|1. Character Development||6. Respectful Relationships|
|2. Spiritual Growth||7. Personal Achievement|
|3. Good Citizenship||8. Friendly Service|
|4. Sportsmanship and Fitness||9. Fun and Adventure|
|5. Family Understanding||10. Preparation for Boy Scouts|
Part of the Scout Oath that every Cub Scout learns is “to help other people at all times.” What does that mean to a Cub Scout? At this age, most boys are aware of how their actions affect others. He is learning that he can be a force for good. And he can choose to be helpful. Not only does he need to learn to give service, but he needs to give friendly service. To me, that means with a cheerful heart, with a smile on his face, to do so willingly. Giving service goes hand in hand with citizenship, with family and with character development. Learning to think about someone other than just yourself is part of growing up. Even young boys of Cub Scout age can learn that it’s good to help other people and that you feel good when you do.
What kind of service can Cub Scouts do? The Cub Scout adventures have many requirements that allow them to provide service. But we don’t have to wait for a requirement to have Cub Scouts provide service. Boys should be taught to look for opportunities everywhere.
The first place to start may be to ask yourself, or them, WHO they can give service to. Cub Scouts can serve their parents, their siblings, their friends, their neighbors, their charter organization, their school, the community, the world. Is there really a limit on who they can help? I don’t think so. Yes, it’s true that there probably are some projects that are just too big or too heavy for these little guys to do that might be better handled by the Boy Scouts, but Cub Scouts are capable of more than just picking up trash in the neighborhood (I think that is the #1 Cub Scout Service project). And while that IS a good thing to do, let’s try to think of other things they can do too.
Scouting for Food – It happens every March in the Utah National Parks Council. Food is collected for the local food banks. Our pack, like many others I know, usually distributes the bags/fliers before the pick up date and the Boy Scouts do the actual picking up. Most Cub Scouts are big enough to help with both parts of this annual service project. It might be good to help them see the end result as well as the beginning.
Collections – Are you collecting something else to donate to a hospital or shelter or other organization? Books, coats, gloves, toys or anything else? Cub Scouts can help. Many Cub Scouts are not yet at the age where they care what others think of them, so they are often more willing than older boys to knock on doors (with the proper adult supervision of course) and ask their neighbors to contribute (and they are so cute… that can’t hurt). There are lots of things that need to be collected and donated to various organizations and Cub Scout boys can help.
Conservation Projects – While some boys may not be big enough to do some of the heavy lifting of trees, rocks etc, they can certainly help rake, shovel, pull weeds or plant small plants. And yes, they can help pick up trash too. Boys love to rake up leaves—especially if they are given a little time to play in them first. My den once raked up my neighbor’s yard as a surprise—I was amazed at how quickly they worked when they thought she might poke her head out the door at any moment.
Flag Ceremonies – There are many different types of meetings that could start with a flag ceremony from the local pack. How about roundtable or a PTA meeting? What about a city council meeting or a local sporting event? This is something Cub Scouts can do. Our local cemetery puts out white crosses with flags attached for Memorial day and it has become a favorite project even for our boys. My city, as with many others, also has a flag retirement ceremony in July. It’s a big event held at our local rodeo arena. Any Scout in uniform gets to help carry the flags (there are usually a few hundred of them) to the members of the local national guard who then put them in the fire to be burned. This is a service project that a boy will remember for a long time. Attending and helping at this yearly event has become a July tradition for our pack.
Simple Ordinary Things – Cub Scouts learn that there are simple things they can do every day to be of service to someone. Unload the dishwasher without being asked. Give up their seat on the bus to an elder. Hold the door open for a teacher. Play with the new kid at school. Make your brother’s bed—it’s best if you do it in secret. Help bring in the groceries. Read to a child. Share your toys. Give a hug when someone is sad. Smile. It doesn’t take much to make a difference every day.
It’s good to teach boys to do service quietly—secretly, even—and to not expect anything in return. It was the Boy Scout in London who would not accept a reward for helping the American find his way that led said American, William D Boyce (founder of the BSA), to seek out Baden Powell to find out what this Scouting thing was all about. However, it also helps to know just how much good is done by scouts. So once you have done those service projects as a den or pack be sure to record them on the Good Turn for America website (easily accessible via the UNPC’s Journey to Excellence page) and report that service project too (Journey to Excellence item #8, Service, requires reporting it).
Giving friendly service in simple ways as a Cub Scout will lead to bigger ways as a Boy Scout and even bigger ways as an adult. Don’t discount the good that can be done in the world by your average Cub Scout-age boy.
In this article I have listed just a few things that Cub Scouts can help with. I am sure there are many many more. What is your favorite service project to do with your Cub Scouts? Share your ideas in the comment section below. Lets get a really good list of ideas going here.
Author: Annaleis Smith is a “stay at home” mother of 5 children (3 boys, 2 girls). She has been a Cub Scout leader (Cubmaster, Den Leader, Pack Trainer, Roundtable Commissioner, Akela’s Council staff & more) for over 12 years. She is currently a Cubmaster (2nd time), a Unit Commissioner and the Assistant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council.