Bill Smith, The Roundtable Guy
A special welcome to Bill Smith who will be preparing the Training Tip each month. Be sure to visit his website,
Check out the many good Scouting ideas he has and Thank him for offering a temporary home to Baloo while www.usscouts.org was shut down and now helping each month with Training Tips.
A Home and Neighborhood Program
The Cub Scout program of the Boy Scouts of America is unique among the various Cub programs in the World Scouting movement. Our method is based on activities a boy could do around his own home or in his immediate neighborhood. While most other Cub organizations conducted a sort of “junior Boy Scout” program with a few leaders in each pack, the BSA opts for something quite different: fun stuff right near home with adult leaders for each den.
The life of a six-to-ten year old is centered on his home. He is just learning how to form close friends and explore new places. He still looks to mom and dad for approval, support and advice. Typically, he doesn’t start reaching out to other adults away from his home until the middle school years. Those Cub Scout years are recognized as an opportunity window for parents to exercise the greatest influence on their sons. Fathers who wait until their sons are in Boy Scouts to become involved are often rudely disappointed – by then, the boys are usually looking elsewhere for guidance and inspiration. Do it now in Cub Scouting!
The Parent Agreement
When families join your pack, each parent should be introduced to the Parent’s Agreement on the second page of the boy’s Application to Join. Each leader should be familiar with this agreement and be prepared to help parents understand its implications and their responsibilities.
Being at Meetings
Younger Cub Scouts, and especially Tigers, are much more comfortable having a parent with them at meetings and activities. Pack meetings are where the boys get a chance to show off – where they are recognized for Doing Their Best, for living up to all those ideals in the Cub Scout Promise and Motto. It’s important those adults who love him are there to share in this recognition and be part of the celebration.
One of the huge benefits of Cub Scouting is that parents are forced to meet and communicate with other neighborhood parents which puts you one good step ahead as your boy enters his teen years. You know and talk to his friends parents.
Working in the Books
The achievements - 15 Tiger, 12 Wolf and 12 Bear - represent those things a growing boy should be doing as he learns to be a better citizen and a more responsible and capable human being. They give parents and others ample opportunities to observe and understand how this boy is growing up: what sort of adult he will be, what kind of husband, what type of father, and what quality of community member he will become. Informed parents and leaders can - and should - make the achievements fun experiences for the boys.
But there is a lot more to it. The electives automatically involve TALKING. The boy and his parent TALK, they listen to each other, they plan; they express their hopes, their concerns, and their jokes. They learn to respect each others moods, ideas and styles. They create special communication channels that remain vital and valuable for all their lives.
If you, as a leader, shut out the parents by doing a lot of Tiger and Cub Scout advancement at den meetings then you deny the parents the opportunity to establish these relationships with their sons.
Cub Scouting gives parents opportunities to show their sons examples of leadership and responsibility. It may be a leading a den or pack meeting, or organizing the Blue & Gold banquet or Fourth of July Parade or Friends of Scouting campaign, but every parent should take on a visible job in his Cub Scout pack where the Cub Scout can see his role model doing something important.
How to Involve Parents
It takes constant effort, patience and a sense of humor!!
When the Boy Joins
Ensure that every family is aware of the Parent’s Agreement and understands their obligations when we accept their application to join. The longer we wait the harder it becomes to involve parents. Recruit the parent along with the boy.
Organization and Support
One of the most important tasks a Cub Scout leader does is to convince other parents how important it is for them to get involved in their sons' Cub Scout program and how this helps their families and their boys' development. When they make that a priority and then start working at it, they have a good chance at success.
Being a good Cub Scout leader takes more than just running the meetings - that's the easy part. Interacting with other adults - especially parents - is the essential job quality of Cub Scout leadership.
Each time we take on another job that could be done by a parent who is not performing as a role model for his/her son we are admitting that we have failed. Instead of sharing responsibility we have opted for the easy work around: do it ourselves instead of teaching others that it is better that they do it.
Worse, we have hurt two boys. We have hurt our own sons because the time it takes to do the second (or third and so on) job often comes from the time needed to fulfill our duties as Akela to our own sons, and also, we have deprived another boy the chance to see his parent be a hero - doing something important in his Cub pack.
Never, never do anything that you can possibly get another parent to do.