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Thread: Unpleasant District Meetings

  1. #1
    Keith at 2M Keith at 2M's Avatar
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    Unpleasant District Meetings

    Ok folks, help please?

    We merged Districts nearly 5 years ago. After some small initial teething problems everything settled down quickly and hey, we all get on quite well. There is a range of ages among the leaders from 20 - 50+ and there are some really good ideas, or should I say there were.
    There is one group that seem hell-bent on ruining things. They didn't want to merge and always dominated the old smaller District. They organised the same District activities each year and invariably won. Their Pack is popular with parents, despite being all-boy and having to wear shorts, their kids are laden with badges and they train-up their cubs for District events. The same District events, each year, every year, nothing new, no variation.
    They make it very clear that no-one can match their standards and that their way is the 'only' way. Whereas most Packs are lucky if we can find one leader to attend District meetings, they turn up early with four and dominate proceedings.

    Any new suggestions are ridiculed and attempts to share best practice and ideas are cut short by snide remarks, until nobody bothers anymore.
    We suggested running a 'new' event but were shouted down, so we went ahead anyway without them and they then complained to the DC that they weren't invited to an event they didn't want run in the first place!

    The District events we do have are dominated by their need to have rules, rather than fun, for example we were one short for the sports day but rather than allow a younger beaver sibling to run, the whole team had to sit out some events because 'its the rules'. (Try explaining that one to bemused parents).

    We've now got through 2 ADCs in four years as neither could put up with the negativity. Attendence at DCSLs meetings is down to around 12, which considering we have 22 packs, by the time you've taken out the 4 of them and the ADC doesn't leave much representation. Most business is now done by e-mail as people can't bear the meetings anymore.

    The charitable approach is of course to suggest that they feel intimidated by the changes and the new faces but they have made no attempt to integrate and after all this time my patience has run out and there are better ways of spending my evenings than these unpleasant DCSL meetings.

    Has anyone experienced anything similar and if so, how did you solve the problem?
    The Roman Empire did not become great by holding meetings. It did so by killing everyone that opposed their point of view.

  2. #2
    Senior Member kezzy's Avatar
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    Sounds like they are actually delivering. "Win everything" and "loads of parential support". How about learning from them and replicating it across the district?
    We only have 2 rules in our group:
    Rule 1 - I'm the Boss and
    Rule 2 - if in doubt refer to Rule #1

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    Account Closed Raksha's Avatar
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    I haven't experienced anything similar, but I have got some suggestions.

    Does anyone in the District get on well with one of the Leaders at this Group? Can they get them on their own and talk to them?
    How about the GSL's within the District, do they have their own meetings? Could the DC set one up?
    While you are feeling alienated, you need to ensure that you don't make this other Group feel isolated as well as you all work turn things round.
    Don't let them put the rest of you off running District events of your own. Invite them as well, but offer to run different events, if you have lots of fun, and their kids have fun too then it can only benefit everyone. Make sure that the 'rules' allow for younger children to compete up an age group if needed.
    Have new trophies for the new events.

    If the DC doesn't feel able to sort it out, then perhaps they can approach County for support?

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    SM(s) (B-PSA) RedCoat's Avatar
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    Hoping that Kezzy was tongue-in-cheek, or perhaps a member of that Group...

    Good luck, Keith. We had several similar issues with our old district, before we decided enough was enough. Sadly I cannot provide you with a simple solution.

    Perhaps it would be a good idea to keep a log of their comments, in case you decide to take it to County or higher. It is very hard to remember exactly who said what, and that is exactly the information you'd need if you did.

    Do invite their kids to "your" District events. Don't do anything that could be seen to isolate them. Vote with your feet on "their" events, if your kids are not enjoying them. Teach them by example!
    Richard Cullen
    Fakenham Lancaster Baden-Powell Air Scouts

    Per Exploranda ad Astra!

  5. #5
    Account Closed weefatbob's Avatar
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    Its difficult.

    I have a Group in my District, which we all do actually recognise as being a great Scout Group in all ways - one of the oldest in the UK, with a Troop which has over 40 kids in it.

    Whilst we all think it is a great group, they do dominate so much in the District that at times it becomes too much - e.g. because they keep so many Explorers onto leadership roles, a huge number of them are on Executive committees, ADC roles etc - to the point where you can't get anything done without involving them.

    Now that isn't in itself a problem - because we get along with them. But in your case, I can see the flip side of that.

    It is important that you make your feelings felt - you obviously aren't the only Pack, since there are at least 10 groups who aren't turning up to the ADC meetings. Don't gang up on them, don't ignore them, don't isolate them - but do speak up. No matter how many Cubs you have, no matter how many leaders you have etc etc, your voice has equal weight to theirs. Use it!

    Don't suffer in silence, it ain't worth it!

    Bob

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    Senior Member wolfie's Avatar
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    Oh dear... the dreaded "p" word hits the fan again (that's politics in case you wondered).

    Not any real experience, and can't comment directly of course but here's a few random thoughts to add to the others already made..:

    - whilst they are a strong group and have lots of adults etc them playing such a major role in District may be fine. But what happens if that changes for unforseen reasons - families move away, jobs change etc
    -a bit like a work environment perhaps the need for all Groups to be able to run such events, a bit like "holiday cover" (maybe suggest a rota?) so that no matter what things will still happen. (for example here Groups take it in turns to organise and run say the District Cub Football Tournament)
    - naive question I know but has anyone actually been able to find a way to tell them how they make other Groups feel? (or is it that they don't care anyway?)
    -could it be proposed to start with that each year / term (whatever) there is always one new "one off" event - and that the Groups take it in turns to plan and organise? So for example 2008 there will be an X and Y Group will organise.
    - could you arrange for a meeting facilitated by someone from outside even District, and perhaps even from outside Scouting?
    - what about having a word with all the Groups and explaining if you make an effort to turn up the "group of 4 " can be (where fair and proper) outvoted by sheer numbers of others?
    - are people (meaning Cubs and families for example) asked to fill in a quick feedback form after such events (we ususlaly split into the good (what worked well), the bad (what could have been better) and the ugly (anything really not understood or liked). Helps shape future plans.
    - ask all Groups to suggest 1 event for 2008 and to get their families to vote on a "winner" (1 family 1 vote)
    -run events that can't be "trained up" for. So you could have an incident hike but make the bases completely secret (then do something like a taste test, recognising fruit, egg drops etc). Have "adjudicators" to make sure leadrs oany Group don't help too much. (maybe an ESU could come up with and run bases?)
    Louise

    GSL 1st Fenstanton & Hilton Scout Group www.scubes.co.uk


    TA - Cromwell District (Cambridgeshire)

    Media Manager - Cubjam2016

    We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
    -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

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    Oh, Keith,

    I do feel sorry for you. I have never come across this in Scouting but I sure as hell have suffered it in my professional life in the theatre. The trouble is that people build themselves their own comfortable empires in which there are only two ways of doing things - their way and the wrong way! When their empire is threatened or, even taken over as in your case, they scream and shout and do anything they can to hang on - look at what is happening in Zimbabwe at this very moment!

    In my bitter experience, the only way to have a chance of succeeding with folk like this is firstly to win over one or two individuals and then to let them see that the alternatives on offer don't only work but are more beneficial than what they have been offering. That means that your alternatives have got to be really spot on!

    This is not an instant fix. It will take a great deal of time, patience - and, if I know Scout Leaders, pints of beer!

    It is a horrible situation and my heart goes out to you. Good Luck!

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    This sounds familar from a previous district, and to be honest there probably isn't anything you can do about it. The group you mention will probably have loads of members, lots of parental support and very high public profile in their little area. And so you can't really criticise them as things are working and successful there, but what is good for one group isn't necessarily the best for all groups. What you need is a strong, DC and district team, who gets everyone together and makes the district work properly as a whole. And so taking good points from both sides. But to be honest I can just see this problem going on for years without a strong DC, with both sides losing out in the end.

  9. #9
    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    A good ADC Cubs would certainly help the situation as I would have thought it would be their job to ensure this Group doesn't dominate District decisions and events and to even encourage new District activities and wean them off their old tried and tested events.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
    www.falkonerscouts.org.uk

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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    How I wish that we had your problem :-(

    Look at this from a different perspective. This Group has been successful in delivering a programme that attracts kids and parents and Leaders with the commitment (we all have the time if we want). They will quite rightly continue to do what they do to the best of their ability.

    I have a Group, largest in District, kids generally committed and a handful of committed Leaders and we provide a programme that attracts kids, and increasingly attracts parents to send their kids to us (though they don't join us themselves). This has caused issues locally - but should we change our methods to accommodate those with less commitment elsewhere?

    We have won the District Cooking Competition every year for the past 14 years, and the County Competition five times, this year we didn't enter, so no-one else did! We ran a climbing competition and won, so no-one else wanted to do it again, we ran an archery competition... same story. Sorry, if people don't try then they don't have a chance.

    In fact BP disapproved of Trophies and competitions and he may have had something in that belief.

    As for the District, I've seen this, the Old Guard refusing to change what they have done for years. People saying they want change, but when they are offered it they dismiss it and fail to give support to those making the changes. I've resigned my ADC role largely as a consequence of such inertia and lack of support. If this REALLY is an issue, get people to get involved in District by attending meetings and taking a role. If they won't do it then they have to simply get on with the status quo. Sorry, but if they have time to watch a couple of episodes of Eastenders, or a football match, or go to the pub for a couple of pints, then they can find time to attend a meeting. Workwise, we kept being told about life-work balance and how employers are willing to accommodate volunteers - so they can always ask for the time to attend and work in lieu before or after the event. If they want to be there they can usually be there.

    Ewan Scott

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    Senior Member Biscit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith at 2M View Post
    The District events we do have are dominated by their need to have rules, rather than fun, for example we were one short for the sports day but rather than allow a younger beaver sibling to run, the whole team had to sit out some events because 'its the rules'. (Try explaining that one to bemused parents).
    Hmm...

    Rules rules rules...

    I know these types either trying to get people to comply with what they think are the rules (or the rules need to be) when if they actually bothered to check they would find while verbose, the actual rules are a lot freer than they think.

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    SM(s) (B-PSA) RedCoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith at 2M View Post
    Ok folks, help please?

    Any new suggestions are ridiculed and attempts to share best practice and ideas are cut short by snide remarks, until nobody bothers anymore.
    We suggested running a 'new' event but were shouted down, so we went ahead anyway without them and they then complained to the DC that they weren't invited to an event they didn't want run in the first place!
    To me, Ewan, this would be the major issue, not the fact that the particular group is doing it's own thing.
    Richard Cullen
    Fakenham Lancaster Baden-Powell Air Scouts

    Per Exploranda ad Astra!

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    Account Closed Raksha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    Sorry, but if they have time to watch a couple of episodes of Eastenders, or a football match, or go to the pub for a couple of pints, then they can find time to attend a meeting. Workwise, we kept being told about life-work balance and how employers are willing to accommodate volunteers - so they can always ask for the time to attend and work in lieu before or after the event. If they want to be there they can usually be there.Ewan Scott
    While not disagreeing in principle, I do take issue with some of these points. Not all employers are volunteer friendly - mine certainly is not. There are some Scout events coming up I would love to be at, but I am part of a family unit and sometimes the family have to come first. These events clash with family events - if I go to Scout events rather than the family ones I will end up with children who don't talk to me and a divorce. Which at while at times seems an ideal situation is not a road I really want to go down. Compromise is the key here.
    My past work life involved lots of meetings often trying to resolve difficult situations, and sometimes the last thing I wanted to do was go to another meeting even if it was Scouting. I would rather flop down and read a book, or watch tv, or even catch up with neighbours (physical ones not the TV ones- tho I do watch that).
    Sadly, in life there are no easy answers!

  14. #14
    is it senior or very old TRH's Avatar
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    hmmmm.... Patience and a thick skin is required. Stand up a tell it like it is. Be prepared to listen to their side of the arguement and change your ways if necessary. Maybe they are doing somtehing right as you say they are a very strong group. Try to encourage people from that group to do the same as they may not realise how other groups see them. Many groups in many districts spend their times in splendid isolation and do not see the need to change, as they seem to be quite successful.
    Play on their ego's by saying that you would like to see the district and the other groups in the district as strong as them and that you need their help to achieve this. Not by Lording it over everyone else but maybe by compramising and working with others in the district for the benifit of all the kids not just their own group.
    The best way I found to get their attention is for some other group to enter "one of their " competitions and get well trained and beat them at their traditionally successfully compititions.

    ASL, 81st St Bartholomews (South Belfast)

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    Senior Member Airobat's Avatar
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    You can't change Scouting quickly - well, not without rivers of blood and mass resignations. If you don't like what's happening then do something different such as a joint activity with one other Group who is of a similar mindset. After a while, you have a joint experience relationship with many other leaders and you've had fun while doing it. You've built the relationships and that is the time to start addressing the District level problems because you have a set of like minded people with a common cause.
    I don't actually believe that District/County level activities have to be considered as compulsory or even good. If it fits our programme and our interests then we'll go along. If it doesn't then we don't. We offer a full and varied programme. District/County are just potential pieces of the jigsaw.
    And yes, we've had the conversation with the ADC who said we should support District. We suggested that when he offered something we wanted, we would. (Strewth,I'm starting to sound like Ewan.)

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