What Does Cub Scouting Look Like Now?

2020 Prologue: What Does Cub Scouting Look Like Now?

(What Are We Asking Families to Join and Do?)

Let's Reflect on What Cub Scouting Looks Like Now

Starting around mid-March of 2020, in-person Den and Pack activities -- including field trips and other visits to community resources -- were suspended on account of the risk of transmission of Covid-19, under guidance and directives about physical distancing. At this time, we lack good information about what August and September recruiting season will look like in schools and other communities.  Nor can we predict what the rest of the 2020-2021 program year will look like.

Plan "A" (In-Person Group Activities) and Plan "B" (Family-Led Activities). 

Given the uncertainty, Packs may want to plan for both situations. 

  • “Plan A” for Packs and Dens assumes active in-person Den adventures (meetings) and Pack activities like hikes, campouts and field trips, with parent leaders as part of those groups.
    • Under Plan "A", as in past years, the bulk of Advancement activity would occur at Den meetings and Pack outings.
    • Even if governmental entities allow group activities (likely under certain conditions that need significant attention and vigilant adherence -- some guidance is here on this Atlanta Area Council Health & Safety site, but that also requires checking other resources), Packs and Dens may elect to follow a more protective path -- and likely some Chartered Organizations and meeting places will not have the same appetite for safety risk as some governmental entities. 
    • Even under Plan "A", group in-person activities are going to be different unless and until Covid-19 is completely eradicated to a point that no new risk presents itself.
  • Plan "B" assumes that group activities are limited, either by regulation or by reluctance and that Dens and Packs who want to do Scouting will want a “Plan B” program of Family-Led Activities.  Under Plan "B", few or no group in-person activities will be held because most of the Cub Scout program can be done through family activities and virtual Den and Pack connectivity and communication.
    • Most of the program would be done at home by families, and maybe sometimes done at the same time (or approximately the same time) as a "virtual" Den or Pack activity.
    • Under Plan "B", the main role of a Den or Pack Leader changes from "lead the Scouts in program activity" to "guide the Parents so they can lead their Scouts in program activity".
    • More on "What Do Den and Pack Leaders Do" is below. 
  • Plan "B" may become Plan "A".  Packs and Dens may switch "back and forth" as needed because maybe physical distancing will still be common when the Program Year and School Year starts.
    • Maybe things will get better in the fall, and you can be in person again (and switch to Plan "A").
    • Hopefully, by Spring 2021 you switch back to Plan "A", and there will be a full summer schedule of in-person activities like summer resident camps and day camps. 
  • Plan "A/B": Some Families May Not Want To Do Plan "A" This Year - At All.  Even when things get better in the eyes of many, when governmental, Chartered Organization and other leadership authorize a return to in-person group activities, and a Pack or Den agrees to switch to a Plan "A" program, some families may still be concerned and may want to continue Scouting remotely.
    • We hope that Packs and Dens will provide them the opportunity to do family-led activities.
    • That's the purpose of creating our Adventure by Adventure resource pages -- those tips will help Dens do Adventures both at home and in person.
    • To serve all families, Packs may want to have a Plan "A/B" Program:
      • Where you have in-person group events, you may do them smaller, more physical distance between participants.
      • Plus sharing with all families resources to replicate (as much as possible) the activity at home.
      • This might include live broadcast (e.g., Facebook Live) of the in-person group events, and certainly much sharing of photos and videos of Scouts and families in action -- both from those at the in-person group event and from those at home.

Let's look at “What Does Cub Scouting Look Like in this Program Year (2020-2021)?”

Plan “A”:  An in-person program for a Cub Scout Pack (“what Cub Scouts do”) has looked like this over the past several years - and will again someday (hopefully very soon):

  • Den Adventures (meetings):  Commonly twice a month (but some Dens meet more, and some meet less), led by a Den Leader, with at least one other registered leader present.  These meetings cover most advancement elements.  Parents usually invited to help lead – some help, some don’t.
  • Family Activities:  Usually just a few advancement items done “at home” when assigned by a Den Leader (like chores and Family Faith Adventures).
  • Pack Activities:  Usually monthly, often an activity like a campout or hike or field trip or Pinewood Derby or bike rodeo or fishing outing or other activity.  Sometimes a classic Pack “meeting”. 

In these Recruiting Ideas pages, we’re calling this “Plan A” for your Pack.

Plan “B”:  With a Family-Led plan, the program menu for “what Cub Scouts do” may look more like this:

  • Family Activities: Family-led and on the family’s schedule, led by a parent with guidance from a Den or Pack Leader – almost all advancement elements done at home by Parent and Scout or with the full family.  Parents essential as leaders of their Scouts – Den + Pack leaders lead the parents to be leaders of their Scouts.
  • Den Coordination (Some Virtual Meetings): Den Leader primary role becomes guiding parents about how to do Cub Scout activities at home; secondary role is “checking in”, with parents and Scouts, either in group calls or Zooms.  Maybe some “virtual” meetings (likely shorter than “in person” meetings).
  • Pack Activities:  Maybe monthly or less often since group outings are limited and larger “virtual” events are difficult. Some events can be “virtual” - campouts on the same night, hikes on the same day, or Pinewood Derby over video feed. 

In these pages, we’re calling that “Plan B” for your Pack.


1)  Plan for a Plan "B" Program Now -- Shift to Plan "A" Activities Later.  

  • The advantage of announcing you'll be going Plan "B" and parent-led is that the Pack and Den are likely to invest more effort in the re-thinking of how to deliver the Plan "B" family-led Adventures.
    • After perhaps 2 or 3 family-led Adventures completed at home, when Dens start meeting in person again, you'll have more parents who are familiar with Cub Scouting resources.
    • They can be more easily enlisted to help lead in-person Den Adventures. 
  • A Plan "B" program can allow for an easier and safer transition to Plan "A" group in-person activities, as the first activities will be more lightly attended in person, while broadcast to the rest of the Den or Pack so that can still participate virtually.
    • Families watching the new in-person group activities can get a sense of whether their concerns about matters like physical distancing are being considered and adhered to by attendees.

2)  Go to Plan "A/B":  Show a "Hoped For" Plan "A" Activity Schedule Now -- But With Plan "B" Options.

  • A draft of a Pack Program Plan that could be on the backside of a flyer promoting your Pack is attached at the bottom of this page.
    • Under this, a Pack would show the Plan "B" fallback for every major event, to be used if the Den and Pack determine that the Plan "A" activity isn't safe or permitted due to Covid-19 concerns. 
      • This would also provide a path for families with higher levels of concern and desire to continue physical distancing.
      • For each Plan "A" activity, there would be a Plan "B" option for families to do on their own.
  • Creating a Plan "B" option alongside in-person activities would involve a bit more work -- though some of the work is easily done.
    • For example, if a Pack will do an in-person Bike Rodeo and allow Scouts to earn the Rolling Tigers Adventure Loop, Den and Pack Leaders can share this Rolling Tigers Adventure page with all families to allow families to do the adventure on their own at their own time.
    • A benefit to those families not comfortable with Plan "A" in-person participation would be some broadcast of the Plan "A" activity, perhaps over Facebook Live.
      • Making that broadcast may actually be a role that is easily filled since the stereotype of a non-participating adult is someone looking at their phone during meetings.
      • If they are looking at their Facebook, maybe they can agree to do this broadcast.  

What Do Den and Pack Leaders Do Under a Plan "B" Pack Program?  

Maybe the role changes like this:

  • Lead Parents to be Leaders!  Under Plan "B" family-led activities, Den and Pack Leaders can still be leaders. 
    • Except now, you would lead the parents of the Scouts in the Den and Pack to let the parents lead the Scouts.
      • After all, Parents Lead.
    • Parents lead their children at home already and they can lead Cub Scout adventures with their Scouts.
      • Most Den and Pack Leaders are parents also -- they just volunteered earlier.
      • So even if not a Den Leader (yet), parents and other family members can and should be a leader to their own Scout, because Family Involvement is a key method of Cub Scouting
  • Get Parents Involved
    • Interacting with other adults - especially parents - is the essential job quality of Cub Scout leadership.
    • Each time we take on another job that could be done by a parent … we are admitting that we have failed.
    • Instead of sharing responsibility, we have opted for the easy workaround: do it ourselves instead of teaching others that it is better that they do it.
    • Worse, we have hurt two Scouts.  We have hurt our own Scouts because the time it takes to do the second (or third and so on) job often comes from the time needed to fulfill our duties as “Akela” to our own children, and also, we have deprived another Scout the chance to see their parents be heroes - doing something important in his Cub den or pack.

Many Den and Pack Leaders make a strong effort to have "Every Parent Help" lead at Den and Pack activities -- though that is a struggle for some, and some parents need a lot of coaxing to step up.

"The best gift for a Cub Scout....... get their parents involved!"

  • This lines up well with the Atlanta Area Council Program mission of "Stronger Families Through Scouting". 

EDGE Method. 

Those who know the Scouts BSA "EDGE" method will see that under this approach a great use of a Den or Pack Leader will be to use EDGE to train parents:

  • Explain their role in leading an Adventure with their own Scout.
  • Demonstrate how to lead at home, including sharing resources.
  • Guide the Parents in leading as needed.
  • Enable them to succeed.

The Den Schedule and Den Leader's Role. 

Under a Plan "B" parent-led program, the schedule for a Den and role of a Den Leader evolves from "lead meetings" to "lead parents", and may look like this:

1)  Check-In With Parents -- How Are They Doing. 

  • At the start of a year, you'll want to have a group parent meeting anyway to pitch Parent involvement -- under a Plan "B" Parent-Led program, this is more important, and Parent-Check Ins will need to be repeated regularly.
  • When you schedule a time for a group Check-In, don't assume that time will work for all -- people's schedules will be in flux during regular times, and more during physical distancing times.
    • Friendly follow up by phone (plus text, email) is key to getting families on board.
  • Part of any Check-In session will be to describe how Handbook Adventures and other Cub Activities can be done by a family. 
    • For "virtual" participation events, like Social Check-Ins, you'll want to get a sense of how "wired" the family is.
    • Do they have reliable broadband and Wi-Fi, and computer screens or tablets to join a Zoom session?
    • Or will that be a barrier for some -- do they need to rely on phone communication.
  • During the course of the year, you'll want to have regular follow up Check-In sessions, especially before events that may need an explanation, like how to do a virtual campout or just "talking through" how to do an Adventure at Home. 

2)  Gently Share Cub Scout Resources - For Parent-Led Adventures.

  • In any Handbook, you will want to have a plan for completion of the required Adventures, and while there is no requirement that every family does each Adventure at the same time (or day or week or month), there is community value in sharing similar experiences in (relatively) real-time. 
  • So as part of Parent Check-Ins, as well as follow up texts and emails, you'll want to look at your list of adventures (here's a list that has links to all of them), and share the link of the Adventure that's coming up next.
    • Your schedule of when to do Adventures may be informed by your Pack's virtual activities.
    • So if the plan for September is to do a "virtual hike" over a weekend (each family picking their hike location and the time that works for them), you might share with your Den the hiking Adventure for your Handbook from this list
    • If your Pack decides to promote activities like bike riding or fishing, you would want to share with your Den the Adventure that lines up with that skill or hobby:
      • So, Rolling Tigers for bike riding -- see this page for biking resources that will help families and help you guide them. 
      • Don't worry that the Adventure is from another Handbook -- you can still do the Adventure and award the Loop if a Scout completes the requirements (it just won't count as an Adventure for your rank badge).  More on why that's OK is at this page.

3)  Brief Den "Social" Check-Ins -- Just For Fellowship.

  • One element that is during physical distancing, people desire social connections.  Cub Scouting can deliver a way to make connections -- with both parents and Scouts.
  • Having brief "Social" Check-Ins can allow Scouts to talk to each other (if you do it over Zoom or another screen, they can see each other too) -- and that may be as important as "doing an Adventure". 
    • After all, "belonging to a den" community is a key method of Cub Scouting.
    • Key Tip For Den Leaders:
      • Other than setting up the connection, you don't have to plan anything!
      • Just keep order (the "mute" control is the Host's friend) and let the Scouts be Scouts.
      • "Social" Check-Ins can be for Adults in the Den and Pack.
        • They need social connections too!

4)  Brief Virtual Den Meetings -- Like Show and Tell Talk Time.    

  • Planning and running a Den Meeting (Den Adventure) seems hard even when you're "in person" and you can have running around time in playgrounds and parks. 
  • Planning and running a "virtual" Den Meeting over Zoom or other connection is a lot harder, for several reasons:
    • All "hands-on" group games are either impossible to do virtually or are difficult to replicate.
      • If it's difficult and comes off as "not fun", that going to be a turnoff for Scouts and their Parents.
      • In any Cub Scouting event, we want to keep them coming back for more because it is fun.
      • Note:  there can be fun games done over Zoom, but you have to know your audience and practice (it can be a good idea to get "buy-in" from other parents by doing a practice with them).
  • Other "hands-on" group activities are also difficult to replicate over Zoom when you're trying to do the same activity at the same time but in different places. Not impossible -- just difficult.
    • This is one reason why for best results a Den or Pack Leader will lead the Parents in how the Parents can lead their Scouts.
    • If a Scout is online but a Parent isn't leading them or isn't fully attentive, maybe the Scout will get frustrated.
    • And if you make the "hands-on" group virtual activity too simple, it won't be fun or challenging to the families who are really engaged -- they will want to do more.
  • To keep virtual meetings flowing, you might abbreviate them, do what will work best to keep your Den audience (Scouts and Parents) engaged. 
    • One route that should be interesting is family "show and tell" of what they did working on the Adventure they did at home -- especially if there is a lot of show, either live or with pictures and video.
      • Under this approach, the family does the Adventure activity on their own time.
      • Virtual Den meeting time is to share what each did.
    • That way, the family can do the Adventure activity when it best fits the family schedule -- maybe with all siblings and parents -- and they can take pictures and video to share.
    • This will allow each Scout and family who did an Adventure element to shine, and spark ideas in the heads of other families about how they too can do Adventures at and from home -- and then get their chance to shine.
      • Be sure to confirm in advance to families what you will do at the Zoom meeting so they have a chance to present and succeed.
      • And if you will have "live during Zoom" activities, be sure families know what to do to prepare.
    • Den Leaders can still do an Opening and Closing, and have a "Den Leader Minute" to recognize everyone who did something great since the last time you Zoomed.
  • One other limit of Zoom meetings is that you can't really see everyone and even then, you don't see what they are doing.
    • Any it's very hard for leaders and parents to coordinate in real-time during a Zoom meeting.
    • Even private messages will take time to send and absorb -- and risk breaking the meeting flow.
  • The last aspect of Zoom meetings and physical distancing life disruptions is that the time picked for a Zoom meeting may not be good for everyone.
    • But by doing shorter Zoom meetings, it may be possible to do "catch up" Zoom virtual meetings to allow families to check-in and "show and tell".
    • Another "virtual" connectivity tool is to share fun pictures and videos with all families to view on their own schedules -- even if a family can't attend "live", they can still submit pictures and video and stories to share with the Den, and the best of what was presented at the Den Zoom virtual meeting can also be shared to be enjoyed by all again.

What Does a Plan "A" Pack Program Look Like?  

The exact parameters have yet to come out, but if and when in-person group activities are authorized again beyond family units, Packs and Dens will need to consider a number of adjustments for compliance and for general safety.

  • Local Governmental Rules. 
    • Under any return to in-person activities, there will no doubt be a myriad of conditions and rules for participation as physical distancing is relaxed, and those will need to be strictly adhered to -- if that's not possible, there's always doing Cub Scouting under Plan "B" Family-Led Activities.  Conditions and rules might come from local governments or health departments, or reference advice from the CDC or other groups, and restrictions might include:
    • Who can participate? 
      • There may be screening requirements, perhaps inquiries, perhaps more (like temperature checks for symptoms), perhaps testing.
      • This will likely add a new staffing element to any Den or Pack activity since the Den Leader or Cubmaster already has much to do.
      • Depending on the requirements, this may add new equipment needs, like thermal scanners.
    • How many can participate? 
      • There may be limits on the number allowed to attend in-person events, which will limit the numbers of Scouts and Parents and others who can attend a Den or Pack activity.
      • It is possible that if there is a limit, the "cut off" number might eliminate the possibility of large Pack activities, but allow Den activities.
    • How can participants interact?  
      • Maybe face masks will be required.  A den sitting around a single picnic table may not be optimal right away, as there may remain physical distancing rules or recommendations.
      • To enforce this, Dens and packs may need to consider an active "adult partner" attendance element to comply.
      • You can probably plan on using the Cub Scout salute as a greeting, not the Cub Scout handshake.
    • How must the venue be prepared? 
      • There may be requirements for cleaning, or removal of certain items that cannot be easily cleaned and/or that may be passed around. 
      • Expect requirements for elements like hand washing on site, even if bringing portable hand sanitizer supplies.
    • Will records be required? 
      • There may be requirements to record attendance, for later contract tracing purposes if necessary.
  • Chartered Organization and Meeting Place Rules. 
    • Even if not required by local governmental rules, Chartered Organizations and Meeting Place organizations (e.g., schools) may place their own more protective requirements on gatherings.
    • They are within their rights to do so, as they have their own concerns about the Scouts and families attending, and with respect to others who use their spaces.
    • They might require users of their spaces to present plans for compliance with governmental or organizational requirements, and commit to adhering to those plans.
  • Pack Consensus - Including Families. 
    • Even if local governmental entities, Chartered Organizations and Meeting Places will allow gatherings, Pack and Den Leaders may also place their own more protective requirements on gatherings -- or determine that it would be better to continue a Plan "B" Family-Led program in the current time, or have a Plan "A/B" program with in-person and at-home options.
    • If Pack and Den Leaders are OK with in-person activities, some families won't be and may elect not to participate in group activities.
    • Packs and Dens should not turn them away, because those families may be more inclined to have a robust Plan "B" Family-Led program.
    • When families gain experience of leading activities, when they do come back to a Plan "A" group activity, they will be better able to lead Pack and Den activities.

Practical Examples of Plan "A" Activities Now. 

  • Pack "meetings" indoors might not be done, but instead, there may be more outdoor meetings with physical distancing. 
    • For anyone worried about Pack JTE scorecards and a requirement that to earn points in Category 9 ("Pack and den meetings and activities") they see that a Pack must "hold eight pack meetings a year", note that the second page fleshes that out with this statement: "Have at least eight pack meetings or activities within the past 12 months".
    • If you have a Pack activity like a bike rodeo or fishing derby or hike or campout or pinewood derby, each of those counts as a pack meeting or activity in Category 9, Virtual ones too!
  • Hybrid Pack "meetings" might need to change, on account of the mass of people attending at one time, usually indoors.
    • With arrivals in a common parking lot sent to distant parts of the meeting location, separately.
  • All Scouting is Local, use your resources:
    • Your church or school may have sufficient outdoor space for distant den meeting groups, weather permitting.
    • Camp chairs can be your friend to allow for physical distancing.
    • There may be more than one place to do den meetings.
  • Other Activities like a bike rodeo should be different -- including with a Plan "A/B" format.
    • For example, rather than a "gang" start with everyone attending at one time, there might be staggered starts so that attendees are doing the rodeo in smaller groups. 
    • Similar approaches can be taken to events like Pinewood Derbies, which might have separate times for each Den, and any final runs might be broadcast over Zoom to all who want to see it. 
    • Fishing derbies may be popular, since fisherpeople have been physically distancing since the dawn of time.
  • Den Meetings (Adventures) done in person may be different and maybe should be different.
    • While to this point only Lions and Tigers have been required to have adult partners present (once a Tiger becomes a Wolf a den of 10 of them magically can be supervised by only two people!), current practical considerations may

Bottom Line: 

Youth and families will benefit from Scouting, youth are growing up even while physically distant, they won't "raise themselves", and we have ways to help families raise them by doing Scouting, either under Plan "A" with in-person group activities, or Plan "B" with family-led activities or do Plan "A/B" (a mix of the two).

File Name Description
2020 Guide to Cub Scout Family Recruiting Download