Cub Scouts

Black Friday Scout Deals 2017

Black Friday Scout Deals 2017

Scouting is a fun and rewarding program. But the gear required can be expensive. So, to help you save some time and money, I’ve gone through all 148 Pages of Amazon’s Black Friday deals to find some pretty good Black Friday Scout Deals. I also went to Campmor to find a few more deals there on some higher end equipment.

Phone ChargersSleeping BagsCamp MattressesBackpacksHammocks
Hydration SystemsStovesMess KitsFlashlightsHats
Pocket KnivesCamping ChairsTents

Scout Meeting Tech


Great for movies (not so much for PowerPoints). Great for camp presentations, or year-in-review videos. It’s one thing to tell the parents in your unit about the amazing things you’re doing, but it’s quite another to show them. The first one costs a lot less but isn’t recommended for PowerPoints. If you’re not doing powerpoints, then it should be fine. The second and third are a bit pricier, but would do better for committee meetings.



If you’ve got old Troop year-in-review videos, or old training videos on VHS casettes, then you might want to invest in one of these. I picked one up a few years ago to convert some of my old videos. It’s actually where we got the only video of my dad, in the Troop’s Year-in-Review video for 1991. Brought back a lot of memories.



Phone videos are great. But a good camcorder is a step up.

Camping Gear

Phone Chargers

While we can all balk at having phones for the kids on campouts, it’s important that leaders are able to stay informed as to changes in the weather, and able to call for help if the need arises. And it’s important that those phones don’t run out of juice. You want to have some backup, especially in wilderness areas that will drain your battery.

Sleeping Bags

Especially on winter campouts, the right sleeping bag is key and can make the difference between a fun and exciting weekend, and pure misery. Here are three high quality bags.


Slumberjack Women’s Latitude 20 Degree…

Slumberjack understands the importance of quality recreation and family time. The Women… [More]

Price: $59.99 (Regularly $64.99)

Slumberjack Lapland 40 Down Hybrid Mummy S…

The Slumberjack Lapland 40 Degree Down Hybrid Mummy Sleeping Bag features Hybrid Zone C… [More]

Price: $79.98 (Regularly $139.95)

Camp Mattress

A good camp mattress will make a huge difference in how you sleep at camp. It’s what separates you from the ground – and will go a long way in keeping you warm and comfortable.

This is the brand that I’ve had – Thermarest – for 25 years. I’ve owned three of them, and they’ve all been pretty great. I remember going from a hard foam pad to my first Thermarest. It was luxurious.







Hydration Systems

Backpacking Stoves

There’s always the tradeoff with backpacking stoves. You want something small and lightweight – but you don’t want to be waiting forever for it to actually heat your meal. This one is certainly small (it’ll fit in your pocket.) and lightweight. It’s also gotten a lot of good reviews in terms of heating food quickly.

This is what I’ve used for decades. It’s a step up and takes a little more skill to operate. But I swear by this one. Cooks fast, weighs very little, and really lasts.

Mess Kits

Headlamps and Flashlights



Pocket Knives

On any campout, Boy Scout should never be without a sharp pocket knife.

What if my knife also had a thermometer, altimeter, clock, alarm, and barometer? This one’s probably overkill, but so is the fridge with the fridge with the computer in the door, and I still kinda want that one too. Maybe it’s just me.

Camping Chairs


The rule of thumb for Scout tents is that you want to go a person up when getting a tent. A three-person tent will comfortably fit two scouts and their gear. The Amazon Basics tent is a good place to start. It’s inexpensive and would be okay for Cubs and family camping.

What I’d consider the Gold Standard for Boy Scout tents over the past 30 years is on big discount at Campmor. I grew up in Eureka’s. They’re easy for scouts to set up, and really durable. They’ll take a beating. They’re easy to patch, and replacement parts are available without having to buy a whole new tent.

Eureka Timberline 4 Tent

The Eureka Timberline Tents are possibly the worlds most popular tent with millions bei… [More]

Price: $179.96 (Black Friday Sale, regularly $239.95).

You can get the two-person version here for $142.46.


Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting, 0 comments
Thank You Scout Leaders Everywhere

Thank You Scout Leaders Everywhere

On this Thanksgiving, we thought it only proper to thank all the people in Scouting who go above and beyond. None of them are ever thanked enough for the great things they do to help kids develop.

Thank You Scout Leaders

Thank you:

Scout moms, for your love, we’re sure you were sent from above.

Scout dads, for making us go when it’s 10 below.

Den Leaders who know the job’s not done ’til we’ve all had fun.

Cubmasters, for running the show, you always help our pack go!

Committee Members, greetings to you, thanks for the meetings you go to.

Junior Leaders, energetic and true, you’re the ones we look up to.

Camp Staffers, your best asset, is giving us memories we’ll never forget.

Scoutmasters, for your skill infinite, you can give us a lifetime’s worth of wisdom in under a minute.

And Commissioners, District Committee members, Trainers, Fundraisers, Council Board members, Professional Scouters, Scout Office Staffs, and Donors. While most never see what you do, we couldn’t have these life-changing programs without the support we get from you.

Most of all, and before we’re done, thank you, Scouts, for making it fun.

Okay, I’m not a poet, but it’s the thought that counts, right? To all of you fantastic scout leaders, and your families, thank you for all you do.


Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting, 0 comments
Cool Scout Christmas Ornaments

Cool Scout Christmas Ornaments

I’m not an artist. I’m not particularly craft – so I’m impressed with just about everyone who is. To that end, I came across some amazing Scout Christmas Ornaments on Amazon this week. The detail is out of this world. Seriously, if you gave me a billion years, I couldn’t imagine to make something this good. I can tie knots. I’m pretty good with graphic design, and I can write a pretty good article about scout camp, but in terms of something like this, I’m in awe.

They’re all about four inches high, and made of hard resin, and are the creations of a man named Kurt Adler.

The detail is incredible. Take a look at the intricacies of Family Life Merit Badge, and compare it to the representation on the ornament. Just incredible.

Check them out for yourself.

For Your Cub Scouts

For Your Boy Scouts

And For Your Eagle Scouts

Other Scout Christmas Ornaments


Hallmark Christmas Ornaments (with Snoopy!!!)

Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouting, 0 comments
11 Steps for Recruiting Scout Parents
Excited leaders from Pack 112, Brownville, Maine.

11 Steps for Recruiting Scout Parents

“How do I get the parents in my den to help out?” might be the most common question I see from the people I know running Cub Scout packs. It’s also the most important, by far. Packs that are getting enough help tend to run a great program, which in turn helps you keep the scouts you have, and helps you recruit new ones. So, here are a few things to remember when you’re recruiting scout parents to be volunteers in your pack.

1. Let them see you having fun

Ever read Tom Sawyer? Remember how Tom got his friends to whitewash the picket fence. He made the job seem enjoyable. The difference for you is that you’re not actually asking people to do your work for you – but to do a job that will provide a better program and experience for their kids.

Let them see you enjoying what you’re doing. The one common element I can think of in big packs and troops out there is that the leaders are having fun. People like to have fun. Those are the teams that people want to be on. They like laughing and joking. Be that group. By the time you actually get around to asking for help, it’s going to be a lot easier to do so.

Volunteering is something that you get to do, not that you have to do. It’s something you get to do to help your kids – the most important things in your life. I know that in my time working with scouts, I’ve had a blast, and I wouldn’t trade a second of it.

Be Kermit, not Eeyore.

eeyore photo

We love Eeyore, but he’s not a good role model for recruiters.Photo by HarshLight

2. Be the Pack People Want to Volunteer In

This may sound like the chicken or the egg, but it’s really not. Run the best possible program you can with what you have. Start by making sure your current leaders you have been trained. Get trained yourself. Follow the program in the literature. It works.

Run aggressive programs. Go places. Do things – even if you think they’re a little bit above what your current resources allow. Don’t be afraid to ask your district for help in doing this. See if the other packs around you can do joint events if need be. But do a great program for kids, and people will want to join you.

And also…

Don’t cancel meetings or events unless of disaster. Unless it’s not safe to get to the meeting – find some way to make your meeting happen. People need to know that they can count on your pack. Disappointed kids stop showing up, and parents are the ones who have to explain a canceled meeting to them.

3. Thank the Volunteers You Already Have

Make sure that you’re publicly thanking the helpers you already have. Pretty much everyone likes to be recognized for the good work that they do. Letting the parents in your pack see that you’re grateful for the help you already get will plant the seeds in their mind. Put it in their mind that they might be the one being thanked someday.

Aside from the BSA’s leader awards, there are lots of other creative ways of thanking leaders.

4. Don’t Rush it, but Rather, Lay the Foundation for the Ask

Yes, I’ve heard the stories where a heroic scout leader getting in front of the room, telling a gripping story, and coming out with all the volunteers the pack could possibly need. I’ve done it, and I’ve seen others do it, but it’s risky.

You could wind up with the wrong people in the wrong jobs – or two, you could wind up with a volunteer who feels like they’ve been coerced into the job. Furthermore, you’re much more likely to get the wrong person in the wrong job if you haven’t taken the time to get to know them first. Den Leader may be the most important job in Scouting – so why would you trust it to the first person who doesn’t say no?

When you recruit new scouts, you should absolutely include a few expectations. Not an immediate ask, but rather a laying of ground rules. Something along the lines of “Our pack works much better the more help we get,” and “Everybody here has some talent that can help us provide a great program for your kids.”

And most importantly, tell them why you personally volunteer. Whatever your reason is, share it. Whether it’s to spend quality time with your kids before they grow up, to give back to the program that helped you, or just because it’s fun, let them know what your heartfelt motivation is.

But I’d discourage the hostage mentality. Yes, we need volunteers to run a good program. But “volunteer or else” isn’t the best long-term strategy to get committed volunteers.


5. Build the Relationship!

This is the key to recruiting scout parents or anyone at all. So I gave it a big subheading and changed the color – because it’s the most important one – by far. It’s the key to everything. Get to know people’s names. What do they do for a living? Learn what they’re interested in. What makes them laugh? What color eyes do they have? Do they have hobbies the kids would like? Where are they from? Where did they go to school? Do they have a Scouting history? Do your homework on them. Get to know them.

Building the relationship will make everything else easier. Whatever you’re going to ask for later will be made much easier if you’ve established a rapport first. This will also help you learn what they’re good at. What skills do they have? Do they have a dynamic personality, and are great with kids? Maybe they could be a good Den Leader or Cubmaster. Are they good with numbers and accounting? What about public relations? Are they very organized? This sort of person might be a better fit for your committee. By the time you’re ready to ask them to serve in a position, you’ll be able to ask them to serve in the position that’s right for them. You want the right person for the right job.

By the time you’re ready to make the ask, the relationship you’ve built will make you much more likely to get the “yes” you’re looking for.


6. Don’t Say No For Anyone

This one’s tricky. Sometimes it goes against human nature. If you think someone’s perfect for the job, but don’t think they’ll accept it, ask anyway!

The worst thing that will happen will be that they’ll say no. It’s very unlikely that they’ll hit you. More than likely, they’ll be honored that you asked. If they say no, take their no graciously, as it usually doesn’t mean “never”, it means “not now”, or “I don’t want to do that job, but I might like to do something else.”

In the words of my podcast guest Dave Parry, “Bless and release.”

It’s also a possibility that they might know someone else who’d be great at the job, and they may well be willing to help you recruit that person.


7. You’re Not Asking for You

You’re asking for them.

cub scouts photo

Photo by GraceFamily


8. Make Individual Asks

Now that you’ve built the relationship, you’re going to make an individual ask. You’re going to go in with a specific job description for what you want the person to actually do. Feel free to customize the national job description down to the four or five things you really need them to do.

Personalize the ask to them. Find a place where they’re comfortable, be it their home, favorite restaurant, or a campout, and make the ask there. If there’s a specific person in the pack they can’t say no to, have them help you in the ask meeting.


9. Don’t Downplay the Job

The temptation when recruiting scout parents is to undersell the importance of the job you’re asking them to do. But every job in Scouting is important in some ways. Because if the job isn’t important, why are you asking them?

It’s easy to think that if you pretend like you’re not asking them for that much, they’ll be more likely to say yes. But are a couple of huge problems with that:

  1. “If the job isn’t that important, why are you asking me?”
  2. When the job does turn out to be more difficult than you let on, you’re going to have lost their trust.


10. Let Them Know What Support Exists

Get to know all the training courses that exist for their position, and let them know about them. Let them know about roundtables. Tell them about BALOO, OWL, and Wood Badge. Let them know that there are leader guides to help them every step of the way. They don’t have to write the program themselves. Show them Scouting Magazine, Bryan on Scouting, and maybe even share my website with them. Help them create a my.scouting account.

Have a card with the names, emails and phone numbers of the people on the unit and district level that they can call for help.

Don’t let them think that they have to make the program up on their own.

11. Follow Up

Visit a few of their meetings. Call them on the phone from time-to-time. Catch up with them over a cup of coffee. Buy them lunch. See how things are going on a regular basis. Be encouraging. Be there to answer questions. You don’t want to leave them out there by themselves. That’s a great way to burn a volunteer. Not only will they never help you again, but they’ll tell their friends, and they won’t help you either.

Make sure they’re spreading a positive message about volunteering.

Any tips I missed for Recruiting Scout Parents?

Let me know in the comments below, and than you for reading.


Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Recruiting, Scouting, Volunteering, 0 comments
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



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.



“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.



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.

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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 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting
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. – 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 Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting, Volunteering
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.



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 Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting
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 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Fundraising, Fundraising, Grow Your Group, Scouting
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 Cub Scouts, 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.


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 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Fundraising, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting