When it comes to leading a Cub Scout den or pack, from Blue and Gold to Day Camp and everything in between, it can seem like there is so much to do! Sure, your Cub Scouts might say they just want to have fun, but if you think about what that means, everyone from Cub Scouts to leaders and parents want to be part of a successful program. And the way to achieve a successful (and fun!) program can be summed up in one word: Planning.
Back in June, Scouter Linda Vaughn, joined the hosts at CubCast to offer some invaluable advice on why planning is an essential part of a great Cub Scout experience. Vaughn, a member of the national Cub Scout Adventure Team, and Cub Master for 8 years, touched on several hallmarks of what makes a successful Scouting program, and how effective planning ensures that all of those qualities are present in your den and pack.
From what we’ve heard listening to the interview, here are 6 of the best planning tips to keep in mind as you lay out your strategy for the next year of your Cub Scout adventure.
1. Choosing Activities
Among all the Day Camps, Blue and Gold banquets, Pinewood Derbies, there are a lot of ifs, whens and wheres to figure out. What district and council events are going on in a given month that your pack would be interested in attending? What fundraising opportunities are needed? Popcorn? Holiday wreaths? What service projects are great for the pack to do together? Keep in mind this handy how-to when planning den outings from the CubScouts.org Learning Library.
2. Purpose of Activities
Now that you’ve decided which activities to do, let’s plan what is the purpose is behind each activity. Knowing the purpose gives the activity a weight and direction. Did it help your Cub Scouts learn something, or accomplish an element of advancement? Is the purpose in line with the Scouting program, and appropriate for the age and skill level of everyone?
3. Element of Fun
Is there an element of fun built into the plan? This is important because it’s not an either/or situation, where you choose between a fun activity or a “Scouting” activity. Scouting activities ARE fun! And to make sure, the fun element is one that can be planned in advance.
4. Utilization of Talents
Does the planned event or activity focus on creating opportunities for leaders and Cub Scouts to use their talents and other skills they’ve learned? This includes especially the talents of those who might not otherwise participate. It’s a great feeling when a Scout or a parent feels that the success of a Scouting activity is because of what he or she knows and can bring to the table. Focus on the strengths of all in your Scouting unit, and use that to your advantage in planning fun activities!
5. Inclusion of Others
When planning activities, keep a mental strategy of how each activity will be inclusive to all who attend. When you plan for inclusion, you prepare for success. It will go much more smoothly when it’s time for the activity, and everyone will feel like they belong. The truth of it is, they do!
6. Involving Families
Scouting is the best way for parents to spend quality time with their children. It’s essential to keep in mind that when planning, you consider the parents as well as the Scouts. Of course it’s all about the Cub Scout, but by providing actives and meetings where parents can easily be a part of the action, it makes all the difference (especially when it’s time to recruit new Den Leaders)!
Planning ensures a well-rounded program that incorporates time management as well as the varying interests and talents of all those involved in your local unit. It’s much more than just sitting around and asking “So, what do you want to do this month.” When you sit down with your Cub Scout committee and put in place the structure that is needed to deliver a quality program to all your Cub Scouts. And you ensure a balanced program that is easier to deliver fun, engaging, inclusive and quality activities for everyone involved.
Don’t take the hard way. We even have a great annual planning guide at the CubScouts.org Learning Library. All of these things require brainstorming and planning and careful, thoughtful preparation. Be prepared! You can start by effectively planning your Scouting adventure and see where it can take you.
Learn more at CubCast.