Scouting Forums

Engaging Cub Scouts in Reading

I encourage Scouts to look through their handbook - yes. Particularly since they cannot complete their requirements without knowing what the requirements are.

Den Leader - good one - small packs tend to have no den leaders

I think that’s news to most of us, especially since you can’t recharter a Pack without at least one den leader… Are there small packs that have consolidated dens that share a den leader? Sure, there are. Never have I encountered a pack that has no adult leader other than a Cubmaster running the program.

Ha! You can pretty much charter anything you want. Our council gives the Cub Scout program away for free to kids in poor inner city schools and they have one person who goes and teaches them Scout Oath and Scout Laws. No YPT because there are teachers in the room. They even have Pinewood Derby with pre-manufactured cars. No campouts but they paid for them to go to Summer Camp too. Apparently “padding the council numbers” is a new trick.

A rose by any other name …
Brother, the person in the weeds bothered about some Cubs not reading their books is leading that Den, no matter what he/she is on paper. If you’re that person, bless you. But …
A scout is cheerful! It sounds like you’ve been given a pretty rocky row to hoe. It’s hard to work the row while your council execs leave stones in the field. Just be brutally honest with parents and scouts about the obstacles they face. (E.g., not enough adults willing to free up time to help.) Be positive. Tell them that we scouts have fun … we have more fun if we read the manual between meetings. What other folks do or do not do for us is no excuse. Scouts do for themselves.
If reading with them is modelling what they need, suck it up with a smile. Crack open the book together, read the chapter, then say “Guys (girls?), I’m glad we had time to read together. Try doing it at home!”
You may make zero progress getting them to do it independently this year. But, years from now, they will remember you for your encouragement.


The books aren’t useless but they resources books. With all the information available today online, the informaiton is accessible elsewhere. Trying to get kids to do homework (in grade school) is difficult. Look to determine if the kids even have homework from the school in grade school Many do not. So to expect them to do scout homework is even more difficult. We reviewed the requirements of a particular meeting (we were working on a particular skill or item). Then at the meeting we might give out handouts or templates for them to do at the meeting or practice at home.

The question becomes what is the ultimate goal? The goal is to teach kids skills and knowledge they don’t have. By being the den/pack leader, I accepted that it became my job to teach that during the time frame I had them and if they happened to read/learn prior to the meeting, that was a bonus.

I agree that “skills and knowledge” are goals, but we as leaders sometimes get caught up in the details of skills/knowledge related to advancement. Although advancement (and the technical skills associated with it) are part of the program, I’ve always tried to look at the “bigger picture” of things like whether or not the scout is learning to be more self-reliant along the way from Tiger (now Lion), through their transition to the more senior scouting programs, and when they head out as (hopefully) adults. As an engineer (and admitted navigation nerd), I’m not deprecating the detailed skills that the scouts are learning in the program as part of advancement. In the end, though, I’m mostly measuring success by what sort of a person (character, leadership, civic knowledge, etc) left the program at the end, rather than whether or not he or she can tie a square knot. I want them to have the technical skills, too, but I’m probably more worried about some of the so-called “soft” skills.

I don’t mean to imply that your comment was emphasizing one area of learning over another. I’m mostly just philosophizing “out loud” about differing approaches to the teaching that we do as leaders.

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I think you hit the nail on the head… many of the kids in my unit are in underperforming (read failing) schools. Reading and math and science they trend behind. Also the attitude of “I hate school” but that is common among kids in general. I think we will add reading time into our meetings and see how that goes. I have a copy of ScoutMasters Minutes as well and maybe let them read a story to a group and tell them what they think the story means. Could be multiple ways of helping kids along. Whatever we are doing, we are doing it right, the unit doubled in size this year and more kids are choosing us vs. the council version that just counts kids as a number.

If your goal is to make scouts hate scouting.… Continue down the path of making them do more book learning…

A Den Leader has one job… ONE… Bring the concept to the scout. When I took over as Cubmaster I told every Den Leader that they will no longer be teaching from the book. Den Leaders must come prepared to do hands on training (no more or less than the requirement) that they will complete in a non classroom setting. Need to do first aid? Tell and adult, ask if they are OK, clean the wound, Wrap a ketchup covered hand with bandages.

For my part I contact every Den Leader 3 days prior to the meeting and ask what they are presenting.

My scouts went from half showing up to 100% participation.

This program is as fun as you make it… Or as miserable as you want it to be…

It’s those kind of inspiring comments I so look forward to every day… thank you.

My understanding is that these outreach (or Scouthreach) units are not “chartered” the way that traditional units are. The organization sponsoring the unit is the council and the unit leader is a paid employee of the council.
The issue of “to read or not to read” for how long might be affected by the organization(s) the council is (or are) partnered with to serve the youth they are outreaching to, especially if the other organization focus is teaching youth to read so they can be better educated and get better pay jobs.

Is attention span a challenge? It is not the same for all people and appears to change with age. I found an interesting article:

By Jyothsna Bhat, PsyD | Aug. 14, 2017

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