Relationships: Who are our friends?
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy
Looking ahead to next fall or even sooner to when packs recruit most of their new members, I think we should do something to prepare. Most you will recruit from a nearby elementary school because that’s where the boys are.
I’m going to talk mostly about schools here, but a lot of it will apply to wherever you recruit: a church, service club, neighborhood association or other group. Wherever you recruit, there is an administration that has its own mission, its own problems, and the power to either hinder or help you. The more effective your people become at building cooperative bonds with them, the better.
How will the people at the school react to your recruiting efforts? Will they welcome you, give you access and encouragement or will they throw up all sorts of legal and physical roadblocks to make your job more difficult or even impossible?
Now there is lot that your Scout Council can, and probably is, doing to cement good relations with school boards. I have talked to council leaders in New Jersey, Florida, and Oregon who have made great strides in establishing good communications with their educational counterparts, especially those in large metropolitan school districts.
However there is a limit to what councils can do. The administrators of smaller school districts and the individual elementary schools often look upon the BSA as another outside group that is trying to get their foot in the door.
On the other hand, the school board members, superintendents, principals, and teachers are sensitive to the concerns of parents and others who live within their boundaries. These are the people that the administrators serve and the administrators pay attention.
School boards and school administrators listen to members of their districts. It’s important that Cub Scout people speak up and that the schools know who we are.
School boards have policies regarding outside groups but “the principal is large and in charge.” Several parents talking to a principal is very powerful, especially if they about how Scouting helps educate the whole child.
BSA –School Access pamphlet 3/11/04
One of the messages to send to schools is that we stand for ethical behavior and character building. Our ideals: giving good will, helping people, doing ones best, must be the picture in their minds when they think of Cub Scouts. We should always portray our dedication to the Core Values and Character Connections at every opportunity. We stand for education and ethical behavior.
The Cub Scout purposes and ideals are excellent character guidelines for any group, organization or individual. School for Champions™
It certainly helps if our boys – Tigers through Webelos – act that way. Every leader and parent should be aware of how important it is that our Cub Scouts do their best to follow the Promise and Law of the Pack, especially at school.
Help other people
Schools often need volunteer help. I live near an elementary school and have, on occasion, been a volunteer there. While in the school we volunteers wore special ID badges with full names on them. Looking at the array of badges one day I was struck by how many names of volunteer workers were ones I recognized from the neighborhood Cub Pack. The principal, the teachers, and especially the school secretary were all aware of that and responded accordingly.
Make it a policy of your pack to learn how your boys and their parents can help your school and then do it.
One of Cub Scouting’s strengths is our ability to communicate with parents. Most packs I know of are much better at getting the word out than most of the schools I have visited. We get together with parents more often and usually have better tools at our disposal. When your school needs help in a hurry, they should immediately look to the pack for help. We help other people.
There are many ways for Cub Scout people to get involved with our schools. Are there parents who are members of the local school organizations like the PTA, PTO etc or have links to the school Site Committee or Advisory Committee? You may even have a member of the local School Board in your pack. Use these associations to find ways to communicate and build rapport and cooperative ventures with the school. We are allies and share many of their concerns. Yes we may differ on a few methods but we mostly share the same aims and convictions. Concentrate on how we can participate and cooperate.
Your school or school district may have a strategic plan. If so, get a copy, study it, and think: how can we help them achieve their goals.
We are good at recognizing people. It’s always a good idea to recognize and reward those who help. Something simple like a Scout mug or even a quick Thank You note to a teacher or administrator will be appreciated and help build a relationship. Good will starts by such acts.
I heard that people in the Jersey Shore Council would present each school secretary with a candy bowl shaped like an apple and decorated with the Scout logo. The topper was that they then regularly made sure that the bowl was refilled. Teachers, the principal, everyone came to know where they could get Scout candy. Not so good for us carb-counters perhaps but great PR.
So what does your pack and your dens do for your school secretary?
Bill told me he had a lot of help on this article from several Scout Execs across the country. He and I do hope that district and pack people take up the challenge. We can not afford to lose school access. CD
Remember for your new leaders – Fast Start training and Youth Protection training is available on-line -
Fast Start traininghttp://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/faststart/
Youth Protection Onlinehttp://www.scouting.org/pubs/ypt/ypt.jsp