September 10, 2009

Why should my son join Cub Scouts?

(Reposted from Arapahoe County Parenting Examiner)

One day, while my son was in Kindergarten, he came home with a flyer. It featured NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon standing beside his racecar, surrounded by a group of Cub Scouts. This was during the height of my son's NASCAR obsession, and he was certain that, by joining the organization, he would meet Mr. Gordon. Despite my hesitance and his misinformation, he joined Cub Scouts as a little Tiger Cub; three years later, he is now a Bear.

However, scouting may not be for every child. In two parts, I will list reasons why your son may or may not want to join Cub Scouts.

1. New Friends

Within the Cub Scout network, your son will have both a den and a pack. The den is a small group of boys who are of the same age and rank. The den typically has between 5-10 members, though it can certainly be larger or smaller. The pack contains all the dens, from the 5-year-old Tiger Cubs to the 10-year-old Senior Webelos. Because of this infrastructure, boys not only get to know members of their den closely, they also meet boys who are younger and older than themselves. There are many social events to bring the group closer together, such as the Raingutter Regatta or Magness Camp.

2. A Special Club

Let's face it: clubs are cool. Cub Scouts have a secret handshake. They must learn oaths, salutes, and mottos. They have a special uniform to wear. They go to meetings. These things may seem trival to an adult, but are very exciting to a young boy. More importantly, the boys gain a sense of pride and recognition for this.
3. Motivation to Succeed

The main idea of scouting is that, every year, the boys work through their rank's book, completing tasks (which are held accountable to an adult) in order to progress to the next rank. They also achieve goals, do research, and complete assignments to aquire badges, belt loops, pins, and even prizes. Throughout the year, the den (and sometimes the pack) helps the boys reach these goals. By the time he reaches the next rank, a young Scout will have a stack of badges and at least one or two pieces of flair to add to his uniform.

4. Extracurricular Activities

School projects are not always known for being exciting. With Cub Scouts, the boys get to build and race cars, boats, and rockets. They learn sign language, meet police officers, visit museums, play games, and try new things. Basically, in order to achieve badges, they must explore the world in which they live.

5. Good Deeds and Family Time

While every pack is different, they all promote the same concept: do your best. Furthermore, they encourage the boys to clean up their communities, to spend time with their family, and to help others. Pack 646 of Aurora, Colorado have picked up trash along Highline Canal, cleaned the yard of Sagebrush Elementary, and raised money to send popcorn to army troops overseas.

To read the reasons why your son may not want to join Cub Scouts, click here.

Photo by waldhans/Stock Xchng

For more information:

"Bring a Girl Scout or Cub Scout troop to your school" by Lori Hampton
"Scouting and Homeschooling - A Perfect Match" by Nancy Parode

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