Answer the next question and your advice could appear in an upcoming issue.
Some key leaders in C.S.’s pack are moving on to Boy Scouting, and no replacements are stepping forward. He’s looking for help recruiting new leaders.
EARLY AND OFTEN
I keep a running list of families with younger sons and do my best to engage them early. I ask them to fill smaller roles, such as helping plan the blue and gold banquet or taking a pack committee job. That way, they are primed for leadership.
Pack Committee Chair T.W.
WHEN TO SAY WHEN
Set a firm date you will step down. Submit that to the current pack committee chair and chartered organization representative, and inform the parents. If you are wishy-washy with your stepping down, it will never happen. Parents need to understand that if someone doesn’t step up, it will be their sons who will pay the price for their unwillingness. When the date arrives, you must step down — but be willing to assist the parent who assumes your position.
EAST AURORA, N.Y.
Gather all the parents of the remaining Scouts. Brew up a pot of coffee, lay out some doughnuts and tell them what the situation is. Emphasize getting multiple people who would be willing to carry the load, and get those new leaders trained.
District Committee Member N.V.
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
Each year, I meet with all of the new parents and explain how I wound up as a den leader and then assistant Cubmaster and then Cubmaster. I take the honest, direct approach, explaining that it takes a few hours of work each week and that it will bring them closer to their sons than they have been before. I also explain that we have a great network of den leaders who are there to help the new den leaders. I try to allay any apprehension they might have by emphasizing that I was once sitting where they are and now I love being a Cubmaster. So far, this approach has worked fairly well.
DIVISION OF LABOR
The idea of becoming a Cubmaster can be overwhelming. Divide it up! If your Cubmaster is great at one aspect of the position but not the best at, say, outdoor leadership or fundraising, delegate those tasks. People are more likely to volunteer when they know what they’re getting into and when they know they’ll have others supporting them.
THERE’S A PLAN FOR THAT
Many units try to recruit leaders by announcing a position that needs to be filled and waiting for someone to step forward. My first action is to get them to abandon this approach and follow the BSA process of selecting quality leaders. [Editor’s note: See “Selecting Quality Leaders for Cub Scouts,” No. 523-500, at bit.ly/cubleader.] Thoughtfully selecting the next leader — instead of taking the first hand raised — ensures the most qualified person fills the position.
District Commissioner N.P.
NOT SO FAST
I personally gave my son a year to normalize to the Boy Scout troop before crossing over myself. This allowed me to hand-select one person to replace me as Cubmaster, train her and gradually give her more and more experiences and freedom. By the time I left, she was ready to set her own goals and attain them.
HOW DOES YOUR PACK RECRUIT NEW LEADERS? LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK BELOW.
[This responds to the current question about overcoming a boy’s fear of the water.]
Most importantly, don’t embarrass the boy or try to force him into the water. Determine the boy’s current “limits,” and gradually encourage him to go further.
Set up times for one-on-one instruction (but consistent with Youth Protection guidelines) when you can give 100% attention to one boy. Try to do it away from the rest of the troop, with no more than one of the boy’s trusted friends to encourage him.
He probably won’t believe you, but assure the boy that you will not allow anything bad to happen to him! Point out that there are many activities and rank advancements that depend on swimming.
Make it fun! Play games. Let him splash you! Drop coins or hard candy in cellophane wrappers on the lake or pool bottom that he can have by reaching down and grabbing them. Play tag. Trade challenges with him–let him choose something for you to do (like a belly flop) if he’ll promise to do something that you choose that represents some slight progress for him. Get him to laugh!
Be patient. And finally, realize that it may not happen this year. There’s always next year, and by that time, there may not even be a problem to deal with.
But believe me, there’s nothing like being thanked by a father who watched from shore as his son overcame the fear of water!
TK, Former Scoutmaster
Our wood badge patrol is using this issue for our presentation. Without giving away too much, our belief is that an organization cannot establish long term leaders by focusing solely on the org’s need for help. Rather, we must identify what the target parents want/need for their own fulfillment and find a way to fill that need. In that way, the parents become as much our customers as the youths.