Monday, August 27, 2012

Scout Time = Family Time

School, sports, work, church, and everything else has started back up and it is very easy to lose control!  You have probably got at least three different calendars with dates you need to combine and work on transportation for the whole family. 

This is why we as a pack decided to delay scouts until after Labor Day.  Don't get me wrong, we will have a calendar for you too!  But try to think of your scouting time as more of family time. 

Our Pack events are family events, so use these as time away from the craziness to just enjoy your kids.  We encourage you to bring the whole family on campouts. 

Meeting are a great time for some one on one with your son.  I know with three kids . . . we love this opportunity to focus on one boy and what he wants to do. 

Now it can be very hard to walk away from the office and leave the stress there; and that pile of laundry is not getting any smaller; and at some point you need to throw food at these kids . . . and the list goes on and on.  So take a deep breath, walk away, and go to scouts for an hour to have some fun! 

First meetings are 9/10, at Twin Ridge, starting at 6:30 pm.  This is your information meeting, ask the questions you need to, and volunteer!!  Your son will be so excited to have mom/dad help out and lead one meeting, assist with a craft, or even bring snack. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Start Planning NOW

If you Google "being a Cub Scout Leader" you will get hundreds of hits on how to plan things out.  You will find schedules, charts, diagrams, and even hour by hour guides, what are all of these tools telling you?  Plan your meetings now! 

If you go into the first meeting with no game plan not only will you lose control of the boys (and very quickly) but you will lose respect from the parents and any hope of asking for help flies out the window.  I have found it best to plan out at least the first month of meetings and to have a handout letting the parents know what to expect and what help you are going to need.

By planning your meetings I don't mean that you need to have an hour by hour breakdown, I mean have an idea of what you are going to work on and when.  This is especially helpful if you are going to need supplies.  Telling parents that in two weeks I need six 2 litter to make bird feeders is way better then chugging down 12 liters of pop the hour before the meeting (trust me).

So how do you plan the meeting?  Everything on-line tells you that there are several parts to a basic den meeting. The BSA way is . . .

- Before the meeting
- Gathering
- Opening
- Business
- Activities
- Closing
- After the meeting

This is alot!  BSA also uses "KISMIF - Keep It Simple, Make It Fun" . . . so why all the steps??

I cut it down and make it easy. . .
- Before the meeting - set it up, have it ready
- Opening - pledge and promise
- Activities - try to alternate crafts, sports, and "paperwork" to help all kids have fun
- After the meeting - clean it up and answer any questions

So you noticed I took out the gathering activity . . . boys are boys, they are super excited to see their friends outside of school and they are not going to sit an do a worksheet.  Let them run it out and have some fun, if you are lucky enough they will get out all the wiggles before you start (I said if you are lucky).

I also took out business . . . that's what email and parent handouts are for.  Odds are that 75% of what you tell the boys will not make it back to their parents anyway so why waste your time.  Give the parents a hand out or remind them to check email for upcoming events.

And finally I took out closing . . . kids finish projects at different times, some parents are at the meeting ready and others will pick them up late, and some days . . . you will just be wore out and ready to go!  I don't feel the need for a "closing ceremony" and never seem to have time anyway.

As for what goes in your meeting, try to double up on things.  Look at your requirements and see if maybe you can get a belt loop while doing these.  If one requirement is all paperwork and talking, partner it up with a physical up and running requirement.  Remember these are little boys and they are not going to sit still for an hour a listen to a history lesson, they get enough of that in school!

And when in doubt . . . ask!  You can Google, Bing, and all you want but sometimes another leader is the best resource.  Feel free to email you fellow pack leaders for help, especially those ahead of you - they have been there and done that! 

The council also offers help, monthly Round Tables are held the First Tuesday of the Month at Bellevue East.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Leader Blog - Dealing with Parents

It's Time!!

One month from now school will be back in session and we will start meeting again.  So I am going to blog on tips and advice for being an effective leader . . .

Your first obstacle is going to be parents (and for any parents reading this sorry in advance) . . . The boys are always ready and willing, they want to try new things, they want to go above and beyond, and they want to be your helpers and get the recognition.  Its getting the parent involved and physically there that is some times the problem. 

All parents have a lot going on and sometimes find it hard to get everything in (especially those of us with more then one child).  My advise is to work with them as much as you can without compromising the other boys and parents in the den.  Nothing causes problems faster then little Joey telling his mom that we have to change meetings for little Tommy.  Remember you are the leader and you need to stand behind whatever you decide, don't get bullied.

Meeting time is important but if there is a conflict in interest (the boy is in sports for a season) work with the parent.  They need to understand that worksheets or "homework" for the scout to do at home during whatever season maybe required so they can keep up.  HOWEVER, if they are going to miss every meeting all year long, it's time for the parent to make a choice and maybe we end up losing a scout.  But this leaves an opening for another boy who can be there and participate.

Outing and events are always a challenge.  Carpooling is a great compromise and any Scout from a Wolf Cub up to a Webelos can attend an event without a parent as long a two deep leadership is present.  Two adults (over the age of 21) for every 10 to 12 boys is acceptable.  Make sure you are clear on pick up and drop off details to avoid any confusion.

And finally getting parents involved or un-involved is a whole other situation.  There are three types of parents you are going to get . . .

1 - the un-involved parent, this is the parent who uses you as a babysitter.  They drop their son off and an hour later they wave at you from the door as they pick him up.  While this parent doesn't get "in the way" when you do need help for bigger projects, they are not there.  So how do you get these parents to help you?  You TELL them they need to be there.  Email or call them for a meeting reminder and blankly state, "all parents must attend"  You may come across bossy but you will get what you need and respect you deserve as the leader of their son's den.

2 - the over-involved parent, this is the parent that hoovers over you.  The stare you down in meetings and never hesitate to interrupt you when leading.  This is a difficult one to deal with, because you want them there, you want then involved, however you need to lead and at some point they need to back off and let go.  So what to do??  Best option here is to confront the parent one on one, without the scout present.  Just let them know that you need to be aloud to lead, if there are some personal issues that they happen to have with you then maybe they need to discuss it with the Cub Master.  Remember you are a volunteer and if at any time you have an issue with a parent that you don't feel comfortable with or can not control, there are other people to assist you.  Cub Master, Committee Chair, or even our council rep can help.

3 - the do-if-asked parent, these are your dream parents!  Luckily, 75% of scouting parents are this.  If you just ask for help they will be there for you.  Never be afraid to ask for help because a lot of time, they are waiting to help but just don't know where or what to do.

So there you go, words of wisdom from a leader entering into year four!