Baloo's Bugle

June 2007 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 13, Issue 11
July 2007 Theme

Theme: Rockets Red Glare
Webelos: Aquanaut & Geologist
Tiger Cub


BIG Projects
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

Another important lesson not covered in my training, concerned craft projects. It wasn’t until a chance encounter with Bud Bennett, then National Director of Cub Scouting, when I learned how projects should work. One of Bud’s favorite admonitions was:

It's not what the boy does to the board that matters; it's what the board does to the boy.

Den programs are about doing things, not making things. Boys join Cub Scouts to do things. It’s the action, the adventure, the joy of doing one’s best that lures them into the program. The motto is Do Your Best, not make the best or learn the most. Doing is the key idea here. Consider the following den meeting scenario:

After the opening ceremony, the den leader announces, “Boys, our mission today is to create a ________” ( You fill in the appropriate magical word.) Now describe the expressions on the faces of the boys. Is it wonderment?

Anticipation? Are they jumping up and down ready to start? Or are you greeted with yawns or blank looks?

What will it do?
When a boy makes or builds something, it should do something. 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.

What does he dream?
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? It is essential that, whatever a boy makes, he can visualize it doing something or being used somehow, somewhere.

His mind is as active as his hands.
Projects, like games, hikes, campouts and other Cub Scout activities, should excite the imagination and stimulate a boy’s creative juices. What wonders are possible? What cool colors can we create? How big can we build it? What great adventures will emerge as we proceed?

What is it made of?

Wood is good. Large is better. Messy is wonderful!

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.

One of the best resources for a den is a refrigerator carton. It supplies the team with wondrous material. I asked My Wonderful Wife, Shirley what her den would have done with one.

Forts, houses, tunnels, game equipment, sets for den skits - even ships – I remember Kevin Pate of Norman Oklahoma referring to a Kenmore space ship. All these lead into other adventures and provide fun while they’re being built and again when they’re being used.

If your den is going to do a skit at the next pack meeting, then do it properly with big props costumes and scenery - all made by the boys. Remember the great bicycle safety tips last month that the folks from Santa Clara Council gave us? Take a look at how some Cub Scouts had fun performing a bicycle safety skit on youtube. Even though the model car was just a prop in the skit, they must have fun making it and then using it.

I have seen boys making huge masks by covering large balloons with papier mâché. The balloons were suspended by strings from the ceiling and the floor protected by a tarp and lots of newspaper. If your den is into this kind of messy stuff (and I hope it is now and then) it may be wise to invest in some sort of protection for the boys’ uniforms. Old adult shirts make great smocks for painting and other fun stuff.

I have also seen boy made body puppets that they wore in a skit. They were made from large sheets of cardboard strapped to their bodies with a bungee cord. The arms were hinged to the bodies and eye holes cut out and disguised with paint. Think of a talking tree or a marauding moose.

Big Projects

There are many advantages to large den projects such as building skit scenery or cubmobiles. The den works on it as a team, planning it, choosing materials and sharing the work. Leadership emerges often from unexpected quarters as new ideas and concepts arrive.  When a group of boys collaborate on one project there is a real change in the group dynamics from when they work on individual projects. Problems become challenges to be solved by cooperation rather than obstacles that halt progress. There is less boredom, misbehavior or complaining.

What is the process?

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

At this age, building projects help a boy in several ways: they stimulate imagination, they develop hand-eye coordination, enhance their abilities 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.

Cute is a Four-letter Word.

Cute stuff has no place in Cub Scouting.

Boys at this age have no interest in being cute or being with people who want them to be. One of our den leaders would summarily veto any program idea that evoked the word “cute.”  Every pack needs someone like her. Check the link hidden in the box before this paragraph.

Some links to project ideas:
  The Puppeteers, Scouting Magazine.

   Papier Mâché, Wikipedia

   Carpentry and Housebuilding for Children

   Bicycle Safety, youtube

   Dangerous Book for Boys

Also, be sure to visit Bill’s website

to finds more BIG project ideas.

Have any Comments and messages for Bill
just click right here!

Or go to his website -

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