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anotherguy last won the day on April 6 2014

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  1. Current Bears in a Cub Scout Pack I've been part of for many years started with a large group of Lions. As Lions, they met once per month. This was a pack committee decision that was intended to start the kindergarteners out slowly. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they've kept that once-per month den meeting schedule through Tigers, Wolves, and Bears. Ours is a typical suburban public school pack with kids involved in multiple competing sports and after school programs. Most of our dens meet twice per month plus a pack meeting. The Council's reccomended course includes Cub Scouts activities once per week. (3 weekly den meetings plus one pack meeting, plus 3 or 4 Council camp options throughout the year). For the reasons others have stated, low den meeting frequency (once per month) may lead to: Lowered interest. That den has proportionally low pack meeting participation too. Very long meetings. 2+ hours. Kids get bored and restless. Multiple adventures covered in one meeting. How good can a program or activity be if you're just doing the Cliff's Notes version of it? Any absences become very problematic. Miss one meeting and you're way behind. I know that advancement isn't a goal, but for a Cub Scout to earn adventure loops, they must allow shortcuts. I've been raising the alarm and mentioning these things literally for years to the den's leaders and the committee. The irony here is that this particular den has one of the highest membership retention rates of any in the pack. They started out big, and they still are. A few Scouts have left, but a few others have joined and taken their place. So, what's the secret to their high membership numbers? Involved & interested parents. This absolutely must be the key to this den's retention. While some sit in the back of the room on their phones the whole time, this den has a dynamic den leader and multiple adl's. Other parents help at the pack level as cubmaster, committee members, fundraising chair, treasurer, and outdoor/camping chair. High council camping participation rates. This den goes to our council's weekend summer camp. They also attend other council-based fall, winter and spring day-camp events. Sorry for the mixed message, but I mention all this to not advocate once-per-month den meetings. But if it can't be avoided, there are a few key factors I've noticed which may mitigate some of those problems. Bottom line is that a succesful Cub Scouts experience originates with engaged parents & adult volunteers.
  2. At first glance this sounds like a great idea. But then, thinking about the new program it might get very complicated where there are generally 2 den meetings + 1 den outing to earn and adventure loop. What if a single parent has a Tiger and a Wolf? Where does that parent spend their time if one den is going on their outing and the other is doing one of their meetings? That might get tricky.
  3. I stumbled across it on BSA's scoutingwire.org website. Some really good info in there.
  4. BSA has released a full set of new pack meeting plans. There's enough of them to cover two years of pack meetings. Each one corresponds to a point of the Scout Law, but they can be done "out of order" to accommodate regional weather differences and other factors. I'm impressed. I've just taken a brief look at 5 or 6 months of the new plans and believe they're very well thought out, integrate with the Scout Law points, and appear extremely easy to follow. I know many of us like to customize our own pack meeting plans, but with a framework as good as this new setup is, I see little need to stray very far from the provided outlines. Check 'em out here:
  5. Do what's best for your boys. Don't get caught up in the sentimentality of keeping a historic but struggling unit going- regardless of how long it's been around. You're not there to serve the Troop or the Chartered Org, you're there to serve the boys. Think about the big picture, help the boys get the most out of their Boy Scout experiences. Also, don't underestimate the good that all of you can do if you combined with the other Troop. Investing your time and energy into helping the new Troop become an even better Troop will be a win-win for all and has the additional possibility of attracting more quality members to the BSA.
  6. LeCastor nailed it. Around here, the younger leaders among us are accustomed to receiving info via email, website, Facebook, text, or other electronic means. The families that those leaders communicate with are often even younger, using Facebook, Twitter and other mobile apps. The schools around us have gone "paperless" too- no paper flyers sent home with kids. Not even report cards! On the other hand, the most experienced (and often far older) leaders among us run the Roundtable meetings. Those older leaders pass out the flyers, photocopied papers from an old leader book, etc. Obviously the heart is in the right place but the big generational divide is holding things back. The same effort that's required to host a Roundtable should go into better electronic communications. After all, businesses have been moving in this direction for years. As of now it seems many Units that have websites use some form of a Frankensteined free google site, or one that was built in the 1990's. The District sites aren't much better. These send a loud & clear message that "we're out of touch" to the general public or anyone who's interested in joining. Not good. National BSA needs to move forward into the new century. BSA should standardize and offer a unified communications approach embracing the technology that young families and their kids use. This'll be especially important now that the programs are undergoing significant changes. BSA needs to provide electronic communication support (standardized website templates, email templates, Facebook templates to its Councils, Districts and most importantly its Units. Units should be given the option to use a BSA-hosted and branded website with the Unit's "branding" to communicate to their families. As part of that move into the 21st century, rechartering, registering, and submitting Annual Health & Medical Records, various waivers etc should all move online. For now though, that may be a bridge too far.
  7. For me, Rountable is one of the least productive aspects of scouting. Our Cub Scout sessions are regularly without any theme or purpose. The older Scouters don't often have current info either. When I've attended I pointed out (important) conflicting info found on the Council's website to the older Scouter leading the session. The response was a resigned "Oh well, just go ahead and rely on the info on the website". This didn't really instill confidence among those attending and doesn't provide a reason to return. The Scouter's heart was in the right place of course and I appreciate their service. But if I want reliable info, I'll visit the Council and Distrcit website and happily skip RT.
  8. Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this. You're probably right that Cub camping is an intro to families who haven't camped before. The problem I see is that the brand new families to our pack's campouts get a pretty strong first impression of what "camping" is. I think this first impression of "camping" may turn some folks away. First, to support one of our pack car camping trips a lot of gear and "stuff" is required. That means volunteers are needed to inventory, haul, unload, setup, etc. all this stuff. It requires a big effort from a number of folks, and I think that's daunting and off-putting. Second, most of the participants stay in cabins which do have some home comforts, but they're also loud (with squeeky bunks, slamming screen doors, and snoring men). My point to all this is that although Cub camping may be an intro to Scout camping, what are we really introducing them to? I agree with a number of your comments and appreciate your points of view. jc2008 may be right that I'm losing sight of what the ultimate goal is. DuctTape also gave some advice that especially resonated with me: Emphasize the destination. I'm motivated now to look for more "destination" type day hikes that could have future potential as camping spots. Adding on a few outdoor skills activities (fire building, way finding with a map and compass, plant/tree identification, etc...) would make the destination even more fun. Thanks again for all your input. There's some really good ideas in here... keep 'em coming!
  9. Thanks for all of your thoughts and suggestions. I admit I'm probably a bit impatient with the Cub Scouts camping idea. As a family, we will venture a little further beyond the parking lot. For the pack, I think I'll suggest a few more day hike outings to provide some "lite" adventures. I hope that the long-awaited new Cub Scouts program will emphasize the "outing in Scouting". Looking forward to it!
  10. I was never a Boy Scout, but I did earn my Arrow of Light many years ago. As a kid, our pack never spent much time outdoors. All hiking and camping experience I gained was outside of Scouting. My son's in Cub Scouts and he really enjoys it. As a leader, I'd like to make sure that our pack does spend more time outdoors. I've seen how important it is to get the boys outside having fun together. Problem is, some of the outdoor experiences we've experienced in Cub Scouts haven't been very adventurous. Don't get me wrong, we enjoy and attend all the Council day camps and weekend summer camps. Our pack also does an annual campout, which is essentially a car camping experience with lots and lots of bulky heavy gear. The campsite is a 20 step walk from the gravel parking lot, leaders lug in heavy cast iron dutch ovens skillets, haul in 100 pound patrol boxes and rubbermaid tubs full of groceries, etc. We have fun but it's nearly identical to tailgating...only with more trees around. Overnight, most folks sleep on bunks inside cabins although a few sleep in tents outside. This style of camping is fine, just like RV camping is fine, but I know there's more adventure out there. For those of you who are in packs that emphasize the outdoors, what kinds of things do you do that venture beyond parking lot camping? I'm not looking to swing completely to the opposite end of the spectrum with ultralight hike/camping (because of the gear required and expense), but I know there's a middle ground. How can I start to introduce a little more outdoor adventure? How do I ease those with zero experience into giving the outdoors a try? How can I convince the experienced car campers to venture out a little more?
  11. We've found great success using the widely available google-based Cub Scout template. (Google to find it) It's customizable to each unit's needs. We also send brief emails with links to info posted on the pack's website. By far, our most effective tool is our online subscribable calendar. Google hosts these for free. We have a pack calendar and one for each den. That way our families only get the info they need. Tigers don't need to know when the Webelos campout is, etc... This calendar integrates well with the template based website I mentioned previously. Families can sync these calendars with their home computers, mobile devices, phones, etc. If a new meeting is scheduled or a location or time changes to an existing meeting, it's automatically updated at each pack subscriber's electronic device. Works amazingly well. We also use Facebook, but not nearly to the same extent.
  12. I think the blue webbing Cub Scout belt was designed to be worn as any other belt. I've only seen it worn threaded through the fabric belt loops on the pants (usually jeans). There are a lot of boys that wear track/warmup/sweat pants. (Sometimes I think they wear them as pajamas too). But those don't work with the Cub Scout belt, and the belt (if they have one) is often left at home.
  13. Here's a story that's bound to make you feel good. I have a son in Cub Scouts and two daughters in Girl Scouts. They all enjoy building and participating in the Pinewood Derby. Our pack is very welcoming, and have a sibling race that our girls love to compete in. The local Girl Scouts Service Unit (similar to a Cub Scouts pack/district) also holds an annual PWD for their Girl Scouts in our area. A few months ago, unfortunately, it looked as though they wouldn't be able to hold their annual Pinewood Derby. The pack they had previously worked with (who loaned the track, ran the races, etc.), wasn't able to help anymore. My wife is a GSUSA Troop Leader and suggested that our pack might be interested in helping out. A few months ago I brought the idea to our Pack Committee and without hesitation everyone said that we should absolutely help the Girl Scouts Service Unit with their PWD this year. Today we worked side by side with them. They really loved our pack's high-tech track and we had the privilege of seeing how creative the girl's cars were. It was a great event and fun to see cooperation between the two organizations and scouts. Both of my daughters placed very well in their respective classes (Brownie & Cadette). That made them very happy and proud. Of course I was too. As we all finished cleaning up and putting away the track, our leaders were speaking with the Girl Scouts leader. Apparently, everyone was so pleased with the way today turned out that our pack's guys had volunteered again. This time to help set up and run the GSUSA Service Unit race again next year and also help set up and run the GSUSA District/Council/Region (not sure exactly what it's called) race too! Amazing. Here's the thing that really made me proud to be part of this organization: Out of the more than 6 uniformed Cub Scouts leaders who volunteered today, not one of them had a daughter... only sons. Not one of them had a personal connection in the GSUSA program- just me. They all just recognized that the goals of each of our organizations are worth investing time in. All our kids (even if they aren't our kids) are worth it. If that doesn't embody scout spirit, I'm not sure what does.
  14. Assigning parents tasks in small chunks of responsibility works well. A first come- first serve "volunteer" sign up sheet at the beginning of the year is used for this purpose. Those that don't "volunteer" are assigned a task that may (or may not) suit their interest. For example, a dad that works in a medical office talks about first aid and staying healthy. A mom who volunteers at the local historical society can set up a den visit to an important community building. A dad who has carpentry experience can lead the kit building. All of this in support of the DL and the ADL, who in turn support the parent with a plan and a structure carry out the program that week.
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