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Baloo's Bugle

October 2005 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 12, Issue 3
November 2005 Theme

Theme: My Family Tree
Webelos: Craftsman & Scientist
  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

Scouting Is A Game.

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

Den Programs revisited

Last month I wrote about den projects and how they can fulfill some needs of boys and fit into Cub Scout programs. Although projects are an important part of what we do with boys, we should always be aware that….

Scouting is a game.

New den leaders sometimes think that den meetings should be filled from opening ceremony to snack-time with a full diet of craft projects. This is a poor choice. An occasional project is perfectly fine but craft activities bring a lot of disadvantages:

  1. It’s expensive. Craft materials strain the budget.
  2. It can be boring. Many boys just do not like making things that adults and most girls find pretty or cute.
  3. Craft requires more adult help. There is strong likelihood of misbehavior without more assistants.

Den meetings should really be filled with games interspersed with ceremonies.

Advantage of games.

Games are important elements in Cub Scouting because they are as natural to the behavior of boys as are breathing, laughter and food.

  1. Games are fun.
  2. Games with clearly understood rules promote good behavior.
  3. Games easily connect to character development.

Robert Baden Powell, the founder of Boy Scouting, said that "Scouting is a game with a purpose." The game is our fun and exciting program, but the purpose is to prepare boys to become better adults. York-Adams Area Council

The British Scout Association describes games and play in its Scout Base web site, http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/6to25/index.htm

The importance of play

A child's life is largely made up of play, but that play is very real to the child. Children not only pretend to be jet planes or astronauts, while the game is going on they are jet planes or astronauts. They are disappointed and disillusioned if a grown-up takes a game lightly, finishes it abruptly before it is played out, or does not worry about keeping the rules.

The play-world is a very real world to children. In it they are learning and testing out the rules of life which they have to observe as adults later on. They will learn to give and take, to co-operate with others, to accept defeat without complaining, and succeed without being boastful.

Cub Scout Leaders need to appreciate this world of imagination and to use it in their approach to Cub Scouting. Every activity of the Cub Scout programme could be, or could include, a game.

Games for Cub Scouts

The best sources of games for Cub Scouts are the Cub Scout Leader How To Book (HB) and theDen Chief Handbook (DC). Every den needs a copy of each. Both have excellent hints on leading games (HB p3-1 and DC p47.) Even old printings, available at used book stores or on eBay, can be useful to any den. If your den doesn’t have these, try to get them.

Competitive Games – Vary the games so that all boys can excel. Games like the Rooster Fight (DC p60) that favor the larger, stronger types should be mixed with games like Sleeping Guard (HB p3-6) where a smaller more agile boy has an advantage. Boys with good sense of balance can look good in the Astronaut’s Test (DC-p62) and observant ones will probably win out at Kim’s Game (HB p3-34). 

Cooperative Games – While many games are played competitively, good den leaders will also use more that a few games that require cooperation or ones that have no winners. The How-To Book has a whole section on them.

Games like the Forehead Squeeze Relay (HB p3-22) and the Nature Hunt (DC p59) require teamwork and cooperation. Perpetual Motion (HB-p3-20 and The Snail (HB p3-22) are good examples of fun games where no one wins or loses.

Reflection – The How-To Book describes reflecting as: guiding the players to think about what has happened as a result of the game or activity and try to learn from it. 

As a leader, avoid the temptation to talk about your own experiences. Reserve judgment about what the participants say to avoid criticizing them. Help the discussion get going, then. let the participants take over with limited guidance from you. If you describe what you saw, be sure your comments do not stop the participants from adding their own thoughts. Above all, be positive. Have fun with the activity and with the session.

These  types of questions are useful in reflecting:

  • Open-ended questions prevent yes and no answers. "What was the purpose of the game?" "What did you learn about yourself?"
  • Feeling questions require participants to reflect on how they feel about what they did. "How did it feel when you started to pull together?"
  • Judgment questions ask participants to make decisions about things. "What was the best part?" "Was it a good idea?"
  • Guiding questions steer the participants toward the purpose of the activity and keep the discussion focused. "What got you all going in the right direction?"
  • Closing question help participants draw conclusions and end the discussion. "What did you learn?" "What would you do differently?"

Remember, reflecting on an activity should take no more than five to ten minutes and are often much shorter than that. The more you do it, the easier it becomes for both you and the participants. Remember that the value and the values of Scouting often lie beneath the surface. Reflection helps you ensure that these values come through to Scouting participants.

Pack Games – A game or two always adds spice to a pack meeting. Just make sure that all boys get to participate. Gathering games and relays are usually good. If you think about it, audience participation sparklers and songs like Throw It Out The Window are essentially games that involve everyone – even the parents and siblings.

Parent Participation – Cub Scouts enjoy seeing their parents join in the games. Try it at Tiger den meetings and pack meetings. You would certainly want to involve the parents at your pack camp overnights or other outings.

Your Game Chest – Make a den game chest: simply a box where you can store common game equipment. Some examples:

  • Throwing things – an assortment of balls, Frisbees, bean bags etc.
  • Tying things – lengths of rope, cord, clothes pins, etc.
  • Markers – tin cans, news papers, chalk, etc.
  • Containers – boxes, pie pans, muffin tins, pails balloons, bottles.

You get the idea. Make it suit your den.

Your Game List – Make a list of different games. Writing (or gluing) each on a separate 3x5 index card may work for you. Have a variety of indoor, outdoor, active and quiet games that your den likes. Keep it handy. This is a resource that you can use in a pinch when you need something to rescue your meeting.

And remember: - Scouting is a game.

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