|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|
WHY is Fun and Adventure one of the Purposes of Cub Scouting? Does that question really need to be asked? I mean really, we are talking about boys here—young boys. If it’s not fun… well why do it, right? Even for the older boys and us adults too, if it is something we enjoy doing, we try to do more of it. The more fun it is, the more boys want to participate. That is just common sense. The thing we need to remember here is that FUN is just one of the purposes, not our only purpose. If we are only doing it for the fun we are missing out on some of the other benefits and purposes of Cub Scouting.
And Adventure? Who doesn’t love a good adventure? Just the word Adventure suggests something exciting, new, possibly mysterious and of course, fun. They are listed together because when you are talking about little boys, fun and adventure just go hand in hand. At this age it’s all about learning new things, exploring new ideas and having fun while doing it.
Most Cub-Scout-age boys are willing to try just about anything. The question here is what kind of adventures do young boys like? It may not be the same kind of adventures that us leaders would like, but the program is not for us; it’s for them. Make sure as you plan activities and outings that you are thinking about what would be best (and in this case fun) for the boys. The answer may not be the most convenient or easy for the leaders. Yes, we have to be practical and keep it to the activities that our leaders actually can do, but don’t be afraid to stretch yourself, to ask for help or bring in someone else who can help you provide a fun adventure for the boys.
HOW do we provide Fun and Adventure? Follow the program. The new Cub Scout program requires the boys to complete 7 adventures to earn their rank. I don’t think it is a coincidence that they used the word “Adventure” for these new requirements. Again, it suggests fun, explore, experience, go, do, action… Adventure is not sit, talk, learn, tell. Yes, there are some of those types of requirements but they are by far in the minority. Most of the requirements in each adventure require some action. For Cub-Scout-age boys just being together with your friends and doing something (almost anything) is fun. But as leaders there are ways that we can make things even more fun. I am going to suggest just a few:
1. Turn it into a relay race/game
Take for example the Wolf adventure, Paws on the Path. The boys need to learn about the “6 Essentials”. In the Wolf Den Leader Guide it suggests that you use the well known “Kim’s Game” as a way to learn them.
I like Kim’s Game and I have used it, but when I did this adventure with my boys I wanted to make it even more active, so we had a relay race. At one end were the two lines/teams of boys. At the other end was a large paper bag of stuff. Included in all that stuff were of course the six essentials but then there were other items as well, some that would also be useful on a hike and some that were obviously not appropriate to bring. Each boy in turn would run to the bag, pick an item, and bring it back to his team. The team would then decide if that item was one of the 6 essential or not and then send the next boy.
The first team to have collected all of the 6 essentials was the winner. There are SO many ways to turn Cub Scout learning into a game and make it fun. Not all competitions have to have “a winner;” sometimes just seeing if you can do something faster than the last time that you did it, or more times that you did before makes it fun. You should know your own boys and have probably found out already who doesn’t like competition and who does. Baden Powell did say that Scouting is a game with a purpose.
2. Put simple motions with it
We all know there are different ways to learn, we also know that little boys like to be active. Let’s say they are trying to learn the Scout Law. Why not place strips of paper or even tape spaced out on the floor with each of the 12 points written on them. Have them say “A Scout is… then say/read (with help if needed) each word before jumping over them. Just the simple jumping action makes it more fun and will actually help some boys learn it better. Or if that’s not active enough have them run from one side of the room to the other and say one of the 12 points as they touch each wall.
Turning something in to a song is sometimes a fun and helpful way to learn something. Thats how most of us learned our ABC’s. How many of you can finish “Trusty Tommy was a Scout and Loyal to his Mother…” When I was a child a learned the books of the Old Testament in order as a song and I can still sing it.
Most of us have probably used some sort of mnemonic to remember something like ROY G BIV for the color order of a rainbow or your fists to remember which months have 30 days and which have 31. Or who didn’t learn that the spaces on a music staff spell out FACE. And of course as Scout leaders many of us are familiar with EDGE – Explain, Demonstrate, Guide & Enable. There are all sorts of ways to have fun with words to help us learn and remember things.
4. Let them experiment
Let the boys get messy, let them get dirty, and let them experiment. Boy don’t want to talk about dirt, they want to dig in it and feel it. Tigers have an adventure where they get to make up their own game—how fun is that? Bears have an adventure all about laughter. There is lots to experiment with in the Bear Super Science and Forensics adventures. Don’t be afraid to not do something because it might be messy—I know that’s hard sometimes but give it a try. Let them play and experiment with art, science, and nature too. Hands on learning is not only more fun but often more memorable too.
The new program is easier for leaders in many ways. Some leaders have complained about the number of field trips required and have discussed ways to complete the adventures without the “outing” part. If you asked the boys if they would rather go visit the fire station or have a fireman visit their den meeting—odds are they would choose to go to the fire station every time.
Yes, it takes a little more forethought and planning for the leaders (no more winging it on the day of) but it’s way more fun for the boys. They want to go, see, do, and experience, not just learn about. Take them on the outings, let them experience the adventures the way they were intended and they will have lots more fun.
Don’t shy away from an activity that might not fulfill any other purpose. Sometimes we do things just because they are fun and that’s okay—sometimes. While it is important to make sure the boys (and leaders) are having fun, you can be sure there is probably more than just fun they can be getting from that adventure too. Yes, Fun and Adventure is one of the purposes of Cub Scouting, but it’s not the only purpose so keep it in perspective. And be sure to think of new and creative ways to make everything we do in Cub Scouting Fun for the boys.
Fun Activities = Happy Boys = Happy Leaders = Happy Parents = Fun!
Author: Annaleis Smith is a “stay at home” mom of 5 (3 boys). She has been a Cub Scout leader (Cubmaster, Den Leader, Roundtable Staff & more) for over 12 years. She is currently a Cubmaster (2nd time), a Unit Commissioner and Assistant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting in Utah National Parks Council.