Photo courtesy of theirhistory
We’ve been a scouting family now since mid-September 2009. As a new cub dad and volunteer, I’ll share a bit of what we have learned thus far.
1. Reinforcing the uniform. As my son puts his cub scout uniform on, he begins to wind himself up preparing for the den or pack meeting. There is just no sitting still for my cub when he knows that in a short while, he will be hanging out with his den buddies. I am unsure why this happens, but the buttons on his uniform have been popping off. I have to think that it is a combination of hard play and weak stitching. I sat down this week and reinforced the stitching on the buttons on his uniform. Sounds silly to even mention this, but I love the idea that my son is slowing wearing out the uniform meeting by meeting. I guess I am too new to understand how a Cub Scout Pack can have an experienced uniform closet for new cubs. I just hope we can make it through the Wolf program without losing a sleeve or collar.
2. What to do with the Trails End Popcorn tin. We were introduced to Trails End Popcorn fund-raising on our first night of scouting. Of course we bought a tin for the family to enjoy. This was his kickoff sale. The popcorn arrived and Ben signed thank you notes on the backside of a 4″ x 6″ photo of himself in uniform. Ben asked for the large metal popcorn tin to store his cub hat, belt, kerchief, slide and book. What a great idea! Once you get into cub scouting, you’ll want to keep the uniform together.
You have just invested a hundred bucks getting him to the first meeting so why not keep all of parts together in once place. It will take only one night where you arrive at home with only time for a quick sandwich then off to a den meeting. You don’t need to get riled up and torked because your son does not take enough care for his the uniform to find all half-dozen pieces of it in time to leave the house. Dad, use the tin to store everything but the shirt, pants, and brag vest.
3. There’s an app for that! While I don’t own an iPhone, I do own and use an iPod Touch. I heard a podcast promo for a free app named Brag Vest in the Apple iTunes App Store. This is a very simple program that will help you check off your cub’s accomplished achievements. While it does not and should not replace the rank specific cub book, it is a great app to have in ‘the field’ when you are out and about. You can be out of the house with your cub book back in the Popcorn tin in your son’s room, but you will have handy a list of what your den leader asked the two of you to accomplish as a required achievement.
4. Cub Scout podcasts. I have been an AVID podcast listener/supported for 5 years now. I listen only to podcasts when commuting to and from work. Soon after signing up for cub scouting, I found the podcasts of PTC Media. If an hour a week is not enough for you cub dad, head over to the Pack, Troop, and Crew community that is PTC Media.
We arrive at the first den meeting as a new Wolf cub member. My son is uniformed. He’s not sure what to expect. I’m doing my best to encourage him that what we are about to do is going to be fun.
Earlier in the day, we received a call that that the location of the den meeting had been changed from the church to the den leader’s home. We arrive a few minutes before 7:00 p.m. His son is a Wolf cub and reaches out accepting my son into the den. There are a few other cubs all playing in the backyard. My son jumps in.
It was more awkward for me as a cub dad. I was once a cub. I understand the processes towards achievements. I’m doing my best to remember names. Six boys and an adult partner for each one. I become the observer trying to stay out of the way. Trying not to be a goober. Trying not to breech the process of my son’s acceptence by his peers. I stay within range to give audibles to my son to encourage him. He’s receiving encouragement from his own peers right out of the gate. First den night dynamics.
The hour passes quickly. The den leader and assistant den leader are working the cubs through the first achievement involving the American flag. The den leaders are working two-deep leadership before I even know what that means or how important it is.
The cubs are paired up and take turns decorating what will be their den flag. At the end of the meeting, we are introduced to a fund raiser selling popcorn. The emphasis is on what the cubs receive for different levels of sales.
That was just under 3 months ago. I have watched, patlrticipated in, and learned a few things since then.
1. My son knows he is a member of a group of boys all working together towards the same goals. He knows he is accepted and he contributes to help the Pack go.
2. Pride of being a scout carries into other areas in my son’s life. He reaches into something deep inside of himself since joining scouting and pulls up bravery. Bravery that gets him through an otherwise scary dentist visit.
3. We dig father/son camping.
I have since then stepped up to the call and volunteer as the assistant den leader for the Wolf den of Pack 711. Our season of scouting has begun.
Photo courtesy of theirhistory
My son met a buddy a few years back. Eventually my wife and I met the parents of my son’s friend. As the father and I got to know each other, we talked about putting our boys into a cub scout program. We received some information that the church this other family attended had an upcoming recruitment night. We decided to check it out.
Knowing nothing about modern-day scouting, we soon learn that our boys would be Tiger cubs. The other father and I are sitting there to hear the scouting pitch. We look over to see the Tiger cub group. The cubs look like kindergartener in size. Our boys are 3″ to 4″ taller than this group. Strike one.
We’re still not sure what was happening other than the cubs and leaders were grouped up front while we sit in the back. The leaders give an hour long presentation. Our boys are restless. The leaders are holding what we later put together is a recruitment night slash Pack meeting. The problem is they are moving in and out of both without explanation. One minute we are the audience, the next we are left as spectators. What are they doing? Strike two.
The meeting ends with no information or close. Close as in closing the sell of recruitment night. The close that commits us as cub dads. Our sons as Tiger Cubs. The meeting simply ends. I’m interested in more info. Our boys would be ‘tall’ Tigers. We get that the Cubmaster is creative enough to combine a Pack meeting with a recruitment night. I wanted more information to join up so I approach a tan shirt leader whose head is buried in the screen of his Mac.
One quick inquiry leads to another and we learn what should have been announced at the very beginning of the meeting. Ready? He says, ‘This meeting was an in reach. Not an outreach.’ In other words, if you are not a member of this church, you cannot be a member of this Pack. My friend was a member. I was not. Strike three.
We decide to sit out a year, but the other dad and I continue to talk about getting our boys into scouting. A couple of months ago we joined another Pack in the same town. Our boys are well received as Wolf Cubs. Not a perfect intro, sell, or even close, but we are well received. We’re also height appropriate. We don’t have to join the church which charters the Pack. Can’t wait to meet the other pack at the community Derby.
Photo courtesy of Cub Dad
We are fortunate to have a local scout shop. I had to visit the shop to buy a book. I took my son who just does not like shopping. Even knowing that we were heading to the scout shop, he was not interested.
We arrive at the shop and my son is still not interest in shopping. I told him that we would be in the store no longer than the time it would take to spend a school recess. We walk around the shop and I found the book. We are standing at the counter when my son senses that I am ready to step back and walk around one more time. He looks up at me and says, ‘Recess is over daddy.’
He loves cub scouting. He just thinks that shopping as a waste of time.
Photo courtesy of theirhistory
The cub book seemed secondary to me when purchasing my son’s uniform at the scout shop. I bought the standard paper bound Wolf book. It was less expensive as the fancy spiral bound book. It won’t make sense now, but get that spiral bound book instead.
The book is your cub’s guide through this season of scouting. It’s a work book. You will carry it to and from den and Pack meetings. I kept it by the bedside of my 2nd grader. We would go through the Bobcat section at bed time. Having a spiral bound book makes for easier handling and focuses your cub on one page.
I wish that our Pack had a newbie dad/parent night to hit some of the basics of what to expect and do. It would have been simple to explain the need to complete the 12 Wolf achievements. I had no clue at first that the den leader would acknowledge my approval by signature of his own that my scout had completed an achievement.
I am still quite the newbie cub dad. This blog is more for me than you really. I share insights as a cub dad. The woulda, shoulda, couldas I see in hindsight. Placing a safety cone over a cubbing pot hole. Feel free to clobber me with experience and reason. I’ll keep sharing.
Photo courtesy of theirhistory
How much of my time will this take as a cub dad? This depends on your level of involvement. The Pack that your son has joined has many opportunities for you to ‘help the Pack go’. Right now your primary involvement is partnering with your son. The Wolf Cub handbook is your book as well. More on that in a future post.
Dad, just bring your own skills to the Pack when given an opportunity to share them. If the Pack recruits you to help, do it. You may be a CPA. Bring those skills to the Pack as Treasurer if there is a vacancy.
I was recruited to assist the Wolf Den Leader. I took online courses followed by a half day training course known as Cub Scout Leader Specific (CSLS). Imagine taking your son and multiplying him by eight. You would need a helper right? Even Jon and Kate Plus 8 had helpers.
Our Wolf Den already had an assistant, but take the Den Leader out of a meeting due to illness and the assistant is flying solo with 8 passengers full of energy ready for fun.
I was asked to consider joining the leader team. Another uniform. More money spent, but my involvement as a volunteer benefits me, my son, the Den by always providing two-deep leadership for those 8 boys, the Pack, and it’s a tax write off.
If you are not asked to step up or for some reason you cannot, here is a simple rule to remember.
The 80/20 Tiger, The 50/50 Wolf/Bear, The 20/80 Webelos.
You can expect your involvement to be at 80% to your son’s 20% when he is a Tiger. You decrease to 50% when he is a Wolf/Bear. It lowers to 20% when he is a Webelos.
My guess is you are reading this blog because you want to be involved. If not, you need to know that BSA is not an acronym for Baby Sitters of America. Get involved cub dad.
Your son needs you. Let your son go 20% then 50% then 80%. He’ll thank you for it someday before his Eagle ceremony.
We are fortunate to live nearby the local scout shop. The first step of finding a local pack was followed by a second step of uniforming. A visit to the scout shop began the dollar investment side of scouting. You can expect to spend between $80.00 to $100.00 on the uniform both shirt and pants, council patch, pack numbers, world crest emblem, hat, cub book, neckerchief and slide.
I searched eBay first, but the months of September and October tend to be recruiting months. Every other parent is thinking the same thing you are. Saving money. The problem is that bidding wars combined with shipping costs and the week plus long shipping wait was enough to want a first hand experience in sizing. A month into scouting, I have come to stand by this simple rule: If you live within reasonable driving distance of a scouting shop, support the shop. Leave the eBay sales for those who do not have such a luxury.
Cub scouting leads to boy scouts. A cub scout could hypothetically wear the uniform through four years of scouting. Boys will be boys and some will grow tall between 1st and 5th grade. Boys will also be boys and find ways to tear holes in clothes. Cub scouting is not a desk activity. Your boy will be on the move. Wearing the uniform while running, jumping, and crawling on all fours during the ‘Feats of Skill’ achievements. This said, let the boy play. I personally expect a worn out uniform each year. My humble advice is this. It is not Sunday School clothing. Keep it clean and patched, but don’t freak when the grass stains won’t come out.