Strong, well-publicized programs help reduce absenteeism
Edited by Robert Peterson
Den leader C.A. asked: When boys repeatedly miss meetings, should leaders make a fuss or just ignore their absenteeism? Reader suggestions included improved communications and quality programs.
Because there are so many demands on boys' time, our Scout troop has a fairly loose attendance policy. If we were to get into a scheduling conflict with soccer or basketball, we would have a very small troop. To minimize conflict, we schedule major outings with the school calendar in hand and consider band and chorus events as well as sports.
When we hold troop elections, we introduce candidates for such positions as patrol leader by announcing their attendance rates, as compiled by the troop scribe. All of a sudden, attendance matters.
Absenteeism should not be ignored, nor should C.A. make a big fuss about it. First, find out why boys don't show up. If there are schedule conflicts, the den leader may have to change meeting days or times.
The den leader should take training and attend monthly leaders' roundtables. It is a proven fact that trained leaders who attend roundtables have stronger programs, and as a result boys tend to show up for meetings and stay in the program.
Unit Commissioner T.C.
As a den leader for four years, I have learned that boys join Cub Scouting for different reasons. Den meetings might not be a priority for the family, even though they might be for the Cub Scout.
I have one boy who enjoys being a den member but misses many meetings because the family is too busy to bring him. He is embarrassed when he sees me, but I try to keep him informed about what we are doing, provide him with the things we have purchased for projects, and be his "cheerleader" to complete achievements. He will never have as many awards as the other boys, but I think we make a difference in his life.
Den Leader D.S.
This is what works for me. I have a calendar or schedule made out for the next few months so that no one falls behind. Sometimes I have the Scouts that do come to the meetings call the absent ones to keep them up to date.
You may want to call the parents and explain how important it is that their son be there. In many cases, it is the parent who forgets, not the boy.
The most important thing is not to get frustrated or give up on a boy.
C.A. should neither ignore absenteeism nor make a fuss about it. Boys today have a myriad of choices for out-of-school activitiessports, clubs, band practiceyou name it. Scouting is another.
Naturally, we hope that a boy will want to be a Scout, and it's a good idea to find out why he is often absent if he has been interested enough to register. Talk to him and perhaps his parents to find out what the conflicts are, if any.
C.A. might be able to find a solution to his absenteeism. If not, C.A. should not feel like a failure. Not everyone has the motivation to be an Eagle, or even First Class!
Troop Committee Member C.J.
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