September 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue
October 2008 Theme
Adventures in Books
Citizen and Showman
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy
Working with a den of young boys can be a challenge.
To make it a bit less daunting, new leaders should become a bit familiar with
what else besides snits and snails go into the make-up of boys.
Boys are different.
Do Your Best. When we think of the Cub Scout motto,
we usually concentrate on the word “best.” However the verb “do” more accurately
describes boys. Boys are involved with doing things. One time National Cub Scout
Director Bud Bennett reminded us:
If three boys are
standing, talking, they are talking about doing something, If three boys are
walking, they are on their way to do something. If they are running, they have
just done something.
Action is important. Boys seem to be most comfortable at
our meetings when things are happening and especially when they are part of the
Even when boys make things, they expect their creations to
do something. Again, Bennett said:
Did you know that when a
boy makes or builds something - like a model plane, a boat or a car - he often
imagines it in action: flying, sailing or racing, as he works on it?
His mind is as active as
The emotional needs of boys
between 1st and 4th grades are basically the same. All boys (in fact, all
The need to be loved.
The need to be accepted.
The need to be noticed.
The need to belong.
The need to be praised and encouraged.
The need to be safe and secure.
The need to let off steam.
The need to express themselves.
The need to experiment (and make some mistakes in the process.)
The need to have fun.
How each boy tries to fulfill
these needs is what really makes him unique. One boy may be very timid and quiet
and another loud and rowdy, but both are afraid they won't be loved. We usually
notice the rowdy one, but both need our care and attention.
If a boy wants to be noticed and receives a lot of attention from you when he
misbehaves, his need to be noticed is fulfilled. He will probably continue his
inappropriate behavior because it best fulfills his need.
Well then, what's a den leader to do? Boys will be boys and will probably get
into trouble. How can you deal with misbehavior, build up their self-esteem and
still maintain some kind of order in your den? You need a plan of discipline.
Council Pow Wow - 1994
DISCIPLINE AND PUNISHMENT
Correcting bad habits cannot be done by forbidding or punishment.
Discipline is the process of learning. Den
discipline is a cooperative process where the boys behave in such a manner that
both the boys and the leaders win: both achieve their objectives. The boys have
fun, do exciting new things and feel good about themselves. The leaders achieve
the aims of scouting, the boys are safe and they all get through the meetings
with a minimum of damage and tears.
Punishment is the opposite. Punishment happens when
discipline fails. Punishment is adversarial: either, the leader wins, the boy is
punished and the boy loses or the leader backs down and the boy wins. .
risky to order a child NOT to do something. It immediately opens to him the
adventure of doing it
Children need to develop self esteem. They need to
win and feel good about themselves. When a leader uses punishment or the threat
of punishment to control behavior, every time the leader wins, the boy loses and
is motivated to misbehave in an attempt to win next time.
Scouting relies totally on positive reinforcement.
The Cub Scout Leader Book
contains the official word on Cub Scout discipline. Every leader should read it
and follow its recommendations.
A few years ago, we presented
six essentials for a Cub Scout leader to get through their meeting or
activity with a minimum of damage and tears. Here they are again in abbreviated
Well planned programs.
The first, and most critical, step toward controlling the
behavior of the boys is to plan a good program. Boys, who are having a good
time, rarely cause trouble.
Get and hold their attention.
You will get nowhere if you lose control of your
meeting. Wearing your Scout uniform, ceremonies, the Cub Scout sign are all
useful. Keep activities short, simple and fun.
They know what’s expected of them.
Boys often misbehave just because they are not sure how
they are expected act. They are imaginative and invent their own standards of
behavior. You don’t want that.
You will need a
Code of Conduct – a set of rules that we all follow at our meetings..
carries out suggestions more wholeheartedly when he understands their aim.
Give each boy individual attention.
Use each boy’s name a lot. Children crave
attention and, the last time I priced it, attention was an inexpensive
Build a team.
Build pride in your den. Use lots of standard team building
gimmicks like den flags, doodles, cheers, secret codes etc.
Uniform inspections instill pride in appearance and this spills over to pride in
Give each boy a chance to lead
or star. There are opportunities in each of the boys’ books for leadership
roles. Use them in your den programs. Skits and ceremonies at pack meetings give
boys opportunities to stand out. Make sure that each of your boys gets these
chances. Use the denner, change denners regularly.
For several years I was a
range master (bb-guns and archery) at one of our Cub Scout day camps and other
council run activities. I estimate the well over a thousand boys went through my
Now misbehavior cannot be permitted on a shooting range.
There is zero tolerance for disobeying the rules. The consequences of
misbehavior are just too extreme. My approach to discipline relied heavily on
the first three of those six essentials. I had too little time with each group
to develop and use the other three methods.
Shooting bb-guns or arrows seems to captivate boys’
attention. I don’t know why this is so but it works. We made sure our equipment
was ready and visible. Targets were up and that the boys knew it as they entered
I insisted on respect for the Cub Scout sign. We can’t
begin shooting if you don’t pay attention. I adopted a new persona – Big Bad
Bill, the Rangemaster. The kids loved calling me by my title even though some
Range rules are pretty much
the same at every Scout camp but I made sure that they knew the reasons for each
one. For example: why does everyone have to get permission from me to enter or
leave the range? Because we can’t shoot if I even think that someone is missing
and could possibly be down range.
Yet of all these boys – many
brand new Tigers – I had only one near case of misbehavior. He was a very young
Cub Scout who had pinched his finger in the lever action of the bb-gun. He was
lying on his mat in obvious pain still holding onto his gun with his good hand.
One of his leaders called to me that she had some ice in their cooler and to
bring him over to where she was. The boy refused to get up or to let go of the
gun no matter what I did.
Finally through his tears he
told me that he hadn’t put the gun on safety and Big Bad Bill had told him never
to leave a gun unless the safety was on. Once we got that straightened out we
got everything fixed up and ten minutes later he was back on the firing line
plinking away at targets.
Finally, here is a list of
positive statements from both Indian
Nation and Orange County Councils.
I like you!
I can tell you really worked on this.
Way to go!
I'm glad you're here today!
I'm glad you're in my den!
That was the best ever!
I thought of you during the week.
You must have been practicing.
You figured that out fast.
I knew you could do it!
Now you've got the hang of it.
I'm proud of you!
You're really sharp today!
I like the way you did that.
Thank you for helping.
I think you're neat!
I'm glad you thought of that.
You are a good listener.
You're on the right track now.
Use them liberally at every meeting.
going to do now?
best gift for a Cub Scout.......
......get his parents involved!
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