What the New York Times Could Learn About the Boy Scouts

What the New York Times Could Learn About the Boy Scouts

In the days since the Boy Scouts announced that they were going to allow Cub Scout packs to form dens for girls, a lot of misinformation has been coming out about the Boy Scout program. For example, I came across an article by Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times, Things Boys Could Learn at Girl Scouts. It’s well-meaning but misses what the Boy Scout program actually is, and what it does.

I’m not in any way putting down the Girl Scout program, which has been successfully helping girls develop into the best women they can be for over a century – but the Boy Scout program already covers pretty much everything she says it should cover – it just does it using different vocabulary. It’s not that boys shouldn’t learn the skills she’s talking about (they should) – it’s that they already do.

So I thought I’d go point-by-point, and show how the Boy Scout program already covers these topics.

I’ll start with this:

“Some Girl Scout badges promote stereotypical notions of femininity. Many are about helping others. Even the flowers badge asks girls to “find out how flowers help people.” There’s also a focus on appearance. The independence badge, for “striding down your path to changing the world,” includes learning how to “make your clothes look great.” The “eating for you” badge — recently called “eating for beauty” — emphasizes how nutrition helps with “smooth skin, shiny hair and strong nails.”

The Scout Law for each group includes similar virtues, like being honest, helpful and friendly. But girls might be better off, too, if more boys earned badges like those from the Girl Scouts for respect and fair play, and for taking responsibility for their actions, not to mention babysitting and making dinner. In that spirit, here are 10 Girl Scout badges that might benefit Boy Scouts:

Are we to assume that she thinks Boy Scout badges don’t include helping others? Who does she think First Aid will be performed on? The mention that the Scout Oath implores Scouts to “Help other people at all times” didn’t come up in her research? How did she miss the fact that Boy Scouts must complete service hours and help others to complete every rank

 

Babysitter

Most of the fastest-growing jobs, like those for health aides and physical therapists, involve caring for others, so boys would benefit from learning these skills. Researchers say caring for younger children or pets is a good way to do so (both groups have pet badges.) Even in two-income families, women still do more child care, another reason to teach boys early.

So the fact that Boy Scouts have a First Aid merit badge didn’t come up in her research? It’s the most-earned merit badge, and it involves caring for others. Somehow Family Life Merit Badge didn’t come up on the radar. She’s put a picture of it in the article, why not Google the requirements? I’m sorry, but “Discuss the following with your counselor your understanding of what makes an effective father and why, and your thoughts on the father’s role in the family” seems relevant to me.

And this is to say nothing of the leadership opportunities that Boy Scouts get in working as a Den Chief – helping out with a den of younger boys. Leading and taking care of others is a requirement for the highest ranks in Scouting.

 

Simple Meals

Women, on average, spend more than twice as much time as men each day preparing food and cleaning up afterward, according to the American Time Use Survey. But everyone needs to eat. The Boy Scouts recently made a badge for cooking a requirement of the Eagle Scout rank.

Um… Cooking Merit Badge was one of the original 57 Merit Badges created by the Boy Scouts in 1911.  It goes over the preparation of simple meals, and more complex ones. It also involves shopping for groceries. That this is somehow missed in her research is unforgivable. Really, how did she miss “Cooking” on the list? It’s the 3rd-most earned merit badge.

Meanwhile, there are cooking requirements for the Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class Ranks. For some reason, the fact that Boy Scouts are in most cases expected to prepare their own meals, and clean up after themselves on most campouts also doesn’t merit mention. And this is to say nothing at all of the cooking requirements for Bear Cub Scouts.

Really, would boys would be benefitted by changing the name of the badge from Cooking to Simple Meals?

I don’t get it.

 

Scribe

“Words are powerful tools,” this badge’s instructions say. “Just writing down your feelings actually makes you feel better!” Girls are taught to have a larger emotional vocabulary than boys. As a result, many boys end up suppressing their emotions or letting them out in destructive ways, researchers say.

Obviously, words are powerful tools. But somehow the fact that the Boy Scouts have multiple writing merit badges eluded her? From Communications to Journalism (how was this one missed by a newspaper writer?) to Movie Making, Theater (where Scouts are required to write a one-act play), and Public Speaking (where writing and delivering a five-minute speech is required.) – Boy Scouts have to do some writing.

As to an emotional vocabulary, and how to deal with emotions, this is again, one of the pillars of the Boy Scout program.

 

Coaching

This badge requires Girl Scouts to “motivate a team to accomplish its goals.” Teamwork is one of the most important skills in the modern economy. Jobs requiring social skills, like lawyer, nurse and financial manager, have grown much more than those that don’t, like machine operator and welder, research shows. Teamwork is a core part of Boy Scout activities too.

Somehow the Patrol Method has eluded our author? That providing leadership to others is also a requirement for Star, Life, and Eagle has also slipped by her observations? Somehow the rather elaborate series of leadership courses that older Scouts are encouraged to complete is also missing. Not a word about National Youth Leadership Training, which includes a lot of coaching training.

Of course, if “teamwork is a core part of Boy Scout activities,” then why does she list it as a thing the Boy Scouts “could benefit from?”

 

Making Friends

Another badge focuses on social skills, this one for Girl Scouts who “show friends you care” and “learn how to disagree” — skills that would surely be useful for boys in their personal lives and their jobs.

Friendly is the fourth point of the Scout Law – which the boys repeat at the beginning of every meeting. Courteous? Kind? Nothing about the Buddy System? Again, it’s not so much that she’s getting things wrong about the Girl Scouts, but rather, wasting a lot of people’s time in imploring the Boy Scouts to do things they’re already doing, and have been doing for over a century.

Yes, making friends is a useful skill for boys to learn in their personal lives and in their jobs. But the BSA has been teaching these skills to boys since William Howard Taft was President. Parents bring have been bringing their boys to Cub Scouts to develop their social skills since 1930.

 

My Great Day

“Life is more fun when it’s running smoothly,” this badge’s instructions say. “Try out some great ways to get organized.” These include sorting, planning and doing homework. Schools reward skills like being organized, waiting one’s turn and following directions. Girls seem to develop self-control earlier, which might be one reason boys have more discipline problems and lower grades in school.

The entire Cub Scout program is dedicated to developing self-control. Has she not heard of the Cub Scout sign? Has “A Scout is Obedient” not come up in her reading?

As to organization, the Boy Scout program teaches this naturally. If you’re going to live in a self-sustaining manner out of a backpack over the course of let’s say, a 50-miler, you’re going to need to develop an organizational system that works for you.

Again, has the Boy Scout Motto, “Be Prepared” not come up in her research?

As to discipline problems, boys and girls learn differently. Girls, as it turns out, are better at younger ages at sitting still for long periods of time. Boys need to move around. This has a lot to do with what schools consider “discipline problems.” These same boys don’t tend to have those problems at their Scout meetings, where they’re allowed to move around. The American educational system is failing our boys and could stand to learn a lot from the Boy Scouts in how to work with boys and young men.

Shop Campmor for Your Quickest Link to the Outdoors

Respect Myself and Others

Respect for others is at the root of many problems today, whether political polarization or sexual harassment. Teaching it to children seems at least as important as woodworking and archery. The Girl Scouts start in kindergarten: It’s a petal badge, for daisies, who are the youngest members.

Is this supposed to suggest that the Cub Scout program doesn’t teach respect for others? The Boy Scout program is a character-building organization, that sometimes does woodworking and archery, not the other way around. These activities are a means to an end. The word reverent is a synonym for respectful, and “Respectful Relationships” is one of the 10 purposes of Cub Scouting.

Getting back to self-control – that’s one of the main reasons that Boy Scouts work on archery. You cannot be an effective archer without self-control. You need to learn to follow the rules of the range. The level of self-control eventually gets to the fact that in order to be an effective archer, you even need to be able to control your breathing.

 

Responsible for What I Say and Do

Boys tend to have more discipline problems, but the problem, according to educators and researchers, comes when people dismiss them with the excuse that boys will be boys. Taking responsibility for their actions — another petal badge, for kindergarteners and first graders — is a valuable skill for children of either sex. The Boy Scouts emphasize ethical and moral choices in their mission statement.

What was the point of including this one? She admits that the Boy Scouts emphasizes ethical and moral choices – so why include this badge? Boys in the Boy Scout program have fewer discipline problems than other boys, so they’re actually pretty successful in this.

 

Fair Play

This badge is for Girl Scouts who learn to “include everyone” and to “be part of a team,” with the idea that “everyone follows the same rules.” Research has shown that one reason women stall before reaching positions of power is that institutions aren’t inclusive. People tend to hire and promote others who look like them. When women offer ideas, they are often interrupted or considered to be too aggressive.

What does this have to do with the Boy Scouts… at all? The idea that fair play isn’t taught in the Boy Scouts is nonsensical. Sports Merit Badge is all about fair play, as demonstrated in requirement 3d, “Discuss … The attributes (qualities) of a good sport, the importance of sportsmanship, and the traits of a good team leader and player who exhibits Scout spirit on and off the playing field.”

As to interrupting others while speaking, a Scout is Courteous would seem to cover that.

 

Finding Common Ground

The requirements for this badge include “get to know someone different from you,” “make decisions in a group” and “explore civil debate.” The Boy Scouts have citizenship badges that include attending a city council meeting and learning how to express differences of opinion. Often people’s biases are unconscious, researchers have found, so practicing treating others with openness and civility — for both genders — is bound to help.

This is covered by multiple Merit Badges and in the Scout Oath and Law. It’s also a big part of the Patrol Method. I’d also suggest that some unconscious biases are at work in this article.

Is she suggesting that boys in the Boy Scout program aren’t taught to treat people of both genders with civility?

There probably are things the Girl Scouts do that the Boy Scouts could incorporate into their program – I’ve never been involved with the Girl Scout program, so I don’t know. But I don’t see those things here.

I think Clair Cain Miller is well-meaning – but the crux of her article would seem to be that the Boy Scouts have different titles for their merit badges. They teach some of the same skills in different ways.  I’d like to encourage her to get to know the BSA’s programs a little better. I think she’d like them.

 

Note: I’m going to cover the addition of Girls to the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs in a podcast later this week. I’ve been sick, and my voice isn’t back to 100% yet. Thanks for your patience.

 

Photo by alextorrenegra

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting, 0 comments
New Cub Scout Leader Survival Guide

New Cub Scout Leader Survival Guide

Step One: Attitude

So, you’re a new Cub Scout leader. Are you ready to have fun? Do you care about providing a great program for the kids in your charge?

You can have the worst day at work, but you’ve got to let all of that go before your Cub Scout meeting. Let the excitement these kids feel infect you. Remember that they’ve been looking forward to the fun they know they’re going to have at your meeting all day, and probably all week. If they were having a bad day at school, they were probably thinking that “at least I’ve got my fun meeting to look forward to tonight!”

Remember, it’s really important to let the kids see you having fun. Let yourself be a big kid, and be the best kind of big kid – be the one setting the great example. Remember that it’s a privilege to get to spend time with these kids as they develop. You get to be a part of their development and make a positive impact there. This isn’t something you have to do – it’s something you get to do.

The right attitude is everything. Come to the meeting with a smile on your face, and you’re already ahead of the game.

 

Step Two: Know your Resources

When you’re starting out, it can be pretty easy to feel like your plate is overflowing, and that you’re all alone. You’re not. There are a lot of some pretty good resources to help you as a new Cub Scout leader.

First, get the Den Leader Guide for your position. You can go to your local Scout Shop to pick up a paper copy or download the Kindle version from Amazon for Tigers, Bears, Wolves, or Webelos.  This is the program you’ll be doing with the boys. You’ll get a detailed syllabus for each meeting. You don’t have to create the program from scratch. It’s all written out for you. If you follow the plan, you’ll do great.

The Guide to Safe Scouting – what can you do, and what can you not do with scouts at each age level.

My.Scouting.org – where you go to take online training. Start with Youth Protection Training, then go on to the training for your position. Take as much as you can. Make sure you’ve entered your BSA registration number in order to get credit for taking the classes. For a list of all the training courses that are required for you to be considered “trained”, click here.

Get to know your council’s website. There’s good information there about who to call (see below), where you can find your local Scout Shop and a calendar of events. You’ll also be able to find information on Summer Camp, and a whole lot more. Bookmark it.

Your registration as an adult leader comes with a subscription to Scouting Magazine. Read it from time to time, there are some really good ideas in there. Also, check out the Bryan on Scouting blog, which does a really good job clarifying Scouting policies and programs.

 

Step Three: Find Your Support People

Scouting is inherently a bottom-up operation. Everybody “over” you in the organizational structure is there to support the direct contact leadership – which is to say, the people working with kids all the time.

No matter what position you’re serving in, there’s always someone you can call if you need help. Here’s a quick overview of your support structure.

Your pack is owned and operated by a “chartering organization“, could be a church, Lions Club, Rotary Club, American Legion, or some other group that “shares values” with the Boy Scouts of America. They sign a contract every year with the BSA to provide the Scouting program. The chartering organization has a representative that approves all the leadership in the pack, and they’re the ones who are the ultimate authority in the pack.

Internally, the pack is led by a committee chair, who leads the committee, which is there to support the program leaders in the pack. They’re in charge of making sure all the paperwork gets done, advancements get submitted, fundraising gets done, money gets spent correctly, and that all the dens have trained leaders.

The District and Council

Your pack is part of a District, which again, is there to support your unit in a myriad of ways. They hold a monthly meeting called a “Roundtable” which is where they disseminate information, make announcements, and more importantly, answer your questions. They generally also hold some form of supplemental training. It’s also a great place to meet other Cub Scout leaders in your area, and for you to share ideas.

Your District also has volunteers in charge of making sure trainings are offered and staffed. They have people in charge of helping sure packs with advancement. There are people in charge of running big multi-unit program events, like Camporees, or District-Pinewood Derbies.

You’ve also got volunteers in the district who are there for the specific purpose of helping units succeed and helping them solve their individual problems. These people are called “commissioners”, and your unit should have what is called a “Unit Commissioner.” There is also a professional full-time (sometimes 60 hours a week) person called a District Executive who advises all the volunteers in the District.

Your district is part of a Council. Each of the district positions has a corresponding council position to support the districts.

Don’t be afraid to call your council office for guidance. That’s what they’re there for. Please be patient with them, as they get a lot of calls from people wanting help, just like you.

Step Four: Learn Some New Cub Scout Leader Basics

Use the Scout Sign.

As loud as you can be, you’re probably not going to be able to get louder than a room full of Cub Scouts, and even if you could, it’s not really a good idea. So don’t try to “Out-Loud” them. Start by teaching the boys what it means – use the Akela story of the wolf, and tell them that the lead wolf raises his ears when he sees food, fun, or danger and that you’re going to raise your “ears” for the same reasons. They’ll respond to that if you explain what it means.

cub scout sign photo

The Cub Scout sign is a lifesaver. Photo by m_sabal

Nobody wants to miss out on fun or food, and they do want you to keep them safe.

So, the next time they get loud and you need their attention, just use your scout sign, and do so silently. Never say the words, “signs up”. It defeats the purpose. Just raise your hand, and give your sign, and wait. It may take a few minutes the first time, but they’ll get better with time if you have discipline and don’t give in to the temptation to get loud yourself. Eventually, they’ll start policing themselves.

 

Learn Names as Fast as Possible

There’s a power for a new Cub Scout leader in learning the kids’ names. For one thing, it makes them accountable if they’re doing something wrong, but more importantly, it shows that you’re taking an interest. If you need name tags, get name tags. If you need to play team building games, play them.

But get to know the kids in your den. Then get to know them as people. What do they like doing? What makes them laugh? How do they like to learn? What are they good at, and what do they struggle with?

Get to know the parents of the kids in your den. These are potential resources to help you. They’re also potential leaders in the future. As with anything, many hands make light work, and it’s going to be much easier for you to ask for help if you’ve built a relationship with these parents, and much easier for them to say yes if they trust you and like you. You’ll find out what the parents in your den are good at, what they’re interested in, and eventually, you can start using those skills to provide a better program for the kids.

 

Be Patient

Don’t expect your Tiger Den to act like anything other than 6-year-olds. They’re going to be cute, but also crazy-making. They’re going to have short attention spans, and they’re not going to be emotionally mature. There may be tears if they don’t get their way. They’re going to bump into each other, and maybe you, and the furniture. It’s what 6-year-olds do.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t correct this behavior. Just don’t take it personally, and don’t let it drive you nuts. And when they get silly, appreciate it. It’s a good thing.

Meet them at their Level

People tend to talk down to kids, both literally and figuratively. Don’t do either of those things. Don’t speak to them like they’re foolish. They’re not; they’re just small people who haven’t learned what you’ve learned, so speak to them with respect.

And try not to tower over them. If you’re teaching a skill, don’t be afraid to sit on the floor, and look up at them. It changes their perspective and changes the dynamic. It lets them see you as a friend and an equal, rather than someone talking down to them.

Don’t lecture at them. They get enough of that at school. But rather, have conversations with them.

 

And always Keep it Fun

Have some filler games and activities. Teach them some quick silly songs. Have a smile on your face, and remember that if the boys are having fun, they’ll learn more, and keep coming back to your meetings. And if they’re not having fun, you’re going to lose them.

 

Most of All, Thank You

It’s people like you, stepping up, giving up your time, and putting in the effort, that we have great programs for our kids. These programs are needed now more than ever. So I thank you for what you’re doing.

 

Featured Photo by woodleywonderworks

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting, Volunteering, 0 comments
Cub Scout October Recruiting Checklist

Cub Scout October Recruiting Checklist

It’s now October. Can you believe it? The leaves are starting to fall, and there’s a chill in the air (in some places.) The first round of Cub Scout recruiting is over. Perhaps your pack hit that jackpot. Maybe you struggled. In either case, here are some October recruiting tips to help you reach as many families as possible this fall, and grow your pack.

 

Get Joining Night 2 on the Calendar

It’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged for you to have another joining night, or at least, to do a round of flyers for your October pack meeting. I may be wrong, but it’s a pretty safe bet that your council would love nothing more than to print another round of joining night flyers for you. Council’s generally have a reserve of recruiting supplies set aside for second round recruiting.


 

Hit the Soccer Fields

The one nice thing about kids in soccer is that you know their parents are willing to sign them up for activities and are willing to take them to those activities on a regular basis. The other nice thing is soccer tends to be seasonal, and in many places, is winding down right about now. So have a plan to work the sidelines at the last few youth soccer games of the season. I vividly remember the Cubmaster of Pack 171 in Presque Isle, Maine using this strategy masterfully to grow the numbers in her pack each fall.

Aside that has nothing to do with recruiting. I think soccer is much more entertaining the younger the players are. In college, I covered both soccer teams, and it wasn’t nearly as entertaining as watching a herd of five-year-olds running after the ball, and falling over randomly. Just my opinion.

 

Trick-or-Treat!

As opposed to the rest of the year, when you’re going to have to go out and hit the bricks to get to your audience, at Halloween, your target audience will literally knock on your door. Why not give the families in your pack some business cards with your pack’s information on it to hand to trick-or-treaters this Halloween?

Of course, you want to make sure that the people giving out the cards 1. look and act friendly, and 2. have really, really good candy to go along with the cards.

It’s always good to associate your message with someone else’s happy experience, and for kids, getting candy is a pretty happy experience.

Do That Boy Talk

Doing an in-school recruiting talk will on average, triple the number of families you’ll recruit. If you didn’t get a Boy Talk done before your first recruiting night, now would be a good time. Schools are into the flow of the year,

The biggest reason that Boy Talks don’t get scheduled is that people don’t ask. And I’ve found I’ve always had much more success asking in person. Put the phone down, get in the car, drop by the school between 3 and 4 pm, and ask the principal if there would be a good time for you to come in at lunch

For a lot more on Boy Talks, click here.

 

Go to Church

If you’ve already gone to every church in your service area, then I suppose you can skip this one. But most packs never get around to actually doing this. They usually get their chartering organization but miss the other houses of worship in their area.

Take the time to make a list of all the religious organizations in your area, and assign someone from your pack to reach out to them. Find all the churches, synagogues, parishes, mosques, etc. in your area, and make contact with them. Go to their website, send them an email, call them on the phone, visit their office hours, or even visit one of their weekly services – but make contact!

When I was starting a pack in tiny Monticello, Maine, the only way to make contact with the church in town was to go to church on Sunday.

What you want is for them to put an announcement about your pack in their weekly bulletin. Maybe something on their Facebook page, and perhaps a poster in their children’s area. Getting a pastor or rabbi to talk about scouting from the pulpit is a home run every time.

 

Day Cares and After-School Programs

These are big ones to hit, especially if you’ve got school access issues. They tend to be pretty welcoming, and will just about always let you do flyers. Better yet, see if they’ll let you come in and talk to the kids. You could even offer to come in and do some program for the kids. Maybe some nature program, maybe some knots, or maybe a craft. If you can provide some value for them, your odds will improve.

 

 

Move those Yard Signs

If your signs have been in the same place for a month, it’s likely that everyone who was going to see them there has seen them. So go get them, and put them in other high-traffic areas in your town.

 

You Have to Ask

Remember that the biggest reason that people don’t join Cub Scouts is that nobody asked them to. And getting a flyer is not an ask. A flyer is a reminder, not an invitation. October is a great time to invite families to join your pack.

Good luck!

 

 

Photo by makelessnoise

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting, 0 comments
5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Scout Popcorn

5 Reasons Why You Should Buy Scout Popcorn

It’s fall again. The kids are back in school and all over America, you’ll find Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts set up in front of grocery stores, hardware shops, and restaurants, selling popcorn. You may also find them going door to door with a wagon full of popcorn behind them. Not only is this a vital fundraiser for these local scouting units and councils, but it’s a  So here are five reasons you should buy scout popcorn this fall.

1. When You Buy Scout Popcorn, You Fund Life-Changing Program

Whether it be earning their way to Scout Camp, funding the purchase of needed program supplies for their pack, or pay for that high adventure trek – the programs that scouts receive change their lives for the better.Whether it be making them more likely to go to college, get a better job, or be a contributor to their community – the Scouting program teaches young men to be leaders. It teaches them to set goals, and reach those goals. Best yet, they’re learning to pay their own way.

They’ll learn a wide variety of skills that will last them the rest of their lives. For starters, they’ll learn to cook their own meals and clean up after themselves. They’ll also explore careers and hobbies through their advancement programs. And they’ll learn to remain calm in an emergency. Our scouts save lives.

And above that, they’ll learn values. They’ll learn the value of reflecting on ideals, like those presented in the Scout Oath and Law. They’ll learn the importance of making the right ethical choices. The scouting program teaches kids the benefits of helping others, doing their best, and working as a team.

Because that’s what you’re getting when you buy Scout Popcorn. What other snack-food purchase could possibly give you all of those benefits?

 

2. You’ll Help Them Learn Salesmanship

buy scout popcorn

How can you say no to this face? Photo by shawncampbell

Salesmanship is one of the most important skills we can learn in our lives. We’re selling our whole lives. At some point, selling became a dirty word, but at its base, it’s just using the power of your words to convince another person that something we have will help them.

On a job interview, we’re trying to convince a potential employer that hiring us will benefit their company – even if that job has nothing at all to do with sales.

It’s hard to ask someone we don’t know to do… anything. But it’s a skill that we all need to develop in order to be successful in life. And interacting with you in a positive way, even if you don’t buy anything, is giving them a valuable learning experience. Of course, if you do decide to buy something, all the better.

Feel free to ask them questions about what they’re selling. Ask them what their favorite flavor is. Maybe also take a minute or two to ask them what they like most about Scouting.

The exercise of developing their sales pitch, giving you the benefits of buying, addressing your concerns, and talking to you in an open and friendly manner will help them build this valuable skill.

3. You’ll Help Them Build Confidence

The fear of rejection can be a tremendous limiting factor in our lives. It can hold us back and prevent us from reaching our fullest potential. The biggest part of accomplishing anything worthwhile in your life is the belief that you can. The idea that someone will buy what you’re selling is a tremendous confidence booster.

And if that someone isn’t mom or dad, or an aunt or an uncle, but someone they’ve never met, it’s all that much more powerful. This mom’s Facebook comment says it all.

You being friendly makes a huge difference. Your friendliness in talking to a young scout can help him to overcome shyness, help get him out of his shell, and help him build confidence. For me, that’s the best part of buying popcorn from a scout. Even better than the product itself.

4. You’ll Help Spread Scouting to More Families

In order for a child to benefit from the scouting program, they first have to join the program. They need to be recruited into the program and have that program run by the highest quality, best-trained leaders available. When you buy scout popcorn, a portion of the proceeds goes to support local Scout councils, whose job this is. They, in turn, provide support in starting new scouting units and recruiting new scouts into the program. In addition, they also provide financial assistance to ensure that no child is denied the scouting program because of a families financial need.

They also train leaders to make sure that scouts get a safe, exciting, quality program.

 

5. And oh yeah, You’ll Get a Great Product

As I’m writing this, I’m enjoying a bag of caramel corn that my wife bought from a Cub Scout selling in front of our local Target this weekend. I like it. You will too.

Posted by Mike Cooney in Fundraising, Grow Your Group, Scouting, 2 comments
Ep. 10 – She Started a Kazakhstan Cub Scout Pack

Ep. 10 – She Started a Kazakhstan Cub Scout Pack

Suzanna El Mogazi was a Girl Scout as a youth and signed her son up for Pack 424 in Katy, Texas as a Tiger as soon as he was old enough. The pack needed a second Tiger leader badly so she stepped up. It was terrifying but wound up being the greatest thing ever. She led nine boys for Tigers and Wolves. This past summer her family moved to Atyrau, Kazakhstan for her husband’s work. Their compound had Girl Scouts established but no Cub Scouts. For that matter, there was no Kazakhstan Cub Scout pack at all for her son to join.

So with the help of the Transatlantic Council, and the Dostyk American International School, Susanna started a new Cub Scout pack – Pack 88 in Atyrau, Kazakhstan.

Now she leads the Bear den of 6 boys and is also the Cubmaster. We talked for about 40 minutes, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. It’s a great conversation where we covered

Resources Mentioned

William D. Boyce New Unit Award (includes directions for starting a new unit)

How You Can Support the Show


Episode 9 – Round Two Cub Scout Recruiting

Episode 9 – Round Two Cub Scout Recruiting

If at first you don’t succeed, and you don’t get as many kids as you should at your first recruiting night, then it’s time for Round Two Cub Scout recruiting. In this solo episode, I go over how you know if you’re serving as many kids as you should in your pack, some of the things that can go wrong in the initial phase of recruiting, and some things you can do to fix them.

 

Episodes Referenced

Episode 7 – Cub Scout Recruiting with Matt Ghirarda

 

Articles Referenced

Doing a School Recruiting Talk

23 Places to Hang Flyers

Cub Scout Recruiting 30 Day Rule

 

 

Round Two Cub Scout Recruiting Resource Referenced

Cub Scout Bring-A-Buddy Cards

 

Website Mentioned

Nextdoor.com

 

Support the Show

Shop on Amazon

Make a Donation on Patreon

Photo by woodleywonderworks

How to Tie Balloon Animals for Cub Scouts

How to Tie Balloon Animals for Cub Scouts

I think it’s a basic tenet of the universe that everyone loves balloon animals. A few weeks back my wife and I took our two small children to their favorite ice cream shop. They were having a classic car show, with live music and a guy making balloon animals. A nice man on stilts made balloon dogs for each of my kids. We warned the kids that these balloons wouldn’t last forever.

They absolutely loved them. These were, for a little while, the most adored toys they’d ever owned. My four-year-old son named his. He called it Chase, after his favorite Paw Patrol character.

We were in the car on our way home when it happened…

Somehow, our dear son managed to untie the knot on his new favorite toy. I couldn’t read him to stop it. So I watched in slow motion as the air slowly left the balloon. It was like a scene out of a movie. I watched my son’s face go from joy to despair by stages, as the air left each section of the dog… in stages. It was absolutely heartbreaking.

My foray into Balloon Animals

When we got home, I found out that you can’t reinflate a balloon animal with just your lungs. I also discovered that you can’t do so with the pump for our air mattress. I even tried our son’s Penguin nebulizer. No dice.

It was about this time that our two-year-old daughter managed to pop her balloon dog.

Somewhere in the house, we have an air compressor for refilling the tires on the car. But I couldn’t find it. My darling wife volunteered to go to the grocery store to get the kids a couple of helium birthday balloons, which distracted them. Soon the balloon dogs were forgotten.

A few weeks later, my wife was stopping by a local store, and she found an air pump for four bucks on the discount rack. That evening, I tried to re-inflate and resuscitate my son’s poor balloon dog (now in truth, just an empty balloon.) I blew up the balloon, and then went online to find the instructions, which told me to not to inflate the balloon fully. I couldn’t get the knot untied (I suppose I should have waited for my son for that bit.)

This led to the explosion of the balloon after the fourth twist. I did recreate the dog’s head. But on the fourth twist, the balloon gave way and shot across the room.

I immediately went to Amazon and bought 100 modeling balloons. You’re also going to need a pump.

It took me a little while to get the hang of it. My first few dogs lacked ears. A few more of them shot across the room as they exploded. My son was starting to find the humor in this, and it wasn’t too long before he started enjoying the pops as much as he did the balloon dogs.

But eventually, following the instructions on the video below, I was able to get them made.

And my kids loved them… for about an hour. That was enough for me.




Scouting Uses for Balloon Animals

Obviously, there’s a Balloon Dog activity in the Grin and Bear It Adventure for your Bears. But I can imagine many other uses for this particular new skill.

Having done many school recruiting talks over the years, I can tell you that having some sort of visual prop to get the kids attention can be extremely helpful. Having an inexpensive tent that you’re going to give away can be a great attention getter. One of the other ones I had great success with was blowing up balloons inside other balloons. I had a packet of balloons in my car left over from day camp, and I had a little bit of time between lunch waves.

Having learned how to do this for Boy Talks, I then tried it at day camp. It even came in handy when I was an instructor at National Camping School. We had to run a game for the students, where the object was to break a balloon by sitting on it.

Obviously, balloon animals are so much cooler than balloons-in-balloons, so this would be a hit at Boy Talks. It would also be a great intro activity at your joining night.

This would also be a great program at Day Camp, and frankly, I can even imagine that Boy Scouts would enjoy learning this skill.

As with any Scouting activity, it should help the Scout build character, citizenship, or fitness. That they’ll fail on the first few times they try it will certainly help them develop character. That half the fun of them is giving them away will build citizenship, and that it does take a certain degree of physical skill to get them tied will require a little bit of fitness.

 


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting
Our Favorite Cub Scout Popcorn Sales Videos

Our Favorite Cub Scout Popcorn Sales Videos

One of the keys to online popcorn sales is connecting with your customers. Letting them know why they should buy popcorn from your scout. Letting them know what their purchase will help your scout do. Not only are they getting a pretty tasty product (my wife just brought home some caramel corn from bought at a show and sell outside our local Walmart), but they’re supporting a young person getting a life-changing program. Ideally, you’re looking to make sales to friends and family who live in areas where delivering product to them yourself isn’t practical. Creating great Cub Scout popcorn sales videos can really help increase your sales.

Here are a few of my favorites to give you some ideas to get going.

 

The Commercial

If this young man ever winds up as a news anchor, you’ll see where he got his start. This one takes a little more technical skill to pull off, but a picture of a Tiger and some popcorn is always a winner.

The Straightforward Ask

This one takes a lot less technical know-how, but can be just as effective.

The Campaign Video

Here’s another cute one. It starts with a lot of great program pictures and ends with a good sales pitch. The campaign message at the end is very endearing.


 

The Behind-the-Scenes Video

Sheldon’s pretty awesome. The soundtrack reminiscent of “This Old House” helps too.

Sing a Song

These two Cub Scouts (and their little sister) will amuse and entertain you in a video where the cuteness jumps off the screen. They’ve also got a pretty awesome popcorn website.


 

Movie Trailer

If you’ve got an iPhone, then you’ve got a movie studio in your pocket. This video was made using the iMovie app. You don’t need a lot of technical skill to pull off something like this, just a lot of imagination.

Make Your Own Cub Scout Popcorn Sales Videos

If you’ve got a cell phone with a video camera, you can make a pretty good popcorn video. They also make lavalier microphones that will hook right up to your cell phone, so that your Cub Scout’s words can be heard clearly.

If your phone doesn’t take great video, you can get the video cameras that won’t break the bank. Or, if you’re going for a little more advanced, you can opt for a video camera with an external microphone.

Software

If you’re just doing a plain, scout looks into the camera video, then you probably won’t need any special video editing software. But if you’re looking to be a little more elaborate. They also help if you need to do more than one take.

If you’ve got an Apple product, you can use iMovie. Unfortunately, on a PC, the good ol’ Windows Movie Maker has been discontinued, but there are some good free alternatives out there, of which Shotcut is probably the best. If that doesn’t work for you, I use Movavi Video editor, which is a paid software. Use promo code “SCOUT” at checkout, and you’ll save 10%.

Once you’ve got your video complete, make sure to share it with friends and family on Facebook.

Make Sure Your Video Includes

  • The link to your Scout’s online selling page (also in the description)
  • Some of the activities your Scout does during the year
  • A brief description of some of the products your Scout likes
  • Make sure to follow the BSA’s social media guidelines.
  • As tempting as it may be, don’t use copyrighted music in your videos. Audio jungle will give you royalty free music for as little as $1.

Creating great Cub Scout popcorn sales videos can help your scout increase their sales, and help to grow your pack’s revenue. You can reach customers you would otherwise miss, and the best part is, you can have a lot of fun with your scout while doing it!


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting
The Cub Scout Recruiting 30 Day Rule

The Cub Scout Recruiting 30 Day Rule

So now that you’ve recruited an excited group of brand new Cub Scouts. The key now is to retain them in the program. So how do you go about doing that? By following the Cub Scout recruiting 30 day rule:

You need to get them outside within one month of joining!

Why did they sign up?

You’ve recruited these boys with a flyer that tells them about the outdoor adventures you’re going to have as Cub Scouts. They’re excited to go exploring, go camping, shoot guns, launch rockets, and that’s just for starters.

Think in your mind what it’s like to be an eight-year-old boy. Think about how excited they are about your program. Consider what they think they signed up for.

Then think about how disappointed they’ll be when the first few months of meetings they go to are nothing but arts and crafts. So, you can’t very well then just have meeting after meeting in the church basement and expect them to be anything other than disappointed.

Remember that the odds that you’ll retain your new scouts go down dramatically if you don’t have some sort of big, fun activity within 30 days of them signing up.

 

Council or District Activities

It could be a council activity. The Connecticut Rivers Council, for example, is doing a Scout Expo where the boys can do all sorts of fun activities. Councils and Districts all over the country are doing Cub Fun Days, Family Weekends, Spooktaculars and Haunted Hay Rides. Find out what your activities are available in your council, and take advantage of them!

Or Plan Your Own…

If your council isn’t putting anything on like this, or if it’s inconvenient for you to get there for distance or scheduling reasons – hold your own.

It could be a fall overnight campout. If you think your new families aren’t ready to camp out overnight in the great outdoors, most Boy Scout camps offer some form of cabin camping that would be a great first step. You’ll need to make sure someone in your pack has completed Baloo training first.

Hikes

Alltrails.com is my new favorite app

You could also opt for a short hike. You don’t need to travel a great distance for one of these. Plan a Saturday morning for a few hours, and take the boys for a walk in the woods. Nothing too elaborate. Leave the mountain climbing for another day. But find a trail that’s fun, and accessible for the boys and new parents. Try it out yourself before you do the same trail with 20 or 30 boys.

There are great apps now, like Alltrails that will give you a pretty good overview of the available trails in your area. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s pretty good. It gives you distance, reviews, rating, and the app itself will help you stay on the trail. Getting lost while leading Cub Scouts on a hike isn’t a great first impression.

Take the time to learn about your local plant and animal life. You have the chance to show your scouts the world in a whole different way. Let them know that if they’re quiet in the woods, and paying attention, they’ll see far more animals than they otherwise would.

Rocket Launches

Obviously, you want to put safety first here, so you need to pick an appropriate location and do a test run before you do your main launch event, but launching rockets is a great way to get your new scouts’ imaginations fired up. The other great thing about launching rockets is that, like Pinewood Derby, it’s by nature a “parent and me” activity. They’re going to be working together as a team, and that’s what the program is all about. You may be able to find rocket kits at your local scout shop, or you can get them from Amazon in the links below.

Other activities

Stay within the rules of the Guide to Safe Scouting. But use your imagination, just make sure it’s fun. Maybe you could plan a field day of carnival style games. Get in a game of Gaga Ball. Perhaps a fishing derby. Think about the resources available in your area. Consider the resources available to you in terms of the skills of your leaders and parents.

But have fun with it. Remember, as good as your marketing is, it’s fun, exciting program that’s going to keep kids in your pack, and program that’s going to get them to bring their friends.

 

Photo by woodleywonderworks


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting
Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

So, it’s September. Packs all over the country will be doing Joining Nights in the next month. Over the years, I’ve run and helped run a lot of Cub Scout joining nights. So here’s a quick Cub Scout joining night checklist of some things you’re going to want to have in place at your recruiting event. This is no time for improv. Know what you’re going to say, and rehearse it if you have to. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Some supplies you’ll want to have on hand.

Proper Signage

When families come to your event, will it be obvious where you are in the building? So having directional signs on the road and on the property can be very handy to you. Don’t assume that people will know where you are. You want people to be comfortable when they come to your event, and nothing makes people less comfortable than having to hunt for your meeting.

Have Something for the kids to do

If at all possible, having a supervised second room for the kids. This makes getting information to the parents go much, much smoother than if they’re trying to wrangle their child at the same time. It’s also much more fun for the boys, who I can guarantee you were thinking that their first night of Cub Scouts was going to be something other than sitting at a table in a basement watching mom or dad fill out paperwork and hear a talk about insurance.

You want to have some sort of fun activity for these boys to do. It could be a game, or a craft, or a puzzle – but it needs to be fun.

I also like to do a fun exercise that starts the boys on the advancement trail. You get the new scouts together and teach them the Cub Scout sign. Tell the boys that the two fingers represent the ears of Akela, the leader. I then let them know that in the wild, the lead wolf raises his ears to let the other wolves know when there’s danger, or food, or fun to be had. It’s when we need their attention, so if you see a leader put up their sign, you need to be quiet and pay attention.

Then you can practice. Let them get really loud, and put up the sign. Once they’ve got this mastered, you can repeat the exercise once they’re back in the other room with their parents. Tell their parents to try using the Scout sign at home.




A presentation on the Scouting Program in general

Prepare a 5-10 minute overview of the Cub Scout program. Talk about the goals of the program and the aims and methods of Cub Scouting. Be able to give a brief overview of the advancement program. Be able to explain the BSA’s youth protection policies. It’s also a good idea to be able to explain the BSA’s sickness and accident, and liability insurance policies.

Follow this up with a brief overview of the Scouting program in general, describe how the boys will cross over into a Boy Scout troop after completing their Arrow of Light. Let them know that the program will evolve with their boy.

A presentation on your pack’s specific program

Every pack is a little bit different. Who are the people in your pack they should know?  Know when the dens meet. What your pack meeting schedule is. What are some of the cool things your pack does every year? Where do you go? How often do the dens meet? Talk about the Pinewood Derby. This is your chance to let them know what your pack is all about.

A photo display or display video of your pack’s activities would be really useful here.

At the very least, you need to let them know when the next meeting is.

Pack Welcome Packets

You should have a basic packet of information about your pack’s activities, rules, fees, fundraisers, and expectations. Here’s an example from Pack 241 in Boynton Beach, Florida. Your packet should include or come with a calendar of your pack’s activities for the year. It should also include contact information for multiple people in the pack, and relevant websites and Facebook pages

 

Family Expectations

Make sure you set clear and realistic expectations for every family. Using a 100-point form is a handy way of doing this. Make it clear that every family is expected to help out in some way. But don’t set this as an onerous chore but as an opportunity. Nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something, and if everyone pitches in a little, we’ll have a much better program for the boys.

I like to have fun with this, and let them know that they’ll have just as much fun in Scouting as their children will. This really isn’t the time to recruit new leaders, but rather the time to be identifying leaders you’ll want to recruit later.

Popcorn or other Fundraising Paperwork

One of the big questions that will come up during the meeting is: How much does Scouting cost?

Apart from letting them know the costs, and that we don’t want any child to miss out on the Scouting program because of their family’s financial situation, this is a great time to let them know about popcorn (or whatever fundraiser your pack does.) Let them know that this is an opportunity to help them defray the costs of Scouting. Have a handout about any pack or council incentives that may apply.

Apart from providing needed funds for your pack, selling popcorn is a great way to teach the boys salesmanship.



Summer Camp Info

Every scout should have some sort of camping experience every summer, be it overnight resident camp, or Cub Scout Day Camp. These programs are the Super Bowl of Scouting, and every pack should have this as part of their yearly program.

Youth Applications Checklist

Don’t give them the applications to go home with. Set a time in your meeting when applications are going to be filled out. Give them pens and applications, and explain how to fill out the applications. With few exceptions, if they’ve taken the time to come to your joining night, they’ve decided to register. But you need to make sure to actually ask them to fill out the applications.

In order to be processed, each youth application needs:

  • The scout’s full legal name
  • Their birthdate
  • Address and phone number
  • Grade in school
  • Their parent or guardian’s name
  • Their birthdate
  • Parent or guardian’s signature
  • Cubmaster’s signature
  • appropriate fees

Email addresses are optional, but getting them now makes your life much easier later. Also, make sure that everything on the application is legible. Your council’s registrar is going to be processing hundreds of applications this year, and one of the biggest reasons for errors is unreadable handwriting. Make sure you keep the unit copies.

 

After the Meeting

Shoot a quick email to your District Executive, Charter Rep, and Committee Chair letting them know how the event went. How many kids did you get? You’ll also want to make arrangements to get the completed applications to the council office as quickly as possible. You’ll also want to make sure you get one check along with the applications, so make sure your Pack treasurer is on hand that evening.

It’s also nice to send thank you emails or notes to anyone who helped you with the event, and welcome emails to all the families who signed up reminding them of the next meeting.

Then take a few minutes to celebrate. Your efforts will make a big impact in these kids lives. For a complete discussion of fall recruiting strategies, you can listen to my podcast episode with Matt Ghirarda. Thank you for what you’re doing!

 

 



Photo by Melissa Hillier

 

Joining Night Checklist by Mike Cooney

 

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting, Volunteering