Baloo's Bugle

September 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 15, Issue 2
October 2008 Theme

Theme: Adventures in Books
Webelos: Citizen and Showman
Tiger Cub
Achievement 5


Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

Working with a den of young boys can be a challenge. To make it a bit less daunting, new leaders should become a bit familiar with what else besides snits and snails go into the make-up of boys.

Boys are different.

Do Your Best. When we think of the Cub Scout motto, we usually concentrate on the word “best.” However the verb “do” more accurately describes boys. Boys are involved with doing things. One time National Cub Scout Director Bud Bennett reminded us:

If three boys are standing, talking, they are talking about doing something, If three boys are walking, they are on their way to do something. If they are running, they have just done something

Action is important. Boys seem to be most comfortable at our meetings when things are happening and especially when they are part of the action.

Even when boys make things, they expect their creations to do something. Again, Bennett said:

Did you know that 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? 

His mind is as active as his hands.

Boys Needs

The emotional needs of boys between 1st and 4th grades are basically the same. All boys (in fact, all people) have:

·      The need to be loved.

·      The need to be accepted.

·      The need to be noticed.

·      The need to belong.

·      The need to be praised and encouraged.

·      The need to be safe and secure.

·      The need to let off steam.

·      The need to express themselves.

·      The need to experiment (and make some mistakes in the process.)

·      The need to have fun.

How each boy tries to fulfill these needs is what really makes him unique. One boy may be very timid and quiet and another loud and rowdy, but both are afraid they won't be loved. We usually notice the rowdy one, but both need our care and attention.
If a boy wants to be noticed and receives a lot of attention from you when he misbehaves, his need to be noticed is fulfilled. He will probably continue his inappropriate behavior because it best fulfills his need.
Well then, what's a den leader to do? Boys will be boys and will probably get into trouble. How can you deal with misbehavior, build up their self-esteem and still maintain some kind of order in your den? You need a plan of discipline.

Indian Nations Council Pow Wow - 1994


Correcting bad habits cannot be done by forbidding or punishment.            Robert Baden-Powell

Discipline is the process of learning. Den discipline is a cooperative process where the boys behave in such a manner that both the boys and the leaders win: both achieve their objectives. The boys have fun, do exciting new things and feel good about themselves. The leaders achieve the aims of scouting, the boys are safe and they all get through the meetings with a minimum of damage and tears.

Punishment is the opposite. Punishment happens when discipline fails. Punishment is adversarial: either, the leader wins, the boy is punished and the boy loses or the leader backs down and the boy wins. .

It is risky to order a child NOT to do something. It immediately opens to him the adventure of doing it

                                                           Robert Baden-Powell 

Children need to develop self esteem. They need to win and feel good about themselves. When a leader uses punishment or the threat of punishment to control behavior, every time the leader wins, the boy loses and is motivated to misbehave in an attempt to win next time.

Scouting relies totally on positive reinforcement.

The Cub Scout Leader Book contains the official word on Cub Scout discipline. Every leader should read it and follow its recommendations.

A few years ago, we presented six essentials for a Cub Scout leader to get through their meeting or activity with a minimum of damage and tears. Here they are again in abbreviated form.

Well planned programs.

The first, and most critical, step toward controlling the behavior of the boys is to plan a good program. Boys, who are having a good time, rarely cause trouble.

Get and hold their attention.

You will get nowhere if you lose control of your meeting. Wearing your Scout uniform, ceremonies, the Cub Scout sign are all useful. Keep activities short, simple and fun.

They know what’s expected of them.

Boys often misbehave just because they are not sure how they are expected act. They are imaginative and invent their own standards of behavior. You don’t want that.

You will need a Code of Conduct – a set of rules that we all follow at our meetings..

A boy carries out suggestions more wholeheartedly when he understands their aim.

Robert Baden-Powell

Give each boy individual attention.

Use each boy’s name a lot. Children crave attention and, the last time I priced it, attention was an inexpensive commodity.

Build a team.

Build pride in your den. Use lots of standard team building gimmicks like den flags, doodles, cheers, secret codes etc.
Uniform inspections instill pride in appearance and this spills over to pride in conduct.


Give each boy a chance to lead or star. There are opportunities in each of the boys’ books for leadership roles. Use them in your den programs. Skits and ceremonies at pack meetings give boys opportunities to stand out. Make sure that each of your boys gets these chances. Use the denner, change denners regularly.

For several years I was a range master (bb-guns and archery) at one of our Cub Scout day camps and other council run activities. I estimate the well over a thousand boys went through my purview.

Now misbehavior cannot be permitted on a shooting range. There is zero tolerance for disobeying the rules. The consequences of misbehavior are just too extreme. My approach to discipline relied heavily on the first three of those six essentials. I had too little time with each group to develop and use the other three methods.


Shooting bb-guns or arrows seems to captivate boys’ attention. I don’t know why this is so but it works. We made sure our equipment was ready and visible. Targets were up and that the boys knew it as they entered the range.


I insisted on respect for the Cub Scout sign. We can’t begin shooting if you don’t pay attention. I adopted a new persona – Big Bad Bill, the Rangemaster. The kids loved calling me by my title even though some parents disapproved.


Range rules are pretty much the same at every Scout camp but I made sure that they knew the reasons for each one. For example: why does everyone have to get permission from me to enter or leave the range? Because we can’t shoot if I even think that someone is missing and could possibly be down range.

Yet of all these boys – many brand new Tigers – I had only one near case of misbehavior. He was a very young Cub Scout who had pinched his finger in the lever action of the bb-gun. He was lying on his mat in obvious pain still holding onto his gun with his good hand. One of his leaders called to me that she had some ice in their cooler and to bring him over to where she was. The boy refused to get up or to let go of the gun no matter what I did.

Finally through his tears he told me that he hadn’t put the gun on safety and Big Bad Bill had told him never to leave a gun unless the safety was on. Once we got that straightened out we got everything fixed up and ten minutes later he was back on the firing line plinking away at targets.

Finally, here is a list of positive statements from both Indian Nation and Orange County Councils.

I like you!                       I can tell you really worked on this.

Way to go!                    I'm glad you're here today!

Sensational!!                 I'm glad you're in my den!

That's right!                  That was the best ever!

Super!                             I thought of you during the week.

Great!                              You must have been practicing.

Nice job!                         You figured that out fast.

Fantastic!                         I knew you could do it!

Outstanding!                   Now you've got the hang of it.

I'm proud of you!           You're really sharp today!

Good thinking!               I like the way you did that.

WOW!                            Thank you for helping.

I think you're neat!       Cool!

I'm glad you thought of that.

You are a good listener.

You're on the right track now.

Use them liberally at every meeting.

What are YOU going to do now?

    The best gift for a Cub Scout.......
                                     ......get his parents involved!

ü  Also, be sure to visit Bill’s website

to finds more ideas on everything Cub Scouting.

Have any Comments for Bill
just click right here!


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