Be Prepared: A Year With the Cub Scouts

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Cub Scout Fun Day Archery

The marketing team for the Crossroads of America Council/Boy Scouts of America deserves some kind of medal (Perhaps a badge would be more appropriate?). I’m not sure exactly how they go about selling the concept of scouting to first grade boys, or what they’re telling them. I can tell you that Eli came home from school one day convinced that becoming a Cub Scout was the key to happiness in life.

Now, Eli brings home a lot of information from school, and 95% of he could care less about. He’s a lot like me in his tendency to be a homebody. He has to really, REALLY want to participate in something for it to lure him from home and playing with his friends. We’re fiercely protective of our after-school schedules, so we’re good with that. I’ve always believed that there were plenty of years ahead of us to get involved in sports and clubs. I feel strongly that kids should be excited and motivated on their own to get involved, rather than having adults push activities on them. As parents of a tween, we can attest to the fact that the day will come when they have a strong opinion about what types of extracurricular activities they want to take part in. I might ask the kids if they’re interested in a particular activity when a flier comes home or I see something in the school newsletter, but if they’re not overly enthusiastic, I have no problem keeping our afternoons and weekends activity-free.

The Cub Scout flier fell under the 5% of papers Eli brings home that requires my immediate attention. He wanted to be a Cub Scout, end of discussion! There was an informational meeting for parents coming up, and he immediately wrote it in my calendar. He then proceeded to remind us about it every single day until the meeting time arrived.

That’s how we found ourselves initiated into the world of Scouting. This is all new to us, and I’m very curious to see how Cub Scouts fits into The Risky Kid way as well our parenting philosophy. Here’s what appeals to us so far:

Appropriate Time Commitment: I’ve always heard that Scouting is a big commitment for families. I’m sure that is probably true as the boys progress through the program, but as a Tiger Scout (first grade), we’re finding the commitment to be manageable. We have 2-3 meetings a month, with a few optional activities available as well.

Cub Scout Fun Day BB Guns

Activities That Appeal to Boys: I’m pretty sure Eli was sold when he heard there would be BB guns. He’ll also have the opportunity to participate in camping, archery, rafting, and the Pinewood Derby.

Activities That Complement Our Parenting Philosophy: We’re big on doing things that get our kids moving, playing, and developing life skills that will lead them to becoming competent, independent adults. Even in Tiger Scouts, there are Achievements and Electives that go hand-in-hand with our philosophy, such as spending time outdoors, being of service to others, and learning life skills (how to sew a button, phone manners, using public transportation).

Quality Time With Other Boys & Adults: We’re looking forward to meeting other parents and having Eli get to know other boys in our community that we might not spend time with otherwise. I also like that it gives us the opportunity to participate in something together. So far Mike has been to the meetings with Eli, but this week I’ll go with him so I can get a taste of it for myself. For families that are as protective of their family time as we are, I envision Scouting as an activity that can enhance family time, as opposed to just making demands on it.

Throughout the year, I’ll keep you up informed on what we’re up to with the Scouts and how we feel it’s impacting our family life. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experience with Scouting (Girl Scout Experiences welcome, too!). Was it a positive experience for your family? Or did it not live up to your expectations?



  1. My 3rd grader began cub scouts when he turned 8 last May as a wolf cub. I wasn’t too excited about it mostly because I thought it had to do with shooting guns (not my thing) and camping. BUT, I’ve loved our experience. He wasn’t a big fan of cub scout day camp and that’s something we probably won’t do next year but he loves everything else. What I like the most is that he makes goals and achieves them. He is self-motivated. And there is so much to do as a family. There are so many cool projects that he can choose according to his interests like a photography belt loop or an art elective. Those are things I didn’t know were incorporated into the program. We do a lot of the stuff at home as family activities.

    • Yes, that was another thing that appealed to me: the opportunity to do things together as a family, including siblings. I remember your Instagram of your son working on his photography belt loop!

  2. My oldest daughter just started Girl Scouts (she’s in first grade) and I’m not sure what to think yet. Apparently Girl Scouts changed their focus away from hands-on outdoor activities a few years ago and I’m not convinced it’s a good thing. I’m going to try and be open-minded about it and see how it pans out:o)

    • I’ll be interested to see how your experience compares to our Girl Scout experience of a few years ago. I found the same thing to be true … there seemed to be a big focus on crafting, self-esteem and cookie-selling. I’m all for crafting now and then, but I was hoping for a more well-rounded experience, with a variety of experiences. I did like the emphasis on community service, though. I think a lot has to do with who your troop leaders are and what they want the girls to get out of it. Unfortunately I just didn’t have the gumption to be a troop leader!

  3. Both of mine joined 3 years ago. I wasn’t too thrilled but it met less than karate & made our schedules less hectic! I have to admit I started on as a parent & now I am the den leader, secretary, camping chair, trainer, & popcorn kernel! My younger son has autism so I was skeptical but he wanted to try like his big brother so we did! He has done so many things his therapist have said he would never do – like riding a bike! It has been amazing to watch both my boys grow & to see my older one cross over to boy scouts. This has brought our family closer & we now do lots of camping & service projects as a family! We have met so many other families & I love what it has done for my younger son socially. It is a great decision for many! Welcome to scouting!

  4. We have had a good experience with scouting. My son is basically an only child as my other 2 children are older and on their own now. He is a very outgoing and very personable child so this was a good way for him to meet new friends and find new interest. There have been a few times when he said he didn’t want to do it anymore which he has done with other activities but once at the den meeting or other activity he is all into it and having fun. I have been asked to take on some leadership rolls and I am learning how to handle things on that level. We just finished working on our Pinewood derby cars last night and are looking forward to the race this weekend. The activities are a great way for the kids to learn skills that will stay with them their whole life. I am happy we joined and I look forward to many years of fun.

  5. My 5th grader just bridged from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into when we first started. I am so thankful for the friendships we made along the way with other scout parents. It has been great watching these kids grow up together and enjoy all of these various activities together like one big family. I loved that my little one tagged along to Den meetings with Dad and brother and all the wonderful community service that we got to do as a family. We had several years of wonderful camping memories with the scouts. Lastly, I love the positive impact they have had on my child in character building. My little one will be a Tiger Scout as soon as he finishes kindergarten later this year!

  6. Todd M. Lynch says:

    As a Cubmaster your article got me excited. You are the kind of parent we are trying to reach. I am the exact kind of parent you are. I was very protective of my family time, but both of my boys were interested in Cub Scouts, so I figured why not give it a shot. I fell in love with the program. Not just the activities, but the values it teaches them. Now my older boy has moved on to Boy Scouts and he is learning even more from that program. I loved the program so much that I became even more involved and decided to lead a Pack. Even with my level of involvement it doesn’t create that much of a demand on my time and we are still getting the desired results from the program. I can’t wait to hear how your family experiences the program and how your son enjoys it!

  7. I absolutely love everything about Boy Scouts. We started out in 2nd grade (as a Wolf) when someone down the street was recruiting for a new pack. Now on our 1st full year in Boy Scouts, so 5 years later. This is my 4th child so we’ve seen all sorts of activities and groups with our older three kiddos. I have NEVER seen a group with such integrity and my son is learning so much that he needs to grow up learning. As our last child (and last being a decade younger than his next closest sibling) it provides all sorts of experiences he would not get from us two older parents. (Camping, are you kidding me?). He is moving on to Eagle Scout. Just finished his swimming merit badge, the child who had a terror of pools and lakes, and somehow they got him through it and I now hear how he’ll be joining his troop in a scuba adventure in 2016. I cannot say enough about the program!

  8. I’m curious if there are any other organizations for girls that don’t focus so much on the crafting or cookie selling?

    I often wonder if the success of the cookie selling, and its profits, has become too much of a focus for the organization, which in turn is now taking advantage of families and the children as its means for distribution.