Cub Scouts

The BSA Still Has A Way to Go

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Despite the BSA’s change that allows gay Scouts to participate as a Scout, they still have a way to go before completing the transition.  I know Scouting is on the decline and decisions like this will only continue to hurt their efforts.

The Blind Leading the Blind

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We had our March Pack meeting yesterday with our Cub Scout group. It is a constant challenge for our leadership group to come up with interesting ideas and activities for Pack meetings. One the one hand, we’d like to give them an opportunity for a life lesson of one sort or another. On the other hand, we’re dealing with boys that can’t sit still for very long. Most of the time, we opt for more active activities just because that’s what the target audience demands.

Sometimes we look to the monthly Cub Scout themes for inspiration. This month’s them is “compassion” and we hit upon an idea that struck us all as having potential- we would pair the Scouts up, blindfold one of them and then have the other direct them through the halls of the school without any physical contact. Then, we would sit them down and have them describe a picture of an animal to an adult pretending to be blind.

The blindfolded walk went well and there were some interesting ideas used to help lead the blindfolded Scouts around. Most of the boys used there voices to guide their partner. One thing that worked against us was most of the boys had the halls memorized, so they knew where to turn or what way to turn. There were few, though, that used clapping patterns to guide their partner through the halls. They’d create a steady clap for the other Scout, even going as far as clapping on their left or right to direct them in a certain direction.

Towards the end of the course, we had some parents setup a little obstacle course to navigate so the blindfolded boys really had to listen to their guide. The guide had to concentrate pretty hard as well.

In some ways, the second activity proved more interesting. The boys had a tough time figuring out how to describe the animals, initially. For starters, they misunderstood the aim and thought they needed to describe the animal without using the name of the animal. For instance, the group I was with was trying to describe a giraffe, but they didn’t want to call it a giraffe. They weren’t making the connection that I was pretending to be blind and, therefore, while I may have heard of a giraffe I had never seen a giraffe.

Once they got past that, the next hurdle was color. They told me things like “yellow body with brown spots.” I had to explain that, as a blind person, I don’t really know what brown or yellow means. I could possibly imagine colors, but I have no way of knowing if what I imagine is the same thing they are talking about. This observation seemed to strike a chord as they all grew quiet, perhaps realizing for the first time some of the things a blind person can’t experience.

They continued to struggle with other aspects like using shapes for description, until one of the boys started drawing shapes on my hand and saying “this is a circle” or “this is what round is.” After that revelation, they managed to find their way in describing the animal in a way a blind person might be able to understand.

After our activities, I tried to tie that all back into the concept of “compassion.” Explaining that it’s useful to understand the problems or limitations other people experience and how that allows us to have compassion for them. There’s never any way to know for sure if this stuff actually struck a nerve, but we were able to hold their attention with these activities for quite a while. I’ll take that.

The Quiet After the Storm

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This is the cabin we stayed in last night.  Its all cleaned up now but only an hour ago it was full of Cub Scouts and their parents waking up, eating and cleaning up.

I arrived first to check our Pack in around noon yesterday.  The Cubbies slowly trickled in over the course of the afternoon.  As they arrived, they claimed their bunks- mostly the upper ones because those are the ones that make parents nervous.  There were 3 rooms with bunks which I decided would be for parents only.  It worked out well.

There was a lopsided snowball fight to start things off- me against the kids.  They never stood a chance- their aim stunk.  Their main asset was my fatigue level and a bum knee.  At one point, I realized I was experiencing my own personal zombie plotline- they just kept coming.

I took my fair share of snow, but overall I gave as good as I got.  One of the younger Scouts kept fashioning basketball sized snowballs and trying for a frontal assault.  I kept relieving him of his ordinance and dropping it onto his head.  No sense letting him get away with such poor strategy.

From there, we moved on to sledding.

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Sledding is always good fun.

With roughly 15 adults and a similar number of kids, dinner was an event.  We feasted like kings though- boiled hot dogs, cole slaw, salad and some pasta dishes.  The cabin is outfitted with a stove and fridge and we took full advantage.  A bunch of kids tried roasting their dogs over the campfire.  One lost his to the fire, another dropped his after it had cooked and refused to eat it.  Some parents helped a couple others attain success- as is usual at this age.

Stories around the campfire were fun if not predictable- everybody died.  If they were lucky, they died quickly.  If unlucky, they were horribly mauled prior to death.  A marose group of story tellers the Scouts are.  It could have been worse though.  There could have been copious quantities of burping, farting and pooping prior to death.

After lights out, we tried for a little scare tactics.  I climbed out the window in our room and started tapping on windows and scraping the outside walls.  We had a couple of Moms get captured with blood curdling screams.  We had them going, until I was spotted before we could complete the game.  If nothing else, we’ll know what to do next time.

The morning was full of the bustle of breakfast, packing and cleanup.  Eggs, sausage and breakfast cereal got the day started out right.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.  We’d lost an hour of sleep due to DST today.  Of course, there wasn’t that much sleep to be had so no great loss there.  It’s all good though- all in the name of entertainment.

The best part of the camping is the absence of electronics.  Sure, some parents had some phones and tablets.  But the kids busied themselves with impromtu games involving flying platypuses, Legos and whatever else they could come up with.  They didn’t miss the electronics at all.  Heck, even the parents were reading dead tree based material or playing cards.

The cabin is empty now.  But we left full of memories.

Easy Catapult Design

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I and my Den of Cub Scouts WEBELOS built this little gem about a week ago. I actually built a prototype ahead of time so I could have a plan of attack for directing them through it. It is made almost entirely of Popsicle sticks and tape. The cup is made of paper and obviously there’s the rubber band to make it work. I used 2 inch packaging tape which makes the joints a little stronger, rather than the Scotch tape shown in the pictures.

When completed, it’s actually strong enough to fling a marble a decent distance, and I didn’t even try to seek out an optimal rubber band. Makes for a good half-hour project that kids can do with a little direction. The good thing is the same building procedures are repeated several times over and the only skill required it the ability to wrap tape around the sticks. So I simply demonstrated how to assemble a part and then told them “Do that X more times.”

It’s perfect for completing part of the Engineering WEBELOS Acitivity Badge requirement.

Full directions are here.

Another Blue and Gold In the Books

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This year’s Blue and Gold was, on balance, a much less stressful one for me. That’s in large part due to the fact that our Pack had a conscientious WEBELOS leader who took care of the business of planning the event well in advance of today. As opposed to last year when it all got dropped in my lap with 1 month to go. For the most part, I just had to show up and help a bit with setup.

Not that I was entirely without duties. I had to run the show again, like last year. It’s hard to gauge how well these thing come off from that perspective. Trying to figure out the proper pace for the evening is a bit of an art it seems. In some ways, I felt I did a better job last year. Not that things didn’t go well tonight, things just feel different. One good thing was on balance, I was less nervous than I was last year.

Which is to say, that’s one of the neat things I’ve gotten out of Scouting. Sure, I’m supposed to be teaching the boys some things about self-reliance and other Scout related qualities. But back when I had a job, I would have been content to sit back and let someone else take care of steering the Pack and running the show. In fact, I would have sought that outcome out because I would have considered myself too busy to be able to contribute as I am now.

But by contributing, I’ve stepped into some unfamiliar territory. I’m preparing Den meeting plans, running an entire Pack (with a lot of help for sure- but I’m still the final word), playing the MC at “big” event like tonight. Standing up in front of 70 or 80 people is not something that comes naturally to me. Yet, I’ve found that I can do it. I’m not saying the Grammy’s will be calling me anytime soon, but it’s a shell I’ve been forced out of at the least and I’ve found that I can do it.

Probably the nicest moment of the night was after we had finished and were busy cleaning up the cafeteria. One of the boys who had crossed over to the Boy Scouts, thereby leaving the Cub Scouts behind, came up to me and thanked me and said “I’m going to miss you guys.” He’s a good kid and had only been with our Pack since the fall. To his credit, he’d jumped in with both feet and was an enthusiastic and a willing participant. In my closing comments about him I said my only regret with him was that “he hadn’t been a member of the Pack longer.” So the feeling was mutual.

It’s nice to think we’re doing some things that will be missed. But that’s growing up, I guess.

This Year’s Derby Cars

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I think last year’s Derby cars pretty much tapped out both kids in the creativity department. I also didn’t have much interest in fashioning fancy cars for them yet again. I told the boy that he would be doing all the cutting for his own car. I knew I’d have to help the lass one more time this year, but I told her she had to pick something simple.

It worked out well for both of them. Having done this for 4 years now and having helped with 8 Derby cars, I have to say I’m always pleasantly surprised by the end results. They don’t always look great when the cutting is done, but somehow a little paint and those 4 wheels consistently pull the cars together. This year is the first year neither kid went in for stickers either.

The boy did in fact construct his car this year. He intentionally went with a modified wedge design because he knew that would be easy for him to cut. He even drill out the holes for the weights we added to the rear of the car. I just had to help him put the wheels on.

We’ve already taken the time to make the cars track well, so now it’s just a matter of running the wheels in over the course of the week. Race day is Saturday. We’ll see if we have any overly happy kids then.

Joining Night!

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We’re having our Pack’s Joining Night tonight at the school. Any parents happening by this site who haven’t thought about it should give Cub Scouts a look see for something to get your son(s) involved in. The boy has grown to enjoy it and has a lot of great memories from it and his time isn’t done yet. It’s a great way to be involved in your son’s life.

Do check it out.

Home

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The one thing I’ll remember about our week at Scout camp is the singing. Boy Scouts love to sing, especially during meals. Chants of all kinds, camp songs I’ve heard of, camp songs I haven’t heard of. On day 1, it was amusing but I assumed myself “above” the nonsense. By Wednesday evening, when a Scout yelled “BANANA!”, I was answering the call, yelling “Did someone say BANANA?” and the whole place erupted in the Banana Cheer:

BANANA’S OF THE UNIVERSE UNITE!
Peel!
Peel!
Peel!
BANANA!
Peel!
Peel!
Peel!
BANANA!
GO!
GO!
GO!
BANANA!
GO!
GO!
GO!
BANANA!
GOOOOOOOOOOO BANANAS!

The cheer comes complete with hand gestures. During the “Peel!” parts, arms are stretched above heads with hands touching, then on each “Peel!” call, the are spread apart- like peeling a banana. During the “Go!” part, the arms are pumped to the beat of each call.

You should hear the Napkin cheer.

Every breakfast and dinner was served family style. Each group of campers would send waiters to the dining hall for these meals. The waiters would serve the food, setup the table and take care of cleanup at the end of meals. In between, they were also responsible for getting refills of food when it was all gone. It was at the end of these meals, where the Camp staff would also sing some kind of sing-along song at the top of their lungs. Most of the campers didn’t know the songs, but they were easy enough to pick up on, like “Little Bunny Foo Foo.” Yes, I just wrote that.

Aside from the unique experience that was eating at camp, the boys were kept busy with the business of learning things to help earn their rank badges. They got to swim, do archery, shoot BB’s, fish, take nature hikes, do crafts and learn how to safely use a pocket knife. There was some free time where the kids could do whatever they wanted- which was invariably to end up down at the water front. There, they could swim, go boating or go kayaking, or even go on an inflatable water slide out in the pond. The weather was beautiful almost all week, thus conducive to being in or on the water.

Friday was a washout. It poured like the dickens all day and sapped the remaining enthusiasm out of all the campers. I’d say 90% of the campers were gone by 4 o’clock, even though there was a chicken BBQ still to come as well as closing ceremonies for the camp.

The other memorable item from the week was the theme- space. All of the camp staff would dress up each morning in costumes from all the space movies- Star Wars, Start Trek, Battlestar Gallactica. Even Firefly was represented. The campers were told all week to be on the lookout for aliens, who would invariable sneak around in full view of everyone but the staff. This would lead to amusing altercations between Star Wars characters and Star Trek characters over who had jurisdiction to capture the aliens, who would then quietly escape unharmed. We even got to witness a lightsaber duel between a camp staffer and camper. The staffer won handily and there were no more lightsaber challenges.

Despite the grand time had by the kids and the parents, it was still nice to come home last night and sleep in a bed. No worries about wolf spiders or other creepy crawlies spooking the kids. No worries about rain or getting up early to start the day. After a zany week of camp, it was good to come home to some normalcy.

A Letter From Camp

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As it turns out, the camp is not isolated. There’s WIFI access and even a community computer, from which I logged this post. Had I known, I defintely would have taken advantage of the amenities. The weather has been beyond fantastic so far- no humidity, cool nights, lots of Sun but not too hot. For August, we’ll take this weather as long as it comes.

The following is a letter the boy wrote to his Mom on the first day of camp. Per my usual, all spelling and punctuation is as the boy wrote it. I did modify one small section to remove names:

Dear Mom,

I had a great time at camp. I past my swim test! I am in the blue section witch is the deapest end. That also means I am in the read and white. The red is the second deapest, and the white setion is the most shallow. There are waiters in the cafe and two of my Pack mates were waiters today. After they talked about the Archery and BB gun range. we went to place were we had a second sarimony except with little acts my favorit was a one called channel flipper I think then we finally went to bed.

THE END

That was written Sunday night, after we put all the boys to bed finally. The following day, Monday, was when all the camp wide activities and “curriculum” began. That’s why he noted “they talked about Archery and BB gun range”- there was a talk Sunday night to make sure the boys understood the rules and what would be expected of them at those activities.

It’s an interesting experience being immersed with 9 and 10 year olds for such an extended period of time. I get to know them in a way that I’d never see otherwise. Perhaps some thoughts on that another time- like when I have some. But now, the hour is late and the Polar Swim is at 6:30AM. Time to get some sleep.

Good night.

Gone Camping

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I’ve still got a couple of hours, but I’ll be leaving with the boy for WEBELOS Resident Camp today. It’s my first time with such an adventure, the boy’s as well. We’ll be back this Friday. What our state will be remains to be seen.

The boy is excited but nervous. I suppose the whole thing is softened considerably by the fact that I’ll be there, so he won’t be completely isolated. That said, it’s still different from our other camping which has either been a single overnight, or extended but with everyone. Who know what effect it will have on him.

Blogging, after this, will basically be non-existent until my return next Friday. They don’t allow electronic devices at the camp because they feel that’s the best way to prevent home sickness. Anything that allows the boys to start thinking about the comforts of home can bring it on, so they keep the kids busy and moving the whole time. The schedule indicates as much as well. Anyway, I’ll be smuggling my crappy feature phone into camp, but will limit my usage of it and even then, I’ll basically be checking email and perhaps checking in with Twitter. Anything more will be non-existent.

With that, have a great week and see you on the other side.

Model Rocket Pictures

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Rather than post them here on the main page, because there’s a ton of pictures, I’ve created a page of it’s own to showcase a couple of the launches of the model rockets we made with the Scouts. For now, the page can be found this way. I’ll eventually make a permanent icon for it like the other pages.

UPDATE: Icon added. Can you guess which it is?

Model Rockets are AWESOME!

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I think what I’ll remember most about last night’s Pack meeting were the screams of the kids.

We finally got a break for an outdoor Pack meeting. We’d tried a few other times, but Mother Nature always served up some rain so the events were either cancelled or moved indoors. Yesterday, the rain stayed to our South and allowed us to have what may have been our best meeting ever.

We offered up some awards last night, which was a very Cub Scouty thing to do. Our Wolf Den had earned belt loops and we had a number of boys earn Gold Arrows for arrow points. I took care of those awards early on and then got things down to the nitty gritty.

We had “Cub Scout Amazing Race” which our other Den leaders had come up with, including the props necessary to pull it off. There were 5 activities they had to participate in. Upon completion of each activity, they got a clue about where they had to go next and what they’d have to do at that next station. There was a paper airplane station, a soccer station, a potato station, a jumping jack station and one other which I’m failing to recall. Regardless, for 15 minutes the kids flew around the park, finishing all of their activities.

Then we setup to launch the model rockets.

I have no way of knowing what they expected. I can only report on the absolute huge success that the rocket launches were. The first rocket stands out because I’m pretty sure it blew their minds when it lifted off. They’d done the countdown, and when the engine ignited and propelled the rocket up, the squeals of glee and joy were something to behold. I used C6-3 and B6-2 engines in the PVC based rockets my Bears put together. Those suckers must have gone a couple to 300 feet in the air.

After each launch, the boys would tear off after the rocket to recover and inspect it. In between, we would get them to calm down long enough to perform another countdown. Then, as soon as the rocket launched, they were lost to our reality. Screaming and running and completely mindless to anything else.

The greatest moments happened with the final 2 rockets we launched. These were kit rockets. Nice, light, more or less foolproof rockets for launching. Both of them used C engines. I set things up by explaining how much the other rockets weighed, about 5.5 ounces with the engine, versus how much the kit rockets weighed, about 2 ounces with the engine. Even with the thought-experiment, the results surely surpassed their expectations.

The roar that went up when the first kit rocket launched was awesome. The rocket was there on the launching pad on moment. Then, a hissing noise, some flame and a plume of smoke later, it was gone. It must have gone somewhere close to 1000 feet high- high enough that if you took your eye off the rocket while it was up there you lost it. I couldn’t help but laugh at the spectacle. About a minute later, it drifted back down to Earth, it’s parachute having successfully deployed.

The last rocket of the night was the boy’s rocket. The other kit rocket. It too had an identical launch and reaction. Even knowing what was coming, the shear spectacle of the takeoff and watching it drift slowly back down overwhelmed their minds. It landed a quarter-mile away in a cornfield. The boys ran the entire way, tracking it as it fell. Parental requests to stop were simply not capable of being processed at that point.

It wasn’t just the kids who enjoyed it. The parents all loved it as well. They were all impressed with the PVC rocket successes, and the kit rockets were the icing on the cake. It was truly a great meeting to end the year with and one I hope none of the boys soon forget.

Success!

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So this is the basic rocket that my Scouts built. The main tube is 12 inches, the fins are just cardboard and probably 4 inches long. They’re attached with hot glue, as are the pieces of straw which serve to guide it up the pole during launch.

And that’s what I’ve been nervous about. Would the available engines successfully lift the rocket?

When I first embarked on this, I considered it a non-issue because I was going to use a D size engine, which has plenty of lifting power. The problem is that the inner diameter of the main tube is not big enough to accept a D size engine. Rather, I have to resort to a C or B size engine. Thus, the set screws at the bottom to hold the engine in place.

I first started getting concerned when I noted how much lighter the boy’s kit based rocket is than the PVC versions. So I decided to weigh one of the PVC rockets and it comes in at 4.5 ounces. Looking at the chart, the maximum recommended liftoff weight is 4.5 ounces for a B6-2 engine. There are a bunch rated for 4 ounces. Making things worse, the 4.5 ounce weight did not include whatever engine I’d be putting in there.

I searched on the Web for something to give me some reassurance, but came up with nothing. In the end, I decided I was going to have to test it out. So this morning, I took the rocket and the boy’s launch pad and went out to where we’ll be launching these things from. In all, it took me about 5 minutes to setup. Thankfully, the place was empty as well.

I’m happy to report that the weakest engine I had, a B6-4 successfully lifted it off. Unfortunately, the parachute system didn’t deploy, but I can live with that. The rocket went up about 75-100 feet or so, traced a nice arc through the air and then buried itself about 3 inches into the ground on impact.

So the boys should have a good time shooting them off next week.

Rocket Kids

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There are actually a fair number instructions on the web for this project. That’s where I got the idea for the project. I gave the kids the option of bringing in their own kit, or we’d make a home made model rocket. The boy had his own rocket kit as did one of the other boys. The rest got to assemble their own.

It took a little convincing to get the boy to decide to assemble his kit. Seems he was afraid of losing it. I asked him which was better: to launch the rocket once and lose it or to never launch it at all? Unbelievably, he initially said he’d rather never launch it than lose it. Makes for a boring rocket. The Wife and I were able to convince him otherwise without too much trouble, which makes me think he didn’t think about the question too much in the first place.

As for the homemade rockets, I used PVC, some cardboard, some string and a piece of a garbage bag for the parachute. The basic gist is to cut fins out of the cardboard which we attached to the main tube using hot glue. The main tube is 3/4″ PVC that I cut to 11 inch lengths. To create a nosecone, I used PVC end caps for 1/2″ PVC, which turn out to be about the same outer diameter as the 3/4″ pipe. I then cut pieces of 1/2″ PVC to fit into the caps, then reamed out the 3/4″ tube so it would accept the 1/2″ PVC.

I drilled a small hole near the top of the main tube to insert string through, then knotted it so it wouldn’t pull through. Finally, I attach the other end of the string to the nose cone using a friction fit and another knot.

As for the parachute, we cut a square piece from a heavy duty garbage bag, then tied 2 strings to opposite corners. Finally, I just attached the loops from the parachute to the middle of the string with the nose cone on it.

I don’t know how well the parachute arrangement will work. The boy’s model has a “shock cord,” a long rubber band, to attach the main tube to the nosecone. But it should be fun to find out.

My final, unexpected puzzle, it to figure out how to attach an engine to it. I used the 3/4″ pipe because it would supposedly accept a D sized engine with little fuss. Unfortunately, the PVC I have access to is not sized properly for that. So I’ll have to use the smaller engines and figure out how to mount them in the pipe. Perhaps some tape and rubber bands will do the trick.

Not all of the boys finished their rockets today. Most of them have to install the parachutes. Once that’s done, I figure we’ll set up a final den meeting on a weekend to finish things up with a bang.

BSA Ban on Gays Coming to an End

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I got the heads up on this via Twitter:

Here’s the article:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Boy Scouts of America called to end a long-standing ban on openly gay members, a spokesman said on Friday, but the organization’s board must still vote in May on whether to ratify the resolution.

If the vote is approved, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” Deron Smith, the organization’s spokesman, told Reuters.

Smith noted that the decision drew from three months of research, surveys and discussions and was “among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.”

The deliberations over whether to admit openly gay and lesbian members to the Boy Scouts has divided organizers, polarized its corporate and religious sponsors, and placed the group at the center of a nationwide debate over gay rights over the past two years.

I don’t agree with the “most complex” bit, at least as it pertains to the BSA. Still, I can understand why they would say that from their perspective. Either way, good on the BSA.

The Boy’s Birdfeeder

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This is the bird feeder we built in the boy’s Cub Scout den. It took a couple of meetings for us to get them all done. The first meeting, they cut out most of the pieces and did a little assembly. The second meeting, they were all able to complete their feeders.

It took quite a bit of effort on mine and the other Dads who were able to help out. We basically didn’t stop for the better part of 2 hours. There were 9 of them to complete. I’d say the boy’s here is typical of the work, which is to say they all came out well. A couple of the boys were amazed how those pieces of wood came together to make a bird feeder.

As for the paint job, that was the boy’s doing, with a little help from the Wife and I. We had him prime it on Saturday, then he painted it with acrylic on Sunday. I helped him fill it (we fashioned a funnel out of a paper cup that he folded up- HOORAY! for resourcefulness) and he hung it himself. He chose the colors because he thought they would be attractive to birds.

He’s been disappointed so far.

It’s only been up since yesterday and I think he expected to be shooing birds off of himself as he hung it up. He keeps checking, hoping to see some birds using it. We keep telling him it’s early and the birds haven’t all returned yet from their Winter resting places.

But patience is not a strong suit of nearly-9-year olds.

A Good Den Meeting

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Every now and again, a crazy idea comes together and makes for a worthwhile Den meeting. The “crazy” idea this time? To have my Bear Scouts build a bird feeder as a den project.

The Den isn’t huge- we had 9 boys today at the meeting. But anyone who knows anything about 8-year olds will admit that keeping 9 boys on the same page in the presence of particularly dangerous equipment is not a task to be taken lightly. Fortunately, I had some big help from another Dad in the Den and we got together and came up with a plan of attack to make this an attainable goal, both for the boys and ourselves.

Here’s the model we built over the weekend:

First, the overall goal of the project was for the boys to, as much as was possible for 8-year olds, build the feeder themselves. Secondary goals were to give the some experience with hand tools and the construction process in general.

After building the feeder, the other Dad and I decided to keep the cutting as simple as possible. The ends of the feeder are pentagon shaped with 30 degree and 45 degree angle cuts, so we opted to cut these out ahead of time. That left the top, both roofs pieces and the base as possibilities for the boys to cut themselves. To keep those as simple as possible, we prepped strips of wood cut to finished widths and edge bevels so the boys would only have to cut lengths off of them. So in the end, the boys had to cut out 4 pieces of wood: the base, the top, and both sides of the roof.

In addition to the pentagon shaped end pieces, we also pre-cut the plexiglass sides and some strips that are used to create the edging around the base of the feeder. We also organized the entire construction of the feeder, down to what screws where, what joints get glued, the hook for hanging the feeder, and an opening with a plexiglass lid to refill the feeder.

We never planned on them finishing the entire unit in one meeting- there were too many of them to manage and help through the cutting. Also, we felt it was a chance to show them that it takes time to build something well. The goal for today’s meeting was for all of the boys to cut out the 4 pieces required to build the feeder and to attach the edging to the base. The next meeting we would tackle the actual assembly.

The good news is I was the only one to draw any blood, and I cut myself on my own saw. It was a tiny nick, but appropriate since it isn’t a project until some blood has been spilled.

The better news is all the boys got their pieces cut today and all of them really seemed to enjoy the process. I don’t think more than a couple of them had used a hand saw before, so the other Dad and I did our best to teach them how to work a handsaw. But they all measured their own lengths of wood and generally followed directions and instruction well. Generally, we’d help them get the cut started to the point of a groove they could follow, then we’d let them finish the cut.

As a bonus, they all got to operate a pneumatic pin-nailer. In order to attach the edging to the base, we used glue for a permanent attachment, but used the nailer to hold the pieces in place while the glue set. So we instructed them in how to properly, and safely, operate the nailer. To their credit, they listened well and no one did anything crazy with the tools. I would glue and hold the piece in place and them have the boys use the nailer to pin the piece so it stayed put. They were all impressed with how “strong” the nailer was to shoot the nail in place like it did.

In all, it was a fast and hectic hour-and-a-half. We could only have 4 of them cutting at one time, so there was always someone doing something with a saw. A couple of other parents showed up a little later to help out with supervision and together we kept an eye on things and made sure that no one Scout sat too long waiting for a chance to do some work. When it was over, there was a palpable relief from all the parents involved.

But probably the best news was something I and the other Dad both overheard a couple of the boys say while in the thick of things. They said “This is a lot more fun than I thought it would be.”

I agreed.

A Bobcat Badge Ceremony

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Following is the Bobcat Ceremony I put our new Cub Scouts through last night at our Blue and Gold Banquet. It is a slightly modified version of this presentaion I found online. I think it went pretty well, including the face painting. A couple of kids abstained from the face-painting, which was fine. But in general the boys were pretty happy with themselves and the parents seemed to enjoy it as well.

For every journey, there is a beginning and an end. We’ll start the awards portion of our evening by celebrating a beginning.

In Cub Scouting, every boy begins their Scouting journey by earning the Bobcat Badge. It is the one badge that every Scout must earn, from the youngest Tiger to the most seasoned WEBELOS. Without it, they cannot receive any of the rank badges- Tiger, Wolf, Bear or WEBELOS. It is the foundation upon which a boy builds towards earning the Arrow of Light, the highest award a Cub Scout can earn.

Tonight, we have 8 boys who have satisfied all the requirements for their Bobcat Badges. Those requirements are to memorize a handshake, a sign, a motto, a salute, a secret, a promise and a law. These boys have all demonstrated to their leaders their knowledge of these requirements.

Would the following boys please come up with you parents:

(call each name of Scout who has earned their Bobcat Badge.)

Boy’s you’ve accomplished the first step in Cub Scouting. In all things there is always a first….the first stone laid in a new building, the first step across a bridge. The first is sometimes the hardest, but that’s because it lays the foundation or the strength for what follows. The Bobcat badge is your foundation. The trail of Scouting lies ahead of you, but don’t be afraid – you won’t have to do it alone. You’ll have lots of help from your Akela…Akela can be your parents, your den leader, even I your cubmaster will help you along the trail, helping you become successful.

As a symbol of your achievement and of becoming a member of this pack, I ask our Den Leaders to give you the colors of Cub Scouting…blue on the right cheek and yellow on the left.

(Asst. cm or den leader puts blue and yellow mark on each boys cheek)

Your parents stand here with you to demonstrate their pride in your accomplishment and that they are there to help you, just like they helped you earn the Bobcat badge. In recognition of the role that family plays in Cub Scouting, I will present your Bobcat Badge to your parents, who in turn will present it to you. When they afix the badge to your Scout Uniform, it will initially be upside down. It is a tradition of this Pack that the Bobcat be pinned upside down until such time that you perform a good deed, unasked. In recognition of this simple act, your parents may then permanently afix the badge to your uniform, right side up.

(Award badges to Parents, who in turn present the badge to the boys Since all of our Scouts were already lined up< I went to each one individually, alternatively you could call each boy forward but that would likely take longer.)

Parents and Scouts of Pack 26, please join me in congratulating these boys on completing their first achievement in Scouting.

One interesting thing about being up there in front of all those parents and family is how quickly things happen. I had mental notes- minor alterations to the script or additions I thought of prior to the presentation- and I missed most of them because the moment came and went so quickly. Just keep that in mind when you go live.

Blue and Gold Tonight

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Our Cub Scout Pack is having its Blue and Gold Banquet tonight. It’s the first one I’ve been in charge of and, after a slow start, I have hopes that we’ll pull it off successfully. I have Bobcat Badges to award in addition to belt loops to hand out. Also, I’ll be crossing over our WEBELOS II boys.

I’ve worked up a couple of ceremonies that I hope to hit the right notes with tonight. I’ve read through a lot of the ceremonies out there on the web and couldn’t find anything I liked for myself to perform. So I did my best to come up with something that I felt comfortable doing but also acknowledged the achievements of the kids. It’s fair to say I borrowed from several sources, at least in terms of theme if not the actual words.

I’ll probably put it up tonight after the banquet with a little commentary about how it actually played. There’s the version in my head and the version in reality. We’ll see where the two intersect.

Time for a Drink

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After a morning filled with hockey, we had an afternoon filled with Pinewood Derby cars. I’m aware that it’s likely a bit tedious to keep hearing about this stuff, but the Pinewood Derby is the event for Cub Scouts. Every family turns out for it and how well it’s perceived to run is kind of a judgement on the competency of the leadership group. As I stated in my previous post, there’s a lot to account for and, correspondingly, a lot that can go wrong.

I’m happy to report that, even though it wasn’t completely smooth sailing, we passed with high marks today. We were ahead of schedule by 20 minutes after the first heat- we allotted 30 minutes for the heat and we were done with it after 15 minutes. The assigned inspection times actually worked out better than expected- all the cars for all of the heats were signed in with time to spare. My guess is the combination of knowing there was a time limit caused people to make sure they were prepared. Couple that with limiting the number of kids for each time slot and it just worked.

That’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises. The first one came during the first inspection. One of the kids had extended the wheel base of their car. The boy was a Tiger Scout, and I didn’t want his car not to run so I opted to allow it to run, but it would automatically be assigned a 3rd place finish- in short it was technically disqualified. I explained it to the Mom and she was OK with it. There really wasn’t an excuse for it as I had sent an extensive email explaining the rules for car design. I was very explicit about this in that email.

There was also the race where I accidentally impeded a car after starting the race. But I immediately declared a do-over, even before the cars finished, so it wasn’t a problem.

We even ended up having 4 qualifiers for our finals this year, instead of 3 like we typically have. Fortunately, I’d already thought of that possibility and we simply included the 4th car in the finals competition. Even though it was a first, it was a non-problem.

When it was all said and done, the boy made the semi-final round with his coffin car. I thought he overachieved, frankly. The lass tied for first in the sibling race with her parrot car. The boy showed signs of maturity, pouting for a bit because he didn’t make the finals, but getting over it pretty quickly and he didn’t snipe at his sister. A bonus was that everybody loved their cars, particularly the boy’s, which was quite unique.

There were some other cool cars as well, including a couple of Batmobiles, a Spiderman car, a Phineas and Pherb car, a salamander car complete with googly eyes, a hum-vee and Herby the Lovebug. For all the unique designs though, the top places were all basic variations on the wedge shape, which is a classic in winning Derby designs.

Our only issue during the race was stopping the cars. When we’d set things up, we used a carpet to with an incline to try and stop the cars. It worked well with our test cars, but not at all with the actual entries, which were much faster than the test cars. That’s something we’ll have to figure out for next year.

But first, I’m going to have a drink.

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