Parents and other family members are sometimes reluctant to offer their help to local scouting simply because they don’t know how they can help. By creating an opportunities list you can let parents know what needs to be done.
You provide information about a variety of roles, including uniformed and non-uniformed, and can send out the list on its own, in a newsletter or with a section brochure.
- Don’t just send out a list of role titles and descriptions. Include a friendly introduction or even a separate covering letter explaining that local scouting needs as much help as possible to provide effective Scouting to young people. Remember that no contribution is too small!
- Promote flexible scouting. Make parents aware that they can share the roles with friends or that they can do just one part of a role. By using this approach, you may be more likely to get greater parent involvement in the future. Getting that first offer of help is the most difficult thing. Once a parent is involved they may gradually become more willing to take on other responsibilities.
- Be as detailed (and as honest!) as you can with the role descriptions. Say whether the role requires the parent to wear uniform or not and estimate how much time the parent is likely to spend carrying out the role (i.e. hours per week, days per month or year). If a parent knows exactly what is needed they are more likely to commit to something. You will also save yourself time by doing this, as only parents who can actually do the role will reply.
- Ask parents about their jobs and hobbies. For example, if a parent is a fire fighter and is willing to show your cub pack around the local fire station, then he/she can help but in a role they are comfortable with. If a parent likes biking then they might be willing to help run a hobby or mountain biking badge for your section. Stress to them that there is nothing wrong with one-off help. If every parent helped once then that could be anywhere between 10-30 helpers over the year. Any help should be welcomed.
- Give parents the opportunity to talk to you about the opportunities without committing themselves to a role. Give out an appropriate contact number or let them know that you or somebody else will be staying after a section meeting for this purpose.