Front Line Stuff
Edited by Mark Ray
Find a Balance Between Scouting and Sports
Manyof Scouter T.L's Scouts are involved in sports, leading to scheduling conflicts between troop meetings and outings and team practices and games. He asked how other troops handle this issue.
Our solution is simple: we meet on Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. This is the least-conflicting time for the boys and their parents with sports events and church activities. We have had near-100 percent attendance.
We have no problem with boys being in sports or other school activities. We encourage it. We only ask that they attend meetings and activities when they can. We keep them informed via e-mail, phone, and regular mail.
At the beginning of each sports season, get all of your Scouts’ schedules of games and practices. Plan around their schedules the best you can. Don’t force them to make a choice.
Volunteer to be the head coach for your son’s teams and recruit a parent to be your assistant. That way, you control what nights your team practices, and you have a backup when you and your son go camping.
Assistant Scoutmaster B.W.M.
Part of our job is to help Scouts become well-rounded individuals. Let your Scouts in sports know that they are welcomed back when their season is over. In our troop Scouts are always welcomed to troop meetings and are always called with reminders for activities. All of our Eagle Scouts have been active with their church, sports, community, and, of course, Scouting.
We have a “no cut” contract. Scouts need to do what is necessary to be happy and successful at school and in Scouting. Scouts can come late, leave early, and participate in outings even if they do not come to meetings. They can stay informed by using our Web site.
Assistant Scoutmaster R.S.S.
My troop of 68 had 27 Scouts in high school, and at least 50 percent were on a sports team. We used the “sports car” to bring them to events after their sporting events. When a Webelos Scout den visited the troop, we always brought up the subject of the “sports car.” It’s too easy for parents to say, “Johnny doesn’t have time or can’t get there, so he won’t join.”
Council Vice President M.M.
There always has to be a balancing point. Scouting should be looked at as a part of boys’ lives, just as sports are. We can only be there to show them Scouting offers an incredible opportunity, not just for today but also for tomorrow. If you show support, most of the time they will stay active, and staying active helps them advance.
The key is for the parent to step in and say, “Jimmy is going to miss these practices or this game because he has other commitments.” When I did that with my sons’ coaches, they were always thankful for my being so up front with them.
Instead of responding to these situations with a policy, we have a philosophy: The troop meets all year long, and missing a few meetings or outings is not held against anyone.
We also encourage boys to be mindful that participating on a sports team may help them fulfill a rank or merit badge requirement. Teams and groups outside of Scouting are not competitors; they are an important part of developing young lives.
As a Cub Scout leader, I planned all my meetings immediately after school so they were done before sports practice started. I kept track of my den members’ activities so I could plan den activities around them.
Our Cub Scouts go to a dozen different schools, and some of them participate in sports at different parks.
We encourage den leaders to communicate with families about what’s coming up at the next den or pack meeting and what happened at the last meeting. This makes it easier for boys who miss a meeting because of sports to catch up.
Pack Committee Chair L.H.