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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. ParkMan

    What Makes Good Pack Meetings?

    I have the same question. This year we tried to improve pack meetings. Some are better, some are not. One piece of advice I received early on was to make the meetings more "fun". Some folks want this to mean, make the pack meeting "entertainment". They'd like to have the pack meeting be a show, presentation, or game with the bare minimum of time for awards or announcements. As such, we did away with den skits, cheers, and songs. Pack meetings start at 6:30 and run for about an hour. Right now our meetings go something like: 6:20 - gathering game 6:35 - opening flag ceremony - a den does this monthly. We always start 5-10 minutes late. 6:40 - announcements - CM makes announcments. There may be a special announcement or two. 6:42 - awards - 10 mintues. Usually given by the den leaders who call up boys to the front. Due to the time, there is not a lot of ceremony here. 6:55 - actvity or special ceremony 7:25 - closing At the meeting, we have rows of chairs set up. Boys sit with their parents wherever they want. We don't sit by dens. The meeting is run by the CM, one or more ACMs, and the advancement chair. I'm not sure that focusing just on meetings as entertainment is working so well. I feel like we've lost some of the purpose behind the pack meeting with the boys having no role. Even when the den does the flag ceremony, the leader is sort of scrambling to find out who is there. Den leaders generally come - though not always. We get at most 50% attendance. My gut feel is that a great pack meeting can't be just a fun show/activity/game. It's got to be more. I've just not hit on the right formula yet.
  2. ParkMan


    Fellow Scouters - I need some help. I'm the Cubmaster of a good sized pack that normally runs between 60-80 boys. I've been Cubmaster for about a year and a half. I'm really worried that I'm just missing something fundamental here and am just flailing. Let me explain... The boys and families just don't seem all that engaged. We've got a fairly active pack calendar, but attendance is low. Our fall campout got about 30% attendance. Our upcoming spring campout probably won't hit that. The Pinewood Derby this year might have hit 60%. We had two Pinewood Derby workdays, so I know it's not because the boys didn't have an opportunity to build a car if they could not at home. Summer activities might hit 20-25%. I feel we have to beg folks to attend. There are 3 or 4 signup emails per event that all end up reading "please remember to signup". Monthly pack meeting attendance is at best at about 50%. I've tried to make the pack meetings more fun - to some limited success, but attendance has not gotten better. In several dens, the den leaders report similar attendance. Weekly meetings seem optional and folks never RSVP when they can't make it. Beyond the den leaders, we have a very small pack committee - just a committee chair and treasurer. We've got a couple of Assistant Cubmasters, but they double as den leaders/assistant den leaders. The pack committee meeting is really a pack leader's meeting. I'm talked with the Committee Chair many times about getting more adults involved, but he doesn't know how or is not interested building a committee. He seems content to preside at our "committee meeting" and help out with special projects as needed. Without other leaders, I fear I'm wearing out our den leaders. Most dens have two leaders, but some have only one. In the two dens with just one leader, they are both telling me that they are done at the end of the year. There are some den leaders who rarely show for the monthly leader's meeting. I, as Cubmaster, end up organizing just about every pack event - pack meetings, campouts, join scouting, summer activities. For major events, when I ask for help from the den leaders, I generally get it. However, we don't really have anyone outside that group engaged helping out. There's no activities chair, membership chair, etc.. This general structure pre-dated me and it is just the way the pack has always operated. A couple of Cubmasters ago we were smaller and he did run it all, but from what I understand, outside events were minimal. In his time campout attendance was just a few people. Yet, long timers look back on him fondly. I recognize I'm burning out. I don't want to quit and want to improve what I'm doing, but at this point I recognize the signs of burnout. My family is supporting me, but I've been pretty much told by my wife that when my son ages out of Cubs in a year that I need to retire as a Scouter. So, I'm feeling lost. I know we need to get the energy up, but I'm not sure how. I know we need better attendance, but I'm not sure how. Similarly, I know we need more adults helping out, but again, I'm at a loss of where to start. I feel like it's a self perpetuating cycle. I've taken pretty much every training available at the Cub level - including Wood Badge. But, I can't quite seem to make it click. I'm hoping some learned people here in the community may be able to help me make sense of it all and get me pointed in the right direction. Yours in Scouting...
  3. ParkMan


    Hi all, sorry for the double post here. I was editing my post and walked away for 5 minutes. I came back and the post had been done. Not sure why. Here's a revised version. Many thanks all for the most excellent advice! If I pull out some of the common themes, I see: Community - Know familes and greet them by name - Get parents involved. Start with small tasks & build up. Get Parents to Buy In - Need to see value in coming to meetings - Need to overcome "nah, I don't want to go this week" Leader/Committee Meetings/Parent Meetings - Invite parents, especially new ones Pack Meetings - make them fun! Have a replacement now These are absolutely fantastic. Let me do some thinking and I'm sure I'll be back shortly with follow up questions. Thank you all so much for taking the time on this!
  4. ParkMan


    Many thanks all for the most excellent advice! If I pull out some of the common themes, I see: Community - Get parents involved Get Parents to Buy In - Value in Coming to Meetings - How to overcome "nah, I don't want to go this week" Leader/Committee Meetings/Parent Meetings - Invite parents. - How to overcome folks just talking with each other Pack Meetings - make them fun! Have a replacement now
  5. ParkMan

    Boys Life

    I think BL really needs to be in the same category as Scouting. If you register you get a copy. Most boys (especially Cub Scouts) only exposure to scouting is through their home unit. BL helps the realize they are part of something much, much bigger. We make it optional our pack. When I look at the records of who gets it and who does not, it's interesting that it's usually the most engaged scouts are the ones that get it. I know that they probably get BL because they are already excited. The don't become excited simply from reading BL. However every little bit helps.
  6. I feel for Terry, I really do. As a labor of love, he could not have envisioned this. Here's hoping for a change really soon! Good luck Terry!
  7. ParkMan

    Leader Knots? (Changes to policy)

    Hi Joe, That was me for the first year. I was there to help, but never was more than extra pair of hands. Over time, the CM found something that he didn't have the cycles for and gave me responsibility for it. It grew to be a pretty major focus for the pack. Now, as CM myself, I would love for an ACM to come to me looking to own something. Since you're friendly with the CM, my suggestion - grab a friendly beverage and spend some time brainstorming on what your role could be.
  8. ParkMan

    Pack Jackets

    If you, your scouts, and parents like the idea - go for it. There will be many reasons not to do this - cost, changes in size, etc... But, at the end of the day, if your group likes the idea and is excited by it, why not? One possible alternative suggestion would be fleece vests. I've seen those a few times and they look pretty cool.
  9. ParkMan

    When exactly can a scout earn his rank badge?

    As a CM and former Assistant CM, I give you props for your initiative and energy. I think you're asking great questions. I'd start using all the program elements - such as Progress Towards ranks. If the boys loose the beads, buy more. Or perhaps replace the strings that the uses. If it's out there for our boys, use them. Award the rank awards as soon as they are earned. Personally I think that holding them all until the B&G discourages boys from working on them independently. If all 6 kids in the den earn them at the same time, they seem like participation awards. Graduate the boys on June 1.
  10. ParkMan

    Leader Knots? (Changes to policy)

    BTW - for your other question about the AOL. You should just be able to purchase it. I've never needed any paperwork for it.
  11. ParkMan

    Leader Knots? (Changes to policy)

    Not sure I'd use the phrase "only an assistant den leader and assistant cubmaster" - They're both important jobs! The award for either role is the Scout Leader's Training Award. If you've been in the role for a couple of years now, you might be retroactively eligible for the Cub Scouter Award.
  12. There's a discussion going on in my son's Troop about adult leaders doing light hearted teasing of scouts. On the surface, it doesn't appear malicious. Mostly it seems fairly benign, but it can drift into areas like hight, size (i.e. refering to someone as a small guy) or stuff like being a geek. Most people laugh it off as nothing more than just harmless teasing from the leaders. The leaders are all deicated folks who devote a lot of time and energy to scouting. It really doesn't appear to be leader's favoring certain kids, picking favorites, or picking on certain boys. It seems to just be a style thing. Most families are quite happy with the leaders, but there are a few that are concerned. Anyone been down this path before? I did a Guide to Safe Scouting search, but the closest I find is: "Physical violence, hazing, bullying, theft, verbal insults, and drugs and alcohol have no place in the Scouting program and may result in the revocation of a Scout’s membership in the unit." This seems a bit harsher than what I've seen going on.
  13. ParkMan

    Heard of Unit Key Three?

    We've been using the term here for years. Perhaps it's silliy consistency, but if you've got an active COR who wants to represent the CO's program goals in leadership decisions, why not?
  14. As he's rebuilding, any suggestions on how to keep the younger boys who he's grooming (excited, energetic) from turing into the older boys (unethusiastic) when they get to 14 or 15?
  15. ParkMan

    Is Scouting Becoming Irrelevant?

    I see many boys who really enjoy it. There are just so many more options now for boys outside of scouting. It's natural fewer will be involved. Somewhere in the past 50 years, adults got the impression that they can and should try to manage/fix everything. It's undoubtedly made it harder for some boys to develop responsibility. All the more reason for scouting to exist.
  16. ParkMan

    ?? behavior - how common?

    I imagine this is a very small percentage of the Eagle Scouts in your area. When you get enough folks doing anything, including become Eagle Scouts, things are going to happen. Does it make it right, no, but it's going to happen. I suspect the things you list happen are done much less frequently by Eagle Scouts than by non Eagle Scouts, or even non Scouts in general. If these things are all happening in one Troop, perhaps it's just a bad Troop. Since I don't know your specific cases, I can't hazard a guess as to whether there is something more going on.
  17. No one says that because National makes this policy change your Pack/Troop/Crew needs to make any kind of statement. If you're CO makes a policy change, then fine. I'd just do what you're doing until someone pushes the issue and you need a decision. No one says that all of a sudden all packs/troops/crews need to become either pro-gay or anti-gay.
  18. ParkMan

    National looking at letting homosexuals in the BSA

    If they pass this and many CO's bolt, good for the BSA. Every year anti-gay policies are getting to be further recognized as discrimination. To me, this says the BSA is now recognizing that and standing up against discrimination. This seems like a is a good thing. If a bunch of COs bolt as a result, then at least the BSA looks like it's standing up against discrimination. That seems like a good morality lesson for our youth. However, I suspect they floated this out there because the BSA fully expects it to pass. I imagine that they've already gotten nods from the major religious groups that they are comfortable with this policy. As this decision will allow the COs to enforce whatever rules that they want, I don't see how any CO could now withdraw without looking pretty bad.
  19. I myself prefer a friendly conversation. Though we are rule focused with the boys, I find it's important to remember the big picture with adults. That doesn't mean we ignore rules with adults. However, it does mean that I do not generally go to someone and say "BSA rules say you cannot do...".
  20. My .02... As an ASM, I think you should have a private discussion with the SM & CC. Ask them to set some guidelines for contact in front of the boys. This doesn't need to by anything formal, but instead a few choice statements from the SM and/or CC to say - "This is a youth organization. Adults should act professionally in front of the scouts." Once that is done, the SM and/or CC needs to give them the opportunity to conform. If then they do not, then the SM/CC has a decision to make. Other than a friendly comment in private, I don't think you should be assembling a group of other leaders to talk to these two ASMs. That's the responsibility of the SM or CC. If a group feels a need to do something, then have them each individually approach the SM/CC so that they recognize how widespread the concern is.
  21. ParkMan

    Ugly Beading Ceremony

    ... I'm a big beliver in "all things in moderation" and I think a bit of goofyness now and then, especially with boys and especially with Cub Scout aged boys, is good. But there's also the idea of modelling adult behavior for the scouts. ... Which is where the Announcement song really falls on its face. It tries to make life into a living, breathing, Monty Python skit I'm on the same page with you here. All things in moderation. I think it's hard for many new Scout leaders, especially Cub Scout leaders, to find their identity as a leader. There's a time for seriousness, there's a time for fun, there's even a time for goofy. I think any light element (the announcement song being an example) itself is not necessarily bad, it's how it is used that's the question. You can make your whole pack meeting a Monty Python skit, or use it judiciously to add some brevity on occasion. Know how & when is though and is different based on the person. Some (many perhaps?) are not good at finding the balance and as a result go too far one way or the other.
  22. ParkMan

    Ugly Beading Ceremony

    There's nothing wrong with singing announcements at WB or NYLT. When I attended WB, I was a pretty green Cub Leader. The idea of signing announcements or being goofy in front of the boys in my pack was pretty uncomfortable. During the course, I watched a bunch of pretty experienced Scouters doing some goofy things. In it's own way, it helped me to understand that being goofy with kids is really OK. If all we'd done was had a bunch of serious meetings, then I'd have missed that example.
  23. ParkMan

    Another WB Benefit

    I've seen the same thing. I agree, as someone that likes meeting new people, I find it's a nice side benefit of Wood Badge.
  24. ParkMan

    Scoutmaster Attitude

    Having been there myself, I agree with those that say burnout. I'd trade 20 ASMs for a handful of really strong ASM who really step up and takes ownership.
  25. ParkMan

    This Bear was beaded!

    Congratulations! Well done! I used to be an Antelope, and a good ol' Antelope too....