Scouter S.B. needs help—literally. Plenty of boys want to join the Cub Scout pack at his church, but few parents are willing to serve as leaders. He wants to know how to engage uninterested parents.
SELL THE SIZZLE
When pitching the idea of becoming a leader, I tell parents it’s about more than just the boys’ experience; it’s about the leaders’ experience, too. I have made many new friends I wouldn’t have met if not for Scouting; my fellow Scout leaders have become some of my best friends.
COMBINE AND CONQUER
Many parents are concerned about the time commitment and about working with energetic young boys. Encourage interested parents to pair up and share the leadership role. New den leaders should ease their workload by asking all parents to teach at least one badge requirement and to host at least one den meeting a year. Asking parents to attend all den meetings and outings with their Scout helps new den leaders with crowd control, as well.
Troop Committee Member A.M.
JUST ONE THING
Ask parents individually—not in a large group—if they can do one thing. Can they transport Scouts to the park or make the den or pack newsletter? Can they help man the attendance table at pack meetings? Can they provide refreshments? Can they help the Bear leader? Can they teach crafts? If they help with one small thing, eventually they see that it’s not really that hard.
And always say thank you. Recognize your leaders or helpers monthly—especially those who do once-a-year things. If parents see others are appreciated, they will want in, too.
Chartered Org. Representative P.A.
Fernandina Beach, Fla.
Address the concerns that may be holding back a parent from volunteering. Discuss the available training, especially online training, and have handouts available with local training schedules.
Show a copy of the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide; underscore that the guide has den and pack meetings planned out so that preparation and planning are minimal. Show a copy of the Cub Scout Leader Book and demonstrate its usefulness as a handy reference for answering Cub Scouting questions. In short, tell them, “We’ll teach you how.”
Unit Commissioner S.E.
First, at a mandatory parent meeting, have a flip chart on which an eagerly awaiting youth can write down suggestions for programming that parents would like to see. Ask them if they have anything that they can do to help.
Second, find out what specialties the parents have. Those are areas that you can tap into. Third, have everyone raise their hand to questions like “Who likes to do crafts?” Then point to them and say, “You’re it!”
Unit Commissioner M.P.
HOLD YOUR HORSEPOWER
Utilize the pinewood derby to overcome this problem. At the pinewood derby, schedule the races by rank, but before each race make sure the parents of all Scouts participating are signed up for at least one task. If you don’t have 100-percent signups, hold up the race until that occurs. You want to see pressure put on the parents? Watch an eager pinewood racer being held up with the threat of no race. There is no substitute!
Former Cubmaster M.K.
Johns Creek, Ga.
START AT THE END
Some parents have to see the end result to see the need. Have an Eagle Scout or two discuss how it made them feel to have their parents involved at such an early age. You might also check with your troop and attend an Eagle ceremony. I’ve heard several comments during Eagle courts of honor that would bring tears to your eyes and tug very strongly on parents’ hearts.
Pack Trainer S.W.
NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT
Communicate to parents that Cub Scouting is designed to provide activities for parents to do with their Scouts to make lifelong memories. The age group is the perfect window to give parents the opportunities to watch their Scouts grow and be involved in the fun. Once Cub Scouts move on to Boy Scouting, parental wisdom is replaced by wisdom from peers and leaders and the opportunity to be involved is less personal.
Recruiting Chair B.B.
Saint Charles, Ill.
WE WANT YOUR SOLUTIONS!
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We have a Scout with very poor eating habits, and his parents are enabling him to continue eating in this manner. On numerous outings he has collapsed, partly because of his lack of adequate nutrition. Our leadership is in agreement that he cannot be allowed to participate in our more rigorous activities. What can we do to make this Scout’s parents understand the seriousness of this situation?
The first thing you have to remember is what it was when you first signed your child up. Over time, we leaders sometimes forget how overwhelming scouting can be to new parents. Put yourself back in that situation, and then ask parents for a little help here and a little there..Your best leader candidates will come forward naturally, and possibly – they will ask about being a leader instead of you asking them to be a leader..
It is very hard to change a family’s eating habits (even your own) and as much as we care for our Scouts and their well-being it is not really our place. My suggestion is to start with endurance training, like getting ready for Philmont. Start with a short hike. Proving you do well at this event is a pre-requisite for the next harder event. If he fails to perform the pre-requisite activity, sit down and talk to him about what he can do to improve his performance and qualify for the next activity; regular exercise and healthier eating habits. Then share those same talking points with his parents.
We have a similar situation in our Pack. The Scout will NOT eat any of the healthy food provided at campouts, because his parents have packed his bags with junk food. What you might try is working on the Cooking or Fitness merit badge as a Troop. Have each boy keep a food journal for a week. At the meeting, put the boys in pairs of three, and have them discuss and “grade” each others journals. This boy is probably old enough to make some of his own food choices. Positive peer pressure might be the best motivator.
“Success breeds participation”. If you’re able to run an energized and entertaining program, getting people involved would be an easy sell. But, we have to acknowledge another aspect of Scouting… it is VOLUNTEER RUN. That means, if they want a program for their sons, they have to contribute. Anything less is simply not acceptable. The best way to deal with this is to explain the program the day they come to sign their son up, or after everyone’s joined, have an “orientation meeting” and explain to the parents that you’ll run the next TWO meetings… after that, the den will be shut down if no one steps up as the Den Leader. You can’t beat yourself to death to run a program for people who want to “take” without ever “giving”. It’s simply the way it works….
The best way is to send a steady message… do not approve Patrol menus that don’t include balanced diets and on Tenderfoot requirements, and do not sign off on any physical requirements if he’s not actually showing improvement. You have a real problem, you have a scout ACTUALLY SHOWING physical issues related to his diet. Remember, you’re legally responsible for him when he’s in your care. Sit the parents down and explain how much you want their son to stay involved, but tell them that you have real concerns and on the more strenuous trips, their son can’t go until he shows health improvement. Explain that these are issues that WILL impact him all through life and you’re bringing up the issue is because you CARE.
I try to point out to new parents how easy it is to put a boy in front of a tv or put the latest game console in their hands. I point out how quickly they grow up and become independent, and how unlike sports where there is instant gratification, Scouting is a journey that both parent and son take together and that at the end of that journey they will have a respectful and kind young man that they help shape. That is what they want out of the program, and if you show parents what the boys stand to gain they will be more than happy to help.