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fred johnson

Cub Scouts Lasts Too Long

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I'm sad.  I just received a very thoughtful note from a long time Cub Scout family dad.  His first son crossed to Boy Scouts last year.  Now his 2nd decided to drop out of Cub Scouts.  2nd son was in a small den and there was just not that much fun for him. 

 

But this is a pattern I've seen over the years.  Families with multiple sons are greatly involved for the 1st sons Cub Scouting years.  Then, when the 2nd comes along, there is a hesitation.  They've been through the program as a family.  Seen most of the recurring events and camps.  And it's like there's a decision about five more years in the program ... that is very very repetitive.  There is nothing fresh for the parents and the younger kids have seen most of it through tagging along during family events with their older brother.  

 

I really wish we could just go back to the old of the 1980s where Cub Scouts was a much shorter program.  Let them play soccer and baseball in kindergarten and 1st grade.  When they are ready for knives and fire, let them try Cub Scouts.  

 

Then, odds are more likely they only have one Cub in the program at a time instead of multiple den meetings per week, etc.  It's more fresh and less recurring too.  I just really want as many scouts to get into Boy Scouts to try it.  The program is easier on the adults and IMHO has a much bigger impact on the life of the scout.

 

This is an old recurring theme with me.  I'm just sad to see such a nice family step back.

Edited by fred johnson
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I know as a Cub Scout leader, 3 years as TCDL, 2 as a Wolf DL and 1 as a Bear DL, I'm burnt out. I admit each son got a little less out of it since they've done it before as a sibling, but overall it has been their experience.

 

But I know my middle son is chomping at the bit to be a Boy Scout, and he just moved up to Webelos. One factor is that he has 3 friends in Boy Scouts already. Another is that he has a late birthday, and will be 10.5 by the end of May next year. He's already stated he is skipping working on the Webelos rank, and wants everything he works on to be applied to Arrow of Light so that he can Cross Over and go to Boy Scout summer camp next year. And the way the new program works, he can do that.

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My oldest crossed over into Boy Scouts this spring. He was my please, please, please let me join cub scouts kid. Little brother is two years younger and was drug along, joined and enjoyed the first couple of years, begged to quit as a bear. I made him stay. Brother convinced him the fun truly starts as a Webelos. I am the Cub Master so he doesn't have much choice at this point.

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This is certainly an interesting take.  Unless you're in one of the Lion pilot areas, you're really only advocating eliminating the Tiger for first graders.

 

I don't think this is an issue confined to cub scouts.  Parents go through fatigue with everything when they have multiple kids.  You think parents are going to school open houses for the 3rd kid at the same rate they went for the first one?  Heck, shafting the later kids starts right away.  Go to any generic mommy and toddler activity and I'm sure it's all first time parents.

 

If parents or a family bail on scouts because they are tired, then I say shame on the parents - not the program.

Edited by SlowDerbyRacer

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My older boy went through the program.  (Wolf-Arrow of Light) Now it's my little boy's turn.  I was a little bored with it, because I'd already done wolf, but the program has now changed, so it'll be a new adventure for Bears on.  My boys have very different personalities.  My older son is a "getter done" kinda kid.  (Or he was, before he turned into a lazy tween.)  Little boy wants to get it done, but he has some pretty bad attention deficit issues, which makes getting it done difficult.

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I couldn't agree more, Fred.

My pack is a perfect case history model for very a similar twist on your theme.

But it's the former leaders, not just a standard "dad"

 

In my situation, the core group of the burned out second generation leaders from before is now in my son's den with their younger son's.

They have burnt out, stepped away or at least disengaged, and in one case formally "resigned" from the committee.  They have continued with their older sons to the troop

 

They step down, and even back away a good bit, But they can't let go.  They always needle back in at inopportune times.  they think they know it all, but don't recognize that folks like me have come along with lots of energy to research and do know a bit too.  They have no patience to even understand, for example that there is now a new cub program.  they no longer want to play within the system, with District, etc....

 

They all admit troop life is more fun as a scouter, and they obviously have no energy or passion left for cubs..... but they can't let it go.

Few new parents are bold enough to pickup the torch.  But when do, but then they get in the way, interfere, etc.... basically propagating a lot of those "that's the way it's always been done"..... which in my case, and others.... has served to do nothing but squash my energy.

 

AND, I have watched a similar reaction from the boys too.  the old guard keeps singing from the same hymnal doing the same old stale things that they are bored with, which projects a boring program, which the boys get bored with, and then the boys without active parents leave.  Even some with active parents.

 

And looking to the future, these same parents will undoubtedly be doing the same at the troop level in very short order.

 

Had I known what I know now

1) I would have waited for maybe wolf or more likely either bear or the 1st WEBELOS year to get my son started

2) and I would have looked for a pack with fresh leaders, that were not on track to hang on through death and misery.... even though that would have meant going outside of my church.

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If parents or a family bail on scouts because they are tired, then I say shame on the parents - not the program.

 

It's not just the parents bailing.

Likely factor in some cases, but it's also the boys

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...  Little brother is two years younger and was drug along, joined and enjoyed the first couple of years, begged to quit as a bear. ...

 

Younger siblings "drug" along.  That is a huge factor.  

 

IMHO, if I had to do it over again, I'd be 100% okay with drop your kid off.   As long as we have adult coverage for safety and help, fine.  

Edited by fred johnson
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It's not just the parents bailing.

Likely factor in some cases, but it's also the boys

 

I don't doubt that, but that too could be an indirect function of parental apathy.  At the cub level, scouting requires heavy parent involvement.  Not many 1st-3rd graders are full of self motivated initiative.  Often parent encouragement and a slight push is necessary.  With an oldest kid, a "I don't want to go to the pack meeting tonight" is often rejected by mom & dad.  But a few years later with kids 2,3, or 4, a parent is less likely to hold the line.

 

And to clarify, I'm not advocating forcing a kid to do scouting.  My example above is more about the sometimes necessary push of encouragement.  I see a clear line between force and push/encourage.

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Younger siblings "drug" along.  That is a huge factor.  

 

IMHO, if I had to do it over again, I'd be 100% okay with drop your kid off.   As long as we have adult coverage for safety and help, fine.  

 

True, but on the other side of the coin, those younger scouts often become the leaders of their own dens when it's time.  They know the drill and can lead the way.

 

As with many things, it all depends on the kid.

Edited by SlowDerbyRacer

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Had I known what I know now

1) I would have waited for maybe wolf or more likely either bear or the 1st WEBELOS year to get my son started

2) and I would have looked for a pack with fresh leaders, that were not on track to hang on through death and misery.... even though that would have meant going outside of my church.

 

Yeah, I agree.  I would have waited for wolf or bear to get my sons involved.  there is no program loss.  the only challenge is most boys join when Tigers.  And, if you don't get critical mass, then whole grades fail in a pack.  So, my delaying would have just helped cause more problems.  

 

I would not switch packs though.  IMHO, scouting is best when with friends.  Friends for elementary grades are mainly school classmates.  So as long as the pack is mostly "okay", the pack associated with school is more important than finding the best pack.

Edited by fred johnson

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Yeah, I agree.  I would have waited for wolf or bear to get my sons involved.  there is no program loss.  the only challenge is most boys join when Tigers.  And, if you don't get critical mass, then whole grades fail in a pack.  So, my delaying would have just helped cause more problems.  

 

 

My pack cut out the Tiger program after I left and had just as many scouts five years later. Requires a little more recruiting for wolves, but the benefits of less adult burnout are worth it. Even while I was there we required so little of the Tigers that our numbers increased. This subject is my number one complaint of the BSA.

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As I have probably said before, I was not impressed with the Tiger program when my son was going through it, and I thought the 4.5 year Cub program was too long. It soured a lot of the parents and some of the kids on continuing into Boy Scouts. What I really don't understand is why National is still experimenting with the Lion (kindergarten) program. It will just make matters worse. Five and a half years? And most of the kids are just too young at that point. Some kids when they first start kindergarten are still 4 years old. They're basically still toddlers. It's too soon. What's next, pre-K Scouts for 3 year olds?

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I agree with Fred, the cub program lasts too long.

 

The program changed during a long hiatus I took from scouting.   When I came back and saw what the cub program had become, I was shocked, and still so.

 

Too many badges, bangles.   The years look like a death march.

 

Bring back the earlier template:   earn bobcat, wolf and bear in about 2 years.   Webelo for 1 year, with the theme "here is what it is like to be a boy scout"   Earn arrow of light, cross over.

 

But I rather doubt there is any appetite at National to scale cubbing back.   I'll bet they actually like it this way because cubbing is the most predictable, cookie-cutter, risk-adverse part of the BSA.    Cross over into scouting, and the next thing you know, scouts will want to hike as a patrol without an adult, build pioneering towers over six feet tall, etc.   

 

If National could make the entire scouting experience, from K-12, like cub scouting, they'd do it.

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Five and a half years? And most of the kids are just too young at that point. Some kids when they first start kindergarten are still 4 years old. They're basically still toddlers. It's too soon. 

 

So right.  Pack meeting maturity lowers.  Heck, most 4th and 5th graders just don't want to sit next to most K & 1st graders.  

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