Jump to content

Menu

Scout parents: I need your thoughts


Recommended Posts

My boys are seven and scouts is a new thing for us.

 

Our den hasn't been that active, but yesterday the pack had a neat day where the kids could go and earn five belt loops by the end of the long day. We were all pretty excited.

 

The parents who were teaching were somewhat ho-hum, but some really put their heart into their classes.

 

Here's the problem: several of the boys -- aged 7, 8, 9 -- were really out of control. Some were just over the top silly, but a few were way beyond silly and were acting very rude.

 

My husband tried to deal with one child that the teaching parent couldn't get in control and the boy snarled at dh and said, "my dad coordinated this event and he'll throw you out of here."

 

Another boy was saying something along the lines of, "shut your pie hole." (Not to dh, to another child.) While another kids was using the word a#@.

 

The last class of the day was really good; the teacher did a fantastic job -- prior to it dh and I were seriously questioning staying in scouting.

 

Here's my question: for the most part, the older kids 9 and up seemed a lot better then the 8 year olds. Is it true that when the kids get to be in the 4th grade (Webelos) that they start acting w/ better character etc.?

 

Thanks for any input,

 

Alley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can't say as a whole - but I know that in most packs by the 4th grade the boys who stay in Scouts usually want to be there - and therefore tend to be better behaved. A lot of the younger scouts are there because their parents want them to try it.

That being said - bad parenting doesn't stop at the 4th grade.

When I was CubMaster, The only way to survive was to be very firm - to the point of a few of those boys (and their parents) thinking I was mean.

You and your DH should not hesitate to appraoch a scout's parent and den leader in situations such as those. I have personally marched boys across campgrounds for that reason :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

NO, I don't think that's normal. My husband is a Cubmaster and I've been a den leader for years. First of all, an adult leader needs to immediately put a stop to that kind of behavior. I wish your dh would've immediately responded to the rude boy and told him very firmly that he wouldn't tolerate being talked to like that.

 

We've found that sometimes the older boys are more trouble than the younger boys. They may have chosen to be there, but they also feel more comfortable in the group. We like to frequently point out when the boys are or are not acting like Scouts, especially if we can use something from the promise or law.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with mom2scouts - we've been in Scouts since ds was a Wolf, he's now inches away from Life (the rank before Eagle). Yes, we've seen kids who behave horribly, though this does tend (for the most part) to fade by Webelo. At times though, it's just a sign of a) bad parenting and/or b) poor leadership.

 

There's no reason to tolerate it though - it's definitely against BSA standards, and you have the right to call them out on it. If a kid talks back to you or bullies another kid, march them over to the CubMaster or other leader immediately. It should be taken care of asap.

 

If it's not, I would say to sit down with that CubMaster and tell him what you see, and why it's not acceptable. We have had to leave a Troop for similar reasons, but we gave the leaders time to remedy the situation. When they chose not to...well, we found a Troop that fit our family's needs. That's ok, too. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, my friend was a cubscout leader for a year, took the boys to camp, and promptly quit scouts and pulled her son from it after her truly horrendous camp experience. From what she told me, the type of behavior you described is pretty standard -- at least around here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just wanted to jump in and encourage you!! We are in our first full year of Cub Scouts (we started in the spring last year). So far it's been a great experience - but I am (like you sound) very involved. I'm now a co-den leader as well as having volunteered at camp last summer.

 

I have also attended a Belt Loop Day and I can agree with a lot of what you saw. I visited a different (larger) town to attend the event and see how it was done in an effort to import the idea here. I also saw apatheic "teachers" and a lot of poor behavior. I think run well the Belt Loop Day can be productive and fun - otherwise it's just a sign off machine with no real teaching. I think we both saw some of the latter. That's a bummer.

 

What I can say though - is what we both saw is NOT the case in every pack. In our small town there are 3 packs - each with different personalities. Our den is VERY active, but not showy or obsessed with getting awards. There's lots of great, down-home, not-so-flashy but enthusiastic and capable leadership. We picked our pack based on the leadership and the recommendations of the local Eagle Scouts we know (they gave a great perspective!). I still felt the need to volunteer and I am glad that I have. It's been great for both me and my son. I will say that I am still saddened/annoyed/etc. by some of the behavior I see at my den meetings and while I am slowly making progress with my den - I can't parent each boy, (especially when their parents are watching and tolerating the behavior).

 

I would encourage you to look around at other packs. Attend a meeting. Meet some leaders. Look at what they have planned. Check out what awards the boys are wearing. Observe the tone. I think a Pack meeting is a great way to see what's going on - but also look at the den and the specific leadership your son would be working with. I hope you find a great den - scouts is a great organization and there are a lot of really dedicated volunteers our there who want your family to have a great experience.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're in our 7th year of scouting and I've been a leader on just about every level from Tigers to Troop. Unfortunately, the type of behavior you're describing isn't unheard of. I have had to tell scouts to get off the roofs of sheds in facilities we were using for meetings (that didn't belong to our charter org even), to stop running in the meeting area and to stop throwing things.

 

There are a couple things that I've noticed. The kids are bored and the parents/leaders are distracted or not taking action.

 

I wonder if part of the problem was that the kids weren't being kept busy and engaged.

 

However that doesn't excuse the snotty type responses. That is where the leaders need to be trained and be willing to step in to correct inappropriate behavior AND the parents need to step in and control their kids if they are just in a general milling about situation (like before or between activities).

 

Not every pack is created equally. Some have better leaders and more involved families than others. You are allowed and even encouraged to find the best fit and allowed and even encouraged to volunteer as an adult leader to help the pack go.

 

One more, sort of tangental thought.

 

I'm not sure that a belt loop day is really a good activity for a pack. I think that it is easy for this to head down the road of feeling like an extra day of school. It's great when a pack can have an outdoor fun day or family campout and also complete a belt loop or two. But five in one day? It seems like this is in fact longer than the attention span of many cub scouts. I think it is one of those things that seems like a great idea at first glance but doesn't take into account the developmental abilities of the scouts.

 

BTW, the comment from the scout about his dad throwing someone out sounds like the sort of comment that would mortify the father if he knew. And he should have quickly been informed (either that his son needed a break or that there was "a scout" who was giving one of the scheduled instructors a hard time). If it didn't bother him, then it is time to start looking for a different pack.

 

(One more aside, I often find that the older cub scouts are the most likely to get into trouble, because they are less excited, less in awe of the leaders and being less challenged. If you're seeing 4th and 5th graders who are serving as role models for behavior, that is a good sign.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sure appreciate everyone's feedback. My next question is: how do I search out a new den without . . . I don't know. . . bringing a lot of attention to ourselves?

 

We're so new to this that I don't know the proper protocol.

 

Thanks again,

 

Alley

 

Honestly? You just go ahead and quietly do it. If you're uncomfortable with any confrontation from the current Pack, you can mention something about your son visiting with a friend and really enjoying it.

 

This will likely clue the leaders into the fact that something is wrong - and give them a chance to fix it. I know with the Troop that my son left, it was kind of a touchy situation - there was bullying and hazing going on (definitely NOT BSA approved behavior) and we just allowed ds to visit other troops instead of going to his Troop meeting. When he found the one he wanted, he joined. When the leaders of the old Troop questioned, we told them that he found a new Troop that fit his needs better. End of story.

 

I've now been told that they've cleaned house of the behaviors that caused us to leave...too bad they weren't willing to do that when we went to them and informed them that ds was being physically bullied, multiple times. They lost several good Scouting families because they weren't willing to look further into the matter.

 

It wasn't a fun situation, but ds is now in a terrific Troop and loving Scouts. He's learning, advancing, and having a blast - because he's with leadership that knows how to run a great Scouting program.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I sure appreciate everyone's feedback. My next question is: how do I search out a new den without . . . I don't know. . . bringing a lot of attention to ourselves?

 

We're so new to this that I don't know the proper protocol.

 

Thanks again,

 

Alley

 

I would find out when the Packs meet (I think most are Monday nights at 6ish) and then while you or DH attends your normal meetings with your son, I would send the other parent to recon. You and your DH will make the decision - so you guys (not the kids) should research the options. It's also easier on the kids that way. All the leaders are parents too - so they will understand why you are there. I would let the leaders know you are there to see if the Pack might be a good fit for your boys - and leave it at that. If you find a Pack you like - check out a Den and a Pack meeting. Den level is great for what the boys will do weekly and who their peer groups is - and a Pack meeting shows you what leadership is like. [i will highly recommend you not mention specifics as to why you are leaving your Pack or complain about the leadership, as all the scout leaders know each other and train together and you'd hate for anyone to be hurt by what you say.]

 

I will also add that training to become a leader and volunteering with Scouts is a great way to positively impact your kid's experience in Cub Scouting. It's really easy to train - and actually very fun. I felt that we were at a point last year where we needed to either find a new Pack or I had to step up (DH schedule does not allow him to participate consistently enough.) I am really glad that I volunteered. The other Den Leader and I now co-lead and it's really a great thing for the Den. I can tell the kids are better behaved (I'm meaner than him!) and just having some extra, consistent help has really made our den a lot better. Even if you go through the training (it's only 1 day) and help as an assistant Den Leader - you can help contain the crowds and exercise more direction over the boys than just as a parent on the sidelines. Obviously the Pack in your area can use some involved parents like you guys - so please consider leadership!

Edited by Kayaking Mom
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Definitely ask around or call the person in charge of your area.

 

We are new as well- just starting this year. My ds8 LOVES his pack and we have enjoyed every meeting. It is smaller with 9 boys, but it is also a homeschool pack. :) We meet Wednesdays 1-3pm.

 

That may be another option you can ask about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, thank you so much for sharing all this with me. Both dh and I are reading this thread!

 

But -- and I hate to sound dumb -- I don't even know how to find a new pack. I sort of stumbled into this one b/c another homeschool mom recommended it.

 

Do I call scouts HQ? Where is that?

 

Alley

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you want to get information about other Packs, there should be a Council office somewhere in your area. You should be able to find it in a phone book or Google search. Your uniforms probably have a big patch on the sleeve that says XXX Council, so you should know the name. Call them and tell them where you are located, tell them your present Pack doesn't seem to be a good fit and ask about other Packs in the area. They would much rather have you transfer to another Pack than lose your family in Scouting. We've had two boys transfer into our Pack because the other group had inexperienced leadership and the boys were losing interest.

 

I agree with the person who said that "belt loop days" aren't really a great idea. I know Boy Scouts do merit badge challenges, but they are older and it's better suited to that age. My son is a Wolf and already has a full belt full of belt loops. It's so easy to incorporate them into regular FUN activities that I can't imagine why you need to make classes for them. Our Pack went bowling and before they bowled they talked about courtesy and how to choose a ball. They were able to meet the belt loop requirements. We had a weekend camping trip that added the requirements for hiking by including a hike to a waterfall. A musician parent taught the boys to make a simple instrument, showed them how to play it, taught them some songs and then had them lead a Pack meeting song. They earned the music belt loop. This is probably a better way to work on belt loops.

 

I also agree that becoming a leader is a great way to ensure your son has a good experience. My husband and I took major leadership roles in our Pack because our son watched his brothers in Scouts and spent years counting the days until he could be a Scout. We knew that = the Pack at the school he attended at the time was declining and we wanted him to have a good experience. We try to make sure we give the boys what they were promised when they signed up: FUN! We make sure the boys have opportunities for camping, BB shooting, active games, Pinewood Derby, building things and other fun things that aren't like just like going to school.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, thank you so much for sharing all this with me. Both dh and I are reading this thread!

 

But -- and I hate to sound dumb -- I don't even know how to find a new pack. I sort of stumbled into this one b/c another homeschool mom recommended it.

 

Do I call scouts HQ? Where is that?

 

Alley

 

Try the Cub Scout Pack Finder. This lets you put in your zip code and get a listing of lots of packs in the area. [scouting.org is down at the moment. I'll try to come back and link to the pack finder. It should be at beascout.scouting.org Another option is to go to your council website and see if they have a pack locator there. Or you can email the council, tell them where you live and ask for the District Executive to send you a list of packs in your neighborhood.]

 

When we move, I will try this with a couple different zip codes (where we live, our church, maybe where dh works). I put all the results into a document, then delete the packs that are chartered by any groups that are a bad fit for us (For example a pack chartered by a school PTA will probably be closely linked to that school and might be less welcoming of homeschoolers than a pack with kids in a couple different schools).

 

By the way, it is even easier to get trained than it used to be. All the initial training is now online at scouting.org (click volunteer, then training and follow links to the elearning section. You will need to create a site registration to do the training, but don't have to be a registered adult leader with a unit.) This training is great to help you know what an ideal pack would look like. It may be that you need to shift packs. It might also be that your current pack is hitting a rocky patch. Many packs do. There is a frequent rotation of leaders as people move or kids get older and the most experienced family moves with their scouts to a Boy Scout Troop.

 

And sadly, sometimes leaders just get burnout because they are holding multiple jobs in the pack and have a lot of families who don't seem interested in helping out, but who are quick with criticism. (Not a slam against you, just an observation that the loudest complainers are also the quickest to dodge helping plan and put on a pack event or lead a den because they are too busy. I have one Boy Scout parent who will sit in the room while everyone else is planning events, add his two cents, but just laugh and say "I don't think so" when anyone asks him to help with something.)

 

One of the best ways to help your son have a great time in scouts is to get involved and help the pack function, whether you end up shifting packs or not. Not only can you help steer the pack along the best pack, but sons of active leaders are more aware of cool scouting opportunities. It will also give you the standing to tell scouts that they need to behave in more scoutlike ways.

 

Update: I added the link for the Cub Scout Pack finder. This same link can be used to find Boy Scout Troops or Venturing Crews for older youth.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...