By Annaleis Smith
Mar 29, 2016

Cub Scout Purposes – Personal Achievement

Cub Scout Purposes – In a continuing series we are taking a look at some of the reasons WHY Cub Scouting is important and relevant as well as HOW we achieve those purposes. This week’s article will discuss the concept of Personal Achievement – (Click on links below to read about the other purpose of Cub Scouting)

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

So, what does Personal Achievement mean?  Well, I’m not sure if I can actually define it because it would be different for each boy – that’s why it’s personal.  Does it mean that a boy earns all the Cub Scout ranks?  Maybe.  Does it means he learns to get along with others?  Probably.  Does it mean a boy learns to like the outdoors? Possibly.  Does it mean he learns to tie knots? Could be.  Each Cub Scout will achieve something, but exactly what that something is will depend on the boy.    So, I guess this article is not going to be so much what it IS but more of an discussion of what it could be with a mention of what it is NOT.

Which Statement is true?  Personal Achievement = Advancement OR Advancement = Personal Achievement.  Either statement or both could be true depending on the boy, images-206but sometimes I think we parents and leaders need to be very very careful of our own attitudes and expectations in regards to a boy’s achievements.  Much too often advancement is treated as the end goal of Cub Scouting (and Scouting in general) when in fact it is not.  We need to remember that advancement it’s is just one of the Methods of Cub Scouting not one of the Purposes.  A parent does not sign their son up for Scouting for the badge.  They sign him up for all the many things he will learn and be exposed to in the process of possibly earning that badge.

For some boys part of their personal achievement will be met thru the advancement process.  Some boys are very motivated to earn the rank badges and/or to earn as many adventure loops and pins as possible.  Other boys are content to earn what they do and not worry about what they don’t.  Is it okay for a boy not to earn his rank?  Yes!  There is much more to summer camp than how many merit badges a boy comes home with, there is much more to scouting than if he earns his eagle and there are so many things a boy can get from being a Cub Scout even if he does not earn his rank(s). It’s about the journey not just the destination.Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 10.41.15 PM

Let’s look at 3 examples (of the thousands there could be) of boys you may see in your pack who for one reason or another, may or may not earn a rank while he is a Cub Scout.

Example 1 – Let’s say there is a very shy, only child, who spends all his time playing video games in his room. He get’s nervous around other children and always sits by himself at school.  A parent signs him up for Cub Scouting.  In the year, or two, or more that he is a Cub Scout lets say he makes friends and learns to join in the actives and games a den and pack meetings, He is exposed to hiking or other nature activities.  However he (for one reason or another) never does earn his rank badges – not one.  Has Cub Scouting helped fulfilled it’s purpose of Personal Achievement for this boy.  YES!

Example 2 – Let’s say we have a very outgoing, friendly boy from a big family.  He becomes a Cub Scout and learns more about leadership.  He is the denner and does a great job at it.  He learns about citizenship and good sportsmanship and service too but he too never earns any ranks.  Did Cub Scouting help him with personal achievement?  Yes.

Example 3 – Let’s say we have a boy who is very very involved in other activities such as piano, karate, and sports.  Den meetings happen to be held on the same day that he has soccer practice in the fall and baseball practice in the spring so he only makes it to den meetings once or sometimes twice a month.  He is never there enough to compete an entire adventure with the den and his parents may or may not help him complete the adventures at home (he may not have the time) He most likely will not earn his rank and is that okay? Yes!

In each of these 3 examples above, each boy is still gaining something, achieving, growing, learning in some way. Weather he earns all ranks, only 2 ranks or none, a boy can still have personal achievements as a Cub Scout.

images-237Many of you have probably watched two brothers go thru Cub Scouting and in the end one has earned more ranks than the other or more adventure loops or more arrow pints under the old program. (maybe more merit badges as a Boy Scout)  Does that mean he achieved more?  Not necessarily.  While I believe every boy will have the opportunity to learn and grow in many ways while working on advancement, sometimes  a boy can be so focused on doing what it takes to earn that rank that the requirements are just treated as a checklist.  Sometimes the potential learning and growth is not internalized or applied personally.  I propose that sometimes a boy who has earned less advancement wise could possibly have achieved more thru his Cub Scout experiences.

Now, I am not trying to give any excuses or rationalize for those who don’t earn their rank.  I just want to be sure that we understand that it’s okay if they don’t.  Yes, in an ideal world every boy has the motivation to achieve every rank.  Every boy has the time to attend every meeting and activity.  Every boy has the parental support and help to achieve everything he wants to.  We want boys to come, we want boys to earn all the ranks they can but we must never give the impression that he is less, if he doesn’t.  Cub Scouting is for ALL boys no matter what their interest, no matter what their time availability, no matter what their motivation.  Each boy should be given the chance to learn, grow, progress at his own pace and in his own way. There are methods we can use to help motivate boys to achieve more, be that ranks or other, but that’s a whole different topic that we won’t even get into here.images-203 copy

In Cub Scouting each boy will learn, grow and achieve in different ways.  Personal means personal.  Just like the Cub Scout motto is Do Your Best.  We should apply that to each boy individually as well.  Each boy must do his own best, not the den’s collective best or the best that the den leader can do, or that the best parents want.  When asked to stop and think about it a boy knows when he has done his best and when he hasn’t.  We can all list a great many things that being a Cub Scout can help a boy achieve and yet I am also sure that there are things that boys achieve because of Cub Scouting that we don’t see.  What is it that we really want them to achieve?  In my opinion (yours may vary), what we really want is for them to become boys who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Will they all be come that in Cub Scouting?  Nope!  Odds are they won’t.  That’s why we want them to continue on to Boy Scouting to keep having the kinds of experiences that will help them achieve even more.

AnnaleisAuthor: 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, 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 the Utah National Parks Council.

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2 thoughts on “Cub Scout Purposes – Personal Achievement

  1. AvatarColleen Scholz

    Dear Annaleis,
    I want you to know that I love your articles! You have a way of telling it like it is. i’ve loved you since I first went to one of your classes at U of S a couple of years ago. i want you to know that ,though I’ve been in Scouting all these years 926 or so) you are soneone I really admire and look up to.
    Now, I have a question for you, and it’s a hard on I’m afraid–but i need your help, and no one else will do! We are having a terrible time in our Uinta River Ward in the Uinta Basin trying to get our Cub Leaders to get their training. My Bishop and I want to put together a special training in the middle of May or so, on a Wednesday or Thursday and call it an “enrichment” for Cub leaders in our three area Wards. You came to mind, since I love what you say and how you say it, I would like to ask you to be our special guest speaker for the shebang. Please, please say you will do it. I know you’re far away, but you could stay with me at my B and B. The date is not set yet. I’ve only just started, so it’s flexible. I just want to make this a big deal, even serve some food;kind of like a mini Wow Wow. I’m really not sure how to go about this at all. My fellow Ward members jus troll their eyes when I talk about Scouting. I’m definitely the “prophet in her own country”. They get so tired of me. I just want somehow away to motivate them. i’m afraid our whole program is falling apart. i’m only going to have an hour and a half, maybe a little more; I’d like you to take 45 minutes; the rest of the time would probably be District people that I know , to do a couple of mini classes.
    What do you think? Your friend in Scouting, Colleen Scholz

  2. AvatarDoug Drury

    I know just what you mean regarding getting your leaders to do the training required for scouting positions. I have the same problem and I’ve been a scouter for over 40 years. One of the byproducts of LDS membership is the members feel because they are members, study their scriptures, and accept callings they are qualified to perform any function in the church. This is as far from the truth as it could be when it comes to scouting. New leaders called to scouting positions that have never served in these capacities before and have never done the training are virtual babes in the woods and need to understand it’s an entirely different aspect of the church and they need to learn what needs to be done. Would they teach a Book of Mormon class having never read or studied it? Not if they are honest with themselves. Just because you have a testimony of the gospel does not mean you will magically somehow know what to do with scouts. I had a new leader just recently question why he had to do the training since he had been an Eagle Scout some 10 years ago. I showed him the church handbook on scouting that outlines the training requirements for the positions. He was not convinced and said there should be some changes so he didn’t have to take the training. I said fine, you go talk to the person who wrote the handbook and plead your case and get him to change. Oh by the way, the handbook comes from the church offices in Salt Lake through the church Young Men’s presidency who reports directly to the President of the church, Thomas S. Monson, a member of the National Boy Scouts of America Executive council for the last 40 years. He decided to do the training. Point is, scouting is the official activity function of the Aaronic Priesthood and with the tenants taught through scouting such as character building, leadership, life skills, and being prepared are not found in any other function of the church. This is why President Smith in 1913 aligned the church with scouting because he recognized the value it had in teaching boys of all ages life skills they would need not only in life but missionary work. So, just like any other calling that requires training and understanding in order to fulfill it, scouting takes training, specific training the church requires so they may magnify their calling. Besides, what could be easier, the two basic courses are now online and don’t take that much time. Also there are several other courses online that provides valuable insights and content on being a scout leader. Yes, just like a new investigator, your going to have to pick up the book and read it to find out if its true or not. Today with the University of Scouting and District Roundtables there is no reason for a leader not to attend training. They go to sacrament and listen to conference to learn more about the gospel, scout training is just another facet of the process. If they will commit to their scouting calling with the same commitment they have for the rest of the church, they can’t go wrong. Don’t give up and work with your Bishop to motivate your leaders. He also needs to understand the handbook and its relevance to scouting and be as committed to scouting as he is to any other function of the church. He needs to be as selective in scouting callings as he is with the Elders Quorum President or the Sunday School President. Choosing scout leaders that don’t last or give up after a few weeks is one of the most frustrating aspects of the LDS scouting program. All the best and hope the above helps you in getting leaders trained. As the slogan goes “Every boy deserves a well trained leader”.


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