What Does Cub Scouting Look Like Now?

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Cub Scouting in 2022

Then: 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. Case levels rose and dropped through Delta and then Omicron variant waves.

Now: Covid-19 case data is again improving, vaccines are available to all Cub Scout-aged youth and adults, and more families want to return to group activities that can be safe. 

Bottom Line: Our Packs and Dens want to do Cub Scouting safely – and we can.  The current (March 2022) drop in cases and pullback of masking requirements doesn’t mean that the risk of the virus is eliminated, just that it is lessened.  Even at that point, know that some families will continue to have more Covid-19 concern than others – for example, those who do not get vaccinated or for whom vaccination does not provide protection, like organ transplant recipients and other immunocompromised people.  Families with those factors need Scouting too, and we can support them by safe activities and by sharing family-led resources.

Why Keep This Page?  Isn’t the Pandemic Over (Isn’t It Just “Endemic” Now)?  There may be new variants, and new waves, so Scouts must Be Prepared.  We hope we don’t need to shut down indoor group activities again, but if we do, we’ve got the tools described here.  Also, the idea of having Den and Pack Leaders lead parents to help them lead – and help lead Dens and Packs – is a worthwhile goal.

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Ways to “Do” Cub Scouting: In-Person Group Activities? Family-Led Activities? Some of Both?

Dens and Packs have returned to in-person group activities safely and in compliance with COVID-19 requirements of their locations, and often as outdoor activities (because outdoors is more fun, and safer).  Since 2020, many have shared with parents how to do Family-Led Activities from home.  Those Family-Led Activities will remain a valuable resource going forward, for these reasons:

  • Sharing Family-Led Adventure Activities with parents makes them more able to help their Scout, both at home and in Den or Pack activities.
  • Sharing Family-Led Adventure Activities allows Scouts to “catch up” at home if they missed a Den or Pack activity that covered an advancement Adventure – everyone has busy schedules.
  • Scouts joining after Dens have started completing advancement Adventures can quickly catch up if the family is keen on completing Rank advancement – even if they join in the Winter or Spring.
  • Scouts in families with continued COVID concerns can keep Scouting – and we all can if new variants emerge and schools and churches again limit in-person activities.

Fortunately for these times when outdoor activities are safer, the new Cub Scout Advancement program launched in 2015 was intended to take Cub Scouting more outdoors, with more exploration, hikes and walkabouts, biking, fishing, kiting, skating, and less schoolwork or craftwork.  It’s safer to Get Out and Cub Scout!

Empowering parents with Family-Led resources can hopefully be a positive legacy of the pandemic era of “Scouting at Home”.

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A Spectrum of Possible Pack Program Plans

For future reference (if it is needed), the spectrum of Pandemic Pack Program Plans looked like this – some Dens and Packs did keep meeting (usually completely outdoors), many were somewhere in the middle, some completely at home. Other Dens and Packs halted their programs.

More detail below.

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Group In-Person Program

Some Packs and Dens had more in-person Den adventures (or meetings) and Pack activities like Den and Pack hikes, campouts, and field trips, with parent leaders as part of those groups.

  • Den Adventures (meetings):  Commonly twice a month (some Dens meet more, and some meet less), led by a Den Leader, with at least one other registered leader present.  Most Advancement and other activity would occur at Den meetings and outings, led by registered leaders.  Our Adventure by Adventure resource pages can help leaders and parents with that delivery.
  • Family Activities: Usually just a few advancement items done “at home” when assigned by a Den Leader, like chores at home 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”.
  • Safety Concerns: Den and Pack group activities will follow applicable COVID-19 safety restrictions – of applicable government, schools, Chartered Organizations, and event locations.  Some guidance is on this Atlanta Area Council Health & Safety site.
  • Pros and Cons:
    • Pros:  “Classic” Cub Scouting is done this way!  More Fun Together!  Don’t need to structure a separate program track for Family-Led Adventures.
    • Cons:  May not be safe (or permitted in large groups during pandemic times) and families may stay away.

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Family Led Program

Many Packs and Dens recognized that group activities were limited, either by space providers (like schools and churches) or by reluctance (like families worried about risk), so these Packs and Dens relied on Family-Led Activities done from home. Under this program, few or no group in-person activities were held because most of the Cub Scout program can be done through family activities and virtual Den + Pack connectivity and communication. Our Adventure by Adventure resource pages and Scouting on Demand pages have “Family-Led Plans” and more to make it easy for parents to lead their Scouts – and for Den leaders and parents to lead group Adventures.

  • Den Coordination (Some Virtual Meetings): The Den Leader’s 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). Under a Family-Led program, a key 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.
  • Family Activities: Family-led and on the family’s schedule – almost all advancement elements done at home by Parent and Scout or with the full family. Parents are leaders of their own Scouts – Den + Pack leaders lead the parents to leader their own Scouts. 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.
  • Pack Activities: Rare in a pure Family-Led Program, since group outings are limited and riskier. Some events can be “virtual” – campouts on the same night, hikes on the same day, or Pinewood Derby over video feed.
  • Pros and Cons:
    • Pros: Safest from a COVID-19 contact angle. May develop “leader” skills in more parents. Den Leader role can be easier if Den Leaders coach parents to lead their own Scouts.
    • Cons: Harder, because it is a different approach. Parents may not want to “lead”, even their own Scouts. Less community belonging “glue” when doing Scouting in your own time and place. And some Den Leaders think they need to do all the leading by virtual meetings over Zoom (but … they don’t).

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Half and Half (or Hybrid) Program

Some Packs and Dens had some in person activities and some at home activities.

  • Best of Both Worlds? Some in person activities for those willing to engage in that way, plus full support of parents who want to do Family-Led Activities from home.
  • Smaller Activities at Start: In a hybrid program, in person activities may be smaller to have more physical distance between participants, perhaps mostly Den sized, maybe mostly outdoors, with “Pack” activities like derbies and bike rodeos having “staggered” start times so that large throngs do not gather at once.  Ideally, as COVID-19 cases decline, more families will be more willing to engage in safe group activities.
  • Den and Pack Sharing with At Home Families: Participants in the Den and Pack in-person activities might live broadcast (e.g., Facebook Live) their events, or at least take and share photos and videos of Scouts and families in action – and those at home can likewise share their videos and pictures.
  • Pros and Cons:
    • Pros:  Welcomes and supports all – in-person people eager for group activity, and lead from home people wanting to be safer.  Planning a smaller “in person” track of activities makes it easier for families to shift from “at home” to “in person” as conditions improve.  Bringing families back “in person” after those parents have led Adventures at home means those parents might lead more – they led at home, they can help lead in the Den now.
    • Cons: Can be confusing to those who think everything must be done in one way at one time in one place.  Puts some burden on Den and Pack leaders to provide both (1) in person activities, and (2) at home alternates.

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Which Way is the Right Way for your Pack and Your Den?

That’s up to Pack and Den Leaders, and families, and the Chartered Organization.  It is possible that some Dens may operate differently than other Dens in the same Pack, again depending on the Den Leaders and families.

  • Some may choose to only do a Group In Person Program, and those families who don’t want to join up or reengage now might come along later when conditions are better.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, some may choose to do only a Family-Led Program to be safe, even if not all families do all of the Adventures.
  • Probably most will offer a hybrid, with some smaller in person activities plus supporting a Family Led Program, especially because a Family Led Program is so easy to do now with 2020 Atlanta Area Council resources like our Cub Adventure resources and Scouting on Demand – it takes little leader effort to forward Adventure resources to your families.

Our resources on this page support all of those options.  Two draft Pack Program Plans that you can copy, edit and print (maybe put it on the backside of a flyer promoting your Pack) are attached at the bottom of this page.

  • One is for a Half and Half (or Hybrid) Program, with an example of a full month-by-month set of activities, plus what the “at home” option might look like.
    • You would need to edit to put in your actual events, locations and dates, but to make this look real, we suggested some events, locations and dates.
    • If you only want to offer a Group In Person Program, you can just delete the “At Home Fun Family Adventures” column, and add more detail about your in-person events.
  • The other flyer is for a Family Led Program, and that lists monthly themes for activities to be done from home by families, with links to Adventures found in the Handbooks for each Rank.
    • If you want to go this route of only promoting a Family Led Program, you can edit as you like to change monthly activity themes and dates as you like.
    • And you can then use that both as a Pack Family Led Program Plan to put on the back of your flyer, and create separate versions for each Rank level, showing just the Adventure that the applicable Den would focus on.

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How Do Den and Pack Leaders Support a Family-Led Program?

Maybe the role changes like this:

  • Lead Parents to be Leaders! Under a Family-Led Program of 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 their own Scouts.
    • 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.

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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.

Think of the old adage:  “If you give a parent a fish, they’ll eat for a day, but if you teach a parent to fish, they’ll eat forever”.  Maybe that’s true with Scouting:

  • “If you give a parent’s child an Adventure, they’ll have Cub Scouting for a day
  • … but if you teach a parent how to lead an Adventure, they’ll have Cub Scouting forever.”

"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".

More on what a Family-Led Program looks like, and how the role of a Den or Pack Leader changes when supporting a Family-Led Program, is found at www.AtlantaBSA.org/FamilyLedFun.

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What Does an In-Person Group Den and Pack Program Look Like Now?

In pandemic times, the exact parameters were constantly shifting, as Packs and Dens will need to consider a number of adjustments for compliance and for general safety.

  • Local Governmental, Chartered Organization and Meeting Place Rules. As we return to in-person activities, there are conditions and rules for participation where Dens and Packs normally gather. Physical distancing and masking and other restrictions (like how many people allowed at one time in a Chartered Organization, Church or School property) will need to be strictly adhered to your Den and Pack families. Conditions and rules might come from local governments or health departments, Chartered Organizations and Meeting Place organizations (e.g., schools), and might reference advice from the CDC or other groups. Restrictions might include:
    • Who can participate?
      • Depending on the requirements, this may add new equipment needs, like thermal scanners.
      • 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.
      • There may be screening requirements, perhaps inquiries, perhaps more (like temperature checks and other checking for symptoms).
    • How many can participate?
      • Generally, smaller gatherings will be permitted earlier than larger gatherings – and will be seen as safer by families.  Maybe focus on Den activities instead of large Pack gatherings?
      • 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.
    • How can participants interact?
      • Face masks are often required – and the CDC recommends them, even outdoors.  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?
      • Expect requirements for elements like hand washing on site, even if bringing portable hand sanitizer supplies.
      • There may be requirements for cleaning, or removal of certain items that cannot be easily cleaned and/or that may be passed around.
    • Will records be required?
      • There may be requirements to record attendance, for later contract tracing purposes if necessary.
  • 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 lean more towards Family-Led program in the current time, or have a “hybrid” program with in-person and at-home options.
    • Even if some Pack and Den Leaders are OK with in-person activities, others might not.  Some families will be OK with in-person activities, and others won't – they may elect not to participate in group activities.  Packs and Dens should not turn them away, because those families may be more inclined to participate in a robust Family-Led program until they sense it is safe to gather again.
    • When families gain experience of leading activities, when they do come back to in-person Den and Pack activity, they will be better able to lead Pack and Den activities.
    • Practical Examples of Safe In-Person Activities Now

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Bottom Line:

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

File Name Description
J) Sample Editable Flyer Back Page of Pack Activities | in Word Do It Yourself Flyer (see above) Download
Sample Cub Scout Pack Flyer Back Page | Family-Led Program | Word Document Download