Does your pack/ward have a pack committee?
When teaching about the pack committee I often ask this question. In my experience, too many answer no to that question. In my many years of teaching at roundtable, I have often heard “We don’t have a committee,” to which I usually answer “You DO have a committee or you cannot have a pack.” By this I mean BSA regulations state that in order to charter a pack you MUST have, at a very minimum, the following 7 positions filled: COR (he’s usually a bishopric member), Cubmaster, 2 den leaders, and 3 committee members (one of whom is the chair). So, even if it is just on paper, you DO have a committee!
When a ward charters a Cub Scout pack, as the church has asked each ward to do, it promises certain things. Among those is to select and provide the leadership necessary. A functioning pack committee is a critical part of the leadership needed to provide the Cub Scouting program to the boys in your ward. The COR, Cubmaster, den leaders and the pack committee all have specific responsibilities and when a committee is disregarded, in my mind, it’s almost like calling a primary president without her counselors or secretary. Some consider the Scout committee to be irrelevant or not important. Some see it as a calling to fill technical charter-renewal requirements. Little to no service is asked for, and none is expected. These “paper committees” are useless. Having a paper committee imposes a burden on the other Scout leaders and can aid in leader burnout. It also jeopardizes the integrity of the ward/pack, since it has signed papers telling the BSA that it has a functioning committee when, in fact, it does not. Functioning committees are critical!
Take the Training!
If you’re on an LDS Pack Committee and aren’t sure where to start, you can get started by taking the LDS Pack Committee Training on the Voice of Scouting. The course is designed to provide committee members serving in LDS-sponsored units with the basic information they need to support a pack and conduct a successful Cub Scout program.
What does a Pack Committee do?
In the Cub Scout Leader Book (starting on page 51) the responsibilities of the pack committee are listed. The list of committee responsibilities goes on for 3 ½ pages. To put this into perspective for you, the Cubmaster’s responsibilities take up about 1 page, and the den leader’s list is about ¾ of a page. I’d say that means there are a lot of responsibilities that need to be handled by a pack committee—too many to list or discuss them all here. So let me just give you the general description listed on page 52 under Pack Committee Member:
” Every pack is under the supervision of a pack committee which consists of at least three members (chair, secretary, and treasurer). By handling administrative and support task, the pack committee allows the Cubmaster, den leaders, and their assistants to focus on working directly with the Cub Scouts.
With a committee of three, members must assume responsibility for more areas of service than with a committee of seven or more. Although packs can and do operate with a minimum of three committee members, experience has shown that a larger committee generally ensures a stronger, more stable pack and is better able to perform all the required functions to ensure a successful pack program. It is also a way of involving more pack families in meaningful service to the pack.”
But we do things differently in LDS Scouting…
Yes, it’s true there are some things that we do differently (most relate to when we go camping and whom we take) but there are not as many differences as some would lead you to believe. And there are certainly not enough differences in LDS Scouting to eliminate the need for a committee. In the above paragraph, it lists the Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer as the three minimum committee members needed. Because of the way an LDS pack is structured and funded, those may not be the very three you need. In fact, it was recently pointed out to me that no two functioning committees will look alike. You need the committee that supports your pack in the way your pack needs support—which differs from ward to ward. So, what does or should an LDS pack’s committee look like?
What does the LDS Scouting Handbook say about committees? – In The Scouting Handbook for Church Units in the United States – May 2015 version (More commonly called the “LDS Scouting Handbook” or “The Green Handbook”) committees are covered on page 3. Section 4 is Ward Leader’s Responsibilities for Scouting and section 4.3 is Scouting Committees which reads:
“4.3 Scouting Committees
The bishopric organizes ward Scouting committees to ensure that Scouting functions properly as a supporting activity for Aaronic Priesthood young men and for boys ages 8 through 11. The bishopric calls several capable adults (including fathers and mothers of boys and young men) to serve as committee members. One of the committee members is called to serve as the chairperson. Qualified adults, including those who are not members of the Church, may serve on these committees. Each committee should include a member of the bishopric.
A Scouting committee can be as large as needed to carry out its responsibilities to the individual Scouting units. Where leadership or the number of young men or boys is limited, one committee could represent all young men of Aaronic Priesthood age and another committee could represent Cub Scouting.
When more than one Scouting committee exists in the ward, members of the Primary presidency should be assigned as follows: (1) the member responsible for the 11-year-old boys serves on the Boy Scout troop committee, and (2) the member responsible for boys ages 8 to 10 serves on the Cub Scout pack committee.
- Meet as needed to discuss Scouting in the ward and receive assignments from the committee chairperson.
- Support and assist Scouting activities by providing needed services.
- See that the Scouting units operate in accordance with Church and BSA policies and standards.”
- “to ensure that Scouting functions properly” – The committees should ensure that Scouting not only functions in your ward, but that it functions properly. Is your Scouting program run as a stand-alone program or as the supporting activity that it should. Scouting should be the fun, active, learning environment where boys get to put into practice those values of the Scout Oath and Law—where the stories of Book of Mormon and Bible heroes can be learned by experience, not just by their Sunday class discussions (One good reason why their primary teachers should be on the pack committee). Are we giving them the whole experience or do we just pick and choose which parts we want to do? There is a reason the LDS Church supports Scouting as a whole. We too should be delivering it as a whole program… properly.
- At least 2 committees – “the bishopric organizes ward Scouting committees” notice the plural there. The next paragraph also talked about one for the young men and another for Cub Scouting. Unless it is absolutely impossible, a ward should organize at least two committees: a pack committee and whatever other Scout committees it might need. While the Boy Scouts, Varsity, and Venturing programs have features in common (most especially that the boys are in the Young Men’s program), Cub Scouting is different. It is family-oriented, it is not boy-run, and it does not need to correlate with priesthood quorum activities. The Cub Scout pack really needs a committee of its own.
- “As large as needed” – Notice it says as large as needed, not as small as you can get away with. A call to the pack committee does not need to be a really hard or time-consuming thing. To be asked to be the committee chair with a 3 ½ page list of responsibilities would definitely be overwhelming to anyone. But what if those 3 1/2 pages of duties were spread among 5 of us, or better yet 10? What a difference that would make. While a Scout unit can renew its charter with only three committee members, having a larger committee that spreads the work around will serve the pack’s needs better, and helps prevent leader burnout—to which Scout leaders are very susceptible. Not every ward will have the same needs, and not every ward has the same size pack. You get to determine how many members your committee needs to “ensure that Scouting functions properly” in your ward. Note—Scouting in general is a volunteer organization; we love volunteers. Not all positions in the pack have to be filled as a calling. There is nothing that says any adult can’t volunteer to be on the committee. Again, this may differ depending on the bishopric but remember, many hands make light work and someone who volunteers to help is usually worth their weight in gold.
- Who serves on the committee? – Each committee includes a member of the bishopric and a member of the primary presidency (or two?). The committee should also include fathers and mothers of the boys, including those who are not members of the church. So, of the required three, two are already decided for you. Surely you have at least one parent who would serve. Don’t forget others in the ward—grandparents, primary teachers, ward mission leader, home teachers, anyone really. Note—The Cubmaster and den leaders do attend the pack leaders meetings but are NOT members of the committee (you don’t have a functioning committee if they are doing it all). They are the ones actually delivering the program, working face to face with the boys. The committee is doing the behind-the-scenes administrative type stuff so they can support and help the Cubmaster and den leaders. The primary counselor should not be the committee chair—it’s too much.
- The three main responsibilities of each committee are:
- “Meet as needed” and “receive assignments from the chair.” The norm and BSA standard is monthly. But if your committee can meet less frequently and do all it needs to do, go for it. Maybe your committee meets more often, especially before a large event. You get to decide how often is needed for your pack. However, NOT meeting is not one of the options given.
- “Support and assist by providing services.” That, too, will be very different from ward to ward or even from year to year in your own ward. Because there is the potential for boys to move in and out of dens as well as in and out of the pack every month, the needs are constantly changing. For example, last February our bear den completed their Grin and Bear It adventure by having carnival booths at our blue and gold banquet. Because we only had 3 boys in the bear den at the time it was fairly easy to plan and didn’t require a lot of support from the committee. However, should we choose to do the same thing next year, when we expect to have 9 boys in the bear den, that will be a much bigger deal. Resources (physical and personnel) within your ward will be different from another ward too. Your committee needs to be flexible enough to know how to support and assist the way that your ward needs.
- “in accordance with Church and BSA policies and standards.” – That actually covers a LOT of areas. It seems to me sort of like a “catch-all” phrase to cover everything else. Here are some questions to ask yourself. Is your Cub Scout program being delivered as intended by the BSA? Is advancement happening as it should? Are all your leaders (including the committee) registered? Trained? Uniforms? Roundtable? Does everyone know where to turn for official answers when there are questions? Do you have copies of the Guide to Safe Scouting, The LDS Scouting Handbook, The Cub Scout Leader Book, The Den Leader Guides for each den, etc… All of these things (and lots more) are important to “ensuring that Scouting functions properly.”
The purpose of Scouting in the LDS church is to “help young men and boys enhance close relationships with their families and the Church while developing strong and desirable traits of character, citizenship, and physical and mental fitness” (Scouting Handbook 1.1). The Cub Scout Motto is Do Your Best. That’s all that is expected of the boys and that is all that is asked of the leaders and parents too.
Each ward’s picture is different, so each will have different pieces that make up the whole. Some need more den leaders than others, some have multiple assistant cubmasters… Can you see why a pack committee might look and function differently in each ward and why it’s hard to say point blank “This is how you should do it”? I have been a Cub Scout leader in my ward for 13 years now and in that time I have seen everything from a great well-functioning committee to a “paper committee” and lots of in-betweens. It sure works better with a functioning pack committee!
Annaleis Smith – is a “stay at home” mother of 5 children. She has been a Cub Scout leader for the past 13 years in various positions. She is currently a Cubmaster, Unit Commissioner, and the VP of Membership for the Utah National Parks Council (Heading up the Lion and Tiger initiative in the UNPC) Scouting is for every boy!