He does complain about having to report progress to me at the meeting when he knows I saw him do it at home. But he's getting used to it.


I haven't done any MB counseling yet. As SM, I'm pretty busy working with the boy leaders, overseeing the program, doing SM conferences, etc. So I really don't have time to add that to my workload. But I probably will eventually.

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Near and dear to my heart, this one.


I was his Cubmaster, was his SM before, and am his SM now. I've done it because I was asked to in every case, not so I could use the position to provide special treatment for my son. I'm aware of the potential human dynamic, and how my position could cause some to think he's getting a break because I'm his SM.


To strike a balance, I operate so that if an outsider were to observe a Troop meeting or outing, and didn't catch the family resemblance (handsome lad, but he gets his looks from Mrs. KS's side), that outsider wouldn't be able to pick my son from the crowd. He follows the same youth leader "chain of command" the rest of them do, gets program information from his PL (unless he overhears me on the phone or in conversations before/after meetings -- he's "first-in, last-out" with me, after all), etc. I don't hover over him, and he doesn't hang around me.


What does he call me? Why, "Dad" of course. Scouting is something I do; his father is what I am, 24/7. We don't chat very much at meetings/outings, though. He's a Webelos Den Chief, so I don't have much reason to chit-chat with him at Troop meetings -- I'm usually talking to my ASMs, committee members who show up, or the SPL & Troop Guide. At outings, he's hanging with his patrol.


Do I sign off his advancements? Mostly not, up to First Class -- his PL and/or SPL did. For Star/Life, I signed off the leadership, participation, MBs, because I have the records -- ditto for all my other older Scouts. I've done several of his SM conferences, too. And, he understands that when it's Scout business, there's no nepotism. Case in point: I didn't do his Life SM Conference, one of my ASMs did. He told me later on the way home that Mr. "X" was a lot easier than I was.


I try to stay away from MB counseling as a rule, since I have enough work to do. I'm not currently a MB counselor for anything, although in the past I have counseled the Citizenship badges, and Personal Fitness, Wilderness Survival, and Cooking. I think I counseled those for him, but most of his MBs, he earned with other counselors. Again, no nonsense. For Personal Fitness, his 12 weeks of workouts turned into 17 because he planned them during the winter in Korea, and had to skip workouts because of the weather. He took a year to complete Basketry, becuase he didn't get his stool done at his first summer camp, and I had him haul it back with him the next year to show the counselor, same one from the year before...


In all this, nobody I've been associated with has even hinted at favoritism, and I'm not worried about it, because it's not there. I don't walk around all the time on eggshells, either. I do this because I enjoy it, in part. If I thought I was under a microscope, or he was, the enjoyment would be gone. I'm not going to screw that up by greasing the skids for him.


I've known Scouters who did show favoritism, but they're a very small minority of the many I've known.




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