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About bbender

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  • Birthday 03/01/1958

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    Atlanta, GA
  1. Plan for culture change as new cubmaster

    Whether I posted it here or just on Scouts-L, I've long decried the fact that KISMIF seems to be given lip service, while KICMEH (Keep It Complicated, Make Everything Hard), pronounced "Kick Me", becomes the way the program is handed down to be run. To that end, because I'm always concerned when I witness how hard it is to get leaders, but then I get more concerned when I hear the District Exec or Pack Leader or Commissioner (or BSA materials) say to a new recruit that dens meet every week, packs meet once a month, plus you have a pack planning meeting and an activity and don't forget roundtable and take time for training and prepare for your weekly meetings plus pack meeting ... whew, that's a lot for your new den leader ... I've put together two pieces to help re-think what we ask leaders to do. See this "Lighten Leader Loads" piece at http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3596, mostly focused on the Den Leader. That if you increase the ratio of fun to activities (meetings), you're better off than having more meetings that are less fun. PDF with images is here. The more radical idea -- but one whose time may be here -- is this "Why Pack Meetings?" piece at http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3597, which asks: if Pack Meetings are boring and hard to put on successfully, why are we doing them? Or "why are pack meetings still a thing?" PDF with images including Dilbert is here. Now, for those who have just awesome bang up well done Cub Scouting's Got Talent! standing ovation Pack Meetings ... good on ya! Keep it up. But ... if it is easier and funner to go fun places and do fun things ... do that! My $0.02. YMMV.
  2. My view is that RT is an anachronism ... a throwback to olden days when announcements had to be made in person or with handouts, since nobody wanted to put fliers in the mail. I see it as an agrarian model, where everyone came to market once a month to get the news, swap stories and then go back out to the farm. When I came along, RT was usually just a flyer dump and platform announcement du jour for DEs, sometimes with a Cub RT persons saying "this is what you need to do next month because it's in the 'Program Helps' book". (Me: "no, thanks, I've got a plan already"). What I still find funny is that when someone on the Council staff tells the DE to let the District know about something, they don't say "get the word out to your District", but "announce this at Roundtable", as if that's the only way to get the word out. ("Communication" is not a function of a District, BTW). During my accidental tour of duty as a District Commissioner in a District with no roundtable commissioner, we ultimately came up with some different "types" of RT nights: 1. “Program Roundtables†with a specific program that is planned, promoted and produced that is (hopefully) interesting, hands on and desired by leaders -- or if leaders, on hearing of what the program is, don’t want it, they can stay home … if the DE wanted to have a program mainly on popcorn sales, fine ... advertised as such, those not involved didn't feel a need to show up. Even when programs were put on based on perceived "demand" (like "we need a live YPT class") attendance was spotty. If we got no volunteer to do a Program, then we held what we advertised as: 2. “Casual Open Question Time Roundtableâ€, advertised as such on the calendar for those who want/need to get information face to face in a "shoot the breeze" type format. A few of those were good ... but most were not widely attended. 3. We never got around to doing it (nobody volunteered), but we also suggested “On the Road Roundtableâ€, where a Unit invites a Roundtable to visit their Pack or Troop Meeting and observe. … to actually “see how the game is playedâ€, which might be better than “hearing how the game is playedâ€. Bottom Line: except for maybe two die hard true believers (one of whom might be told to attend by his church) and District volunteers (like the Day Camp director who was told by his Day Camp Camp School to go "announce at Roundtable"), very few young leaders attend, leaving RT to a generation older than me ... young leaders get their information from other sources. Granted, if we shut down the weekly District News eBlasts from our Website and changed it to "announcements will only be at RT" we might get more attendance, but that just seems backwards to me ... if RT is a "unit service" function and part of providing information of use to units, I'd rather find effective ways to provide information and be of service.
  3. Fifty Ways to Lure a Leader

    Post Away Sherry ... and credit goes to people like you and posters here and elsewhere, 'cause I just gather ideas along the trail ...
  4. Uh, on "is it a rank" or "is it an award" ... well, uh, actually: it is a Rank. Though "generically" a "Rank" is also an "award" ... but it is a Rank. To support that, see this page: https://cubscouts.org/library/welcome-to-bear-cub-scouting/, which sadly also has a stray reference to "Wolf" at "a Bear must first earn his Bobcat rank. After completing the requirements for Bobcat he may go on to complete the requirements for the Wolf rank and the many electives that are offered for his rank", likely copied, and missed by the proofreaders. And when a Bear level Scout opens up the Bear Handbook, Ethan is there to say, among other things: "... As you work on your Bear rank, ... " See also https://cubscouts.org/library/cub-scout-ages-and-ranks/, and https://cubscouts.org/library/advancement/.
  5. My $0.02: On "1. Would the new scout be expected to complete all of the past requirements in order to earn the rank badge?" === > To earn the rank badge, yeah, gotta complete the requirements. Either the handbook ones or the 11/30/16 version, or mix and match as ya like. The 11/30/16 versions will be easier, mostly. Of course, advancement is just a "method", not a requirement. He can still be a Cub Scout and just have fun / do activities / get loops. No need for anxiety here. On "2. If yes, who's responsibility is it to catch the scout up? the parent? the den leader?" === > Parent. You signed up for Den Leader to lead the Bear activities once ... your job is not to repeat it every time someone comes through. You can if you want to, or for part of it. I mean, sometimes activities you may already be doing (spring camping, hikes, field trips) might easily tie into ways you can help ... ... if you want. If the Parent is really keen on doing all the "catch up" activities ... they can do them all on their own, on Pack campouts / day events, etc. But they can also chill out and not stress about it ... have fun, get some loops, have some laughs. On "3. If he just did the remainder of the requirements that we have left with us, would he be eligible for the Bear Rank Badge?" === > Nope. If he didn't all all Six Required (whichever ones ... recall that the 11/30/16 version made Grin & Bear It an elective (but you can mix and match, it's OK) plus one elective, he didn't "earn the rank". But he gets all the loops! On "4. Would it be best for him to just concentrate on earning his Bobcat and then be ready to go as a Weblos I?" === > Nope, but it isn't an "either 'go bust it for bear' or 'just wait fer Webelos'" type of situation here: the best situation would be have him earn Bobcat (easy peasy, really ...) .. and do your Bear activities. so he gets a Rank Patch for Bobcat, and let him load up on whatever loops you're doing for the rest of the year ... ... any any other awards you might start that he can finish. Hope that helps!
  6. Cub Scout Recruitment Night Ideas

    On "How well have 'meet the teacher' events worked", the answers are: sometimes great, sometimes so so, sort of like all methods. Factors that make it great are: it's the very first day of the school year, so you're more likely not to have parents already committed to other after school signups. you can do "one on one" chats with parents, so that you connect with what they care about (e.g., if you get the sense the parent or kid is into the outdoors, play up those parts of your program; if they seem to be worried about that, play up less worrisome activities, like museum trips or pinewood derby). I noted kids ... since in our neck of the woods, usually kids are in tow ... so you can recruit them at the same time, by playing up what they like. We usually get a sense of what kids are like in a few seconds, so that the wild child is one you're probably seeing on being out in the woods and staying up late around a campfire, but the kid clinging to mom or dad you'll probably sell on doing things with mom and dad and sisters and brothers that are not scary. in doing "one on one", you can get a sense of who might be a leader or assistant. it's easy to do ... any parent who "likes the program" can "sell it" to other parents coming to meet and greet. Yeah, if your school is up for it, you can set up promo items, starting with photos/videos, all the way up to hands on stuff to do like Pinewood Derby tracks, or a tent, or even an outside portable campfire pit for s'mores ... if you don't ask, they can't say "yes". And if you've already cut a deal to make the School Admin's life better, they might say yes more (e.g., "our guys can raise and lower your flag every day" was a selling point, and a "win/win" for kids and admins). I know of two of our most successful packs that have in several years picked up most of their new members on the meet and greet days using that method ... one of which doesn't even have a cattle call sign up event at all ...
  7. Anybody had an attempted coup of the pack committee?

    I agree with the DuctTape advice of "Focus on your den", since the kids there are the number one priority. If you are ambitious and want to change the Pack leadership, yes, there are ways, but ... you will be taking on more. Sometimes it's really worth it ... as to whether it is, the question would probably include whether you have a group of other families shut out who want to engage in a shared leadership open pack. If so, there are ways to look into it, though it might or might not be: Roundtable (depends on quality and approach of participants -- some might have a "stay in your lane" approach, others might have a "why can't we all get along" approach), Unit Commissioner (depends on if you have one, and the same quality approach as above), District Executive (can at least tell you who the Chartered Org Rep is) Search the https://beascout.scouting.org/ site: it might reveal who your Chartered Org Rep is ... and neighboring packs. It is super sad that folks get like this. Sometimes I use this book to help understand that narrow controlling mindset. Years ago we had a controlling person like that for whom I wanted to acquire a First Edition of the book to present as a "retirement present" to help exit the person from a role, but we decided to just use the tried and true "plaque 'em and sack 'em" approach instead.
  8. Cub Scout Recruitment Night Ideas

    Since this popped up, I'll share our Recruiting Tools page, at www.southfultonscouting.com/node/2518, which has a page on Sign Up Events. And then I'll circle back to harvest ideas from this thread ... Over time I'd seen the huge emphasis on Sign Up Nights as (in the minds of some) the alpha and omega (beginning and end) of Recruiting, and I've tried to put that event into context ... As noted on that main page, "Recruiting Needs to be Much More than School Sign Up Nights and Buzz Ups. Successful and Sustainable Recruiting is a Process ... the Pack Leader's Guide to Recruiting describes these six steps: Make a Calendar of Fun Activities that families like Recruit More Leaders and Helpers - one by one, find folks who can help your unit out Let People Know! Let Families and Organizations Know your Pack Fun Event Plan. (Families join Packs that do things ... Boys join Troops that Go Places ... let them know what you're doing ... there are many ways) School and Community Events -- Show your School and Community the Fun of Cub Scouting. Once you've laid that foundation, have Sign Up Events: School Sign Up Night and Fun Events Too! More Fun Events. Keep expanding and extending your Calendar of Fun Events … that’s what makes families join! Hope this helps.
  9. Fifty Ways to Lure a Leader

    In another thread about Lightening Leader Loads and (essentially) asking "Pack Meetings? How is this still a Thing?", SSScout noted some issues in recruiting help, which is right on point with an RT presentation I'm making tonight. Fifty Ways to Lure a Leader (apologies to Paul Simon) There must be fifty ways To lure a leader You ask the whole Pack, Jack Every woman and man, Stan You don't need to be coy, Roy Not just one, two or three … Every new one’s a plus, Gus At Pack meetings, don’t discuss much Do a â€one on one†plea, Lee Every new leader is key I've attached the piece below, but it stems from a page I have called "Nuts and Bolts of Leader Organizing and Recruiting", which is a sub-topic of "Recruiting Leaders -- Turning Parents into Helpers, and Helpers into Leaders". Lots of resources there, but I've attached a pdf of the Fifty Ways to Lure a Leader piece here too. FiftyWaystoLureaLeader_1.pdf
  10. Pack Meetings? And Leader Loads?

    Interestingly, SSScout, you've hit on a bunch of items I've got in a piece I'm performing tonight called "Fifty Ways to Lure a Leader" ... but I'll post that in another thread here.
  11. As part of some notes sent and posted in December, about improving Cub Scouting through “Bobcat Activity Plansâ€, “Put All Den Adventure Plans Back Online for Freeâ€, and “Restore Camping Activity to the Requirementsâ€, I’ve been thinking with others about the elephant in the room, the problem no one function of a Council or District can solve: We Can’t Get Enough People To Be Leaders. Everyone “does their best†in their lanes or functions: Membership mentions it. Training wants to train, but isn’t tasked to recruit. Same with Commissioners. The problem in part is that the way the BSA describes “what Cub Scouting is†-- a result of which is that being a Den Leader or a Cubmaster is an enormous job description. Like a Den Leader is told about “weekly†den meetings and monthly pack meetings and monthly roundtables and monthly pack leader meetings and then probably another activity and training and prepare for your “weekly†meetings … that’s a lot. -- So of course few people want to do all that … -- … or if you don’t deliver as described by your DE you feel like you’re letting kids, families and the BSA itself down. But I think we can make progress by changing how we describe “what Cub Scouting is†in our Websites, parent handouts, training, etc., by paring down that description … to make it clear that: -- If you don’t meet every week, you’ll be fine … do fun activities. -- If you don’t have Pack Meetings, you’ll be fine … do fun activities instead. -- (Pack Meeting Fans: Not that Pack meetings are banned or bad … but if it’s not fun in your Pack, why do it?) So I’ve put together two thought pieces on this struggle with suggested website changes, to help us re-think how we describe “what cub scouting isâ€: one about “Lighten Leader Loadsâ€, focused on the Den Leader, and how we might help them, at: http://www.southfultonscouting.com/system/files/ImproveCubScoutingLightenLeaderLoads.pdf also posted with hyperlinks at Lighten Leader Loads the other is about “Why Pack Meetings†or “Minimize Meetings, Accentuate Activitiesâ€, at: http://www.southfultonscouting.com/system/files/ImproveCubScoutingMinimizeMeetingsAccentuateActivities.pdf also posted with hyperlinks at Why Pack Meetings? Now, I’ll grant that sometimes the ideal model works, usually in the perfect pack in the unicorn district of utopia council where everyone volunteers and follows through. But that’s rare. Thoughts? Improve Cub Scouting - Lighten Leader Loads.pdf Improve Cub Scouting - Minimize Meetings, Accentuate Activities.pdf
  12. Let me spin out another idea about how to improve Cub Scouting, about the camping elements in the Cub Scout advancement modifications released on 11/30/16. A major emphasis of the new Cub Scout program unveiled in the June 30, 2015 handbooks is increased outdoor activity, including camping. Campout activities in the required Adventures in Wolf, Bear and Arrow of Light, though there are additional optional and elective camping activities as well. In those Handbooks, this alternative: "If your chartered organization does not permit Cub Scout camping, you may substitute a family campout or a daylong outdoor activity with your den or pack", so those Chartered Organizations could still see all of their Scouts advance with that family campout or a daylong outdoor activity in lieu of camping. The advancement modifications released on 11/30/16 allow, in lieu of camping, just attending "an outdoor activity with your den or pack". Whatever the concerns about camping that lead to making it an element that can be ignored and replaced by just "an outdoor activity", based on the intended approach to "maintain the integrity of the engaging, mission-driven, and user-friendly new Cub Scouting program", the choice need not be a binary choice between (a) camping and (b) not camping (just "an outdoor activity"). For more, see http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3564, where I offer a middle ground to maintain that program integrity while addressing local weather and other concerns. I may also say “C’mon Man†a few times. If you like the ideas, share it with your friends. If you don’t, consider this idle campfire chatter and ignore it! Or give some feedback to make this resource better.
  13. Some "Bobcat" Adventure Plans

    Let me split this idea off the “Improve the Cub Scout Program†thread. With the note about the Cub Scout advancement modifications released 11/30/16, and the general concerns circling around that announcement about Cub Scout advancement, I thought that on this first day (after) Christmas I’d circulate something that might be useful next year to help dens get going, and get advancement off to a better start. One idea is something missing from the den leader guides … some adventure plans for getting the Bobcat Rank. (Yeah, while maybe late for this year, call this “early†for next year.) Those Adventure Plans are at a page called “Getting Started: Plans for First Meetings + Bobcat Rankâ€. See http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3405 This builds off the idea that a key way to ‘hook’ new families into Cub Scouting is to have the boy earn that first Advancement award and be recognized. So these two Bobcat/First Meeting Adventure Plans are offered to help Dens get going, since (1) every Tiger Den has got to get Bobcat done, and (2) lots of dens get started with new kids who need Bobcat (and a refresher would be good for the returning Scouts). If you like the ideas, share it with your friends. If you don’t, consider this idle campfire chatter and ignore it! Or give some feedback to make this better and work on improving the Cub Scouting program.
  14. Ideas to Improve the Cub Scout Program

    I think that they did post the actual Den Adventure activity plans from the Den Leader Guides over a year ago, and they didn't sometime around a year ago (except for a few ... see the notes below), but there is a "back door" to the plans (that may have been an oversight when most of the Den Adventure activity plans were taken down about a year ago). When you go to that page linked in your message, and then follow the "Choose your Rank" choice, you get to a page like this: https://cubscouts.org/library/welcome-to-tiger-cub-scouting/ Currently, when you click there, you get a left hand menu of "Den Meeting Basics" (which has intro parts of the leader guides), then "Getting Started" (which has three Den Adventure activity plans as they appear in the den leader guide), and then "Additional Required Adventures" and "Elective Adventures". Each rank has three plans, including the family faith adventure. But for the "Additional Required Adventures" and "Elective Adventures", the page you click to doesn't have the actual Den Adventure activity plans from the Den Leader Guides. What it has are the intro parts from the Guide: the "rationale", the "takeaways" and the "requirements", plus any "notes" for den leaders. For Meeting Plans, it says: "To get you started in delivering fun and engaging meetings, complete Den Meeting Plans are available here on the Learning Library for the Backyard Jungle and Games Tigers Play adventures. To obtain Den Meeting Plans for all other adventures, Den Leader Guides are available at your local Scout Shop, online at scoutstuff.org, or as an eBook through Amazon." Again, that is a change: at the outset of the 2015-16 program year, all Required and Elective Adventures also had the full Den Adventure activity plans when you clicked on the page for the Adventure. Now, it turns out that there is at this time a "back door" to the actual Den Adventure activity plans, because at the top of an adventure like that there are two buttons: "download this page" and "print this page". If you click "print this page", you get a print view of the page, including the "eBook through Amazon" note. But if you click "download this page", it actually doesn't download the page, it downloads the activity plan (or, technically, it downloads what used to be the page at the outset of the 2015-16 program year, those Adventures also had the full Den Adventure activity plans. I suspect this was an IT oversight, but I guess we'll see what the BSA does ... do they put the plans back (they are sitting there in "download this page", so it shouldn't be hard), or do they wipe out the plans from "download this page". Minn: if there is a different route to those plans from the learning library page, I'd be curious, so let us know! Minn: if there is a different route to the plans,
  15. Ideas to Improve the Cub Scout Program

    Hi David CO: In what I added earlier today, I added a note that the change can be "operationally" neutral to functioning committees, as they may choose to operate as separate subcommittees for Pack and Troop (and Crew), just cooperating on Charter matters -- effectively for them the impact would be the paperwork reduction of avoiding multiple recharter packages, new applications as youth members move from Pack to Troop, new adult applications as Pack leaders move into Troop roles (and vice versa). So if a Troop Committee doesn't want committee coordination with any Pack operations (other than any designated liaison), then keep on with that approach: have your Committee keep separate Subcommittees for Pack and Troop (and Crew) that operate separately. I think the earlier notes included the idea that for the really good Troops and Packs that have Committees that are separate and know when to work together ... they can continue to operate as they do now. If the single Committee decides to have a Pack Subcommittee and Troop Subcommittee just like now, go for it. Nothing in the Charter structure requires any given set of meeting schedules / attendance requirements / or other operating details. All that is set locally. So if there were a one overall committee structural change, intended to create an environment that might in some cases help Units of a Chartered Organization do a better job of planning, coordinating, recruiting and helping each other, and reduce paperwork, the separate committees would be under the overall BSA Unit Committee for that CO. Magic bullet? No. Maybe help? I think so. Less Paperwork? Yes!