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Eight ways to avoid summer hibernation in your Cub Scout pack

Family vacation, tons of free time and absolutely no homework.

The very conditions that make summer a Cub Scout-age boy’s favorite season can wreak havoc on a Cub Scout pack. Some packs, frustrated with the difficulty of aligning family schedules in June, July and August, simply give up and take summers off.

Bad idea, say experienced Cub Scouters like A.J. Vasta: “Why is ‘hibernating’ still even an option?” he asks. “So many lost members when everyone finally gets back together.”

If you’re smart and plan ahead, you can avoid the unnecessary hibernation that causes your pack to lose momentum.

Consider these eight ways to stay active all summer, submitted by your fellow Cub Scouters on Facebook

  1. “We follow the plan for the Summertime Award — try to have at least one activity in each month of summer.” — Ann O.
  2. “Our pack has one pack activity during each month, including day camp in June, a pack overnight campout in July, and a fishing derby in August! The den meetings start back up after school starts in September!” — Kim C.
  3. Annual planning goes a long way. There is so much to do that may be out of reach during Fall/Winter.” — Bryan M.
  4. “Try to hold two events each month so all Cubs have an opportunity to earn the Summertime Pack Award, just in case they could not make one of the events. Remember, families still go on family vacations this time of year.” — Ken M.
  5. Full meetings aren’t necessary, but by simply having a few get togethers a month (bike, hike, free movies in the park, etc.) the pack stays active, earns the summertime award, the boys have fun, and the Scouts come back in the fall. There’s a higher drop rate in the hibernating packs than in the active packs.” — Damon E. 
  6. “Oh and don’t forget everyone can bring a friend. All activities are recruitment opportunities.” — Anthony K.
  7. Summer is designed for Cubs. Week at day camp, week at overnight camp, overnight at a minor league game, hikes and bike rides. Want to keep the Cubs up late? No problem since they don’t have school in the morning.” — John B.
  8. “We try to do a few field trips during the summer to mix things up. This summer we went to day camp and toured our local Air Force base, police station and a steakhouse. The boys loved it! We plan ahead to make sure we have enough leaders and drivers for each trip. They’re all local and free, so there is no burden on the families.” — Conny L.

Your turn

What does your pack or den do to keep active all summer? Leave your thought below.

23 Comments on Eight ways to avoid summer hibernation in your Cub Scout pack

  1. My pack’s biggest problem is not having enough leaders to step up when the main person is gone. We did take July off from major meetings, but we made sure everything else was planned before the end of the school year. Everyone knew three months out what to expect from pack & den meetings.

  2. Please repost this in April. Thx.

    • Good feedback. Thanks, Mike!

      • Yes repost this then , BUT be sure to include this in your units planning session now.

  3. I’ll do you one worse… before I became involved in our pack, our Cubmaster (who acted as committee chair also, long story…) not only did not plan any activities in the summer, or really any time, only held Pack Meetings from September through December. Then Pinewood Derby in January, Blue and Gold in February, and that was it until the fall. He would tell the Tiger leader about Day camp, and older dens about their camp opportunities, and then it was up to the leaders if they even bothered to go.

    My husband and I decided we wanted more, so needless to say we stepped up and now we have a year-round program and almost every boy makes it to at least one type of camp or some even go to both Day Camp and Resident camp…

    • Hooray for you! AT the very least one event a month.

  4. Committee Chair // August 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm // Reply

    We did many of the ideas here – scheduled hikes, gatherings in the park,pack camp out, summer camp, twilight camp, etc. We had the same three cubs at most events and a few that were attended only by scout son and myself. This has convinced me that a summer program isn’t needed or wanted by our pack, and the leadership benefits from the break.

    • Steve Stockham // August 14, 2013 at 8:10 pm // Reply

      I know it’s darn hard to keep enthusiastic when it’s the same three boys all the time. How large is your pack? Your District should have some pretty interesting programs set up especially for cub scouts. In our District, we have a Cub Scout Residence Camp out at our Camp Brown which acts as a summer camp for the cubs but we also have a Cub Scout Day Camp which is over three days and has a different theme each year. This year’s theme was circus inspired while last year’s was pirate themed and the year before space and the cosmos. We then top the whole thing off with a Chuckwagon Skills Day where the Packs in our District bring a “chuckwagon” that they have to pull around to the various activities. Some of the favorites are cooking projects, craft making, first aid, archery and fording the stream (yep, they have to do it by themselves across a very small stream but then they have to get it up a muddy bank. We make sure that there are 2nd yr. Webelos assigned to each group that have “forded” the stream before and, of course, there are adults there to see that everyone stays safe! Crazily enough, it’s one of the scout’s most fun activities!)
      All of this happens outside of the regular Pack meetings. For our summer meetings, we hold them once a month and it’s always centered around an activity. Some of the ideas we have done are miniature golf(+), swimming pool(+), bowling party(++), zoo visit(++), raingutter regatta(+), even a visit to an outdoor garden railroad! How about a baseball game or what about a museum? My point is that there are many ideas about what to do.
      In addition, there is also a resource that many Pack leaders forget: your local troop! Perhaps there is something that can be done jointly with a local troop. This has the added benefit of cementing the bonds of scouting between Pack and Troop and provides an incentive for Webelos crossing over to continue into Boy Scouts (and, coincidentally, that local troop!)
      Considering all of these opportunities for your cub scouts and with a relaxed schedule during the summer giving your leaders some rest, is it really not wanted or needed?

      • And all of that is simply wonderful. We’ve done it all, planned the summer program like a Swiss watch, troop activity, council activities, day camp, baseball games (pack bought tickets for a MLB game), resident camp, pack campout, bike rodeos, July 4 cookout, swim party, etc. It was great fun for the one scout who showed up to each, and the Cubmaster who put in all the planning.

        It’s great to plan a summer program. Too bad no one shows up.

  5. We try to plan one, simple, local activity each month: a picnic, a hike, and a day at the pool. Then we let everyone know about all the cool stuff the council is doing: day camp, resident camp, fishing derby, Cub Mobile race, etc. Everyone is invited to come to what ever they can manage. Some families are VERY busy, and we don’t see them ’til September, but at least they received all the invitations (via email).

  6. Brian,
    I think National needs to lead from the front on this subject.
    This “tradition” of closing down for the summer is ridiculous.
    The summer is the best part of the year for outdoor activities!
    The lame excuse of “going on vacation” should not be accepted, nor should “summer break” be used.
    The National Summertime Pack award is a small step in the right direction, but not enough.
    If National stepped up and focused on changing this mindset through training and program changes. (easy, since most of Cub training is on-line)
    Plus actively promoting year round packs and pushing it down to the councils/districts.
    We could deliver a much better program to our boys and better help in retention in Cubs and their transition to Boy Scouts.
    Kudos to the Cub Leaders who have already taken steps to make this happen!

  7. Our pack operates year-round. We still have regular den and pack meetings through the summer, along with a few special events. This year’s special events were day camp in June, Raingutter Regatta in July, and an overnighter at the minor league baseball stadium coming up later in August. The den leaders use the summer meetings to work on Bobcat requirements for newly recruited scouts (while also refreshing it for continuing scouts), electives, and belt loops. Once school starts back up, we will have a recruitment night in early September and start working on the achievements, with a goal of the boys earning rank by Blue & Gold in February.

    A question about the summertime award: The site linked above states
    “Who Can Earn This Award?
    Earned by youth and adult pack members who take part in all three events.”

    Does this mean that the boys must participate in all three events in order to personally earn the summertime award pin for their uniform? If we are holding den and pack meetings during the summer, do those count toward the award?

    The site makes it sound like the boys must take part in all three events, which means only 2 or 3 boys in our pack would earn that award due to family vacations, illness, etc. However, the requirements for the pack are a minimum of 50% participation from each den. This has created some confusion within our pack about which boys qualify for the pin.

    • Steve Stockham // August 15, 2013 at 9:13 am // Reply

      My understanding of the summertime award is that it was envisioned as pertaining to those units that met only once a month during the summer. Since these once a month meetings are usually activities of some kind, that’s what the requirements are referring to. Since your pack is exceeding the once a month meeting goal, I would think that, as long as your scouts and leaders participated in at least ONE meeting or activity per month during the summer, they would qualify for the award. The goal of the summertime activity award is to encourage scouts to remain active in their packs throughout the entire summer. It seems to me that your unit has far exceeded those expectations.

    • http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/cubscouts/leaders/awards/unitawards.aspx

      Scroll down to National Summertime Pack Award. Very simple explanation.

  8. To give every scout the opportunity to earn the summertime award we offer four months worth of activities so they can earn the three activities required. Since our school end around Memorial Day and starts up again in early August, we offer May thru August to earn the award. With vacations, other camps besides day camp etc. this give the families some options. four months to attend three activities including day camp at the end of June.

  9. While I’m no longer at the Pack level, we used to plan to continue “meetings” every week. Whoever could come, came. But instead of the regular meeting place, we held it in the park. And instead of dens we did it as one “big” group. We planned each week to earn a belt loop. One week it was basketball. Another week it was marbles. Another it was chess. Parents signed up to “teach” a skill or sport that earned a belt loop. The boys had fun and lots of recognition at the first Pack meeting back. And it showed some parents that being a Den Leader wasn’t as bad as they thought, so they came forward as new Den Leaders before the start of school.

    • I like the idea of “whoever could come, came.” We keep going through the summer and occasionally have meetings where only 3-4 boys show up due to sports, vacations, etc. But we still hold meetings. Then the next week we might have the whole den of 11 boys. You never know how an activity/meeting will go, but you plug on anyway.

  10. LENNY JENNINGS // August 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm // Reply

    Get the parents involved! Backyard picnics, camping, cookouts, games, crafts, songs, theme fairs, and just plain getting to know one another. I know of a Pack that after their Cub Scouts were long gone, kept meeting for the next twenty years, because they had so much fun with their kids. Summer time is just the best. A cloths line, a blanket thrown over it, a flash light, and a eight year old feels the
    same as adult going to fancy hotel for the weekend.

  11. Our Pack was dying – down to 24 boys. We revamped our whole program about 5 years ago and we are up to almost 70 boys. We now have a whole summer program also. We have about 3 events, including Council events scheduled in June, July, and August. Fishing Derbies, Campouts, Parades etc… These are for families to pick and choose what they can come to. We still have Pack Meetings in the Summer and have events at these such as a Belt Loop night, Raingutter Regatta, or Sports night. We actually get huge turn outs at our summer activites. We also have a Hiking Club in our Pack called the Milers Club. We keep track of all the miles each boy has hiked over the year within Scouts. (Has to be Scout related hikes.) We give out patches and rockers, at 50 miles the boys get staves. After that instead of patches, the boys get items to attach to their stave. The program has been very successful. There is a lot to do, but you do need the help. Our Pack has been lucky enough to have that.

  12. Our packs continue as normal, though the likelihood of a combined den meeting (especially for those at the same level–we have 2 each of wolves, bears, and webelos. Can’t get enough parent buy-in for tigers to function) or a whole meeting dedicated to arrow point/elective than usual, but we have “normal” meetings nonetheless. We have one or two people willing to fill in regularly–the best actually has no kids of her own, just likes Scouting! Parents are generally less useful. In a bind, our committee chair or cubmaster steps in or sometimes a leader will bring his/her spouse to be the 2nd adult.

  13. The only week we skip our “normal” schedule (pack meeting the 1st week of the month, den meetings subsequent) is for day camp, which is usually held on a saturday then we will not meet the tuesday after.

  14. We are starting all over. We had a Committee Chair, Cub Master, secretary, all in one and friend as treasurer. Things did not work out well. So we stepped up and took over. The group I am the leader of ,the parents started taking positions and now we are looking better. We started out with a budget less than $100. We have slowly been building it up and have had new boys joining. Our only problem is finding things to do for the summer. My boys show up to everything and we have meetings twice a month during the summer. One other leader has her boys come but we have 2 that does not care and is always telling us it won’t work what ever we have planned. This summer we did a Family BBQ Kickball game, Rain Regatta/Pirate party, A huge Tag Sale/ Bake sale where we brought in a lot of money for the pack (but always the same families come to help) and we are doing a Parade. We want to stop doing this parade because it takes the boys 3 hours to get from beginning to end and they are so bored and wild at the end. And the walking is too much for the Tigers and we have 7 handicapped kids and they cannot do it.

  15. Wolf Den Daniel // August 20, 2014 at 1:25 pm // Reply

    We actually hold more events during the summer than during the school year. We are meeting every week. This aggressive schedule has enabled us to be a refuge for summertime out-of-school boredom and exasperated moms.

    We have enrolled six new Cub Scouts since May; we have a full Tiger Den, new members from Wolf through Webelos I, and we and have not yet conducted Fall recruiting.

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