|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|
The aims of Scouting are Character, Citizenship and Fitness. So the Cub Scout purpose of Sportsmanship and Fitness fit right in there with the aims. When we see those two words, especially together, I think the first thing many of us think of is sports. Being a good sport – whether we are the winner or looser of a sporting competition or race (like the pinewood derby). In fact I don’t think I need to explain very much about those types of sportsmanship or fitness. There are many adventure requirements that involve games, running etc. It’s pretty obvious how Scouting can aid in those areas. I have already written about how boys really like to be active – to run, jump, race, play games etc. – that’s all a part of making Cub Scouting fun. However fitness is more than just exercise. Fitness involves physical fitness – a healthy body (usually the first aspect to come to mind), emotional fitness – having self control, self respect and courage to do what is right, and mental fitness – being able to think and solve problems.
Instead of spending time on the obvious, I would like to focus on a different side to sportsmanship and fitness that occurred to me as was preparing for a training on this very topic a month or so ago.
When I started to really think about it I realized that there are other things we do in Scouting that I had never really thought of as being under the “fitness” umbrella and yet I believe they are. When we complete Youth Protection Training or Cyber Chip training, we are talking/learning about safety. About what we can do and what they can do to protect themselves from the dangers out there and to know how to keep themselves safe. Physical safety, emotional safety, mental safety are all important parts of personal fitness. Cyber Chip is a fairly new requirement for all ranks (I wrote about them in this article) There are dangers online that can hurt them emotionally, mentally and even physically. In our world today we, and Cub Scouts, spend a lot of time online. Do we/they do so safely?
We can’t protect them or ourselves from everything but just like a runner learns that warming up and stretching first are important parts, preventative steps, of running. There are also preventative steps we can take for our emotional and mental health. Learning to do our best makes us feel good. Knowing what makes us happy, knowing how to express frustration, sadness and a wide range of other emotions as well as learning to let things go and not eat at us. Understanding the importance of learning and keeping our brains fit – exercising your brain just for fun through reading, mental puzzles or other activities.
Cub Scouting (well, ALL of Scouting) should be a safe place where a boy feels safe to explore new skills, express ideas without judgement or ridicule. These are very young boys we are teaching here and they still have lots of growing and learning to do. If a boy feels like he has to be a certain type of boy to be a Cub Scout we are doing something wrong. We need to be sure that we as leaders create and insist upon an atmosphere or culture of respect and acceptance that makes a boy feel like he belongs. Teaching boys not to tease or bully is teaching them sportsmanship. There should be no hazing, no bullying, no put downs, no inside jokes, etc. allowed in your Cub Scout packs and dens. All should feel welcome to be themselves and know that all that is required of them is to do THEIR best. These are young boys who are still learning who they are, what they like to do, what they are good at, what they are interested in learning about. There is SO much potential for growth if we can all be good sports about life and keep our personal fitness in mind.
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 Assistant Council Commissioner for Cub Scouting in the Utah National Parks Council.