A Cautionary School Night Tale (long!)
Lawrence Faust (lfaust@ATLANTIC.NET)
Sun, 24 Aug 1997 20:56:20 -0400
Excuse the venting, folks, but I just gotta get something off my chest that
I've finally calmed down enough to type about. I submit this as a cautionary
Our well-planned, well-organized School Night was an almost unmitigated
disaster!!! For months, myself & our Pack had been planning this event,
gleaning tips & hints from all sources (including this virtual RT). We had
printed up a 4-fold brochure for parents, explaining the Cub program and our
Pack's implementation of it. We had 2 tables set up for each grade/rank, we
had our exhibits set up, we had my homemade Miner's tent pitched outside
(made from the original 1911 BSA plans & mighty impressive if I do say so my
own self), our companion troop was going to be there for "boy control", we
made up information packs (with youth & adult applications) for all
interested boys & parents, we had our Pinewood Derby Track set up & 7 cars
for the boys to race with.
We went to our RT the week before our School Night, expecting a thorough
"training". I even drove 4 of our committee members there to "learn the
ropes". IMHO, it was not very useful. As we were to have the very first
School Night in our District (Wed. 8/20- the 2nd day of school!), we
received a stack of flyers for distribution (on which were printed the basic
fee for just BSA membership ONLY- with & without Boy's Life.) Our Pack,
however, planned to present new scouts w/their books, neckerchiefs, CSPs, &
unit numerals in an induction ceremony at the next pack meeting. These
items, although figured into the Pack fees & listed on our brochure, were
NOT reflected on the Council's flyer. Our committee chose to go with the
brochures instead of the council's one page flyer.
We got the brochures to the school 1st thing Monday morning- at Open House-
3 days before the event. To my wife's recollection, nobody from council was
there doing "the pump-up".
Tuesday came & went, and my son didn't bring anything home re: School Night.
I got nervous, and on the morning of the event, I called the school asking
if we had provided enough brochures. I was told that we had and that they
were going into the teacher's mailboxes THAT DAY. Groan!
That evening, we got there an hour early & set up. Only ONE boy from our
companion troop showed up; both the SM & ASM were unexplained no shows as
well (to his credit, he happily agreed to take on the task of "boy control"
by his lonesome; I had packed 100' ft. of heavy rope for tug o' war or
whatever). The DE & another council officer showed a bit later & commented
favorably about our planning, organization, and our brochure. I found out
that the DE &/or the other council official had done "the rally" (visiting
each class in uniform) only on that day. The third, fourth, & fifth grade
students still haven't gotten their brochures.
Due to the fact that the school neglected to get the brochures out (they
DID however manage to get the local youth sports flyers out), leaving
interested parents/boys with mere hours to rearrange busy schedules to
attend, approximately 8-10 parents/boys showed up. Each got and appreciated
the information packs we had made. The boys ALL gravitated to the Derby
track as planned and contented themselves with racing our cars.
The presentation was made by the other council official, NOT the DE who did
some limited greeting duty. With all due respects to that other council
official, several parents commented on the "dryness" of the presentation. We
made a brief presentation about the pack, after the boys went outside with
the Scout (DE & council official hanging by the door and a parent outside to
supervise). We answered all questions to the best of our ability. We got
SEVERAL favorable comments about the reasonableness of our Pack fee ("that's
all?")- despite it being approx. 2X what Council put on their flyer.
Expecting some protest from single parents, we were even willing to explore
payment in full over 2 months.
We got THREE paid members- 2 Tigers and a Wolf- with 2 more promising to
attend our next Pack meeting to "see what we're really like". I was so
stunned by the light turn-out that I can't recall if any parents signed up.
To his credit, our DE has given my phone number to all people who have
called him expressing regret at missing our School Night- I've gotten 3 more
Main morals of this cautionary tale- 1) Make REAL sure the school gets
those flyers out on time. I fully appreciate that at the first few days,
school personnel are pretty darn busy doing other things- but still they
apparently had time to pass out the youth sports stuff. 2) Have a meeting
with your DE about one week before the event to coordinate a smooth
"division of labor" leading up to & during the event. 3) If you arrange for
a Troop to show up to do a task, put a ring in the SM's nose and make sure
both he/she and the troop shows.
With a view toward recovering from this disaster, the DE and the other
council official recommended that we do another School Night- which they
agreed to coordinate with the School. The DE's dance card, however, is
rather full, so he can not attend the event (i.e.: we're on our own) At our
last committee meeting, however, we decided to hold a "Sign-Up" Night on one
of our regular meeting nights/times at our CO. All dens would meet there
that night as well, so that the boys would be able to work with their
appropriate group on an activity/project that they can finish and take home
that night while we talk with the parents. We would create flyers & do the
flyer thing again- this time with 1.5 weeks of lead time. My wife even
volunteered to stuff them in the teacher's boxes if the school wants/needs.
OK. I feel better now. We might still be able to "make chicken salad out
of chicken s#!*". Regardless, we must move on and put together the best darn
Cub Scout program for our boys that we know how to.
Scouting is a way of life,
Cub Scout Pack 303
Gulf Ridge Council
(visit us at http://rio.atlantic.net/~lfaust/pack303/index.html)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City