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Thread: Time for a moan

  1. #1
    Senior Member dmoorcroft's Avatar
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    Time for a moan

    I try to avoid using Escouts to have a moan but in this case im going to make an exception!

    Here's the story:

    The district sets a date for a standing camp competition (7th - 11th May). I notify parents of this date in January and include it in all the revisions of the programme. The team sizes are 5 and I hoped to enter 2 or 3 teams.

    I send an email round to the parents 4 weeks in advance to see which scouts are interested. Nothing.

    I send another email round to the parents 3 weeks in advance with some more information - 1 response

    I POST a copy of our termly newsletter to all parents with a note in about the camp. 2 responses.

    I email again 10 days in advance saying we need at least 2 more scouts. Nothing.

    1 week before the camp, 3 parents email in close succession saying their children want to be involved. I say okay but state that the fairest way is to pull names out of a hat for the 3 who applied last. I do so and let the parents know who made the team. Today, 2 days before the camp I get a phonecall from one of the parents saying that the parents of the unsuccessful scout are not happy 'little jonny' didnt make the team.

    All of the 3 late applications are scouts with families who do a lot for the group and I didnt want to let anyone down. I've now resorted to emailing the camp organiser to ask them to ring me ASAP to ask if I can take 6 scouts and they take it in turns to sit out of the challenges.

    I'm frustrated at the lack of communication from parents and just the whole general situation - I really dont need it while I have university exams on!

    Have any of you experienced a similar situation, or does anyone have any advice?

    Cheers,
    Dave Moorcroft

    SL - 1st Englefield Green Scout Group, Surrey
    Chair - Scout Delegation to the British Youth Council

    Scouting, Studenthood and Stage Management - visit my blog

  2. #2
    Senior Member David Kendall's Avatar
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    Response

    Sounds fairly standard to me
    In between roles/helping out where I can......

  3. #3
    ESL - Young Leaders
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Kendall View Post
    Sounds fairly standard to me
    yep fairly standard. That's the reason to have an absolute deadline for responses and if places are limited, first come first served. That way you can plan properly and not get stressed. If not enough YP applied by the deadline then don't run it. Set the deadline about 4 weeks before an event like this. Parents and YP will soon get used to the deadline and buck up. Oh and don't give them loads and loads of reminders: put it on the programme with your deadline and 1 reminder by email and in person to the YP 1 week before.
    Ruth

    Lovin' my gadgets!

  4. #4
    Senior Member David Kendall's Avatar
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    Deadlines

    You're right re deadlines but how many times do we give someone another day or two knowing that time is ticking away. I guess we do it because we care and appreciate that people have a lot going on in their lives but forget that includes us too

    We missed out on the Cheshire Hike for all our teams a couple of years ago because we waited too long for someone to make up their mind before sending in the entry forms. Won't happen again !
    In between roles/helping out where I can......

  5. #5
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    Typical response here too. Just set deadline and stick to it. Had a team set to go to District Camping Competition but very few attended training days, couldnt go-could go etc. Cancelled team and will just arrange camp for those that bothered to show an interest.

  6. #6
    Keith at 2M Keith at 2M's Avatar
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    Sadly I think this is typical, and a regular experience for me as a Leader. For this reason I always use a 'Deadline' well in advance of the real one. Similarly I always have a meeting time for events 30 minutes before I really want to meet - that way they'll all there when we get back from camp rather than hanging around waiting when I arrive back 'on time'.

    However, (and I apologise to my kids' leaders) I'm also guilty of it as a parent for many reasons. Kids have so many deadlines as scouting is not their only activity, emails arrive and register in the brain, but the deadline is a few weeks off so rather than respond immediately I leave it and it drops off the bottom of the screen. Or my wife and I put it on the calendar and assume the other one has dealt with the form/cheque bit. Letters go into the pile including similar ones from school, drama club, church etc and again work their way to the bottom of the pile. Emails from the Explorer leader only go to my son and I don't even get to see them to forget to deal with them.

    There is no magic answer, its nothing personal towards you, just busy people with busy lives. If it bugs you, then set a deadline and stick to it. The kids lose out this time round but they may remember that you mean business next time.

    Good luck.
    The Roman Empire did not become great by holding meetings. It did so by killing everyone that opposed their point of view.

  7. #7
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    yep - same all over

    I had 14 boys for the 6 a side football, I had to go to A&E just before the note handout meeting and the beaver leader covered for me...

    "there were not enough notes for all the boys who wanted to take part, so we wrote some more"...."also you only named some of the notes"

    so much for my Mouriniho selection process, sorry to say we did not make it out of our pool as I had to play everybody somewhere.

    Some parents are quite pushy when it suits them but take the hump when you push back

    The problem is you really wanted to do it, so you kept the door open for as long as possible, and they have taken advantage of you.

    In future try a big paper name list with just the 5 slots on it. The scouts will then know how many places are left in the run in, the three boys probably decided to go at the same time and assumed that they could all go.

    If you set a deadline as suggested above thats the drop dead date when the list is either full or the team cannot compete, getting it out infront of them is a useful ploy
    There are cha' types of people on this planet, chaH vetlh jatlh tlhIngan and those that don't.


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    Same here, but I do then talk to every parent either at the hut during pickup/drop off and a last resort of a telephone call.
    This way it's hopefully a yes or no and the same applies for deposits for camps etc.
    For the first post the parents that complained should have replied sooner, they only have themselves to blame.
    19th Thornhill SL Scouts
    Itchen North District

  9. #9
    Senior Member richardhall's Avatar
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    I've had similar trouble in my work context. I organise training events and have found that normal email doesn't seem to get much response. When I switched to using Eventbrite, for some reason the response rate improved though I've no idea why. Has anyone considered using this for Scouting events?
    Richard
    SL 1st Hope Scouts
    Personal blog: connexions

  10. #10
    Senior Member DonTregartha's Avatar
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    I think all I can say is have a deadline for reply slip WITH deposit.

    DEposit should be enough to cover Johnny's camp fee or a share of the expensive activity you're laying on.

    No refunds whatsoever and NEVER EVER EVER give in to someone who misses the deadline.

    They never miss it twice.

    As a parent, my team are just as strict on me if I miss the deadline, I would NEVER have the cheek to ask them to slide my kids under the wire.


    Don Tregartha
    Old Scouter
    1st Wing Scouts

  11. #11
    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    It is increasingly the norm.

    I used to be able to get camps fully subscribed four months in advance, now it is two weeks before the camp and I'm still getting bookings.

    We did go through a phase of tight dealines - but ended up cancelling events.

    It is, I am afraid, the way society has changed. St George's day event, we had 120 paid up in advance. On the day we had another 20 turned up and paid on the spot - luckily when catering gets to that level it is easy to eke things out.

    I also noticed that when the Music School does its concerts in the Town Hall, 15 years ago we would all fill the hall and the hall would remain full right through the concert whilst eght different bands played at levels from excruciatingly awful ( First Strings) to professional ( Big Band).

    The last time I went, the hall was half empty. I thought that the turn out was poor, very poor. Then, I realised it was worse than poor. Parents were only turning up to listen to their own children and then leaving as soon as they had played. Now, the thing is, that after the kids had played, they all went and sat on the rising steps behind the stage, so that up till half time, each band that played added to the audience at the rear.

    Many parents simply listened to their own kid, and then left, coming back to pick their child up either at half time, or at the end of the evening. How rude can they get?
    Ewan Scott

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  12. #12
    nele
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    We give out dates months in advance, and like you we have this problem. Several times we've cancelled events because they were just not viable. We have run camps with 8 scouts although we have 22 in the group. We have had complaints about the dates we choose, which we try to do carefully to miss exams etc and to suit the leaders!

    Even when we are going abroad and need to book the transport early to get a reasonable price we have people vacilating and not booking until the last minute or asking after the date.

    We have started asking for a large deposit which covers costs we make up front, in case people drop out late. Only if we then have money to spare/ resell their place and there was a good reason for the cancellation (eg sickness) do they get a refund.

  13. #13
    GSL/ESL(YL)/TA Mark W's Avatar
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    Telephone

    Quote Originally Posted by dmoorcroft View Post
    I'm frustrated at the lack of communication from parents ....
    Have any of you experienced a similar situation, or does anyone have any advice?
    Total reliance on email alone does not work. I've plenty of parents that have email addresses but, in reality, do not look at them day to day.
    In "the old days" before the interweb thingy there was an invention called telephone, they were old-fashioned and because they were expensive they were attached to the walls by cables to stop people walking off with them.
    Ringing people invariably brings me better results than just emailing.
    If it was easy, it wouldn't be so much fun...
    GSL 1st Aylburton & Lydney, TA, ESL(YL), District Campsite Warden & webmanager .....only 1 hour a week, they said (not pointing out that was what was left)

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    Grey but not that old Alfbranch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DonTregartha View Post
    I think all I can say is have a deadline for reply slip WITH deposit.

    DEposit should be enough to cover Johnny's camp fee or a share of the expensive activity you're laying on.

    No refunds whatsoever and NEVER EVER EVER give in to someone who misses the deadline.
    This is the only way I do it I dont email parents as its hard enough getting emial replies from Leaders. Do not assume that just because you read your emails others do to. As has been said many have email adresses and never look at the inbox or your email address may not be in thier address book and your emails are dumped to Spam.
    Alf

    Group Scout leader 1st Hensingham Scouts Western Lakes District
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  15. #15
    nele
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    If your families get to know you send out all info by email and they expect all forms this way, then they soon start reading the mail before scouts.

    Otherwise the scouts complain they are missing out.

    I only ring or print copies for people who don't have mail for some reason.

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