Tips from the Trainer


posted Sep 11, 2011, 6:52 AM by Bob Tormey   [ updated Sep 11, 2011, 8:01 AM ]

If you're already an active Scouter, or if this is your first experience of Scouting, the Tiger Cub year is an easy program to lead, and sets the stage for the more advanced ranks ahead of you.  So relax and have fun.  The program asks only that you "Do Your Best" and enjoy the journey ahead of you.

1. Shared Responsibility
The Tiger leadership model places the Den Leader as a facilitator.  You organize, you oversee,  you manage.  Most of all, you communicate.  You may take on the first or first set of meetings and activities, but good leadership will mean that your den activities will take place beyond your home.  The scouts will spend time in everyone's kitchen, in everyone's basement, in everyone's backyard.  Make sure to share the fun equitably.

2. You're a Model
If you wanted a career in modeling or mentoring, you've got one - scouting style.  But who's your audience?  ...  Did you guess, "Your fellow den parents?"  If so, you're right on!

The official models to your scouts are their parents, known as their "Akelas" or "trusted leaders."  You are the Akela to the Akelas.  You will model the scouting program to them.  But how?  Don't fret, because like the overall program, it's easy.

You must to take Youth Protection Training, and should complete Den Leader Fast Track online training by October 1.  Each course is only 20 minutes in length, and will create an initial awareness and familiarity which will propel you ahead of the other parents in the den. 

By November 15, complete the online Tiger Cub Position Specific training and the "This is Scouting" orientation video.  Now you are completely up-to-date and you'll have a very good sense of what to do and how to do it.  But how will you get the time to complete this training?  "Shared Responsibility" comes to your rescue.  Your other den parents are planning and conducting their meetings and the Go-See-Its -- not you!  Let them, while you complete the training and launch your modeling career.

3. What NOT to Do
Don't worry about becoming too involved in the Pack.  You should attend the monthly Leaders Meeting usually held on the first Thursday of the month.  You should read the Leader and Pack e-mails, and you should become familiar with the content on the website.

However, you and your den will NOT be asked to volunteer for pack responsibilities until near the end of the current scouting year.  It is more important that you have a successful and fun Tiger experience.  The pack is large and can take care of itself; however, your observance can help pave the way for active involvement at the pack-level in the years to come.  We'll be counting on you and members of your den AFTER the Tiger year.  All the pack asks at this point is that you "stay tuned."

4. A Quick Tour - Starting with the Back
The Tiger program consists of 5 achievements composed of three different sets of requirements each.  Each of the five has a 1) Family component, a 2) Den component, and a 3) Go-See-It activity.  You can let the den parents handle the den meetings and Go-See-Its, while you manage the overall program, while aiming to for all members to complete their achievements and earn rank at the March pack meeting.

The Let's Go Out Outdoors activities are best undertaken in the Fall.  Visit the Fire station, not the Police Station, for Where I Live.  You'll visit the the Police Station in about two years during Bear.  Go to a Medfield High School varsity game for Keeping myself Healthy and Safe.  Plan for a Historical Society visit for Making My Family Special.  They've got all kinds of colonial and post-colonial artifacts that showcase the ingenuity of early Medfield settlers.  Visit Medfield TV, a local newspaper, or even a Boston television station for How I Tell It.  Chances are, someone in your den knows someone who works for a local station.

By the time you've reached March and your den has earned Tiger rank, you'll be a full-fledged scout leader. Take your time and enjoy the ride.  Engage your den parents, and enjoy your time with your own son.  After a year of "Doing Your Best," you'll be doing very well!

Webelos II

posted Sep 10, 2011, 9:22 PM by Bob Tormey   [ updated Sep 11, 2011, 6:45 AM ]

Webelos II is like Cub Scouting's senior year.  You remember senior year, right?  Chances are you're smiling as you read this.

1. It's a New World ... Almost
If you had a productive Webelos I year, get ready  to coast!  If your scouts want to earn Compass Points, encourage them.  If they want to try for Super 20, push them gently.  As Den Leader, your sights need to be on the Arrow of Light.  Fortunately, a lot of the coordination will take place for you.  You just need to plug-in and assure that everything happens as it should.  For the most part, Arrow of Light will take care of itself.  It only requires a total of eight Activity Pins, and you amassed a bunch last year.  So what's next?

2. "Be Prepared"
The Webelos Readyman activity pin is the Webelos equivalent of the Boy Scout Motto.  It gets them into the Boy Scout mindset by emphasizing safety, prevention, and first aid.  Later in Boy Scouts, they'll have an opportunity to move beyond awareness and into practice.  They will be many steps ahead in whatever they do, they'll get the most out of the present opportunity while prepared for the possibilities in their path.

3. Camping in the Great Outdoors
The Webelos Outdoorsman activity pin teaches and reinforces scouting skills as they apply to camping.   The knots that the boys learned in Bears will be used to fasten their tent.   Fire safety and environmental respect are squarely on the curriculum.  The Webelos experience is a learning-by-doing affair.  They will camp, they will hike, they will cook, and will do so like a Patrol with Boy Scouts.  The Elements, as described in Webelos I, impact Webelos II in a different way.  You will accept three-season, and potentially four-season (e.g., Klondike Derby) exposure in all of its incarnations.  It's pouring buckets?  Great, you'll get a little wet.  Nighttime temperatures in the teens?  Fantastic, you'll dress in layers and bring weather-appropriate gear.  You will be prepared for whatever nature provides for you.  Expect to see a lot of it this year.

4. Sports Court
Although not required, Sportsman is a fitting Activity pin for the final year.  It reinforces respectful competition and knowledge of the official rules, and so promotes maturity and the value of oversight.

5. Scout Networking Scout-style
Your Webelos Scouts will attend at least one troop meeting and will meet one-on-one with at least one Scoutmaster.  During their activities and events with Scout Troops, they will meet Senior Patrol Leaders, work with scouts of all ranks, and will get a sense of how Troops and Patrols operate.  When they cross-over, they not only will have earned their Arrow of Light, they will have been fully transitioned to their new troop in the process, and they will start their new scouting march in stride.

Thank you for your leadership over the years to Pack 200, its scouts, and its families.  You'll be reminiscing about your times with your son, with his friends, and your friends in scouting for many years.  Your son will remember the good times with him for a lifetime, and will take the values he learned into his future, and may even translate your initiative into a successful scouting career (think Eagle!) and beyond.


posted Sep 10, 2011, 5:58 PM by Bob Tormey   [ updated Sep 11, 2011, 5:52 AM ]

So you've embarked on the Bear Trail.  Congratulations!  Your first duty is to pick-up your feet, take a deep breath, and look backwards.

Every scouting events offers the chance for lasting memories: telling jokes at a huge bonfire,  roasting smores (burning, really), carving a goofy or scary pumpkin, sleeping in a battleship, polishing the axles of a sure-winning Pinewood Derby car, or launching rockets high into the sky.  The list of accumulated activities in the family, the den, and the pack is impressively long.  Some stand out more than others; rest assured that there will be plenty more as you reach the midway point of Cub Scouting.  Make sure you relish the past as you imagine the future.

1. "Twenty-four Divided by Two" and Your Homework
When you leaf-through the Bear Handbook, its first impression is its heft.  It seems twice as big as the previous one for Wolf.  And it is, ... sort of.

The Bear year in not unlike the Wolf experience.  It differs in that it offers themes and options.  You have twice as many activities from which to forge your own trail, but the half that you select must cover the four  groups: the basic Bear themes of God, Country, Family, and Self.  Your twelve will have options within them, and it is very possible that every scout in your den will take a slightly different route to complete the necessary number of requirements and earn rank in March.  Like Wolf, most of those choices will be made in the family setting.  It is best to decide on the twelve you will pursue as a den, and then form den activities to complement the family and home-based requirements.  As a Bear Den Leader, you may expend as much energy reminding families about their obligations at home than planning your den meetings.

2. In the Elements
The weather tends to dictate the Cub Scout calendar, so beginning with outdoor-oriented requirements in the Fall makes sense.  If you choose Family Outdoor Adventure, remind families to go on a foliage trip, and include a picnic that the scout will plan.  That's one down!  (Family downhill, cross-country, and snowshoe trips in the winter count too if they like snow.)  The one-mile bike ride from Ride Right is a fantastic Fall den activity.  If you plan an inter-Bear sports tournament with basketball, flag football, and STICK BALL, you just nailed GAMES, GAMES, GAMES!  Visit the Trailside Museum for Sharing Your World With Wildlife.  Also, construct a simple bird feeder from common materials with the goal of attracting birds that remain in New England for the winter.

As darkness dominates and cold air constricts outdoor activities, Bear fun simply moves indoors.  The woodshop beckons for Shavings and Chips, Sawdust and Nails, and Build a Model.  The former offers the opportunity to earn the "Whittling Chip" card.  The presentation of a Jack Knife to the scout can be memorable, along with the first-aid that is sometimes required when the scout slips-up while carving the bar of soap.  Scout-made toolboxes are known to last decades, and this year's Pinewood Derby creation will count toward rank!

3. Around Town
The visit to the holding cell at the Medfield Police Station is an annual Bear gathering spot - for completion of Law Enforcement is a Big Job, of course!  The tour will be flush with excitement.  Make arrangements to lower the US Flag while you are there.  A visit to the Recycling Area of the Medfield Transfer Station on a dry, calm winter day will get you close to Take Care of Your Planet.  A visit to a historic home for The Past is Exciting and Important, even in cold weather, can be educational as scouts learn how early settlers kept themselves warm.

5. House of Prayer
Scouts will visit their place of worship and as they complete either Ways We Worship or Emblems of Faith.  The latter may require the Webelos version of the program for the his Religious Medal.  These  medals are formal, and are the only awards worn by Cub Scouts reserved for special occasions.  As such, the scout can take pride in his religious development while growing deeper in his faith through his National program.  If a family decides on the Emblems of Faith route, an early start is recommended to complete their program by March.

6. Beyond the Badge
Your den adapted to the elements, shared in exciting den and combined-den activities, became familiar with woodworking, deepened its faith ..., and your families completed their own, unique path through the program.  You've earned your Bear badge.  What a year!

But wait.  There's more.  And there's much more fun in store.

In all that excitement, your den probably completed more requirements than than the minimum for rank.  Well, every single requirement that they completed outside of those associated with the Twelve become Arrow Points.  You can go back and complete those extracurricular achievements if you want, do bits and pieces as you please, or consider the Electives section of the Bear Handbook.  The number of Bear post-badge activities is HUGE (remember the "heft" reference earlier?), and the scout gets credit for each requirement every time he completes one.  Your scouts can rack-up the Gold and Silver Arrows before they graduate to Webelos.

So enjoy the past and present moments along the Bear Trail.  Your direction will be more singular next year as the Arrow of Light begins to appear on the distant horizon.

Tiger Tuesday Letter

posted Sep 10, 2011, 6:33 AM by Bob Tormey   [ updated Sep 10, 2011, 9:07 PM ]

Welcome to Pack 200 Medfield!

Hello Scouting Families,

Pack 200's first event for you is affectionately known as "Tiger Tuesday."  Despite the name, it is an orientation for ALL new scouts and their families to introduce you to the journey ahead.  Everyone is encouraged to attend, including siblings if they want.

Tiger Tuesday will feature:
  • a craft,
  • a mini-Pack meeting,
  • a game (using the aforementioned craft),
  • information sharing for the adults,
  • ice cream, and
  • initial den organization and planning.
The event starts at 6:45 PM at the Memorial School.  Please try to get there as close to 6:45 PM as possible.  This is known as "Gathering Time" - a period of informal activity that leads up to a formal Cub Scout meeting.  You don't need to be precise, but arriving in plenty of time before 7:00 PM will provide more opportunity for your kids to engage in the craft.

The Gathering Activity
We will be making "Crazy Robot Helmets" - upside-down paper bowls that will adorned in color, balloons, pipe cleaners, and fuzzy things.  We'll have examples ready, and older Webelos Scouts will be there to help.  You may want to help your child get started, but chances are the kids' creativity will kick-in quickly.  If they do not finish their helmets, they'll have more time after the mini-Pack Meeting.  Please assure that your kids take the helmets home with you; we don't want any heartbroken robots.

The Mini-Pack Meeting
Tiger Dens 1 & 11 will have a dedicated area for sitting.  New Tiger Scouts sit in front, with parents and siblings immediately behind them.  This will simulate the arrangement of a real, monthly Pack meeting.  We will start immediately at 7:00 PM with the Pledge of Allegiance because we'll have a lot of ground to cover before we can conclude the evening.  Our Cubmaster, Gary MacDonald, has an impeccable track record of ending on-time, so I'll need you to take your place by 7 PM.

The mini-Pack meeting will be fun.  It will start officially when you hear us say, "Sign's-up!"  Within a few seconds, we'll ask, "Hey, why aren't your signs up??? ... Oh, you don't know the Cub Scout sign yet, do you?"  And were off from there.  By the time we're done with the mini-Pack meeting, your son will know the sign, salute, motto, and handshake; he'll be half-way toward earning his first Cub Scout badge: the Bobcat.

Game and "Parent Pull-out"
While the children return to the craft tables to put the finishing touches on their helmets, we'll re-arrange the remaining tables for you and conduct a "Parent Pull-out."  This feature allows the Pack to share information with you while the kids are hollering during game-time.  During Tiger Tuesday, we'll explain some background and your role for the Pack meetings.  Pack 200 boasts about 100 scouts, so the large group can become unleashed if not carefully controlled.  This is why we need you sitting behind them at the meetings; we need your gentle support whenever we call-out "Sign's-up!"  We'll need your help to capture and recapture their attention.

We'll introduce you to the "Handbook," which is your scouting guide for the year.  We'll cover the uniform and insignia, and advise you on where to get them.  We'll describe achievements and the badges and other awards that your scouts can earn and display.  We'll review the "Shared Responsibility"  leadership model, and describe the scouting year with special attention to the month of March, when your scouts will formally "earn" their rank.  Finally, we'll describe the life of the Cub Scout Den, which is where much of the scouting adventure takes place.

Ice Cream and Initial Den Planning
As the children feast on ice cream, we'll gather the parents of the new dens into their respective groups.  Leaders will be with you to answer questions.  Our only expectation for the night is that you agree on a place and time for your first Den Planning Meeting.  This is a parents-only meeting held in September at a home or restaurant (we tend to favor the Noon Hill Grille) to satisfy all of the rank requirements by March.  Calendars, paper or electronic, are the main tool to send you on your way home.  We will not let you leave until we have your commitment on the date and place of the planning meeting. To keep the Cubmaster's track record in perfect shape, he'll need you to give him your meeting info before 8 PM.

Oh, and don't forget to take your helmets home with you.

See you there!


posted Sep 8, 2011, 5:05 PM by Bob Tormey   [ updated Sep 8, 2011, 8:34 PM ]

So you've passed Cub Scouts 101, otherwise known as Tiger Cubs, and you're ready for higher adventures as a Wolf Den.  Congratulations!

1. Twelve Achievements?  No Problem!
If at first-pass through the Handbook the Wolf program seems larger than the Tiger offering,  your sense is serving you well.  However, while there are definitely more achievements, the Wolf  requirements themselves are just as achievable as the Tiger's.  The largest challenge to the Wolf Leader is not in the increased activities, but in forging how the life of the den fits into the process.

Some Wolf achievements have Character Connections, which generally take place within the family setting.  The majority of requirements take place in the scout's home.  The Handbook isn't a clearly formatted with regard to what takes place in a den meeting, and what may require or suggest a day trip.  Rather than handing a fixed program to you like the Tiger year, the Wolf program will require some collective creativity. 

2. Ideas for Den Meetings and Activities
Feats of Skill can be adapted for the group setting.  Try doing the front roll and back roll as a race between two or three teams, or go for a group jog.  Consider the High School athletic field as your venue for these activities.  Flag ceremonies are HUGE for scouts; you will be assigned to open a Pack Meeting by presenting colors, and by leading the pledge and a patriotic anthem in the late Fall.  Practice different flag ceremonies at every den meeting so that they become very familiar with them as a respectful, group activity.  In some ways, the Your Flag achievement is a year-long staple of Cub Scouting.  Before the days become too short and cold, go on a den bike ride, emphasizing bike safety found in Be Safe at Home and on the Street.  Clean-up trash at a school, playground, or church, and then take it to the Medfield Transfer Station, where you can talk to the attendants at the recycling area for Your Living World.

As the winter weather arrives, visit the Historical Society to satisfy Know Your Home and Community.  Scout Shops have low-cost, wood working kits, such as simple bird houses, to assemble for Tools for Fixing and Building.  Consider arrangements to visit a local cabinet maker or carpenter shop.  If pursued in December, these woodworking activities can create momentum for building a Pinewood Derby car in January.  Sharing collections at a den meeting in satisfaction of Start a Collection can be fun, while emphasizing the virtue of respect of persons and property.

3. Keeping Focused
To earn the Wolf Badge in March, you will need to keep track of what your scouts are doing with their families, while taking advantage of opportunities for group activities along the way.  The "Den and Pack Meeting Resource Guide" interjects Electives throughout the calendar to create group situations, but focus instead on March rank recognition, and strive to have all of your scouts complete all of their Wolf Achievements by the end of February.  The family focus of the program can actually make February Vacation a very productive time toward earning rank.

4. Beyond the Badge

The Wolf Electives provide many opportunities for group and outside activities.  As the days lengthen and warm, allow your den to choose electives to entertain itself while earning Arrow Points!  Even after your Wolf Scouts have crossed over to Bears in May, they may continue to work on Wolf Electives to compile as many Gold and Silver Arrows as they can possibly fit on their uniform.  (Unlike Achievements, Elective activities can be repeated.)  Continue to meet until the end of the school year to keep the scouting momentum strong.

[Feel free to add your comments, suggestions, etc., below.]

Webelos I

posted Sep 7, 2011, 4:33 PM by Bob Tormey   [ updated Sep 8, 2011, 9:10 AM ]

Webelos I begins the multi-year journey toward the Arrow of Light and the Cross-over to Boy Scouts.  The Webelos Badge is the first step toward the completion of Cub Scouts.

1. Looking and Sounding like Boy Scouts
The Boy Scout Class A uniform is available to the Webelos scout, worn with the Webelos neckerchief.  Ideally, the den should attempt to reach consensus on its choice of uniform; a tan Boy Scout shirt may be preferable to the next-sized, blue Cub Scout shirt when the scout outgrows his original Class A uniform.   There are fewer badges to sew-onto the tan shirt, so the insignia/badge sewing effort is far less.  However, the den may believe that waiting for Webelos II may be best.  The main point is to achieve agreement.

Your Webelos I scouts will need to memorize the Scout Oath, learn the Scout Sign, etc.  The boys should start to act like a Patrol, with some parts of the den meeting delegated to the scouts to lead, or asking the scouts to conduct uniform inspections on each other.  While the Activity Pin requirements may be assigned to other parents, the Den Leader / Assistant Den Leader should be prepared to support the boy's progress directly rather than through the intermediarship of the parents.   The parent drop-off is perfectly acceptable at this stage, whereas leadership was more of a shared responsibility among the parents at the younger ranks.

2. The Webelos Badge

The Den & Pack Resource Guide ("The Guide") provides an achievable plan for earning the Webelos rank.  You can jumpstart the year by asking families to complete the Aquanaut pin over the summer EXCEPT for the "BSA Swimmer Test" (Requirement #7).  When the den reconvenes in September, visit Lake Pearl in Wrentham and complete the 100 yard test there.  Prior to doing so,  take the BSA "Safe Swim Defense" online training yourself, and renew your Youth Protection Training.  Let the boys cheer each other as they complete the test one-by-one.  A treat on the way home would be well deserved.

The Guide recommends beginning the year officially with Fitness and Athlete.  Athlete takes a month to complete as the boys embark on a Webelos 30-day physical training program.  Plan for the early Fall weather to support their routines.

Like the previous two, the next two Activity Pins in the sequence, Forester and Naturalist complement each other.  Spend the latter half of a school-half-day in the Fall at Stony Brook Reservation in Norfolk.  Call ahead, and arrange for a guide.  Doing this as a combined Webelos activity will help defray the cost.  You'll have Naturalist completed before you head back to Medfield.

The last Activity Pin prior to Webelos Badge is Citizen.  Complete this prior to the Blue & Gold Banquet if possible.  Requirement #10 is highly encouraged.  Call a local State Representative or Senator, and visit the State House in Boston.  Prior to doing so, inform the Committee Chair, Cubmaster, and Outdoor Event Coordinator to learn about and file a Tour Plan.  If you visit the Superior or District Court in Dedham,  you may be able to schedule a meeting with a Court Officer.  To keep the activity local, you may want to attend a Selectman's Meeting or visit with the Town Administrator.  Ask your Webelos to create posters or otherwise present what they learned and experienced while earning Citizen.

The Webelos Badge also specifies faith-based activities.  While the various Religious Emblem programs qualify completely for the requirement,  they can be demanding; completing them in time for  early February, along with the other Pack 200 & Webelos activities may prove difficult.  Families should start the Religious Emblem program early in the Webelos I year.  The awards are issued by BOTH the religious organization (Religious Medal) and the Boy Scouts of America (Religious Knot), and will be recognized on Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath in February.  If the religious program is not feasible, the alternate faith-based steps suffice for earning rank.
3. Beyond the Badge
The remaining Activity Pins from The Guide - Artist, Geologist, Craftsman, Engineer, Scholar, and Showman round out the year.  You may use these to earn Compass Points, or may encourage them during the year or over the summer for those Scouts who aspire to earn all Webelos Pins, becoming a "Super 20" Scout.  Plan to achieve at least one pin from all five of the skill groups during Webelos I.  Feel free to ask parents to offer these pins, particularly if they have a background in the area.  Also, go off-sequence if you like, and let the den schedule Family Member, Handyman, Communicator, and Scientist as you wish.  However, reserve Outdoorsman, Readyman, and Sportsman for the next year.  The upcoming Webelos II year aims to achieve the Arrow of Light for which Outdoorsman and Readyman are required.  The last months in the Webelos II year will be spent preparing your den for its transition to a Boy Scout troop.  Your leadership during the Webelos I year will set the stage for the Webelos II home stretch.

Have fun!  Thanks for you dedication to "help the Cub Scout grow."
[Feel free to add your comments, suggestions, etc., below.]

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