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Small Packs Can be Mighty!

Pack 619 has a long history at St. Vincent Ferrer in Cincinnati, OH, however our numbers have been small for the past few years. This year we have 12 Cub Scouts (3 Lions, 2 Tigers, 3 Wolfs, 1 Bear and 3 Webelos), and only one has previous Scouting experience. I consider our Pack young and green, but boy are these kids on fire for Scouting!

Because of our small numbers and lack of Scouting experience, it just doesn’t make sense to do anything other than meet monthly as a Pack and strategically and collectively work on requirements for adventure advancement. I have worked long and hard to work out a plan that will allow all Scouts to make their rank advancement by the end of the school year, but it is going to take a lot of focus, planning and hard work.

Are there others out there working with very small groups? I’d love to know about your experience(s) and what your strategy is to give your Cubs a great Scouting experience.

619: Small But Mighty!

  1. Is you unit “short-changing” the youth you serve by only having one meeting a month?
  2. Adventures are at different grade levels and aimed at youth with different attention spans. I do not see how they can be combined, if that is what your unit is trying to do.
  3. I suggest weekly den meetings by combining some dens and having a common activity and breakout Cub Scouting sub-program level (grade level) adventures
    a. Lion and Tiger
    b. Wolf and Bear
    c. Webelos
  4. Training is a key part of the solution. If you are the Cubmaster, I suggest taking both Cubmaster and Den Leader basic position-specific leader training.
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Jennifer,

After a successful recruiting season, we now have 31 active registered Scouts, and we still have two more Join Scouting Nights at local schools coming up this week.

But last spring we had 8 such Scouts. We met weekly as a pack. After the opening, we broke into dens, so the Scouts could work on advancement. We had one Lion, four Tigers, two Bears and one fourth-grade Webelos Scout. After 20 to 30 minutes, we got everyone together for a game involving the entire pack. Games were selected that supported rank advancement for individual rank, but they were still games the entire pack could play and enjoy. All eight of them made their ranks.

We had a closing as a pack. I believe this brought them all together across ages and gave them a pack identity. Seven of those eight attended the council’s resident camp, and the one who didn’t has already earned Bobcat and completed two Tiger adventures this fall.

We brand ourselves “Mighty Mighty Pack 61.” Whenever we check into an event, I write out the words Mighty Mighty in front of the pack number and insist that the staff refer to us by including the word “mighty mighty” at all times.

Best of luck with your Mighty Mighty Pack 619.

Our pack is a fairly average size, but the addition of girls has created a similar dilemma for many packs of all sizes when it comes to advancement. Last year the girl side of our pack had 2 Lions, 2 Tigers, no Wolves, 3 Bears and 3 AOL.
This year we have one lone boy wolf who will probably be meeting with the Webelos much of the time since he’s there with his brother anyway.

What I’ve noticed is that the requirements tend to overlap better if you group alternate grades. The goal of reducing repetition from one year to the next has made it so that many topics are revisited every couple of years, but not in consecutive ones. Grouping the even grades and the odd grades can help them line up better.

Do you have access to the handbooks that have just been phased out? The ones that include all the current requirements in a little black and white booklet at the front? I LOVE those little booklets for trying to cross reference the different levels. If you have those handbooks, there’s a lot more overlap between the levels than in the revised version. That can be a good resource for age-appropriate ways to tweak the activity for different ages.
We had what amounted to a Tiger/Bear/AOL girls den last year, and that seemed to work well, though AOL girls needed to have extra meetings to finish what they needed to accomplish. (Wolf ties in well with Webelos and not much else, so I’d group the Webelos/AOL with them instead if we had all ages. We just didn’t have any wolves.)
Lions, we kept separate, though. They’re so little that our bigger kids would have overwhelmed them. At least, our particular bigger kids would have…

We have a pack of 6 which consists of Lions and Tigers. We meet twice a month to work on the required adventures. Since both these dens overlap, we all meet together in the same room and do everything together. We don’t have official pack meetings. However, we have extra fun activities on the weekends during the month that the scouts can attend. Next year, we will have 3 grades. We are thinking of just doing the same thing where we still meet twice a month but the wolves will meet in a different room and work on their stuff. Because the parents can now drop off, we are thinking of having a 30 min pack meeting to discuss pack level things and hand out their adventures that they earned so far, etc. Also to fill in the time, play team building games.

I would encourage parents not to drop-off even for the older Cubs. It’s almost always easier to manage the boys if Mom or Dad is there and engaged, and it makes it much easier for the Den Leader to get that support.

I agree with you! :grinning:

When I was a den leader (Tiger through Webelos) I set the expectation that BSA did not mean Baby Sitters of America and thus parents were expected to attend. Yes there were times when a parent had to drop their Scout off and leave, but I would say I had parents attending with their Scout over 90% of the time. There were times the parents just sat in the back of the room and talked quietly, did work, etc. but having them there allowed me to pull in help when needed. This could be anything from running breakouts to just helping me keep an eye on the Scouts. I was grateful to have the parents present and none complained about being there.

Scouting is more than the Scouts. It is a family activity that in some cases was the only time the parent and Scout did something together.

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This could also be a good time to move parents of Wolf Scouts into leadership positions to help support the pack.

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Remember, Michael Corleone started out with “just one hour a week” as a Assistant Den Leader, and the next thing you know…

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Our pack has shrunk in recent years but we do have some great parents that do like to stick around for events. I was talking to my Tigers and I suspect the other set of parents will continue to be present and helping throughout their sons’ Scout career.

Our pack follows these guidelines for parent attendance:
Lions/Tigers - mandatory (per BSA - no exceptions)
Wolf/Bear - expected (but talk to us if you need an exception)
Webelos - encouraged (but by this point, they’re mostly used to staying)

Honestly, at our last meeting, the room was feeling pretty crowded as most of the Webelos had either a parent and a sibling or two parents along for the night!