Scout Skills Day

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002
Scout Skills Day
Mon, 05-13-2013 - 9:20am

The 171st Air Refueling Wing hosts a Scout Skills Day each year in May on Saturday and Sunday.  In January, reservations open and leaders sit at their computers hitting the refresh button over and over again until the site goes live in hopes of getting spots for their scouts... 275 spots for Saturday "sell out" in about a minute or two.  The 275 spots for Sunday "sell out" in about 15 minutes.  Each troop is only permitted a maximum of 10 spots total so that as many different troops as possible are able to come.  Once leaders have secured spots- only those adults will receive an e-mail about how to sign up kids for the various merit badge classes.  It used to be that pretty much for each of the dozen or so classes offered for merit badges that there was an approximate equivelant in the Girl Scout badge program... but since Girl Scouts changed their whole program, only 2 of the classes are not "badge programs" for the girls and the rest of the classes, the 171st offers (for extra money) a fun patch that we can buy for a girl completing that class.  Class sign ups and money was due in March.  The scouts and parents have been made aware of any pre-requisites that need done, what they must bring, etc.  I had drivers lined up and people to stay onsite with me for the kid to adult ratios.  All the permission slips were signed.

Now, this Mother's Day weekend is the weekend before the program.  I have gotten the following messages:

From adult driver for boys who was supposed to stay onsite with me- "I've gotta go to my daughter's graduation, so I'm not coming."

From girl "I have a dance recital that day"

From another girl "oh, I'm in that same recital so I guess I'm not coming either"

From another girl who was in a class with one of the above "I've got something else going on, so I can't come" which translates to I don't want to be in a class without my friend.

From a boy's parent "I don't know that parent who is driving and I don't know this new person who you got as driver, so my son is not riding with either of them so apparently he is not going" The one parent driver has been with the troop for months and has worked with this same boy at several functions and the boy has no problem with him... the other driver is an uncle of another scout- but registered as a scout adult and with clearances... and willing to help us out!

From the parent of boys who is now going to graduation "oh, there's a soccer game that day and it affects these 5 boys who are going to the 171st... so they will all need to leave early... blah, blah, blah"  but they don't realize I'm not going to bother the military personell to be traipsing around the base to round up kids who in turn are likely not going to ever finish the merit badge and then it's just wasting the space for kids who really wanted to be there and earn badges.

From another parent of another soccer boy "I see from the schedule of events that he goes to lunch at this time and then there's nothing scheduled the rest of the day after lunch- so I'm going to pick him up early" well, no, the rest of the day would be the rest of class... and you can't just decide to drive onto a military base without being added to their list by me and without having the correctly signed paper in your windshield as you drive up to the little window at the checkpoint.

UGH- this should not be so hard for parents to understand what I had to do to actually get their kid a spot and that this is not your ordinary program type that you can come and go as you please... if you couldn't make it, then don't take the spot.  Other people were on the waiting list for months and I don't know if there's time to switch it around to others (if the contact person at the base wants to even deal with that at this late point).  And you won't be getting your money back!  And your son will not be leaving early from class... the earliest I can get them to leave is when the classes return the kids to the meeting point which is before they gather for closing flag ceremony.

The scout leader for the boys has been made aware of some of this nonsense, and he told me "no good deed ever goes unpunished" and he, himself is going with the "older boys" and a few who didn't make it into the 171st program including my own son- they are heading to a museum in Pittsburgh for American Heritage Merit Badge- which we were initially told was Citizenship in the Community (eagle required) so I gladly let my son go on that list so he would be closer to the eagle badge being completed... well, this leader is leaving early from there with his son to head back for the soccer game and he's offering to pick up soccer kids from the 171st on his way through, but he's just enabling.  At this point, it's very possible that soccer might get pushed back since most of the team will be at scouts.

Next year, I'm going to only sign up for 4 slots... my 2 kids and a friend each...and that's it... never before have I had it this tough.  I'll simply say that I wasn't quick enough to get 10 spots because it will be true... I'm not going to try so hard to be sitting there on a Sunday night in January waiting with the refresh button over and over til it goes live.  Or at least that's what my heart is telling me now.  I'll stick to setting up programs like one with a ranger at the state park where there's not limit on how many attend and who drops out or adds at the last minute is of no consequense because that's what these parents expect is ok to do when it's really not.  Every once in a while, scouts needs to trump sports.  But when you have the boy scout leader telling the kids that he doesn't want to see them at such and such because he knows theres a basketball game or soccer game and they made a commitment to that coach and team... what message is he giving the kids... that they don't have a commitment to scouts?  I do not agree with what he is saying at all.  Adn I'm going to tell him.  Especially when for example in Basketball there were 17 kids on the team and they would only play the better kids and if you were lucky- your son may be able to play for a whopping 20 seconds at the very end of the game if we were already winning or if we were losing so bad that it wouldn't make a difference... but if he skipped basketball and his 20 seconds of court time and went to scouts that was a bad thing?  I don't agree.

Now- I'm going to be e-mailing the contact person at the 171st base and try to have them correct ALL of our last minute changes and hopefully there won't be any more changes, but I think I'm being optimistic about that.


iVillage Member
Registered: 02-24-2010
Mon, 05-13-2013 - 1:48pm

That's terrible...this is the kind of thing that gets volunteers fed up with being a volunteer for scouts (or any other thing).  Things like recitals and graduation are important, but they are scheduled months & months ahead of time (my kids' dance place schedules it 9 months before) and they should not have committed to going to the scout thing if they have that.  

I agree that anyone thinking they will leave early or cancel at the last minute aren't going to get reimbursed (I wouldn't even if I could get it back from the event, when it's this short of notice).  Anyway, I don't blame you at all for not taking your scout troops to this event next year.  I wouldn't. 

“Clearly," said Arthur,"you're an idiot- but you're our kind of idiot. Come on.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002
Wed, 05-22-2013 - 8:39pm

At 9pm the night before the Scout Skills Program, I had a text from a girl's parent telling me that she wasn't coming but her brother was still attending- no explanation (but I suspect it was because family was visiting since Confirmation for our 8th graders was that Thursday night).  And I got an e-mail from another parent of 2 girls in my troop saying that neither girl would be going because of family visiting... so that put me down to 3 girls from my troop and 1 older sister from another troop who took one of the spots I had open.  This also meant that I now didn't need the parent volunteer driver on the girls side of things.  For the boys, "the doctor" said he would drive the boy whose parents wouldn't let him go with other drivers (he showed up late with his 2 sons and this boy- thus preventing me from actually being able to collect the packet first thing in the morning like I was supposed to).  Another boy was driven by his older sister who wanted to go to the class as an assistant- so I talked to the person I knew who was teaching this class and got her in... then that morning I find out she was only staying for 1 hour then driving to work.  The other boys all arrived on time.  Once all the classes were called and all the kids left with their instructors (and I talked to the one instructor telling him that 1 of the 2 boys in the computer class came without doing the pre-req's and that meant they were allowed to put him in a different class- but they didn't... oh and this was the doctor's son)... it was then that I let out a huge sigh and just felt the weight of the world lift off of me.

Then lunchtime came and I met each kid and gave them their meal ticket and made sure they knew what to do and took their bathroom breaks and such and got back with their right counselors/guides to go back to class at the times they were called.  And I got the one boy to his dad.  His merit badge counselor mostly was able to push and get him done with his requirements and told him what was still needed.  Then about an hour or so wait and 1 of the 2 other boys who was leaving early showed up then I get a call from the mom picking up the two boys... she was at the gate of the base and they wouldn't let her on base.  I asked her if she printed out the form for her windshield and had her ID ready like we were all supposed to do.  She said she didn't print out the form and she thought it would be ok since she had an expired military base pass or something like that... I'm thinking in my head at this time "What makes you so special that you think you will get on base without following directions?" but I didn't say it.  Finally, the colonel in charge of our whole program does call down and gets her a military security escort to come up to where we were and the other kid shows up and I get them on their way.  The one boy- I have no idea if his blue card was signed or not... the other, the group leader didn't have time to sit down and figure out what partials this kid had done, so he gave a copy of the paper, and the blank blue card.  It's not like they were in a classroom either- they were out on a military aircraft fire vehicle and walking around doing other things after seeing some slides in the morning.  So, I doubt that merit badge will ever get completed.

Then it's the end of the day and we gather for flag ceremony and I'm sitting near a boy who feels overheated and sick to his stomach and I'm getting him something to cool down with... and I end up losing 3 boys and an adult- I assume they are all together and heading back to the cars, but they didn't pay attention to when I told everyone to meet back at the spot I was at so I knew we had everyone.  I was also trying to deal with an offer that was made to my daughter and her best friend... to fly home with their friend and the dad who was teaching the aviation class... he flies his 4 passenger plane to work everyday and home at the end and they wanted to offer to take the 2 girls back which was fine with me- and the other girls parents so we made that happen (off of scout time of course).  So, I suppose that my daughter getting to ride in a plane that day made it worth my effort to organize getting kids there, but I'm just so burned out on this one event that I don't know if I'll do it next year or not... it would be very easy to not get enough spots for kids.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002
Wed, 05-22-2013 - 8:46pm
I do seem to be posting a lot of negative stuff recently, huh? Sorry about that. My son went to the other program that our older boy scouts were attending the same day... he earned his american heritage merit badge and had lunch at the O- the original hot dog shop, and then they went to tour the nationality rooms in pittsburgh- so a pretty fun day for him- and calmer because it was with the older guys! The night before all of this, our troop had a boy's eagle ceremony which I understand was very nice... I couldn't go because of a previous commitment. And Monday night, my son finally got to have his scoutmaster conference for second class and the board of review is set for the first few days of june. So, it's not all bad stuff... it just seems that I'm dealing with quite a bit of it- and I did go to the committee meeting we just had- only the committee chair (who doesn't have a scout in the troop) and an older assistant scoutmaster (who I like very much and does a great job, but steps back because he doesn't want to deal with all the current stuff) and I were at the meeting. I flat out told them that if things don't change, my younger son will not be joining the troop after webelos.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-26-2002
Wed, 05-22-2013 - 8:48pm
So- when I do a "reply" to a comment- my paragraphs are there and when I do a "quick reply" all the formatting seems to be lost... that's what's going on. I wish it wasn't so hard to post. I miss some of the people who were here a lot and could give good advice. This board could be a lot more helpful if it weren't so messed up by it's creators!
Avatar for beckymk
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-23-1998
Fri, 08-23-2013 - 8:41pm

Sounds like it was insanity.   I definitely think.....gee, I was only able to get a few spots and they are taken would come to mind for next year.

I know recitals and such are posted way ahead of time so that was crazy.

I know this is an old post but I was just poking around to see if this board was still up, etc....

Becky - Mom to Carolyn (17), Aaron (15), Kyle (11) & Luke (8)
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