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Baloo's Bugle

September 2005 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 12, Issue 2
October 2005 Theme

Theme: To The Rescue
Webelos: Citizen & Showman
  Tiger Cub


Remember for your new leaders – Fast Start training and Youth Protection training is available on-line -

Fast Start traininghttp://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/faststart/

Youth Protection Onlinehttp://www.scouting.org/pubs/ypt/ypt.jsp

Den Projects

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

When a boy makes or builds something - like a model plane, a boat or a car - he often imagines it in action: flying, sailing or racing, as he works on it? 

His mind is as active as his hands.

This summer I was walking along the beach in Oregon where we spend our summers. I stopped to watch a young boy hard at work at a very serious project. He had built a large sand castle with a very large moat and now was struggling to divert a nearby stream to fill the moat. It was tough, dirty work but that didn’t faze him a bit.

He built dams and dug a long deep trench. As the stream tried to outwit him by silting up his trench and washing out his dams, he feverously

worked keeping the water moving.

He wasn’t going to fail. He was the Project Engineer in charge of the castle’s defense!

A couple of things to note here: First, the castle wasn’t grand, or even pretty. I’m sure he didn’t care. All the time I watched, he hardly even looked at it. His attention was on the moat and all the apparatus he was designing to fill it. Secondly, the action – what was happening – was key to his enjoyment. I could easily perceive his look of satisfaction when the water flowed and moat filled. Most of all, his mind saw something grander, more elaborate than just a sandy beach and a trickle of water. He was lost in a dream!

Most boys like to build things. They like to use materials like wood or messy stuff like mud, or even sand. They like to put things together, to nail, to glue, or just to stack some stuff on top of other stuff. For reasons hidden to the adult mind, boys (and some girls) must try to pile rocks or sand to block the flow of water.

Generally speaking, boys like certain kinds of projects. Here are some basic rules to help you choose projects that will go over well and contribute to their growth:

What will it do?Boys like to make things that do something. Pinewood derby cars, boats, kites and catapults do things. They run, fly, throw things or explode. Girls, at this age, are already aware of form and beauty - boys usually don't care. Watch boys build things. They spend most of their time playing with a half finished model, visualizing what it will do. What it looks like is low priority. As soon as the wheels are on his Pinewood Derby car a boy will crouch down so that his eyes are at table level to admire how his car moves.

What is it made of? Wood is good. Large is better. Collect large cartons, scrap wood and other similar stuff. He needs to learn to manipulate material. Start thinking of the help you will need to handle all this - let parents know you will need them. Refrigerator cartons, for example are the raw material for grand den projects.

What is the process?Using tools is usually popular. Do things that are as messy as you can stand. Big painting projects, papier mache and cooking all fit this category. Dainty and cute are not going to make it here.

At this age, building projects help a boy in several ways: it stimulates his imagination, it develops hand-eye coordination, it enhances his ability to go from a mind’s eye view to a physical creation. Use projects to build den game equipment, scenery and costumes for skits, camping gear and den snacks.

The following is an adaptation from the 1954 edition of the How Book of Cub Scouting.

How Much Can We Expect?

We who are working with Cub Scouts must always keep uppermost in our minds the necessity for patience and understanding. A piece of handicraft which we think is very poorly done may, to the Cub Scout, be a great victory over clumsy fingers and lack of experi­ence. We must try to judge a piece of craft through the eyes of the boy who makes it.

A good parent will always wait for the Cub Scout to name the article that he has produced in order to avoid calling the boy’s “boat” an “elephant.”

A second thing which a good Cub Scout parent will do is find at least one good thing about the boy’s project —no matter how poor it may be. Even though the boy’s boat may be lopsided and top-heavy, it is prob­ably pointed in front—and that, at least, is correct. Then when Dad [or Mom] has found at least one good thing about the project, he may sympathetically point out the things which are not so good. He does this by showing the boy how to improve them, not merely by finding fault with them.

It will also be a good idea to allow the boy to appraise his own work before Dad and the leader offer their suggestions. Above all else, encourage the boy so he will want to continue to “do things with his hands.” It is so easy to discourage a boy, and so hard to win back his self-confidence once we have shattered it!


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