Saturday, April 25, 2009

Venting. Venting. VENTING.

I'm absolutely certain this will come back to bite me in the butt.


Why is the Young Men's Organization so colossally disorganized? Here is my latest and favorite.

Our ward does an annual spaghetti dinner to make money for the scouts. $20 per family for a really lousy dinner of coldish spaghetti and bagged salad. After the dinner, there is a dessert auction--all desserts donated, all proceeds going to the scouts. Most of the ward shows up and the Scouts make a killing. My favorite part about this is that they do the Friends of Scouting drive just a few weeks prior to this.

Friends of Scouting?

You mean there is a pledged amount to ensure that a group of ungrateful, grumbling boys get to do whatever they want, activities-wise? Yes, there is.

Plantboy was just released from the Young Men's but had a friend at work who raises beef and agreed to supply 15 pounds of meat for the dinner, free of charge. Very cool. Plantboy did a bit of legwork and it has been sitting in my freezer for the last few days. In addition, the scoutmaster, on Wednesday night, asked all of the YW leaders if they would be willing to make a batch of spaghetti--no sign-ups, no real notice. Oh, and by the way, could each of us also bring a dessert or two to auction off? Then, on top of my Friends of Scouting pledge, my spaghetti and my dessert, we are supposed to pay $20 to go to this thing. Unless we want dessert, in which case we'll pay $30.

When the YM president showed up to pick up the meat today, he said, "How much do you think you can make?" Uh, how much do you need me to make? "Well, I don't really know; the scoutmaster was only able to get 8 people to say they were making spaghetti." Well, how many do you expect to feed? "About 200." So I need to make spaghetti for 25 people. "Sure!"

When I told him that 15 pounds of meat (the donation) will only adequately feed about 75 people, and that the Scouts may need to purchase more, he shurgged it off. He said that it didn't really matter if the spaghetti had meat or not--the unspoken message beng that nobody really expects a worthwhile meal anyway. So, for about a $30 investment (the YM buy Brand X sauce and noodles), the Scouts in our ward will probably bring in a few thousand dollars this week.

Our young women, on the other hand, need to come up with our own fundraiser if we want to go to camp. We are selling very cute breakfast baskets for mother's day. The leaders will make the sign-up sheets, collect the money, make homemade rolls, buy all the materials (which, no doubt will come at least partially out-of-pocket), and assemble them at six in the morning on Mother's Day.

As frustrated as I'm going to be when only 1/3 of our YW women show up to help assemble said baskets on Mother's Day, it is nothing compared to the blood I'm going to be after if ALL of the YM leaders and fathers of the 12-18 year-old boys in our ward don't sign up for at least TWO of these babies.

Even then, I bet we still have to hold a car wash in mid-June to get everyone to camp.

There are a few men who stop by here regularly. Please, help me to understand why the men are disorganized, delegate any real planning and responsibility to the women and still take the majority of the budget reserved for the youth? If you can offer me even a smidge of insight here, I'm happy to make a full apology.


Janssen said...


Cannot say more. Because I might not stop.

Melanie said...

Why aren't the YOUTH given more responsibility in these fundraising efforts. It's all for them, after all. The leaders should set up the organization framework (i.e. a list of ward members who could be asked to make a pot of spaghetti), and then the youth should perform the needed tasks (i.e. calling ward members to ask for their participation; writing thank you notes; preparing food, setting up the cultural hall, and cleaning up; canvassing local businesses to ask for donation). Those don't care enough to show up obviously don't want to go to camp very badly.

Karin said...

We support our local troop, they work hard and are honest about what they earn, but dh refuses to donate to FoS. It doesn't stay local (so he says) and the national scouting leaders make 6 figure ioncomes. He was scout leader for a couple of years and still has some serious issues about it. I don't like that my son is leaving my home for an hour a week under the guise of learning how to be a good citizen ( and we support his fundraising activities by showing up and bringing food) and he usually ends up playing basketball. He's 9.

Sorry...just fuel for the fire. I feel the same way. My mom was a YW president enough times while I was growing up that I have a similar view of most YM and Scouting programs. I have seen very few that are exemplary and helping to get our young men ready to be upstanding citizens and good missionaries. Aah well, it'll be different when we're in charge, right? ;-)

FoxyJ said...

I've never donated to Friends of Scouting because I don't get what it's for. Like someone said, I'm not sure it goes to the local troop. I just realized that this is one (small) advantage of being in our current ward without youth programs. When we lived in a ward with scouts that had a spaghetti dinner we never went because we were poor students and just didn't want to put up the money.

I'm with Melanie on the fact that this should be a youth-driven thing. It's their fundraiser, not yours. If they don't feel like they want to make spaghetti, then they should come up with their own ideas. I've seen a number of articles in the Ensign and other places recently about making sure the youth have more ownership of their activities. Perhaps it might be better to switch to individual fundraising--each scout finds their own way to pay their camp expenses.

Of course I don't know how that works or what costs are involved--at the time I was in YWs we weren't allowed to do fundraisers at all and I think we just had some ward or stake budget money for camp with each girl's family contributing a little (like 20 dollars) to other costs. We did simple camps at public campgrounds with tents, etc, so I guess that might be another way to reduce expenses. I don't know much about scouting--though I wish we'd just leave it behind and have simple YM/YW programs that are a bit more equal in activities and purpose.

If I were you I'd just give them $50 and tell them that I don't really like spaghetti and that I don't have a kid in scouts. :)

Lady Susan said...

Ugh. As the husband is currently scout master, I am very much aware of how little the actual scouts do in comparison to everyone else. I see very little useful skills being learned.

chosha said...

Hang on, they get all the funds and they don't even make the spaghetti themselves? They expect RS sisters to make it, instead of Scouts (who by definition should be handy and prepared) boiling water and putting spaghetti into it? How freaking hopeless are these boys?

And the idea that this is not a joint YM/YW activity netting BOTH sets of youth with activity funds is just outrageous.

No wonder you're venting. I'm mad just thinking about it and it doesn't even affect me.

chicagosapps said...

That is annoying. I am the den leader for 8-9 yr. old cubs and they try to get me to donate to friends of scouting every year. Hello--I already donate hours of time, out of pocket for snacks and/or materials for crafts, and un-quantifiable amounts of patience. I think I should be exempt.

Our young men mow lawns/yard work to earn money for camp, they do it all in one long day of mowing and charge $50 per customer. Two or three boys and a leader go to each house for about an hour. At least the boys are working. I can't believe your ward doesn't even have them make the spaghetti, my 6 year old can even make it. Seems like it is teaching them to expect adults (especially women) to do everything for them.

Jenny said...

So much to rant about!
First of all, men are disorganized partially because we let them be. "No."
Practice saying that to them, and then let them buy, store and cook their own dang meat.
Unless THEY are making the mother's day baskets for YOU on Mother's Day! (seems backwards to me)
The Friends of Scouting Rep called me the other day to talk to my own personal live-in Scout Master, and I totally let that message get lost. No Friends of Scouting drive in our troop this year! (Darn it)
Our YM/YW have combined forces and do a dessert and service auction each year together to raise funds. We do a pot luck dinner and no one pays to get in. Then they pool all profits and split them. You're bound to find something unfair and annoying about any of the ways this can be done, but that's how it is in a volunteer organization!
Good luck. May you get to sleep in NEXT Mother's Day!

Science Teacher Mommy said...

You know, I often blog because I NEED validation. With this post, however, I think I was hoping for someone to help me see things from a point of view other than my own. Throw me a bone, folks. ;)

A couple of things: in our ward we have talked a lot about giving the youth ownership of the programs, and have made strides that way. The problem comes in when the programs are just handed to the youth who are then expected to run them. They don't have a clue. The key is "shadow leadership" where the kids are given a framework to go from and shown by example how things are to be done. (A model much like Melanie suggested.)

Of course this is ideal--don't we all learn best by example? The reality is that we are all human. Leaders get too busy to prepare ahead of time and so they either end up doing it all at the last minute on their own, or delegate it all to the kids just to watch it fall flat. Either scenario leads to a lot of grumbling from both leaders and adults. Working with teenagers requires enthusiasm and love--which can come naturally, but it also requires skills--which may not come as naturally.

In my experience, kids will revert to the lowest possible expectation, and too many adults begin with low expectations for teenage behavior. Kids and adults both get caught in modes of the way things "have always been done" and this too often translates to the same failed activities week in and week out . . .

I don't really dare be more specific. Let's just say that the activity I saw Wednesday night was a failure of leadership and preparation (from our women and our men) which made it impossible for our kids to feel the Spirit, or even any milder sense of enjoyment over being together. No unity. No respect. No point. Our YW president is equally frustrated. She'd only been in a few weeks when the big planning meeting for the year happened and was basically told, "this is how we always do things." (Sounds like Enrichment!) But as we have spoken about some of our frustrations, she has decided that she is fed up with tradition--particularly the too many that are not working.

I can see I'm going to need to spend some time on my knees. . . how to rock the boat without offending half the people I know?

mstanger said...

I have lots to say on this (I have been called a Budget Nazi before), and little time to say it. I've been a Scoutmaster twice, and have a strong testimony of that program when it is done right. I would love to see the day when we have a Friends of the Young Women drive, however. (And the next person who tells me I should be a stronger supporter of Friends of Scouting because I will be contributing to the development of future sons-in-law is likely to get a big earful.)

Fundraising: The handbook is your friend here (combined with the nice green Budget Guidelines Handbook which is almost completely ignored, and the several talks given when the Budget Program was announced). In my perfect world, fundraising should almost never need to be done. It is really supposed to be limited to one a year to pay for Scout Camp/Girls Camp, and then as a last resort because the kids and their parents are without means to fund those activities. With some advance planning, this should seldom happen. Ways can be found to raise sufficient funds for any youth willing to get off his/her keister and work. A few nights of babysitting, a few lawns mowed, etc., and the activities can be paid for. This ideal gets circumvented in a number of ways:

(1) failure to plan ahead;

(2) allowing youth to be lazy--if I had a quarter for every spoiled YW who refused to babysit for me (I pay top dollar) because her parents had convinced her she was some entitled crown princess who would never have to work for anything, I could probably buy myself a really nice tie;

(3) planning excursions that are too expensive in the first place. This tends to be a problem that the scouts have more than the young women, i.e., they travel cross country for high adventure. However, some YW programs begin to play "keeping up with the deacons".

(4) This is a corollary of 2 and 3--the fundraiser that is completely disproportionate to the value of the service/goods provided to the ward members. In one ward I lived in, they called this the "Magic Garage Sale." Member 1 donates an old coffee table. Member 2, who has sufficient discretionary funds to send the ward kiddies anywhere (and maybe even has kids in the program) donates $2500 for the "purchase" of the coffee table. A few exchanges like that, and you have a war chest that can take the youth to Disney World. On lesser levels, this might include paying someone $100 for a night of babysitting or mowing a lawn, all because its for a good cause. One the Purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood is "Give Meaningful Service." When we miss out on that qualifier and render their service perfunctory, or overvalue it, we do the youth a huge disservice.

Youth-led programs:I can't emphasize enough how strongly I feel about the need for this, and how poorly it is usually done. My Las Vegas stake presidency gave us the mandate to have weekly presidency meetings with each of the AP quorum presidencies and YW class presidencies. In contrast, most wards never even have these presidencies meet at all. Before anyone complains that "what we really don't need is another meeting," these were usually fairly brief because they were being held every week, and ended up being a phenomenal training tool for turning 12-year-olds into priesthood leaders. You start out helping the kids understand the parameters they are working within, how a presidency should function, what goals they should be working towards, including accomplishing the mission of the church, and before you know it, you've given the kids ownership in their church, they are planning activities with missionary work/activation in mind, and will likely actually earn their scouting and YW awards instead of having them handed over just because they are graduating/aging out. The potential of our youth is incredible, if we would just ask them to rise to it. On the ownership issue, I think this is one of the key solutions to the question/problem that seems to be occupying the RS right now: "Why are we losing so many YW at the time of transition into Relief Society?" We need to give young women ownership in the church and its mission. Young men have pounded into them as soon as they start Priesthood Preview what the priesthood is and how it relates to the saving mission of the church, and bit by bit, they get a chance to take a larger role in that mission. By the time a young man is ready to transition to Elders Quorum, if he has been taught and brought along right, there isn't any doubt about where he fits and how he should go forward--hopefully by that point he will have been home teaching for four years, and if he has met the requirements of the Duty to God award, gone on splits with the missionaries several times. Our young women need similar experiences. We can't wait until they are 21 and hope that they stumble upon the saving mission of the church in the mission field and start to feel like a valued part of it then--many of them will never serve, and need those feelings of ownership regardless. My girls know that they are expected to be missionaries now, and they're doing it, with great success (including convert baptisms where they have played a role in friendshipping the convert both pre and post baptism--we just baptized one of their babysitters yesterday). I've wondered to myself why Young Women don't become Visiting Teachers at 14. Let them plan some activities, within certain guidelines, including the budget guidelines, and you'll start to see much more buy-in from them.

emandtrev said...

I don't have any sage wisdom on this subject, other than I think it has a LOT to do with the individual personalities and/or work ethic of the leaders. My husband worked with the YM in Houston and had a GREAT experience. The leaders were highly organized and it seemed to be really rewarding for both the youth and the leaders. Here? I can't even count how many times he has come home frustrated. The key differentiator seems to be the organizational and leadership style of the people (or person) in charge.

Desmama said...

Here's my two bits, for what they're worth.

My parents, being parents of four girls for years before my brother came along, used to joke when the Friends of Scouting drive came up every year that they were "investing"--and anyone who knows my dad knows he likes to see a return on his investment.

Fast forward to when I met my husband, who really enjoyed scouting, was very involved in it, and benefited from it enormously. I'm glad he's an Eagle Scout--he worked hard for it and learned a lot of great things. Did the investment "pay off"? In my mind, it did. Sure, there were a lot of other reasons I think he's great that Scouting had nothing to do with, but it sure helped.

I'm waiting for the "earful" promised above about sons-in-law and scouting. Really.