I took over as Cubmaster of Pack 93 in Orcutt, CA 1 1/2 years ago with 8 boys in the Pack, my 3 included. Today we have over 80 boys, 27 registered adult leaders, 14 certified rangemasters, 5 certified water safety instructors and a waiting list to join so I consider our Pack successful. Here's what we did to change the Pack and create a highly desired program.
1. We switched from an indoor style Pack/Den meetings to almost exclusively outdoor oriented. Our total amount of time we spend in an indoor setting is 2 pack meetings a year. I cant stand indoor meetings and dislike cutsie songs unless they are around a campfire!
2. Make the program attractive to parents, especially dads. The reason I say this is I have no problem getting moms to take part. And there is a false rumor out there moms dont like to camp, at least ours love it! Dads are the challenge. Dads dont like to do arts and crafts, Dads like to camp, fish, and explore. The more interesting to parents the more they care about the Program and will be come involved. Get them to head the committees and activities. We do a committee sign up in September. I do a talent ID sheet the beginning of each year to target potential instructors at events.
3. Develop a ceremony series based on an outdoor philosophy. I tweaked ours to incorporate the spirit of the wolf, deer etc.
4. Develop an outstanding Pack program. Ours is based on forestry but has alot of other interesting events. Geology field days, fishing trips, Parades, Sponsoring Cub Scout night at Dodger Stadium, airshows, wilderness excursions to national parks, beach parties etc. We teach wilderness skills such as orienteering, backpack camping, camp cooking, etc. We do a Pack 93 Funniest Video Night Night in February where each den produces the crazist video they can and we air them as a Pack meeting. The boys bring their sleeping bags and eat popcorn while scout executives vote on best video. In other words ANYTHING is better than having Pack meetings were the Cubmaster is up in front talking.
5. The more motivating the Pack Program, the better it is in the den programs. Encourage den leaders to provide outings in their programs. Dens are the most important and too much emphasis is placed on Pack evens, more needs to be done in helping den leaders produce interesting programs. We only have the boys once per month as Cubmasters, Den leaders have them weekly! Explore all training possibilities for them. We do a Leaders Retreat before every scouting year to assist den leaders in developing their programs and I prefer to train them myself and attend some of their meetings to get them going. Den leaders are a priceless commodity and should be made to feel that way.
6. Present most awards at the den level. We give all patches and belt loops at the dens. Only advancements, webelo pins, and big name patches like the WCB get Pack attention. Pack meetings are event based not sit downs.
7. Dont rely too heavily on program guides, official sources, and the standard spiel I see over and over again. Develop a program that interests YOU and incorporate scout requirements into it, not the other way around. I am a forester and developed it around forestry.
8. I see alot of talk about going to roundtable, selling popcorn, going to training, following program guides etc. Dont get me wrong, they are good things to have but we personally, have not found them to be very helpful. Packs reflect the local personality and I should make it clear to feel free to develop your program accordingly and dont feel married to those avenues.
9. Communication. Extremely important. We do a pack website as almost all of our families are linked to the internet. If you want to view it its at http://lospadrespack93.tripod.com. We also have an e-mail chain and Pack Newsletter. Dens also maintain den newsletters and have phone chains.
10. Schedule. Plan as far in advance as possible. We do over a year in advance. We meet in March and plan through August of the next year.
11. Make your program available to all family members. I see more sisters with Pack 93 T-shirts than I do the boys!
12. Den meetings. I have aways said, its better to have two well planned den meetings per month than 4 simple and boring get togethers. My den leaders do 2 meetings a month for 2 reasons;
1) They dont get burned out and
2) They have the time to plan two very good and interesting meetings.
A big complaint I get from families that try to transfer from another pack to mine is they say their kid meets weekly in a garage, they sing songs, do a craft and go home. It has no expectations, no excitement. Boys in our Pack meet in a manner that it is not weekkly so it doesnt get boring and they look forward to their meeting. Meet less and plan them better, the parents will appreciate saving their time. Also, parents take part in den meetings, no baby sitting service here.
13. Lastly good recruitment. I do a PSA on local TV, newspaper announceet, and letters are given to very parent in my home schools. I do not tell them where to go to sign up but to call me and I interview them. I weed out the baby sitter lookers and identify potential leaders and good involved parents. I let them know the nature of the program, the time committments, and the expectation I place on them to participate. After all that, and if they are still interested I then have them call the Den Leader to discuss whether the boy woud be a good fit. If they call the leader I know then the person is really interested and I give the den leader the final say.
(This message has been edited by forestengr)(This message has been edited by forestengr)