After a 5 1/2 year run, we recently closed the Cub Scout chapter in our family. Payton turned 11 which means he is officially in Boy Scouts. And with Scott as the Scoutmaster I couldn't be more excited for the 3 of them and the fun things they will get to do together.
Part of me was a little sad to say good-bye to Cub Scouts. Just look at those sweet boys ready to cheer on their cars at the pinewood derby! I really enjoyed the program and I was even a Den Leader over a group of 12 Bears and Wolves for a year or so.
When we attended Payton's crossover at the Blue & Gold Banquet this month it was so fun to watch a whole new group of boys enter the program and receive their Bobcat. To look at those boys and look at Payton now -- I thought of all the growing, learning, and doing that has occurred over the past 3 years. A lot! There were so many great opportunities for him to learn and explore and play and serve.
So, as a veteran Cub Scout mom I thought I would share a few helpful tips for new Cub Scout moms as you begin this chapter.
1. Buy a BIG Cub Scout shirt. I'm talking 2 sizes too big. Yes, they will look a little ridiculous at first. But over the course of 3 years and they will grow into it. Otherwise, you reach the beginning of the Webelos year and they can't even button their shirt closed (which looks really silly at pack meeting) and you will have to remove the patches from the 1st shirt and sew them a second time onto the new shirt. That is way too much work. Just get a big shirt to begin with and you'll be happier.
2. Read the handbook. Just about any question that you have in Cub Scouts will be answered by reading the Wolf/Bear/Webelos handbook. It's all there, I promise. Patch placement . . . how to earn gold/silver arrows . . . how to pronounce Akela . . . The Cub Scout program and the process of earning achievements may seem confusing at first, but if you sit down and read the handbook it will all make sense.
3. Work on achievements at home. From experience I know that the den leaders cannot do it all. There's not enough time. And the group attention span is very short. There happen to be several requirements each year that have to be done at home - family outings, creating a fire escape plan, inspect the home for safety hazards, etc. When my boys were in Cub Scouts I enjoyed turning the achievements into a family activity -- cover a Character Connection topic at Family Home Evening, work on activity badges or belt loops as a family during spring or summer break. The younger kids always love participating in this stuff.
4. Wear layers to pack meeting. This is for you, mom. When your boy earns a badge, you will also earn a mother's pin and your boy will need to pin it on your shirt in front of everyone at pack meeting. Nothing is more awkward than your 8 year old son having to stick his hand down (or up) your shirt to affix a pin. To avoid flashing the other parents & scouts at pack meeting please wear a cardigan. It works perfectly.
Or better yet, purchase (or make) a "mother's pin brag ribbon". I learned about these in just the past year and it is genius! The pins go straight on the ribbon and not your shirt. Plus it keeps them all safe in one place. Those little buggers can get lost easily. The hardest part is just remembering to bring it to pack meeting. Search pinterest for ideas or visit your local Scout shop or etsy to purchase one. I finally bought one last month . . . there will be more mother's pins to come in Boy Scouts.
5. Have fun. Maybe I was ahead of the curve because I was raised in a family of 4 boys, but I know that sometimes it can be hard for moms to embrace the boy stuff because it is messy, high-energy, and loud. (But you know what, girls are crazy too.) I found that when I just accepted the 8 year old boy mindset, remembering that it's all about having a party and helping my son to learn & achieve goals, it all just worked. Cub Scouts will be crazy, goofy, and silly at times. I say belt out your best sea lion cheer and enjoy it!
One more p.s. note . . . . Volunteer to assist your den & pack however much you are able -- be an extra helper at den meetings, Scouting for Food, hikes, field trips, and especially day camp. Your boys will love you for it.