December 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue
January 2008 Theme
Fitness and Scientist
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy
Next to games, I would guess
that the top den activity would be projects where the boys get to build grand
and wonderful things. Boys of Cub Scout age love to build things. Several years
ago I wrote a Training Tip that described some of the advantages of projects and
the sorts of things that go on in a boy’s imagination when he builds something.
If you are new to Baloo’s Bugle, you may want to go back to
September of 2005 and check it out.
About eight years ago Brad Farmer, then National
Director of Cub Scouting, suggested that we eliminate the word craft
from the Cub Scout vernacular and replace it with the word
Brad felt that describing a Cub Scout activity
as “craft” had a strong implications of busy work or fine, intricate handicraft
that rarely appeals to young boys. Project, on the other hand,
brings to mind things more physical, more boy-like. Apparently his suggestion
has been largely ignored since most Cub Scout literature still uses craft.
On my little roundtable website, I try to avoid using the word craft and
so far only one person has ever complained about it.
Several approaches I have heard by den leaders
used in planning den projects:
We need to keep them busy for another fifteen minutes so lets give them
construction paper, glue and ……
I saw these pretty gizmos in FunPax Magazine. The kids will just
love to make them,
We need to do Elective 3 so we will make door stops next week.
We need some game equipment for our pack campout. Let’s look in the
Which approach is used will have a huge affect
on the outcome:
is a downer. By the age of 6, most children will spot busy work with ease. Many
will put up with it for a short while with some level of resignation, but they
won’t line up to do it again. If your plan is to bore Cub Scouts, busy work will
doesn’t work for most Cub Scout projects. Try to see projects through the eyes
of a boy. Tools, wood and paint are things to look for. Fine intricate craft
projects can be frustrating for many boys. Beware of them.
and its badges are there to provide adventure and challenge for a growing boy. (See
last month’s Training Tip.) Badge
chasing is the opposite. We should be
more concerned with what happens to the boy rather than what happens to the
What will it do?
Making things that can be used for games works
well. Look at some of the games on pages 3-38 through 3-41 of the How-To Book.
Making the game equipment is just part of the fun. Using it is even better.
The best Cub Scout projects items do things.
They fly, move, throw other things, explode, dig holes, fill holes, cut things,
mend other things, float , sink, or save the world from destruction. Some can be
used to help the boy himself do exceptional things. Others serve well because
they engender a boy’s dreams of great exploits. The reason these work for den
projects is mostly because boys at this age are mostly interested in doing.
Remember the Cub Scout Motto? It’s about doing – doing one’s best. Look at that
great list of projects on page 2-5 of the How-To Book. What will each of them
The Cub Scout Leader How-To Book
lists several ways to judge the value and success of den projects:
Are the boys learning things that
will be helpful for them later?
Do the projects reflect the
interests and abilities of Cub Scout-aged boys?
Do the den and pack projects help
create opportunities for more family activities?
Do the boys enjoy working on
Do they have adequate working
space, tools and materials?
Are the boys given an opportunity
to use their own initiative and imagination in planning and making projects?
In general, projects require more planning and
more preparation than most other Cub Scout activities. Just getting the material
assembled and ready for use can be a major job – and expense. The really
effective projects – the ones that grab boys’ attentions and prepare them for
life – are special and deserve the leaders’ best talents and skills. My advice
to den leaders is to look ahead and plan three or four good projects for the
coming year that fit needs, resources and themes. Then plan for fun and success.
Run each project through the above check list to assure yourself that each has
the potential for success.
Projects often require lots of one-on-one help
for the more challenging steps. You may need more help at your den meeting if
the project involves new skills or intricate procedures. Getting parents
involved with your den meetings may either add to your difficulties or, on the
other hand make your life a lot easier so plan accordingly.
It’s important to have enough help when you
schedule building projects. One of the most valuable benefits of a good project
is that feeling of accomplishment one gets from getting it right. Messing up is
the opposite. Our den activities must never discourage or demoralize a boy who
is trying to do his best.
seem like a trivial concern but our society tends to discourage large numbers of
our youth to the point of limiting their hopes and aspirations. Consider
The "Boy Crisis" from BoyProject.net.
Since the late 1970's, young women have
soared in college attendance while young men have stagnated. Young men's
literacy is declining. Many young men are disengaging from school. Young men are
less likely to be valedictorians, to be on the honor roll, and to be active in
organizations like student government. Young men are more likely to get D's and
F's, to be suspended or expelled from school, to drop out of school, and to
We are losing young boys to a sense of
failure that comes from schooling poorly adapted to their needs. We are losing
adolescent males to the depression that comes from feeling neither needed nor
respected. We are losing young men to life tracks that include neither college
nor any other energetic endeavor.
A large, sullen, poorly educated group of
men will not keep the nation vital in the twenty-first century. The nation needs
the energy, initiative, and ambition of its young men as well as its young women.
The real benefit comes from the worthwhile
things children learn as their self-confidence, inner strength, and self-esteem
grows. Keep that Cub Scout Motto fixed firmly in mind. I was impressed by the
sentiment expressed by screen-writer Tina Fey when she said, “I want to
thank my parents for somehow raising me to have confidence
that is disproportionate to my looks and my abilities.”
I hope that in years to
come, America’s writers, teachers, builders and leaders will be saying similar
things about each of you.
going to do now?
Go get ‘em. We need all the help we
best gift for a Cub Scout.......
......get his parents involved!
Also, be sure to visit
to finds more ideas on everything Cub Scouting.
Comments for Bill
just click right here!
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