Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: Newbie Cubmaster Intro & Plea For Advice
Re: Newbie Cubmaster Intro & Plea For Advice
Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:54:33 -0600
I really feel for your situation. Two years ago, I accepted the
post of Committee Chair for our pack. I took the training, listened to
what the people were saying, and immediately I saw several things that
I wanted to change. And it was (and is) hard - there are always people
that say "we've always done it this way", or "that'll never work". But
there is hope.
By the time I read your post, several people had already
responded to each of your points, so I'm not going over them, other
than to say that I think you are right - those things would
be good to change. The trick is, how do you go about it? Here are
a few things I've learned the past few years (if I'd known then...),
and I hope you find them helpful.
First, get at least *some* support. As Cubmaster, you should
be in a position to simply order "we're doing it this way". I would
urge you not to try it - you will be left doing it that way by
yourself. You need to get at least some support other than yourself.
You don't necessarily need to get everyone supporting you - there are
very few things you can get an entire group of people to agree on. But
if you can get at least one den leader to help, that's a den that can
do a song at the pack meeting. Or one committee member or parent that
agrees with a summer program - that person can run one event. Instead
of assigning dens to do things, get dens to volunteer - even if they
don't all volunteer, you may get some that will.
Use change as response to problems. This is a way to get some
support out of people that would normally oppose change. I've noticed
that some of the worst people that say "that won't work", "don't do
that", also grumble about everything else: "The awards were awful at
Blue ang Gold", "I hate doing the raffle", whatever. For those people,
instead of starting from the position that it would be great to do it
this way, you can ask: what were the problems? Then, use your ideas
as solutions to the problems. "Oh, does everyone else think that the
Blue and Gold is realllly long with all the awards? Can we move some
of them to the previous pack meeting - say, just the Bobcats?" (More
on this below).
Address issues. Don't take "this hasn't worked" or "this won't
work" as an answer, but be aware that there may be real issues there.
Someone else posted about a Regatta, and people that said it would not
work, but it turned out they had only tried it indoors. So you could
address that issue, and suggest trying it outdoors. [At the risk of
being rude - well, duh! Sorry.] But if you get people to bring out
the reasons behind their statements, you can find out real issues and
correct them; you get more support because people know you are
listening to them; and at the very least, you can counter their
objections with reasons like, "We've never had an outdoor regatta before,
so we can't claim this hasn't worked before."
Change things slowly. Now, slowly is a relative term, and for
some people, any change is too fast, and you can't do anything about
that. But don't try to change everything all at once - concentrate on
one or two changes that you can put your time and energy into, and leave
other things the same. This gradual change will make people that don't
like change more comfortable, and you won't have everyone leaving you.
It also helps with the support you need - there may not be a single
person that agrees with all the changes you want to make, so you may
have no support if you change them all at once; but you may find several
supporters for change A. Then next month, different supporters to help
with change B.
Prioritize. Since you should change only a few things at a time,
decide which ones are more important to the boys, and to you. Balance
this against which will meet with the most resistance, and choose your
targets wisely. It may be that you can't make all the changes you want
this year. On the other hand, in a year, some of the leaders will have
graduated with their sons or moved, you'll recruit new ones in the fall
or as needed, and they'll be fresh from training. Even the people that
don't like change will, 6 months after the change is implemented, be
treating the new way as "the way we've always done it", and will now
be supporters. From there, you are ready for a few more changes.
Work on things you can control. The ranks at the Blue and Gold,
while they bother me personally the most, may not be the one you can
most easily affect. But as CM, you can just add a run-on or song to
a pack meeting anytime you want. (Note on songs - you say you weren't
certain of the response. But once you get used to them, and there are
2 and 3 the pack has heard a few times - everyone will be joining in,
and will start asking for them.) If you can get one den who will help,
and no others, ask them to come up with a song or skit and give them
the spotlight of honor at the pack meeting one month. You may be
surprised at how fast kids and parents come up and ask "Hey, why doesn't
our den get a chance to do that?" And you reply, "You can."
Finally, in spite of what I said in the first paragraph about
needing some support, you don't need perfect support on everything.
(Which is good - you won't get it.) At some point, you have to borrow
from Nike and "just do it". This month you just do a run on between
yourself and your ACM. Next month, your son's den is up doing a skit.
The month after that, den's may start signing up. Or take the summer
program - it may be that you just have to run one summer event yourself,
and find someone to do a second one, and just say "OK, we're doing
these - without help if necessary." [Once you've got two, dangle the
old summertime award ribbons from your pack flag that you say you have,
and say, "You know, if we just had one more summer event, we could
I do wish you luck. I'm changing next month from CC to CM, as
our current CM retires and we have a new CC, so I'll be facing a new
set of challenges even as you are - I'd like to hear how you are doing.
If you found even one sentence useful here, then I'll feel that my
time wasn't wasted in typing the rest.
Oh yes, about your cubmaster's line: "If you run
the pack by the book, you won't have a pack anymore." Well, he's wrong,
he's right, and he's wrong again. I know several packs that run by
the book that do just fine, so he's wrong. That said, he's right that
you should not be ruled by suggestions and guidelines in the book (as
opposed to policies) if it doesn't work for your pack - every area is
different. But on the gripping hand, he's wrong again if he's using
that as an excuse to never change - you should change if it is right
for the boys.
YIS, Neal Smith, CC, Pack 1105, email@example.com
Tatanka District: "http://www.bsa.net/samhouston/tatanka/"
Sam Houston Area Council, Houston, Tx