Cub Scout Planning – Set Your Tigers Up to Succeed

Every year our District sets up recruitment nights at the local elementary schools to find new Cub Scouts.  When the Tigers are recruited, both Packs that I have been with also use this time to recruit Tiger Den Leaders from the new Tiger Parents.   Sometimes this process seems more like people are being “Volun-told” rather than are volunteering.  There’s even an urban legend about one of the old scouters locking the doors and telling the parents that someone has to volunteer before they can leave.

I’m (kinda) sure that story isn’t true, but it does demonstrate the world we live in now, where the majority of people are expecting to be served and have very little expectation of helping out, themselves.  Now, to be fair, we generally do get great volunteers and after a little bit of an extended struggle, Tiger Leaders generally hit their stride and volunteer throughout the rest of their child’s scout career.

I’m not sure if there’s been any official study done on the correlation between success of a scout and the leadership involvement of the scout’s parent or the correlation between volunteerism at the Tiger level and longevity of commitment in a Scouter’s career, but my guess is that these things are all related.

This being said, I always wonder why the training isn’t more formalized at the Tiger Level at our District?  In my not so humble opinion a new Tiger Leader should be set up to succeed by the pack and it is essential that they have a few assurances when they take on the job.  Just a few areas of preparation will make a world of difference in the the careers of both scouts and scouters, the quality of your unit program and the success of scouts in general.

Tiger Den Leader Toolbox –
Tiger Cub Handbook – Every leader should have the handbook for the rank they are teaching.  I personally feel that the Pack should provide a copy to the leader so that they aren’t borrowing their son’s book.  In boy scouts I’m constantly chastising the boy’s for not reading the scout handbook from cover to cover and just reading the part that is pertinent for a particular event.  I, too, have this tendency…  but I urge all leaders:  read the whole book before beginning the year.  It is designed for 1st graders, so it should be too big of a burden! – Everyone has to take Youth Protection, This is Scouting, and Youth Protection, but not everyone is computer literate, believe it or not.  Your Council may have the materials for you to conduct training in your Pack and may even provide you with a volunteer to conduct training for you.  Otherwise, try setting up a meeting just for these classes and see if people will donate their laptops for the night, setup a bank of workstations, help people log in, work with them on getting through the classes.  If you setup the class somewhere like McDonalds or another public place with free wi-fi and don’t have a printer, learn how to “Print Screen” and save the certificates to an image so you can print them out later.

Cub Scout Leader Book – An overwhelming and exhaustive resource of 328 pages of great material.  Very intimidating for a new leader.  Print out pages 117 – 126 for your Tiger Den Leader and put them in a binder for them.  This will reinforce their leader specific training.

Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide The link here is for the overview and quite a bit of the material.  The resource guide can be purchased at the Scout Shop and I went ahead and scanned it and threw it on my Ipad for easy storage.  The Guide is 438 pages, so don’t expect to give this to a new volunteer and expect them to read it.  YOU read it and share with them the pertinent parts, particularly the Tiger Meeting Plans and explain to them where you got it so they can reference the guide when they have questions.

Tiger Cub Adult’s Meeting Agenda – this isn’t a document (it can be found in the Cub Scout Leader Book pg 124), but it’s a great idea, and our district doesn’t do it.  Before the year starts, collect all of the Tiger Parents, hand out the meeting schedule for the year, and get volunteers to lead each meeting.  If you don’t do this, the other parents will start looking at the Tiger Den leader as the only one that should be organizing, planning, leading meetings and this will extend to the other ranks.  Set the expectation early!  Give all of the parents responsibilities from the beginning.
“Where to Go” Booklets – Our District doesn’t do this either, but this is a must have for the Tiger Den Leader.  Why should new leaders try to figure out where to go on the Go See Its, who the contact is for the location, etc.  Have all of that information in it as well as by what date the “Go See It” should be scheduled by.

Resource Basket – Consider having the pack provide a basket with all of the craft tools, materials, etc that that Tigers will need for the year.  Have them restock it as they use it using Den Dues so that it can be given to next year’s Tiger Dens.

Budget – Create a budget for your new Tiger Den.  Use last years budget for guidance, why try to recreate the wheel?  The Den Leader will appreciate having this to guide them through the year.

Trainer’s EDGE – Boy Scouts teaches using the Trainer’s EDGE.  You should too!  Make sure your Cub Master, Pack Trainer, someone clearly Explains to the new leader.  Have someone Demonstrate to the new leader, lead a few of the early meetings for them!  Guide the new leader, communicate clearly with them and consistently, help set expectations. Enable the leader, slowly back away and let them do it.  Remember, they won’t do it exactly like you would and they will stumble at times, but you have to release them to do their jobs. Keep an eye on them and if they look like they are drowning, go back to Explain, Demonstrate or Guide if needed!


2 thoughts on “Cub Scout Planning – Set Your Tigers Up to Succeed

  1. Hi Clark. I agree with all your suggestions above. I tried to implement many of them in the beginning of our tiger cub year, planning out all our meetings and assigning parent volunteers for each meeting. Unfortunately, our den leader (I’m the assistant den leader) refused to follow the schedule, blew off the meeting dates, didn’t follow up with parents, and went randomly off in another direction on most occasions. I was extremely frustrated. Plus, I don’t even have a roster/email of all of the scouts. Seriously, I’m tearing my hair out. At the years end, he didn’t have any record of what the boys had done. I ended up preparing a spread sheet with dates of meetings based on my records and my own son’s book where I had recorded the dates of completion. He emailed this list (taking credit for it) to the parents who then had to email him with confirmation that their boys completed the requirements. I’m 100% sure he never read the tiger cub book.
    Most recently, the parents discussed a swimming party so the boys could earn their swimming belt loops. The leader has not responded to 5 emails and finally told me he was too busy to send out the email notification, which I can’t do because I don’t have the email addresses.

    Do you have any suggestions for dealing with this guy? I don’t know if going to the pack leader is appropriate. Any suggestions would be helpful. (by the way, we have 12 tiger cubs in the den and 2 other assistant leaders – one is equally frustrated and the other is much less involved).

    Any comment/suggestion would be helpful. Thanks!

    1. Can’t say I’ve been in your exact situation, cause I seem to have one of those personalities where I tend to take over and everyone seems to be ok with it. So if I came across this, I would definitely have a discreet discussion with the Cubmaster to let him know my plans, would get contact info from him or the committee chair (they can get a report from Council if they don’t have it!) or would ask each parent at the next den meeting, and would put together the schedule and implement it informing (not asking) the Den Leader of what was coming up prior so if he did have something to contribute then he could. If the Den Leader took offense with this or caused issues with it, I’d go to the committee and start a new patrol, not with the intention of destroying the old patrol, but of enhancing the Pack. Your son plus the one other Asst Den Leaders son would be a good start, more than a few would probably want to come over with you and if you have a school recruitment night, you’ll probably get a couple new Wolves to help build your numbers.

      My experience with volunteers is that most of them want to help, but quickly get in over their heads and act like drowning swimmers, flailing around, making things more difficult than they need to be even when people are trying to help them. Joe Volunteer, the car mechanic, dad and typical volunteer has a good heart, wants to help build a good program for his son to participate in, has good intentions, but finds out that this is nothing like working on cars or being a dad, things he’s good at. As a Pack / Troop leader, there is a lot of info out there from BSA on how to do the job, too much maybe, as it is sometimes over whelming. If you have a good Pack Trainer, they can spend time with the leader to help them understand the scope of the job without overwhelming them, but beyond that, there needs to be a mentorship period, where volunteers can slowly adjust to the job. Unfortunately, the way the program is around here, there is never time for that, so we have to be nimble and find a way to agilely mentor as we go, trying to be gentle not to discourage an overwhelmed volunteer.

      So, that’s my two cents, use it at your own peril! Oh also… the number one volunteer that seems to be able to jump in without too much of a ramp up period, follow the program, and keep the scouts excited are home school moms, every one I’ve dealt with in Cub Scouts has been a great leader, so recruit one of them and support them, and you’ll be amazed at what a great Den your boy is in! I guess the organization / program / whatever they do to keep their kids going through their home school program lends itself to the scouting world…

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