Maximizing your child’s scouting experience
Through the years I have done just about everything related to scouting. I have been a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Eagle Scout growing up. As an adult I have been a den leader, cub master, and adult helper with my kids. The one thing I have always noticed is the kids that stick with it and succeed in scouting typically have parents that are involved all the way. The boys that have parents who just drop them off and pick them up usually were less likely to advance and usually they would drop out.
I have always seen scouting as a family affair. And as a dad I felt it was my obligation to help out and be involved any way I could. Whether it was volunteering to help during a fund raiser or if it was to step up and become a leader. Here are some ways you can maximize your child’s scouting experience so that they get all the benefits that scouts have to offer.
Just show up
This one sounds simple but it is the step I see most people miss. I understand that some parents have other obligations. But for those that do have obligations see if the meeting times/dates can be changed. Maybe you always have to work on Tuesday nights and that is when your den meets. Ask the den leader if you can meet on Mondays every other week. Sometimes it may work out for all the adults if the time/date was changed. Have an open dialog with your den leader if the time/date doesn’t work for you.
And when you are there, be there. That doesn’t mean you show up and stand around and look at your phone or talk to other parents about all of the things in life that are not scouts. Be present and pay attention. With the younger kids sometimes they don’t have a long attention span, so make sure your child is on target and paying attention. There is nothing more frustrating than having one kid distract the others and you lose your whole meeting just trying to keep them all under control. Make sure your kid is not “the” kid.
Make sure your scout is prepared
The scout motto is “Be prepared”. But we are talking kids here. And sometimes they forget stuff and sometimes they are most definitely not prepared. If they have a camping trip make sure to check all of their packing list. As a kid it never felt good to forget something. Thankfully my dad was always with me and would remember to bring whatever it is I forgot. Even though it was my responsibility he was there to pick up the slack. We want them to get it right the first time, but they will make mistakes and forget things. So just double check whatever it is they need and make sure they show up prepared.
Praise them when ranks/awards are given
One of the greatest things as human beings is we appreciate praise. And even more we appreciate when we get stuff. And in scouts there is no shortage in stuff to be given. Belt loops, badges, beads, or whatever they receive they all are special to the kids. And if you don’t make a big deal out of them then they won’t care much to get those rewards. There are lots of ideas to promote the badges and patches they are awarded so they can proudly show them off.
Help out the leaders
This is where I am at right now. With my two older boys I did the leader thing. I volunteered to be a registered leader and eventually I ran the entire pack when asked as a Cub Master. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy doing that it’s just that now I want to be a scout dad and not a scout leader who occasionally gets to be a scout dad.
But since I have the experience, I know what it is to be a leader and beg for help. Instead of them having to beg I usually step up and ask “Where can I help?”. You will probably get asked to be a leader but if that is not where you feel comfortable then simply say no. And sometimes you don’t need to ask where the help is needed. Just look around and see the need and fill it.
Leaders always need help with subject matter experts for certain requirements. If you have some unique skills such as woodworking, or first aid then volunteer to help teach those requirements. Most of the time the leaders can fill in or find outside help but having a parent teach the requirements is so much easier.
Become a leader
For new scout parents this can be scary. Especially if you have never been involved in scouts. But if you have experience with being a coach or are a manager at your workplace then being a leader will suit you well. The training to become a registered leader is minimal and you will have to attend a few extra meetings but with the right amount of help being a leader will be a breeze. And with the two deep leadership requirements all packs/troops can use extra leadership.
And being a leader doesn’t mean giving up all of your time. Sometimes they just need an additional registered leader to meet number requirements for two deep leadership. Maybe just start as a assistant den leader and let everyone know up front that your time is limited. Or maybe volunteer to be a committee member and you can give input on things that happen within the pack or troop.
Your child’s scouting experience can be greatly maximized if you put in the time and effort. You just have to prioritize their time in scouting and what you want them to get out of it. I know I enjoyed it tremendously but both my parents were involved since I was a young age. Have any more tips to maximize your child’s scouting experience? Leave us a comment or let us know on our Facebook page.
Having 2 young girls I don’t think I’ll end up helping with scouts, however, everything you said rings so true! I want to be there through their experiences and praise them for all their achievements
I love this! My son is a bear scout 🐻 currently and these are all great ideas. Scouting teaches them many life skills and this is very informative for anyone who wants to learn about it.
There is so much to be said for being present. I agree. Fun article.
This is something That I would love for my son to participate in! I think the scouts are a wonderful program! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on parent participation!
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