The other night at our weekly Troop meeting we did something really out of the ordinary.  The Scouts did their thing.. that was normal.. but we held a parent meeting and then Parent break outs for the Scouts going to Philmont, and the Scouts going to Summer Camp.  Out of the ordinary in that we dedicated the entire evening to the Parents.
I feel that we do a pretty good job communicating, but with the move to the new church (meeting place) and the high pay off events just around the corner, it was a great time to get all the parents in one room together and talk about some of the issues that are currently being addressed by the Troop.
I did most of the talking.. duh… but I thought it was important for me to personally communicate certain topics to the parents.
Some of the things I talked about was the fact that all of a sudden the Scouts are getting a bit “relaxed” in their uniforming.  Many of the younger Scouts are deciding for themselves that the uniform is not important while the Troop does feel it is important.  The PLC addressed this issue a month ago and was having a hard time getting some Scouts motivated to comply with the Troop uniform policy (as outlined by the PLC).  So I explained why the uniform was important to our team to the parents and asked for their help in getting little Tommy Tenderfoot to wear his uniform.
We also talked about bang for your Scouting buck.. simply put the dues are not pro rated based on your attendance.. so you should attend everything and get the most out of your Scouting dollar.
Now, I know that asking to be at everything is unrealistic, but in recent months we have seen a drop in our attendance for camp outs.  Some of the younger Scouts have had ‘other plans’ on some of the fun camp out weekends and then I hear them complain that the guys that went on the camp out got lots of stuff signed off in their books, while they did not.
The point to the parents was this; if you participate you will get a lot out of Scouting.  If you Scout ala cart.. you don’t get the full meal.  You get out of Scouting exactly what you put into it.
I was challenged by a parent saying I should do a better job encouraging the boys to go.  And I do.. but I won’t beg a Scout and I certainly won’t beg a parent.  They all have a calendar, they all know when we meet, they all know a year in advance when the camp outs are.  Part of Scouting’s lesson is self-reliance.  If Scouting is not that important to the Scout and/or their family, well then they simply will miss out.  I have said it many times.  I want them all to attend.. but at the end of the day, I would rather have 15 Scouts that are motivated and having fun then 45 that I have to drag along fighting their attitude.  Is that to say that I give up on them.. certainly not.. But once again, I asked the parents to be excited about Scouting and encourage their boy to hit the trail with us instead of staying home.
So I will continue to encourage.. but not beg.|
This subject of participation led to me telling the parents that our Scouts have a ton of potential.  Some of the older Scouts have expressed that I have been “riding them”.  And yes, I suppose that is true, but then again, I guess it depends on how you define “Riding”.  You see, I see lots of potential in these Scouts, in particular the current leaders of the Troop.  Yep, I said potential… not performance.  They have the necessary skills, tools, and knowledge.  What they lack is want to.
So when they say I am riding them what it really means is that expect a lot out of them and will not settle for them being lazy, I will not settle for them to not do their job, and I will not settle for them to set this example to the younger Scouts.
Now it should be clear.  I never belittle them, I never yell at them, I never make them feel like they are failing.  I just stay on them and expect them to perform their position of responsibility.
Does it get old for them?  Sure does.  Do they do well when pushed? Sure do.  So I define “riding” this way…
I am extracting performance from their potential.
Once they start performing it becomes a habit and then they are moving the troop along with a full head of steam.
They get it.  They just need a gentle push from time to time.
I felt the need to communicate this stuff to our parents.  They have a big influence on the participation level, the attitude level, and the support that we as Scout leaders get from the Scouts and Scouting families.
Coming out of the meeting I felt that the parents were once again on our team.  They were encouraged with our program, and they all gave me a great feeling of support.
I closed by expressing my love for Scouting and the Scouts in our Troop.  They will all be developed, protected, and loved in our Troop.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

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