cub scouts

How to Tie Balloon Animals for Cub Scouts

How to Tie Balloon Animals for Cub Scouts

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

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

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

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

My foray into Balloon Animals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Scouting Uses for Balloon Animals

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting, 0 comments
Our Favorite Cub Scout Popcorn Sales Videos

Our Favorite Cub Scout Popcorn Sales Videos

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

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

 

The Commercial

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

The Straightforward Ask

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

The Campaign Video

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


 

The Behind-the-Scenes Video

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

Sing a Song

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


 

Movie Trailer

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

Make Your Own Cub Scout Popcorn Sales Videos

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

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

Software

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

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

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

Make Sure Your Video Includes

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

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


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting, 0 comments
The Cub Scout Recruiting 30 Day Rule

The Cub Scout Recruiting 30 Day Rule

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

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

Why did they sign up?

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

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

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

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

 

Council or District Activities

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

Or Plan Your Own…

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

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

Hikes

Alltrails.com is my new favorite app

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

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

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

Rocket Launches

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

Other activities

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

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

 

Photo by woodleywonderworks


Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting, 0 comments
Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

Cub Scout Joining Night Checklist

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

Some supplies you’ll want to have on hand.

Proper Signage

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

Have Something for the kids to do

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

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

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

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




A presentation on the Scouting Program in general

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

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

A presentation on your pack’s specific program

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

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

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

Pack Welcome Packets

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

 

Family Expectations

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

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

Popcorn or other Fundraising Paperwork

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

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

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



Summer Camp Info

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

Youth Applications Checklist

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

In order to be processed, each youth application needs:

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

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

 

After the Meeting

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

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

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

 

 



Photo by Melissa Hillier

 

Joining Night Checklist by Mike Cooney

 

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting, Volunteering, 0 comments
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 Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting, 0 comments
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 Grow Your Group, Marketing, 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


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Gaga Ball Pit


Easy and quick to inflate, this portable Gaga Ball Pit is a huge hit with kids and adults. Interior playing area of 15′ x 15′, this Gaga Ball Pit entertains lots of people for hours. When the game is over, it stows away neatly and frees up the space for other activities. The FunAir Gaga Ball Pit is made with top quality materials and workmanship and backed by a 1 year limited warranty. Includes 2 FunAir Gaga Balls, FunAir electric pump, PVC repair kit and manual pump for inflating the ball.
New From:$2,495.00 USD In Stock

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting
August Recruiting Checklist: 5 Things to Do Right Now

August Recruiting Checklist: 5 Things to Do Right Now

Your Recruiting Checklist

This Tuesday is August 1st. Great recruiting campaigns are made and broken with what you do in early August. What you do right now will determine whether you’ve got a full room come at your joining night in September, or whether you’re going to be lonely, wondering what went wrong. To help you out, here’s a quick recruiting checklist of things you need to get done in early August to make you successful.

 

Get your Recruiting Date Set

This is the big one. Everything else flows from getting this done. Like yesterday. Getting the date, time and location of your recruiting event set now lets you print your marketing materials, and set up your Facebook event. You’ll also want to make sure you’ve communicated this information to your council, as they will get calls from families in your area looking to join.

So now is the time to finalize your building reservations. Make sure you’ve reviewed all the relevant local calendars (School calendar, PTO, School Athletics, Chamber of Commerce, etc.) Also, make sure to check it against your council and district calendars.

 

 

Secure School Approvals

Now is the time to stop by all the schools you recruit from and have the important conversations. How many flyers are you going to need? How do they want flyers bundled? Who needs to approve them?

Will they let you do a school recruiting talk, and can you schedule it now?

Do you have your plan set for school open houses? Who’s going to be staffing them and what are they going to be handing out?



 

Compose your Marketing Plan

Have you designed your flyer yet? What about your posters? Have they been printed? What about business cards? Now is the time to get those things squared away.

Do you know where in town you’re going to hang those flyers and posters?

What about yard signs? Do you know where you’re going to put those?

Have you got marketing tables set up, and the places to do them? Are there any town fairs, carnivals, or any other big public gatherings where could get you a lot of exposure?

Have you got a list of all the newspapers, radio and TV stations that you’re going to send press releases to? Have you started working on your press releases?

 

And your Social Media Plan

It’s 2017. You need a social media plan. If you’re going to do a paid Facebook ad campaign, you’ll want to start planning it now.

If you’re going to do an organic Facebook campaign, have you made a checklist of all the big Facebook groups in your town? Have you set up your Facebook event, and asked ALL the families in your pack to invite any potential scouting families they know?

It’s also time for councils to get their free Google AdWords campaigns set up.

 

Update Your Be A Scout Pin

Make sure your BeAScout.org pin is updated. You can find instructions here on just how to do that.

 

Photo by AJC1

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Marketing, Scouting, Social Media
Rest in Peace, June Foray

Rest in Peace, June Foray

June Foray passed away yesterday. She was 99. She would have been 100 this September. 99% of people have no idea who she was. Admit it. You didn’t – and there’s absolutely no shame in that.

None. And why would you? She very rarely ever appeared on camera, and her main audience was comprised of children on a show that aired almost 60 years ago.

I did. But that’s hardly something to brag about. Makes me great at trivia competitions, but pays off in very few other ways.

But it’s more likely than not she had a little impact on your life. She was the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel (and Natasha Fatale) on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. And the voice of Cindy Lou Who in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. She was also the voice of Nell on The Dudley Do-Right Show. And the voice of Granny on The Bugs Bunny Show. She was in everything from Garfield and Friends, to Weird Science to Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

She was Jokey Smurf. Foray even showed up as Grandma Fa in Mulan.

Whether you knew it or not, you’ve been listening to Miss Foray’s voice for as long as you can remember. She was in all the cartoons my dad liked (Rocky and Bullwinkle, Bugs Bunny) – and in ones he really didn’t (the Smurfs, etc.)

My four-year-old son likes Rocky and Bullwinkle.

She had 308 credits over a career that started as the voice of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in The Egg Cracker Suite to this Rocky and Bullwinkle short in 2014.

So Why Am I Writing About June Foray Here?

Because it got me thinking. I think “unsung hero” is probably a bit of an overstatement when it comes to someone doing the voices for cartoon characters, but she certainly made a positive impact. Take a second to think about all the people who’ve made an impact on your life that you’ve never had the chance to meet, or thank? People who did much less glamorous work than June Foray.

When we take our kids to camp, how often do we think about the people who took the initiative to build the camp? The people who raised the money to purchase all the building materials? The workers who poured the concrete for the dining hall? The volunteers who cleared the trails? It’s not that we don’t thank these people, we take their work completely for granted.

Have you ever moved a summer camp tent platform? Those things are extraordinarily heavy. We don’t think that the camp staff showed up long before anyone else did to get camp set up. This usually involves setting up hundreds of tents, carrying heavy bunks, and mattresses on hot, sweaty days. It’s usually done by 16-year-olds on the first working days of their lives.

We don’t think that the program planning started months and in some cases years before that.

The most of us, the camp is just there. To the kids, it just happens.

What about the people who print the recruiting flyers that got the kids to the joining night in the first place? Or the person who designed the flyers or printed them? Or delivered them to the school in the first place and did the Boy Talk? Someone sat down to figure out how many kids would need flyers in the first place. And hardly anyone ever takes the time to thank the registrars in the office who have to type in all of these applications by hand.

Thankless Jobs

There are thousands of moving parts and people that it takes to make these things happen. And most of them go nameless, and just about always, it’s thankless. You’re probably just as likely to have known who June Foray was as to be able to name a lot of the people who help make these great programs happen. There are whole categories of jobs I haven’t even referred to that are absolutely vital to a successful program.

So, as you’re enjoying your summer program, take a few minutes to think about some of the behind-the-scenes people whose work helps us all, and even better…

Thank them.

Photo by voicechasers

Posted by Mike Cooney in Grow Your Group, Scouting
Doing a School Recruiting Talk

Doing a School Recruiting Talk

Over the years I’ve done hundreds of school recruiting talks or “Boy Talks.”

They’re a great tool for bulking up your recruiting numbers. On average, it’s estimated that a good school recruiting talk can triple the number of families who will actually show up to your joining night.

Let me start with a little story about one of the first Boy Talks I ever did, or rather the result. That year I did around 20 Boy Talks in schools around Aroostook County, Maine. We had a great recruiting season and increased our membership as a district. But that seemed a little abstract to me.

It stopped feeling abstract when I was walking around Camp Roosevelt for one of the Cub resident camps the next summer. A boy who looked to be about eight stopped me on the trail and said, “You’re the man from the school.”

Those few words made my whole summer.

It probably took me about 25 minutes round trip to drive from my house in Presque Isle to his school in Mapleton. Probably another two hours to talk to all the kids in the lunch waves that day. But that brief bit of time got him to join Scouting, got him to camp, and changed his life for the better.

The biggest reason that kids don’t join the program is that nobody asked them. Getting a flyer is not an ask. A personal invite from you is an ask.




Getting the Boy Talk

I think the first question I think of when someone talks about something like this is, that’s great, but how do I get in the door?

You don’t want to overcomplicate this. In my experience, the best way is to just ask them. Go to the school, talk to the secretary, ask to speak to the principal, and tell them what you want to do. You want 3-5 minutes during each lunch period to talk to the kids about Scouting.

Ideally, the person doing the ask is a person with kids in the school, who knows the secretary, knows the principle, and is involved with the school community.

I’ve found that late July / early August are the best times to stop by schools to ask about doing a talk. There’s not a lot going on at the school, so they’re usually in a pretty good mood, and much more likely to entertain your request. If you go the first week of school in September, it’s going to be hectic, and you’re much less likely to get a “yes.”

You want to be prepared for possible objections. You appreciate that they don’t want to take away from the kids instructional time. Let them know that you’re on the same page here. You should also let them know that you’re going to stick to your 3-5 minutes in the lunchroom.

Each school is different and getting to know the people is usually the key to success.

 

Don’t Forget Private Schools

In over a decade of doing these, I have never, ever, ever been turned down when asking a Catholic School to do a school recruiting talk. My success rate at all private schools is nearly perfect. These schools tend to be extremely supportive, and receptive to your message.

Also, don’t overlook Day Cares and other afterschool programs. If you’ve got a tough time getting school access to do a presentation, these can be the next best thing. Also, don’t overlook the possibility of making presentations at Sunday Schools or other religious organizations.

Who Can Do a School Recruiting Talk?

So in just about every district, there’s a math problem. Packs tend to think that only their District Executive can do Boy Talks. But most districts have a lot of elementary schools and only one DE. Combine this with a limited number of days before your joining night, and you can see how a lot of schools won’t get covered.

So who else can do Boy Talks? The short answer is anyone. Of course, you want someone who’s pretty good at public speaking. Someone friendly and warm, who’s going to get the message across soundly.

You want someone who’s not going to fall apart at the snarky comments of fifth graders.

So what types of people should you consider?

  • Cubmasters and Den Leaders
  • Committee Members
  • Pack Parents
  • Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters from your local troop
  • Commissioners
  • Nearby District Committee Members
  • Eagle Scout Alumni




Types of Presentations

Lunch Talks

This the preferred method of school recruiting talk right now. You show up at the school before the first lunch wave. Someone from the school takes you to the cafeteria. When the kids are done eating, you give a 3-5 minute talk on what Scouting is.

These are probably the most exhausting type for you to do, as in some bigger schools you might actually be there for 4+ hours.

Classroom-to-Classroom

These are most common in private schools, particularly Catholic schools. Usually, they send someone with you to escort you from room to room. The teacher stops class for a few minutes, and you talk about Scouting.

School Assemblies

These used to be the most common. The kids are called from class to the auditorium, or cafeteria, or cafetorium. You then get 5-10 minutes to tell them about Scouting.

You can also get some schools to let you do brief assemblies at the end of the day, right before the kids get on the bus.

 

Doing Your School Recruiting Talk

There are lots of ways to actually do school recruiting presentations. No matter what you do, you want to keep it short, to the point. And you absolutely positively have to end it with a memorable call-to-action. “Come to the School Cafeteria at 6:00 pm tonight, bring a parent or guardian and be ready to have fun.”

My own school recruiting talk was pretty simple.

“Who here likes fun?”

Wait for the kids to raise their hands.

“Good, because Scouts have fun. They do fun things. How many here think it would be fun to go camping? (wait for hands) And put up a tent with mom or dad? (wait) How many think it would be fun to go swimming? (wait)”

And I’d list off a bunch of different activities that Cub Scouts do. If you’ve got girls in the room, make sure to talk a little bit about Girl Scouts. Better yet, have a Girl Scout representative with you.

Also, I usually steer clear of talking about shooting sports. You have plenty of other exciting activities you can talk about, that aren’t as likely to cause you trouble with a school administrator.

Make sure you have something to give them. A sticker with a phone number and a website. Maybe a pencil? Perhaps the flyer. I used to have pretty good success giving the kids their flyers and telling them to fold them up and put them in their socks to show to mom when they got home.

When you’re done giving your talk, you can “work the room”, going from table to table answering questions.

Here are a couple of other examples of a school recruiting talk.

You can find a lot more examples of Boy Talks on YouTube.

Take from them what works for you. Make it your own. And have fun with it.
Other Recruiting Articles

7 Things to Do Right Now To Get Ready For Fall Recruiting

9 Summertime Recruiting Opportunities

23 Great Places to Hang Flyers

 

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Photo by USDAgov

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