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fred johnson

Cub Scouts Lasts Too Long

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In many ways it is already seasonal.  Nowhere does it say you need to start at 7 and finish at 10.  There are currently 5 distinct "seasons".  You can start in season 1 (Tiger), skip season 2 (Wolf) and pick up again at season 3 (Bear).  There are no prerequisites to any rank or year.  A kid can come and go as he pleases.  And most packs take summers off from formal advancement activities.

 

And regarding your youth sports comparison and desire for more flexible time commitments, I'd argue scouting is already far more flexible.  In sports, try missing a bunch of practices and see where that gets you.  If a scout misses a bunch of den meetings, he'll get the same opportunity to participate when he does finally show up.

You're right that in a way it is seasonal but it's not exactly sold that way...of course it all depends on where you are and what group you're in. But the majority of scouting units that I've known between three states run school year September-June. That's a long time for a family. Thankfully there are families that enjoy the program enough to make the time. The issue is families that share those interests are not growing based on membership.

 

I recently volunteered to coach a youth softball team. My wife and I coached while most parents dropped off or watched from the stands. That is how the league is run and it runs well. If a player missed a game or practice it was no big deal for us. We had cub age kids. Sports do have different rules as kids get older, and council staff and volunteers are taught well to point out the info that you did. I think there is truth to it, but at the end of the day perception is reality for our customers/families.

 

The thing is that many youth activities today are run in a similar way. There is a schedule of games for sports, or calendar of nights for karate etc... a start date and and end date usually for 3-4 months. Parents can choose another activity after that time period or not.

 

What the BSA needs to realize is that the current cub program may not help the BSA grow. It works for many people and that is great. But how many does it not work for who simply pass the registration booth by after they see the time commitment?

 

The creator of this post is not alone in their thinking. We have to figure out a way to engage more not less. Hopefully new leadership and dedicated staff and volunteers will continue to move forward and find a way to be the best program for youth.

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Let's look at this seasonal question a different way.  As I stated above kids are able to drop in and out as they wish over the course of their 5 cub years.  But I'll acknowledge, as @@ProScouter06 alluded to, that many don't do that nor are they even aware it's a viable option.  I suspect part of the reason is the structure of cub scouts.  Under the long established system, if a kid misses a rank, for any reason, it can never be earned.  Kids can't go back.  Contrast that with boy scouts which has no set time constraints for each rank.  I'm sure many kids don't join or rejoin cub scouts because they think they missed something important.  Plus it probably bothers some kids who will always have a gap on their uniform where that missed rank badge would go.  In the sports comparison, if a kid misses a season of soccer, it isn't broadcast loudly on his jersey when he does come back. 

 

I'm not sure I yet have a solution or even if I think the current system should be changed, but it might be something that warrants more conversation.

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I agree it lasts too long. 5th graders, who could be 12 years old, don't want to hang out with 1st graders, let alone Kindergartners who might start when they are 4, depending on when your school district's cut-off is. The most common reason I, as chairman, received for boys quitting is that "Scouting is for little kids." Adding Lions to the program will only exacerbate this problem.

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I agree it lasts too long. 5th graders, who could be 12 years old, don't want to hang out with 1st graders, let alone Kindergartners who might start when they are 4, depending on when your school district's cut-off is. The most common reason I, as chairman, received for boys quitting is that "Scouting is for little kids." Adding Lions to the program will only exacerbate this problem.

 

I couldn't agree more! My son was really dragging his feet this last year about going to meetings and Pack events. He had always loved scouts so I couldn't figure out why. He did NOT want to join Boy Scouts but we convinced him to just give it a try. He went to one meeting and came out saying, "It's so much quieter than Cub Scouts!" Turns out scouting had just gotten too rambunctious and childish for him. We just didn't realize it because he didn't know how to articulate why he stopped liking it. 

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Really hard to get parents and  boys to understand that boy scouting is a different program, and not another 7 years of cub scouts.

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Really hard to get parents and  boys to understand that boy scouting is a different program, and not another 7 years of cub scouts.

We had a lot of this but then we started camping with the boy scouts.  That helped a lot.  I suggest you connect with local troops to have your patrol do some things with them.

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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.

 

At the time to renew their membership (rechartering), I always asked my boys if they wanted to continue.  Older son from wolf to aging out (coming in 6 weeks), younger son from Tiger Cub to 16 (still in). 

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At the time to renew their membership (rechartering), I always asked my boys if they wanted to continue.  Older son from wolf to aging out (coming in 6 weeks), younger son from Tiger Cub to 16 (still in). 

I've always done the same.... He's not always gung-ho about it.... more like, uh, I dunno, I guess so....

but he says he's having fun...

 

I'm not sure how I'll handle the time when he says no.  I'll of course have a conversation, try to find out why, encourage, and so on.  I don't want him to quit anything, but if it just downright stops being fun &/or beneficial.......

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I think the best way to retain the older boys is helping them to focus on the moving to Boy Scouts aspect. I know with our pack, when boys become Webelos, they start that summer doing things more like Boy Scouts, planning their own campouts that aren't the usual family camp outs, and things like that. By December, our Webelos 1s are already starting to visit troops and join them for actives. By the Webelos 2 (Arrow of Light) year, the boys spend more of their time visiting troops and functioning as a "patrol" than as a den. When the Webelos years roll around, the boys start getting much more autonomous from the pack. So they spend their Tiger-Bear years functioning as Cubs in a pack, and their two years as Webelos with one foot in Cubs and the other foot in Boy Scouts. We only had one of about a dozen boys choose not to continue into Boy Scouts at our last crossover.

 

We aren't a large pack, but we run a fun program and our den leaders (I am one) have a lot of free reign to make the program as awesome as we can, and we do. If you keep the older boys interested by allowing them to act like older boys and not like Tigers, you're going to have happier boys, for sure.

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I agree it lasts too long. 5th graders, who could be 12 years old, don't want to hang out with 1st graders, let alone Kindergartners who might start when they are 4,

 

Nor should they.  Webelos should be totally separate from your Cub Scout Programs!  These boys are leaning how to become Boy Scouts.

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Nor should they.  Webelos should be totally separate from your Cub Scout Programs!  These boys are leaning how to become Boy Scouts.

 

Theoretically you might be correct, but in actuality that's not the way Cub Scouts works.  The Cub program runs from kindergarten through 5th grade.  Pack meetings all have the boys together.  It's the same for elementary school 6th graders (5th with AOL) hanging out with seniors in High School.  13 years in those two programs.

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Theoretically you might be correct, but in actuality that's not the way Cub Scouts works.  The Cub program runs from kindergarten through 5th grade.  Pack meetings all have the boys together.  It's the same for elementary school 6th graders (5th with AOL) hanging out with seniors in High School.  13 years in those two programs.

 

Ironically many scoutmasters use the same sort of older scouts don't like younger scouts myth to justify splitting the troop program. Of course experience proves otherwise, but such theories can make running a troop program easier for the adults.

 

The Cub program is too long, but it's not so much the scouts who grow tired of the program, it is the adults. We like to say the program is for the boys, but a closer look will show that the most successful packs are run by adults having the most fun. If the adults are happy, their sons will be happy and they will stay in the program. However, running a program that keeps adults happy doing the same thing for five years is a challenge. Cubs is way too long.

 

Barry

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Ironically many scoutmasters use the same sort of older scouts don't like younger scouts myth to justify splitting the troop program. Of course experience proves otherwise, but such theories can make running a troop program easier for the adults.

 

I think you're wrong in the way you put that. It's not a myth at all.

and it's not all about the adults trying to make it easier for themselves.

 

But when these sorts of point come up, it's gets semantic really quick, just as it did here.  

It is a situational thing.

 

Barry, I agree with you that there are places and times when the older scouts don't mind, or even enjoy, being with the younger scouts

But I disagree that the idea is a myth.  There are plenty of other times when it's the last thing they want to do..... (and yes, there are times like this even when playing the game of scouting)

and it goes both ways too.  It's not only the older ones not wanting to hang with the younger ones, but the younger ones wanting to do stuff that would not interest the older ones....

We need the program to bigger than one way or the other.

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I still think that some of this comes back to Program.  If you treat your Webelos as just another den, and do the same old thing they've done for the past three years, no wonder they are bored.  If you start to treat them more like the Boy Scouts they are preparing to be, it's new experiences and new challenges.  Yes, they still come together at the Pack meetings, but again you need to use these older boys.  Have them act as pseudo Den Chiefs to run the gathering activity.  Have them teach a game, song, etc. to the younger boys.

 

I know that some might say this just makes the Boy Scout program longer... but I don't think that's the case.  There are still many activities that aren't age appropriate for Webelos.  Even though you can start to use Boy Scout methods with the Webelos, when they join a Troop there are still going to be elements of the Program that interest and excite the boys.

 

As for leader burn-out... I think that's because most units are doing it wrong.  Don't ask the Tiger Cub dad to step in as Cubmaster (my old unit just did that when I stepped down) or Committee Chair.  Four years in one of those roles is a long time.  I think the most logical progression is something more like this:

  • Lion - Parent
  • Tiger - Den Leader
  • Wolf - Asst. Cubmaster
  • Bear - Cubmaster
  • Webelos I - Cubmaster
  • Webelos II - Pack Trainer, Committee Member, or Assistant Cubmaster

That way they can still qualify for the Cubmaster Key (if they want to), but we aren't asking someone to carry the big role for more than a couple of years.  It also helps with transitions... you get a a year to prepare for the big role, and the new guy/gal gets most of a year with a mentor to support them.

 

The other problem I see with burn-out is the Cubmaster/Committee Chair wearing too many hats.  Too often they are serving as full time Den leaders, and also doing half of the other Committee positions.  When I was Cubmaster, my Committee never filled the Treasurer role, so I ended up doing it (at the time I became Cubmaster, they didn't have a functional Committee, the previous Cubmaster was doing everything.  It was all dumped on me and it took the full three years I was Cubmaster to divvy up the many tasks).  A fully staffed Committee, and a succession plan such as I've laid out here would go a long way to prevent parent burn-out.  In fact, now that I've stepped down as Cubmaster, I'm actually thinking of jumping back into the Pack as a Lion den leader (along with my wife who has a degree in early childhood education).  If you had asked me three years ago... I would have told you that as soon as my son is in Boy Scouts, I'm out of here.  Now that I'm no longer wearing all of the hats, I can pick and choose what I want to do and Cub Scouting is fun again.

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Theoretically you might be correct, but in actuality that's not the way Cub Scouts works.  The Cub program runs from kindergarten through 5th grade.  Pack meetings all have the boys together.  It's the same for elementary school 6th graders (5th with AOL) hanging out with seniors in High School.  13 years in those two programs.

 

 

That's correct at Pack Meetings is the only time my scouts (webelos) have any interaction with 1st-3rd graders and even that interaction is merely just being in the same room.  We meet weekly and we have a totally separate meeting room for Webelos. 

Our school is different, every level is a different school

K-1

2-3

4-5

6-7

8-9

10-12

 

Yes our little town of 12,345 residents has 6 separate schools.

 

I have 1 Cub Scout Pack and I have 1 Troop in my area.

FTR I also the DC now.

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