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Seeking advice for a new and overly enthusiastic cubmaster

To put it briefly: I just became Cubmaster for our pack and my enthusiasm for scouts is an 11. I think the enthusiasm level for the other few volunteers in the pack is probably a 5 or 6. Over the last 2 years as den leader I’ve had pushback on my enthusiasm.

For example, they called my den “our little over achievers” because I awarded belt loops at most pack meetings. The den earned 3 electives as tigers and 4 as wolves, so not a ton. I planned a sign-up event after going to a recruitment session at council, and they canceled it because “we got 5 tigers already” I made a pack website and excitedly emailed it to the other leaders and no one replied at all. I was reprimanded for making a mess with oobleck at our STEM night, even though I was responsible for cleaning it up. The scouts loved it of course. On my first camping trip I asked about a campfire program, like skits or singing, and I was told we’re not that kind of pack. There’s more, but I’ve already listed more than I should have.

We’ve had our yearly planning meeting, we’re planning popcorn, etc. I thought my ideas and desire to do better would be met with shared enthusiasm, but instead they’re being met with skepticism and doubt.

Does anyone have any advice or experience with getting a pack to try new things or at least be enthusiastic about the things we’re already doing?

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It sounds like the problem isnt your entheusiasm but the rest of the committee’s lack there of. I don’t have great advice for you other than to say you have the right attitude, dont let others dampen it.

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Sometimes it take a little time for the old guard to move on. Make sure you’re at least trying to get the new leaders (close to) as excited as you are.

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First bit of Advise is - Go take Wood Badge
Second bit of Advise is - get Another Leader to Take it

Wood Badge will help you see and use Team Dynamics to benefit the Scouts and your Units

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Unfortunately, I’m in the same boat as you. I started as a parent of a Lion but moved to Lion Guide quickly, then Tiger Den Leader and now Wolf Den Leader. I was recently appointed ACM. I started Scouting as a Tiger and earned my Eagle. I spent a couple summers on camp staff. I’m a third generation Scouter. Scouting is in my blood and my excitement can be overwhelming. I was told by our CC that they needed a way to tone down my excitement… in the same week that members of the pack nominated me to receive the Sparkplug award at our District dinner.

The CM is happy with what I’ve done for the program and getting everyone involved and has told me to continue. I’m not forcing anyone to do anything; I am making Scouting opportunities available. So, I say to you… don’t stop doing what you’re doing! Keep it simple and make it fun! The best way to do that is to think like a Cub Scout!

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Nobody does anything without a reason. I’d start by asking others why they want to do less and not more. They may think that they need to do everything.

We run our pack like a “buffet” and over-schedule on purpose. We run about 67% attendance at any given meeting. If someone misses a meeting, we have another one next week. It works out.

I’m guessing that’s the reason–don’t guess. Ask them.

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I’ve always considered enthusiasm to be contagious and it has been to some extent. The parents in our den are usually the first to sign up for anything in the pack, we’re at every event the pack has, out of 20 kids in the pack the only 4 that went to day camp were in our den, the den started with 5 scouts and we’ve picked up one a year since then. When our treasurer’s son crossed over this year, someone from our den volunteered to be our new treasurer.

I have someone in mind that I’m going to try and recruit as a New Member Coordinator, something that our pack hasn’t done before. I’m hoping that if the incoming tiger/lion den(s) will have a fun and smooth joining experience, they’ll be more excited in general. I’m also going to offer help to any new den leaders to get them started, including possibly helping plan and run their first few meetings.

I’m also going to ask parents for help throughout the year with smaller tasks at Pack Meetings. I think part of the reason we don’t have more parents involved is because we’ve never asked them to be. We have a pack of about 20-25, but we don’t run our Pinewood derby, the troop does it for us. When I said something about running it ourselves last year, I was told we didn’t have enough parents to run it. We’re larger than the troop, so I’m not sure how that works, but my reply was that we never asked anyone to help run pinewood, or anything. I’m hoping that baby steps will work here. I’ll ask for volunteers to run a game, or help build a crossover bridge (something we don’t have), etc. Then next year I’ll ask for bigger things.

I registered for Wood Badge as soon as I could this year! I’ll be taking it in August! I’m very excited. I don’t think I can get anyone else to take it this year, since I think it might a struggle to even get someone else to take Baloo, go to roundtables, attending ScoutingU, etc… but I do have a few ideas of parents that I think would be open to getting more involved. I’m hoping to do that this year.

I also made Eagle as a youth. I wanted to join Cub Scouts but it never happened, I joined Boy Scouts when I was in 7th grade. My younger brother joined as a Tiger though. My dad was Cubmaster for a couple years and later Scoutmaster for a couple years, and he was a scout as a kid as well. My maternal grandfather was a scout as a kid too.

My wife constantly refers to me, affectionately I think, as a big kid! I’m just as eager as my 8 year olds to do that fun thing that will end up making a mess or getting my clothes soaked or whatever. I love taking things I loved as a kid and applying adult-level resources to them. For example, one pack meeting I planned for the coming year I’m calling “Fort Night”. The plan is to collect a ton of blankets and socks to donate, but have some fun first. I want to use rope to make 2 giant blanket forts in the gym we meet in and then have a “snow ball” fight using the balled socks. I have no idea if it will work, but making a giant blanket fort sounds like a lot of fun to me.

When I said “do better” I didn’t mean have more activities. The only 2 things I’ve proposed that would be an additional activity are having a Blue & Gold, our pack doesn’t have a Blue & Gold, and having an activity in August so we could earn the Summertime Pack award (we already meet in June and July). We’re still not having a Blue & Gold this year, but we are having summer activities, so baby steps.

When I was excited about using Scoutbook when it became free, I was told it’s too much to ask parents to install an app and then I couldn’t even use it for my own den because no one would make me den admin. I got the same reply when I was excited about the Trails-end app, I was told it’s better to just use paper and do what has worked in the past. So we’ll be using Scoutbook this year for advancement and event sign up I think, and I’m still trying to get the popcorn people onboard for the trails-end app.

I think I just have to be patient. I can imagine what an active pack of close-knit friends having loads of fun and adventures looks like, and I can see all the ways we need to grow to get there. I guess I just have to do my best to make it fun for the scouts and wait to see how it goes.

I imagine most parents taking their kids to scouts probably feel the way I feel when I take my kids to gymnastics, cheerleading, soccer, taekwondo, etc. It’s fun to watch them grow and get better and have fun, but I’m not invested in it. One of the methods of Cub Scouting is family involvement, so I’ll be trying my best to demonstrate the benefits of getting involved to everyone this year. I imagine I’ll be cubmaster for 3 years until my kids crossover, so I have 3 years to try start the ball rolling on greater involvement and enthusiasm and then hope it’s rolling fast enough to keep on going and growing.

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You could have Blue & Gold as a pack meeting - it doesn’t have to be a big, separate, expensive event. It could be something small and build from there. We try to have carnival-style games for the Scouts / siblings to make it fun and active for the kids. It’s supposed to be a birthday party for Cub Scouting, so keep it simple, make it fun!

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Don’t let them wear you down. Your enthusiasm will attract others.

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Keep in mind that for some parents, scouting is only 1 of many activities. Sports, religious activities, and family time all take up time. Our pack has many single parent families which also makes it difficult for scouts to attend events. Parents that have multiple kids going to multiple activities makes it complex to get kids from 1 place to another. Many parents (like me) also have to care for elderly parents. There are many demands on people’s time. For me, I do a lot for my son’s scouting experience in a leadership role, but barely pitch in when it comes to the baseball/basketball/track activities he participates in.
Keep up the enthusiasm and spread the work around to build investment in the program, but be cognizant that some families may not be able to pitch in as much due to other obligations.

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Is the resistance coming from other Pack leadership, your Committee, or both?

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@TeeJayGreen -i honestly wish I had the strength, enthusiasm and energy you have. DO NOT ever let others take that away from you…if they do then let them take me on. You know ful! well that scouting is a lifetime experience and those who detract from your vision need a long time out… Scout On !!!

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Whoops, I just wrote long thoughtful replies to everyone, but lost it in my copy/pasting… so I guess I just spared everyone my long-winded reply with this briefer one!

Yes, that’s a great idea! I’ve already added it to our March pack meeting on the draft calendar I have to send out soon! March is our Bear Carnival, so now it’ll be a Blue & Gold Carnival! I passed on February’s meeting because we’re doing fitness “heart healthy” theme for Valentine’s day where we’ll do an obstacle course / cub olympics type theme, and I didn’t think cake would fit in well!

Thanks! My plan was to alway out energizer-bunny everyone else and wear them down!

Yes, for sure! my 2 kids are in scouts AND taekwondo, soccer, cheerleading, gymnastics, and probably some stuff I’m forgetting. I was also raised by a single mom, ofen with no working car in the suburbs, so I’ve seen how hard that is! I think my frustration was less with getting more people involved, or even getting the already-involved people to spend more time, and more with people not being willing to do anything differently.

Both, but there really wasn’t a committee. Our committee was a CC and a treasurer/den leader, with 2 others on paper that never came to meetings. We’ve had about 6 committee meetings in the 2 years I’ve been here. The cubmaster and I were at all of them, our assistant cubmaster and treasurer/den leader I think only missed 1 each, our chair was at 3, and another den leader was at 1 or 2. Except the most recent 2, parents weren’t notified/invited to any. Other than popcorn, no other committee positions exist / are filled. I’ve added a committee meeting to our pack calendar for every month this year and plan to remind/invite everyone each time.

Haha, thanks! I clicked the link in your bio to your troop/pack website. I’m in Cradle of Liberty, so we’re not far! I see you’re doing the sleep over at the Trenton Thunder stadium, very cool! Have you done it before? It’s something I could try to do next summer with the pack. We went in April to present the colors before the game:

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All of this is a great advice. I would look to the Journey to Excellence. It will help you and the Pack in how to operate.https://www.scouting.org/awards/journey-to-excellence/ The spreadsheet is here: https://www.scouting.org/awards/journey-to-excellence/tracking-workbooks/2019-tracking-workbooks/ I would use these to help. Many of the items you talk about such as Blue & Gold can work for requirements and it is a lot of fun. Fun being the big part of putting on a good program.

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@TeeJayGreen - we have done the sleep over since my son was a tiger…he is now a life scout and SPL. The only really rough one was the 18 inning game as that pushed the movie and sleepover to 1am. We have also done the USS New Jersey…another cool option but at 70 per person needs much massaging.

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That sounds awful. Those events are usually late enough as it is with a 9 inning game.

@jacobfetzer - awful is being kind. They did have a good time but man it was rough. You really have little control over what happens.

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@TeeJayGreen - Keep up the great work.
1. You will learn in WoodBadge some of what you are already doing and how to refine your skills. Be sure when you have a task you ask someone specifically as asking for volunteers will get you no one 99% of the time.
2. Be sure to let your new parents know that the program is only as good as the adults working together can make it. If they have had bad experiences in the past, listen to their concerns.
3. Getting people to the training is hard but well worth the effort. I will be praying your parents get the idea that as long as the Scouts have fun it wasn’t a bad experience.

The only people that call others overly enthusiastic are those that have no enthusiasm of their own. You are just very passionate and it shows in your enthusiasm. I wish I had a few more like you in my Troop as well.

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Tee Jay,

Your fellow leaders either chose you as CM or decided the role wasn’t for them leaving you as the only willing volunteer. So, they want you to make the soup, but they complain about the ingredients you select? They want you to guide the ship, but they don’t like the course you plot?

Well, yes.

Each unit has a culture of its own. If you are trying to radically change everything at once, you are going to frighten people. You need them to buy into your vision. So, pick out the most critical things that you think the pack needs to change right away and sell those to the other leaders. Give them reasons why these things are important. Once you get them to back you in the critical things, get at least one other leader to take ownership of each one. This will get them invested in the pack program. You’ll see results in the quality of the program being delivered to the Scouts, and you’ll be able to move on to the very important things. You can keep repeating the cycle until you get all the way down to the bottom of your list.

Your team was probably enthusiastic about the change in CM but has now become concerned that the apple cart is being disturbed too much, and there aren’t enough hands to do all the work. As each one takes on a responsibility, s/he will see that it isn’t so hard, and you will build a group of committed allies, who will expect contributions from others just as you do. That’s when you’ll have a high-performing team.

I became SM of a troop in 2003, that was chartered in 1917. Obviously, it had a deeply rooted culture that affected the attitudes of not only the adults but the youth leadership as well. For the first year, I coached the youth to set goals and then build a program that would allow those goals to be accomplished. Some changes were difficult for them to accept, but they ave it a shot, because they felt the goals would produce positive outcomes if accomplished.

When I left that troop after seven years, I was proud of how things had turned out. I left behind a group of youth leaders who continuously evaluated their own performance and made changes where necessary and a group of adults willing to support those changes.

A few months ago, I became a CM, and none of the pack leaders were happy with the pack’s direction under the previous leadership, but none of them quite knew what to do about it. I spent a lot of time and energy setting goals and figuring out how we could support those goals. We made radical changes in the middle of the program year, and everyone is happy with the results. We’re not done yet, but we’re getting there, and enthusiasm has risen from uncertainty and despair.

You can get the pack to where you want it to be, You just need to aim for continuous improvement and not try to fix or change everything overnight. Three years from now, you’ll be proud to hand off the CM job to someone else.

Peter

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Boy, do I ever understand this. I got the tap on the shoulder at the second Tiger den meeting and was automatically candidate for CM at that point! Someone recognized my enthusiasm and commitment.

I was able to do good things in the pack, introducing pack camp outs and a regular schedule of optional summer events. I took Wood Badge. I think I was doing everything right.

Then last summer I got word that people thought I was doing too much, especially over the summer. I got us to dust off our cubmobiles and hold a small event in the park. It was fun! I posted on a new Facebook group for the pack. Was I doing this because of Wood Badge?? That was a real question that someone asked, as though that was a bad thing. No! Everything I was doing was the result of someone else’s idea, but I was helping to push it along.

Ultimately, what I changed was actually to tone down my own enthusiasm. I had to look at succession planning. I had taken on a lot of work but couldn’t expect any one other person to do it. My son is an Arrow of Light now so my time as CM is going to end early next year!!

One of my ticket items was to make a pack handbook. I did, and it’s probably underused, but I’m adding things to it to help with continuity. And I plug it every time I can.

How does this help you? Well, I think my experience shows that sometimes you have to go with the flow and slow down a bit. But more importantly don’t set an impossible standard for those who follow. Your pack will wax and wane. You want it to continue to be a success.

One way I am going to help the success of my pack continue is by staying on as a committee member. There is talk of committee chair, which I totally would do :slight_smile:

I hope that helps!

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