How to Get Involved as a Scouting Parent?
One of the first things to consider when signing your youth up for Scouting, regardless of the level is this:
How deeply involved should I get?
It has been shown that the more involved a parent becomes in the Scouting program their child is registered in increases the likelihood that the youth will stay in the program. When looking at this from an entry into the Cub Scouting program, whether at Tiger or in the Webelos Program, a parent who is actively engaged in the meetings will see a noticeable difference in how much their child gets out of the program. Sitting on the sidelines does not count. Get into it up to your elbows and you will see a level of bonding you had never believed possible.
Early childhood development shows that an activity shared between parent and child will create a connection that will not soon be forgotten. Children in their formative years, especially from age 6 - 10 are eager for validation. They want you to see what they are doing, but will thrive even more if you are part of what they are doing. The activity becomes more meaningful to them, and they become more invested in the program. They are more likely to stay in the program through the transition to Boy Scouts as well.
So, how do you get involved? First and foremost, start at the Unit level. There are many opportunities to assist in the day to day operations of the program that still allow you to spend time directly involved with your child.
Take the time to get trained - many of the training courses for adults are available via the Scouting Web portal found at www.myscouting.org. First and foremost, take the Youth Protection Guidelines training available for your unit classification (there are 2 versions, one for Cubs and Boy Scouts, and a version specific to Venturers/Explorers due to their co-ed nature.
Unit Level Adult Leadership Positions
- Cub Scout Staff Leadership positions - Den Leader or Assistant Den Leader, Cubmaster or Assistant Cubmaster
- Boy Scout Staff Leadership Positions - Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster
- Venturing Staff Leadership Positions - Crew Advisor or Associate Advisor
- Committee Leadership Positions - Committee Chair or Member (includes Treasurer, Secretary and others
- ScoutParent Coordinator
- Pack Trainer
- Merit Badge Councilor
- Chartered Organization Representative
Taking it up a notch!
Beyond the Unit level resides the District. This is generally a collection of communities that are geographically connected. The District is the first line of support to the Units that make up that territory. The District Committee helps develop the program which brings together Scouts from the various Units within the District - Camporees, Yukon and Klondike Derbies, Scout-o-Rama's, etc. They also help Units with recruitment, advancement, community service projects and publicity. The core of the District Committee is the Unit's Chartered Organization Representative (COR).
This individual is the connector between the Unit and the Chartered Organization, but also between teh District and Council. As such, the COR has a vote on the District Committee, and help with recruiting volunteers to sit on the various District Committee's. Serving at the District level helps ALL Scouts in the District by helping bring better program to all units, and build upon the Brotherhood of Scouting by bringing Units together for exciting, challenging and fun events.
District Level Adult Leadership Positions
- Nominating Committee - helps find people to staff the District Committee's working groups
- Commissioner Staff - Unit Commissioner, Round Table Commissioner, District Commissioner & Assistants
- District Committee Chair, Vice Chair, Sub-Committee Chair or Member at Large
- Membership - Helps develop recruitment, retention, new unit creation
- Program - Helps develop District level program - Camping and Community Events
- Finance - Helps develop District Level fundraisers - Popcorn, Bowl-o-Thon, etc.
- Advancement - Helps units develop effective Advancement programs
- Training - Develops effective unit leader training programs
And Still There's More!
Beyond the District Level falls Council Level. It is essentially a repeat of the District level, but service as a volunteer at the Council level has an impact on Scouts from across the Council. There are many areas where, for example, your expertise in property management, fund raising, project management, or business administration could help strengthen the Council. This strength helps deliver a better program for the Scouts we serve. There is no such thing as "Too Many" volunteers at this level, as it helps avoid burn out that is associated with a situation of too few hands.
Again, here the Unit Chartered Organization Representative plays a vital role. They are by definition one of the voting members of the Council Board of Directors. They help define the composition of the top Council leadership by their involvement at this level.