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Encouragement needed... Talk me down =)

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This post is part inquiry & part vent... it might be more vent than anything


I'm new to scouting.  My older son joined as a Tiger and didn't enjoy it at all... I was able to convince him to join again midway through Web II and he loved it and crossed over last May.  He received First Class in October and is really enjoying Boy Scouts.  Because of his experience we encouraged his little brother to join Cub Scouts this year.  In October we still did not have a Bear den leader and I offered to 'lead' things until someone could officially take over.  At that point, I really had no clue how things are run and re-chartering and everything else.  We obviously needed our leaders trained so I was quickly pulled in to the "official mix" of things.  And I'm loving all that scouting represents.  Happy to do it.


My questions:


How much work is reasonable to be expected to be done at home?  How much is typically done at home?


Is it common for dens to assign a family to lead a particular adventure or meeting or does that responsibility tend to fall on the den leader?  


Approximately how many months does it take to complete rank requirements? Any experience with Bears specifically (realizing this is the first year of the new program)?


We have a somewhat small den with 5 scouts.  They are all new to scouting.  2 are certainly challenging (which I knew, and part of the reason why I said I would help lead things... b/c I understand the challenging ones)  Apparently I don't understand the challenging parents ;-)  I had a parent tell me that we really needed to accomplish everything at den meetings because they won't be able to do anything at home.  Foolishly, I told her I would do my best...  Now she is often frustrated with me b/c I don't communicate plans to her 1 to 2 weeks ahead of time.  I have gathered all the supplies for every thing we have done and when I do send projects home, I send all materials in gallon bags with everything the scouts need to complete them... Guess who doesn't do any of the work??


Truth be told, I'm proud of our little den and all that we have accomplished.  The boys are having a great time and that's all that matters to me.  My understanding is that the program is designed to be June 1 - May 31 and rank requirements will take a substantial amount of that time... We didn't have our first den meeting until the end of October and will achieve everything -except camping!?!?- by our Advancement ceremony in a couple weeks.  


Our pack has a big family campout Memorial Weekend and our Bears will have pitched tents, packed, cooked meals outside and done all of their requirements beforehand, except actually sleep overnight.  Despite my constant encouragement (and begging!) no one is Baloo trained in our den -we have 1 in the pack but schedule conflicts-  I work many weekends (and happened to work each time the district offered training).  Our pack is young and we have just 2 Webelos this year so I have explained to my parents that we are all essentially the leaders of the pack since the younger ones & families will be following our lead and looking to us for guidance...


What to do when parents aren't involved... and you need parents?  They are quick with the "Let us know how we can help!" ... but they aren't into outdoor activities (only want to participate in sunny weather ... um.  We are in Seattle area so this could be a problem...)


I didn't sign up to do everything.  As a matter of fact, I didn't even volunteer to be a den leader! (I know that's a common story...)  My son is loving it and now I find myself going with him to Boy Scout Camporee & the upcoming Webelos Resident Camp... just us.  No one else is interested.  My hope was/is for him to be able to go off and grow - without me.  As much as I am loving it...and he is loving me as his den leader... I want him to experience Cub Scouts without his mom!  We've invited scouts & friends over to work on some of the electives (Marbles, Rube Goldberg machines, Science experiments) and 3 of the 5 scouts don't take it to the next level and complete whatever I don't provide for them.  The one time my son and his friend (fellow scout) worked on something together at the house - I offended a couple moms because we were exclusive and i am the leader... it's not fair for me to have just one scout over because he is my son's friend.  This all leads me to concerns over the fact that come next fall - my son will be well on his way of requirements...  I'm tempted to do a Lone Scout... (sigh)


Apologies.  That turned in to a pretty big vent.  Just looking for encouragement and advice!  I know I'm not the first to experience these things...


Thank you!  I'm in the middle of an email to the parents... when I thought to inquire about reasonable expectations and timelines...



How much work is reasonable to be expected to be done at home?  How much is typically done at home? What type of things are worked on outside of den meetings?


Is it common for dens to assign a family to lead a particular adventure or meeting or does that responsibility tend to fall on the den leader?  


Approximately how many months does it take to complete rank requirements? Any experience with Bears specifically (realizing this is the first year of the new program)?


Thank you all so much!







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Hi there, welcome to the party!


My youngest just crossed over to a Troop so my experience is with the old program. Let me try and help a little.


1. 25-50% is what I typically expect from home. What type in of things? Anything, especially if it says "or with your family"


2. Hell yes it is typical to assign tasks to families. You are a "Leader" not a slave. There will always be some that do more than others but if they are truly interested in scouts for their children they can do SOMETHING to help.


3. Under the old program it was possible to complete the core requirements by February and then work on electives and that's how a lot of packs worked it even though it was not necessarily designed to be done by then. From my understanding the new program takes a good 9 months so unless you start in June expect to finish in May.


4. Camping. I have run through the old program twice and Baloo/Owl was one of the first things I did and this is how I did it. When my wife and I accepted the job the Pack Trainer told me I had to go to a weekend campout training that was happening in two weeks so I informed the other parents, in person, that they needed to watch my kids that weekend if they wanted us to do the job. Farmed them out to two different families, they were Air Force Officer families and I knew and trusted them. (This point is critical, No email in scouts, it does not work. Just accept that and move on or your resentment and anger will grow.)


You must have a Baloo trained adult to go camping. So you are so in a pickle and here is my advise. Get Trained! If that is not possible in the time frame you have it is now time to promise to do so and beg and plead to get a someone trained to go with you. Go to round table, call your District Executive and see if a Unit Commissioner can help or someone from another pack. Offer a token of your appreciation. Buy me a plane ticket from OH and I will come camp. Lol.


5. Tell that mom who wants you do everything at den meetings to pound sand. If her son doesn't do the work he doesn't get the award, that simple. Awards and rank advancement are a method of scouting and are not required to be in it. My wife worked with a a person who stayed in scouts until he was 18 and never made it passed Tenderfoot and loved every minute of it, he just didn't care about the advancement program.


6. Having said all of that, this is what I suggest. Have an in person meeting with the parents and lay it out for them. This is what you as a leader are willing to do and this is what they have do. That simple, if they don't like it they can ask the Cubmaster and Committe Chair to fire you and find a replacement or go find a new Pack. When I was a Cubmaster I always had a Leaders Manual on the shelf ready to hand some parent who complained that a Den Leader wasn't "doing it right".


You can do all of that or you can just find a new Pack with people who get the program, your son deserves it.


Good Luck!

Edited by King Ding Dong
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Ah welcome to the "joys" of being a den leader. 


I am a former den leader and am now on the committee. I transitioned over just before the new program started.  So I feel your pain about parent participation or lack there of. 


My son is also a Bear so I can relate to what you are trying to cover during the den meetings.  Your den parents need to be reading thru the handbook with their boys to understand the requirements.  Take for instance the "Paws for Action" requirement. 

Learn about 2 Americans and share what you learn.  The learning portion needs to be done at home.  Our den leader made a simple one page book report type page for each boys to write what they learned. And the boys shared what they had learned at the den meeting.


Visit a historical place and visit it with your family or den.  Since life can get hectic and that you work on weekends, planning a go see it would be really tough.  I would suggest this be a family activity.


Learn about our flag and display it at home for a month.  Learn the meaning of the pledge of allegiance.  The underlined part is pretty self explanatory. 


Learn about how your family uses energy and how you can help your family decrease its use.  Again pretty self explanatory. 


Also the Fellowship and duty to God is something we told the parents they need to work on at home with their son as religion is such a personal thing and not everyone is the same denomination.



Tell these families if no one camps, no one gets their rank. This may spur some parents into action on going and getting trained.  As for the camping, is there no other leadership in your pack who can go get BALOO trained?  What is the Cubmaster saying?  I got trained as a Tiger den leader and we are looking to get our current Tiger den leader trained just to keep the cycle going.  Myself and the Cubmaster (also a bear parent) are the only two trained currently.  I would also look at trying to attend council run camp outs.  You shouldn't need a BALOO for that.   Looks like your council has some kind of camping fairly frequently :http://www.seattlebsa.org/images/Parent-Pal_Information.pdf


In our council you technically have till the next school year to finish a rank.  However if you go to summer camp or day camp they will typically work on what should be the boys next  year's rank so if your son is a Bear then he will be working on Webelos stuff.  


Some of these kids who wont put in the work along with their families are going to get left in the dust.  Sorry.  You shouldn't have to pull your hair out about each boy.  I know no one wants to see someone not get their rank but you have provided the information and a platform for them.  Its up to them to do complete it.


Question: do you make your parents stay at the meeting place during meetings or are they allowed to drop off and come back?   Our pack has a strict no drop off rule.  You MUST be on the property during the meeting.  We tell them at the 1st meeting that BSA doesn't stand for Babysitters of America.   If you are allowing these parents to leave and they are the ones balking at the "home" work then they are looking for babysitters.  


Also here is what is on the BSA Cub Scout FAQ page. 


The Cub Scout Program

Are Cub Scouts the same as Boy Scouts? No. Cub Scouting is a program of the Boy Scouts of America—so in

that sense, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are both members of the same organization. However, they are entirely

different programs: Cub Scouting is a family-oriented program designed specifically to address the needs of

younger boys.


May parents attend den meetings? Cub Scout den meetings are intended to be an activity for the individual

boys. They are not a family activity, and the presence of parents can be a distraction. However, parental

involvement is encouraged, and all meetings should be open to your participation. If you would like to be

present at a den meeting, ask the den leader in advance so that the leader can plan a way for you to observe or

participate in an unobtrusive manner, or talk to the pack leaders on becoming more involved.


As to answer your question about rank completion time.  We thought we could be done by February with the requirements as that is what we have been able to do in the past with the old program but we realized by December that simply wasn't possible with the new program.  We finished up in early April and had our rank ceremony at on 4/26.  There are still a few stragglers working on some requirements but they are boys who have joined late.   2 boys joined in February but they are working hard to catch up.  One is a little slower than the other but that is mainly due to a language barrier but we have gotten him a Spanish version of the Wolf handbook.  So hopefully he can catch up. 


If you can't get everyone on the bandwagon now, try and plan a meeting/activity when school lets out and have a meeting with the parents as to what to expect next year.  



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my 2 cents...

and this is based on my being more familiar with the old cub program


1st - forget advancement and requirements.... at least as a primary goal anyway.  Instead, focus on leading the scouts to have fun in an active program!  Get outside and do "stuff"


2nd - I would strongly suggest a seriously strong crash course in Boy Scouts and the patrol method.  In hind site, I wish that starting around bear, and especially into the WEBELOS year and a half or so, that we would have steered the den much more into being a boy-led patrol..... regardless of what the cub program really is.

form the patrol

encourage the boys to steer the ship

sure, the 'game' can be to work on the cub requirements, but the "method" cold be using the patrol method.

The scouts will get much more out of it and I believe they would have had more fun. (& i would have too!)


As far as how much work is required form you.  I think a lot of that depends on the person.  Some folks are better at winging it than others..... but I suggest that it's smart to keep it in check, to whatever your limitations are.  Don' burn yourself out.

I've come to believe in the mantra, "Don't do anything that a scout could be doing"... in cubs, I might change that to "anything that a scout or his parent could be doing"


A couple of recommended resources.  Not directly related to Cub Scouts, but I wish that I would have read them while I was still active as a cub scouter

1) Baden Powel's Aids to Scoutmastership.  I ordered a printed copy form amazon, but it's available online too.  a quick and easy read. 



2) this book also a quick read, gives a good perspective of what you are trying to groom the scouts towards.  They are not there yet, but it's kinda good I think to know where you are going.



3) if you notice the links above, you can tell I'm a fan of http://scoutmastercg.com.  I think much of what he says in his podcasts and blog posts really stand up to my gut-check logic and make some sense.  Again, mostly as help to see where you are going, not so much for cubs directly....


BUT in hind site I really do think much of the patrol method could be applied very successfully to the cub level program.....much more than most of us knew at the time we were volunteering as Cub Scouters!

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Hello NKaye, and welcome to the forum!  I'm just wrapping up my term as Cubmaster, and also have been working with a Bear den this year.


I'm going to answer your questions out of order. 


How long does it take for Bear?  Well, this den is going to be cutting it close.  I think the main reason is the material in the Bear rank.  Take Bear Necessities - it combines camping, a campfire show, cooking, and weather all into one adventure.  Compare that to Webelos, where Camping and Cooking requirements are split between two adventures.  Same thing with Fur, Feathers, and Ferns - it combines both plants and animals, which in Webelos are two separate adventures. Paws for Action combines history, emergency prep, exploring police departments, energy use/conservation, and a service project.  I'm convinced that those three adventures right there have as much going on as the entire year for some of the other ranks.


I'm not sure how this made sense, but things like this have convinced me that the requirements for the various ranks were authored by different teams/individuals, and that there wasn't much communication or coordination between the different groups.    My son just finished his Arrow of Light, and I honestly think that in some ways Bear has as much to cover as both Webelos and Arrow of LIght combined (the difference being that a good Webelos program is also transitioning the boys from the Cub Scout way of doing things to the Boy Scout way - more boy led than adult led).  It's really a shame, because Bear has some of the best elective adventures, but we've barely been able to fit in two - Robotics and BALOO the Builder (we completed these before some of the required due to our weather in Wisconsin, which prevents completing some outdoors requirements for about half of our Cub Scout year).


How much to expect at home - to be honest I don't expect much.  The Duty to God adventures are recommended for a boy to complete with his family.  Beyond that, practicing a fire drill, observing the weather, displaying a flag at home, there are definitely some requirements in the Bear rank that they are supposed to do at home.  I also asked them to visit a historical site on their own, because we were running out of time to fit that into our Den Meetings.  Some things, like researching two famous Americans or learning about an extinct animal we did in Den Meetings, breaking the boys into small groups to work together and practice teamwork.


Parent involvement - To be honest, if the parents weren't asked to lead a meeting as Tiger Den Adult Partners, weren't involved at the Wolf level... getting them involved as Bears will be difficult if not impossible (part of the reason I'm leading a Bear Den this year when my son has already crossed over into Boy Scouts).  One thing you might try is the concept of a Denner.  Have a meeting with the parents and boys, and explain that the Denner gets to help you lead the Den, but that the parents will need to help their son lead an adventure in order for him to be the Denner for a month.  If that isn't enough incentive, maybe sweeten the pot with some trinket that the Denner is likely to want.  I saw some nice Compasses for under $2 at the sporting goods store... what boy doesn't love a compass?  It even makes sense - help me lead the den, and you'll be awarded a compass for helping to point the way.  Hopefully the boys can pressure their parents into stepping up if they want to wear the Denner cords for a month and get a small present.


I'm not sure I'm following your concern over BALOO at the den level.  Only Webelos dens are allowed to camp on their own - a Bear den can't camp without the Pack.  Webelos camping doesn't require BALOO.  While BALOO can be a great course (one of my favorites in four years of Cub Scout leadership), I'm not sure that is really a den problem.  To me it seems like something the Pack should be worried about.  If you want to pursue it as a Cub Scout Leader, I'd encourage it.  If weekends don't work for you, talk to your Roundtable Commissioner - maybe the BALOO syllabus could be split between several Roundtable sessions. 


With that said, since your Bears will soon be Webelos, there is a different outdoor leader training you should try to attend - Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders (OWL).  This isn't required for Webelos leaders, but highly recommended.  Hopefully your District schedules it on a weekend you can attend.  If not, check other Districts and even other Councils (if you have any nearby).  You can take training out of District, just be sure to bring back your course completion card to your District/Council so that you can get credit for it.


One final point - don't worry about your son not being able to experience Cub Scouts without mom - Cub Scouts is supposed to be a family experience.  My mom and grandma were my Wolf Den Leaders, my dad was my Webelos Den Leader and Cubmaster - I went on to Boy Scouts (my dad became an Assistant Scoutmaster) and became an Eagle.  I don't think less of my Scouting experience for my parents being involved, I think it made it that much more special.  You son will have a chance to experience Boy Scouts on his own - but Cub Scouts you are supposed to be involved.  You are doing it right - it's some of the other parents in your den who may not have figured it out yet.

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I believe the OP stated there is a Pack Campout planned but the one Baloo trained adult in the Pack cannot attend due to a scheduling conflict.


From the GTSS:

"At least one adult on a pack overnighter must have completed Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO, No. 34162) to properly understand the importance of program intent, Youth Protection policies, health and safety, site selection, age-appropriate activities, and sufficient adult participation. Permits for campouts shall be issued locally. Packs use the tour and activity plan, No. 680-014."


Typical BSA Speak, but many on this forum and in my old council have insisted it means that a Baloo trained adult is required on any pack Campout. In fact my COR in my old unit has worked on the National Level and is a National Camping School Instructor and he was in complete agreement that a Baloo trained leader was required on a Pack Campout.


It is my belief that OWL is required for a Webelos Den to have their own Campout separate from the Pack or a Troop but I can't find a source for that. It is certainly possible that Baloo or OWL are not National requirements but Council specific requirements. Councils do have the authority to enact requirements that go beyond those of National.


Regarding what boy does not like a compass? I had a good chuckle over that one remembering back to my youngest's Tiger year. The den went to a Cub-O and actually won 1st place. First prize was a nice Silva compass for each scout ands cond place was a sling shot. My little one was furious and complained all the way home about not getting that sling shot. He just crossed over and is a natural complainer and is inflicting his terror on the SPL at the moment. I am afraid it is going to take military boarding school to straighten him out, his mother and I seem to be incompetent at it.

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"Overnight camping by Tiger Cub, Wolf, and Bear Cub Scout dens as dens is not approved, and certificates of liability insurance will not be provided by the Boy Scouts of America."  (Source:  http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss03.aspx)


BALOO is absolutely required for Pack Overnighters, as you quoted (repeating with emphasis for my next point:  "At least one adult on a pack overnighter must have completed Basic Adult Leader Outdoor Orientation (BALOO, No. 34162) to properly understand the importance of program intent, Youth Protection policies, health and safety, site selection, age-appropriate activities, and sufficient adult participation."  (Source:  http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss03.aspx)


From the Outdoor Program Guidelines, Webelos Den Overnight Camping section:  "A Webelos den leader who has completed position-specific training and Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders training should conduct these events."  Later in that same section, "To provide leadership for this event, Webelos den leaders should complete the course, Outdoor Leader Skills for Webelos Leaders, No. 13-33640."


Note the difference between must for Pack Overnighters (which are a very specific thing, not just a general term for any overnight camping by Cub Scouts and Webelos), and should for Webelos Den Overnight Camping.  Also note that nowhere does it state that BALOO is required for Webelos Den Overnight Camping - it is not required (by the BSA, at least).


Do I recommend OWL and BALOO for leaders?  Definitely.  Is BALOO required for Pack Overnighters?  Yes.  Is it required for Webelos Den Overnight camping?  Not by the BSA, although perhaps by some Councils.  Is OWL required by the BSA?  No, but perhaps by some councils.


If someone asks me, I strongly recommend OWL for Webelos camping, especially if they were never Boy Scouts or haven't been actively practicing Scouting skills for some time.  If they are up-to-date on basic Boy Scout skills, than OWL may not be necessary to conduct a good Webelos Den Overnight campout.  But BALOO is for Pack campouts, and not Webelos Den camping.  While it doesn't hurt to do both, OWL is the more important for Webelos Den camping.


Trust me on this, I have studied this topic quite thoroughly, looked through everything I could find on the Scouting.org site, and spend my day reading and writing policies.  The words 'should' and 'must' aren't there by happenstance, those have very specific connotations and were used deliberately.  For whatever reason the BSA doesn't feel that it can or must (see, I can do it too!) force Webelos Den Leaders to complete OWL and still run a good program.


As King Ding dong has stated though, individual Councils may have different policies, so check with your Council for the definitive answer.  And ask to see it in writing, because at the national level these are the requirements, and in some cases it is just a Council misinterpreting what National is saying, rather than the Council actually having a policy of their own in place.

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So here is were BSA Speak becomes a problem. When i as the only Baloo trained leader in my old pack and I could not attend a scheduled pack Campout due to a family wedding I had several committee members argue with we that the GTSS states must and then a laundry list of things nice things but does not say must for a Campout to occur. I understood their point but fortunately my COR backed me up. Finally one of them relented and took a 1 day course at a neighboring council.


In the past some on this board have argued that it is the Guide TSS and not the Rulebook Of Safe Scouting so therefor it is only a list of suggestions.

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In the past some on this board have argued that it is the Guide TSS and not the Rulebook Of Safe Scouting so therefor it is only a list of suggestions.


Actually, the preface is pretty clear...it is the rule book of safe scouting, as well as a citation noting that leaders must know, review and/or be aware of all other BSA rules, policies or local/national laws and policies.


"Guide" is merely a word to connote a compendium of the rules and/or where to look.

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