Re: Role & Responsibilities of Parents at Campouts
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Thu, 8 Aug 1996 18:13:10 -0600
This is always a problem if you don't educate the parents up front about
what their role and responsibility should be prior to attending a camp. We
often have parent orientation meetings, especially for new parents of new
scouts to be sure they understand how they "fit in" and what is needed and
expected of them. It is usually highly effective if you convey those
needs prior to their participation in a campout or activity.
Most parents will resort to their own knowledge/data base on appropriate
behavior at such an event if they are not otherwise educated about what
they are expected to do/not do. You certainly cannot fault them for
wanting to avoid responsibility for other parent's children if they are
not clearly informed as to their authority/responsibility in a unit
One of the biggest oversights I have seen in getting new parents involved
in unit activities and events is simply making them feel welcome, needed,
and helping them to become involved. Comments received from some
"less than perfect" experiences with new parents include:
" I felt like an outsider, and I was afraid to 'step on someone's toes' if
I started doing something, not knowing if it was appropriate or not."
"It seemed like there was a group of leaders who knew what they were doing
and my involvement did not seem to be encouraged or welcomed."
If the membership chair of the Troop Committee can help find jobs for new
parents, especially starting them out with little tasks, and letting them
"warm up" to larger and more responsible involvement, they "grow" into
very useful and productive members of the unit committee or Scoutmaster's
Staff. Some of the finest leaders and committee members have been
"cultivated" in this way, and were not "scared off" or overwhelmed by the
magnitude of an assignment in the unit. Another good approach is to
establish an "apprentice" or chair-elect program where a key officer
recruits an apprentice to learn their job and
then when the apprentice feels comfortable, moves into the key office.
This makes transitions much more "transparent" and assures continuity.
The classic mistake of the "old hands" seems to be forgetting their roles
as "teachers" for the new folks who should be warmly welcomed into the
"fold" to keep the continuity of the unit intact.
Having a set of troop bylaws which include "standing rules/guidelines" for
such orientation will help keep the "traditions of the Unit" intact when
leadership changes and save "reinventing the wheel" when similar problems
arise for future troop committees and leaders. Probably the biggest error
I have seen in the continuity of unit traditions over the years is the
loss of such wisdom through lack of documentation. Word of mouth doesn't
always work, especially if the person with the store of knowledge leaves
suddenly/unexpectedly, or just doesn't remember to pass on critical
It is really a good idea to develop a unit information packet for all new
parents/scouts to receive when they join the troop which outlines
policies, procedures, bylaws/standing rules, and gives a good "executive
summary" of what the unit philosophy is. Having a good "vision" and
"mission" statement in these documents really helps set the tone for what
the unit is about and what it hopes to achieve for the present and for a
number of years down the road. Those units that do strategic planning are
frequently the most successful because they see the "big" picture of where
they want their Scouts to be from start to finish. The inclusion of
"superactivities/high adventure experiences" such as jamborees, high
adventure bases, major trips to other states/countries are all part of
"mountain top" growth experiences which will make a unit "outstanding"
versus mediocre. Scouting's "product" is development of youth with the
"tools" and inspiration to be leaders and outstanding citizens of the
future. So use every possible method to accomplish this lofty "vision"
with the greatest degree of success.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City