boy scouts

Mount Cardigan – My Favorite Mountain

Mount Cardigan – My Favorite Mountain

If there’s a perfect mountain for a whole Scout troop, it’s Mount Cardigan, in Alexandria, New Hampshire. In many ways, I grew up on that mountain. I had climbed Mount Monadnock previously, but it was on Cardigan that I truly found my love for the mountains. It’s challenged and rewarded me more than I can say. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve climbed it, which says something, considering the fact that I’ve never lived within two hours of it. I got engaged to my wife on that mountain because I wanted to bring the best girl in the world to my favorite spot in the world.

 

This isn’t me – but this gentleman has made the best video of a Mount Cardigan climb that I’ve seen.

Why is Mount Cardigan Great for Troops?

The final ascent to the Cardigan Summit. Photo by ragesoss

Because more than any other mountain I’ve done, it gives you options. So you can take your 11-year-old new crossover, and your 15-year-old Life Scout to the same mountain – and they’ll both be challenged.

Both groups of your scouts will start from the campsites, and head towards the Holt Trail. At the junction with the Manning Trail, you’ll take a left. You’ll then follow the Holt Trail until you come to the “Grand Junction.”

It’s here that your two groups will go their separate ways.  Your younger scouts should go left, via the Holt-Clark Cutoff (or “Cathedral Forest”) Trail. This trail makes Cardigan a great starter mountain. Every scout, if they are physically able, should climb at least one mountain during their career. It will challenge them, but it won’t break them. They’ll need to work to keep going.

Your older scouts should go right, to the Holt Trail. This will provide a challenging climb for your older, more experienced scouts. It’s a steep 4.9-mile scramble to the Mount Cardigan summit. At one point you’ll gain 1000 feet of elevation in under a mile. There are steel hand-holds at a few points. It’s the sort of climb that will get them ready for more difficult trails in the future.

But the reason this is an extraordinary mountain for troops is that both your beginners and your more experienced scouts should get to the summit at about the same time, give or take half an hour. Both trails culminate in a fun race to the summit. Once you get past the treeline, you’ll be hiking on exposed granite, with spectacular views all around you.

There’s nothing like a summit to give you a feeling of accomplishment.

One of the elective requirements for Camping Merit Badge is to “Hike up a mountain where, at some point, you are at least 1,000 feet higher in elevation from where you started.”

When I was a counselor for Camping, I used to make the Cardigan trek the last requirement for the badge. When they got to the summit, I’d hand them their completed blue card, and congratulate them on having completed the badge.

There’s also a small pond by the lodge that is available for swimming (no lifeguards provided) in the summer months.

 

Winter Adventure at Cardigan

Cardigan is challenging all-year round – but if you really want a life-changing experience, try climbing it in the winter – when it’s zero degrees out, and covered in deep snow. The Troop I grew up in, Troop 25 in Putnam, Connecticut, used to take the older scouts in the troop to climb Cardigan every year in January or February. One year, we estimated wind chill at the summit to be 96 degrees… below zero. At one point, the wind sent one of the metal fasteners on my backpack into my face so quickly, and with such force that it left a bruise.

It would take us around three hours to climb the mountain via the Cathedral Forest Trail. Stay away from the Holt Trail during the winter.

… And about 20 minutes to get down, using the ski trail, sledding on the rolled-up sleds that one of our scoutmasters had made from sheets of hard plastic. You can get similar ones on Amazon now for next to nothing.

This is not a trip for beginners. We used to restrict it to First Class Scouts who were 13 years or older. You’ll want to make sure they have the proper gear, the right boots, and an appropriate level of maturity for the trip.

But once their ready, they’ll have an absolute blast. And it’s the kind of thing that they’ll tell their teachers and friends in class on Monday that will result in disbelieving stares.

The nice feature for Cardigan in terms of extreme winter camping is that it has the lodge right there in case of emergencies.

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Getting There

There are two main dropoff points to get to Cardigan – from the East and the West. The Eastern side is better for overnight trips, as that’s where the campsites are, so you’ll want to make sure you put the Cardigan Lodge in your GPS, to make sure you wind up in the right place.

It takes about two hours to get there from Boston. It’s a little over three hours from where I live in Connecticut. For more information, or to reserve a campsite, you can visit the AMC website’s Cardigan Lodge page. There is a lodge, in addition to some great campsites. There’s also the High Cabin on the mountain, which includes 12 bunks.

 

 

This is my favorite mountain for Boy Scouts. What’s yours? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo by ragesoss

Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting, 0 comments
The 7 Biggest Scout Unit Rechartering Mistakes

The 7 Biggest Scout Unit Rechartering Mistakes

If you are doing your unit’s recharter this year, bless you. You’ve taken unto yourself a task that nobody in the Scouting world enjoys. It’s a necessity, but it’s not the most fun thing you could do. As someone who has worked with thousands of recharters, let me pass along a few of the most common rechartering mistakes that people make so that you can avoid all the stress that they can cause.

Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and that every council has their own methods of doing rechartering. They may require something that’s not on this list, and so you should defer to them. This is your unit commissioner’s primary focus at this time of year. District Executives are getting asked on a weekly basis about rechartering by their supervisors – so they’re there to help you as well. Don’t be afraid to call them

#1. Waiting Too Long to Start the Process

Rechartering takes time. Every one of the errors listed below gets magnified when you procrastinate. The sooner you get in, the sooner you’ll see what you need, and the sooner any errors will be caught. Every bit of the process can take time. And, your council registrar has to process every charter in your council. That also takes time. Think 2-4 weeks. So you really want to get your charter in a month before your expiration date.

For many, scout unit rechartering takes place at the end of the year. So, if your unit charter is set to expire on December 31st, you’ve got less than two months left to get it done. And if you’re not done, on January 1st, your unit technically ceases to exist. Your insurance lapses, so you shouldn’t be meeting. Your Scouts can’t earn advancement. And your unit’s youth aren’t actually scouts anymore.

Don’t mess around with any of this. Get started as soon as possible. Finish as soon as possible. Then get back to talking about camp.

#2. Trying to Log on as a “Returning User”

The good people at your council office will take this call about 1,000 times this year. An exasperated volunteer on the other end of the phone will say, “I’ve got my code, but it won’t let me log on as a returning user!”

This is because you need to log on as a new user the first time you use the system every year and create a new account every year. Your registration code from the council is good for this year, and this year only. So each time you log back into your charter, you’re a returning user.

But when you log in next year, you’ll be new again.

 

#3. Not Having Youth Protection Trainings Done

This one tends to be the biggest holdup in getting units rechartered – especially for Boy Scout troops. So take the time in my.scouting.org to make yourself familiar with the Training Manager. Ther you’ll be able to check who in your unit needs training right now and send them notices right now. Talk to them at meetings. Whatever it takes to make sure they get it done.

If you’re working with older volunteers who aren’t comfortable with computers, have someone in your unit help them. Have a laptop at meetings for the purpose of helping people do youth protection.

The toughest case in my experience isn’t 85-year-old committee members and charter org reps – but the 18-year-old Eagle Scout who’s now becoming an Assistant Scoutmaster. These young men are tremendous assets to our program, but they’re also the ones most likely to drag their feet. So start after them now. They’ll need a few reminders, and don’t be afraid to engage their parents to help you out.

If every one of your registered adults hasn’t completed youth protection, you cannot recharter your unit.

 

#4. Missing Signatures

Whether electronically, or on paper, missing a signature will put a hold on your recharter. In order to recharter, you’ll need the signature of your unit leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Skipper, Adviser) and your Charter Organization Representative, and your Council Representative (usually your District Executive.)

Before you turn the charter in, you should have the Charter Rep. signature and the Unit Leader. The Charter Rep tends to be the toughest, so you want to start after this one as soon as possible. You don’t want to be trying to track them down during the holidays. My longtime joke is that all the charter reps in the world go to a secret island hideaway in mid-December just so they can be impossible to find when you need them.

My advice is to set up these appointments as soon as possible.

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#5. Missing or Incomplete Applications

When you’ve finished the charter, the charter paperwork Page 1 will give you a list of the applications that you’ll need in order to complete your charter. You’ll want to be sure you’ve got them or complete copies of them to hand in with the charter.

Make sure youth applications have full names, birthdates, grade levels, parents names, parents birthdates and are signed by the parent and unit leader. Make sure adult applications have full names, birthdates, social security numbers, background check questions answered, and are signed by the applicant, charter org rep, and committee chair. You’ll also need to attach their criminal background check disclosure form.

Note: If you turn in applications after you’ve started your recharter process, they may not show up on the recharter. You’ll still want a paper copy of the application to turn in with the charter. The rule of thumb is, if the charter asks for it, provide it.

 

#6. Not Including Enough Money

Your council may have an additional insurance fee or an activity fee. You’ll need to make sure these fees are paid before your new charter can take effect. The Rechartering software from the Boy Scouts of America will not reflect these changes, and if your council will not process your charter without it.

 

 

#7. Leaving People Off

It’s very tempting to not recharter all of the Webelos who will be crossing over in February to save a little bit of money. But you’re doing them a disservice. This is taking away from their tenure, and leaving them uninsured until they cross over, and fill out a new registration. Remember, unregistered scouts cannot earn advancement.

Also, don’t be that pack that doesn’t register an entire den because the den leader didn’t get the money in on-time. This is another reason to start the process as soon as possible.

Hopefully, this will help you steer your way through rechartering as smoothly as possible. Thank you for what you’re doing.

 


Photo by HockeyholicAZ

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting, 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

 

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.

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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
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
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 Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Fundraising, 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 Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting
5 Simple Things You Can Do To Grow Scouting This Fall

5 Simple Things You Can Do To Grow Scouting This Fall

Percentage-wise, most people in Scouting aren’t Cubmasters. They aren’t in charge of fall recruiting campaigns this fall, but they can make all the difference when it comes to the success or failure of fall recruiting campaigns. Recruiting Cub Scouts is an exhausting endeavor, so they can use all the help they can get. If we’re going to grow Scouting, we need all hands on deck.

Are you a Scout parent who’s not volunteering with the pack, but wants to help make a better program for your son? Even if you haven’t been involved in Scouting for years, you can be a helper. You can make a difference. Even if your kids are long since grown and out of the house, you can make a difference. You can make sure that kids will get a program that will change their lives for the better.

So, if you’re a camp person, and you want your camp to be filled and vibrant over the years to come, you can’t ignore the recruiting of new scouts. You can’t just assume that someone else is going to do it. If you’re a Boy Scout leader, and you want kids in your troop in five years, then your help is needed to grow Scouting right now.

There are a lot of really simple things that you can volunteer to do in just a little bit of your spare time in the coming weeks that can make a huge difference in getting more families involved in Scouting. Here are just a few things you can do to help get the word out.

Like and Share Scouting Content on Facebook

Okay, if you’ve got an internet connection, a few Facebook account, and a pulse, you can help grow Scouting. If you’re not familiar with the way Facebook decides what shows up on people’s newsfeeds, the number of likes and shares has a great deal to do with it. So, if you’d rather see more scouting stuff in your newsfeed, and less stuff about the eclipse,

Are there community Facebook groups that you’re a member of? Share an article about Scouting in there. Share more than one. I wrote my 10 reasons you should sign your kid up for Cub Scouts. Feel free to share mine or write your own. Sharing content in popular groups is the best way to make sure

Check the local pack Facebook pages for Joining Night Events in your area. Share them on your Facebook Page, or better yet, invite your friends who have Cub Scout-aged kids or grandkids.

 

Talk about Scouting with your Friends

Have conversations with your friends about Scouting. If they’ve got kids or grandkids, let them know why they should sign them up. Find out when your local pack is having their joining night, and shoot off an email about it.

 

Volunteer to Do a Boy Talk

Some schools don’t allow Boy Talks, but many others do and don’t get covered because of a lack of volunteers to take the hour or so off work to go and actually do so. I’ve done lots of these, and they’re really a lot of fun to do. If your local public school won’t allow them, then check with your local private and parochial schools. Can you take a couple of hours out of your September to help grow Scouting?

Don’t just limit yourself to schools. Think about after-school programs, Sunday schools, day cares, rec leagues, PALs. Where can you go to talk scouting?

 

Put Up Yard Signs to grow Scouting

Does your yard have a “Join Scouting Sign” in it? Does your business? What about your church? Contact your local council or your local Cub Scout pack and ask them for one. Pay particular attention to the major routes in town, particularly to schools and major employers.

yard signs

The yard sign across from the school is always a big win.

One of the Cubmasters in a district I used to cover lived at the intersection of the road to the local elementary school. Right smack dab at the stop light. So every year, we made sure there was a Join Scouting sign on his lawn so that everyone who drove to the school would see it. When his family crossed over to the troop, I asked if he’d mind if we put a yard sign on his lawn whenever we were going to do a Joining Night. He, of course, approved.

We also had a church that chartered one of the local troops that agreed to let us put up a yard sign directly across from the driveway of the elementary school.

I’d also be thinking about the roads along the way to the busiest beaches and playgrounds in town. Where’s the traffic?

The more people see the message, the more likely your going to be to grow Scouting in your community.

Deliver Flyers, and Put up Posters

Do you have a business? Can you put a flyer or poster up in your window? What about the businesses around you? What about the lunch room at your office?

Even in the smallest of towns, there are places where you can hang flyers. Every ice cream shop should have a flyer on the bulletin board. Can you take a handful of flyers and put them up in storefronts around town?

Think of the places that parents and kids go in town, and make sure that there’s a flyer taped or pinned up there.

 

 

Photo by b0jangles

Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting
My Top 10 Reasons to Sign Your Son Up For Cub Scouts

My Top 10 Reasons to Sign Your Son Up For Cub Scouts

This September is a great time to sign your son in Kindergarten through 5th grade up for Cub Scouts. All over the country, Cub Scout packs will be welcoming new members. They’ll be holding joining nights where you can sign up your boy for an adventure that will prepare him for life.

My mom signed me up as a Cub Scout in 1985, in the basement of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Putnam. The program changed my life. Next June, I’ll be signing my now 4-year-old son up for the program. Now, you might be on the fence as to whether or not you should register your son. Here are my 10 reasons why I think you should. There are thousands more.

To listen to this as a podcast, click here.

 

10. He’ll Try New Things

The first mountain I ever climbed came during my time as a Cub Scout. My mom, who was also my den leader, climbed it with me. Mount Monadnock is the second-most climbed mountain in the world (because it’s easy to get to, and not terrifically difficult.) But when you’re 10, it’s a big deal. I remember getting to the summit. You see the world differently from up there. It’s a perspective that you can’t get anywhere else. You see that this really is a great big world, but you also see that if you keep working, you can get just about anywhere.

Cub Scouts launch rockets. Sometimes they’re model rockets. Maybe they’ll be water rockets. Sometimes air powered, but they launch stuff. It always gets oohs and aahs. There’s a certain amount of awe and confidence gained when the model rocket that they built shoots into the sky.

There will be lots of life-changing experiences like this. It could be the first night ever staying over in a tent. Maybe it’ll be the first time cooking their own food (with supervision, obviously.)

Cub Scouts is like the weather in New England. It always changes. One week they’re building birdhouses, the next, visiting the local firehouse, and the next they’re doing a community service project.

As life is varied, so is Cub Scouts. Nobody just does one thing. Throughout our lives, we play many roles, and in Scouting, you get to try out a lot of those roles.

 

9. You’ll Get to Experience Cub Scouts With Him

Cub Scouting is a family program. For kindergarten and first grade boys, it’s a “parent and me” program. You get to jump in with your boy. You get to be silly. The two of you will get to work together, going on adventures, and play together. You’ll probably learn things at the same time he does.

You get to be there when he does this impossible. You were there for his first step and remember his first word. Why wouldn’t you want to be there when he spends his first night in a tent, catches his first fish, or is awarded his Bear Badge? How much fun will it be to work with him building that Pinewood Derby car? Or baking that cake together?

Our kids grow up really fast, and these are moments that only come once in a lifetime.

cub scout photo

Photo by jillccarlson

 

8. He’ll Learn By Doing

There’s an old Chinese proverb, “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Scouts get to try things. They get to experience being a leader. He’ll get to build things. There will be exploring. He’ll see what it’s like to go to the TV station. Through “Go See Its” he’ll discover how things work.

He’ll learn to help his community by… helping in his community. Scouts in the US do over 13 million hours of community service each year.

 

7. Cub Scouts will Help Him Overcome Shyness

I think on some level, everyone has some level of shyness. Maybe you remember the old Jerry Seinfeld joke about people being more afraid of public speaking than death? Well, there’s really only one way to get over that fear, and that’s to actually get in front of people. Cub Scouts get to try out performing songs and skits in front of their whole Pack.

Now, this video may not be the same as acting on a Broadway stage, but it takes a great deal of bravery to get up in front of your friends to perform like this.



6. He’ll Make New Friends

A Scout is Friendly is a point of the Scout Law, but Cub Scouts learn to make friends. In Cub Scouts, the kids from the country get to meet and play with kids from the big city. As they get older in the program and go to more events, they more they’ll meet.

Through scouting I’ve made friends from all over the country, and all over the world. In the course of my time in Scouting I’ve made friends from all over the country, and all over the world. One year on camp staff I roomed with an exchange scout from Egypt. The biggest thing you get isn’t how different people are, but how similar they are. Sure, the climate and landscape of Egypt and Connecticut are different. The cultures are vastly different – but Shicco was amazing at working with the kids. He also got a lot of text messages from his friends who I don’t think realized he was on the other side of the world, so his phone buzzed at 3 a.m. rather often.

When you’re six, your world is pretty small. You know your family, your friends, your teachers, and the kids at school. And that’s about it. But through Scouting you can meet people you otherwise would never come in contact with. You’ll get to realize that while, sure, there are lots of things that make us different, at the end of the day, we’re more similar than we aren’t.

While in school he may learn about other countries, but it’s a far different experience to actually meet them.

5. He’ll Lose at Pinewood Derby (And Build Character)

Cub Scouts build Pinewood Derby Cars with their parents or grandparents. They learn some basic physics. They see that the streamlined car goes faster. That weight distribution on the car matters. But more important than that, they learn sportsmanship. They learn how to be a good loser when things don’t go their way, and a gracious winner when they do.

I jokingly say that physics don’t apply to Pinewood Derby cars. So he’ll learn how to lose, and try again next year. In life, lots of things go wrong. Some of them we can control, and some are beyond our control – but either way, we need to be able to deal with it, and move forward.

From failure, we learn resilience. We learn to keep trying. We learn from our mistakes, and we learn that some things are the end of the world… and some things are not.

Scouting is a safe place to fail – and more importantly, to learn from that failure to succeed.

 

4. It’s Remarkably Safe

The Boy Scouts of America has a remarkable record of safety and abuse prevention. Their Youth Protection Policies work. No adult is ever one-on-one with a child that is not their own. Every leader undergoes a full background check when they register. Each and every leader is required to complete Youth Protection Training every two years – and you can take that training online yourself right now.

There’s a whole guide to tell leaders what activities the kids should and should not be doing, and at what age – that you can read yourself. Leaders are required to complete specific training before they take youth on outings, and it’s not just specific to the activity, but to the age of the youth. There’s a vast difference between taking a 7-year-old and a 17-year-old camping.

3. They’ll Get Great Role Models

You might be the most impressive person on Earth, but in this mortal coil, we are limited. Everybody’s good at something, but nobody’s good at everything. Through scouting, your child can meet (and learn from) adults from all walks of life.

It’s amazing the range of volunteers you find in Scouting. It may not be obvious at first (because the leaders are usually in uniform), but you can have lawyers and business leaders, construction workers and farmers all leading the same Pack. They’ll get to see great examples of productive people, and community leadership.

But it will be in an informal, silly, and comfortable environment. They’ll see that the firefighter they look up to isn’t all that different from them. At some point, they’ll make the connection that the people they look up to used to be just like them.


 

2. Cub Scouts is Fun

Cub Scouts giggle. A lot. The one thing you can be sure to see at just about any Cub meeting you go to is kids having fun.

I’ve always thought of Cub Scouts as a big magic trick. A good magician shows you what he wants you to see while hiding what they’re actually doing from view. This is how your grandfather made the quarter appear behind your ear.

The kids see the fun. They see the games. They see the pinewood derby cars, the rockets, the hikes, the swimming, and the other activities. What they don’t realize until later is what they were actually learning. Character. Citizenship. Fitness. Self-confidence. Empathy. Leadership.

They just think they’re having fun.

1. Cub Scouts will Improve His Life

It will prepare him for life. A Tufts University study tracked over 2,000 scouts and non-scouts in the Philadelphia area over the course of two-and-a-half years and studied the changes in their behavior and their attitudes. They did this so that they could control for the attitudes and values of the young people over the course of the study – to counter the argument that “Scouting merely attracts better young people instead of helping make them.”

The study found that scouts had huge increases when compared to non-scouts when it came to cheerfulness, kindness, hopeful future expectations, trustworthiness, helpfulness, and obedience. Scouts in the survey were more likely to respond with answers like “helping others” or “doing the right thing.”

The study shows us that the program actually does what it claims to do. It does improve lives. It does build character. The values that Scouting teaches actually do improve the lives of young people. As it turns out, repeating and reflecting on the values contained in the Scout Oath and Law has an impact.

The point of Cub Scouting is not to make the world’s best 9-year-old, though that’s a nice side-effect. The point is to prepare them to have well-rounded, successful lives.

To find a pack near you for your son, go to beascout.org.

If you didn’t see your favorite reason, feel free to list it below.

Scouting units and districts, please feel free to copy this material for your website, I just ask that you link to the original when doing so. Thanks.

 

 

Posted by Mike Cooney in Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Marketing, Recruiting, Scouting, Volunteering
GaGa Ball – What Is It and Where Did It Come From?

GaGa Ball – What Is It and Where Did It Come From?

If you’ve been to a scout camp in the last four years or so, you’ve probably seen kids playing a lot of GaGa Ball. It’s been the hit of our day camp for the past five years, and it seems like the pit at every resident camp I’ve visited is in near constant use. There’s even a “Gaga Center” on 93rd Street in New York City.

It’s a great game that will keep kids moving, and entertained for hours. It’s painfully simple to learn, and as kids play, they’ll start to develop strategies. Teenagers can play a fast, exciting physical style, and yet the game can be played effectively by kids as young as four or five.

 

The Origins of GaGa Ball

According to Stephen Silver of Tablet Magazine, the inventor of Gaga Ball is Steven Steinberg. Steinberg was a 17-year-old camp counselor at a JCC camp in Maryland, Camp Milldale.

One rainy day in 1975, Steinberg took the six-year-olds in his care to a covered, wall-less shelter. There they started playing a “form of dodgeball”. In order to stop the ball from rolling down a nearby hill, he laid some benches along the sides to contain the ball. And Gaga Ball was born?

And what about the name? Gaga Ball? It’s been said in some places that it’s from “touch touch” in Hebrew, but according to Steinberg, it isn’t quite so cultural. Apparently, during a moment of frustration with the children, he called his six-year-old charges, “a bunch of babies”, and they responded by making baby sounds. Goo goo, ga ga.

The name stuck. And when the activity became scheduled, it was written down as “ga-ga.”

 

Gaga Ball Rules

While the rules seem to vary by location, here are a set of “official rules” according to the Gaga Center in New York, here:

  • All players start with one hand touching a wall of the pit.
  • The game begins with a referee throwing the ball into the center of the pit.
  • When the ball enters the pit, the players scream ‘GA’ for the first two bounces, and ‘GO’ on the third bounce, after which the ball is in action.
  • Once the ball is in play, any player can hit the ball with an open or closed hand.
  • If a ball touches a player below the knee (even if the player hits himself or herself) he or she is out and leaves the pit. If a player is hit above the knees, the play continues.
  • Using the walls of the octagon to aid in jumping is legal as long as the player does not permanently sit on the ledge of the octagon.
  • If a ball is caught on a fly, the player who hit the ball is out.
  • Players cannot hold the ball.
  • If needed, a second ball can be thrown in the pit to expedite the end of the game. The last player standing is the winner of that round.




Making Your Own Pit

So, if you’ve got the time and a suitable permanent location, you can build your own Gaga pit. You’ll just need twelve 2x12x16′ boards, six 1x6x12′ boards, sixteen 3″ hinges, and two pounds of 2″ deck screws. And some tools. And it would help to be a much, much better carpenter than I am. But if you this kind of person, or you know somebody who is, you can find a complete set of instructions at kaboom.org.

 

Or… you can buy an inflatable portable one

As you can see below, Gaga pits are on the expensive side. Probably out of the price range for most packs. But if you’re a council or district representative, you might want to look into investing in one. I know of at least one council that has one and lends it out to packs and troops as needed. They’re great for joining night activities.

The nice thing about it is that it’s portable and relatively easy to set up. It’s a little on the heavy side, but a couple of adults should be able to maneuver it. You will need an outlet to power the pump.

 

Photo by Camp Pinewood YMCA

Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting
An Eagle Scout Letter from Bill Belichick

An Eagle Scout Letter from Bill Belichick

I’ve been to a lot of Eagle Ceremonies. Probably hundreds. It’s customary for dignitaries to write letters to Eagle Scouts. Eagles get letters of congratulations from current and former US Presidents. They get them from members of Congress, governors, mayors, and state legislators. Mike Rowe’s Eagle Scout Letter is quite popular. But for the most part, they’re pretty standard. Generally, the boy’s parents or the leadership in the troop writes away to people the boy admires to request the congratulatory letter.

Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Bryan on Scouting has a great article on how to request Eagle Letters. But every once in a while, you see one that sticks out. This one came across my Facebook feed tonight from a very proud mom.




An Eagle Scout Letter from Bill Belichick

New Eagle Scout Adam Tripplett got one he’ll certainly never forget. His mom Cheryl went big. She wrote to Coach Bill Belichick requesting an Eagle Scout letter.

Recently, Adam completed his Eagle Project. He raised money to provide a local Veteran’s Home with exercise equipment (also building a jump box) for rehabilitating servicemen. He also installed a flag pole and solar light in the front yard; and if that wasn’t enough, he created new doors for an old storage shed out back to keep the equipment and weight set in. With the remaining funds, he bought them a grill and grilling utensils. That’s an impressive project, to say the least.

So Cheryl included a description of his project in her letter to the coach. She let Belichick know what a big fan Adam was, and put an Eagle sticker on the outside of the envelope. And dropped it in the mail, to:

Bill Belichick
Gillette Stadium
1 Patriot Place
Foxboro, MA 02035-1388

And two a half weeks later, they got the letter below back in the mail from Patriot Place and the Five-Time Super Bowl winning coach.

As with anything, you never know what you’ll get, until you ask. So the next time you’re getting ready for that next Eagle Ceremony in the troop, think a little bit outside the box and see who you can get.

 

bill belichick eagle scout letter

 

 

Belichick Photo by Keith Allison

Posted by Mike Cooney in Boy Scouts, Grow Your Group, Scouting, Social Media