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Disappointed in scouts program

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My son in homeschooled and he wanted to join the cub scouts to get to know some other kids as well as learn new skills and earn awards. We had to search out a local den (they do not advertise) and finally found that he would be in Webelos. We went and bought all the uniform, hat, patches and handbook. It has been five months and he has yet to have anyone look at his handbook. Over the course of these months, he has had one pack meeting and maybe five den meetings. At the den meetings, all the leader does is talk and the kids listen, then they go home. We went on one hike and they marched in the Christmas parade. My son was really looking forward to weekly get togethers and earning his patches. From the forum posts, it sounds like most of the dens have the same problems, lack of leadership. Is this the case everywhere? We have told him about the pinewood derby, but can't get any information anywhere about this. Do scouts still do the pinewood derby? The area council website has nothing of any use on it. Where do we go to get information? A meeting has been called this weekend to collect the dues and we are not sure if we want to continue. Can anyone tell us how it is supposed to work? Its not the fun and educational experience that we proposed to our son.

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Welcome to the forums. I'm sorry to hear about your experience. It sounds like you landed in a poorly run unit. My guess is that none of the leaders are properly trained. The lack of activities is obviously a major problem, but it sounds like poor communication is underlying a lot of this. I'm a Webelos den leader and send monthly, if not more frequent communications to parents regarding upcoming events.


On a monthly basis, we have a pack meeting, two den meetings, and an additional activity, such as a day hike, camping trip, museum visit, service project, among other things. The point of Webelos is to start introducing boys to the way things are done in boy scouts by letting them get more involved in planning and learning through hands on practice.


You might try talking to your son's den leader about your concerns, but it might be best to look for another pack. Your experience certainly isn't the case everywhere. It might look like that here on this site, but a lot of people come here looking for help to solve problems. There are plenty of well-run, active and fun units out there.

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It does indeed sound like you landed in a very poorly run unit. I'm sorry that your Scouting experience so far has been this negative. Most of the units that I know in our area do not run this way, "mine" in particular. Theoretically, with Cub Scouts 2010, most advancements should be run in Den next year and much of this should be solved. I very much doubt that this unit will follow it or even know about it, if it is being run this way. Talk to the Den Leader and give the Cubmaster a call. If you don't feel good about their answers and plan, I would suggest a call to the local council office and ask to talk to your District Executive. He would probably like to know so that he can intervene (at least he should if he wants to save a unit). I'd also ask for a list of other Packs in my area though.


A good Pack should have a Pack Meeting every month. 2-3 Den Meetings/Outings every month. A Couple of campouts each year (including the District/Council campout). At least a Pinewood Derby, usually around this time of year. There are of course other things such as leader training, etc. Many Packs that do all of the above though are usually on a reasonably good footing on the rest, although there are exceptions.

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As the others pointed out, this isn't how a pack should be run. In fact a Webelos should be doing most of his work in the den with the other boys. Please don't let this turn you off scouting, it is a wonderful adventure that really fits in with homeschool philosophy when it is done right.


I'm a homeschooler too. Many areas have packs made up of homeschooled kids, so it may be worthwhile to inquire at your local scout office to see if they are aware of any. Local homeschool groups may also know of one. Check out a couple of packs and find one that is a good fit.

Good luck!

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Shortly after I went "all in" with volunteering at our unit level, I had a conversation with my old Scoutmaster, who basically told me, "congratulations, you've learned that the program is only as good as the volunteers that are running it." But he also followed that up with "don't worry, I've found that the adults that I volunteer with are among the finest people I've ever met".


He was right.


The problem is not with the Scout program itself. It has been designed, revised, and been on constant trial run for 100 years. Sure, there are quirks here and there, but on the whole the program is solid.


The problem is, in my opinion, that not everybody gets it. In my family's case, we were involved with 3 different Cub Scout packs (and we still weren't happy with the third), and in every case we were among the volunteers. At this point, I've been through a full gamut of training, and my wife has been trained as a Cubmaster as well, and I think we understand the program far better than we did before the training (despite me having been a youth members, and my wife's brothers both being Eagle Scouts).


So what are the options? I can think of two immediately:

- shop around for another unit that perhaps fits your needs better

- volunteer your time at the unit level, but be sure to seek out training (there's a bit of it that is online, so it is relatively fast and painless)



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I would encourage you to see whether there are other cub packs in your area. One way to do this would be to call your council, ask to speak with your District Executive, tell them where you live, and ask them for contact information for several packs.


What you are describing is not common, in my experience. Due to the volunteer nature of scouting, I think it is fairly common for there to be some ups and downs, but most cub packs that I am familiar with - even the struggling ones - have better programs than this.


If you look for a new pack, a couple of things to ask about:


1) How often do dens meet, and what have they done in their last 3 or 4 den meetings?

2) How often does the pack meet as a whole, and what is a typical pack meeting like?

3) Does the pack actually have separate dens for each rank (Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos) or do they have some or all of the dens meeting together (a sign of lack of leadership in some cases)

4) Who are the Cubmaster and Committee Chair, and are they going to be around next year?

5) Does the pack do any camping at all?

6) Does the pack participate in cub scout day camp or cub scout resident camp in the summers?

7) Where do most of the boys in the pack come from? For example, in many towns it is common for each pack to recruit primarily from their "own" elementary school, based on neighborhoods. There might be a couple of packs within just a few miles of each other, if you live in a larger town. You might be able to pick a pack where your son's neighborhood friends are also involved.

8) Since your son is already a Webelos - ask about the pack's relationship with local boy scout troops. Look for a pack where boys routinely do cross over to boy scouting, and where there is some positive interaction between the two levels.


Good luck! I hope your son has a better experience, soon. And when you do find a good spot, please do look for ways to help out, too.


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Welcome to the forums, and to Cub Scouts.


Like everyone said, what you're describing is not typical. I'm a Webelos Den Leader, and we've gone camping (to the Webeloree, a district event) and had lots of active, doing-stuff den meetings. (We have also had a couple of dud meetings. Sad, but true.)


As a den leader, I have to remind myself often to shut up. For example: the Citizen activity badge is required for the Webelos badge. It requires a lot of talking, and runs the risk of boring fourth grade boys to death. The content is important, but it's not FUN like building catapults (Engineer) & sorting through rocks (Geologist.)


If you want more den meetings--and I think you SHOULD want more den meetings--offer to host the den in your home, or to lead the boys in a craft project at the regular meeting place. "Mr. Den Leader, thank you for volunteering. I would like to help with the boys. Can I help them build catapults next week?" You can volunteer without making a year-long commitment to the job.


Hope this helps. :)


We started w Cub Scouts at the Tiger (1st grade) level. I still remember the recruitment meeting. I love to tell people that I completely thought the uniformed leaders were professionals. Imagine my surprise when I found out they were "just" volunteers!



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