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If we have it... the wife and I (plus every other married registered leader in the unit) has broken that "rule" for the past 5 years.... I'd double check w/ your council on that... sounds like someone has a post-doc from UMSU (Univ of Making Stuff Up).
Not made up. Was confirmed by district training staff. They said there was a push to change it though. At some point in the past there was probably some incident at a cub camp and some moron SE decided to solve the problem with a stupid rule. It apparently only applies to council property. Everyone ignores it. How could they enforce it ? Send the DE around unzipping tents at 2 AM ?
I'm a CM and have served as a DL, so this question touched a nerve with me. I've been thinking about this topic for a couple of days because I'm conflicted. On one hand, I can see the wear and tear the program takes on the leaders and even the boys. On the other hand, I can see the eager young parents who would like to get their kids started as early as they can start Tee Ball, Soccer or another sport. I've been mulling this over for a few days, and tonight, while I was mowing the lawn it hit me.
The problem with Cub Scouting is that it is full of broken promises, for the boys, parents and especially for the leaders.
Parents, meanwhile, get enticed by the stated goals of Cub Scouting, which the program doesn't really teach as laid out. Parents also get the constant barrage of requests to help and fundraising. As others have noted on this forum, at the end of Cub Scouts, you end up with passive Scouts who are not prepared for the boy leadership that should be present in Boy Scouts.
Meanwhile, as a leader, we're told to "Keep it Simple, Make it Fun", yet the program is anything but simple and fun. Being a DL reminds me a lot of playing D&D: The information you need is scattered through multiple obscure volumes with complex rules. You spend most of your time flipping pages and scribbling notes, instead of slaying dragons.
Meanwhile as CM and CC, you've got requirements in the JTE and Scouter Knot programs that aren't reflected at all in the boys requirements. Same with the "fun" things like the Pinewood Derby, and the "not fun" things like tour permits, fundraising and recruiting new volunteers.
I think the BSA needs to totally rework the Cub Scout program to make it more like the marketing materials.
If it were up to me, I would:
Get rid of most of the book work in the ranks, and make sure that each rank requirement teaches or reinforces a core value. For the Lions and Tigers, this should be just participatory, Wolves and Bears should be setting goals and measuring their achievements, and Webelos should be helping to plan the event and/or teach the younger scouts.
Have a parental requirement for each rank. You want your son to earn his Bobcat? Then you need to take YPT. You want your son to get his Wolf? Then you need to run a meeting or trip. You want your son to get his AOL? Then you need to have served in a pack leadership role for at least 1 year.
Make the fun things in Cub Scouting a core part of the ranks. There are plenty of teachable moments in the Pinewood Derby, Blue & Gold Banquet, and even selling Popcorn. Why aren't these being used? How can service hours, camp attendance, and fitness be requirements for the units, but not required for the scouts?
Give the leaders truly helpful meeting plans with all the basics on one page. If more details are needed, give those on supplemental pages that are part of the plans. Make advancement easy to track, and guarantee parental participation.
@KDD: I've got a red white and blue knot on my uniform, and I see a lot of the existing requirements as busy work.
The Food Pyramid requirements are my top offenders. This gets beaten into the kids' heads at school, and they come to Scouts to do the exact same projects. These could be replaced with a hands-on activity like tasting different kinds of apples, or using the pinewood derby scale to measure out the amount of sugar in each Scout's favorite food and discussing their findings among the den.
Your "Don't tell me to just do this stuff in the book, tell my how to do it and where I can get all this stuff. Tell me how to make it fun.", helped me better understand the goal of the leader materials. It should be: "Tell me what I need and how to do all this stuff in the book, so I can concentrate on making it fun."
One resource for doing the cool stuff is the Cub Scout Leader How To Books, especially the older ones. Just be careful with them as some of the stuff mentioned in it is no longer allowed by the BSA, i.e. the Tuna Can Stoves are now no longer allowed. Also talk to the older, experienced Cub Scout Leaders. I'm fortunate in that we have one in my district who's infamous quote when talking to a poor performing DE was "I have forgotten more about Cub Scouts than you ever learned and I still know more than you." When I first became a PD for day camp, she was one of my reviewers for the program.
Me personally I think all the different 'bling," or as BP called it "swank," i.e. belt loops, LNT Award, Messangers of Peace, ad nauseum, combined with all the rules and regs, i.e. G2SS, G2A etc, have overcomplicated the program.
I like what my pack has done, focus on the basics; having fun, learning, and rank advancement. If we get the extras, fine and dandy. But we focus on fun, learning, and earning the ranks.
As for the repetitiveness of the program, when I look at the current Wolf, Bear, and Webelos books, I see a lot of the same materials I used way back when with some minor updates. It may have worked when Cub Scouts was a 3 year program, but not as a 4.5 - 5 year program.
I like the idea to encourage parental involvement, but that is a sticky one. Don't punish the boy for the parent, and all of that..... Some parents just aren't cut out for it, and have no interest.....
What resonates with me is your suggestion to clean up the program. KDD's comment, "Don't tell me to just do this stuff in the book, tell my how to do it and where I can get all this stuff. Tell me how to make it fun." I'm ok at making it fun, but no doubt could be better. Some of our leaders just don't even try. I know that when I look at the lesson plans and the how to books, my eyes generally gloss over. I'm sure there's good stuff in there somewhere, but I can't see it. from what I have seen this must generally be the case. Seems like the tendency that I have seen is to just focus the meetings on the scout's book achievement or on a belt loop. Those are spelled out in a do a, b, c format. Simple enough....... just not fun enough.
KDD brings up another point. "Many leaders and parents are on their first time through and don't realize some of these tasks are the building blocks for eagle required work. Point it out for them so they don't see it as busy work. " How do we do that if we don't know ourselves?
You recruit a leader for Tiger den, that may end up floating all the way through WEBELOS. Now her heart is in the right place, but she has no earthly idea how any of this connects to anything. She doesn't know the program, so she ends up doing her best to wing it and float through.....
Good points brought up here for sure.....
no sense of connection to future requirements
no sense of connections to things done last year
no preparation for future ranks
poor training and leader guide materials
eagerness of new boys and parents is squashed