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Anyone have a small pack?

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This is our pack's first year (started in October) and we are quite small. We have two tigers and four wolves and thats it. Its a struggle because it seems like so much of the scouting stuff is geared towards larger groups.


Anyone have a small-ish pack? Wanna share any tips with me to help make it more successful? Is there any secret that I need to know?

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First, thanks for all you're doing for the boys!


It's okay to be small. Usually when a small pack starts, everyone has the same goals, and the boys are the focus. In many of the bigger packs I work with, everything becomes a dog and pony show, making big events just because they can.


As a pack committee, and a chartered organization, there should be a sense of vision to what you're trying to accomplish. Are you getting this small group of boys ready for Boy Scouts, or are you just providing an after school environment? Do you want more members?


Once you've decided where you're going, and if it involves more boys, it's time to start inviting new boys! Some packs recruit before summer so the new boys can join any Summertime activities (which I recommend for small packs, stay busy through the summer with things like swim parties, bowling, park visits, picnics for Independence Day fireworks, day camp, resident camp, etc...). Other packs recruit 2-4 weeks after school begins. Talk to your district membership chair for ideas on recruiting new kids.


Since you only have six boys, you can combine some of the go-see-its and achievements as a pack so that the same amount of effort is expended for all the boys rather than dividing up. Go through the books and compare what the boys can do together and then head out as a pack on a field trip! Fire stations, police stations, picnics in the park are all fun. Then you can combine field trips to work on things like photography, hiking, and other belt loops as part of your outdoor activities.


I hope this helps.

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The BSA publishes a resource which might help you.


It is called Delivery System Manual: Cub Scout Program. It is primarily designed for units run by para-professionals, but is also useful to small packs. The meetings are designed to be multi-level, all at the same place at the same time. You can adapt and modify them to meet your needs, I think.


The web site says:

"This syllabus is designed for leaders who do not have the adult assistance to break a pack up into dens for each rank. "


http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/523-006_web.pdf (this is the whole manual for you to download.)

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Small pack? It's quality, not quantity! (Someday you may look back and think of these as "the good old days" when life was simpler than 10+ dens and over 75 boys . . . ).


Keep it Simple. Make it Fun.


As to fun program, you're basically a den plus, so . . . focus on fun den meetings. As to what programs to use, I've looked hard at the (awfully named) "Delivery System Manual", and . . . all due respect . . . I really think we can do better as a Scouting institution (I say this as someone who trains parapros and leaders of many smaller packs . . . frankly, our "fun n flexible fast tracks" came out of that process of "keeping it simple, making it fun" for leaders that might have otherwise turned to that DSM).


If I was leader of a Tiger/Wolf Den, I bet I could use the new Guide that's dropping into stores now, and (generally) follow the Wolf plans, adding in (1) Tiger requirements where they overlap, and (2) likely a few Tiger meetings where nothing in Wolf corresponds. One of my plans once I get my hands on the new Guide and confirm what's in and what's out is to create an outline in some detail about how one can "cover it" in mixed dens, and do the regular program (as opposed to a watered down program).


Bert Bender

Pack and District Trainer

South Fulton District, Atlanta Area Council

See http://atlanta631.mypack.us/node/1005

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Jenny - Start your Scouts and their families talking up the Pack to the other boys and families in their son's classroom. Do Spring and Fall recruiting. Plan a fun Pack event for right before school starts back up and invite all of the boys in grades 1-5.


Make sure your Scouts are having a great time and getting a great program. Plan some fun stuff to do over the summer.


When you do a Pack activity, make sure to include the Scouts entire family. A rely race can work with 6 kids, but when you include parents and siblings it can be great fun for everyone!



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I don't have a small pack. I have the larger pack that absorbs all the surrounding small packs when they fail.


The biggest complaint I hear from the members of the packs that fail is lack of parent involvement. In our medium sized pack, we have plenty of drop and run parents. There are those who are looking for us to be babysitters but by and large the reason is because they have other children and other demands on their time....they are rushing their kids off to soccer or ballet class and Cubs are just one more thing to squeeze in. You can't afford to let them drop and run, you have to get your parents actively involved and make them want to choose scouts over other conflicting events.


You only have 6 kids, you have a maximum of 12 parents if you are lucky. If you are really lucky, you have some grandparents or other extended family. Out of that you need a Committee Chair, Cubmaster, 2 den leaders, a treasurer and at least one other committee member. That's half your parents right there.


You have to make the parents as well as the kids want to stay involved. Make sure you are having advancement of some sort every month. Get those kids some beltloops or something every single month. It's the parents, as much as the kids, who want to have tangible proof that something is going on. If you don't have the funds to do beltloops all the time, start a patch segment program....


Patch segments (around here they are called "wedges") are little patches less than an inch that are designed to go around a center patch. The Patch Place (http://www.thepatchplace.com/) calls them "Fun Arc" awards. Ideal Emblem (http://www.idealemblem.com/) calls them segments. Those 2 companies use different sizes, so pick one company or the other, don't bounce back and forth. Here's an example of a council that has incorporated segments into their program: http://www.overlandtrailscouncil.org/pubs/c/4_segmentpatches.pdf That council has assigned meaning and earning requirements to the segments, but BSA doesn't view these as official patches, so feel free to assign them whatever meaning you want. You can come up with something every month, maybe more than one thing....ie. they did a skit at a den meeting, there's a segment for that...a song? one for that too. Go-see-it to the firehouse? there's a segment for that. They cost about 50 cents a piece. The boys put a circle patch in the center of their patch vest or blanket, surround them by a row of segments and then start a new row and see how big their circle can get.


Yes, people will tell you it's all about the program and what makes families want to stay is the fun they are having...yes that's true, but what happens when they MUST miss an event? As far as they are concerned, nothing happened. Then they miss another event... BUT when the other Cubs are getting awards and showing them off, the kids AND the parents want to know what they missed. Their non-scout friends are going to want to know what they missed too.

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Remember the good old days? One teacher, one room school. With all that is said and done over the years, there are a lot of educators say that such balance and simplicity is preferable to today's 30+ classes of same aged kids.


With everyone trying to fix the "small" problem with today's solutions, it just isn't going to work. You have 6 boys? Take them hiking, take them swimming, take them anywhere they think would be fun out-of-doors. Learn about the trees, animals, build fires (boys love this). Rely on your Bear/Webelos boys to help the Tiger/Wolf boys.


We are celebrating 100 years of scouting, why not emphasize what it was like before the mega-packs and mega-troops dotted the landscape? If one ever sits around bemoaning the fact they have a small pack/troop, just remember there were a lot of boys that came up through the ranks in the Lone Scout program.


Having a small pack is not a problem, it is an opportunity to do something that the big packs can't do...give personalized one-on-one attention to each one of the boys.





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Enjoy your small pack. YOu will probably provide a quality program for these boys and they will love it. They will tell their friends, and they will tell their friends. Before you know it you will find yourself saying, "What ever happened to my small pack"


Trust me, I went through this.

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A small pack has the flexibility to do things that a big pack could never consider. Take advantage of that. Meetings and activities could be scheduled when it was convenient for all the families. Individual attention is a plus, too. None of the boys was able to fall behind on advancement. When you have more lanes in your Pinewood Derby track than boys in the pack, you can run lots of extra heats. An outing doesn't take a lot of planning, and things can be rescheduled on short notice. We moved our Blue & Gold banquet several times due to sports conflicts.


You will need a strong core group of dedicated families committed to making it work, otherwise, you will be on the road to burnout.


Unfortunately, a small pack has to deliver twice as good a program as a big pack, and work ten times as hard on recruiting. People just assume that a big pack is better, and assume correctly that a big pack will require less parental involvement.


SctDad wrote:

"Before you know it you will find yourself saying, "What ever happened to my small pack" Trust me, I went through this."


I went through it too, I busted my tail on recruiting, but it was impossible to get new families to join and to stay. The last year, We got some really dedicated and experienced people to start a new Tiger den, but they couldn't make a go of it either.



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Our small pack has grown to a medium sized one. For a while on this journey we were really feeling that we hadn't given the boys "real cub scouting" because we were so small.


Now I think we've given them some terrific experiences that they could not have had in a larger pack.


There are a lot of advantages to an "intimate" pack. I'd find some different language then "small" and "new" or "start-up" to describe your pack in conversation with parents / boys / and other scouters.


Keep your focus always on the boys and your intimate pack will have a great journey in scouting.


Best of wishes for your journey with scouting.

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