– Trail Food
– Sun Protection
– First Aid Kit
I could write about why these are essential for Cub Scouts to have with him on an outing, that has already been done.
Instead I would like to share with you what I came up with for a recent stake based training and refined and taught again at my district roundtable as the Cub Scout Leader 6 Essentials. Here is the list I came up with. The things that I decided are the six most essential things that a Cub Scout leader (especially a new leader) needs to know about and understand. (Other than what their responsibilities actually are – I wrote an article on that last week)
Hopefully we have all heard the saying that “Every Boy deserves a well trained leader”. Be the leader that cares enough to get the official BSA training so you know you are doing it right and providing the best program you can for the boys. Again and again it has been shown that a trained leader is a more confident leader. I recently asked a bunch of leaders “What do you wish you had known when you were new?” Over and over the answers came and most of them were related to training. “Wish I had known how and where to take training.”
And Cub Scout leader training is SO easy now. It’s all online at my.scouting.org. The same website that every new leader should be familiar with since that’s where they should have taken their Youth Protection Training before becoming a registered leader. Depending on where you live you may also be able to find a “live” group training taught by your district trainers. Whether you do it unperson or online, while going through the trainings make notes and write down any questions you have along the way. To bring to roundtable and/or your unit commissioner.
Now, most Cub Scout leaders will ask “What is a Unit Commissioner?” or Who is my Unit Commissioner?” Each LDS pack should have a unit commissioner assigned to them from their stake. It will most likely be one of the stake primary presidency members or someone they have asked to fill that role. Non-LDS packs should also have a unit commissioner assigned to them by the district commissioner.
A unit commissioner is there to be your pack’s personal mentor, trainer and resource for all things Cub Scouting. It doesn’t mean that they know everything, but they know who to ask and where to find answers to your question and problems. A unit commissioner can be a real help and friend to your unit. If you don’t know who your unit commissioner is – Ask!
A part of the commissioner service provided by each district is a supplemental and ongoing training called Roundtable. Roundtable is a chance to get to network with and get to know other leaders sho share your same position in Scouting. Its a chance to get to meet and interact with district volunteers and get live and in person help and answer to your questions as well as the most current information and policies of the BSA. Roundtable should be a wealth of ideas for leaders to learn and take back and use in their packs. If your roundtables are not like you think they should be, volunteer to help! I believe that roundtable is essential.
New leaders don’t have to re-invent the wheel. There are already tired and true ideas and plans out there for you. The plans are detailed enough for even the newest leader to follow and yet still leave room to personalize them to your pack. There are tons of resources but at the very least all leaders should be familiar with the following four essential resources:
- Den Leader Guides – There is a Den Leader Guide for each rank. Each guide contains an Intro section with lots of information about the role and responsibilities of a den leader. It then gives you three weeks worth of den meeting plans for every adventure plus additional games, crafts, songs etc.
- Pack Meeting Plans – Cubmasters too have a resource for their monthly pack meetings. These can be found online at scouting.org. Each monthly plan include one of the 12 points of the Scout Law to focus on or emphasize and a fun theme. Cubmasters can use them in the order suggested online or in any order they prefer. Again, detailed enough for anyone to follow but with room to personalize and add in your own packs traditions or favorite activities.
- Cub Scout Leader Book – This is the first book I purchased and read when I was asked to serve as cubmaster 14 years ago. It really does have all the answers to almost any question. Who does what? How do we do…? Why do we do…? It’s all in there. I personally think every leader would have their own copy to write in and highlight but at the very least each pack should have one that leaders can use.
- Journey to Excellence – Journey to Excellence (often referred to as JTE) is a form when used in annual planning and revisited throughout the year will result in a well run program. It helps packs identify those parts of their program that are strong and those that need a little more emphasis. The pack scorecard is then filled out and handed in with the charter renewal paperwork each year. This helps the districts and council know how the packs are doing and where they need to change their focus too. The Utah National Parks Council has created special LDS versions of the JTE forms (called Scorecards) that help clarify some differences in LDS vs BSA packs. Knowing about and using JTE is essential.
The best record keeping system is the one you will actually use. So whether your pack uses ScoutBook or something else be sure you are keeping records in your pack. To keep it simple I like to tell people that ScoutBook is a record keeping, calendaring and communication solution all in one. It has a 30 day free trial so everyone can try it out and after that it’s only $1 per boy. It allows all the leaders, boys and parents see exactly where a boy is at on his advancement and much more. It’s a very visual, easy to use internet based program and can be accessed from computers, tablets and all smart phones.
Advancement records are currently input into Internet Advancement using various methods. If the council doesn’t have record of it… it didn’t happen. Teach a boy to keep his own records and the pack should keep their own too. There are many reasons why I love ScoutBook and you can read about them in another article I wrote called Why I Love ScoutBook. And with the upcoming integration of ScoutBook directly with the BSA systems it will make ScoutBook even more useful and will eliminate the current step of needing to upload a file to Internet Advancement.
There are SO many resources out there on the internet. We all know that when we want to know something we can just “google it” and find the answers. While the information on the internet is plentiful it can also be overwhelming (I once spent hours searching for the perfect awards ceremony) and unfortunately it is also sometime wrong. I encourage leaders to go to the official BSA websites such as:
- My.Scouting.org – This is where we want leaders to go for training. But beyond training there are additional tools that help them access additional information depending on their registered position. The tools here give every pack key 3 (cubmaster, committee chair and COR/bishopric member) access to rosters, BSA ID numbers, training reports and more. Every leader should have an account.
- Scouting.org – Is the website for the national council of the Boy Scouts of America. From here you can get to almost any other official website and find tons of information. No matter what your position is in Scouting there is information here for you.
- UtahScouts.org – The Website for the Utah National Parks Council. From here you can find lots of LDS specific resources (because our council is over 99% LDS units), upcoming council events, and links to your district webpage with even more information. And of course it also hosts this blog.
- LDSBSA.org – Is the LDS BSA relations website and has information specifically for LDS leaders about how to run your pack and where to find information. They also have a number of great blogs and a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to.
Once a leader is familiar with the essentials then they can venture out to other resources and other websites. Knowing where to go for help and correct information is essential. Getting started right will help the leaders have a much better experience in the long run.
You can draw your own conclusions and make your own analogies as to why I put a specific title on a specific item. Is training as critical as water? I think so. Does roundtable give you that little bit of motivation and energy to keep going? It can. How can BSA resources be like a first aid kit or unit commissioner like sun protection? You decide.
What do you think of my list of Cub Scout Leader 6 Essentials? I know, for example, there are plenty of packs that have never seen their unit commissioner and lots of leaders that have not been trained and plenty of leaders who can’t make it to roundtable. And while there are exceptions to every rule, in general I believe that all packs would be better if they started with and use the 6 essentials listed above. What else would you add to this list or what would you change? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Author: Annaleis Smith is a Stay at home mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls). She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003. She has been a cubmaster, den leader, pack trainer, Boy Scout Committee Chair and is now the cubmaster for the 2nd time. She has been involved with roundtable at the district level since 2008 and involved in various council committees since 2010. She loves Cub Scouting and her favorite thing to do is to train other Cub Scout leaders. She currently serves as the president of the Commissioner College Cabinet for the UNPC.