Cub Scouts

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My eight year old son just started cub scouts this fall.?Ǭ† He’s pretty stoked and has fun going.

As a parent, I’m not impressed with what our ward offers as far as the cub scout program goes.?Ǭ† For example, this week, their activity was “Putting away the chairs in the gym from general conference”.?Ǭ† Now, if that was ever the lamest cop-out of an activity, I don’t know what is!?Ǭ† I believe they passed it off as a “Service Activity”.

?Ǭ†This got my wife and I talking.?Ǭ† My nephews are also in cub scouts.?Ǭ† They aren’t members of the church, so they go to a community group.?Ǭ† I believe they have 50+ kids going to this community cub scout group.?Ǭ† There are quite a few parent volunteers who help out.?Ǭ† They are always working on badges, skills, getting ready for camps, fund-raisers, etc… all the things I remember doing when I was eight years old and in cub scouts.

Is the difference that we’ve made cub scouts a part of the church??Ǭ† Is it because it’s a calling that it only gets done half-ass?

?Ǭ†We’re considering the idea of taking our son out of the ward sponsored cub scout program and put him in the community one.

I feel bad for our local leadership.?Ǭ† I’m going to assume that they are trying to make the church experience the best it can be.?Ǭ† But from my perspective, it is seriously lacking.?Ǭ† When you have a program being so poorly run, how do you turn that around??Ǭ† How do you create an environment where people actually want to come to church and socialize and participate??Ǭ† How do you combat the apathy??Ǭ† Or perhaps we should strip out all of the unessential programs and leave it to community groups to do what they do best?

29 thoughts on “Cub Scouts

  1. Have you volunteered your service to the Cub Scout leaders or at least voiced your concern to them?

    Community groups have well eatablished programs with people who have been working at it for years. The church rarely has the ability to keep the same people in a calling for that long. Trouncing on the Cub Scout leaders and pulling your children away from the church sponsored programs is not going to help put your ward’s program right. Continued parental support and involvement can only do that.

  2. JM, it’s been my experience that the scouting meetings are only peripherally related to scouting when they are being sponsored by the LDS church (I have no experience with other church-run troups).

    Our son participates in about 1/4 of the scouting activities the boys did when I was growing up, with the other 3/4s being wasted time or some church related service/field trip.

    I am, it sounds, equally unimpressed by the program offered by the church in this regard, as you.

  3. John,

    I have not. At least, not recently. When we first moved into this ward 2 years ago, I was full of advice, suggestions, and a willingness to serve. Those efforts have been ignored and marginalized to the point where I not longer care to help out.

    In my attempts to voice my concern about anything, I get a concerned smile, a not of the head, and a thank-you for bringing it to their attention. I then get a polite sermon how the people in those callings are doing their best.

    I agree that taking him out of Cub Scouts does nothing to help the church or the scouting program in the ward, but it would benefit my son. As a parent, I’m pretty sure that should be my top priority.

  4. rick,

    It is sad.

    In a community scouting scenario, if I valued the organization and what it could offer my son, I would be able to sign up and help out.

    But in the LDS, inspired calling, framework, there is nothing I can do since apparently God doesn’t want me to be involved with His cub scouts.

  5. When my brothers were in Scouts they played floor hockey and basketball. I think they rarely did anything badge related.

    Yeah, I would agree, putting the chairs away is a lame activity. Maybe PART of the activity would be alright.

  6. “But in the LDS, inspired calling, framework, there is nothing I can do since apparently God doesn’t want me to be involved with His cub scouts.”

    And that is why I think a lot of LDS Troops and Packs are very lacking in organization and leadership. The BSA guide on leaders says don’t volunteer unless you can commit at least three years to the scout program. Many LDS Troops read that as you’re in for three years then no matter how good you are we’re releasing you and calling someone else. So the troop never actually gets a real groove going.

    I would love to see more parents involved in my troop but since it isn’t their calling they just drop the boys off, leave, and never really pay attention. Even if they do want to help out they feel like they can’t or aren’t allowed to because it’s not their calling, but they never asked.

    The reality is if parents want to be involved and called me before the scout meeting or activity volunteering to help I’m sure I can come up with something they can help with, calling or not.

    Far as I know the only real limiting thing is that women aren’t allowed on campouts even with their husbands and sons except on Ward or Stake camping trips (if yours has them) which aren’t actually scout related…

  7. “Far as I know the only real limiting thing is that women aren’t allowed on campouts even with their husbands and sons except on Ward or Stake camping trips (if yours has them) which aren’t actually scout related…”

    Which makes me wonder why our Akela is a woman…

  8. When my wife and I entered the Church Scouting program we replaced a couple who were inactive. My wife had to combat a lot of adversity to her ideas about scouting (like uniforms of all scouts, etc.).

    If you talk to the Committee Chair about more well rounded activities hopfully this will get the job done. My wife is the committee chair and she had to get the bishopric involved. The Bishopric now shows up in Uniform and so do the boys.

    The Bishopric is in charge of Scouting program. Our Prophet supports our Scouts and we can too.

  9. When my oldest son and a friend hit 8, the freind’s father and I volunteered to run the pack. Our offer was accepted, and our sons had a good experience in cub scouting. Maybe different from what they’d get in a community pack, but good nonetheless. It helped him bcome better friends with the kids from Church — and the non-members who joined the den.

    There is a yahoo cub group that might help — http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lds_CSL/

  10. To paraphrase my brother, I wish the church would get out of the scouting program, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about sending my son to another troop.

  11. I would like to weigh in on this, as this is something that is close to my heart. I am currently called as the Committee Chair for our ward and also struggles with these issues.

    Many of the things that a community Cub Scout pack does are limited by the church structure. For example, the church does not allow any church sponsored overnight camping. Additionally we are discouraged to do fundraisers. This can limit the amount of external activities that can be done. This requires that our leaders be more creative in the activities that we do each month. It also requires that I as the Committee Chair create an accurate budget for my Bishopric so that we have funds. Unless this is done, your pack’s budget is coming out of the Primary fund, and is competing for priority between activities.

    Another issue we face is lack of parental support. The Cub Scout pack can only do so much in way of badges, belt loops and awards that can be earned during den meetings. Most of the progress is the responsibility of the parents. We have worked to combat this by holding a meeting semi-annually with the parents, so that they understand their responsibilities. Additionally we have an annual calendar that outlines each months themes and the awards that we will be working toward during out den meetings. This has done much in getting the parents involved.

    Work with your committee chair…offer your time. Get involved. Make your presence known…I guarantee your committee chair needs your help, even if they do not know it.

    Good Luck!!

  12. I’m willing to try. However, I need a little more advice.

    I’m a little unsure of how to approach those in charge without comming off too abrasive.

    What I want to say is:

    “The cub scouting program in this ward really sucks, what can I do to help make it better?”

    I bet a response like that would be countered with something like “How about go jump off a cliff!”

    What might be a good way to approach this?

  13. Here is my suggestion…go to the committe chair and volunteer to help with one of their activities that they (should) have scheduled. If they don’t have any scheduled, this is a perfect opportunity to suggest some things. Just remember that there will be little to no $ available for this.
    Another option is to approach the Bishopric member that is responsible for the scouting program. (Usually 2nd counselor) and express your desire for a great program. If you come to the table with suggestions, I can almost guarantee that you will be received with open arms. As with most callings in the church, it is one of many competing priorties and many are overwhelmed. By offering suggestions, and your time, you will be easing their burden.
    Jason

  14. Both our son and our daughter(gasp!) are in a community scouting group that meets within walking distance of our house. My son(8) is going on camps that he would not have the opportunity to go on until he was twelve in a church group. Actually, even when the boys are twelve they often don’t go to any camps other than camps they organize themselves because Scouts Canada allows female members and the church is not so exciting about the co-edness. I’m not sure what the official policy is with jamborees and things where females scouts are present.

    We just chose the group we are in because the proximity worked better with our car-less state, but I think I like the community group better for the reasons mentioned by others above. The church scouting organization has some flaws. Maybe they should take scouting off the “callings” roster and do what the rest of the world does. If you are interested you do it…then those people can be exempt from demanding church callings while they are in scouting. You might get a stronger program with more structure, experience and consistency.

  15. I would like to give you 2 completely different experiences in regards to this topic. The first one was our boys all went to a city cub pack till someone told us the church had one as well. We switched packs and listened to our boys complain that they didn’t get to do the things the boys from the schools were doing with their packs. Keith (hubby) offered to help out as he had LOTS of experience. But in those days he wasn’t the same couth man that his son Kim is today (lol)so he rubbed people wrong. They did sucky activities etc so we pulled them out (we did ask the boys and they wanted to go with their friends to the city one) so we took them out of the church one and reregistered them.

    We got called into the Bp office when he found out and both of our temple recommends were taken away. Not a good way of making friends. But we ended up moving to a different ward with a much younger Bp who took Keith’s experience with the military, air force and scouting as a whole (His dad was the Western Canada Regional Commissioner at the time).

    Boys scouting took a new turn, uniforms were mandatory, outings were a part of the year, their sashes were packed with earned awards and badges. All 4 of our sons finished their years in scouts with the highest nominations which I believe is Queen’s Venturer although Kim will correct me if I am wrong.

    When we moved to BC we basically only had 1 son left with a few years left in Scouts and they went to everything and again he finished his scouting with top honors. Several times Keith has been called to YM President and the last time was when we lived in Vancouver. He had technically 17 boys in his guorum. All but 3 were inactive. The boys that were there would come play ball as most times a leader wasn’t there. Keith went to every home of these boys and convinced them to come out and talk. Together they planned what THEY wanted to do to earn the awards etc with some direction from Keith. At the end of 6 months all boys were active again and all blessing and passing Sacrament. 2 finished YM and left to go on their missions. After 2 years Keith got released and was told it was because he scheduled too many activities and camps for the boys. 3 months after the new YMP was called none of the boys that had been coming out were out anymore.

    Move forward in time to our new ward with an Akela that ROCKS the scouting program. When I was the Primary President in our ward there was no stronger force then the two of us. She knew I knew the scouting program inside out and would back her up for everything that was right. Now our cub parents stay to volunteer. There is no asking them if they “want” to help it is you are scheduled to help out this Tuesday night or is a different one better for you?

    Any parent that complains to much… well I would just push until the Bishopric advisor over PM called them as an assistant. I am not the PP any longer but I had Akela over here this week as we have a grandson being invested tomorrow night and she just wanted to let his mom and I know what to expect. She looked at me and said Sister Haysom you will still stand by me to help me out with the Bishopric becaue you are a grandparent so they have to hear your voice right? You bet I will.

    What was good for my brothers and brother in laws and what was good enough for my husband, his brother and his dad and what was good enough for our sons and son in law is good enough for our grandsons now.

    JM You could always move to our ward to get an awesome cub pack :) but barring that go speak to Akaela but instead of TELLING her what she/he is doing wrong ask what you can do to help her in any way and mean it and then do it. Their isn’t a cub leader in theri right mind anywhere that will refuse help that comes without twisting arms!

  16. I remember being in a community Beaver programme, but I don’t remember being in a community Cubs programme.

    The highest honour for Scouts is Chief Scouts (in Canada). Queen’s Venturer is for Venturers.

  17. I just got called as a den leader and it’s a blast. Something that is really helping our program out- I don’t know if this is kosher or not- but we have the 3 den leaders and we’ll each take all the Cubs for one night. That way we’re only doing an activity once every 3 weeks instead of having to come up with something every single week, and the activities can be quite a bit better. This is where (concerned) parents can come in: Just freakin’ volunteer to do an activity night. You don’t have to clear it with the bishop, just ask the den leader. And unless your den leader is a weirdo, they’ll probably be all too happy to hand it off to someone else for a night, and you may find yourself turning into a den leader. I’ve wound up with a lot of callings out of organizational expediency. : )

    Now, a couple possible caveats to our “rotational” system. 1. It works for our Cubs because we only have 3-5 on any given night, and splitting them up into individual years would be silly. 2. It’s a little more difficult to tailor activities to individual badge requirements that way. 3. Might be completely apostate in terms of how Scouts is supposed to be done (I reckon mostly b/c of #2).

    That being said, it does seem as if a lot of the badges are more suited to doing at home than at activity night- so in terms of getting badges, the scouting leaders are only one of 2 prime drivers. (This factor alone probably explains why the city packs are so much better than church packs- if the parents don’t give a rip, their kid ain’t in Scouts in the first place!)

    Side note: our program is in huge disarray. We’re new in the ward so we don’t know any of their parents (active or otherwise), this is my first time in Scouts and I don’t know which year is Bear, never mind what all these “arrows” and “belt loops” are for, and we just had a complete turnover of primary leadership and Scout leaders. Oh yeah, and the records of which scouts have which badges are AWOL.

    Nonetheless while we’re trying to figure out which way’s up, my approach to Scouts is that merit badges are dandy but what we’re mostly trying to do is help kids become functional adults. Teaching skills, getting them involved with caring grownups, and a whole lot of drilling in manners (don’t hit each other, how to not monopolize discussions, how to apologize for misdemeanors) are sort of my main concerns at the moment. But we have fun too. My current project is to re-memorize the Ka Mate haka so we can teach it to the cubbies (along with some other Maori cultural stuff like history, legend, ta moko, navigation) ’cause I can see Cubs and Haka going together like bread and butter and cultural stuff must fulfill some kind of badge. I only hope their mothers will forgive me for teaching them the haka face.

  18. Wow…scouting up here is completely different. Huge focus in both wards I have been a part of in Edmonton. My husband is currently assistant cub leader and they teach skills constantly, work toward badges, they have a the year planned with a purpose. They all are dressed to the cub scout standards for EVERY activity associated with cubs.

    So what makes these wards different? Both are by the book wards. There’s no bobbing for apples in the baptismal font happening in these buildings. The primary presidency has distinct roles in the scouting program and they support the leaders well. They like to know what is happening and approve calendared activities.

  19. Well, I did it.

    I helped out tonight. I had a lot of fun. I think the kids did too. Things weren’t perfect, but they were good enough.

    It was good to get involved. If they are short-handed for leaders again, I’d volunteer to help.

  20. Sally said: “They did sucky activities etc so we pulled them out (we did ask the boys and they wanted to go with their friends to the city one) so we took them out of the church one and reregistered them.

    We got called into the Bp office when he found out and both of our temple recommends were taken away.”

    Are you saying you became unworthly church member because you exercised your right to parent your child in the way that you felt was best for them? I have never heard that attending a non lds cub scout pack was a reason to lose a temple recommend.

  21. Perhaps the Bp felt that by pulling your children out of the Church’s Scouting program you weren’t sustaining the local church authorities. Not saying it’s right, just one possible reason.

  22. I thought the question was:

    “Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?”

    Maybe your bishop is going off an old list?

    As far as I know, this question is asked of everyone, and priesthood isn’t mentioned. It would be covered in “Other Meetings”. So, would cubs and scouts be considered “Other Meetings”?

  23. Well, it’s been more than a year since I had my last interview, but I don’t remember being asked such a long question. I am pretty certain I was asked about priesthood meetings. If I had access to the temple recommend book, I’d check.

  24. Well, it wouldn’t surprise me if the people asking the question get comfortable with asking them and either revert to an older version of the list or are just “in the ball park” for accuracy.

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