Baloo's Bugle

March 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 14, Issue 8
April 2008 Theme

Theme: Abracadabra
Webelos: Sportsman & Family Member
Tiger Cub Activities


The Centennial Quality Unit Award
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

Did your pack win this award?

If YES, Great, congratulations!. Make sure that every boy and every leader gets the patch to wear on his/her uniform. We are all proud of you and everyone who contributed to making your pack go!

If you tried but came up short on a couple items, that’s still a good sign. In fact you may be better off than those who got the award. I’ll show you why as we go on. You may find out that you can use it as a springboard to do a pack makeover.

If you didn’t even try, then I’ve got a special message for you. Your pack is missing out on one of the best tools to make your pack exactly what you want it to become. Forget about what National, your Council or those district guys want. This can help your gang achieve your goals.

What are you going to do about it now?

Winning or not-winning the CQUA is not really that important. It’s only about a badge: another little do-dad to hang on your uniform. What really matters is what the whole effort of filing the application, working to succeed and then getting the results will mean to the success or failure of your efforts as leaders. What you do about it right now is more important than anything else.

I’m sure that none of you do this Scouting stuff solely to get more badges. I know some of you put in considerably more time than the advertised one hour a week. You deserve to have all your efforts succeed in having boys grow into the kinds of men you will be proud of. Your pack might be very efficient at this or much of what you leaders do may be just a lot spinning wheels and not a lot of progress.

The results of your CQUA experience can tell you a lot of how successful your pack is in reaching your real goals. Let’s look at each of the six requirements and see what the results can divulge about your pack.

Each of the 6 requirements on that 2007 form attempts to measure a symptom of the health of your pack. Your real goal should be to improve your pack operation and not to obscure or cover up the symptom so that no one notices it.

1.   We will have ___ percent of our direct contact leaders complete Basic Leader Training for their position, including Youth Protection Training.

Let’s face it; an untrained leader is probably not going to be successful. By now every one of your direct contact leaders – Cubmaster, den leaders and ALL ASSISTANTS should be trained – NLE, job-specific and YP.

You don’t have assistants for every den? Why not?  What will happen if a trained leader moves, gets sick, gets divorced or wins the lottery and flees to Tahiti? What will happen to those boys left behind? Will the den, or even the whole pack, flounder or just muddle around until someone finds a suitable replacement. How many boys and how many families will give up?

What are you going to do about that now?

How effective is your Pack Trainer or do you even have one? A good PT can and should work with district folk to facilitate training and get reluctant leaders to attend.
John Mount of Highland, Utah recently posted on a popular forum:

We now have one. We call him “the hammer.”

Remember, it’s especially frustrating for trained leaders to work with an untrained and uncooperative committee. If you want your pack to work as a well-oiled machine then get your committee to training as well.

2.   As one of the committed units in our district, our goal is to retain ____ percent of our members, recruit ____ new youth, and recharter on time.

If most boys and families stay in your pack until they graduate out then your pack is doing fine. Don’t change! Good retention is the gold star for pack leadership.

If your pack has troubles keeping boys and families in the program, then your top priority is to find out why and then do something about it.

Many packs lose entire dens. How can you lose a whole den? Did the den leader leave and there was no replacement? Was the den program weak and the boys just stopped coming? Did the DL get the training and get support from pack leaders, the committee and parents? Find out what went wrong. One of the reasons to have regular den participation at pack meeting is to keep pack leaders aware of den health.

Boys who drop out make it harder to recruit new ones. The word gets out on the street that your program is either worth, or not worth, the time and effort. When they first joined, you promised them it would be fun and challenging. Did you and the other leaders keep that promise? Was every meeting fun and exiting? Was every outing an adventure?

What are you going to do about that now?


3.   As a participating unit in the national parent initiative, we commit to recruit __ new adults to be active.

OK, it’s got quaint wording. You may or may not care about the national parent initiative, but you do care about the future of your pack. As families join, get the parents involved in making the pack go.

Have a plan to bring them into the fold. 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.

Parents and other close family members have a relatively narrow window of a few years to open the door to their boy’s future – to shape his character, help set his life’s goals and how he will react to his next set of influencers. These Tiger and Cub Scout years are the time for parents to spend as much time as they can with him, to lead him into positive activities, to get to know his friends and his friends’ families. Cub Scouting gives parents a wonderful set of tools to do exactly these things.

Every boy should see his parent(s) be good role models who make the pack go.

What are you going to do about that now?

4.   We had a minimum of 60 percent of our youth members advance in rank for Cub Scouting or we improved by 10 percent over last year.

It’s hard to make the 60% if half the boys drop out before your Blue and Gold banquet. Solve any retention problems before you tackle advancement. I have heard the urban myth thing that poor advancement is supposed to cause poor retention. That just doesn’t make much sense. I can not imagine there are that many boys having lots of fun and adventure but not advancing in rank and then dropping out because they didn’t get their Wolf or Bear badge.

It’s more likely to be the other way around, or that both advancement and retention depend on good programming and good leadership. Boys who have fun and find adventure in Cub Scouts stay in and do advance. Those who don’t will likely quit and, of course, won’t advance.

Advancement requires parent participation for Bobcat, Tiger, Wolf and Bear. It gives families opportunities to share growing experiences and challenging activities with their sons. Try not to push book work into your den meetings. It becomes too much like school. Also, the boy is more likely to do more of the reading if he does it at home with his family. Do everything you can to get advancement into the boys’ homes. It will take some good salesmanship by both den and pack leaders but it will be worth the effort.

Webelos Activity Badge work is different. You shouldn’t expect mortal Webelos den leaders to be masters of all twenty subjects. Get them help. Scour your pack records and your neighborhood to find some resources for each badge. I have noticed that Webelos dens are less likely to have assistant leaders than other dens, and fewer of them are trained. Check this out in your pack.

What are you going to do about that now?

Take a critical look at how your pack celebrates advancement. Do your ceremonies resemble the Academy Awards or are they more like a visit to a dentist?

Who gets the most recognition in your pack?

New member who earns Bobcat?

Boy and parent who earn Tiger?

Boy who earns Arrow of Light?

Winner of Pinewood Derby?

Who should?

5.   At least 70 percent of our youth members had an outdoor experience or one activity per month, or improve the percentage over last year.

I understand that the first sentence has been interpreted so many different ways that it may be difficult to know if your record is meaningful or not. A lot depends on the environment and the character of the community, and which boys and which activities were counted.

Regular attendance, however, is an excellent indicator of how good your program plays to boys and families. Boys and families will attend if your program seems important to them. Boys and families stay if they regularly attend.

There are several ways that top leaders have promoted regular participation:

  • Sean Scott of San Diego put on big productions at pack meetings so that people wanted to attend.
  • Cliff Golden of DeKalb IL loads his troop calendar with a variety of activities so that boys have more opportunities and choices.
  • Many packs make sure that everyone has a role to play at pack meetings and other activities.

These all require a good sized team of leaders and well organized plans. Does your pack have enough leaders and how thoroughly do you plan your program?

Every good pack I have seen in my forty-five years of Scouting has had an impressive outdoor program. They typically run one or more special pack activities every month and even more in summer to fit in with family schedules.

6.   We will conduct annual program planning and will provide the financial resources to deliver a quality program to our members.

The most important responsibility that leaders have in Cub Scouting is program planning. The quality of the Cub Scout experience each boy receives will depend on how leaders schedule and carry out the essential planning procedures.

If you want your pack program to be more fun, more party-like and more exciting for all family members, try holding a masterminding gala extravaganza for your next annual planning session. Make it party with games, skits and run-ons – even costumes. Make it FUN.

One of your planning items should include just how your pack will recharter next year. Who will do it; where are the records and how will you pay for it? Sort of a budget item?

What are YOU going to do about that now?

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