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Tired_Eagle_Feathers

Why all the slap-stick in Cub Scouting?

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One of the things that irks me so far with my son's Cub Scout experience (I was never in cubs, just Boy Scouts) is this pervasive idea that everything has to be comedic, or slapstick cornball to be "fun".  Even during the BALOO training they emphasized that there should never be a dull moment during the campfire and if there is the leader should jump in with some kind of space-filling cornball thing to keep it "fun".

At the last district campout last weekend my son opted to go back to our campsite and have our own campfire rather than go to the big group campfire.  He finds the cornball nature of the group campfires off-putting, plus he would rather sit next to the fire and tend it himself than have to sit 30 feet away from the campfire and listen to kids incoherently mumble their way through skits.  Plus it was chilly and we wanted to actually sit next to the fire.

When I was in scouting campfire time was about sitting around the camp fire and cooking and shooting the bull with your friends.   Why all the emphasis on the cornball?  Why isn't camping and scoutcraft itself considered fun?

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On the one hand, this sounds like a local thing, if EVERYTHING is cornball.

However, Cub Scout campfires with skits and songs are part of Scouting.  There are a lot of lessons in getting up in front of people and attempting a skit, working together with other performers, and putting together an entertaining program.  

If you opt out of a campfire program, that's fine.  

We were just at camp last weekend and had a campfire with skits. The whole thing took maybe 15 minutes.

1. Wolves sang "Father Abraham" with some moves.  This was good to warm up, since it was cold.

2. Arrow of Light did the -- We Don't have a Skit, skit

3. Bears did -- Emergency Broadcast system

4. Webelos sang and danced to -- I'm a chubby penguin, you're a chubby penguin, we are chubby penguins!

They were all quite good, considering they are 7 - 11 year olds.

Then the leaders said some comments thanking parents for bringing their kids to camp.

Then everyone stood around the campfires and warmed up and then went back to the cabins.

If you're going to have a campfire show, it should be interesting and fast paced.  The point of it is to give the kids an opportunity to work together, show off a little and develop some showmanship skills.  It is a small piece of camping!

The only campfires we do are this one at our Pack campout, and if you go to our Council summer camp, they put on a good show.

Different kids like different things. Some kids LOVE skits!  My den loved skits a lot, they would do skits all day if you let them.  We had an improv group come in for Blue and Gold entertainment because it was right up their alley.

 

Edited by WisconsinMomma

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benefit of skits and such is it helps some kids get used to performing in front of others, also helps the shy kids who are always in the background to break out of their shell a bit,

scouting shouldn't be all about skits, but skits and performing is 1 element that should be explored,

 

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Baden-Powell understood some Scouts did not learn well from simple verbal instruction or even from demonstration. And hands on repetition practices do not always teach skills enough for it to "stick." Early on B-P had Scouts doing skits as another way of learning skills and communications. Skits might  be "campy" or "corny" but when everyone is laughing at everyone it takes a lot of anxiety out of the situation for many of the cubs and some of the adults as well. If you and your son have a different sense of humor that's ok, much humor comes from "tribal knowledge" or environment. But you shouldn't exclude yourself from the camp. Plan for it next time, there are so many skits online and in books, find a teaching skit or something more involved for your group and practice it, be prepared for the next campfire. Maybe your example will raise the bar for the others, or at least add some contrast to the others types of skits. Just remember to keep it entertaining somehow or it's just going to be a chit -chat session in the seats.

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6 hours ago, Longhaired_Mac said:

But you shouldn't exclude yourself from the camp.

Nah, we're going to do our own thing.  This weekend we have a pack campout.  The pack does not plan any activities for the weekend other than meals and the campfire.  So, my son and I are going to do our own thing.  We are going to plan our own meals, and have our own campfire, and cook our own food, and work on lashing projects, like making a table.  It's going to be cold, so we'll want an evening campfire we can actually sit next to.  For my son and me, sitting around the fire is a time for relaxing and chatting, maybe singing songs.  It's not a vaudeville act.  The other thing that really grinds my gears is when they make it "audience participation" so you are pressured to join in with the theatrics.  And it's not just campfires.  There's hardly a thing that goes by without us "giving a hand" or "big round of applause".  See: Dad Joke. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dad_joke

 

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@Tired_Eagle_Feathers so, you and your boy are pretty much how Son #2 and I were. He and his buddies often passed on closing campfire for a more sedate time at the troop site.

Son #1 was all about his buddy's going through every skit they could think of. Even in our crew they would be skipping down the road, or calling out to seagulls at 5 am, to the puzzlement of their friends (guys and girls) who never came up through cubs.

But, here's the part that puzzled me ... they only yucked it up on campouts. When I suggested they put together a vaudeville act for the school talent show ... crickets.

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On 10/23/2018 at 6:23 AM, Tired_Eagle_Feathers said:

One of the things that irks me so far with my son's Cub Scout experience (I was never in cubs, just Boy Scouts) is this pervasive idea that everything has to be comedic, or slapstick cornball to be "fun".  Even during the BALOO training they emphasized that there should never be a dull moment during the campfire and if there is the leader should jump in with some kind of space-filling cornball thing to keep it "fun"

I kind of agree with you on this. I remember when I was a cub, I didn't like some of the more silly stuff that was done. As for training, at BALOO and OWLS, some of the advice actually made me angry. Take run-ons (this is where a scout or scouter is encourage to jump up and interrupt a skit, song or speaker with a quick one-liner), they are simply rude and unscout like. If one of my cubs did that, I would reprimand them and make them apologize for interrupting and being disrespectful. The rounds of applause, and stuff like that I find annoying. It can make a quick 20 second announcement into a 2 minute performance. 

One that was common in my pack for a short time: "The Announcement Song", which the cubs would sing whenever the word "announcement" was spoken. I disliked it because it was an interruption, and slowed the administration stuff down so it took longer (which took time away from the fun stuff).

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Years ago, I had a dad that really enjoy Cub Scouts.   He was a fireman and enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping.  His son was a great kid and loved the out of doors.  When he was a Webelos, his dad and him went backpacking with me to a Wilderness Area, in the Sand Dunes next to Lake Michigan.  Later that summer, they went up to Northern Ontario for a week of wilderness camping.  They both love it, and I learned a lot from the dad.  He was an expert on the stars, fire building, etc.

The dad was so excited about scouts, he signed up for training that Fall, and went with our Webelos Leader.  They both were upset with the training, but especially this dad.  He especially did not like that they treated them like little kids.  The dad just gave up on scouts.  When his son crossed over to Boy Scouts, he drop him off at the door, and would not even come in.  As you could expect, his son only lasted about 6 months, before he dropped out.

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13 hours ago, Rick_in_CA said:

 

One that was common in my pack for a short time: "The Announcement Song", which the cubs would sing whenever the word "announcement" was spoken. I disliked it because it was an interruption, and slowed the administration stuff down so it took longer (which took time away from the fun stuff).

 

"The Announcement Song"...it was funny at first when I was a kid, but then it became way overused and now I can't stand it.  The cross-over point for me was when an adult, in the interest of expediency, deliberately did not say the word.  After which another ADULT said "Wait, don't you have any more ANNOUNCEMENTS?"  Cue song, mostly sung by the other adults.

When I became a leader, this was still happening on a regular basis to the point where the kids were getting sick of it.  Timing is everything in comedy and most cornball hilarity is ill-timed and the kids cringe at it.

Not all campfires are Campfires.  We only usually did one or two formal Campfires per year - a scheduled event with an "agenda" (ie. group 1 shall sing a song, group 2 shall now do a skit, group 3 to provide a cheer for that skit etc.).   All other fires at camp were completely informal, chatting it up, the occasional song for kicks, etc.

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I feel your son's pain.  I was in the same boat as a scout.  I even felt this way going to Summer Camp in Boy Scouts.  All of the singing and dancing and skits... it just wasn't for me.  Most of my Troop looked "down" on me for this.  I wouldn't participate in the songs or dances or whatever unless they drug me out there.  I wasn't the only boy who felt this way though.  Once I got a little older, I would skip out on the camp fires at Summer Camp because I just hated it.  I like camping not performing skits and singing.  I think what you are doing is fine.  Let your boy do what he enjoys.  You don't want him to get to a point where he doesn't even want to go on a trip because of the skits and "fun".  

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This is Scouting, and part of it is the silly skits, songs, cheers, and sometimes slapstick humor. Like everything else, it has a purpose, which as I understand it is about developing better communication skills, confidence speaking in front of a group, and developing an event (campfire) program.

At the Cub level, I can tell that our campfires are one of the highlights of any outing. Families look forward to them. Without the skits, songs, etc., it would just be a bunch of people sitting around a campfire quickly getting bored. And although I absolutely enjoy a quiet campfire, 6-to-10-year-olds don't.

Frankly I'm not a fan of a kid sitting it out when it comes time for the campfire program. Maybe singing a song in front of a group isn't for everyone (it's not even for me but I do it anyway because the kids have fun with it), but there are other ways to be involved. Tell a joke or a story. But doing nothing isn't acceptable. Participation is part of some of the Cub adventures, it's required. We're not just a camping club, Scouting has a lot of unique facets to it and this is one of them. Take it or leave it.

Sorry for the harsh stance, I'm just in the middle of some somewhat related issues locally and maybe this touched a nerve. There have been various issues within my Pack with parents and even some leaders not liking one thing about Scouting or another and wanting to opt out of that thing.

This is the program. Skits. Songs. Campfire programs. Uniforms. Religion. Girls. Whatever issue you have with the program, you can either accept what it is today or move on. If you don't like something about the program, try to change it. But until things change, until National says no more goofy skits or tells one of my parents that they can entirely skip Duty to God or tells one of my DLs they can wear the uniform however they want (or not at all), we work with what we've got and what the standards of the day are. This is Scouting. All of it.

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I am more of the "pick and choose" kind of Scouter.  I like Scouting as a whole, but for me, I'm in it for the scoutcraft.  That's what turned my crank as a Scout, and what I want my son to learn.  Now frankly, I have considered just "leaving it", and we'll just go camping as a family.  I was talking with my brother-in-law over Thanksgiving and that is what they decided to do.  He tried Cub Scouts with his son but found it to "chaotic" and decided they would just go camping as a family.

I think Scouting as a whole is a great organization when it hearkens to its roots in scoutcraft and leadership.  There are many aspects I'd like it to dump, like religion and goofiness.  These things were not a part of my Scouting experience growing up.  It's probably a pack/troop specific thing.  But there are enough positive aspects of Scouting, like scoutcraft and leadership, that make me want my son to continue to enjoy doing those things under the auspices of Scouting while ignoring the parts we don't want to do. 

Even when I was a Scout, I thought Cub Scouts overall did a disservice to Scouting, and now having been in it I believe it even more.  Even 35 years ago kids grew up fast.  Today they grow up even faster.  I think by the time a lot of kids get to age 11 what they think Scouting is about is "wussy", and thus they don't go on to Scouting.  When I was a kid in school you never let on that you were in Scouts.  It was considered XXX (rhymes with "hay").  But our Scout troop was exceptionally hard-core.  Some of the hardest work and activities I ever did I did in Scouting.  I think these kids have their perceptions skewed from Cub Scouting.

Our last pack campout my son and I basically had our own little campout at the pack campout.  We had our own campfire.  We opted out of the pack meal and cooked steaks as part of doing our Cast Iron Chef work.  Instead of going to the pack campfire we sat around our own fire and roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores.  While the rest of the kids were running around playing we worked on lashings. 

I've always heard, "Be the change you want to see", so we are.   But frankly, we're just marking time for the rest of the year until we can get into real Boy Scouts and hopefully leave the goofiness behind.

 

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15 minutes ago, Tired_Eagle_Feathers said:

I am more of the "pick and choose" kind of Scouter.  I like Scouting as a whole, but for me, I'm in it for the scoutcraft.  That's what turned my crank as a Scout, and what I want my son to learn.  Now frankly, I have considered just "leaving it", and we'll just go camping as a family.  I was talking with my brother-in-law over Thanksgiving and that is what they decided to do.  He tried Cub Scouts with his son but found it to "chaotic" and decided they would just go camping as a family.

I think Scouting as a whole is a great organization when it hearkens to its roots in scoutcraft and leadership.  There are many aspects I'd like it to dump, like religion and goofiness.  These things were not a part of my Scouting experience growing up.  It's probably a pack/troop specific thing.  But there are enough positive aspects of Scouting, like scoutcraft and leadership, that make me want my son to continue to enjoy doing those things under the auspices of Scouting while ignoring the parts we don't want to do. 

Even when I was a Scout, I thought Cub Scouts overall did a disservice to Scouting, and now having been in it I believe it even more.  Even 35 years ago kids grew up fast.  Today they grow up even faster.  I think by the time a lot of kids get to age 11 what they think Scouting is about is "wussy", and thus they don't go on to Scouting.  When I was a kid in school you never let on that you were in Scouts.  It was considered XXX (rhymes with "hay").  But our Scout troop was exceptionally hard-core.  Some of the hardest work and activities I ever did I did in Scouting.  I think these kids have their perceptions skewed from Cub Scouting.

Our last pack campout my son and I basically had our own little campout at the pack campout.  We had our own campfire.  We opted out of the pack meal and cooked steaks as part of doing our Cast Iron Chef work.  Instead of going to the pack campfire we sat around our own fire and roasted marshmallows and ate s'mores.  While the rest of the kids were running around playing we worked on lashings. 

I've always heard, "Be the change you want to see", so we are.   But frankly, we're just marking time for the rest of the year until we can get into real Boy Scouts and hopefully leave the goofiness behind.

 

I also have similar gripes about scouting,

there is too much emphasis on crafts and stem projects and not enough on outdoor activities, 

a cubscout can go 5 years (6 with lions) advance to boy scouts without ever going camping,  there is something inherently wrong with that.

at last summer camp majority of the activities over the week were indoor activities, It was a beautiful summer week and kids were indoors

this is my sons 3rd year as a cub and has camped 10-15 times with the pack yet I don't feel he has learned anything outdoor related other than what I have taught him on our own outings

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The trouble is finding the campcraft experts, the folks that have "been there and done that", that are willing to share their craft and experience.  

The comparison of the 1950's era Fieldbook with the more recent ones is instructional.  Pictures and instruction in chopping down trees and building fire pits/ditches/ and even off the ground fire tables for camp cooking from the older GBB book, compare to the modern  Management style book.   Of course, a lot of the changes can be blamed on the need to NOT cut down so many trees (one per Tenderfoot?) and not burn up every stick to cook over (Leave Less Trace), but still...    

The modern boy /girl may seek some adventure, but not without a good WiFi connection back in the parking lot.   Once upon a time, a Scout might  just add some gear and take off to Philmont. Nowadays,  signing up for Philmont includes buying new gear (my old Troop made their own tarp tents), several "shake down" camp trips,  and "conditioning hikes". 

Yes, the world has changed.   Not every home has a practical fireplace, where a fire may be laid when the snow is 3 feet deep across the road and the power is out for a week.  

If you send your Scouts to NYLT, and your adults to Back Country Camping and Wood Badge,  would they each and every be ready to take off on a "surprise hike"  with an hour's notice, as one old Scouter bragged about of late? 

 

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On 11/22/2018 at 6:59 PM, Rick_in_CA said:

One that was common in my pack for a short time: "The Announcement Song", which the cubs would sing whenever the word "announcement" was spoken. I disliked it because it was an interruption, and slowed the administration stuff down so it took longer (which took time away from the fun stuff).

We had the Webelos visiting a meeting one time and our SPL asked if there were any adult announcements.  The Webelos broke into the "Announcement Song"..the Scouts put a stop to that really quick and explained that was not how we rolled

The Webelos were really good with that

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