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Baloo's Bugle

October 2006 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 13, Issue 3
November 2006 Theme

Theme: Cubs in Shining Armor
Webelos: Craftsman & Scientist
Tiger Cub


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

Fast Start training http://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/faststart/

Youth Protection Online http://www.scouting.org/pubs/ypt/ypt.jsp

Books For Cub Scout Leaders

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

This month is mostly for new Cub Scout leaders but any of you experienced veterans may pick up a new trick or two or at least be reminded of an old one. So hang in there.

It’s a description of the three books that should form the base of every Cub Scouter’s library.

1. What It’s All About

The Cub Scout Leader Book is the essential source for how Cub Scouting works. This latest printing with all the new Tiger updates is a superb reference. It starts with an emphasis on our purpose – what we are trying to accomplish and then delves deeply into all the methods available to reach those purposes.

The scope is a bit staggering. It covers things like families, character connections, policies, uniforms, advancement, leadership, administration, safety, camping and more. There are job descriptions for every leadership position and committee post in the pack.  There is a wonderful chapter on Cub Scout age boys that everyone should read.

I have read Scout leader manuals for many years and from several countries and I would rate this as the best of the bunch. It covers more important topics, is better organized and better written than any others I have seen.

The Cub Scout Leader Book is certainly a must for any leader or committee member. If you don’t have one, get one. Even older printings are great, but will have old Tiger formats.

2. How To Make It Happen

The Cub Scout Leader How-To Book is a bundle of fun activities for every Cub Scout event from family projects and den meetings to big pack extravaganzas like Blue and Gold banquets and camp outs.

It makes a valuable supplement to Program Helps by providing wider choices of projects, games and ceremonies as well as details of big pack events like bicycle rodeos or pack camping – those beyond the scope of Program Helps.

It is a particularly valuable resource for leaders. Just look at this list of teasers in the Introduction:

  • How do I plan a skit for next month's pack meeting?
  • How do I find a new game--that can be played indoors?
  • How do I make papier-mâché?
  • How do I make a hike interesting to my den?
  • How do I plan the blue and gold banquet?
  • How do I help make my Cub Scout with special needs more successful?
  • How do I make pack meetings more upbeat?

These just scratch the surface of all that is in this book.

There is so much program stuff in the How-To Book that a pack and all its dens could easily run for years using ideas from this book alone.

3. About Boys

Consider the following description of Ben Rogers:

Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump -- proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high.  He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star-board and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance -- for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them….

So my third book is - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Have you ever seen a better description of a boy walking down a street?  Mark Twain gives us some the best insights of the persona of nine-ten year old boys. Tom, of course, is a special example: the product of a broken home, a good scholar but something of a bully, obsessed with thoughts of both history and death. If you haven’t read the book recently, then I really suggest that every Cub Scout leader should take the time to do it.  It’s available in e-text from the University of Virginia.

I read a lot of books and articles on child behavior but I still regularly come back to this one. Mr. Clemens had this special ability to describe the many secrets of boyhood. He lays bare Tom’s fears, his hopes and his dreams all woven into a tale of action and adventure.

Almost any leader can understand and appreciate the range of imagination, humor and joy of adventure by just reading a few pages of this book. Perhaps you will notice just how seriously Tom takes life. He rarely takes time to laugh or even smile in the midst of any grand enterprise. He is, in that manner, a very normal boy. Fun is serious business.

Of particular interest is his fascination and concern with death. Adults seem to not notice how many references to death are in the book, but there they are – the dead cats, the murder, funerals, death wishes and even mortal danger in the cave. He fantasized about his own mortality…

He pictured himself lying sick unto death and his aunt bending over him beseeching one little forgiving word, but he would turn his face to the wall, and die with that word unsaid. Ah, how would she feel then? And he pictured himself brought home from the river, dead, with his curls all wet, and his sore heart at rest.

Twain is right -children do worry about death and we are usually oblivious to their concerns.  My two favorite game sources, Brian Sutton-Smith and Iona & Peter Opie describe all sorts of children’s games about death and dying. Girls’ skipping songs seem to be particularly lurid.

And so I challenge Cub Scout leaders to think of just how they consider these characteristics of boys. Imagine that you are the den leader and Tom is in your den. How would you handle that? What games, what projects would you choose? What would you do about a Code of Conduct?  I would love to know what you might come up with. If you wish, leave me a message at my web site.

For extra credit, imagine that both Huck and Sid
 are there with Tom.

Be sure to check out Bill’s “Unofficial Roundtable Site”


If you wish to contact him with a question or comment, go to http://wtsmith.com/rt/gnolmm.html

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