What’s New in Cub Scouting
If you have a boy in elementary school, you may be considering Cub Scouts. Cub Scouting has been evolving to meet the current needs of boys and their families.
In 2015, Cub Scouting rolled out a new system based on “adventures.” This system still is being refined, based on nationwide feedback, to best meet the boys’ needs. The new system’s primary goal is to make Scouting more flexible for busy kids and parents. Some requirements that previously were mandatory are now optional to give den leaders more freedom in designing a program for their Cubs. Some camping requirements were changed to allow day outings to fulfill them. In addition, the advancement system was streamlined to make it less complicated. Cubs now give more focus to participation in active vs. passive lessons and are now asked to demonstrate or try an activity more often, rather than just read about it or watch it being done.
Visiting places of interest.
Scout activities are definitely not confined to your school or other meeting location. Our pack has visited a number of fun places in conjunction with what they are learning in Scouts, including Royals and Sporting Kansas City games, the Legoland Discovery Center, local fire stations and Powell Observatory, just to name a few.
Service is an important part of Scouting today. Most parents would probably like their children to participate in service activities, but finding places that will allow children or individuals to volunteer can be challenging. With Cub Scouting, you will have built-in opportunities to serve your community. The boys typically help choose with which agencies they’ll volunteer as a den or a pack.
Cub Scouting is different from other activities for elementary aged kids because it really does include the whole family. The younger the Cub, the more involved the parents will be. Parents are expected to attend meetings with their sons and participate in the activities together. Families also are encouraged to attend the pack meetings, and special campouts are offered for families. The Cub Scout organization does a great job making it easy for parents to be leaders. They provide extensive, easy-to-follow plans and suggested resources for each adventure requirement. While additional creativity is always welcome, you still can have a great time and meet the requirements just by following the detailed outlines in the leader guide.
With most area packs, fundraising is encouraged and available. I’m sure many of you have bought popcorn or trash bags to support your local Cub Scouts. Fundraising helps cover your Cub’s dues, which pay for the expenses of the pack. Boys also can fundraise to cover the cost of day or overnight summer camps. However, my understanding is that your son is not required to fundraise. So if you would rather write a check than have your Cub fundraise, that option usually is allowed.
Youth protection training is required of all volunteers, including parents. This training must be renewed every two years. Cub Scouts are never alone with just one leader (unless that leader is their parent, of course). There is a “two-deep” leadership requirement. This means a leader cannot take a boy or a group of boys on an outing or really any place out of the sight of at least one other leader.
Many parents think that if their child is involved in sports or other extracurricular activities, he won’t have time for Cub Scouts. While each pack differs, most I’ve seen in the Kansas City area have a large group (pack) meeting once a month during the school year and require den (small group) activities or meetings once or twice a month. Typically, March has fewer meetings because of spring break, as does December, thanks to winter break. Den leaders work with their small group to meet at times convenient to everyone’s schedules.
Also, Cubs can complete many requirements outside of meetings with the help of a parent or other adult. The Scouting organization knows children today are involved in many activities, and they want your son to succeed in the Scouting program. To that end, they will work with you, within reason, on scheduling issues. As with any activity, you get out what you put in, and I would argue that an investment of time in Cub Scouting will pay off handsomely.
Cub Scouting offers your son the chance to meet a group of friends and families that he will get to know and be with from kindergarten or first grade through fifth grade. This continuity is very important. You will be enjoying that time with your son as well and meeting other like-minded parents while you get to experience many fun and character-building activities with your whole family. Online registration is available at KCScouting.org.
Laura Miller McEachen is a part-time attorney and full-time mommy. She lives in Overland Park.