Scouter T.H. wrote, in our October issue, that his troop was finding it hard to recruit parents as leaders. “How,” he asked, “can we instill some sense of volunteerism and commitment to Scouting among these parents?”
Sometimes simply letting parents know that they are needed to make an activity successful will spark a desire to serve the troop or the Scouts.
Everyone has interests or hobbies or is an expert in a certain field of study or occupation. But some are apprehensive about volunteering because they feel inadequate.
By finding out more about the parents of his Scouts and becoming interested in them as individuals, T.H. will find opportunities to invite them to share their talents in a merit badge class, camp-out, hike, or in service opportunities.
Never overlook people in the neighborhood who may not have Scout-age sons. You may find someone who has spectacular talents and can draw a crowd of not just boys but entire families. Our troop has someone who, as a hobby, makes equipment for horses—saddles, bridles, and other tack.
Another is the chief groundskeeper at Utah State University and is an expert on plants. We also have an electrician, a dairy farmer, and an independent environmental consultant.
T.H. should take a look around and draw on the expertise in his community.
When we discovered that more than 75 percent of the Scouts who dropped out of our troop had never had a parent volunteer to help, we made a rule: Every family must volunteer for at least one job. Now our troop has almost 100 percent parent volunteerism.
We have an annual parents’ meeting (the week Scouts have school finals) during which each family must sign up for a task or be assigned.
No one likes to be pressured, especially when it comes to volunteering time from busy lives. Start by taking the pressure off the parents by having family nights and other activities that involve them.
As parents become more comfortable around the Scouts, you will be able to casually address the troop committee’s needs.
Point out that it is easy to put in a couple of hours a week as a volunteer. Recognize the parents who are already volunteering, and show the new parents how supportive the troop will be. Show how rewarding Scouting is.
My best advice is: Lead by example.
T.H. should try to show parents how much pleasure they will find in working with the Scouts to improve the community.
For example, some of our Cub Scouts have been involved in reseeding parts of burned-out forests on both public and private lands. My den has cleaned up the area along a stream.
After we performed the service project, we talked about the benefits to the environment and the community. Such are the rewards of volunteering and making a commitment to Scouting.
Webelos Den Leader E.A.
I tell parents, “Organization is what you make it. If you give nothing, there soon may be nothing for your son.”
Some parents say, “My son doesn’t want me breathing down his neck.” However, they could come on outings without hanging around him, and could observe him with his peers, learning, applying, and teaching skills.
A Scout might surprise his parent as my son did at age 16 when he woke me at dawn on a bicycling overnight. He wanted to share the silvery gray dawn, the mist indistinguishable from the river’s surface, the croak of a heron, the splash of a fish feeding in the shallows. His showing me those things was a high point in my life as a parent.
I invite parents to attend troop committee meetings. For uninvolved parents, the committee’s work might seem to require special knowledge. Demystify it by inviting parents, telling them, “We’d love to have your input.”
Troop Committee Chair N.B.W.
Takoma Park, Md.
Web Exclusive Responses
The following responses do not appear in the print edition …
The vast majority of adult leaders are parents of boys in the pack or troop, but remember, they don’t have to be. The Cub Scout Leader Book (BSA No. 33221B) points out other possibilities for recruiting leaders.
In a section called Recruiting Leaders, the Leader Book says: “Many times a former leader or a member of the National Eagle Scout Association may be willing to help. Grandparents or other relatives make good leaders, too. Many Cub Scout leaders don’t even have sons. There are senior citizens and retirees who would be glad to help.”
The book advises considering all possibilities. It also notes that a folder titled “Selecting Cub Scout Leaders” (No. 13-500) is available from your local council to aid in selecting and recruiting adult leaders.
Pack Committeeman S.J.
Over my 23 years as a volunteer leader I have had the opportunity to recruit many volunteers; parents, other family members and non-parents. As a trainer I have conducted many sessions on how to recruit volunteer leaders.
. . . While [the techniques taught in these sessions work well] it is your personal commitment and enthusiasm for the program that must evidence itself during the recruiting process. People are more likely to volunteer if they feel that they will be joining an exciting and rewarding program . . .
The opportunity. . .to help shape our young people by use of the Scout Oath and Law, the Cub Scout Promise and the Venturing Oath is something very special.
Committee Member J.C.
It isn’t a problem of getting parent volunteers with my troop. It’s a matter of getting rid of a parent who is bad for the troop’s morale.
Webeloes leaders need lots os experienced help if the boys are going to come close to earning all of the pins. I was a WEBELOS leader several times. At the beginning of the school year I would have a manditory meeting inviting all of the parents and all interested relatives. Depending on the number of boys each family became responsible for teaching an activity pin or two. We spread them out to accommodate schedules and weather. Most parents were surprised at how proud their sons were of them to be teaching a lesson. Often the family volunteered for that snack too
giving all sorts of opportunity for pride.
One single Mom had a neighbor help with her lesson another scheduled her brother to teach on his annual visit with her.