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fred johnson

Cub scouts - How to avoid Lions ?

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.... I think all the Lion boys plan to stay in through Tigers. ... 

 

And then Wolf, Bear, Webelos, Arrow of Light year and then crossing into Boy Scouts.  

 

Cub Scouts was the answer to the question: What do we do with boys too young for Boy Scouts but can't wait?  I'm not trying to lesson Cub Scouts, but it's Boy Scouts where BSA has a special unique value that youth can't get from school or youth sports.  It's where they learn huge lessons by branching out on their own,  outside of the family shadow, in situations entirely new to them.  

 

Burning families out before Boy Scouts does a big disservice to the program and reduce's BSA value.

 

My apologies for sounding negative.  You wrote a very nice note.  ... I'm just in a fickle mood.   :)

Edited by fred johnson
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Dropping Tigers ... I fully believe we would have at least the same if not more cubs in our pack if we started it at a higher age.  The only fear I have is those families that are long-time scouters would go to any of the other eight packs in our city.  It's the old nuclear option.  If one has it, they all do.  But even then, I think it would be the better choice to not to Lions or Tigers.  Start at the age when you can introduce knives, fire, bows and arrows, etc.  In my opinion, that's 2nd grade.

It's a bold risk, I admit. But I believe it depends on your boy source. If several packs share the same source, then it's more of a challenge. I have personally only observed one pack who stopped their Tiger program, so it is interesting to read about other packs trying it as well. Seems they all do OK. In view of the membership trends, that is the data that National should be reviewing.

 

Barry

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In view of the membership trends, that is the data that National should be reviewing.

 

National? Review data? Analyze and understand trends?

 

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If the issue is burnout then maybe we should ask that question. In all honesty, adding or subtracting a year of cub scouts will not make much difference in a 5 year cub program plus a 7 year boy scout program.

 

How about each pack make a season they do cub scouts? Limit it to 6 months a year total. I tell scouts to take the 3 months off for a sport, or robotics, or band. They usually come back eager.

 

Another idea mentioned above is meet less often.

 

At the cub level I don't see an issue with taking a season off. At the boy scout level friendships become more important so I can see trying to have a longer season, but maybe having a short off season isn't such a bad idea. Boy scouts get burned out as well and this push to have campouts every month might be detrimental, given the duration of the program.

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The thing is, we don't know if kids are burning out because of extra years in cubs or not. I'd assume the biggest drop off in membership happens between Webelos II and Boy Scouts. It seems like that is the place to look.

I think, too, that it's really easy for us, as adults, to look at the Tigers or Lions (or, really, even Wolves) programs and feel like they are watered down or babyish or whatever. But they don't feel that way to 5, 6, and 7 year olds. To them, they feel like a big deal. Our Lions had to do a service project for one adventure. It was right after winter storm Stella, so they spent an hour walking around a residential neighborhood and shoveling out fire hydrants. They were so excited. Now, empirically, that's not the most exciting project ever. But, if you are five, it apparently is!

I'm also dubious of the idea that the older Cubs are bothered by younger kids being there. In my experience, they could care less. They aren't around them that much. They see them at Pack meetings, but those are pretty dull anyway. They are present at pack events (hikes, campouts, etc), but the older kids are doing their own thing while the younger kids do theirs. Unless the older kids seek it out, there isn't a lot of interaction.

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The thing is, we don't know if kids are burning out because of extra years in cubs or not. I'd assume the biggest drop off in membership happens between Webelos II and Boy Scouts. It seems like that is the place to look.

I think, too, that it's really easy for us, as adults, to look at the Tigers or Lions (or, really, even Wolves) programs and feel like they are watered down or babyish or whatever. But they don't feel that way to 5, 6, and 7 year olds. To them, they feel like a big deal. Our Lions had to do a service project for one adventure. It was right after winter storm Stella, so they spent an hour walking around a residential neighborhood and shoveling out fire hydrants. They were so excited. Now, empirically, that's not the most exciting project ever. But, if you are five, it apparently is!

I'm also dubious of the idea that the older Cubs are bothered by younger kids being there. In my experience, they could care less. They aren't around them that much. They see them at Pack meetings, but those are pretty dull anyway. They are present at pack events (hikes, campouts, etc), but the older kids are doing their own thing while the younger kids do theirs. Unless the older kids seek it out, there isn't a lot of interaction.

 

Burn out ... It's more about adult burn-out.  Cub Scouts is an adult intensive program.  

 

Younger kid interaction ... It's more about the lowering of the program structure to accommodate the younger kids.  It's some about the direct interaction though.  Fifth graders don't want to do the same activities as a kindergarten scout.  

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Burn out ... It's more about adult burn-out.  Cub Scouts is an adult intensive program.  

 

Younger kid interaction ... It's more about the lowering of the program structure to accommodate the younger kids.  It's some about the direct interaction though.  Fifth graders don't want to do the same activities as a kindergarten scout.  

 

Neither do seniors in high school don't want to do the same activities as a 6th grader....  Kids tend to want to group by ages and interests.

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I have been speaking about this issue since the mid 90s. First off, boys go where their parents want them to go, so it's not a scout burnout issue. It is an adult burnout issue at the cub level. While adults do burnout at the troop level, it's not the problem of cubs because the patrol method program gives the boys some control of their program.

 

At the cub level, adults are expected to manage a program for at least five years. Experts say the average volunteer gives 20 months before starting burnout. Adults don't just drop out after 20 months, but their effort has lost it's enthusiasm and the program suffers. The real problem comes with the Webelos because just to start the typical Bear leader is mother and has been an active leader between two to three years. Webelos hits them hard because not only are they are burned out, they don't feel they have the skills or knowledge for running a more outdoors boy scout skills program. The thought of camping outdoors in the heat or cold with a den of 9 year old boys has no appeal at all.

 

So what typically happens is either the burned out mother sticks it out as a Webelos leader without any energy for the responsibility or someone else is pulled heels dragging into the position. I found in my research that about 40% of Webelos leaders fall under the burnout scenario. There programs are basically boring without much push toward a future in the boy scout troop.

 

On a national average (at least 10 years ago) only about 50% of Webelos cross over into troops to continue their scouting experience. What is interesting about that statistic is that the scouts would have bailed out a year earlier during Webelos I if it not for the Arrow of Light award. Parents want their sons to learn the lesson of sticking with something to the end, so they encourage their sons to finish cubs. 

 

I found that both parents and sons of burned out cub leaders don't even really consider the Troop program because they believe it will be the same boring experience as the Webelos. It's hard to get good numbers, but I believe that less than 25% (15 to 20%) of cubs who started at the tiger level make it to the troop program. That is why the cub adult burn out issue is such a big deal. And that is why I scuff off worrying about gays and transexuals making a difference in membership numbers. The real membership problem starts with the adult leaders in Cubs. Loose the adults and you loose the boys. Visa versa, keep the adults and you keep the boys. Drive the program to keep the adults and they boy membership will grow leaps and bounds. I saw it over and over.

 

Does one year in one way or another make an attempt at fixing the problem, yes to some degree. I did find a lot of burned out Wolf leaders. So the 20 months rule really does take a toll. But the real toll is the activities of the Webelos program. Webelos really does require someone with some enthusiasm. Not so much an outdoors experience, but someone willing to plan fun meetings with activities that appeal to boys with a lot of energy. I talked to a couple of Webelos leaders who never took their den on a campout or spent much time doing boy scout skills, but they planned fun active den meetings that they boys looked forward to each week. As a result, they crossover looking forward to the troop program. One of those leaders told me that when the boys got restless, she handed the boys a basket ball and told them to have some fun. See, it's not so much about having a camping outdoor skills experience to join a troop, it's having a good experience that appeals to the age maturity.  

 

The reason the Tigers, and now Lions, is so demanding on adults is because the maturity between first grade and second grade is dramatically different. First grade is where youth learn the discipline of sitting and listening. AND, it is where they learn to read. I learned as a SM that printing out the words for songs and cheers doesn't work with Tigers. So I had to figure out other ways to introduce new songs and cheers. But, to my point, a Tiger scout still has the toddler maturity. And the problem is that when all the are groups are together, the program has to appeal from the least mature scout to the most mature scout. That is a huge range of maturity. How big? Some Scoutmasters I worked with agreed that the Tiger program alone almost doubles the number adults require to manage the whole pack. Our pack experience was much the same.

 

If the BSA really wants to recruit families of toddlers, they need to start a separate program like the Girl Scouts Daisy program so the adults in the pack don't have to manage a program with such a broad range in maturity. And, it's easier on the pocket book for first time parents. A Blue Cub Scout shirt is twice the cost of a T-shirt. And, a scout is less likely to out grow the shirt in three years where many Bears are looking to replace the shirt they stared with as a tiger. That may sound small to some here, but we found that entry fees is a big consideration for many parent considering the BSA at the Tiger age. 

 

I hope that helps folks understand better the problem of adult burnout.

 

Barry

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Neither do seniors in high school don't want to do the same activities as a 6th grader....  Kids tend to want to group by ages and interests.

Not my experience. The difference is high school seniors have the adult maturity for watching out and taking care of their group. It's part of our human instinct. Of course boys like to hang around now and then with those who have like interest, but mature older scouts are adults and get the same satisfaction as the adult leaders in helping younger scouts grow. In fact, most troops where the older scouts are responsible for the well being and performance of the whole program have higher numbers of older scouts.

 

Barry

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Is this why I see a high number of older scouts taking a hiatus from scouting and then coming back and finishing THEIR eagle?  As altruist as that may sound, I don't readily see it among the older scouts.  Yes, there are those boys who do think of scouting as helping other people at all times, most often it is because their parents are actively involved in scouting and have instilled that attitude in their children.  Ideally it is what scouting is all about.  I wish that there were more scouts out there that understand it better.

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Is this why I see a high number of older scouts taking a hiatus from scouting and then coming back and finishing THEIR eagle?  As altruist as that may sound, I don't readily see it among the older scouts.  Yes, there are those boys who do think of scouting as helping other people at all times, most often it is because their parents are actively involved in scouting and have instilled that attitude in their children.  Ideally it is what scouting is all about.  I wish that there were more scouts out there that understand it better.

No! 

 

The high risk high school where my son teaches was given an award for performing best among the high risk schools in the area. I asked my son why his school performed better and he said expectations placed on the students. The expectations of his administration are more ambitious than the other schools. The teachers take and pushed those expectations on their students and the result is better performance over the whole school.  

 

I gave scouters at adult leader training the same lesson, but it was nice to see it reinforced. The expectations of scouts in each unit are set by their adults. The differences of adults are why scouts perform differently in different units. Any adult who thinks they don't have any influence on their scouts behavior habits are naive. 

 

Different expectations of different units is neither a good or bad. We are who we are and very rarely can we change. Variety is the spice of life. The benefit of this forum is that scouters who read the different experiences of difference posters can pick the ideas that will work best for them. 

 

Barry

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Some Scoutmasters I worked with agreed that the Tiger program alone almost doubles the number adults require to manage the whole pack. Our pack experience was much the same.

I would say that's true, either the number of adults, or the amount of adult time spent. When I was Assistant Cubmaster I probably spent half my time helping the Tiger Den Leaders, recruiting new Tiger Den Leaders, learning enough about the "new" Tiger program* to help the leaders, etc. etc.

 

*When my son was a Tiger (1998-99 I guess) there was no Tiger handbook, there was just a packet of materials.  By the time I was an ACM and trying to help the Tiger leaders, there was a handbook, so in order to help them effectively, I had to read it, or at least skim it.  In effect, it was a new program.

 

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*When my son was a Tiger (1998-99 I guess) there was no Tiger handbook, there was just a packet of materials.  By the time I was an ACM and trying to help the Tiger leaders, there was a handbook, so in order to help them effectively, I had to read it, or at least skim it.  In effect, it was a new program.

 

Yes, the change occurred in 2000. We on the district had been informed 1998 the Tiger program was changing. Maybe because we assumed National was feeling our pain, we expected the changes were going the other way, requiring less adult time and less meetings. Nope, National went the other way and required more adult time, more meetings and changed to the more expensive official cub uniform. I was the District Membership Chair at the time and presented the new program to the Cubmasters. They were not happy. And, the Wolf numbers dropped as a result of the increase of Tiger drop outs. I couldn't believe National wasn't seeing the problems those of us in the trenches were seeing. Take a look at the 2005/2006 troop numbers and you will see a drop that was a direct result of the Tiger changes in 2000. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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