While helping a couple Cub Scout packs in my district with their rechartering this fall, we were trying to figure out how to juggle the few adult volunteers so that all the positions are filled. The Cubmaster doubles as the den leader for his son’s den (definitely not a recommended practice). They still needed an official den leader to satisfy the requirement to have at least one, so one of the den’s parents was “drafted” to be a DINO – Denleader In Name Only. The chartered organization representative doubled up as a committee member so there would be the minimum of three.
The other side of the coin seems to be Boy Scout troops that have an excessive number of adults on their charter. At least one troop in our district requires a parent from every family to register as an assistant Scoutmaster unless they’re on the committee (what they do with seventy-seven ASMs is a mystery to me), and another has parents of Scouts who have long since graduated college who are still registered as assistant Scoutmasters or members of the committee. These are not unique or isolated situations either.
I realize there’s nothing wrong with having enough adult help, but having way too many adults without specific responsibilities puts the youth-led nature of a Boy Scout troop in jeopardy. Even if they’re “trained”, well-meaning adults can lose perspective and meddle with the process, feeling that they need to get in there and do stuff, pushing boys out of the way in doing so. And a Cub pack whose parents don’t care enough about their sons to take on a simple task is one whose program is probably substandard and may be destined for failure.
So this begs the question: Why is it that Cub Scout packs, which are highly dependent on parental involvement, are so frequently starved for volunteers, while it seems like Boy Scout troops are overflowing with what, in many cases, are adult Boy Scouts who never grew up?
And it raises another question: How do we entice, encourage and enlist parents of Cub Scouts to help with even the simplest things that a pack needs to do? Where’s our Scouting “pixie dust”?
As a Commissioner, I’ve essentially gone back to the beginning after a decade-plus of troop involvement and am working closely with Cub Scout packs. Perhaps some of those excess adults that are milling around troops could likewise put their energy and Scouting knowledge to better use helping out a pack instead of tripping over Boy Scouts who are trying to learn how to run the troop themselves.
And for troops with lots of parents who want to be “Boy Scouts”, there’s the Unit Scouter Reserve registration for adults without a specific leadership assignment. They can even camp – but please, keep it at least a hundred yards away from any youth.