To be annoyed at cub 'leader'

(132 Posts)
goodgrief54 Sat 07-Dec-13 10:02:56

My son started at cubs in April and to say it is a shambles is an understatement. They do not do anything I would expect and instead play dodgeball for 90 percent of the time. They have started to work towards badges but then don't finish them, he hasn't had a single badge the whole time of being there.. we have not paid a penny either as despite repeatedly asking they are not organised enough to know how to sort this out. I know that the leader gives up time to be there but doesn't plan anything at all and spends the first ten minutes eating her dinner when she arrives. I thought you had to have some sort of training to be a cub leader and am surprised that this can even be called cubs. my son likes going as all his friends go but am I being unreasonable to complain and risk it being closed down all together??

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 08-Dec-13 16:23:43

There is a management structure there but it is only possible for the management to work with the volunteers they have at their disposal and the time commitments they can offer. For example FatOwl mentioned additional training, at the moment my commitment to training is limited by doing an MA course which eats up all my spare time so someone in my position would not be able to offer additional time for the likes of that. As a guiding 'manager' that might be frustrating but unlike employment you cannot offer incentives/rewards or make demands to insist that volunteers give additional time.

You sound like a committed type of person feeling based on your commitment to your own job but from my experience you need to know what you can offer in voluntary organisations and no matter how unreasonable others expectations you prioritise your commitments in the manner that is realistic for you to be true to all your conflicting roles in life in my case mother, teacher, student, and last on the list of my priorities leader.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sun 08-Dec-13 12:31:49

neunun This is true it does not fit the analogy and in those circumstnce peole need to be gratefule for what they get provided. Is there not management further up the organnisation that can help with recruitment, they shouldnt be left to struggle.

Just as a note teacher do take on extras all the time and do not get paid, they seldom get thanked specifically. I have took on GCSE classes in year 11 beause someone else messe up had to do what I could - I did end up taking over the department and running it much more effectively.

All said and done I am pleased to be being counted in a way that I can manage to do.

oldmacdonaldscow Sun 08-Dec-13 11:59:46

I am glad that I've been able to help festive to break down the door. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies, I'm afraid, asking for the wrong sort of help from the wrong people.

The watchword in Scouting in the last couple of years has been "flexible volunteering" - give what you can, when you can.

It's a concept we should have been communicating years ago and unfortunately it will take time to sink in. Until then there will be too many units where one or two people do pretty much everything. And that is when standards can slip.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 08-Dec-13 11:35:08

Fruit bowl what is that :-) our favourites are splat, they simply cannot get enough, wink murder and set the table. There absolute favourite one is Farmer which we cannot play very often thanks to the carpet burns that can result :-).

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 08-Dec-13 11:30:10

Btw what about the example given above feeling where a unit is being badly run by a leader from another unit holding the fort trying to get another leader to take over by someone who is holding down a full time job. No one comes forward. That is probably the most common type of badly run unit I have seen over the years. That definitely does not fit with the teacher analogy they would never take on a second class. Anyway I have to stop because it does appear that I am defending ineffective leadership here which I actually do not in the real world but the reasons for it are often though not always, down to a lack of civic participation.

DwellsUndertheSink Sun 08-Dec-13 11:29:36

I was a beaver leader for many, many years. Had a fabulous very popular colony, did wildly exciting new things every week, lots of outings and badges galore.

One week, I organised an exciting (and expensive) activity - kids arrived plus a brother. The parents felt that the sibling (who was not a beaver) should be able to participate, and when I said no, they kicked up a fuss. For the next year, they refused to talk to me. Not even a "Good evening" or a "Thank you" - I was good enough to look after their child for over an hour every week, plus go on camp and take care of their older child, but they refused to talk to me. WOuld pointedly turn their backs and speak to another leader, even if I was organising something they wanted to attend.

AFter a year of being ignored, I left the organisation - not the only reason, but a huge contributing factor.

Another was a whinging parent complaining that there was no Beavers that week as she had something to do...well that's because I went to see my own child's nativity play. Shocking huh.

We even got to the point of charging parents a nominal fee for events because we got tired of no-shows on events that had cost us money - like panto or days out, when we are stood waiting for kids who have said they are coming - only for parents to decide they couldnt be bothered. AMazing how, having paid a fiver for a £20 activity, the parents all wanted little jonnie to attend.

Because there are many that know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Parents, please do not think that its only a couple of hours a week. I believe that to run my colony effectively, I needed 8-10 hours a week of preparation, admin, training, shopping etc. Plus fundraising activities. If you are doing it on your own, it takes over your life and there will be times when the Scout group has to take second place to important stuff - like sick children.

Not to mention setting up the hall at the beginning of the evening, and cleaning up the hall after everyone had left. That was me, with 3 kids of my own. Staying in a cold, isolated building for 30 minutes hoovering up all the crap all over the floor and washing up cups. WHile my own toddler and 6 year old cried with tiredness wanting to go home. Eating their cold dinner out of a plastic box because there was no time to eat before getting to the hut to set up.

And for this? I can count, in 7 years, a mere 3 Christmas cards.

Value your leaders, lest they decide to walk away.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Sun 08-Dec-13 11:28:33

Mary Z I have to admit none of the units I go to are especially child led and for this reason. The brownies especially are too young to come up with constructive ideas and with large packs there are a couple who will shout the loudest to get their way. We would spend every week playing Fruit Bowl ( which I HATE) and then they'd complain we hadn't done anything. So we organise fun and varied things for them to do and let them chose a game in the last ten minutes. I still fucking hate Fruit Bowl.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Sun 08-Dec-13 11:12:31

spork that's awful that you and your dd were treated that way :-( I help at brownies and guides and would never deny that bullying can occur in girl guiding. The leaders I work with take any reports of bullying behaviour seriously as well as obviously dealing with any we see ourselves. With 30 girls of course we can't see everything but if a parent expressed concerns we would make sure to pay particular attention and keep an eye on things. The girls wouldn't notice us doing this but we do! The racism you encountered is disgusting. Of course you don't have to attend church parade but having expressed interest in doing so you should've been welcomed. It's hard enough to get girls to attend, I'd never turn people away who wanted to come!

The units I work with are all organised, do lots of badges and other activities and are run by passionate volunteers.

OP if you're not happy with your sons cubs then either volunteer and help turn it around or move to a different pack. There are at least four brownie packs within ten minutes walk of my house and I'm sure cubs will be equally popular.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sun 08-Dec-13 11:12:21

Yes but the point is they still have standards to maintain whatever they are respectively. I cant simplify the concept of standards and adhereing to them anymore.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 08-Dec-13 11:09:11

Feeling glad you are being proactive. I totally disagree with your teacher/leader analogy for the contradictions you highlighted yourself both roles have different expectations and standards.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sun 08-Dec-13 10:50:50

It is relevant it concerns an adult in a position of responsibility of someone elses child. I think scout leaders are just as responsible as a teacher but they deliver entirely different outcomes. But each still has their own standards.

Thanks for your post fatowl it seems sensible and balanced.

I have thanks to waltons picked up the phone yesterday and organnised two ways I can help to support my sons Colony. They are ways in which I am able to to, more than happy to do and have been well recieved.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sun 08-Dec-13 10:40:39

With all due respect FatOwl while what you are suggesting is obviously the aspiration, over the years I have been involved in guiding and scouting which is most of my life,
we have had peaks and troughs when there simply was not enough input from outside volunteers for the roles to be done to the standard set by some on this thread to other times when people went beyond and beyond their expected roles. That is the nature of a voluntary organisation even a very well run one like both scouting and guiding are in my experience. I know how well run our unit is both from the inside, since I arrived and from the outside since my daughter was in the unit before I arrived but there were 2 parents complaining at one stage when the unit was in transition with a new leader. Unlike what seems to happen in your unit FatOwl there is no direct link between the DC and the parents so the complaints were made directly to the leaders. The spoke about it after and they were very annoyed and upset about it. My daughter was there at the same time and was thoroughly enjoying herself at the time and I saw nor continue to see any issues wirthy of complaint. That said it would make sense if there was a link to the DC and then such complaints could be handled in that manner. That said our DC is a leader in another unit.

Feeling the teacher analogy, where you get paid for the work you do is irrelevant here. Being a teacher is likely to make you a great leader though.

FatOwl Sun 08-Dec-13 01:51:44

Division Commissioner and Guide leader here.

I give many many hours to Guiding.

In my DivC role, I would want to know if one of my units is not being run well, but so that I can put support and guidance in place for those volunteers, so not be on their backs whining at them.

If someone genuinely wants to help, I can find them a role. They do not have to be a leader, or even be a helper at meetings if they don't want. In my Division I have treasurers, admin people, researchers, event planners - all parents with toddlers/jobs/health issues which mean they can't be all singing dancing leaders- but the hours they give take the load off the leaders

If a unit is genuinely not being well run, despite support and training being in place, I would look to reassigning a leader to another role and putting a new team in if there were people available.
Just because we are volunteers does NOT mean we shouldn't have high standards, and be working towards a common standard. Each unit is different, depending on the leaders, but there should be some things common to all- in Guiding it is called the Five Essentials.

I can't imagine scouting is any different.

feelingfuckingfestiveok Sun 08-Dec-13 00:33:40

So in theory according to some on this thread you could have an incompetent volunteer or less good than than the one down the road and parents are not entitled to ask questions just because they dont volunteer

Thats crazy, I will ask questions about any activity whether it is run by paid/unpaid simply because it is my son who is 7.

my god if I applied that maxim as a teacher, 'im sorry parent but you are not a trained teacher paid to teach so please dont ask me about your sons progress, you are not entitleds to as you have not walked a mile in my shoes'

Permanentlyexhausted Sat 07-Dec-13 23:49:49

It does sound as though the leader may be struggling with the role so I would volunteer to help if you can. If they are not collecting subs, that may explain the lack of badges. Where is the money to buy them going to come from if the pack has none? I would suggest contacting the GSL with some of your concerns, but in a concerned rather than complaining sense.

From a parent's point of view, being a leader may seem to pretty much involve running a meeting for 90 minutes. That is just the tip of the iceberg though. For every 90 minutes of meeting time there will be several hours of admin, preparation, accounts, buying resources, training, district meetings, etc. I'm a Brownie leader and, whilst I put a huge amount of work into trying to run my unit well, by definition my volunteering must take third place behind my family (2 primary-aged children) and my full time job. Sometimes that means that we'll spend a meeting just playing games or doing something else easy, and it also means that my unit don't go on all the activities that other nearby units go on - because there are only so many weekends I'm prepared to give up and only so much of my annual leave I'm prepared to take off.

There'll always be some parents who'll want more. Thankfully they are in the minority.

neunundneunzigluftballons Sat 07-Dec-13 23:15:19

I genuinely do not want thanks, Christmas cards or anything for doing voluntary work but what I wouldn't want is a lecture on how to do it better from someone unwilling to give their own time. Our unit is extremely well run thanks to a head leader who has both the time and inclination to do a great job but there are not millions of replicas of her everywhere. Other units are bound to have a variety of talents at their disposal but not all will have the benefit of great organisation skills. If you are not happy by all means volunteer, set up a better unit and take your child to that but do not demoralise leaders with this attitude.

I remember when I was in scouts myself we had a truly wonderful experienced leader. He had a public character assassination from a mother of a complete trouble maker in the unit who took everything her very troubled son said at face value. It was all untrue or very exaggerated and the son was causing mayhem in the unit. In the heal of the hunt an exceptionally committed leader left scouting forever and the unit took years to recover from the debacle. The boy continued on his troublemaking nightmare path though so everyone lost out.

lurkerspeaks Sat 07-Dec-13 22:58:44

I've posted this before.

My sister stepped in when she was a student and turned around a failing Rainbow unit and stopped it from closing. At the same time she was running senior section and helping with guides as well as doing a demanding FT course in a city 80 miles away (so was commuting back for Guiding activities, at her own my parents expense).

The only thanks she got was a mother questioning whether it was appropriate for someone with her physical appearance (peroxide blonde hair and well covered tattoos) to run an organisation for young children.

Sister chucked her child out and gave the place to the next girl on her massive waiting list.

And for the record Guiding UK is all about inclusivity - your appearance really doesn't matter, nor does your religion etc.

Dancergirl Sat 07-Dec-13 22:40:47

Erm excuse me maryz where on earth have I given the impression I am entitled??

As I said we are lucky enough to have a fantastic Brown Owl and I hugely appreciate all the time and effort she puts in. I often say thank you, we buy her gifts/flowers when appropriate, I encourage my dds to thank her, I always turn up on time when it's my turn to help, I actually HELP the brownies with their activities (and not stand around chatting), I pay subs on time, I let her know if my dd isn't coming that evening.....

How does that make me entitled??! I think you owe me an apology.

parasaurolophus Sat 07-Dec-13 21:09:35

I took over a Beaver colony last year and ran it poorly. I am a cubs leader, work full time, and have many other commitments. My son's Beaver group would have closed if I did not step in, so I did. I ran it for a year through pure exhaustion. I repeatedly asked other parents for help and no one stepped up. We also played a lot of dodge ball. I finally left a few weeks ago, and it was taken over by another woman who is also a cubs leader and doesn't have any time. I loved the kids but started to dislike the parents who dropped the kids off, went to the gym, and told me they didn't have time.

I would have loved to go to the gym in the evening. I was going at 6:00am.

If you don't like it, volunteer. If you don't want to volunteer, than pull out your son. That will make less work for the leader.

Running a troop of scouts/beavers/cubs is a huge commitment for people to do on a voluntary basis.

It surely doesn't mean though that the parents who send their children to the activity can't ask any questions about it. Some people will be wonderful leaders, others will need more guidance and support and some may have completely underestimated how much work is required to prepare for the sessions and preplanning needed over the course of the year.

In the latter case what are the parents to do? Just suck it up and go, oh well they are volunteering so I should just be grateful.
In my case I offered to help - but got no response. I went along to all outings that parents were asked and allowed to go on and have joined the scout exec. Luckily the situation seems to have rectified itself as another young helper has been drafted in to support the leader.

I'm sure there are moany and demanding parents ( and yes maryz I will now be sending Christmas cards to beaver leader/helper and rugby organiser) but equally there must be some substandard leaders and surely it does no good to the organisations reputation for these to remain in place.

Pantah630 Sat 07-Dec-13 19:05:50

Sorry OP missed your last post where you say there's 4/5 other leaders. If that's the case it doesn't really matter if one is eating their dinner surely.

Am very jealous of only 9 Cubs with 4/5 leaders, there's only 4 of us and 2 occassional parent helpers, we are desperate for more help.

Pantah630 Sat 07-Dec-13 18:59:35

Another Cub Leader here. OP do volunteer to help. You say the Cub Leader is on her own, if that is correct then the pack needs to shut as it's against safeguarding rules. Online Scout Manager (my scout) makes badge recording, sub collecting, trip fee collecting, programme planning much easier. If your packs aren't using it, ask about it, once learnt it certainly makes life easier for all concerned.
All groups are different but without volunteers, most of us work full time and have children too you know, then things drift and fall apart. Sometimes we feel like unpaid babysitters but the majority of the time we do feel appreciated, by the Cubs if not their parents.

Regarding badges, I held a Cub forum last week with our pack. The majority of the Cubs said they wanted no homework, lots of badges need extra work doing at home, preferred to be out and about or playing NSEW or football. Out of 36 Cubs, yes it's deafening during games, maybe 6 actively wanted to work for lots of extra badges. We will still do badge work but if they'd rather not fill out the fitness diary, wildlife spotter, etc.. They won't receive the badges. It's up to them.

Snowbility Sat 07-Dec-13 18:37:12

OP sounds like the group is badly run indeed. Not sure where you go from here, I'd still volunteer occasionally to get an idea on what's missing, maybe get a seat on the planning meetings. Maybe talk to the group scout leader. Although your ds is enjoying the social side of things, which is good, I do feel that he is not getting all he could get from the experience and that is disappointing...our dcs have gained so much from the scouting movement and we are lucky to be part of a very successful scouting group with a very committed team who I am always in awe of, all the parents take turns on a rota and help on an ad hoc basis too.

Waltons Sat 07-Dec-13 18:25:16

No trouble, goodgrief - hope you found our ramblings useful. fsmile

Maryz, no luck? Not sure if you have PMs turned off or summat? Can't see how though?

goodgrief54 Sat 07-Dec-13 18:22:39

sorry been out and about and not used to getting many responses... wink unfortunately I can't move him to his other friends cubs as they aren't local.

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