Re: Parental help, getting it.
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Mon, 23 Sep 1996 14:26:22 -0600
One thing we have found effective is to have parent's meetings when the
Scout first joins the unit and then periodically thereafter. Current
parents try to become "mentors" for new parents and help them become part
of the group. It is often very revealing when you talk to new parents in
a one on one situation, as to how they perceive the troop and how it
affects them. Many stated that before attending the parent's meetings
that "things looked like they
were being run very smoothly, and no one acted like they needed our
help.." or "We felt uncomfortable trying to get involved because when we
came, no one talked to us or made us feel welcome or needed."
biggest failure of all is often just not asking parents specifically and
individually to be a part of the organization. Often, just giving them a
variety of opportunities to be involved goes a long way in persuading them
to be a part of the group. Avoid "open-ended" committments, because
parents are busy and have other obligations as well. If you can give them
specific job descriptions with a realistic assessment of how much time it
will take to do, they are very likely to buy into it, and your needs will
be easily met.
Current committee members and assistant scoutmasters can be given the task
of recruiting their own assistants and/or future replacements. If the
advancement chair selects an assistant, the understanding can be that in a
year or so the assistant will become the chair, and will have the "tools"
and experience to easily assume the job when the time comes without
"missing a beat."
Much of the problem in recruiting parents is just education and
communication, and most of all giving them realistic expectations of what
the Troop needs them to do. At our parent meetings, we try not only to
educate them in general on how they can help, but we do resource surveys
to find out who has expertise on certain topics such as merit badge
counseling, who has specialized vehicles such as four wheel drive,
trucks/pickups, trailers, etc. We also have them come to "icebreaker"
events such as an "ice cream social" where they get together with the
Scouts and play softball, volleyball, frisbee, or whatever, and get to
know each other and the troop. Once you develop this esprit de corps with
the parents and make them feel welcome and needed, you probably will have
a ready made assistant Scoutmaster staff, and troop committee with lots of
Sounds like in your situation you will need to cultivate a "core group" to
start the recruiting process for other parents. If you can find
a good "executive assistant Scoutmaster" to help you recruit other ASM's,
and a good Troop Committee membership chair, to recruit committee members
and develop resource lists, you will be off to a great start.
Most of all be sure to convey to the parents how important their
participation is; whether it is just driving to and from campouts, helping
sew neckerchiefs, build equipment, raise money, serve as merit badge
counselors, whatever. Tie their involvement directly to the success and
positive experience their son(s) will have (or not have if they don't
Remind them that Scouting is FUN and they can have one of the most
rewarding experiences of their lives by being a part of the unit with
their son(s) and enjoying those very special moments right up through the
special time that they pin the Eagle Scout Badge on their very own Scout.
Only as a last resort, should you have to resort to coercion. But if
that's what it takes, all other persuasive efforts notwithstanding, so be
There are still the occasional (fortunately rare) parents who will find an
excuse not to
participate under any circumstances, so they may be the ones that you have
to remind that if their "son joins the troop, so do they" and there is a
"firm expectation of support in some capacity." This is
done for soccer, band, football, and many other youth groups, and it is
not unreasonable for Scout troops to have similar requirements.
Try to be merciful and understanding too, because some parents or in
particular single parents have a tough time making committments outside of
working and taking care of the family. If there is something meaningful
that they can be given to do which is within their ability and time
constraints, they probably will be happy to contribute.
The bottom line of course, is that if you don't succeed with a few "hard
case" parents, it is still not appropriate to deny Scouting for their son,
because it may very well be that their son needs it more perhaps than
others whose parents are contributing. Sometimes exceptions have to be
made, for the good of the youth.
Bob Amick, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72, Boulder, CO
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City