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Compete with Scouting December 25, 2008

Posted by thetrainerscorner in Uncategorized.
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Hello fellow Scouters,

I hope you all had a great Christmas. As Scout leaders, we are in a competition – we are competing with finishlineother youth programs for the increasingly divided time of parents and children. This is not news, as we deal with this all the time. Since this is the time of New Year resolutions, here is one to consider: Let’s face this challenge head-on by making the Scouting program we oversee the most fun we can this coming year.

Those of us in private industry understand competition. It’s a challenge we face every day. Other companies court our customers. They can make more technologically innovating products. They can make cheaper products. But competition brings out the best in a company. A company cannot rest. It must continue to innovate, look for efficiencies, and open up new doors in sales. And we as Scouters can learn from this – competition can make our programs better. We can face the challenge of other youth programs head-on by making the great program provided by the Boy Scouts of America the most fun event that your boys will have in a week. Our goal is for little Johnny to say “I can’t wait for Tuesday to get to the den meeting!”

Here are some suggestions to help:

Games – every meeting should have a fun game. Don’t sacrifice game for the advancements. It’s important to work towards the ranks, but it can’t be the end all – rank advancement is a method of Scouting, not a purpose. There might be times when you, gasp!, only have time for a game. And that’s OK (provided it’s not every meeting). As I have said before, plan your meeting around a game; don’t plan a game for your meeting.

Advancements – we don’t want to go too fast towards completion of a rank, but we don’t want to go too slow either. So work at a pace so the boys will understand what they are working on, but won’t grow bored. And consider the mind of the boys we have. If a requirement would seem slow or boring to your Scouts, and you can’t figure out a way to liven it up, then either skip it or have the parents do it at home.

Just say “No” to lectures – always take the requirements and make them fun and interesting. Don’t ever make it a lecture. The boys shouldn’t be sitting down and listen to us speak. If there is a time where a requirement asks us to discuss something, then have a box of cookies to pass around while we discuss. And make the lecture’s time end by the time the cookies have made it to the end of the group. And make it an interactive time where they are discussing and asking questions (and munching on cookies).

Outings – get outside of the meeting place. Have den outings. Have Webelos den campouts. Go hiking. We can have outings that don’t meet a requirement in the book, but are just fun and interesting place to see. Go places. See things.

Don’t do it alone – if we have a den of 8, then we have 7 other parents who can assist us. Don’t be afraid to delegate and ask for help. Learn to take your program and give out pieces of it so you aren’t running the whole show. The Tiger program has the shared leadership function, where every parent is supposed to be a leader. We often make the mistake when we become Wolf scouts by having one or two leaders take over and do it all, with the parents moved to the sidelines in a spectator role. Consider assigning tasks to parents. Have parents rotate bringing a game or craft to the meeting. Have a parent in charge of tour permits. Have a parent scout interesting places for outings. Creating a fun program can take work, and it’s best to share the load.

Get a Den Chief – our Scouts will always look up to an older boy. A Den Chief can be a great addition to the team. He can help in games or crafts, and he will serve as a good role model for the boys.

So as Scout leaders, our charge is to Keep It Simple, Make It Fun. Competition is not a threat to our programs, it’s an opportunity to make our programs better! It’s okay if our boys are in sports and other activities. If our Scouting program is fun, they will stay because they don’t want to leave.

(This is written primarily for Cub Scout den meetings, but can be applied to pack meetings and outings.)

How are you attacking the challenge of divided interests? Please leave what you do to make your program fun in the comments section.

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><


Webelos to Scout Transition – Part 3 November 12, 2008

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Hello fellow Scouters,

This is part 3 in my take on Webelos to Scout transition, this time dealing with the patrol method of scouting. In Boy Scouts, the patrol method is used to teach the boys to work as a team, sharing responsibilities to help achieve success for the patrol. Webelos are not a patrol, they are still a den. But in looking to prepare my den for Boy Scouts, I have incorporated the following ideas from the patrol method.

Identity – at the end of our Bear year, the boys, not me, selected the fox1patrol name and patch they would use as Webelos. A leader in our unit a few years back that chose the name himself, and he missed a great opportunity to let the boys have a say in how the den is run. My den chose the fox patch. As with Boy Scouts, they get to be creative with their name in our pack, so they chose to call themselves the “Cool Foxes”. I even found a stuffed fox on-line that looks like the patrol patch fox! He’s our mascot. Here’s a link to the different patrol patches: http://www.boyscouttrail.com/patrol-patch.aspflag

Flag – for our flag, I made a flag that looks like the patrol patch they chose. Knowing someone that sews is such a great thing! In hindsight, this might have been a good project to have the boys do, maybe over the summer after we became Webelos.

Patrol Yell – I had the boys come up with a patrol yell, which they wrote at our first campout as Webelos. It’s not fancy but it’s something they created.

Leadership – if you are not using the denner / assistant denner by the time you are Webelos, you need to. It’s an outstanding way to start teaching leadership. Our denner is in charge of opening and closing ceremonies. Now that we are second year Webelos, I tell the boys that I shouldn’t be involved in the opening or closing ceremonies (I am there to help, though). The denner gets other tasks as well throughout his term.

Campout Planning – at the start of our second year as Webelos this past September, we had 4 campout opportunities in the fall: Two in October and two in November. Since I want to only have one a month, I could have chosen one each month and put it on the calendar. But this is a great opportunity to let the boys start choosing what they want to do, as the will be doing in Boy Scouts. So we sat down and voted on which campouts we would go to as a den. They chose one troop/den campout and last weekend’s council-wide Webelos Woods campout.

Cooking/Meal Planning – after becoming Webelos, whenever we have a campout (either den or pack campouts), we use the patrol method for handling meals. The den meeting before the campout the boys choose the menu and set up the duty roster, so all get an opportunity to cook and clean up (and learn the painful lesson that cooks eat last). For meals I pull the boys away from their parents and we cook, eat, and clean up as a group. They will be doing this as Boy Scouts, so hopefully this will get them ready for this aspect of camping.

Tent Sharing – with my older son’s den a few years back, I never had the boys leave their parent’s tent. When we had our first troop/Webelos campout, and the troop ask the boys to form patrols and share tents with another Webelos scout away from their parents, one of the boys in that den freaked out. He had never been away from his parents. It was a lesson to me, with my current den, to try to get the boys out of their parent’s tent, in preparation for Boy Scouts (with the parents permission). We started with our first year as Webelos. We had the Webelos share a tent with each other at a campout, with the parents tenting nearby. One boy couldn’t make it through the night and went to his dad’s tent, which was OK. We keep doing it so they can get over the fear of not being with their parent. I don’t want their first campout in Boy Scouts to have to deal with this.

[A couple of reminders are in order here. You cannot take your den camping until they become Webelos. Before that, you can only go to pack and council campouts. And Webelos camping is still parent-son camping, so a parent needs to attend. And a Webelos can never sleep in a tent of another parent – only his own parent or legal guardian].

These are some of the ways I’ve tried to introduce the patrol method of Boy Scouting to my Webelos den. The hope is that all this will ease their transition into Boy Scouting. If you have any ideas to bring the patrol method into a Webelos den, please post them in the comments. We’d love to hear what you’ve done to get your Webelos ready for Boy Scouts.

In Scouting,

-Scouter Jeff <><