New Parent Orientation After Sign Up Events

Parent Orientation Topics on this Page (click to jump):

A bunch of families signed up -- now what?  How do you get all of the new parents up to speed?  Do you tell them everything you want them to know?   Or tell them just what they need to know now?  And make other information available if they want more information.

When you do a Parent Orientation is up to you – you could do it as part of a Pack Fun Event that is put on as a joining event (on the side while the Scouts do fun things), but not as part of a School Sign-Up Night (there is not enough time).  For most Packs, Parent Orientation is commonly done shortly after a Sign-Up Event.  If you do orientation at a Pack Fun Event, be sure to have enough helpers lead the kids in the fun events so Parents can participate fully in a parent breakout.  Some of the script for a Sign-Up Event may need to be reviewed – and a sample orientation agenda is attached for your use.

Methods of Parent Orientation – Live, Video and Handouts.

One key tool is a parent orientation event -- ideally, a social event, and one where parents are not distracted by kids.  You should expect parents to bring kids (rather than pay for child care), so plan to lean on some leaders, maybe an affiliated Scouts BSA Troop, to provide activities for kids so that parents could hang out with other parents and even relax.  While a meeting is key method, it is just one of the many methods of sharing information, including:

  • "Live Orientation Meeting" -- one way or another (in person or over Zoom), you'll want to do one or more of these, at least so that people can see you "live" and answer questions.
    • Attached below, from Cub Leader Online Training, is a Sample Parent Meeting Agenda.  Edit for a first Parent Orientation Meeting, keeping in mind the thoughts shared below.
    • The Pack Parent Orientation PowerPoint template attached below is generic, and designed to “keep it simple” as much as possible.  It can be downloaded, copied and revised to reflect your Pack and the key points you need to cover in orientation.
  • Pack Key Information Handouts - Contact, Calendar and Communication – even in a live orientation event, you want everyone to have information in their hands and on their screens (so even if you do "hand it out", also email it) like:
    • Pack and Den Leader Contact information -- Name, Emails, Phone, including Cellphone.
    • Key Events Scheduled -- Who, What, When, Where.
    • Pack Information Centers -- like your Website, Facebook or other Social Media site.
    • Key Parental Commitments -- some Packs highlight an "every parent helps" policy.  Maybe hand out a Parent Talent Survey, ideally one tailored to your Pack and Dens.
  • Council Cub Orientation Guide -- the Atlanta Area Council has a substantial amount of information at the Join Cub Scouts page at www.atlantabsa.org/cub-scouts, including (if you scroll to the Downloads) a Cub Scout Parent Orientation Guide that includes a significant amount of Cub Scout information.
  • Pack Orientation Videos -- if you can imagine making an "announcement" at a live Parent Orientation Meeting about a topic, imagine making a video about it, and posting it on your Website, Facebook Page and/or YouTube page.
    • See this “What is Cub Scouts?” video that features 5 questions (like “What is Cub Scouts?”, “Who is Cub Scouts for?”, “What about activities and meetings?”, “What are Adventures (and Rank Advancement)?” and “How Much Does It Cost?”
    • That can also give you an idea about how to cover things briefly – or maybe it can be something you can show as part of your orientation.
  • Topics to Cover – What Is Most Important Now For Your Pack.  A parent orientation after signup is your time not only for discussion about Cub Scouting and how your Pack operates, but also other matters that your team of leaders and parents should consider – even if they are difficult, like outlining the need to fill key open positions and upcoming retirement of key leaders.  A possible agenda (hat tip to Bay Lakes Council) is:
    1. Welcome and Introductions – Cubmaster or Committee Chair
    2. How Our Pack Operates (Share unit calendars and Information Sheets) – Cubmaster
      • How Den and Pack Activities and Meetings work
      • Pack Special Activities/Camping
    3. The Advancement Program – Committee Chair/Advancement Chair
      • An adult’s role in helping their child advance
      • When advancement is presented
      • Catching up if you must miss a meeting
    4. Who pays for Scouting – Treasurer or Committee Chair
      • National Registration Fee vs. Pack Fees
      • Where to get a uniform and book (Scout Shop Flyer)
      • Pack fundraisers and available financial aid (Council and Pack)
    5. Den Structure and Activities – Cubmaster
      • Provide time for existing den leaders to meet their new members
      • Have a mentor work with dens that will be forming new or need to select a new den leader.  This can be the time to have the “We Need a Den Leader Talk" with parents about Dens, Den Leaders and how your Scouts need more Den Leaders.  A sample script is attached below.
      • Confirm that all dens have their first meeting time, date, and location set. Help if they do not.
      • Handout & review requirements for Bobcat found at this First Meeting Plans (and Bobcat) Page.
    6. Other Volunteer Opportunities - Committee Chair
      • Pack Needs and Job Descriptions.  For resources, see the Recruiting Leaders page.
      • Be sure each new leader is told where to find the training on-line.
      • Promote Youth Protection generally to all parents
    7. Wrapping Up – Cubmaster
      • Review date, time, and location for next pack activity
      • Make sure everyone has contact information for pack leadership and den leaders.
      • Thank everyone for attending!
  • Let Parents Plan to Lead -- To help let families get a sense of Cub Scouting and how they really can be leaders, maybe let families plan how to work on the Bobcat rank (or review Bobcat) as they get started in a new program year, or as they join up in the Spring.

Noted above is that you’ll want to share Pack information centers -- like your Website, Facebook or other Social Media site, because you’ll want an easy place for people to look up your key “how to Scout” information.

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Supplemental Pack Information Handouts / Websites

The place to keep your key “how to Scout” information is ideally in a Pack Website that is well organized and up to date.  For some pointers about Website and Social Media sites, see this blog entitled “Does your Scout unit really need a website and social media presence?

Want more?  See “Check out some of the best pack, troop and crew websites of 2019”.  If you don’t have a website, at least put information in a document that you regularly share with families.

  • Information To Include in Websites/Handouts -- because "all Scouting is Local", you can supplement the Atlanta Area Council Cub Scout Parent Orientation Guide with "the way you do it in your Pack and Dens" with supplemental "handbooks" or "Frequently Asked Questions", covering "local" matters like:
    • Your Dues -- how you collect it, and what it pays for, plus your budget reporting.  Plus explaining the two components: the National BSA Registration fees collected on a calendar year basis, and your Pack Program costs.
    • Your Fundraising Plan -- right after you talk about your dues, share how people can do Popcorn, Camp Cards and other approved fundraisers so that the cost of Scouting is reduced or nil.
    • Your Uniform expectations -- speaking of $$, after paying new member fees and registration, plus dues, it can cost big $$ to get fully kitted out in Cub uniforms, so if your Pack has a more relaxed approach like "above the waist" or "neckerchief and cap optional", that can ease the burden on families and help them avoid the "up-sell" at the Scout Shop.
    • What else Parents Need to Buy -- is everyone "on their own" for buying Handbooks and Pack/Council Patches, or does the Pack distribute a stash paid out of dues to be sure all get those items?
    • Adult Participation requirements and options -- confirm any "every parent helps" policy, plus open positions that need to be filled, and other positions that can add helpers to form teams.
    • Details on your Den Meetings -- what your meeting cycle is (every other week, maybe more, maybe less -- on weekdays, or weekends, or alternating?), how they happen, participation rules, staying in line with your space provider, and how every parent need to help.
    • Details on "Family-Led Adventures" -- how Parents can do that if they don't want to attend in person meetings and/or can't make the meetings (whether in person or remote over Zoom or Zoom-like connection).
    • Girls -- any detail about how girls will participate, since that can range from entirely separate activities from boys at that Handbook level to entirely joint activities with boys at that Handbook level.  Either way is OK - families just need to know.
    • Rank/Adventure Advancement Signoff and Awards -- how you handle that reporting to and from parents, and how you handle awarding of loops, pins and patches.  Maybe ScoutBook tips if that is your parent tool.
    • Pack Communication Methods -- are you email, website, Facebook, GroupMe, Newsletter, Phone Tree, but hopefully not "Televoyance" (combination of telepathy and clairvoyance).   Signup details for events.
    • Details on Key Pack Events -- like Pinewood Derby, Bike Rodeo, Blue & Gold Banquet, Campouts, etc.
    • What's New This Year -- Every year should bring some program changes and improvements.
  • Other Topics you might want to cover from time to time:
    • Doing Bobcat Adventures -- including using the Bobcat Adventure Plans, and Family-Led Plan, plus "Tips about Den Meetings Generally As You Get Started"
    • Value of Adult Leader Training -- including Youth Protection Training for all parents, because "Knowledge is Good".
    • Recognition of Leaders -- both because they deserve a big "round of applause" and to get other parents envious of the esteem in which leaders are held, so that they volunteer too!
    • Organization Charts and Details -- both inside your Pack and how your Pack relates to your Chartered Organization, District and Council.
    • Scout Life Magazine -- why it is a useful tool.  Share that it is online too at https://scoutlife.org/.
    • Pack Gear and Stuff -- if your Pack has equipment, whether a stash of crafts and Scout Skills stuff, or a trailer with cooking and camping gear, at some point you want families and new leaders to be familiar with it.

Warning:  That's A Lot of Topics.  Good to put in a Website – but don't try to cover it all in one parent orientation!  There is so much detail and minutiae in a large Cub Scout Pack operation that you'll never be able to cover it all live, and even if you did, there's only so much data your parents can remember.

  • But that doesn't mean you don't put it into your Website and/or Handouts. so that if/when families have questions, they can look it up.
  • Because in a live meeting, you want to ...

Keep It Simple, Make It Fun.  But not KISMIF!  Yes, that stands for Keep It Simple, Make It Fun, but let's not use any acronyms, because that means we KICMEH, or Keep It Complicated, Make Everything Hard (by the way, that's pronounced "Kick Me!").

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Ideas about "Simple" and "Fun" Parent Sessions:

  • Welcome!  Make Events as Welcoming as Possible.
    • Don't just mingle with people you know.
    • On Zoom, reach out to people you don't know.
  • Make Everyone the Same - No Perceived Barriers.  This will seem counter-intuitive to Adult Leaders who prize the method of "wearing the uniform", but for a meeting of parents, dress like a parent.
    • That way you're seen as a parent, just like them.
    • When you have events with the Scouts, then model the uniform.
  • Cozy.  Small events let new families participate more.
    • Consider having "Den" level sessions -- maybe a breakout (sub-room) from a Pack Zoom event.
    • Let everyone introduce themselves and tell their story about "why we want to try Cub Scouting" (and returning families to tell why they like it).
  • Chop, Clip, Cut.  In a live "welcome" session, limit your presentation to what new parents need to know right now ... not what they might need to know later.  Maybe focus on "Five Things You Need to Know" -- and that will vary by Pack and Den.
    • For example, details on spring events just are needed at all now.
    • Other topics may need a simpler approach, like Advancement in the Handbooks.
      • But you can have details in your Pack website, handbook, FAQ or other resource for those who want to look it up.
  • Maybe your Top "Five Things" are:
    1. Contact, Calendar and Communication Handouts,
    2. Dues (and How You Pay),
    3. Let’s Pick One Time and Place for All Dens to Meet,
    4. Meet Your Den Leaders, and
    5. Things You Need to Buy (and Don't Need to Buy)
  • But maybe it's more like this in your Pack:
    • Maybe "2) Dues (and How You Pay)" should focus on "2) Fundraisers and How We Do Those To Pay the Cost of Scouting"
    • Maybe ""3) Let’s Pick One Time and Place for All Dens to Meet" will be "3) Let’s Allow Each Den to Pick What Time and Place to Meet"
    • Maybe ""4) Meet Your Den Leaders" will be "4) By the Way, We Need Den Leaders and/or Co-Leaders (Let's Talk About How You Can Do That)"

 

 

  • Maybe let Dens cover their topics in smaller groups.
    • For example, first grade families don't need to be briefed about fifth grade activities with Scouts BSA Troops leading to a late winter Crossover.
    • But fifth grade parents sure need that briefing!

Questions?  Leave plenty of time for questions.  Even if you think the question isn't one of the top things a family needs to know now if a parent is asking about it -- it's important to them!

  • And if you've created Supplemental Pack Information Handouts / Websites with detail, you can point the questioner to that document or that website.
  • And take another question.

For more, here's a Webinar about the topics covered here and a Blog about “Why a new-parent orientation is a must for your Cub Scout pack”.  See also the "Involving Adults in Cub Scouting" module found in the Cubmaster and Committee Chair sections of Cub Leader Training, and the New Member Coordinator modules, both found through https://my.scouting.org.

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File Name Description
Den Leader Recruiting Discussion Script Download
New Parent Pack Orientation | PPT Presentation Download
Sample New Parent Meeting Agenda Download