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Those of you who are unhappy with the Lion program - did you follow the plans laid out in the leader guide or just read the actual requirements and do something that fulfilled them?
I feel like there's a huge disconnect between what the requirements say and the activities suggested to fulfill them.  Like the Animal Kingdom requirement "demonstrate you know what to do in an emergency" that then has the kids playing a game with first aid for cuts and sprains and bug bites and blisters.  I would personally interpret "what to do in an emergency" as things like discussing how/when to call 911, getting out of a burning house, and what to do if they get lost.  For most other "emergencies" the age appropriate answer is "Find an adult"!
I don't see that, or a related trip to the fire station, as causing a risk of burn out - but if you play the recommended game that is far closer to what the Webelos are doing than what the Tigers are, then I can definitely see how that might make the older kids feel like they're not learning anything new.

 

 

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Just for some info.  My first Lion den had over 30 scouts.  Those scouts are now in 6th grade and 3 crossed over. I had 4 den leaders... 0 of their kids crossed over (and clearly they didn't as well).

To amplify @Eagle1993’s observation, we were swarmed with crossovers in February, and very few were lions. Since then we have had roughly one new scout a month, some were never cubs, some quit while b

When you realize the BSA started Lions for membership and money (every Lion has to pay the extra $25) and none of the decision makers have to execute a program for 5 year olds you will have your answe

I think many cub scouters burn out because they're all trying to push a round peg into a square hole for years on end. That's why I was burned out. Cubs want fun, the cub program is not inherently fun. That leaves the adults trying to figure out how to make it fun. That's okay for a year or two. After that it becomes a slog.

When I compare cubs to other youth activities most others have a clear goal that encourages self motivation. If the idea is to win a game then by just playing the game most kids will want to figure out how to, for example, be better at putting the ball in the net than the other kid defending the net. That makes it easier for the adult to run practices because the youth are finding their own reason to be there. Cub scouts, on the other hand, don't have a clear goal that is done every week. That puts a lot of pressure on the adult to figure out how to make it fun. It's not internal motivation, but rather external motivation from the adult.

Unfortunately, there's a similar problem in scouts. It used to be you needed to know the knots if you wanted your tent to stay up or how to make a fire if you wanted to cook. That's real motivation to learn some skills. But those skills aren't really needed every week or even every month. Anyone can set up a tent or turn on a stove. It's hard for the scouts to find their own motivation to show up and improve. It's not like marching band or robotics where the goal is obvious - get better and learn new skills. The BSA treats the motivation as Eagle. That puts a lot of pressure on the adults to find other ways to make scouting appealing. The truth is the main motivation I saw for the scouts was friendships and high adventure trips. Along the way a lot of older scouts also found other aspects of scouting, like working with younger scouts or service projects. All of those things were internal motivation and they worked well. If the scouts found a way to motivate themselves they'd stick around long enough to get eagle. On the other hand, if they didn't have friends or didn't find a purpose in the troop after about age 14, they stopped coming. So eagle is not really that strong of a motivator.

For cubs, it's all on the parents. And I saw plenty of parents say, nope, we're done after cubs. Or, at best, they'd take at least 6 months off after bridging over. Some would stop volunteering but were happy if their sons would stick around in scouts.

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24 minutes ago, MattR said:

For cubs, it's all on the parents. And I saw plenty of parents say, nope, we're done after cubs. Or, at best, they'd take at least 6 months off after bridging over. Some would stop volunteering but were happy if their sons would stick around in scouts.

I took the year off myself when my son crossed over.  I needed the break, but after a year of that, I found that I had just replaced the stress of trying to run everything with the stress of not knowing what was going on, with no real gain.  So, I'm back.

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I'm also running my son's Lion Den after returning to scouts as a parent.

I'm aware of the burnout potential and have planned a simple calendar (1 Den Meeting + 1 Pack Meeting per month). Most Pack meetings have a special theme or activity and aren't strictly administrative. I'll make parents aware of special events outside our standard meeting schedule, but I've encouraged them to cherry-pick the activities their families find most interesting.

There are a few more experienced parents in our Pack who have graciously told me not to worry about anything this year outside of my own Den's programming. That's been huge for me, as it's allowed me to ease back into Scouting without feeling overwhelmed.

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On 9/24/2022 at 6:31 AM, BetterWithCheddar said:

I'm aware of the burnout potential and have planned a simple calendar (1 Den Meeting + 1 Pack Meeting per month). Most Pack meetings have a special theme or activity and aren't strictly administrative. I'll make parents aware of special events outside our standard meeting schedule, but I've encouraged them to cherry-pick the activities their families find most interesting.

The issue that I found with Lions and pack meetings wasn't that they weren't engaging, but they were just too much too late in the evening.  Most of our den meetings are 6:30-7:30, and the pack meeting generally follows that pattern, though some years they've had longer pack meetings that went until 8.  
Our Lion parents requested an earlier 6-6:45 meeting time to get the kids calmed back down in time to get to bed on their regular schedule.  

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On 9/20/2022 at 6:05 AM, qwazse said:

Lions, while a nice service for parents who don’t know how to arrange play dates, is having little influence on retention of middle school youth.

Wrong.  It has a bad influence.  Tigers is similar, but not as extremely evident.  ...  IMHO ... start'em when you can give them a knife, fire or bow-and-arrow.  

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On 9/20/2022 at 7:43 AM, cmd said:

So, whether or not the Lion program is a good idea over all, not having that rank when the other options in your area do puts a pack at a disadvantage for years.  

You are right.  If other packs have a Lions den OR if your council advertises Lions, you are basically forced (for the health of your pack) to have a Lions den.  Or, those dedicated families will go to other packs and start drawing away from your pack.

 

On 9/20/2022 at 7:43 AM, cmd said:

I will say, though, that I don't think there's any need for the advancement piece at this age.  I would love to replace Lions with a true "Family Scouting" program for K and even younger that offered a family camping opportunity 1-2 times a year and maybe a few hikes and an easy service project like maybe one block of Scouting for Food or just asking them to bring in something to build a Thanksgiving basket together for a family in need.  Younger siblings are welcome at all our pack events, and it always makes me a little sad to know there's no way to extend that experience to kids without an older sibling.  

Fully agree.   Even before Lions (and essentially Tigers ... or girls ... or ...), packs often had multiple "family" events per year.  There was no need to make Lions and Tigers official ranks or registered members.  

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21 hours ago, fred8033 said:

…Tigers official ranks or registered members.  

Tigers have been around for 40 years now. One would think we had enough data on it by now. Back in the day (70’s and before) was better without the Tigers?

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48 minutes ago, mrjohns2 said:

Tigers have been around for 40 years now. One would think we had enough data on it by now. Back in the day (70’s and before) was better without the Tigers?

Yes and no.  Tigers until 2000 was essentially a friend of the pack. ... Started in 1982 as a parent/child activity.  Only to attend a few pack meetings a year.  No derby car.  No uniform.  1986 age lowered when ranks became grade aligned.  1996 more aligned with pack.  2001 was when Tiger became an integrated part of the pack.  I remember that one as my oldest son was a wolf.  He was the last age to use the orange t-shirts as a uniform. I liked that t-shirt.  It was cheap. 

"enough data"?  Again, yes and no.  We've seen constant declines for 20+ years.  Was it bad press coverage of Dale v BSA, CSA and IVF files?  Internet and all kids online all the time?  Growth of youth sports?  Or, the Tiger & Lion program?  Causality is not clean or singular. 

To be fair, I don't think Lion/Tiger is the biggest cause.  ... but that's just a guess. 

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We keep our Lion program really light. They come to one den meeting and one pack meeting a month but are invited to monthly hikes and all campouts and weekend activities. I'm the Webelos den leader this year and started with my scouts as Lions. We have 5 that have been here for the entirety of that time and 6 that have joined between Kindergarten and this year. There is not a skills or enthusiasm difference between having been around or brand new- for the parents or the scouts. 

That said, my oldest son crossed over this year and the difference between the cub program and the scouting program is so huge that I can't see "burnout" being the main cause of scouts not going on. It's a whole different thing, at least from my experience. If scouts don't know that going in, I can absolutely see them quitting in that first 6 months. Half of the kids my son crossed over with did. It was culture shock for our family and my son very seriously considered quitting and we kind of knew what we were getting into. 

 

 

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10 hours ago, JSL3300 said:

We keep our Lion program really light. They come to one den meeting and one pack meeting a month but are invited to monthly hikes and all campouts and weekend activities.

Do you charge them the same dues (assuming your pack has dues)?

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13 hours ago, JSL3300 said:

We keep our Lion program really light. They come to one den meeting and one pack meeting a month but are invited to monthly hikes and all campouts and weekend activities. I'm the Webelos den leader this year and started with my scouts as Lions. We have 5 that have been here for the entirety of that time and 6 that have joined between Kindergarten and this year. There is not a skills or enthusiasm difference between having been around or brand new- for the parents or the scouts. 

That's similar to what I was planning: 2-3 "things" each month, so a den meeting or two, no pack meeting, and highlighting one of the pack activities going on that seems like a good fit for the littles.  But, the 3 parents who showed up for our kick-off meeting tonight are all going to be at the pack meetings with older siblings anyway, so I guess we'll be adding those in.  And they want two den meetings each month.  And the sibling factor will probably have them attending a lot of pack functions, too.  

Our dues are so minimal that we can't charge Lions any less.  We've always just ignored the extra cost of the time between sign up and recharter and figured that everyone is new once, so it works out.  And while Lions at least theoretically do less fun stuff, they also probably do less fundraising to make up that difference.

 

13 hours ago, JSL3300 said:

That said, my oldest son crossed over this year and the difference between the cub program and the scouting program is so huge that I can't see "burnout" being the main cause of scouts not going on. It's a whole different thing, at least from my experience. If scouts don't know that going in, I can absolutely see them quitting in that first 6 months. Half of the kids my son crossed over with did. It was culture shock for our family and my son very seriously considered quitting and we kind of knew what we were getting into. 

Definitely this.  If you have an orderly den/pack experience like what most parents are looking for, then you move to a boy-led scene where it takes an hour and a half and you still barely have a menu for the upcoming campout (not that this happened this evening or anything) it's a real adjustment.  
We've also had some kids at least on the verge of leaving and not coming back when we told them that their Whittling Chip wasn't any good anymore and they had to put that pocket knife away.  And while they're at it, stop poking at the fire until they can get someone to take the time to do the Fireman's Chit with them.  
It wasn't until I did the IOLS training that I could look at the chaos without immediately wanting to shut it down and force order upon it.  And I'm the least Type A parent I know.  After having the "let them fail" mantra drilled into my head, it only makes me mildly crazy.  Okay, moderately crazy.  But I bite my tongue.  
I think there's less of a feeling of "burnout" and more a frustration that they are doing less in the troop than they were in cubs because having adults plan and lead stuff IS generally more efficient.  

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12 hours ago, mrjohns2 said:

Do you charge them the same dues (assuming your pack has dues)?

We charge them the same registration, which goes straight to national and we can't do anything about. We've made everyone's registration slightly more to absorb the $25 new scout fee because it feels so gross to ask new folks to pay more. We don't have pack dues, but we do have a minimum fundraising requirement or buy-out option, which we don't push with the Lions at all. If they fundraise, great. If not, also fine. 

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9 hours ago, cmd said:

Definitely this.  If you have an orderly den/pack experience like what most parents are looking for, then you move to a boy-led scene where it takes an hour and a half and you still barely have a menu for the upcoming campout (not that this happened this evening or anything) it's a real adjustment.  
We've also had some kids at least on the verge of leaving and not coming back when we told them that their Whittling Chip wasn't any good anymore and they had to put that pocket knife away.  And while they're at it, stop poking at the fire until they can get someone to take the time to do the Fireman's Chit with them.  
 

Oh my gosh, this is exactly it! Cubs is so fun and that initial run at scouts just... isn't. I think we have extraordinary mediocre leaders, both youth and adult, in my son's troop and that doesn't help matters. It makes me feel better to know that that rocky transition isn't unique to our situation. I'm trying to better prepare the den of Webelos that I lead now for that transition. Hope that leads to more retention for the group. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, JSL3300 said:

Oh my gosh, this is exactly it! Cubs is so fun and that initial run at scouts just... isn't. I think we have extraordinary mediocre leaders, both youth and adult, in my son's troop and that doesn't help matters. It makes me feel better to know that that rocky transition isn't unique to our situation. I'm trying to better prepare the den of Webelos that I lead now for that transition. Hope that leads to more retention for the group. 

Even more important - preparing their parents for that transition.   I think "my kid isn't interested anymore" sometimes really means "I was the one pushing my kid to do cub scouts, but having visited the chaos of that troop meeting, I don't see enough value to deal with the hassle of making him do it."  At the cub level, we really need to prepare the kids and their parents that the training wheels are about to come off, and they may crash and burn before they get the hang of things.  And at the troop level, they need to ensure that the older scouts are ready to actually manage their leadership roles so the group does figure out how not to continue crashing.

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