As much as I looooooove being a Scout Leader, there are a few headaches along the way, just like in another jobs and roles in life. There’s Group “Discussions” shall we say, not forgetting the District politics and POR. But I would say the biggest Headache we as Scout Leaders get is from Parents.
With my Blog I get to chat to a lot of Scout Leaders from around the world and I’ve come up with this list of the most headaches that our Parents cause us: –
This is not our Full-time job, sometimes it takes a little while to respond to emails.
I think sometimes the parents forget that we are all volunteers, we don’t get paid a single penny for volunteering as a Scout Leader or any other role unless you work Fulltime for The Scout Association. So that means we have jobs, some of us work full time, some part time others are stay at home parents. We can’t answer emails, texts, what app messages or even phone calls during working hours. However, rest assured WE WILL reply to those messages when we can. Parents don’t need to send the same message via all social media sites, an email, followed up my a whats app messages and then a phone call.
Starting time and Collection times!
Like many leaders, we dash home from work, grab our Scout bag, full of paperwork, the evening plans and the pint of Milk. Many of us don’t even have dinner on a Scouting Night. S when we say start time is at 18:00 that doesn’t mean 17:45 nor does it mean 18:10, it means 18:00, and that goes with collection times, as much as we love scouting and spending time with the young people, we do have our own lives, families and jobs to go to. So, picking up 10/15 mins after finishing is rather annoying for us leaders. They will be the 1st to make a comment when we are 5 minutes late opening the gate when its pouring down with rain.
It only works if we give them the opportunity to fail.
Thomas Edison said that he had not failed but had found thousands of ways what he had invented did not work. Experimenting and failing again and again is common to the great inventors who have changed our lives for ever. Electricity in every home, thousands of planes buzzing in our skies on a daily basis, comfortable cars making far places within our reach in a few hours, smartphones making the world available to us through small screens that we gently tap with one finger, sophisticated machines that scan our bodies for malfunctions or illnesses, and a million other inventions- all of these would not have been possible if the inventors did not accept the rule that “if you don’t fail and learn, you cannot succeed.”
I wrote a blog post called never give up, it’s all about getting into the Scouts minds that they can do it evn when they thrink they can’t
We’re not mind readers! How do we know that their little darling is vegetarian if they don’t tell us (despite asking) until they drop the small one off at a camping field?!
This is probably one of my pet hates. I’ve been planning and creating this camping weekend for some time now. I’ve sent out the attendance forms, health forms, activity and permission forms. 1 or 2 come back with already known vegetarian/ gluten and Hay fever allergies. You’ve planned around these as you are aware of numbers.
So now we are serving up the evening dinner at camp, you hand little Johnny his evening meal and he then tells you his allergic to tomatoes and you’ve just served him up a nice warm tomato soup……
I’ll leave this one here before my blood pressure gets any higher.
We cannot do this on our own. Sometimes an offer of help is appreciated
Just sometimes we may need the help from a parent, life throws us a curve ball 30 minutes before Scouts is about to start, the ASL is stuck at work… one of my kids at home has fallen over and cut her head and needs to go to A & E or you just need an extra pair of hands to run the activity on the night. Come on parents, 1 parent in a troop of 30 must be able to give up a night in front of EastEnders or the PS4 to help supervise at Scouts. You never know…. You might like volunteering at Scouts and sign up… it is rather fun!!
We aren’t your free childcare service
This must be 1 of the most common comments I hear from Leaders. We aren’t a free babysitting service. I could list countless stories about this. Quite a few are from my own personal experience’s others are from what I’ve been told from other leaders. I’ve had to call a parent on their mobile to ask them to come pick up little Johnny because he’s hurt themselves only to be told hang on to them for another hour as they are watching a movie in the cinema for example. We must have all had these moments.
Tesco value sleeping bags are crap * other brands are available *
It may seem like a bargain but 2 sleeps bags for £10 aren’t going to last a long time nor probably work that effectively. Yes! I know we are all tight with cash but having a good night’s sleep is kind of important and feeling the cold whilst at camp can be horrendous. There’s an old saying I Use0- By Cheap, buy twice!
How much time is spent working on stuff in the background, in addition to the time spent running the meetings.
How patient our spouses and children are, how much time we spend away from our own families for Scouting.
I do spend an awful lot of time being a keyboard warrior in the evenings and at weekends, planning the terms programme, sending out the email reminders about camps for example. This all adds up to less time with my family. Yes, I know I chose to be a Scout Leader and it is pat of the package. But lets just remind parents that o any occasions I’ve used my own Annual Leave to take away their little Johnny camping and when I ask that same parent to help unload the van which will take 15 minutes is a clear “I sorry- I’m too busy”. Many years ago, a parent came up to me to complain that the Scouts haven’t been camping for the past 3 months. I explained that I was fully aware of this but because of personal family reasons I couldn’t give up any weekends to take them away camping, my ASL hasn’t got her Nights away permit and that means she is unable to take the troop away camping. Unfortunately, that’s the way it currently is at the moment until the circumstances change in a few weeks’ time… However, if you would like to volunteer and help us that would be very much appreciated…and did that parent sign up? Ha! You know the answer of course they didn’t!
What a wonderful program Scouting is for the whole family. How necessary it is for leadership and self-confidence.
I filmed a vlog a while back explaining why I love being a Scout Leader so much, yes there are low points, but the highs way out rank those low negative moments. Being a Leader isn’t just about your group nor your District. It’s about making friendships around the world. I have made amazing friendships thanks to Scouting with other leaders around the world. Some I would say are very close personal friends on mine now. There’s a reason why they call it the Scouting Family. It truly is a big family!
A suitcase is not a rucksack
Ok, you have informed the parents that the scouts are going on a hike, the gear they require is XYC which includes a rucksack as they will be hiking to their campsite and will need to transport their own equipment including their tents, cooking equipment and food…. low and behold Johnny arrives pulling a holiday Suitcase, you start to think how he’s really going to struggle with the hike and then booom anther Scout turns up with a bag for life carrier bag…. Need I say anymore.
Parents when we say a Rucksack is required, that’s what’s required. If you don’t have a rucksack or even are financially struggling to be able to purchase a rucksack, speak to the Scout Leader for help! They don’t bite!
Parents we are human too and can forget stuff! We don’t live at the Scout hut, we are volunteers, we don’t get paid for being a Scout Leader and that we are not babysitters!
We will always appreciate offers of help, the odd please and Thank you goes a long way and the true way to say thank you to a Leader is giving up and hour or two every now and then.