School Night is a concerted effort, usually led by the council membership committee in May, September, or October each year in the school systems (private, parochial, and public). One evening is designated for all parents to gather at the school to learn about and hopefully join Cub Scouting. Information is available from your unit commissioner or the local service center.
The above Training Tip comes directly from the Cub Scout Leader book. I just pulled out one of six points under the title "Recruiting Boys". Since my early days as a leader I found this book invaluable. Try to get one for yourself or start up a Pack library with the many different EXCELLENT publications put out by the BSA. Another favorite book of mine is the How-To Book.
The following are ideas that I believe will really help you have an outstanding School Night for Scouting
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Set up about 6 "Olympics" stations (frisbee throw, toss dice into pan, etc.). Make lots of medals ahead of time, and make sure each boy gets one. Ask a few Boy Scouts to come (in uniform, of course) to help with the games and to talk to the kids about their experiences in scouts. (This would also give the boy scouts a sample of what being a Den Chief would be like and possibly get them interested in participating in that program.) If you have enough helpers, you can offer both active and non-active games and let the children choose which they want to do. We usually brought a pinewood derby track and several cars and let the boys race them. It always worked. One year one of the den chiefs was wearing his patch vest and many boys spent the entire time listening to him describe the activities that went with the patches. Have the boys put on a play. I used to like "The World's Ugliest Man." Very funny play. Rehearse them, and then have them stage it for the parents. Agent X is a lot of fun, too. A good gathering activity. The "turtle" races, with a wooden cutout of a turtle on a string (from the Cub Scout Leader's How-To Book) are always very popular. Another idea is to bring in some big cardboard boxes, provide plenty of tape, coloring or paint, and an adult to cut doors and such with a box-cutter or utility knife: let the kids go to town on making a fort, castle, maze, or whatever. After that, they can get inside and play tank. For the last several years my troop has assisted our local cub pack with their back-to school night. The pack has a opening ceremony which is then followed by the new cubs leaving the hall and going into another hall/school gym. We have some boy scouts who set up 4-5 round robin stations. We split the kids up, and they get about 6-10 minutes at each station. By splitting the kids up into smaller groups, it makes things easier to control. Stations can be basic first aid, simple knots, fun games, etc. -- basic skills that the kids have to join in and do. This gives the pack leaders some quiet time to talk turkey with the parents. The pack leaders like it, and the kids (scouts & cubs) think it's great.
What always works for us is some physical activity. We usually have our bicycle rodeo then. Kids love it and see how much fun we have. from Ed Dunn's District Executive Survival Guide:
(1) Have a paper airplane contest.
(2) Make up a list of possible outings and activities, being sure to include things that the Pack (or dens) has done in the past. Give the list to the boys and ask them to circle the ones they would most like to do. (Some of the activities will have a cost associated with them, and should be marked accordingly: $, $$ or $$$; there should only be a few with multiple dollar signs.) This list will give the boys an idea of what Cub Scouts do, and can also be used to help recruit adult leaders by showing them concrete ideas for activities to organize (it's the unknown that scares most of them off).
Some of the games and activities we've done include:
Pass the hula hoop around the circle Supplies: hula hoops
Divide the kids into 2 or 3 equal groups; each group forms a circle holding hands, with one pair reaching through a hula hoop. On the signal, they must pass the hula hoop all the way around the circle without letting go. (Thesmaller kids get a kick out of this, because for once they have an *advantage* over the big kids because they fit through the hoop easier!)
Supplies: wooden clothespins (round ones are best); crayons or markers; sturdy rubber bands; shoe-box tops (optional) Have each child decorate a clothespin to look like a person, then find a partner to wrestle. Wrap a rubber band around the pair of clothespins once or twice, then twist one clothespin several times to wind the band up tight between them (be sure to count the twists so every match is equal). Carefully place the pins into the shoe-box-top "ring" and let go. They will twist and jump (to the players' delight); when they stop, the one on top is the winner. Repeat as many times as you have patience for! Circle knot (or whatever it's called)
Using 6-10 people, make a circle. Everyone puts their left hand into the circle (don't hold hands). Then reach in with your right hand and take the left hand of anybody *except* the people beside you. Now, without letting go, untangle the knot. (Have one or two adults or helpers to work with the children and be sure nobody gets too rambuctious.) You should end up back in the original circle (or maybe with two interlinked circles). Teaches cooperation and teamwork; can be done as a race, but I find it works better without the pressure of competition. Sing action songs, like "Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut"; "I Don't Care If I Go Crazy (1-2-3-4-5-6-Switch)"; "Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes", etc. The zanier the better! We have some of our second-year Webelos act as helpers. Have them wear full regalia (patch vest and everything) -- the younger kids are really impressed by all the stuff they have on their uniforms, plus it gives them something to talk about, explaining what each patch or award is for (which can be helpful as an ice breaker). (Be sure to select Webelos that are going to be *helpers* and not ones that would just contribute to the chaos!)
Our "Back to School Night" is generally the first meeting back after summer vacation to get all our kids involved in the pack again. Last year we had a carnival theme with several different games and relays. Most of them we took directly from the Cub Scout Leader How-To Book (Pack Activities, Rainy-Day Field Day) and the MacScouter's Big Book of Games. Here's a list of some of the things we did:
1) Bowling for Spuds (MacScouter's Big Book of Games)
Need 9" balloons, paper cups, beans or rice, tape & potatoes. Put some beans in the cup for weight, blow up the balloon & tape it to the cup. Bowl with the potato. Gotta watch to be sure they roll the potatoes and don't throw them.
2) Panty hose race (Cub Scout Leader How-To Book) Need several pairs of panty hose. Teams of 2 race to put on the pantyhose and then race across the room & back. We even had leaders doing this one!
3) Twenty-Foot Relay (Cub Scout Leader How-To Book) Need lemons & sticks. Relay teams use a stick to roll lemons down a course & back.
4) Fluff (Cub Scout Leader How-To Book)
Need paper plates & feathers A race carrying a plate of feathers a certain distance & back without dropping any. They must pick up any they drop before continuing.
5) Bean race (source unknown) Need beans, toothpicks, bottles. Boys place beans, one at a time in a bottle To top it all off, we had an ice cream booth where everyone who wanted it could have a scoop of ice cream. It was a big hit with most of the pack showing up and having a good time.
In 1994 we held a Carnival at the local school IN conjunction with School Night. Are You Kidding? you might say. Nay, would be the reply. FAMILIES join Cub Scouting, not just the boy. Moms will come with Johnny. I Want To Join, but if she is single Mom, or Dad is at the salt mines, who's going to watch or attend to siblings?? We smooth-talked the school into a "Welcome Back Carnival", split the costs 50-50, then got local business people to buy ads in the homemade "School Night Flyers" that were a thread off of the stuff National cranked out. While Johnny, et al were shrieking and laughing, we coffeed and cookied the Moms and Dads... out of 63 known families who were there, we ended up with 58, many of whom have recently graduated. The catch line for the Carnival..."If You Think THIS is Fun, Wait'll You Join Cub Scouts!"
Here is an actual schedule sent to me from Cathy from the Sam Houston Area Council
6:45: Registration Table
Kathy Smith and Robin Shoemaker
Flag Ceremony and Pledge
Pack 987: James Bell - Tiger, Charles Bell - Wolf, Adam Brasher - Bear, Steve
Foster - Webelos
7:10 - 7:15 Orientation
Welcome and thanks for coming to Cub Scout Rally night, the annual sign-up and kick-off for another great year of scouting.
Since scouting has become so popular in this area, we have 2 Packs represented here tonight, Pack 987 and Pack 1087. Both packs support Cimarron Elementary.
(All pack representatives waiting in the wings and walk up to front of room as name is called)
Representing Pack 1087 are Paul Huttenhoff - Committee Chairman, Mike Gay - Cubmaster, Cathy Porter - Webelos den leader and color guard scouts Webelos - Cade Porter, Austin Gay and Jon Grinnell.
Representing Pack 987 are myself - Committee Chairman, Joel Brandon - Cubmaster, Paul Anders - Corporate Organization Representative and color guard scouts James Bell -Tiger Cub, Charles Bell - Wolf Cub, Adam Brasher Bear Cub, Steve Foster - Webelos Scout
We have some adults and Boy Scouts who have some fun games and activities for your siblings in the gym.
(Assemble siblings in gym) KP Lohman and Missy Brasher with Boy Scouts
(***As it turned out, ALL the boys went to the gym, so we essentially made the presentation to the parents. The babysitters let those kids who were there to sign up go back out to their parents as the dens were
being formed, right after the slide show. More than one boy came in
just thrilled and asked his parents, "Are you going to sign me up?" or
"Are you my leader?" Our Boy Scouts and Scoutmasters taught knots to the ones that wanted to learn, otherwise they played Red Light, Green Light, Freeze Tag etc.)
We now have a short presentation for you and then we'll get to the business of signing up these new scouts.
Now I would like to turn over the floor to Paul Huttenhoff.
7:15 - 7:20 What is the purpose of Scouting
You can read over the stated Purposes of Scouting in your handouts,
(Handouts provided by SHAC!)
I will emphasize a few of the Aims:
Program developed for Parents of 1st - 5th grade boys
Promotes character development, citizenship training and personal fitness.
Provides a practice in democratic living, a scheme for self-education and a plan for growth in body, mind and spirit.
Is a plan of Advancement, which acknowledges learning by doing and offers a sense of personal achievement.
Is full of adventure.
Now I would like to introduce Donnie Walker, involved parent of a Wolf Cub Scout, to tell you how scouting is organized.
7:20-7:30 How is Scouting Organized?
Den - The smallest organized unit, made up of same-age boys run by volunteer parents
Meets once/week, except for pack meeting weeks
Boys work on team games, crafts, skits, new skills, songs, field trips, advancements, etc.
Here we have boys representing each level of Cub Scouts which make up dens: (We had a boy from each rank in full uniform as our "visual aids."
Tiger Cub - 1st grade boys and adult family member
Tiger Cub & parent: Learn to Search out new activities, Discover new things, and Share with others.
Wolf and Bear Cubs - 2nd & 3rd grade boys
Wolf/Bear Scout: Offers new challenges to accomplish; teaching respect for God, Country, home and other people.
Webelos - 4th & 5th grade boys
Webelos Scout: Teaches greater responsibility, Presents a brief exposure to many different professions, Prepares boys for Boy Scouting.
Uniforms show pride and loyalty to a group; encourage good behavior and a neat appearance; and identify the boy by age, Den and Pack affiliation.
Pack - Group of several dens, ages 6-11, run by seasoned volunteer parents. Offers special additional activities such as Campouts, Pinewood Derbies, Xmas Caroling, etc
District - Regional groups of Packs
Council - Regional groups of Districts
7:30 - 7:35 Finances
BSA is a national organization which you will be joining. To do so, you will pay dues & an insurance fee. There are also Pack dues, which help cover awards and activity recognition. These fees cover a period of 16 months, from now until next December (1998).
National dues: 9.40
Pack Fee: 25.00
Nat'l Insurance: 1.00
Boy's Life (Recommended Option): 12.00
7:35 - 7:40- Song (Cathy Porter & Joel)(The Good Cub Scout)
7:40- 7:45 Leadership
A Den is made up of approximately 8 boys and requires 2 deep leadership
Two or more for each den
Plan & lead Den meetings
Help boys work towards rank achievement
Communicate Pack information to Den families
Attend Leaders meetings once/month
Pack Leaders & Pack Committee Members
From various dens, help plan & run Pack meetings & activities.
The time commitment for leaders is approximately 1-2 hours planning time for each meeting held, plus the initial Training Sessions.
Beth Huttenhoff, Cathy Porter
(Beth began the presentation and I ran in with my arms full of PowWow
books, files, handouts etc. saying, "Beth, Beth, I brought all I could
carry but I didn't unload the closet and I didn't bring the computer."
We were *funny*, even if I do say so myself. Then we talked about
PowWow, Roundtable, University of Scouting etc. as places to learn and
HAVE FUN!!! Two main messages - you aren't in this alone and you don't
have to reinvent the wheel.)
The Boy Scouts of America has an abundance of resources available for leaders, from manuals to sessions to coaches within each Pack.
Outside the home:
Fast Start Orientation
District Basic Training, Roundtables each month, Pow Wow
Den Leader Coach and other Pack Leaders
Rank book and Boy's Life articles
Program Helps with monthly themes
Leader's How-To Book
"The Scouter" newspaper & "Scouting" magazine
7:50-7:55 What's in it for me?
Brings the family closer, strengthens bonds
Makes your son proud, gaining his respect for you efforts
Offers many adult and "older boy" role models, with you as the closest one
You learn your own son's strengths and weaknesses much better, by seeing him work and play among others his age.
You get to know your son's peers and friends well.
"Every child deserves at least one caring adult!"
Quality adult interaction will make the difference
Cathy Porter - Personalize
(Here I told briefly about learning to swim since I became a Cub Scout
leader, getting to attend Boy Scout National Jamboree, and going camping
with the Troop the weekend our older sons voice began to change. If we
hadn't become Cub Scout leaders, we never would have been there with
7:55-8:05 Slide Show.
Close you eyes. Forget about what you have to do when you leave here. Think about how little time you have with your son before he's on his own in the world. Look over his shoulder, into the future, to see the Man you want him to become.
(Lights go off for last sentence as we fade into the slide show)
Start music and slide show of adorable Cubs & Webelos.
Slide show music was Seals & Crofts, "We Will Never Pass This Way
Again." It brings tears! Good ones are also "Teach Your Children"
(Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) "Good Riddance" (No, really! You might
think the name is Time of Your Life, but that's the real name and it's
on the Nimrod CD by Green Day.) "Day Is Done" (Peter, Paul & Mary) and
"Forever Young." (Rod Stewart, I think.)
(As the lights came up we had leaders around the room read "In A Leaders
Hands" ending with a deep-voiced male reading the quote that goes
something like, "In 100 years it won't matter what car I drove or what
my bank account was. What will matter is that I was important in the
life of a boy." This didn't make it to our email copy and I can't
locate it in my notes. It comes from a national source though - like a
ceremony book or Woods Wisdom. I just don't know where.)
Build Dens, Complete applications.
What doesn't appear in this script is how we worked in references to "your son" and how Cub Scouting allows you to spend time with your son
and time strengthening your family. Even in the financial report, Keith added that $47.40 was a small investment for a year of time with your boy and the opportunity to help him and his friends build character.
You are leaders! You can tug those heartstrings!!! You signed up to be a leader because you love your son. Let people know that! That's the best reason of all to do anything.
SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE