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About GreyingWolf

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    San Francisco Bay Area
  1. Hey, it's "do your best", isn't it? If a boy is making a college-try to meet the requirement, and can't because of circumstances beyond his control...
  2. One of the easiest, most effective ways a Cub leader can correctly teach knot-tying is to have a Boy Scout do it. (grin) Seriously, don't overlook this avenue, and it's *so* consistent with the Aims & Methods (more later.) Knots themselves are intrinsically interesting to only a very few, so put effort into giving the boys a reason to learn them, opportunity to practice them, and plenty of opportunity to be recognized for success. Tie-in (no pun) to skills-demonstrations to your pack, or competition w/other dens or w/in the den. Do a "knot relay" - two teams, members of each team tie the required knot in sequence to form one long rope. Or you can have 'em tie at the same time to see which finishes first. Or call-out a knot at random, and allow boys to help one another - builds team spirit, and recognizes the ones who learned it quicker. Or have the boys run to a location (hitching cross-bar? post stuck in the ground?), tie a knot, have the watching adult approve the knot, untie, run back. Tie-in to the rescue activity - boys must tie-together short ropes to make a rope sufficiently long to throw to your victim. Have 'em setup temporary shelters w/tarps for fun - or an overnight campout. Figure out a way that the boys must tie knots and use rope to get their snack! Have 'em build catapults and toss tennis balls at a target! The two-color rope approach has seemed to help my scouts, mostly because they begin to "see" how the knot is structured. Cub Scouts are beginning to see and use structure. (Ever notice how teenagers seem to love games w/complex rules?) Remember that knot-tying is not the real goal - it's just the context in which to achieve the Aims of Scouting. It's part of the Program, which is a Method of Scouting. We're not producing knot-tying wizards, we're growing each boy's self-confidence through a learning activity. We're developing social skills through interaction with caring, supportive adult (and Boy Scout) role models and their peers. And we're making it FUN to keep him coming back! Pete
  3. A public plea for volunteers at a pack meeting or via a newsletter *can* turn-up the occassional volunteer, but IMHO that's the exception rather than the rule. Recognize that parents otherwise involved in the program: - don't always see the linkage between the activities and their son's growth/development; - have a natural fear of failure; - are probably already feeling over-committed; - don't necessarily understand what each role takes; - believe that someone knows what's needed better than they do; - don't see how fun it can be. If you have 'em, start with your unit's parent-talent survey sheets that you collected during registration. Look for talents and resources that would make a person successful for a particular role. If you have the time and/or contacts, ask a few questions of people who know these people. Schedule a little time with them. Ask in a private setting so you don't put 'em on the spot publicly. Explain the importance of their involvement - both for their son's sake, as well as that of the boys - that you've a job that needs doing, and that they seem to be esp. qualified for it. Tell 'em how you'll support 'em (training, resources, mentoring, etc.) but only if you'll *deliver*. Try to arrange for them to apprentice w/an experienced team, rather than doing it all by themselves. In most cases people will accept. Your having done your homework will impress and flatter them. This approach takes a little time - but probably a whole lot less than that expended were you to continue doing it all yourself. (grin)
  4. The patch is worn to reflect the UNIT's achievement, not the individual's. Issue it to everyone, get 'em all thinking that quality unit is a big deal and it's their job to get it again! Our pack just gives 'em out - but I think a little more ceremony is appropriate. And individual efforts can be recognized too - like den leaders who go to training. Sure, they should be recognized for attending training for its own sake - but you can reinforce the association between training and a Quality program by making the association to Quality Unit.
  5. Our pack makes red-felt sashes on which the boys can put their patches. It works out to about $1.50 of material per boy. Of course, the sashes aren't official uniform items, so the uniform police would probably grimace - but we allow/encourage the boys to use them to show-off their work. Now, having said that - only about 20% of the scouts use 'em. Unfortunately sashes and active boys don't mix. They slip off shoulders; they get forgotten; they're HOT (not as hot as the vests, admittedly.) A favorite windbreaker would probably be more practical as a place to display patches.
  6. Parental non-involvement can be attributed to a variety of things - they too may be overbooked, or disinterested, or may just not understand how important their involvement is. As opposed to at the outset laying-on the "there's no Pack without you" or "your son's not in Tigers without you" lines (though those should be in your hip pocket), you should take the time to educate the families. So a training session, assisted by the chartering organization, is in order. Don't try to do all this yourselves - Know And Use Your Resources. See if your unit commissioner can't bring-in an experienced trainer to present the New Leader Essentials training - or maybe an experienced, supportive CM from another veteran unit. The NLE training is about 90 minutes, covering why the program is so important to a boy's development, and the methods it uses. And Parental Involvement (supportive, appropriate, caring adult involvement) is one of the most important methods. Once this has been explained, you then point out that the program is carefully-structured - from over 60 years' experience - to involve parents at all ages in different ways. In Tigers, the parents are a close, integral, minute-to-minute part of the program. In Wolves and Bears, parents are still involved - den leader, assistants, supporting roles in setting-up stuff. In Webelos, ideally, some of the parents become the Activity counselors. It's so easy for 90% of the work to be done by 10% of the parents - you, after all, were probably the ones that had the spark to get the unit started. You need to make the work in the unit attractive to the parents. And understandable, and non-threatening - these parents may have fear-of-failure, or uncertainty about how they do it, or believe that they have to be well-trained in this stuff... Yes, there are always a couple who are simply too busy to be involved with their sons - you have to tell them, even explicitly, that BSA is not Babysitters of America. The parents have to see the connection between their son's development and enjoyment, and their involvement. If they see that, then they start to reprioritize their time. And they have fun. And that becomes a magnet for other parents...
  7. In our troop, the PLC - the boys - established who signs-off handbooks. Adults are allowed to, when need arises, but all skills-related stuff is more often signed-off by scouts who are 1st-Class and above. Believe me, that motivates the younger scouts - they want that authority. And the older scouts, w/o being a lynch mob, police the newer 1st-class scouts to make sure they're holding applicants to the letter of the requirement. With respect to SPL, our troop's policy - established by the PLC - is Life. The exact rank isn't so important as that the boys made the decision. For patrol leader, we've no hard-and-fast rank requirements (that I remember, but then, I'm just an adult.) Oddly enough, the boys tend to elect the most qualified or deserving patrol member most of the time. (Which suggests that democracy isn't necessarily as looney an idea as it sometimes seems.)
  8. The following are just my own observations - 1) I too thought about den-specific neckerchiefs, but then recalled that custom neckerchiefs are reserved for Boy Scouting. And the neckerchiefs, like other parts of the uniform, promote group identity. IMHO we want these kids to identify with those in their age group, not set 'em apart. Teamwork. 2) I trust that profits or license fees on BSA-official merchandise further the program generally. (If I weren't willing to concede that, well, there are more important questions to consider.) I wish our family's other clothing held-up like our scouting garb. 3) I too thought the age-specific hats, new neckerchiefs, etc. a bit of overkill. Obsoleted a bunch of our pack's continually-reused uniform inventory. But we'll follow the program. These decisions were probably made by scouters just trying to do their best. *We* would want others to support our decisions, believing we had the best possible end in mind, wouldn't we? And if we don't like it, we can always contact National. (IMHO the plastic "Instant Recognition" kits are nuts, but I absolutely agree w/the concept: recognize 'em as often as possible as soon as possible. Deferred gratification is something they'll grow into - witness the Webelos activity pins, by comparison. Consider substituting homemade items and a "den doodle".) 4) I agree w/BobWhite's comment that few of us are qualified to remember the perspective of a Cub-age boy. I do know that they like new/different things, too - "tradition" can get boring. But IMHO, far more important than the specific appearance of a uniform item awarded to a boy, is the sincere recognition and congratulations awarded him by caring, supportive adults w/whom he has a relationship founded on trust.
  9. As in all things, whether your Tigers should/must work on the Bobcat requirements is a matter of that in which they're interested as well as that of which they're capable. There's no ironclad rule that they should complete Bobcat before their Tiger year is up, and there's no rule that they can't. If you believe that they'll be unsuccessful at it because as kids they're simply not ready, why set them up for failure? And conversely, why hold them back if they're ready? I'm now on my 3rd time thru, and just finished w/our Tigers (including my 3rd son.) Those boys could scarcely hold still for anything - so we let the Tiger year be "low-key". Frankly, I think the chief goals of the Tiger year should be familiarizing the *families* with the program, and letting parents/guardians have a crack at leading den activities and develop relationships amongst themselves.
  10. People are naturally hesitant - bashful, don't understand the importance, risk-averse, etc. The easiest way we've found to get past all that is for parents to understudy with someone who already does it - ask them to *help* that person, not immediately take over for them. (We've enjoyed lots of volunteerism, but this fall our pack is going to strive for a high percentage of new parents teaming-up with someone handling a task.) The best place to ask, BTW, is one-on-one. "We need help" from the front of the room or in a newsletter rarely gets a response. You can tell them how boys get more out of the program where their parents/guardians are involved - the reverse is true, too. But don't harp on it! You can make supporting resources obviously available - den leader coaches (in spite of the office having been retired), manuals, materials, training, etc. And be ready to offer sympathy, encouragement, counseling when something fails (as sometimes happens.) Broaden your reach. Extended family? Chartered organization? Older siblings? Retired leaders whose boys have left the nest? Pete
  11. An organization uses numbers to measure things - hopefully progress. Sometimes the numbers, and the behavior they generate, can seem somewhat mercenary. Sometimes you have to think through the reasons for or impact of the numbers. Professionals are encouraged to charter new units. To do that, they have to be in touch with the community. They grow a network of contacts, and generally promote Scouting. Not a bad thing. Professionals are encouraged to increase membership. To do that, they resort to things like Tiger rallies - we just went thru that last week. If your pack is winding-down for the summer, that may seem a little silly - except that: 1) Summer is a great time for Tiger/family activities! 2) Tigers who have a good time in the summer will return in the fall. 3) Tigers who get busy on other things in the summer may well not be Cubs in the fall. 4) Summer is often a better time to get involved in Scouting than during the crush of returning to school. 5) Tigers who had a great summer program are a great recruiting vehicle in the fall!
  12. 1) Draw on the ideas, skills, and enthusiasm of others. Doing it all yourself is unfair to you, and unfair to the boys whose adults might otherwise be involved. 2) Plan ahead - far ahead. 3) Bring enthusiasm, energy, and high standards to the job. You're not just filling a position, you're stepping into what should be a Role Model for the boys. 4) As someone else said, remember that it's for the boys. Evaluate everything anyone says you should do, any deeply-held traditions - and ask whether age 7-to-11 boys would find it fun or entertaining or inspiring. 5) Involve the families - don't let the adults warm chairs. Games and activities that bring the boys and their families together are the lifeblood of the pack and our communities. 6) Learn from others, as has been suggested - Roundtable, leader training, etc. My favorite is attending other quality units' pack meetings - with your sons, if possible. 7) Don't let the adults talk too much! (There I go, violating my own rule...)
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