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Returnee just has to vent

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My active return to Scouting after 40 years has brought with it some frustrations and a need to vent. So I'll bend your ears and take a little of your time.


My son began his Scouting experience this year as a Webelos I with no previous Cub Scouting at the lower ranks. There was a very successful enrollment drive in the Fall and, as a result, there were others also brand new to the program. In this Pack there was a pre-existing full Den of Webelos I scouts who were veterans with much time working together. It was decided that all of the new arrivals would be grouped together as a second Webelos I Den for equality of training - a logical approach. The downside of this formation lies in the fact that the parents of these newcomers were told that, "One of you will have to be the Den Leader or there won't be a Den for your boys." As the "most experienced Scouter", I "should" have become the Den Leader. But, because of a completely incompatible and fluctuating retail work schedule, I have been unable to commit the appropriate time to the position. Sadly, this leaves the job to a completely untrained and inexperienced mother who "volunteered" only because "her son couldn't join if she didn't." So the "Leader" is no more knowledgeable or qualified than the Scouts. I applaud her desire to include her son, but have to question the Pack's conviction to the boys in general through this type of appointment for a Webelos training level. I'm aware that Leader Training is available, but feel that it shouldn't come after the fact. In contrast, the other Webelos I Leader is highly experienced, trained, and extremely effective.


I have also gleaned from the Pack hierarchy that "the boys should have fun" is more important than "following the rules" doing things "the right way". I've noted that at Pack meetings the Cub Scout and Boy Scout handshakes have gotten "confused" - the SM and ASM always use the latter with the Cubs and instruct them likewise. SM and DLs wear their uniform shirts untucked often (if they wear them) - an example followed by half the boys. Just last month the SM announced that the coming Pack meeting will be held at a commercial Karate facility to acquaint the boys with the philosophical benefits of martial arts. Although I personally agree with this philosophy, I see as not only an environment detrimental to order and attention to Scout business, but also a flagrant violation of BSA policy.


There is also a practice in my son's Den (I'm not familiar with the other Dens) that "all boys at the party get equal gifts". This may be a generational thing (Im old enough to be most Scouts parents parent) where everybody's equal and progression is based on the lowest common denominator. ?? My son has been told that he'll have to wait on some awards until the other boys catch up! I don't view Scouting as a one-hour-a-week thing! I read his handbook, work with him on projects and assignments, and keep track of his accomplishments on a daily basis. In under 6 months he is qualified to receive his Webelos rank, but must wait for the others to qualify. Why should he be penalized or held up for the slower progression of others? That might be fine for Tigers or Wolves, but older boys, in preparation for Boy Scouts, I think ought to work and progress at their own best pace.


OK Now Ive vented sufficiently. Maybe next year my time schedule will be better suited to jumping in with both feet and being an official Leader myself.


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Yah, hi NHawk! Welcome to da forums, eh!


That was a good rant. I enjoyed it. And I hope yeh feel better.


You're a wise one to come vent to a bunch of strangers like us, and protect your son's cub experience from "The New Guy who Sees Everything That's Wrong but Not Anything That's Right And Who Hasn't Put Any Time In Yet In Terms of Hard Work or Training." :)


That's a good start. No pack is goin' to be perfect, and since you've been around cubs has moved more to equal "do your best" advancement and grade level progress, eh? Yeh aren't gonna change it in the less-than-a-year your son has left in cubbing. I'd say Grin and Baloo it, eh?! All the kids might be gettin' their awards at the same time, kinda like school grades, but yeh can be proud that your son is earnin' A's while not all his den-mates are.


Jump in a bit more next year, maybe takin' the lead for helpin' boys and families with Arrow of Light and crossover to a troop (?). That way yeh can do something fun and truly helpful for everyone, while helping the boys find a strong troop program to continue in.


And be excited that your son found Scouting in the 4th grade, thanks to this pack's recruitment drive. I think havin' 8 years to share something like Scouting with your son is a wonderful gift, no matter what warts it comes with.




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My first thought is that perhaps you could volunteer to be an ADL for the second Webelos den. Then you could lend your experience to the DL without as much of a time commitment.


And as for the Webelos rank, most activities are supposed to be done with the Den, not at home. Parents can't sign off on activities like they can in earlier ranks. There are a few activities that are to be done at home, and then the Cub is to discuss it at the den meeting. So, if all the Cubs are going to all the meetings, and doing all of the activities together, he shouldn't have to wait for anyone. If the other Cubs are missing meetings and that's why he has to wait, that's just wrong.




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When my son started in Cub Scouts, the pack was new. As in, completely new. Only the Cubmaster had any experience at all. The den leaders at every level were "completely untrained and inexperienced." We found that being a den leader wasn't rocket science. Being enthusiastic, good with kids, and able to read the handbook were pretty much the only requirements.


I'd suggest you support your den leader the best you can and see what happens. Some den leaders are always better than others. I've had new first time den leaders be far more effective than those with more training and more experience.


It's always easy, coming in, to see what's wrong. Packs are run by volunteers. People have personalities, philosophies, personal demands on their time, etc. You can look around and ask yourself, is my son better off for being here, or not?


Personally, I like the idea of Cub Scouts having fun. In fact, that's part of the Cub Scout leaders mantra - KISMIF - Keep It Simple, Make It Fun. People have their own idea of where they should be on the continuum between strict order on one side and open chaos and doing whatever you want on the other.

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Too many in Scouting say, "Hey, it's for the boys and it about having fun. Why worry about the rules?" Oddly, they never say that about soccer or basketball or football (although they rarely know the real rules of those activities).


The parents that don't understand why the boys need to tuck their shirts in are the same ones that want their boys to look like MLB players in the 3rd grade.


With regards to appearance, if you don't take pride in your appearance as a Scout can you really be taking pride in your activities as a Scout?


Other rules? Most have a reason. We may not know the reason but usually someone thought it out. Now, I'll admit that I've broken a few rules in my day. For example, my campaign hat is currently sporting a Scout badge from Thailand. Otherwise, I'm for following the rules and the program.


To go back to the sports analogy . . . if it is about having fun, then we ought to let kids pick up the basketball and run with it. Hey! It's fun and it's about the kids, right? Sure, it might be having fun but is it basketball? The same is true of Scouting. You might be wearing a Cub Scout uniform but if you aren't doing Cub Scout activities then it isn't Cub Scouting.


You've run into a common problem in the Scouting universe. Parents who feel compelled to "help" but don't see the need to play the game by the rules.


As far as awards, Scouting says that when you earn it, you get it. However, you're right about the generational thing. Too many of today's parents don't understand why Johnny shouldn't get the same badge as everyone else even though he didn't do the work. Or they think that if your son did the extra work, he shouldn't get the extra badge because it will make their boy feel "bad."


I could continue to rant but I have to go to bed.



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I haven't been around scouting too long, but long enough to hold every position on the committee (in the same year!) and to be a Tiger Den leader and Webelos den leader, so learning on the fast track!


From what I have heard around the scouting world, it is wrong to hold back awards- at any level- in order for other boys to catch up. There will be scouts who never do the necessary requirements. Does that mean that nobody can every advance?? If a boy deserves an award, he should get it at the next pack meeting he attends. It is true that Webelos den leaders need to sign off on requirements, but I feel that the requirements can still be done at home as long as there is proof. I ask my Webelos to bring in documentation. Just about everything for the Webelos badges can be documented. There are several badges- Family Member, Traveler, Handyman, and Scholar- which can be done at home if the den leader agrees. Also, several of the Webelos badge requirements (like the parent reading the Webelos book info and the religious portion) are often done outside of the den. When my son did badge work at home he documented what he did. I also believe that doing activity badges should not entirely at the whim of the Webelos den leader. If the boy has interest in something in particular, then he should not be held back from doing that badge at home. He may have to repeat the badge work if the den does it later, but he will just get more out of it. I am tired of parents being told by school and scouts that they must hold their child's interests back to go at the same rate as everyone else.


As far as the rules, it depends on which is being broken. I don't believe there is a place for free-for-all-in-the-name-of-fun chaos. Scouts is supposed to teach character, and this can be done and still have fun without scouts disregarding other people and property by being disruptive. But I don't go so far as to worry about tucked-in shirts. That's just me, because I think that the rank-and-file military aspect of scouts should be downplayed for boys.


Karate is not allowed by BSA. I wish it was- my boys do Karate and would like a belt loop for it.


What to do about boring and unqualified den leaders? That is a common tough question. If you cannot make it to the meetings yourself to help, then I would say try to line up outsiders to teach the Webelos activity badges. Tell the leader: hey, I found a great geologist/engineer/scientist/musician/etc who is willing to teach a badge. I would imagine the den leader would be happy to have someone else do the work! Our pack has one den leader who is great at finding resources: her Bear den has gone to a car sales lot, a hospital, a grocery store, the police station, the boat marina, etc. She says it is easiest to farm out the work, and the boys are really getting a lot out of it. Also, boys listen better when you bring in the "guest expert."

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NHawk52, being a youth in the program 40 years ago is WAY different from being an adult Scouter in the program today. A lot has changed in the BSA Scouting programs in 40 years, especially in Cub Scouts.


The practice of asking for a leader to step up from a new group of Cubs is not a new, or unique, one. In fact, that is how many den leaders, and die-hard Scouters, are born. You state that you "should" have taken the position because of your experience, but that your work schedule would not allow you to do so. Actually, the person who "should" be den leader is the person who has the time for it, has the willingness to be be there for all of the boys, and who wants to see the boys have a great Scouting experience. Note, I did not say "has prior experience". Experience as a youth 40 years ago is actually not that far from "untrained and inexperienced". As long as the den leader has taken Youth Protection, New Leaders Essentials, and Webelos Leader specific training, and has and reads the Webelos Leader and Webelos Scout Handbooks, she should be fine. Attending District Roundtables would help as would having the other Webelos leaders as resources.


I would stop comparing everything to the other Webelos den. It is simply not fair to your den's leader or to the boys in your son's den. The reality is that every leader is different, every den is different, and there are simply to many boys to have only one 4th grade Webelos (there is no BSA designation of Webelos 1 and 2) den. There was NO OTHER option for the Pack or the den.


You mention that the SM and ASM always use the "Boy Scout" handshake with the Cub Scouts at Pack meetings. Why is the Scoutmaster and an Asst Scoutmaster running Cub Scout Pack meetings? Where is the Cubmaster (CM) and the rest of the Cub Scout leadership? For that matter, since the Cub Scout handshake (right hand, 2 fingers along wrist) is distinctly different from the Scout Handshake (regular handshake using left hand), and all new Cub Scouts MUST learn the Cub Scout Handshake to earn Bobcat, how are they being confused with one another? I would think that a brand new Bobcat would be the first one to correct an adult who held out the incorrect hand to him!


You stated - "Just last month the SM announced that the coming Pack meeting will be held at a commercial Karate facility to acquaint the boys with the philosophical benefits of martial arts. Although I personally agree with this philosophy, I see as not only an environment detrimental to order and attention to Scout business, but also a flagrant violation of BSA policy." While I still do not understand why the leader of a Boy Scout Troop is running a Cub Scout Pack, I also do not fully understand your objections.


Yes, boxing, karate, and related martial arts are not authorized BSA activities. However, defensive martial arts like judo, aikido, and Tai Chi ARE authorized. Participation is recommended for Boy Scout level and above, but they are definitely NOT a "flagrant violation". Why do you assume that the boys will be learning actual karate moves? You can "acquaint the boys with the philosophical benefits of martial arts", by watching demonstrations of judo, aikido, or Tai Chi. All of which is possible at a commercial karate facility. Actually, it sounds like it could be fun! Yes, they might throw in a pitch to sign up for classes, even karate classes, but that would be up to the individual family to do on their own and would in no way be a "scouting" activity.


As for "an environment detrimental to order and attention to Scout business", I don't agree. The folks doing the demos need to have relative quiet for concentration. Somehow I don't believe the facility owner would allow the Scouts to run amok. If the boys are interested in what is going on, their attention will be captured, and the "Scout business" is to have fun while, hopefully, learning something.


Your one complaint you have that I agree with is awarding boys their recognitions ASAP after they are earned. This is a basic BSA tenet in ALL BSA programs. Boys, and girls, from Tigers to Venturers should work, and advance, at their own pace, and be recognized at the next possible meeting for their accomplishments. Unfortunately, there are a lot of well meaning folks out there who think it is more meaningful to have 1 big celebration for everyone at the same time, feel some boys are to young to earn certain ranks, feel boys should wait until it is convenient for the adults, and other hogwash. This type of mentality is hard to overcome. All you can do is to talk to the den leaders and try to get them to come around.



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Yah, gotta second ScoutNut on this, eh?


Scouts aren't allowed to drive NASCAR either, but they can sure attend a race, talk to drivers, see demos, sit behind the wheel, and learn stuff, eh? They can't skydive, but they can go to an airfield and talk to skydivers and watch skydivers and put on the equipment and play on the practice rigs and even fly in the airplane that takes skydivers up, eh?


Same with martial arts. Da point behind the prohibition is that combat martial arts trainin', like competitive football, has a high risk of injury. But that's not what we're talkin' about in a one-night visit, eh?


Besides, I reckon martial arts programs are a perfect cross-marketing opportunity for scout units. Introduce scouts to martial arts; introduce martial arts kids to scouts. Great way to grow membership while capitalizin' on compatible activities.


Sounds like your pack is ahead of the game in recruitin', NHawk. That's a good thing to be supportive of.




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"Scouts aren't allowed to drive NASCAR either,"


Citation please?


I spent my time in a dojo and I've never seen a "demonstration" which didn't include getting the "audience" involved. It is highly unlikely that the instructor won't say, "Okay boys! Stand up and do . . ."


Of course, Beaver, you've already shown that you believe that the G2SS is only suggestions and contains no real rules.



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For a pack meeting last fall we had a local Karate club come in and give a demonstation to the Cubs. It was a dojo that one of our Bears belongs to and he participated in the demo breaking his board handily.


The best demonstrator was a 12 year old girl and she was very impressive. The instructor was very good explaining things to the boys and even had them do one very simple yell/move, don't know what it was, just that for many weeks afterwards my son would still holler and assume the stance!


Did we violate G2SS? Not in my opinion, one shout and a very basic non-contact stance is not something to get wrapped around the axle about.


Would I consider inviting them back for a future Pack meeting? Absolutely.


Would I encourage any Cub who had an interest in participating in Karate? Sure, as long as it didn't conflict with regular den/Pack meetingss :)


Would I take the Pack to the Dojo to actively learn Karate as a unit outing? No.


Did the boys have fun, learn something and maybe get exposed to something that might become a new interest/hobby/sport/love? Yep!


My .02, YMMV.





Assistant Cubmaster

Pack 13

Shenandoah Area Council



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One must remember that rules apply for safety reasons, and of course insurance reasons. Cub Scouts can only shoot BB guns, Boy Scouts can shoot shotguns and rifles at a range, Venturing Scouts can shoot handguns and do open hunts. And yet none of the boys can do paint-ball because it is too "war like". One the other hand Venturing Crews that do historical reenacting can in fact participate in war games and all the trappings involved in military activities. Go figure.



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I realize it's tongue-in-cheek to ask whether NASCAR is allowed, but here's the citation anyway:

All motorized speed events, including motorcycles, boats, drag racing, demolition derbies, and related events, are not authorized activities for any program level


Always nice to see that little extra jab thrown in on a posting.


(Wait, is that too self-referential? Was that comment on a jab a jab in and of itself?)

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" and even fly in the airplane that takes skydivers up, eh?"


Only if you have an approved BSA Flying Permit.


"All motorized speed events, including motorcycles, boats, drag racing, demolition derbies, and related events, are not authorized activities for any program level"


So they could drive during practice laps.

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