Parental guidance suggested: What to do when Mom or Dad is too involved?

We want parents to be involved in their son’s pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew. Without dedicated parents, Scouting can’t function.

But how involved is too involved? What if Dad insists on his tent being right next to his son’s tent? Or Mom wants to sit outside of the room during merit badge instruction? Or Mom and Dad tell their Scout not to bother attending a troop event if he won’t earn a merit badge or check off a rank requirement there?

To me, that’s too involved. So for today’s Tuesday Talkback, let’s discuss ways to rein in that well-intentioned involvement.

First, read this letter I received from a Scouter. Then weigh in by leaving a comment.

The Scouter, who asked to remain anonymous, writes: 

I am a Scoutmaster and have been one for 1.5 years, so I’m still very new to the community of Scouting. But I love it.

The only issue that I am running into is this: I have a parent who is overly involved. They don’t let their child camp unless they are there, and if they are there, their tent has to be next to their son’s tent. They have to walk their child from class to class and sit outside of the classroom so they can peek in to see how the child is doing during merit badge instruction. They try to tell me when I need to do their child’s Scoutmaster conference and board of review. They feel that if the Scout is not earning anything toward advancement at an event, there’s no need to attend.

Parent involvement is great and encouraged, but it just seems as though they are too involved and “baby” him too much. I’m not quite sure how to handle this issue without being too blunt.

Concerned Scoutmaster

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  1. It’s a blessing to have an interested adult. Perhaps what they need is to have A JOB that keeps them involved in the unit, able to monitor their son from afar, and accomplishes something for the good of all of the scouts. If THEY are part of the troop TOO, then maybe they don’t need to be hovering near their son all the time.

    • Just need to be careful that the position they hold isnt like scoutmaster. There is a SM in our district who seems to be reliving his Scouting career through his sons. He is gonna do everything possible (or so it seems) to help them get their eagle, something he didn’t.

      • I understand what the person above was saying. We had a dad who became ASM to further his sons Scouting career, always trying to out do other scouts that where his sons age. Not trying to help the troop as a whole. When his son became Eagle at the age of 13 everyone who was at the project new who did all the prep work for the project because the Father was always saying I did this, I had to do that, It took me this many hours to get this approved. When he was confronted about it he switched it up saying everyone was jealous & picking on his son. But to get back to the subject at hand he was one of the parents that did almost everything you mentioned, which is why they gave him the ASM title. Now he makes sure he and his family gets every award that is out their. Good luck.

  2. My troop doesn’t have parents, we only have adult leaders. Scouts address all adults as Mr. or Mrs. even if they share a roof outside of scouting. Adult leaders are strongly discouraged from interacting with their own children another leader handles anything that comes up.

    I like to hammer the scouting method, boys teaching boys and boys doing. You bet I could cook better, set up camp faster and do merit badges better than any tenderfoot but the point is we are here for them to learn. As long as the boys are safe and thriving let them try, fail, learn and grow. I point out the older scouts who stroll into camp, set up and get dinner going like it was the easiest thing ever. In the morning the older scouts emerge from their tents warm, dry and looking as fresh as daisies. I remind the parents that three years ago they couldn’t start a fire and forgot to buy eggs for their omelets. They learned and now they can take care of themselves.

    Scouting is a safe place for young birds to spread and try their wings and we need to remind parents that is life.

  3. We had a parent who was just that involved with her son’s advancement. In her case, she turned it into a competition with other scouts, as well (i.e., she would do the legwork to find where specific merit badges were being offered, but not share the information so that her son would be the only one to get them). When his name was in the hat for SPL, she lobbied scouts to vote for him. Once he served his term as SPL, she stopped encouraging him to come to meetings and she resigned her position on the Troop Committee. I strongly suspect that she even did much of the planning for his Eagle project.

    Ultimately, as much as it makes those of us who do it the right way grind our teeth, the main person a parent such as this hurts is his or her own Scout. And there’s not much we can do about that. You can try to guide the parent into letting go (we did), but you can’t control it.

  4. We try and set expectations right away that the scouts run the show and that parents are in the background. When we have dens come in, the Webelos get mixed into the patrols for the meeting and the parents sit in the back with the adult leaders. During those meetings, we are up-front in saying it may take a bit of adjustment for them when their sons join boys scouts, because there is much less parent-child interaction then cub scouts. We want them to volunteer, but we explain that the support needed is different than what they may be used to. Usually these meetings are barely-controlled chaos, but we point out that is somewhat the point – while the meetings would probably be more orderly if adults ran them, the scouts get great opportunities to learn how to run and organize things. I am constantly amazed at how well they do, if you just give them a chance.

    Last year we also came up with a short FAQ sheet that provides new parents with information on when the troop meets, what equipment is needed, etc., and one item emphasizes that one of our goals is to have the scouts be self-sufficient in running things. We have not had too many issues. On occasion we have a new parent that wants to sit with their son because they are worried about him fitting in, but it is usually the son that tells the parent to go away!

    • The time to have set up front expectations is obviously gone. And don’t beat yourself up as hey – you are there doing the work, and as you said you just got going.

      First – get with your committee about this. If the group can’t come to agreement, your troop could end up dead. My brand new troop (1 month old) got equipment from a troop that was destroyed over dealing with a behavior problem.

      Second – understand that some parents will back off, and some won’t. I would start with trying to distract them so they can’t be right there. Failing that, I would look for an opportunity to point out how well “Johnny” is doing and that “Johnny” might need to handle the next bit alone. Point out that we look for them to become young men who can handle themselves. And that it is important that they have the chance (even to fail).

      Third, you may have to face the tough choice of alienating them and they leave, or letting it go. I will not tell you which is better. I would encourage you to talk that over with the committee.

      Finally, I would offer some observation from “the other side.” When I saw such behavior as a scout I knew the scout would be gone in 2.5 years max from their start date. You see, mom (or dad, but mostly mom) was pushing them to Eagle. And when that box was checked – it was off to another item for their college resume. And if you push them out, they will go to another troop and complete their mission. If this is one of “those” families you can’t fix it. You can’t stop it. You can only decide if it is too much to deal with.

    • We have a Dad involved in the Troop who only involves his son in activities that will benefit him and goes about sabotaging other scouts who may be a threat to his son attaining Eagle first (others don’t see it as yet). He has carefully outlined his son’s Eagle project (he’s 10), and how five different agencies will be involved. He has created a riff between my son and I by telling me that my son is not being up front and forth right with me about things that were discussed in a troop meeting (which I was told I was not invited to)…..and my son was just not paying attention. No one mentioned attending Committee meetings (where I now find that most events have been discussesed). I have asked how the info is disseminated and I always get told that my son should have told me the details (he’s 10) and a first time Scout. My son was very motivated, getting 5 merit badges his first Court if Honor, but has been very discouraged by the Troop leaders behavior. The sabotage has been going for 6 months and anything I have attended (recently) has been by having over heard Troop parents talking about it. When they see me at tng or events you’d think they’d seen a ghost. I am a single Mom and an honorably discharged Veteran, and currently trying my best to arm myself with more information so I can be the solution to the problem instead of turning tail with my son in hand and running….(I am not a helicopter Mom….I made it through basic alone, and my son will make it through improperly packing or taking provisions)! Any suggestions are appreciated.

      • First of all, if anyone thinks that a 10 year old will remember to get info to you they don’t know kids that have just crossed over very well. It’s the adult leaders responsibility to insure that new Boy Scout parents get the info. What I would do is volunteer for the troop committee. Not only will you get all of the info you need but you might find a place where you will fit into the troop.

      • Many time moms get alienated (for various excuses, I mean reasons I won’t get into) But as a mother of an Eagle, Assistant Advisor in OA and a past Troop SM and Jamboree Contigent ASM, there is a place for you in scouting. Don’t settle for being excluded. Vote with your feet and find a troop that respects what you can contribute! And anyone who tells you that you are preventing your son from spreading his wings or being independent doesn’t know what they are talking about. My son has had many great opportunities as SPL, OA Lodge Chief, Camp Staff and Council Executive Committee.

      • It sounds to me like your SM doesn’t have control of their troop. Even the best boy-led troop needs that SM to keep things running smoothly and by BSA requirements. The SM needs to be made aware of the issue and if they are not concerned and blow it off, take the problem up to your Unit Commissioner. Aside from those things, if your boy is not happy, take him to another troop if you can. This is about where your boy will be happy, flourish, and enjoy Scouting, not if someone thinks you are running away from the problem. Also, if this parent is that bad, he has done it in Cubs (if his boy was there) and someone needs to stand up to him.

  5. There seems to be two problems in the situation described by the Scouts.

    The first is an overly involved “helicopter parent.” This can happen on an outing or event — such as mommy walking her son from class to class, or daddy setting up his son’s tent for him. And it can happen outside of the outings (so “banning” them doesn’t make the problem go away) — such as dad making the phone call to set up an appointment with a merit badge councilor for his son, or mommy packing her son’s footlocker for summer camp for him.

    The second is a parent with the mindset that the point of the Scouting program is advancement and badge earning. Advancement is not one of the aims of Scouting… and it is just one of the eight methods of the program. If a mom or dad sees an activity that doesn’t result in a badge as a “waste” then they clearly don’t understand the program.

    • >>If a mom or dad sees an activity that doesn’t result in a badge as a “waste” then they clearly don’t understand the program.<<


      We need to get people to understand that Scouting is about building character, developing citizenship, and promoting personal fitness. Yes, advancement can help support those goals, but it is not the purpose or the focus of the program. Never has been, and never should be.

      The Scouting program is not about collecting as many badges as you can to get the "high score" or "most points"… it is not a game that tasks boys to jump through hoops to earn 101 trinkets like some sort of scavenger hunt… nor is it about decorating up a uniform with a patch for every banal thing you do… nor is it about building up your résumé with a laundry-list of frivolous accomplishments. The stereotype of the "there's a badge for that" Scouting program and "gotta get them all" mentality is hurting the main focus of what Scouting is about.

      Baden-Powell said it best when he wrote: “The Scoutmaster must be alert to check for badge-hunting as compared to badge-earning.”

      The best Scouting experiences I've had had very little to do with checking a specific box off for a rank or badge requirement. The best outings I've been on earned me no specific merit badge or medal… but I did build character, relationships, citizenship, leadership, fitness, purpose, esteem, and skills that will last a lifetime.

      As Baden-Powell also said: “Advancement is like a suntan; something you get naturally whilst having fun in the outdoors.”

      I wish the BSA would focus more on "fun in the outdoors" and "character building" and not just feed the "badge hunting" and "résumé building" mentality so many parents have come to expect.

      It's not about the badges. The badges are not the goal… the badges are just one tool towards helping you reach the ultimate goal.

      • I had a parent who questioned me on why we were not working on MB during troop meetings. I told her that was not what troop meetings were for. She said her boy would not make Eagle because of it since that was how all her other boys did.

        I told her if she could show me in any of the BSA guidelines or church guidelines (since we are an LDS unit) where it says troop meetings are for working on MBs then we would change what we are doing. Needless to say she was not too happy although we are still good friends.

        It pays to know the guidelines when challenged.

      • Among the first steps that a Scout takes toward earning a merit badge is to have a conversation with the Scoutmaster and obtain the blue card. A Scoutmaster who does not take the opportunity to review with the Scout why he wants to pursue a particular merit badge and find out what he hopes to gain from the experience is shortchanging the Scout from having this valuable experience.

        The purpose is not to challenge the Scout or dissuade him from earning “too many” merit badges or earning them “too fast” or “too soon”. Any merit badge may be earned by any Scout at any time.

        If the Scoutmaster (or worse, an assistant Scoutmaster) merely signs the blue card and hands it to the Scout, both are skipping over an important part of the process.

  6. I would suggest that you have them OLS training. That way they can help out the unit as a leader, but more importantly fully understand the Boy Scout Patrol Method. They will get a broader understanding in a pier kearning environment of why they should stand back and allow some of the chaos to happen in an environment that will allow the boys fail safely and learn from their mistakes.

  7. We have this, sometimes. In general, we give the boy and parent a year or two to grow out of it. Meanwhile we also increase the physical activity of the troop. More weekends of backpacking, cycling, canoeing, patrol hike challenges, orienteering races, wilderness survival, makeshift hammocks, etc …Very few “plop” camps. Very clear designation of adult areas hundreds of feet away from patrol sites.

    We ask the parent to sit on boards of review for other scouts. Find out what skills they have and ask them to coach a couple of boys in them. Maybe help a different patrol improve their flag. Get her husband to clear some space in his garage so a patrol could spiff up their klondike sled.

    As she tires of trying to keep up with her boy’s increasing physical ability, and takes on some responsibility for the needs of other families, she might grow to trust how we’re handling her boy.

    • A year or two can destroy a troop in my experience. When one helicopter parent sees it being allowed, others will follow suit. I have seen a troop destroyed in this manner. Yes the older Scouts eventually tired of this happening with nothing being doen to stop it and either Eagled out, transferred to another troop, or quit outright.

      Also I know as a youth, I always hated Crossover time because the Cub Scout parents caused a lot of havoc with the troop’s program until the SM, ASMs, and CC got them out of our hair.

  8. We haven’t had that many overly-involved parents, but there are a few. We try and talk to them privately, with sensitivity, to tell them how the program isn’t really set up for parents being overly-involved.

    The second part of it is this — when I talk to prospective parents, I talk about the purpose of our program. I tell them directly that it isn’t a goal of our program to crank out Eagle Scouts, rather it’s our goal to offer a fun and interesting program, and if the Scout participates, then usually advancement naturally follows.

  9. It is even more difficult if you are the parent and had to be reminded who the Scout is. Yes I put all of the camping dishes in the dishwasher when they came home and before they went back to Troop storage. I chastised the Scoutmaster when my son was not prepared to conduct a Court of Honor and suggested that the Scoutmaster let me know in advance. That was when he reminded me who the Scout was. I probably learned more that day than the Scout and it makes a good story to tell Scoutmasters and parents. The Eagle Scout son is now a successful adult.

  10. After 15 years as scoutmaster, I used tasking parent as my best solution. Start small but something requiring attention to detail giving the parent bigger and bigger tasks over time. I always refused to discuss advancement with parents directing them to the advancement chair. When a scout asked about advancement and started the conversation with “My mom says” I countered with “Do you think she is right?”

    Over all my years, this worked with all but one parent who transferred her son to another troop.

    • That is real great advice asking a young man to choose between his family that only has his best intrests at heart and a stranger that although has a possition of authority, may or may not be worthy of the trust and respect that possition entitles.

  11. I’m looking for recommendations as well. We have a boy who has never been on an overnight unless one parent has attended, and SHARED his tent. Both parents are merit badge counselors and the only merit badges he has earned have been taught by mommy and daddy. This kid is now a First Class scout and has never been on a single outing – even for a few hours – without a parent present. In fact I’ve never seen him at a Troop meeting without a parent and his Mom has sat next to the door at all of his Boards of Review.

    I would love to see the Scout tell mom to back off, but the problem is the opposite. He runs to Mommy with every complaint and anytime something doesn’t go his way. For example, he didn’t like how a museum visit was being planned – cost, schedule, lunch, etc – so he left the group, went to the back of the room and very loudly told mommy, “This is stupid, They’re doing it wrong.” The entire room heard him and the synchronized eye roll was almost laughable. Mom’s response, “I know, Davy, I know.”

    We’re a small Troop, so we don’t necessarily want to see the entire family resign, but it’s time for a big “Really Check” with this family. I don’t believe this boy should have earned the rank of First Class based on this lack of maturity. I brought this up during his board of review and we looked through all requirements – there is nothing that says a Scout has to do things without mom & dad.

    • There may be something going on in the background that you don’t understand. So, set new expectations of them both, but tread carefully. This is where the rubber hits the road.

      Things to suggest:
      To the scout, “Now that you are a first class scout, I would like you to {insert position of responsibility or SM assigned project here}. This has been a neglected area in our troop, and I think you might be able to make it better.”
      To the parents, “I think it’s time to start enjoying our boys’ from a distance. So, I am gonna start looking for camping areas where we adults can set up 100 yards away from where the boys set up. Got any locations?”

      If they all agree, this won’t keep him from dashing to his folks at the first problem. But at least he’ll get his exercise.

      At some point, the SM is probably gonna have to get yourself and the parents around a campfire to ask why the behavior is continuing a lot longer than what you’ve seen in other boys. Be open to all kinds of possibilities including bullying outside of scouts, developmental problems, or really adverse life events. It might not change what the SM does. But you’ll be more accepting when things don’t progress.

      • I think “Scout spirit” applies here. If he hasn’t done a single thing without his parents present, is that really “Scout spirit”? I think not.

      • After reading, my thought was the same. It’s possible that the child may have a disability that the parent isn’t willing to share. I am a parent of a child with autism. Our family is open. My child can’t have his needs met if his SM, ASM, and fellow patrol members don’t know. Am I protective? Parents of neurotypical may think so; however I say I’m not. I am an advocate for my child. I don’t camp with, nor do I hover. I ensure his needs are met. This means I’m required to be involved perhaps more than other parents. I’d love the opportunity to tour the Scouting community and teach awareness.

      • Maturity is not an issue in the first few ranks it is about skills. I know of a boy who was denied First Class because the Committee felt he was too immature. He was very upset because he knew he had earned it and didn’t understand what he had done wrong. His parents later went to the Committee and asked why and only one member would admit it. This boy’s problem is that mom needs a good talking to and the line needs to be drawn as to what she can and can’t do.

    • A few thoughts. A cup of coffee around the campfire is need to find out what the heck is going on. This is more Cub Scouts tyhan Boy Scouts IMHO.

      Also parents should NOT be observing BORs as it will change how the Scout reacts.

      Good luck cause this mom is overboard IMHO.

    • A properly run troop is the SCOUTS’ troop not the adults’ troop. Scouts don’t learn to lead unless the LEAD. Adults are perhaps facilitators, a safety net so to speak. They should, as much as possible, be at the perimeter of troop activities while the boys run the troop. Still, there is much to be done at the perimeter of a successful troop, and parental involvement can make or break a troop. Not enough parental involvement invokes the 80/20 rule, where you have 80% of the work being done by the SAME 20% of the parents, IF YOU ARE LUCKY enough to have 20% involvement! INVOLVED parent tended to be involved with THEIR scout, sometimes exclusively. What you need are COMMITTED parents, that is parents who, when they do participate, are committed to the goals of the troop collectively.

      The troop committee came up with some “Avenues of Input,” for parents, guidelines for appropriate ways to address issues or concerns to the committee, individually or as a group. Generally, we asked of al adults, troop officials included, that comments, criticisms, or suggestion be made in the absence of the scouts. If a parent felt uncomfortable raising a question to the committee, we provided them with contact information for the commissioner. There was never an issue that was beyond resolution. Everything was discussed and dealt with amongst the adults.

      With regard to advancement, the Board of Review was in charge of all rank advancement. Typically, the board of review was a closed meeting, usually within the weekly scout meeting. the review board was composed of the CC,SM, committee members, and the district commissioner. NO PARENTS were invited to participate in the review. Our purpose was to review the scout’s experience, achievements, and service to troop and community, and his perception and understanding of same. On occasion, if we felt that a scout was ill-prepared, or just not ready to promote, it was never treated as a failure. We would, in a positive way, ask the scout to come back next month to review that part of the program that required deeper understanding, before being promoted.

      Here we go, …When I was a scout, my troop didn’t allow scouts to have their parents be their merit badge counselor. When my sons were scouts, it was the preference of the men and women affiliated with the troop that they NOT counsel their own sons. We would counsel one another’s sons, and many times our sons would prefer to have a counselor that was not affiliated with the troop. While we encouraged advancement, the emphasis was on the experience. Through regular active participation in the program, advancement took care of itself. It was the journey, more than the destination that made the difference.

      • Wait – did you say your Scoutmaster participated in boards of review? And the district commissioner?

        That’s not right. The Scoutmaster or ASMs don’t participate in a board of review except to perhaps introduce the Scout. And for ranks other than Eagle Scout, only registered committee members participate – not your commissioner (unless he/she is also a committee member). In rare cases and in order to unreasonably delay a Scouts advancement when three committee members are not available, other adults can participate if they understand the purpose of a board of review – but not as a routine matter. (Sec. and, Guide to Advancement)

      • I agree with fjmaynard. It is true that often in Scouting “the work is done by whoever shows up”, and often the BoR will be “staffed” by whomever parents show up, but the SM, and any other uniformed leaders (ASMs, UCs, DC???, DE, ) should NOT attend if it is at all possible to shanghai some other parents. That said, the parent of the Scout being reviewed should not be present in the room during the BoR. The CCh is in charge, or his designee, and the purpose is to review the rank that has ALREADY been passed on by other Scout leaders. A Scout should NEVER be retested in a BoR. You are reviewing that the requirements have been signed off and that the Scout is satisfied with his experience in the Troop and Patrol and to encourage him in his efforts. If the Scout does not know his stuff, that will show up later during Troop and Patrol competitions and outings (you do those, right?) and folks that have pencil whipped his requirements need to be counseled themselves about the purpose of Scouting.
        Let me tell you about the time at the CSDC when I asked for some Scouts with Toten Chip to help rig the flag pole and NONE of them knew how to make a tent peg…..

        • We are a small troop with only a few committee members. Some of them insist on retesting the scout, even though they have been told that this is the purpose of the scoutmaster’s conference and we are not to be retesting them. How do we convince these committee members that this is not the way it is done? We also have the TOO involved problem with these people and THEY think they KNOW BEST.

  12. As a Scoutmaster with a son in the Troop, he would call me da on the drive to and from a meeting or camp out, but as soon as we arrived I was Mr. Powell. This set the tone for other parents. He was allowed to screw up and take the consequences. Life is all about choices and the sooner the Scout learns to make good ones on his own the sooner a leader emerges.

  13. Some people take longer than others to change others never learn. Our Grandson has my husband on most outings and most camping trips and while that may seem like he is a helicopter grandparent nothing could be farther from the truth. He goes so much because we are a small troop that has few adults that can do or get time off , and things were being canceled regularly. He lets the boys run things and does not hover I have that tendency and have had to learn to let go. He is 15 and a life scout and he has been to summer camp and several camp outs without us and he does well. He had a huge scare in a thunder storm as a young kid and was terrified of storms so that he never missed an outing as long as we were with him was huge. when he was ready he let us know. When he was younger he was also very hyper and was hard to manage. He settles down well for my husband and it’s not a battle. We searched for 4 months to find the right fit for him because of his hyper activity we knew a large troop would spell trouble. We also knew he needed guys ( boys) that he would listen to and learn from. He has had some of the best friends a young boy could have all by us stepping back and letting scouts work. Tell those parents they are missing out on a very important part of letting the older guys doing what they were meant to do. Now that he’s 15 he has some of those pesky new boys driving him crazy with burning food and forgetting things . But as one of his best friends left for college at his Eagle Court of Honor as the boys asked me to take their photo I remembered how it was 4 years before and they both smiled and laughed and the older boy said” I wanted to shout at him many times but didn’t case I remember somebody helping me, now it’s your turn” ! Tell those parents let scouts do what they have been doing for well over 100 years you can help but let the boys and the other adults deal with your son. He will get so much more from the program. If not it will be their loss. You can’t make people let go you can encourage , teach, and set a good example. How do I know? I was a hovering grandma that first year

  14. I have been a Scoutmaster for 17 years now. I learned a very important technique from my predecessor. When we get new scouts, we let parents know that we are family friendly and they are always welcome. Having said that, I always ask them to give the troop and its adult leaders about 1 year to get their sons up to speed on the program and how it works. We always stress that when we go on and outing or at a meeting, even though they are in attendance, there are no “parents” there. The boys are on our time and only the adult leaders should step in and help or guide them. This works about 95% of the time. When it doesn’t I am willing to take “that” parent aside and explain to them that is not how we do things and why. After that, I won’t hesitate to call out their behavior and remind them they aren’t supposed to be doing that, albeit in a friendly manner.

  15. When my child first joined I was the over involved or helicopter parent (aunt to be honest).
    I wanted to fix his food on campouts and monitor his every step while calling the scoutmaster 2-4 times a week with special requests.
    What he (scoutmaster) did was ask me to help with projects every time I called and of course I said yes as a way of keeping an eye on my child.
    What happened was I began to realized the troop needed help and my child was not learning with me hovering over him.
    End result, by the end of the first year I went from helicopter to assistant scoutmaster for 4 years now.
    My child is a star scout and relies on me for nothing.
    Now I met with those parents once a month as a way of keeping the involvement but with peace.

    Kudos to my scoutmaster for not going crazy and recruiting a dedicated volunteer?

  16. I would need to have a sit-down with the parents to explain the aims of Scouting as well as the methods and how Boy Scouts is different than Cub Scouts. I would focus on getting the emphasis that we want to make the Scout more self-sufficient. I would also read verbatim from the Guide to Advancement (GTA) about parents sitting in on BORs. We cannot stop them if they insist, but explain how the Scout may not answer the same way if their parents were present. I would also ask if the parents attend school with their kid all day long, but I guess this could be a home schooled child. If a Scout can spend 30+ hours a week at school without their parent, they ought to be able to go a few hours without interacting with their parents on a campout.

    If this was not successful, I would approach the Committee with the implementation of some troop policies. First, set a limit on how many Merit Badges that a Scout can earn from any one MBC. Since there are two parents, I would go for 5 as this means the Scout could get 10 from Mommy & Daddy. This policy has to be implemented throughout the troop & even apply for the Scoutmaster & any ASMs as well.

    Second, I would try to implement a policy where Scouts camp in one area and adults in another. In our troop, this ranges from 300 yards to 25 yards depending on the camp location. No Scout is allowed in the adult area unless they have a specific reason for being there such as the SPL receiving instructions. This also goes for the adults that the SM/ASMs check in on the Scouts in “their” area, but don’t hover there. Explain that for the safety of themselves (the parents) that it is in their best interest NOT to be camping in the tent next to a couple of Scouts that they are not related to because of YPT. While sleeping in the same tent with a son is authorized according to YPT, it is just making it safer to prevent false allegations against an adult by another Scout.

    Third, try to institute a policy where parents DO NOT deal with issues relating to their own sons. We do that in our troop. If I see an issue with my son, I tell another ASM or the SM to go square him away. This means it is not the parent giving their kids instruction. If the Scout or parents get upset, then that troop may not be the right fit for them.

    All this “counseling” should be in a positive manner focused on the action NOT the individual(s).

    • AMEN! Somehow we’ve become a people “afraid” to say something to people out of fear of how they will respond or feel (gasp!) “offended”. So many posts on here “hinting” about getting them training or “finding them jobs”. RUBBISH!!! Give them the COURTESY of being honest with them. Look them in the eye, explain how the Program is laid out, and tell them your observations that their actions are a hindrance and need to change.

      • Exactly! It is not kind to anyone to let the situation continue without change. A helicopter parent hinders ALL of the boys from advancing, growing, and maturing. The offending adults need the courtesy of being informed about how they are damaging the troop. If they refuse to change, then the boys need be to protected from the actions and influence of those adults. As some have mentioned above, the survival of the troop may depend on it.

        I have only dealt with one parent who refused to assimilate with the troop. But it eventually became a matter of us refusing to let her muscle her way into the driver seat and change our practices as she pleased. She and her son left the troop. I hated to see her son go, But we had to consider all of the boys and parents who are willing to abide by the way our troop operates. It would not have been fair to anyone for us to change just for her.

  17. YOU GOT MAKE THE RULES. When we backpacked one weekend a month, and long term in the summer………
    We established a “Dad or Mom Patrol”….. that would bring up the rear……and keep their distance while in the campsite. The parents knew their roll……. The Scouts run the show, we only step in if they ask us to, or if there is a problem. Its kind of like the old river boat gambler… “You have to know when to hold them, and you have to know when to fold them”.

  18. Here’s a news flash…. YOU are the SCOUTMASTER. You’re not a baby sitter… you’re no longer a den leader who’s job it is to “entertain” rambunctious little boys. You’re the Scoutmaster and as such, you have a very special job to do which is helping boys GROW into men of character and morals by following the Aims & Methods of the 111 year old Boy Scout program. It is NOT your job to plan out “advancement” for them and it’s NOT your job to “make them Eagles”. Your [only] job is to deliver the Program AS DESIGNED and make a boy’s limited years in Scouting a meaningful experience.

    As boys bridge into a BS Troop, they are starting down a path of MATURATION, and part of that is an END of being with “mommy and daddy” and starting to work independently with their patrol members and with OTHER adults (like YOU and various merit badge councilors). “Mommy & me” and “Daddy & me” was the CUB scout program…. we aren’t Cub Scouts any more.

    It’s time you sat EVERYONE down and explained the NUANCES of Boy Scouting and the Character Development aspects of the Program to everyone so they understand why things are done the way they’re done, and why things shouldn’t be done in other ways.

    Per the Patrol Method… their boy’s tent should be set up WITH HIS PATROL… away from everyone else so they can start to FEEL and ACT like their own patrol. In the name of “Youth protection” make all the adults set up their tents together… again, AWAY from the boys.

    We have a policy in our troop that parents understand that when they come to camp, they are no longer “Mom & Dad”. They are now part of the “adult patrol” and they are there for ALL the boys, not just their kid. If they STILL don’t get the hint, then the time has certainly come to look them in the eye and tell them point blank that they are hindering the goals of the program and YOUR ability to execute the Program properly. If they STILL can’t get a hint… “invite” them to transfer to another unit. You don’t need that kind of nonsense and believe me… EVERYONE is noticing (even the other boys).

  19. Dear Mr. Concerned Scoutmaster,
    I’m just wondering….. WHAT’S WRONG with being “too blunt”?

    You can say anything you want, you just need to know how to say it. You’d be surprised how WELL “honesty” is received. Obviously, don’t yell at them or call them out in front of other people, but you’ll save yourself a lot of time and mental anguish just “dealing with it” in 1 short blow. Call them on the phone or talk to them after a troop meting. HERE is the Program. HERE is why I think we have a problem. HERE is what I’d like you do to HELP ME “fix” it. Love you… can’t wait to see you next camping trip. Walk away.

  20. Parents (who stay and are not on the committee) stay in the back area of the meeting hall. They soon realize they are in the way or just standing there and really not needed. There is full opportunity to take on a job when their son crosses over, if they choose not to then they stand in the corner. They feel out of place and realize quickly, either join the committee or come back at the end of the meeting.
    If a parent contacts me for a merit badge I ask them to have their son talk to me and we’ll plan from there.
    I’m also a Girl Scout leader and it drives me crazy when the girls say “I don’t know if my mom packed that or where she put it.” I tell them they should have packed it then they would know then tell the parents at pick up that we told the girls and the parents before our trip that the girls should pack and then you go back and double check it. The girl learn when they can’t find what they need and it’s too late, we’re miles from home.
    Sometimes the scout is the one who has to say “I can do it, please let me” to their parent.

    • I’ve had the packing problem with my venturers in the opposite direction. Someones mom or (supposedly much larger) lodge chief brother packed their gear and they had no clue how much surplus they were carrying! Kinda limits the miles they can cover on a full pack.

      It takes a while for parents to realize when it’s not helping.

  21. I would be what most people consider to be that “helicopter parent”, however, it is for good reason. My son is very Special Needs. He currently has 38 different diagnosis’, three of which are life threatening, and Cornelia deLange Syndrome. A couple of his life threatening diagnosis’ are a failing immune system and Adrenal Insufficiency. Some of you may already be google-ing Cornelia deLange Syndrome (CdLS) and Adrenal Insufficiency – but in a nutshell, CdLS is very rare (less than 3,500 currently alive with it), and my son’s is one of the rarest of the genes (he was #5 discovered), and a lot of these children don’t even make it through the teen years. Adrenal Insufficiency is that the body does not produce the stress hormone Cortisol – which is necessary for life. When he has any stress – be it mental or physical (injury or sickness) his body should produce more of it to help the body cope and react or heal. He doesn’t produce any, so something as simple as a splinter or getting stressed about doing something could prove fatal (he has a special shot he has to receive within ten minutes of an injury or he could be dead within 30 minutes. So I am with him everywhere, just to keep him alive.
    All this being said… I have another son who is healthy and does for himself. I understand that parents want to “do for” their children, but in order for them to grow, mature, and progress to becoming a valuable and contributing citizen – we have to let them make there own mistakes and learn to “do for” themselves. It is hard – but necessary – and very rewarding when they do things the right way.

    • What happens when he leaves for college, or God forbid, some happens to you and your spouse and your son is on his own? You need to train him. Then trust him.

      I would suggest talking to your son, and start backing off to HIS comfort level. I’d also have a Talk with the leaders so they know the situation, if they don’t already. He needs to take responsibility, and do not make the mistake most of our society is making: that those under 26 are still children and incapable of taking responsibility.

      We had a Scout with life threatening allergies. He actually went into shock at a den meeting when a Cub over one of the allergens. Parents prevented him from camping unless one of them went with him for the longest time. Didn’t matter that we had trained personnel on hand, including a certified flight nurse, who could administer the epipen and treat him if needed. Eventually, after about 18 months in the troop, kid finally went camping without the parents. BUT because he depended upon his parents intervening so much, he could not handle a situation on his own that dealt with one of the allergens and his patrol duties. He could not express properly to his patrol that he could not handle ANY of a specific food item, and that resulted in some challenges. After that one trip, he quit.

      • I certainly understand what you are saying… but if you knew all of the conditions that he has, as well as the emergency shot that you have to be trained to give and is not available on ambulances or paramedics vehicles, the 15 medications (most that have to be kept cool) he takes numerous times throughout the day, the two shots he has to have, the fact that he has 20/200 vision (legally blind), extreme anxiety, etc., etc., etc., you would understand. Basically NO part of his body functions properly, and he does not feel pain like everyone else and a lot of the time it is us, his parents, who notice that something is wrong or that he is injured (not the leaders, his nurse, or his educators). He does participate in scouting events and is pretty good about knowing what he should and should not do, but I am in the background with all of the leaders, and they are very glad that I am there to make sure that nothing happens or if it does… I am there to do what is medically necessary. There are not many people willing to take the liability for him or the responsibility for all of his medications. He also has to be in a separate tent with me as he is hooked to a feeding tube at night that has to be monitored in case of a problem with it.

        He has been called numerous times… the poster boy for do your best, because he tries very hard to do everything. He doesn’t succeed a lot of the time, but he still gives it everything he has. As many of his doctors have been so kind to be honest to us about… he will probably never go to college, he will never be able to drive a car, and he will be dependent on someone all of his life. We cherish every day we have with him, because he is a miracle child, but we also know what he has and what that means for him and his life. He is not you normal child with an allergy. It is much more extreme than that and much more difficult to deal with.

        • God bless you, Brian, for wanting your son to have the experiences available to him that Scouting can offer. It would be much easier for you to just tell him it isn’t possible because of his health problems. I commend you for being the parent that gives up your time for your child. This, to me, is not a hovering or helicoptering situation. Continue on.

        • As someone with a 22-year-old who is still a scout, I can verify that you need to prepare for the unknown with a special needs child. Not just them handling things but financial planning and more. I know how the dx for your son makes it sound, but there’s always the child that defies the odds and survives to adulthood and needs to be ale to do things for themselves.

  22. From the perspective of a Scout parent and former Scout. Try to see this as a transition, rather than a blunt step. As the parent of two Eagle Scouts with 263 merit badges between them, I certainly understand the desire for advancement. There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of youthful enthusiasm for learning new things before high school, sports, etc. overwhelm their time and attention.

    At the same time, parents should both be encouraged and see on their own that other Scouts certainly need help. From my own case, I began to see that the opportunities to learn science and nature from qualified adults were too few. I often start with my own sons as guinea pigs for merit badges, but quickly take the lessons learned and apply them as a counselor for others. In the 5 years since my sons have been involved in Scouts, I’ve counseled hundreds of Scouts in various merit badge classes in their Troop, District, and even random Scouts who I meet from our and other Councils. In terms of working with my own sons, I limit myself to only two Eagle-required merit badges (the pair of Environmental Science and Sustainability; one of the two required). That way, I’m sure my sons were exposed to at least 12 other counselors on the path to Eagle.

    From the perspective of a former Scout (circa 1977-1982), while I do have a few very nice memories of working on merit badges and rank advancement, most of my memories of Scouting are the friends I made and the many times we just hung out with each other. A few of those fellow Scouts are among those I contact on infrequent trips to my hometown. That bonding with my fellow Scouts wouldn’t have happened if my parents had hovered all the time.

  23. Some great thoughts and experiences from long-time scouters. Let me give the perspective from the parent. While we also are interested in developing independence and character, we sometimes feel shoved aside until something is needed from the troop (phone calls, money, transportation, food).

    Someone above used the example of schools working independently with our children 30 hours a week. True, but the schools also actively engage parents in the education of their children in a partnership. Information is shared, parent-teacher conferences are held, emails are sent, lines of communication are always open. If a parent wants to know how their child is doing, they are not generally told “ask your child” or “have your child ask me, then I will tell them.” If troops want more parental involvement, they need to find a way to engage them while not making them feel “in the way.”

    This all said, I do agree with Scouting’s methods of boy-led patrols, etc. It is a proven method in developing independence and character in youth. In an ever-changing world and BSA membership dropping, figuring out ways to keep current scouts and families engaged will be crucial.

  24. Consider this option – talk to the parent about their involvement as interfering with the program’s goals. If the parent does not correct his/her action, then tell the parent he/she is NO LONGER wanted on unit activities.

    you might lose the boy too. but, the boy can’t be blamed for bad/poor parental actions.

    What affect does this parent bear on others in the Unit???

    • the parent took the advancement position. But focuses on what her son needs to advance, his Board or review, his scoutmaster conference. Already has the dates for each rank written next to them on when he is spose to make them.

  25. I want to share my perspective, as the parent of a recent Eagle Scout, who also has autism.

    When he crossed over, I joined the Troop Committee and became a merit badge counselor, so that I could be present with him on trips for support, independently of being “NAME’s dad”. I also attended all of his initial camping trips with him (including three full week summer camps) That level of involvement helped me and my wife prepare him to participate independently in Scouting activities, e.g., by rehearsing what he would do in common social situations, in talking about appropriate and inappropriate camp behavior, and helping with strategies to keep on task on requirement and merit badge work).. I also think that I was helpful to the Troop Committee Chair and Scoutmaster in camp, in providing another adult to assist younger Scouts, to support Scouts with food allergy issues (as I have), and in general just being an adult leader in camp.

    However, when the then-Scoutmaster asked if I would share a tent with him on his first trip, I asked if any other Scouts would tent with their parents. When the answer was “no”, I declined. Over the years, my son has tented with several other boys from his patrol (of the same age and younger and older). He has had to learn cooperation – although he preferred to rise at 5 with an alarm, he learned to adapt to waking without it, and (to my knowledge) spoke to his tentmates about his waking time. (To my knowledge, he rose quietly, and never had an issue.) As he has become a teenager, the early waking time has faded out both at home and at camp.

    My goal was to support him to the point where he could do trips without me, not only in Scouting, but in life. I joked that my son was in Scouting because my wife and I are going to die (not soon, we hope), and trips provide a controlled environment to learn life skills. (One former leader called Scouting “an exercise in controlled failure” – the boys can make mistakes without lasting consequences.)

    To answer the question, I think that parents of a Scout with a disability can and should be more involved than parents of typical Scouts, but should also try to fade their role as early as possible. (By the third summer camp, my son constantly told me, “You can go back to y your tent now, Dad.”) Among some Scouts, there clearly was a stigma for boys who did not camp without their parents (whether with a disability, or typical). Once my son showed us that he was ready to camp on his own, I stopped going (and sometimes miss the camp atmosphere, to be honest).

  26. What about the over-involved parent who is allowed to do whatever they please because they also help out the troop? When the boys see the double standards and see how the application of rules vary by the scout they are applied to. Happens in some troops more than others.

    • He/she (adult or scout) who does the work commands respect. It’s true.

      But, a committee chair (or sometimes a seasoned ASM) needs to be a partner in setting boundaries for adults.

  27. So the scouts were shown and asked what courses they wanted to take for merit badge college. One said well my mom wants…I mean I…. um well.
    So we said here are the choices pick a few that you really want to do just in case some are filled already. So he did. The boys got registered and it was good to go. Then we got asked by a parent when are the boys going to get registered for MBC and we stated they have been and the boys picked what they wanted. But now the parent it saying the boy is really upset he is not taking 3 eagle requirements just 2 and in one day ( which was a school day) he had asked his mom 2times if he could drop a course and replace it with an eagle. This wasn’t an issue until MOM found out what he was registered for. and now his mom sent an email and text saying her son is upset and wants to change courses, which like I said hasn’t been an issue for the past few weeks. Just now sense Mom found out the courses.
    Should I cater to them like everyone else does or say these are the ones He originally chose and are registered for he needs to fallow through with it

    • Thinking: You know the answer. Who is earning the MB? Who asked for and signed up for the MB? If the Scout has to deal with his parents, that will sort out in it’s own time. You can remind the parent:
      You are a leader in the “BOY SCOUTS” not the “PARENT SCOUTS”.
      When the award is presented, who will receive it? Hey, might make a SMMinute out of that….

  28. So many good comments made here already but I’d like to emphasize that we should try to never assume we know exactly what’s going on. The advice to sit down with a well-placed cup of coffee is a good one to find out parent’s motivation and encourage them to allow their some to grow in independence.

  29. Scouting is a journey to help a boy grow from where he is to the Scout he can become. The Program has worked for 100 years, but needs to be individually applied. The moment you write a new rule, be ready to make an exception!

    A Troop works well when there is a set of shared values. For the Scouts, that is all contained in the Oath and Law. For the adults, we begin with Webelos parents and newly arrived parents with a review of the 8 Methods of Scouting. As Scoutmaster, that gives me plenty of leeway to tell humorous stories of what not to do, and answer parent questions; it is also a great time for “recovered” helicopter parents to encourage newbies to trust the program. Make it clear that the Methods are what your Troop will strive to use and deliver.

    In daily situations, a Scoutmaster technique that works in most cases is to talk to the Scout, not the parent. Ask questions of the Scout, and never break eye contact. When the parent answers, show amazement and ask the Scout how he answered that question without moving his lips! Then ask again. Everyone gets the point without feelings hurt, and parent will usually laugh and back off. Whatever your style, put the Scout in charge of his advancement or backpack or whatever.

    All that said, when you find yourself talking ABOUT someone, its time to talk TO them. Show you care about their son, try to understand their situation, and speak truth with gentle strength. That is what a Scoutmaster does.

    • “… when you find yourself talking ABOUT someone, it’s time to talk TO them.” Wow. Wise words. This is my “ponder” quote for the week. (Ponder it and figure out how to make it something I start doing.)

  30. When a Webelos Scout visits our troop with his parents, we have a discussion with the parents about how the Boy Scout program works with emphasis on this is not Cub Scouts and the boys run the program with guidance from the adult leaders. If the parents wish to be involved, they may join the committee or be an ASM. They will go through all the training required for the position and be an active participant. If they want to go camping other than our yearly family camp out, they MUST be a registered volunteer.

    I think the key point to make with the parents is how the Boy Scout program differs from the Cub Scout program, i.e., the Scouts lead the program, not the adults.

  31. I’m going to post this comment from a parent perspective, though I’ve put in my years as a Cub and Webelos leader (and Girl Scouts), and I do step up to help our troop when I am able (keeping in the background when I can). I believe in the Boy Scout program.

    That said, my son’s experience has been a poor one, in what is otherwise usually a good troop. During his transition year, bridging up from Webelos to Boy Scouts and the year that followed, I became sick with cancer. My son’s attendance was as regular as we could make it, and a few friends’ parents helped out with getting him to meetings.

    BUT … the leadership let him slip through the cracks. They assumed that he knew all the steps to getting a merit badge (talk to the scoutmaster, get the blue card, etc) because, well, I’ve been trained as a counselor so I must have told him, right? And he’d seen the process. Clearly we were parents who could pick up the slack and support our boy. Even though I was seriously ill and couldn’t form coherent thoughts, and my son has his own issues in understanding group dynamics (he’s a sweet kid and lives for service projects, but he doesn’t always understand that it’s okay to go up to the adults and ask questions. Or even to ask the patrol leaders. No one spelled it out for him, and he’s the kind of kid who needs that.). It wasn’t until I was in recovery that I realized the damage was done … he was one of the ‘old guys’ and supposed to know everything, and he didn’t.

    So here he is, an 8th grade scout still at Second Class and with maybe four merit badges to his name. Plus he has a difficulty with campouts (they had a particularly traumatic storm on one of his first troop outings, and that messed with him, in spite of all the Cub, Webelos, and visits-to-troops outings he had done before).

    So, do I hover some? Maybe. We drop him off for meetings, but I do go ‘behind his back’ to talk to his leaders and let them know what issues he may be facing… that way they can address it as they see fit. I don’t want to do that, but since they aren’t picking up the cues on their own, I’ll hand them the information. I don’t force my son to go camping anymore. I used to persuade him to do the local weekend campouts, but the last one caused him a severe panic attack (a real one, not just a mom saying that), and so I took him home. Props to his SPL, who was very supportive about the whole thing, and to his leaders, who thought I was nuts but never once said anything like that in front of my son.

    So … although helicopter and other hover-variety parents may drive you nuts, it just might be worth looking for the root cause of the issue. What do they think will happen if the son is out of their sights? Is there a history of abuse in the child’s past? Is the child borderline special needs (as mine is)? Does the parent just not get the point of the program?

    Parents are not the enemies. Enlisted, they can be great allies. After all, we wouldn’t BE there if we didn’t care.

    • Well said Concerned Parent.
      It is good to hear from the so-called “helicopter parent” with their goals for their child and their expectations for the Troop (and troop leaders).
      The parent knows the dynamics of their child and household, as illustrated by several earlier Scouter/Parent’s comments about their child’s unique needs and issues.
      We are all trying to do what is best for the child and, hopefully, all the Scouts in the Troop.

  32. what are your thoughts on this?
    We had the scout pick out there classes for Merit badge college.
    When asked what classes they wanted to take one scout said, Well my mom wants….I mean I want..well, she said we want uhhh,
    so the scout was shown all the courses and asked to pick what he wants just in case some are full. He said ok and picked what he wanted.
    About 2 weeks go by and the question was brought up when are we going to register the boys for MBC?
    We said there registered and they picked what courses they wanted.
    One Parent asked what there son got I they were told 2 eagle ones and 2 other ones.
    Later on they said they were mad because they had gone out and bought ahead of time what they wanted there son to take ( all the citizenship). So a day later I get texts and a email saying there son is upset that he didn’t get all 3 citizenship and he asked his mom 2x if he could drop a course and get the other citizenship.
    Should I redo his courses or say I signed him up for what he wanted. (Which wasn’t an issue for the past 2 weeks)

  33. What would you do:
    Due to the merit badge counselor listing having personal information the Scoutmaster has to get the information. Parents can’t by pass the scoutmaster and schedule it themselves. so when a certain parent found this out they were told
    to have there son pick out what they want and have him tell the scoutmaster what he wants and he will get it arranged. and provide him with the workbook to take to the counselor. The parents response is
    Why? I need to have the list so I can schedule merit badges for my son.
    When told the protocol the response was
    Well that’s fine I will just call other scoutmasters and people to get a list of names so I can schedule what we want him to get.
    How would you Scoutmasters handle this with out telling them to go pound sand

    • Technically, the SM is to give the Scout the name & contact information for at least 1 Merit Badge Counselor (MBC). If the Scout finds out about another MBC in some other manner, they can use a different MBC than the one recommended by the SM.

      The only exception would be is if the Troop has a policy that Johnny Scout can earn only X number of MBs from one MBC. If Johnny Scout has reached the limit for the MBC & wants to use him/her again, they that would be a no.

      Our council has the MBC list on line (like many other councils) with a phone number. We have 17 districts and cover 19 (I think) counties. The listing use to have an email address also, but that has been removed. I guess it was to force the Scout to call the MBC instead of just sending an email. I’ve been a MBC for over 5 years now, but have never received an email from a Scout asking for me to counsel one of my MBs. I have counseled many Scouts, but they have always been done through some Merit Badge Forum/Fair/Academy or whatever name is used in the area.

      Back to the original question, I would provide the Scout with any information requested. If the parent requested it, I would decline and ask them to have their Scout contact me. Part of the MB process is adult interaction. If the parent is asking, then there is no adult interaction necessary for the Scout.

  34. “They don’t let their child camp unless they are there, and if they are there, their tent has to be next to their son’s tent.”

    One of my siblings was molested when we were children by a child who lived next door to us. Today she has three children and she’s incredibly careful with them. The kids have a great life, but she is super protective of them and she’s never, to my knowledge, shared what happened with any of her current peers in the different city that she now lives in. I’m just saying, a parent who acts like that might be acting like that for reasons that they will never share with you.

    If you have a parent like that, give them a job. Get them involved. Make them both assistant den leaders or assistant scoutmasters or whatever. They’re there all the time anyway, so they might as well be useful. But when you have parents like that, just roll with it.

  35. True story, tho out of Scouts:
    Before I retired, I worked for the local transit system. I was once the Dispatcher for the Bus system. Late one night, as I waited for the last buses to check into the yard (like, 12 midnite), I get a phone call. It is from a man who asks if I can answer a scheduling problem for him. Ever the one to encourage transit use, after I find out how he got “this” phone number, (he has a friend who has a friend….), the man tells me that his son is going down town to the university the next day (Saturday) to attend a special class for “advanced students”. Can I help him with the subway schedules and connections? Glad to. Ummmm.,,,,
    *How long has the son been aware of this trip? Well, he signed up for it a month ago…. *Great! *
    *How old is he? He’s 14…
    *Will YOU be taking the trip with him for the day? Well, no, I hadn’t intended to, I think he’s old enough to make the trip himself. …
    * Well, shouldn’t I be speaking to your son? (silence)…. (heard in the back: Jeffry!!! Come here! This man wants to talk to you!).
    And so, for the next 30 minutes, I talk to “Jeffry” about using the subway for the first time. He signed up, he wanted to take the course, he had never ridden the subway before. He did know how to read a map (so he said).
    I never heard back how the trip came out…..

  36. I understand that feeling about helicopter parents but after being a scouter for decades, I have come to see it as just the way some families go through scouting. Some boys at 11 are not ready to go it alone for emotional or even physical reasons. Involved parents can be embraced and utilized as back up leaders. The scoutmaster can even set that expectation for participating adults on outings. I have never seen this over indulgence go beyond the first few Boy Scout years. So why not let the parents decide when to let go? Scouting can be a shared family experience and not just a go-it-alone activity. Our families are just as diverse as our scouts. Let’s find a way to make it work for everybody.

    • I too have been involved in Scouting for decades: Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Sea Scout, and Scouter. I’ve experienced parental interference as a youth and resented it. Part of Boy Scouts is allowing Boy Scout to expand their opportunities, abilities, skills, and experience. Constant parental interference, does not allow the adult’s son to grow, nor does it allow the Boy Scouts who are suppose to be working to grow.

      I’ve seen it situations where adults were so involved with troop programming, that the Boy Scouts had no ownership or incentive to lead. In one situation, I saw boy Scouts attend NYLT come back pumped to get their troop working the way it is suppose to work, only to have the parents say, “NO!” One Scout transferred to another troop, one got Eagle and quit, and the third is registered only so that he can remain active with the OA.

      As for troops and family camping, Is that what the Boy Scouts want? I know in my troop growing up, after one trip the Scouts unanimously said “NO MORE FAMILY CAMPOUTS!” (caps for heavy emphasis almost to the point of shouting when asked) A trip that we planned for a year, a trip that took 7.5 hours one way, a trip that we prepared for, including foul weather, was completely wasted and ruined by families attending. Because the siblings were complaining thaat they could not do what the Boy Scouts were doing, the moms attending said it wasn’t fair for the Boy Scouts to do the hikes planned while the siblings could not. And since we needed the moms for the support vehicles, when they back out it cancelled the hikes. Again, after a year of planning and a 7.5 hours oneway drive, our plans were ruined.

      • Sounds like you ruined the camping trip yourself. Stop blaming the parents. I grew up in scouting. My brothers were all very active in their Packs/Troops. Every camp out was a family campout in their small troop. The siblings were invited to go on hikes and work on merit badges. The parents were treated like a valuable asset, not jokes or someone who was “in the way” like most of you are. I wanted my son in Boy Scouts because I had such amazing memories and I had always wished that I could have been one. He decided as soon as the leaders mentioned ranks and Eagle Scout that he was going to be one. Only one of my 3 brothers made Eagle. I was thrilled and happy for him to have that goal. But now after reading a bunch of these comments I’m guessing that he is going to be driven out of scouts because his mama is going to be one of those parents. Right now I am very sad that it seems like once he finishes Cub Scouts there might not be a place for in scouting.

  37. My sons are ADHD (yes, really. I know its over diagnosed, but not in this case). One will definitely be in trouble if you don’t know how to control him.
    Some (teachers, coaches, etc) don’t want us there to handle the issues, because “we interfere with the control”. BUT if we do nothing, or aren’t there – he acts up and they kick him out for a day, the next game, the next camp out… So with scouts, they’ll fall behind the others and then want to drop out because they’ll never catch up. or make all the rest of the scouts mad at him, and he has a negative relationship with all.
    hard to know what the right thing to do is…

  38. As a past Scoutmaster and present Venturing Adviser, I always have a conversation with adults who want to come on a trip. First they are there as a Leader to all and a parent to none.
    I had a parent who was overbearing and on there first trip he went to help his son set up his tent. I told the parent to sit down. He finally came and sat down. His boy was struggling, the parent tried to get up I told him “no”. A few minutes later a couple older scouts went over to the boy and helped him set up his tent. The father thanked me and with a few reminders over the years he allowed his son to be a part of the Troop, not a camping trip with dad.

  39. So, there are parents who are never involved the ‘free babysitting’ service they receive from the Troop and helicopter parents that are too involved.
    Which is worse?

    • Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a babysitter after age 10. I don’t see anything about Boy Scouts that proposes to be a babysitting service.

      Never grudged a parent who kept some distance from the troop or crew. (Although I may have missed their company.)

      It was nice when they stayed for courts of honor.

  40. Reading these comments – I lost a lot of my joy in scouting. My hopes for the future.

    I grew up in scouting. My brothers were all very active in their Pack/Troop. Every camp out was a family campout in their small group. The siblings were invited to go on hikes and work on merit badges. The parents were treated like a valuable asset, not jokes or someone who was “in the way” like most of you are. I wanted my son in Boy Scouts because I had such amazing memories and I had always wished that I could have been one.

    He decided as soon as the leaders mentioned ranks (when he was a Tiger – He is a Bear now.) and Eagle Scout that he was going to be one. Only one of my 3 brothers made Eagle. I was thrilled and happy for him to have that goal. But now after reading a bunch of these comments I’m guessing that he is going to be driven out of scouts because his mama is going to be one of those parents. Right now I am very sad that it seems like once he finishes Cub Scouts there might not be a place for in scouting.

    I had the mistaken idea (as I now realize) that parents were a valuable asset to the Boy Scouts. That while the boys learned and grew into awesome men, that they were taught to respect their parents. But almost nothing I’ve seen here is at all respectful to parents. I guess unless you take on the duty of leadership you are not welcome in the Boy Scouts. By the way I have offered repeatedly to help in any way I can. But now I can see why my considerable skills have not been utilized and my son has been forced to suffer from a sub par experience the first 2 years with leaders who couldn’t get their act together. And yes I offered to be the den leader or assistant den leader but someone who touted his Eagle status wanted that honor. Only he worked too much and never really had time to do a proper job. Shame on him by the way for doing the bare minimum that the boys had to do. That pack lost 4 of the 6 boys to other local packs after that year. Our second pack I asked questions and was promised that we would have more than 1 pack and 1 den meeting a month. That didn’t happen because once again the den leader had too many other commitments. I was feeling like “that parent” so sadly I stuck it out with promises that things would get better. Twice my son didn’t get awards he had earned last year and we left still being owed awards that have never been forwarded to me. Awards that he worked very hard to earn. I was careful to ask many questions before we joined this pack. Weekly meetings (like my brother’s pack always had) and many more events and camping trips. It is much more in line with my ideals. And if they have a problem with a parent who is trying to make sure that her son gets the best experience possible so far no one has told me. Hopefully not. I have been doing my best to help the den leader who seems a little lost sometimes. I think she got roped into the job. 🙂 Hopefully she isn’t as judgmental as some of the people here are because I would like my son to stay in scouts. With the right leaders

    As for the rest… .

    Sorry but my son will not go camping without me until I am comfortable with him doing so. (Right now he is 8) You might trust yourself, but I would have to trust every adult and every boy that he would be left alone with. Not going to happen anytime soon. Certainly not in a little over 2 years. Maybe when he’s 16 and we have been with a troop for awhile. Maybe not, I have issues from my past and while I try not to let them cloud my judgment, I have looked evil in the eye and felt it’s hand covering my face as I struggled for breath. Had someone I thought I knew very well… it doesn’t matter. No I don’t trust people easily and especially not with the most precious thing in my life. If the leaders can’t recognize that not every detail of someones past is there business – if they would abandon a boy because his parent is over protective as I’ve seen some people post here… Well they aren’t a group worthy of my son.

    After reading this I fear our days with the BSA are limited. Pretty much what I’ve been hearing here is that Scouting isn’t for us. No wonder membership is declining. You want perfect kids, and perfect families, who are there just enough, but not too much… You want mothers (it seems to always be mothers on here,not perfect dad’s who are letting their sons sprout wings and fly.) whose every instinct screams at her to protect her child to trust people like you to keep him safe and to teach him right from wrong. Thanks but I would rather he learn empathy and be a big ol mama’s boy who never leaves home, than to have him turn out to be a man who looks down his nose at others.

    • Helicopter Parent 13: There is a place for you and your son in a Boy Scout Troop. It’s just not sleeping in his tent. That’s what you do when you are on a family campout or camping with a Cub Scout Pack.

      When your son has an issue with another Scout that he cannot resolve, your son doesn’t run to you on the campout or at the meeting to get it resolved. There is a chain of command. First, your son goes to his Patrol Leader. If the PL cannot resolve the issue, you go to the ASPL (however the troop works it). If still unresolved, the SPL then gets involved. If after all that & the issue is still not resolved, then the SPL brings the Scout to the SM/ASM for resolution.

      True Story: On our November 2016 campout, we had a fairly new Scout come to us wanting to borrow a cell phone (we do not allow electronics in our troop on campouts) so he could call his Mother. The ASM asked the Scout why and he said, “I can’t find my chap stick.” ASM: “Is this important?” Scout: “Yes.” ASM: “Go find your PL and seek his guidance.” Later we found out that the Scout had “lost” it in his tent & his tent buddy refused to look for it underneath his sleeping bag/gear. It took the SPL getting involved to solve it.

      Your son is the one that should be scheduling Scoutmaster conferences with the SM/ASM, coordinating his BORs with the CC, or choosing his MBs for a MB event. If you are doing these things for your son, he is not learning–either the process or how to overcome obstacles or how to talk with adults other than his parents. If an adult comes up to me as an ASM for any of these, I tell them to have their son come talk with me. Parents can talk with their son before the meeting about getting their SMC or BOR that night (we don’t have a specific night for either), but it is up to the Scout to do the actual coordination. As for MB events or summer camp MBs, the parent can discuss this with their Scout (I did with mine as I was not an ASM in our old troop) so that they can request the MBs they want for the event/summer camp.

      All that most of us are saying is to let your son do as much as they can. And if they need help, they seek it first from the older Scouts in the troop.

      The adults in our troop camp in a slightly different area than the Scouts & our area is off-limits to the Scouts except the SPL or if a Scout is invited in. The older Scouts run our troop and the adults are there for two things: safety and to make sure things are being taught correctly. We try to only step in when those two things are being violated. We provide a safe place for young people to make mistakes so they can learn from them. We are not all perfect and Scouts need to learn that everything is not perfect. Us adults doing everything right and for them is not the proper learning situation we want.

      Go look at a bunch of troops and join the one that best fits your son’s needs. There are probably some troops out there that love helicopter parents. There is one in my area, but all it has a reputation for being “Webelos 3” where all Scouts that stay with the unit get their Eagle before their 15th birthday as the parents do everything for the Scouts. It all depends on what you and your son want out of the Scouting experience.

      • I do expect my son to take responsibility for things and to do the work himself. (At 8 I help when I feel it is necessary and let him struggle and figure it out when I know that he can do it.) However I am really not sure that I will ever be comfortable with him being very far away from me on a camping trip. Between my experience with being attacked and almost kidnapped and my niece having been molested by her step father I don’t have a lot of trust. I guess because I realize all too well that bad things don’t only happen to other people. I struggle to keep MY anxieties in check. To let my son grow and mature. I think I do a great job of it most of the time. He is very independent, outgoing, opinionated, 🙂 and hard working when it’s something that he is interested in. He has lofty goals and before the BSA went and changed the rules this year his goal was to earn every belt loop there was. He was doing a great job of it too. Now they have adventure loops and he’s upset because he can’t earn all of those or all the belt loops. I am disappointed for him, but honestly I had no idea how he would earn a few of them anyway. They were cross that bridge when we came to it. We live in SE Texas and snow isn’t something we have access too. Still if he had made it close enough to his goal that finding snow was the only thing in his way I would have figured out a way to make it happen. He has a cousin who was a ski instructor for the disabled and she was once training for the paralympic team for… darn it can’t think of the name of it. Where they ski and shoot. 🙂 Not sure if she would have helped since her mom isn’t talking to my husband right now, but maybe. He still has it in his head that even if he can’t get the actual loops he is going to earn them all. I have been telling him to focus on what he can earn, to adapt to the situation. His new pack does a lot of stuff but they aren’t focused on awards like he is. They are more focused on fun. I think part of that is that the den leader isn’t quite sure what she is doing. I had to explain some things too her, which I’m almost wishing that I hadn’t explained. But I’ve decided to step up and try to make sure that my son gets everything he can out of scouts. I don’t like when they do things that I don’t feel are in the spirit of what they are supposed to get out the experience. For example one of his old packs the leader was always trying to take short cuts and give the boys a less detailed experience than they should have gotten. The first pack he was with was only active from Sept – Feb. They had the boys cross over at the blue and gold and that was it, they were done for the year. That wasn’t what I grew up with. Scouting was a year round thing with a more fun schedule in the summer when boys were more likely to be gone on family vacations. Ending in Feb was very disappointing to me and to my son.

        Our pack last year promised us 2 den meetings and 1 pack meeting a month before we joined. They knew about my disappointment with our first year when the den leader went some months with no meetings and had 2 months where he tired to make up for only having 1 meeting a month the rest of the time. They said that they went through the summer but they didn’t. They wound things up at the end of March. Not much better. And I butted heads with the den leader several times because he would send an email about a den meeting with less than 48 hours notice. Once with less than 24 hours and when I missed seeing it and suggested that it was too short of notice he suggested that if I cared about my son I should be checking daily. Then there was the whole thing of my submitting my son’s belt loops in Feb and him not getting them after all his hard work. Resubmitting them in March because the den leader didn’t have time to find my email and he had earned 2 more by then, only to have him not get them again. He still has not gotten them by the way, even though I have asked that they be mailed. By that time I was getting very disenchanted with scouts. I who had been a lifelong advocate and fan of them. Sad to wonder how many parents would have given up at that point. It was only memories of the past with my brothers that kept me going. The friendships they formed. The skills they learned (and we learned along side them.) I never learned as much in Girl Scouts as I did with the Boy Scouts. So please leaders don’t discount what you are also giving to those boys sisters and future mothers of Boy Scouts. I can build a fire thanks to the time I spent with my brothers. Know things about survival that my Girl Scout Troop never went into. I can shoot a gun and bow, learned to hunt… I’m sure many other life skills that I might never have had the confidence to learn if it wasn’t for knowing that “Girls can to.” from growing up with the boys. Who knows maybe some of the confidence I got from doing all those “boy” things helped me in one of the darkest hours of life and gave me the ability to escape from a man who was much larger and stronger than I am. Certainly many of my friends told me “I would have been afraid to fight someone who was threatening to kill me after they hurt me that way.” So when those girls and families want to tag along and learn the skills realize that maybe someday what she learned in the Boy Scouts will for saving their life. Or saving someone else’s. Which might be handy considering that a considerable number of scouts and leaders are injured and even killed on BSA outings. Teens are notorious for making bad decisions even when they are really good kids. And leaders can’t see everything. Even at a Cub level I’ve seen parents too busy doing their own thing while they left the boys to do things I know are against BSA rules. My son’s Tiger year the parents let the boys run around in the woods at night playing hide and seek. No buddy system. No one watching out for predators who might be lurking in the dark at the public campground. Maybe I’ve seen too much news in lifetime, but I didn’t trust my son to be out there alone with no one knowing exactly where he was if he was badly injured. Maybe it worried me even more that I was lurking and watching for 40 minutes as the boys ran around and not one other parent came to check. If I’d had nefarious intentions I could have easily reached from my place in the dark as one of the long boys came nearby to hide and likely snatched him away with no one the wiser for who knows how long. Even the boys would likely have thought that he just went back to join his family. I was in a much safer environment when I was grabbed and held against my will all those years ago. Maybe it’s good that all those oblivious parents trusted that their sons would be safe. That most of them will continue to believe that. And that chances are all of those boys will grow up and live long lives. As will most of the other boys in Boy Scouts. But let’s face it not every trusting parent is so lucky. Partly because kids believe that they are invincible. That they know how to do all these amazing things that those skills will get them through anything that life throws at them. Until a flood comes, or they walk to close to the edge of a cliff, or a tornado hits, lighting strikes… I could go on, but those are just the ones I remember. The big news items. Not that any of those things couldn’t happen with me nearby, but I trust my judgment more than I do anyone else’s. Especially a teen or preteen boy’s.

        I’ll try to get off my soap box. I’ve been ill and was doing some research to try and find out ways to make sure that my son and the other boys got the most of their scouting experience when I came across this. Maybe at another time the attitude wouldn’t have bothered me so much. But this week it did. Hopefully we will end up with a pack that is the happy balance that I am looking for and I won’t have to be “that mom.”

  41. I’m coming in late on this conversation, but I have one or two suggestions.

    I’ve been through Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts back to Cub Scouts again. My youngest son had several disabilities that would not have been fair to the other boys or the Scoutmasters or him if I had relied on them to be sure his needs were met at either meetings or camp outs. As a result, this mom went on every camp out until he was 14. As a cub, he slept in my tent, as a boy scout, he (as well as the rest of the troop) raced to see who could get camp set up faster, me or them. My only purpose for going on the camp out was to make sure his medical needs were taken care of and that was it. I only missed one camp out in all the time he was a scout, yep, his medications got lost, yes there was an issue, yes I got the phone call to meet him at the hospital, I never missed another camp out. 🙂

    My suggestion to committee chairs (Scout masters are supposed to be working with the boys) is to ask the parent what their expectations are for their son, what their expectations are for the troop, and what are they willing to do to help the troop. Then, the committee chair should explain the youth’s expectations of the parents, the troops expectations of the adults and how the adults can help the troop. Of course it’s helpful if the committee chair has this information, so ask. And if a reminder needs to be given (even adults need reminders) then it should come from the committee chair. Scoutmasters…direct your grumpy parents to your CC.

    My second suggestion is similar to the one above, as a den leader I find out expectations and share expectations then there is something I do when I observe mom or dad or grandpa or uncle jumping in to help, Of course, I do this only after I’ve spent time getting to know the boy, how he sees himself. If it’s something that requires help and I know I don’t interfere, but if it’s something I am sure he can do, even if he struggles, well I’ll tell ya to go sit down or put your hands in your pockets. I’ve had parents get huffy with me the first few times, but after a meeting or two they see the wisdom in stepping back. I am there for the boys, not the parents.

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