A Doozie of a Situational Question
Settummanque, the blackeagle (WALTOML@WKUVX1.BITNET)
Wed, 29 Sep 1993 01:18:14 CDT
Let's see if I can post this without going overquota AND keeping it
down to about six screens!
The past month, I have been working with a Troop in a nearby county.
The county name don't matter, nor the number, so I won't mention
either. I will mention the fact that there are two Troops and one
Pack in this county, which is a small, mostly rural county except for
the county seat.
During the Roundtable meeting last month, our DE told us of his plans
to conduct School Rallies and Nights in the schools (in our Council,
the DE, and NOT the volunteers, do the School Rallies; the School
Nights are negotated between the chartered partner and the unit
leaders and for the most part, are NOT held at local schools unless
the school is the chartered partner. Don't ask me why this lame mess
goes on...I've YET to get a calendar of Council events from the DE,
and it was THREE MONTHS ago I've asked for this!). He didn't make any
plans to visit the schools in this county, so I asked him if I could
do it instead. "I don't care who does it. I don't have the time and
last year it wasn't productive for me to do it" he said.
So before Jessiann got me to the car, the Scoutmaster, Margeret, asked
me if I would come to their open house and talk. "Of course!", I said.
There *was* a problem...I remembered that Aaron (my youngest) had to
have tubes placed in his ears and the adnoids taken out that morning.
That wasn't the problem. Nor was the long wait to have it done or the
longer drive back across the state (after leaving here at 3:30am!).
Jess finally conked out and asked to stay home, and I let her. I
changed, called down to the church to let them know that I was running
a little (15 minutes) late, but I *would* be there; only to get
Margeret on the extension phone telling me between the tears that
"nobody showed up...I don't want to waste your time".
I went anyways. See, this didn't add up. Margeret is NOT a new
Scouter...she served as Scoutmaster for this Troop for three years
before now, she has attended Woodbadge and is working her ticket
faithfully; she is also a Girl Scout leader and a member of the Rotary
Club in town; and her husband, oldest son, and one other man had held
this Troop together for all of this time.....it's just that the boys
got "too old" for Scouting and left the Troop.
She advertised the meeting in the local paper (I was reminded of the
meeting that way), in a free paper that went to the residents of the
county and city, over the cable access channel (those annoying text
messages that scroll every four or five minutes). In short, she did
everything except hire a sky-writer to get parents to bring their kids
to the church in the center of the town (real convieent place to
meet...the church is the ONLY yellow-painted one in the county!).
So, between eating the multitude of food that was prepared for
twenty-thirty people, we made a plan of how we would do the next
meeting, which we would bill as an "opne house" meeting. The two boys
that were left (her youngest, a Eagle candidate, and another boy)
would make posters for the elementary school; the church would place a
item in their bulletin asking for boys to join and telling about the
open house, and I would use my "marker" there and ask the
Superintendent of the school system (whom used to be Superindendent of
a school system where I'd worked as a Paraprofessional at....and he
used to be "Mr. Scouting" in that County!) to allow me to talk with
his school's fifth and sixth graders the day of the event (in two
weeks). Margeret kept in touch, asking for advice on how to handle
questions about registration, about the Boys Life things (she didn't
want to "push" the magazine, but our DE *wants* all Boys to have it)
and how to re-word the ads to go on the cable.
I had talked with the Superintendent and of course, he not only gave
me permission, but also called ahead to the Principals of the schools
telling them I would be there on Monday morning.
[now let me stop here and explain something. When I go to a school to
do a Scouting Rally or a School Night, I get a very warm response.
From the kids, whom really get excited from a man telling them about
Scouting (with most emphasis on the "final outcome" of Scouting and
less on the "way to get there" --we've talked about that before here).
And from the parents, because the kids are so worked up about this
strange "Boy Scout man" that came to their school to talk with THEM
and wanting to meet THEIR FAMILIES, that the parents come more out of
curiousity to see what it was that got their kid so worked up than out
of coming about Scouting! So, it was not unusual that after doing a
day at a school, that in the evening, we have to move from a small
room to a larger one because of the turnout. As I wrote before, the
key is NOT to offer "pie-in-the-sky promises, "camping every time you
turn around", "trips to mountains" , etc...the key is capturing their
attention (I used my Eagle Scout presentation kit for that!) and
telling them that Scouting is hard work that's fun....and having those
that are Scouts to put the "finishing touches" on it for me. ]
So on Monday morning, I show up at the school and make my way around
nine classrooms in one building, and another eight classrooms at the
other building (they are in the process of building a brand new school
which would combine the two older buildings two miles from each other
into one large school facility). The enthusiam level was extremely
high...in one case, the class wanted me to stay through gym!! The
girls as well as the boys were interested in what I had to say and
even the teachers took their turn looking at the mystical Eagle Badge
and medal in the black box.
So, I thought to myself as I drove from there to work, we would have
no problem with getting fourteen boys to show up with a parent out of
over three hundred kids in the two schools.
We arrived early and there was nobody at the church. It was cool, so
Jess and I stayed in the car with the heater on waiting for Margeret
to come. Finally, fifteen minutes before the "Open House", she
arrives and tells me not to expect much. I assured her that "we'll get
a good turnout this time".
We got a good turnout. Four boys showed up, three of which filled out
applications and gave monies to become Scouts in this Troop. We stayed
there for an hour and a half, because there were some kids that asked
if they can come after football practice (they have fifth and sixth
graders playing school football in this county). Four boys from a
pool of about 175. Even with the other Troop in town (which was NOT
meeting this night...they meet on Tuesdays), even with the other
factors (there are about 100 black families in the county, which makes
about only 40-60 black kids in the schools; this was a city school, I
didn't go out to the two county schools), there *should* have been
10-15 boys show up for this first meeting.
And Margeret, after the meeting, cooly states that "this is the way it
has been since '91. We could have burned the Church down, and still
nobody would have showed up to see it." She and the other woman, the
mother of the other Scout in the Troop presently, blames it on the
kids in the county...having "nothing to do", they run around in cars
and get drunk and high (the county is wet) and go to Bowling Green and
to Nashville (both about 30 miles from the county).
I don't buy into that. Nobody can tell me that in a county of 9000,
there's only 55 boys that are interested in Scouting (the 12 boys in
the other Troop; the two in the Troop I'm trying to help; and the rest
are in Cub Scouting...they have NO Explorer Posts). It don't sound
right. Margeret was p.o'ed at the Church, as well...they didn't place
*any* information about the open house meeting in their bulletin and
nothing was mentioned of it during church. (The Methodist Church has
over 25 years of tenure riding on this Troop...but their Scouting
Coordinator (Chartered Organizational Representative) is more
interested in the Church choir and the youth program of the Church
than the Troop.)
I asked Margeret if our DE had come to visit with the Scouting
Coordinator and asked for their help. She practially spat at that
mention and told me about *last year's* fiasco. The DE came down and
took all of the boys out of the school and set up a flint and steel
demostration in front of the school. She said it lasted all of about
three minutes before all of the boys started doing what boys do
best...run and jump and hit and bump and play! He never did get their
attention back, and they had to get teachers to round them all up and
get them back into the school.
But, in thanking me, she stated that "it was four more than what she'd
expected", so I should feel good about that.
But I didn't, and I'm asking the great electronic Roundtable for
suggestions on what to do next. Here are the things that we CANNOT do
(and the reasoning thereof). I *really* need your help..it's bad
enough that I feel very embarassed at the entire situation!
They CANNOT meet in the school (everything that they do as far as
recruiting, has to be done at the chartered partner's location per the
Council). Nor can they put paid ads (Jessiann asked why not and I
told her that the Troop has no money. She told me that "You would.
You would do it out of your own pocket. What's wrong with her doing
the same thing if it's going to bring in more Scouts?" She has a
point...I *did* pay for lots of things out of my own pockets). They
have used up, I feel, all of their "good will" with free ads (and the
paper don't have a column of "community activities" that normally
would run meeting announcements for free); but they probably could try
it one more time. And don't even tell me to consider merging the two
Troops...it was a difference of opinion between the Church, the
leaders of the new Troop and Margeret (too complicated to go into in
this posting...it was a mess, from what I understand of it though!)
that got them split up...and the Church will NOT entertain merging!
So what did I leave out, gang?? What can I do to help her to keep
their charter and to get at least eleven more boys to join before
November (and yes, I know that all it takes is five; five Scouts is
too small to make the Patrol system work and besides, they want to go
to the Camporee, and our silly Council's rules are that Troops of at
least ten boys can attend. Troops smaller than that have to go with
Thanks for your help, your advice, and your discussion. As usual,
I'll summarize it all at the end. And please, I really feel bad about
letting this woman and her Troop down...the more ideas, the better so
that at least in a week and a half, I can show her that at least I'd
tried to come up with different angles to getting the kids and their
parents interested in joining!
Mike L. Walton
( Settummanque, the blackeagle... ) )
( (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (among other "endearing" names) ( )
( AIS/MR Recreation/Leisure Specialist, Lifeskills Inc. ___)_ )
( Phone 502-782-7992 (home) 502-842-2274 (office) |-=-|] )
( 3201-D Cave Springs Avenue -- Greenwood, KY 42104-4439 -------- )
( WALTOML@WKUVX1 / "No such thing as strong coffee, only weak people" )
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Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City