Welcome to Baloo's Bugle!


Back to Index
Special Opportunity
Prayers & Poems
Training Tips
Tiger Scouts
Pack/Den Activities
Pack/Den Admin
Fun Foods
Webelos Engineer
Webelos Scholar
Pre-Opening Activities
Opening Ceremonies
Stunts & Cheers
Audience Participation
Closing Ceremony
Cubmaster's Minute
Web Links


Write to Baloo (Click Here) to offer contributions, suggest ideas, express appreciation, or let Commissioner Dave know how you are using the materials provided here. Your feedback is import. Thanks.


Baloo's Bugle


February 2005 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 11, Issue 7
March 2005 Theme

Theme: Invention Convention
Webelos: Engineer & Athlete
  Tiger Cub:



Derby Day – Holding a Pack Space Derby!

Kommissioner Karl

With help from http://www.macscouter.com/CubScouts/SpaceDrb/

I have to admit this is the first time I have ever put together one of these kits, and it was a blast!  This is every bit as challenging, and creative as building a pinewood derby car, but different enough to be a whole new challenge!  If you are not having a Space Derby, then you are missing out on having another huge highlight of the year, like the pinewood derby is to most! – Kommissioner Karl

Events like this always work better with a committee.  The committee should work out the race day and include an opening ceremony, such as a ribbon cutting or an opening, have awards -ribbons or trophies, plan for crowd control, decorate the room with pennants and rocket decorations, and get a public-address system or bullhorns, if needed.  On race day, you will need two stations, the inspection/check in and the flight operations teams. 

The check in folks should:

·       Check entries for use of official materials.

·       Mark a number on each rocket.

·       Act as judges for craftsmanship award and other special awards.  Report winners to the Cubmaster.

·       Enter rocket numbers and boys' name on a preliminary heat sheet.

·       List heat winners on semifinal sheets.

·       Determine final standing of each rocket and report results to Cubmaster for presentation of awards.

The flight ops team will need:

·       A starter at the start gate

·       Have two judges at the finish

·       Keep control of the boys waiting at the gate

·       Set up the space derby raceway.

·       Report preliminary winners and final winners to registration team.

Constructing and Operating Rockets

The official space derby kit includes all necessary materials and instructions for building a rocket.  Decorate the rocket with bright colors.  Apply decals furnished in the kit or purchase decals at a local hobby store.

Tips for rocket builders:

·       Reduce air friction or "drag" by making all surfaces as smooth as possible. 

·       A blunt, rounded nose causes less drag than a sharp nose.  A good design has all leading edges rounded and trailing edges tapered to reduce the drag.

Rubber bands should be lubricated before the race.  They are the "motor" and must be strong and flexible.  This also prolongs the bands' life and power and will help reduce the possibility of breaking during the competition.  They can be soaked overnight in castor oil.  Or mix two parts green soap, one part glycerin and one part water and rub the mixture on the rubber band about an hour before racing.

·       Have extra boxes of rubber bands on hand.  Remember, it takes three rubber bands to fly each ship properly.

·       Experienced rocket racers "warm up" their space ships by gradually winding the rubber band motor to its full capacity-first 50 turns, then 100, then 200, etc.  Release the propeller between each winding.

·       A small hand drill is excellent for winding rubber bands.  It also helps speed up the event.  Check the ratio of the drill by making one revolution of the crank handle and count the number of times the chuck turns.  Most drills average a one-to-four ratio, thus it would take 40 turns of the crank to give 160 winds on the rubber band motor.  When using the hand drill winder, it is best for one person to hold the rocket and propeller while another stretches the bands about 12 to 15 inches beyond the rocket tail and turns the rubber bands, he gradually shortens the distance between him and the rocket.

·       For a more evenly matched race, wind all rocket motors the same number of turns.  For 100-foot launch lines, 150 to 170 winds should be sufficient.

·       Use a sharp knife for cutting the grooves for the hanger fitting and fins.  A dull knife will crush and splinter the balsa wood.  Make sure your plastic hanger is fastened securely to body.

·       When you start to carve, remember that the end with the small hose is the rocket nose.  A potato peeler is good for carving the shape.

·       To help increase the rocket's speed reduce the wall thickness to a minimum of 1/8 inch.  Do not weaken the area around the hanger (carrier) or carve away the nose button circle.

·       Groove for rear dowel is deep enough so dowel does not twist when rubber motor is wound tight.

·       Do not apply too much paint to the outside unless you sand between each coat.

·       Propeller is balanced. Sand if necessary.  Propeller nose button is lubricated with graphite.

·       Be careful not to get glue on the plastic carrier, especially in the holes through which the monofilament line runs.  Glue can interfere with smooth operation.

·       Fins are accurately aligned so rocket flies straight.

·       Make the propeller shaft as short as possible by bending it close to the prop.  Make sure the wire catches on the flat part of the prop and the groove catches the wire.  Cut off the excess wire with wire cutters.

·       Test the rocket's balance by hanging it from a string through the hole of the hanger fitting.  If the rocket is nose-heavy, carve or sand a little wood off the end.  It is tail-heavy, remove wood from the tail area.

Other Hints:

Dens may wish to secure a 100-foot length of 50-pound monofilament fishing line for test runs in the backyard before the derby.  Tie the line to a tree or post and string the rocket carrier on it.  Tie the other end to a tree about

100 feet away.  Make the line as tight as possible.

Sample Space Derby Program

7:00p     Inspection and registration of rockets.

7:30p     Opening ceremony.

7:45p     Cut ribbon and start heats.  Award ribbons and other prizes to heat winners during the running of the derby.

8:30p     Recognition ceremony.  Recognize champions; then make advancement awards.

8:45p     Closing ceremony.

Sample Space Derby Rules

All rockets must pass the following inspection to qualify for the race:

·       Only basic materials supplied in the kit may be used.

·       The rocket body may be no longer than 7 inches, not including the propeller and fins.

·       There are no restrictions on the weight or design of the rocket.

Space Derby Procedures

1.     Every boy brings his rocket to the inspection table to have his entry checked and numbered.

2.     Then he goes to the registration table where his name and rocket's number are entered on a heat sheet.

3.     Contestants report to the gatekeepers, who line them up in the order in which they will compete.  At this point, each boy starts to wind the rubber-band motor of his ship.

4.     As his name is called, the boy hooks his rocket on the guideline assigned to him, centering the rocket between the vertical dowels and locking the propeller behind the horizontal dowel on the starting gate.

5.     The gatekeeper starts the countdown and fires at zero by lifting the starting gate frame, which releases the rockets.

6.     The race is run in heats, up to four contestants at a time.  Each boy gets to try at least twice instead of being eliminated from competition from after the first race.  For example, in a six-boy den, try heats of three boys each.  The winner of each heat goes into the den finals.  Then race the other four again with the winner competing with the other heat winners for the den championship and entry into the pack finals.

7.     The winner takes his rocket to the registration table for recording, then to the awards platform for recognition.  He then returns to the spectator area to wait until his name is called again.

8.     Run as many quarterfinal and semifinal heats a necessary to determine the contestants for the final.

9.     As ships are eliminated, make sure the contestants are applauded for their efforts.

Den Chiefs

What Are They And How Do I Use Them?

Great Salt Lake Council

What is a den chief?

A den chief is a leader and friend to the Cub Scouts.

How does the den chief fit into Cub Scouting?

ü     He is EARNEST about his job and doesn’t horseplay.

ü     He is kind and fair to all and does not show favoritism.

ü     He is an assistant, playing rough and tumble games with the Cub Scouts.

ü     He sets a good example, and teaches the younger boys to do things.

ü     He knows his stuff and is prepared for meetings. He is willing to learn more.

ü     He is ready to be of assistance to the den leader and help in planning meetings.

ü     He maintains an active relationship with the den and attends meetings regularly.

ü     He helps prepare the Cub Scouts for Scouting.

ü     He expects every Cub to “Do His Best” and encourages them by his knowledge and example. He, too, enjoys the feeling of being needed and admired by younger boys.

There are five elements which the den chief should provide in his relationship with his den:

1.     Make the den meetings interesting, in advancement as well as games.

2.     Help the Cub Scouts work on advancements and motivate them to complete the achievements and electives needed for advancement and/or Arrow Points.

3.     Sees that there is fun in every meeting.

4.     Lets the Cub Scouts show initiative and push ahead, while encouraging them to do their best.

5.     Provides a light touch of inspiration to the meetings.

It should be remembered a den chief is still a boy and will not act like an adult. But, if you TREAT HIM AS A LEADER, HE WON’T ACT LIKE “ANOTHER BOY.”  You can run a meeting without him, but it is a lot easier when he is there.


There are four important steps that must be taken when choosing, and in the proper use of, a den chief for your den.

I.      OBTAIN:

ü     The den chief is a Boy Scout (or Varsity, or Venturer Scout) selected by the Scoutmaster (or other Scouting Advisor) in cooperation with the Cubmaster, committee chair, and/or den leader.

ü     He may be of any rank, but it is suggested that he be at least a First Class Scout. Age is not a factor, although it is recommended that he is 3-4 years older than the boys he will be working with since his maturity and experience will be of great value. He can be of the greatest help when he has been a Cub Scout and knows how the Cub Scouting program works. The Scoutmaster will know which boys are qualified, dependable, and interested. The den chief will need to commit to attending a weekly den meeting and the monthly pack meeting along with a den leader/den chief planning meeting. The den chief position satisfies the leadership requirement for Boy Scout Advancement. Leaders should be aware that den chief service should not interfere with his troop membership.

ü     The den chief becomes a member of a leadership team which includes the den leader and assistant den leader. He encourages the boys to advance in their Cub Scout achievements, and to live up to the Cub Scouting ideals in their everyday life. Since the boys look up to the den chief, he is a natural leader and role model for the boys.


ü     This Scout will only be as good as you make him. He needs to be trained. Check with your district training Chairman to find out if you have a Den Chief Training Conference. He will need his Den Chief Handbook. His den chief cord is presented at pack meeting, his patch is presented at troop meeting. There are requirements for him to complete for his Den Chief Service Award. If there is no district or council training, then the Cubmaster or den leader is responsible for providing temporary training. There are some things your den chief needs to know:

·                Relationships...How to work with a den leader and other pack members.

·                Discipline…How to help maintain discipline by leading and setting an example.

·                Patience…Important when dealing with Cub Scouts.

·                Boy nature…How the viewpoint of a Cub differs from older Scouts.

·                Skills…How to lead songs, games, yells, skits, run-ons, other activities and advancements.

Unless you make it fun, your den chief may not be interested in spending time learning to be a den chief.


ü     Your den chief will be as effective and helpful as you will let him. Make him feel important to the den and value his input. He will probably lose interest unless you make it fun for him. Give him enough to do that he feels useful, but not more than he capable of doing. Remember, he is a youth leader.

ü     Keep in mind that den chiefs are busy people, too. Each week he attends troop and patrol meetings and works on his Scouting advancements. He may also have school and sports activities.

ü     The den chief should meet with the den leader (they always love something to munch on during this time) in a monthly planning meeting to plan the activities which he will be responsible for preparing. Develop a good relationship with your den chief. You should never be too busy to listen to him or his ideas. A follow up call each week will probably be necessary to make sure that you are both on line together. He could be responsible for calling the boys to remind them of den or pack meeting (provide him with a list of the boys  and their phone numbers). The den chief should be given specific assignments, but should not be responsible for the whole den meeting. The den chief can help with ceremonies, answer questions, show how to do a craft project, and encourage good behavior.

ü     At den meetings, the den chief’s responsibilities are:

·      Before -- Arrive 10 minutes early. Help set up the room. Check equipment and supplies. Prepare to greet the boys and show them where to put their things and where to gather.

·      Gathering -- Greeting the boys. Teach tricks, puzzles, songs, yells or cheers and games while the den leader is busy.

·      Opening -- Holding uniform inspection. Assist Denner with opening ceremony, i.e. Prayer, Flag Ceremony, Motto, Promise, etc..

·      Business -- Make announcements, or reminders. Provide extra ideas for theme projects, service projects, field trips, and so forth. Assist in planning den’s participation in pack meeting.

·      Activities -- Have him be your activities assistant by helping with crafts, projects, games, and songs, or demonstrating physical activities for the Cubs.

·      Closing -- Helps to call the boys to order, and helps make announcements. Helps with closing ceremony and  immediate recognition.

·      Afterwards -- Clean-up. Evaluate meeting, and go over next week’s assignments.

ü     At pack meetings, den chiefs can help with:

·      Setting up the room and/or displays.

·      Getting boys seated and organized.

·      Den yell, songs, skits, stunts, run-ons and activities.

·      Maintain good behavior through presence and attitude (be a good example).

·      Escorting adults & parents to accept awards.

·      Take down and general clean-up after the meeting.


ü     Everyone likes to be recognized for their good work. Den chiefs are no different. Never criticize him in front of others.

ü     Recognize him at the first pack meeting after becoming a den chief.

ü     Congratulate him before your den/pack meeting each time he receives a Scout advancement.

ü     Recognize him on his birthday or other special occasion.

ü     Give him an important job and let him do it.

ü     Be PATIENT with him. He is just a boy.

ü     Praise him during den meetings. Compliment him on a job well done.

ü     Build him up every way you can.

ü     Understand his limitations and abilities.

ü     Let him know that there are some things that he can do that you can’t do.

ü     Let him feel successful.

ü     Do NOT leave discipline solely up to him.

ü     It isn’t just an accident that we use Scouts as den chiefs. Because of his association with den members, he can encourage them to advance in Cub Scouting and live up to the ideals in everyday life. He is already what every Cub Scout wants to be—a Boy Scout. He is a person whom Cubs most like to follow. This makes him a natural leader to them. By directing this natural leader wisely, we influence all the Cubs under his leadership.

ü     Your den chief should wear his uniform to your den meetings. This will encourage the Cubs to wear theirs. The Webelos will be encouraged by the insignias and badges and thus create an interest in Scouting.

ü     Recognize the den chief at the end of his service for a job well done. Present him with the Den Chief Service Cord if he has served at least a year and completed the requirements listed in the Den Chief Handbook, but at the very least recognize his service and a job well done.


Great Salt Lake Council

A careful den chief I want to be,

A little fellow follows me;

I do not dare to go astray,

For fear he’ll go the selfsame way.

I cannot once escape his eyes,

Whate’er he sees me do, he tries;

Like me, says he’s going to be,

The little Cub Scout who follows me.

I must remember as I go,

Through summer’s sun and winter’s snow,

I am building for years to be,

That little Cub Scout who follows me.

clear.gif - 813 Bytes

Return to Top of Page - Click Here

Materials found in Baloo's Bugle may be used by Scouters for Scouting activities provided that Baloo's Bugle and the original contributors are cited as the source of the material.

Materials found at the U. S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. Website 1997-2005 may be reproduced and used locally by Scouting volunteers for training purposes consistent with the programs of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) or other Scouting and Guiding Organizations. No material found here may be used or reproduced for electronic redistribution or for commercial or other non-Scouting purposes without the express permission of the U. S. Scouting Service Project, Inc. (USSSP) or other copyright holders. USSSP is not affiliated with BSA and does not speak on behalf of BSA. Opinions expressed on these web pages are those of the web authors.