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Guidance needed for a scout/parent

In our den, we currently have 7 kids. We have an “issue” with one of our parents (new parent came in last year) regarding working with the den. The child has special needs and their only extracurricular activity is Scouts. The parent does all of the adventures with their scout alone and not with the den. At this point, the scout has already completed all of the requirements for their rank and is expecting their scout to be awarded their rank at the October meeting. They did the same thing last year as well. We’ve spoken with the parent multiple times and strongly suggested that part of being in the den/pack is for their child to work with their den mates together on these adventures but nothings changed.

The problem that’s arising is many of the parents are not happy because this parent expects their child to be rewarded all of his belt loops/etc at each pack meeting (understandably so). The other kids in the den are becoming seriously demotivated when they see the scout go up and get 6 belt loops while they get 1 (we have 1 den meeting a month). It’s getting to the point where the parents are talking about leaving the pack because of it. Another parent and I ended up taking over running the den because the den meetings were not productive or fun for our scouts anymore.

We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place here unfortunately. I get the desire to have their scout rewarded immediately but at the same time, we have 6 kids talking to their parents about not wanting to do scouts anymore. Plus there are other parents who aren’t happy with it as well (outside the den). My scout asks me why does he have to go to the den meeting because we can sit down one weekend and knockout all of the requirements.

The situation reminds me of Spock’s line " Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Any guidance or suggestions would be appreciated.

You can hold a ceremony apart from the den and award the belt loops and patch to the child by themselves. After the child earns their award do they stop attending den meetings? Missing the point isn’t? The Key 3 in your den can determine that your pack cannot meet this child’s needs and your local council can find the boy a new pack to keep harmony with everybody else. We have similar situations in our pack, but nobody complains. The boy who does occasionally show up for a meeting after he earned his patch will still have to work on what the den is working on. It doesn’t hurt to do the requirements twice.

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I see this 2 ways:

Yes the parent needs to understand the importance of the Patrol (Group) Method

But if all the other parents are saying why is he getting awards; maybe they should step up and do things at home too?

Also maybe that parent of the achieving Scout needs to be Den Leader to slow them down some???

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This cracked me up. In all seriousness, at least see if you can get them to onboard as an ADL for next year. It sounds like they’re really excited about the program, and it might allow y’all to cover more stuff faster overall.

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Thanks for all the feedback! I’ll definitely pass it on to our parents.

@DonovanMcNeil : As for the parents stepping up, we structure our program to last through the whole school year. This lets the scouts earn their rank as well as get 3-4 additional electives in. Earning their rank badge in October is a little bit too much though, isn’t it?

The parent did take over den leadership for a few months but they did not listen to any of the other parents in the den. They were holding den meetings twice a month and even then, they were doing additional adventures in between by themselves. The other parents stated multiple times that they prefer having den meetings once a month and they want to pace it out over the school year but they were ignored unfortunately :confused: The other parent’s kid’s have other activities on top of scouts.

One suggestion I had from another parent was to look into the lone wolf program. There’s a lot of information I’m leaving out in order to maintain the parent/scout’s anonymity but they were asked to leave another pack before coming to ours. We don’t know why but we suspect it was because of this.

@JeffreyMiller : last year, after they earned their rank, they completely stopped coming to den meetings. They kept working on electives by themselves.

This is a live and let live situation. Clearly the parent desires to work the program intensely with their scout. As long as the scout seems to be a willing participant, that’s a good thing. All you have to do is make sure the scout is welcome in the den when present.
The other scouts and parents can stop being jealous starting today. They are providing rich and diverse environments for their healthy and active children to grow. It’s okay if some scouts make rank quickly and others slowly or not at all.
In fact, ask the quickly advancing scout what his/her favorite activity was. Ask him if he/she would like to do it again with the den. Schedule that activity. Encourage him/her to keep trying new electives and letting you know which ones would be fun for the den to try.

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Excellent info! I’ll share it with the parents.

I guess what it comes down to is 2 things:

There is the ideal way a pack should work and then there’s the reality of how packs work. People aren’t machines unfortunately and do what they do based on how they feel.

I will be providing the comments people have provided here to our parents. In our situation, at this moment, I have 6-7 scouts/parents that are threatening to leave the Pack because of this one parent. It’s not just the zealousness of completing adventures. It’s also how this parent interacts with the rest of the parents. They have a tendency to bully/browbeat everyone else till they get what they want. We charge an annual program fee which includes the money to pay for the belt loops/pins for the adventures needed to achieve a scout’s rank. The parent wasn’t happy about that and insisted that the pack pay for all of the extra adventures. The parent went above and beyond for our bridging in August and offered to take care of (monetarily) extra expenses for stuff provided to our scouts. Since then, they’ve asked for reimbursement for those items which our pack hadn’t budgeted for.

Other incidents include the scout almost assaulting a parent at our pinewood derby because their car didn’t win. This happened when the parent tried to stop the scout from stomping on the track because they lost. When the scout reared back to hit the parent, the scout’s parent came running up screaming “don’t touch my child.” I understand the scout has special needs but the scout’s parent never apologized in anyway which completely alienated that particular parent.

Basically, like I said before, I’m between a rock and a hard place. I get what everyones saying but at the same time, we’ve got parents that have been part of this pack for over 10 years (multiple kids). I don’t want them to leave because of this one new parent.

Again, sorry for the ambiguity but I want to be sure to protect everyone’s privacy

TIA!

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Often parents of scouts with disabilities have their own issues. There’s a necessary disconnect with normal society just to get through the day. Integration with other parents is a low priority for them. But we need to firmly tell them that’s not how we are going to work. We’re going to do our best to welcome, but that will put some obligations on you.

Parents often say “the pack should pay.” Great idea! We are the pack. Give us the coin, and we’ll pay.
The parent made unauthorized expenditures. Tough life lesson. Expect to pay for things not approved.
You all are a team, so the parent needs to talk to other parents about what to do when the child has episodes. Allowing the child to be violent is not an option. Learning to help find a safe place to vent emotions is.

Parents don’t disappear when they leave a pack. They are still part of your community. So figuring out how to make things work is important.

Finally your council might have a volunteer who works with scouts with disabilities. It may be worth your while to give them a call.

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I don’t think I caught what your role is in the den or pack?

I’m the committee chair and I have a child in the den.

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In that case, I agree with much of what is said above. Parents of special needs kids often are at a loss for how to handle their own kid. So, some grace is warranted. That said, the youth needs to be prevented from destroying property or harming others.

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Here’s my thoughts so far (BTW again, thank you everyone for your advice!)

I’m thinking of sitting down with the parent at our next Pack meeting and tell them this:

“I’d like to try something. Let Bob (other parent) and I run the den meetings. I’d like you to concentrate on your scout and help him participate with the rest of our den. We want to be sure he gets the full scouting experience as well as getting to work with his den buddies.”

There are a lot of electives that he hasn’t completed (yet). I can pick one of the fun electives and plan it for the next den meeting.

thoughts?

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@GautamSood,

Reading what you have posted there are a number of things that pop out to as issues that should be addressed different ways.

One aspect sounds quite a bit like you have a Parent who wants to change the way the Den and Pack work to cater to their Scout. This is not that uncommon a problem, and while it does require an increase in the level of effort an attention applied by the Committee, your Pack will be the better for the steps taken in the long run. It is important to clarify the Pack’s budget and what is paid for by the Pack vs the Family. There should always be language about reimbursement requiring prior expense approval for the dollar amount and purpose with a Committee vote on anything above a CM/CC discretionary amount of $25-50. It is possible to say the Pack will cover only the rank required belt loops and “x” electives in your bylaws but it needs to be formally written in, clearly communicated (and adding an explanation that the Pack wants to keep individual costs down to what is being planned for the year would be a good add on if this is done), and then applied to everyone exactly the same. What the Pack does and does not cover should be written up formally (Pack covers X recognition items, costs for Y event, family responsible for Uniform, Pack/Den dues of X, fees for all events other than previously mentioned, etc) I personally feel that Packs should budget in for Scouts to earn all the advancement available, but our Pack did clarify that we cover all rank related recognition and Pack/Den scheduled award/event patches but not additional activity patches.

The next thing I see from what you have written sadly looks like the Parents being interested in a program that is the least amount of effort for them to have their Child go through the motions earning rank. (I would be happy to be wrong!) Meeting twice a month is more normal than unusual in my experience, and in line with the program structure. One idea here would be to have the first meeting be an advancement activity and the second be an elective activity. I am not a gambler, but I would bet that if you run engaged meetings the Scouts will want to go to both (which is part of the point). Yes you need the parents involved, but it’s for the Youth. Are any of the competing activities only once or twice a month? How are they going to deal with the Troop level where meetings are weekly plus weekend activities? With the other Scouts not wanting to participate due to seeing someone else doing more sounds like in part them not getting the program they want. There is nothing at all wrong scheduling what will be done in the Den, and actively promoting the rest to be done individually. I have always tried to focus on providing opportunities for all the rank requirements before Christmas, but there are always things that come up with some individuals missing things, and others who go to Camp knock everything out early. A Den active over the summer can easily earn rank in Sept/Oct and focus on electives and awards (anyone doing NOVA awards? Hit me up if you are interested in help with them) Remember that we are Facilitators and gate openers rather than gate keepers, if the Scouts are engaged well with abundant opportunity there is less to look at in what others are doing/getting.

The discipline is a tougher one, and is likely to require more leader attention unfortunately. Policies need to be clear but supportive and consistently applied to all Scouts. Policies of a Parent being with their Scout as they run their derby car may be appropriate to prevent problems as an example. (I have seen excited Scouts dance and trip plenty of times…)

One program question for you; How many of your Scouts have earned the Outdoor Activity award? (This year is much harder with the pandemic of course) If it’s not a decent number adding some focus on it may help your Pack. It’s one of the items that is kind of like the JTE metrics; units that work well tend to hit them without trying and units that work less well and strive to hit them become well functioning units.

This got long in a hurry…

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I’ll refer you to the Guide To Advancement:

Mechanics of Advancement in Cub Scouting

4.1.0.3 Who Approves Cub Scout Advancement? (Boldface and italics added for emphasis)

For Lion through Bear ranks, if the activity is completed outside of the den meeting, the parent, adult partner, or another trusted adult may sign in the Cub Scout’s handbook, indicating the Cub Scout has done their best to complete the requirement.”

4.1.0.4 “Do Your Best

"A Cub Scout who has completed advancement should be congratulated immediately and publicly. And though badges of rank should be reserved for the next pack meeting, it is best to present items such as belt loops and pins soon after they have been earned. If it is possible for the pack to report and purchase these awards quickly, they could be presented at a den meeting, rather than waiting for a pack meeting. If presented at den meetings, the accompanying pocket certificates can be used in a ceremony at a subsequent pack meeting—or vice versa with the pocket certificates at a den meeting. However this is done, it is important to note that advancement is an individual process, not dependent on the work or progress of others. Awards should not be withheld for group recognition. Likewise, a youth should not be presented with recognition that was not earned simply to avoid anyone “feeling left out.”

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Well that did not go well. The scout in question was not getting one of the awards because it was not entered into TroopTrack before our advancement chair runs their report/shopping list. The parent went ballistic and ended up chewing me out (via text) calling me a liar and that I was out to keep their scout from progressing in Scouts and oppressing them. They also said they’re removing their scout from the den and that I am to have 0 contact with their scout at pack meetings or events.

Frankly, the mental instability frightens me. I’m not sure how the scout can remain in the pack if they’re not going to be in a den. Honestly, I really don’t have the time for this level of craziness. We’re all volunteers here. I’m not sure what to do but I did call for an emergency committee meeting and provided the screenshots of the conversation to the whole committee.

sigh

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As chair you should educate yourself on advancement, awards and recognition. Then, educate your leaders and the pack as a whole.

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I would get your Unit Commissioner or District Executive involved. It sounds like this has escalated to the point where the Council needs to be part of the discussions.

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I agree and I know the BSA policy. In this particular case, the parent gets upset if their scout isn’t awarded at the pack meeting despite not having reported their scout’s completion of the adventures to the den leaders by the pack’s deadline. At our planning meeting, we set a policy that Trooptrack needs to be updated by the Sunday night of the week of the pack meeting. The advancement chair runs her advancement report and generates her shopping list Monday morning.

@edavignon: That’s excellent advice and I’ll definitely do that. I’m not gonna rush through anything because my priority is to ensure the scout get’s the best possible scouting experience whether it’s with us or another pack. Step 1, I want to meet with the committee to answer any questions anyone might have regarding the conversation. Our COR will be there as well and I’d like to hear his input.

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That’s a good idea. I would just invite your unit commissioner to that committee meeting so they can hear all the details at the same time.

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Wow. That is a tough situation. I would absolutely get your DE involved right away, and also advise all of the Packs leadership to maintain 2 deep or better communication with this parent.

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