What is going on?

cancelledToday I had to cancel a Troop camping weekend due to a lack of adults.  This isn’t the first time this has happened to us this year.  Actually, we haven’t gone camping yet this year, and it’s the middle of June.  I don’t understand what’s going on.  I think one was due to expense, but the others – and here’s the kicker – have been due to a lack of adult help.  That’s right, it’s been just me willing to take the boys out and that just can’t happen under the BSA flag.  My wife is willing as well, but that is still a no-no for youth protection training.

So what’s going on?  I think part of it is that for the last 6 years, myself and one other registered adult went on everything.  There was never a worry about adult leadership at outings because her and I would always be there.  Well, now that’s changing.  I’m involved in baseball, and the other leader’s boys aren’t as active as they once were.  So now I’m seeing the results of having the ‘usual suspects’ take care of everything for so long.  And I have to say, I’m not impressed.

So now I have to think on how to fix this.  We have a mandatory Troop meeting on Monday to go over summer camp stuff, and I think since we’ll have everyone there it would be a good time to address this issue as well.  Question is, how do I address it without coming off like a jerk (I’m known to be more than a little rough around the edges and not worry too much about offending)?  Any suggestions you folks have would be appreciated.  I really am getting concerned that without more parental involvement, our unit might just fall apart due to a lack of outdoor programming – not because we don’t want to, but because we’re just unable to.

Chime in please, I could use some advice on how to handle this one.  Thanks all!

From the Northwoods of Minnesota, where the mosquitos can carry you away at dusk…



About Mayor Kyle P. Riel

Dad, Husband, Firefighter, Mayor, Blogger, Drummer, yadda, yadda, yadda. View all posts by Mayor Kyle P. Riel

16 responses to “What is going on?

  • Clarke Green

    Need to know more;
    Were Scouts signed up to go and you didn’t have two adults?
    Seems like that’s what happened but it’s hard to tell from the way this is written.

    • MNScoutmaster

      Yes we had boys signed up to go and we didn’t have two adults. Sorry if my wording wasn’t clear, I’ll re-read it and try to make it clearer.

      • Clarke Green

        How many weeks has the outing been planned in advance?
        I assume you had a commitment from a second adult and they backed out at the last moment (it is the day before the outing right?)

      • MNScoutmaster

        It was originally planned as a ‘long campout’ – 4 days starting on Thursday (today). We weren’t able to find any adults (including myself) that could get the time off of work and camp with the boys, so we shortened it down to just a typical weekend campout (Friday, Sat, Sunday). We never did have a second adult – and I put out the call earlier this week to try and get one more person to help out. Never heard a peep from anyone, so I had to call it off. And yes, today is the day before the outing was to take place.

      • MNScoutmaster

        The camp had originally been planned back in August of last year and put on our Troop calendar. So there shouldn’t have been any surprises there. The PLC decided last month to try and keep it the way they originally planned it even though we hadn’t gotten any adult commitments.

      • Clarke Green

        If you waited until this week to finalize a second adult to participate I’d say it is nobody’s fault but your own. That’s harsh, but with the info I have that’s what it looks like.

  • Phil

    Here is the way I’ve addressed this type of thing. You sit the parents down and ask them a couple of questions: “Who here is seeing value from Scouting in their son?”, “Who here cares about the success of their son?”, “Who here has helped out with a campout by being the second adult?”. Odds are you’ll get very few hands on the last one. Guilt them into it. Then you speak very much from the heart about how dedicated you are to all of their son’s and how you get great pleasure from being there to help them through Scouting. That’s when you say you can’t do it alone and you need some help. Tell them the boys are suffering and that you can only do so much on your own and you really need just a little bit of help. Ask who would be willing to go on just one campout or activity during the year. Just one, that’s all you need. I bet you’ll get the help you need.

    I run into the same issue with Troop meetings when my wife is off at a district meeting. The other parents just expect us to be there. Last week I sent everyone an e-mail saying I needed help, just one parent that could stay at the meeting. Turns out I got 3. They see my dedication and they are more often than not willing to help out if you put it out there that you need help because you can’t do it all yourself.

    Hope it works out. The only ones to suffer here are your Scouts. That’s just a down right shame. Scouts first, parent’s feelings second. That’s my motto. If it’s not for the Scouts then it’s not a priority. It may be important, but it’s not on the top of the list. My parents respect that.

    If I was closer I’d come help you out for the weekend. Let me know how it turns out.

    Scoutmaster Phil

  • John Dominik

    What Phil said – guilt. Maybe start with a slideshow of what they’re missing by not going. Finish by reminding them that if they don’t help out, the only people in their homes they’ll be disappointing are their own sons…

  • Dave Sauer

    I agree with a lot of what Phil says. The bottom line comes down to clear expectations – of the parents. I used to start it with the visitation that the Webelos made to the troop. We talked with the kids and parents and then had the troop leadership take the boys for an activity while I spoke with the parents about Boy Scouting. I very much stressed that I had accepted the role of leader, BUT that Boy Scouts was a family activity. I told them of what all the positives were of them being involved WITH their boys. I finished not by ASKING for their help, but letting them know that they would all be expected to help in some way and that they would never look back and wish they’d not spent so much quality time with their sons.

  • Margi Christofferson

    I think a lot of the issues have already been covered. One additional option is to look outside your own Troop for help. Perhaps invite another smaller unit to join you. They likely have similar issues and this could be a win/win situation.

  • Nvoyageur

    I love the movie “Stand and Deliver”… in their the hero of the movie says “students (people) will rise to the level of expectation.”

    I’ll confess I’m no expert, but I’ve found great success in telling parents early on they must participate in some area of scouting.

    At the beginning of the year, tell the parents they must sign up for at least one outing / camping trip. You’ll of course get the tired old saying of “But I work…..” To which I say “GREAT!!!! You’ll fit right in… we all work and have other things going on.”

    Expect them to volunteer… and don’t forget to step on a few toes while you’re at it 😉

  • Scoutsigns

    We used to have this problem, especially when our troop was smaller.

    Last summer, our PLC put together the troop plan for the coming year’s campouts.

    I immediately emailed out the list of activities and dates to all of our dads and advised that we needed to get volunteers NOW to make sure we had the adult coverage we needed. I was clear that each commitment was theirs to make and it would include use of a vehicle to help transport Scouts and gear.

    As dads volunteered, I emailed the updated list with their name next to the event as “Second Adult” so everyone would know who was on the hook. It allowed Dads to make commitments and get them on their families calendars, or arrange an afternoon off from work months in advance.

    We only had one issue with it this year, when a dad that was committed (and has helped often in the past) was under threat of immediate deployment overseas, so we found another.

    This was much better than the “we’re going camping in 2 weeks, who can come?” approach we had used in previous years.

    I posted our annual plan yesterday from the annual planning session by the troop, so it is time to email my dads again.

  • Bryan Spellman

    Maybe I missed it but where does it say your wife cannot be the 2nd? The 1st has to be trained and registered. The second can be anyone, even an 18 year old aged out Scout…

    Did I miss something in training?

    Sorry it went that way. Blunt to the parents is the way to go. Parents need to get trained, help transport and be a 2nd for any Scout Troop to be successful.

    • MNScoutmaster

      You know Bryan, you have a point. I don’t know where in my Scouting path that I thought it wasn’t allowed. I think I’ve been told it’s not encouraged, but if we’re in a pinch, we may just do that. Thanks for that reminder!

    • Phil

      Ya, I missed that too in the original post. In our Troop I’m the Scoutmaster and the key second adult in the Troop is my wife. She’s the one that goes on 90% of the events with me. We’ll both be headed off to Summer Camp next week as the only two adults. Now, with that said she’s also fully trained as a Scoutmaster and has taken every possible on-line and in-person training with me. We recommend every adult that travels with us to be at least Youth Protection trained. I know it’s not required but we’ve yet to have an adult question it. They see the value in it.

      With that said, we do encourage other adults to come on campouts, but often it does end up being the two of us.

  • Larry Geiger

    Hi MNScoutmaster

    It’s June and you haven’t camped all year? You don’t really have a Scout Troop. No one is advancing because they cannot complete their requirements. That’s a real problem.

    “Dad, Husband and Scouter. Scoutmaster, Boy Scout Roundtable Commissioner and Cub Scout Dad”? This probably needs to become “Dad, Husband and Scouter. Scoutmaster”

    Did your PLC put together an annual plan in May of 2010?

    Did your Troop’s committee approve the PLC’s annual plan back in August 2010? Does your committee understand what that means?

    Where are your Assistant Scoutmasters? Have they been trained? Do they understand what their responsibilities are?

    Where are you meeting with your adults? Get everyone you can find and get a big table down at the local BBQ place and pound this out. Pig out and put the hammer down.

    I started out in 1987 with one other guy. We camped once and backpacked once together. I thought to myself, this isn’t working. So I started talking to the dads as they came and went from the meetings. Before the next campout I started talking about where were going and what we were going to eat. I brought all of the food and fixed breakfast and dinner on Saturday. A couple of guys showed up. Each campout it grew a little.

    Then one Saturday one of the adults asked if he could help with meals on the next campout. I said, “Sure!”. Since then (1988) I have rarely cooked on a campout. I just bring goodies. You need to find a hook. Something to catch your folks and get them behind you. Inspire them. I don’t know what that means for you.

    I am assuming that if you can go camping with just two adults, then you have a pretty small group. If your troop is consistently running at about patrol size, maybe you should think about merging with another troop.

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