Better den and pack meetings start with you.
And so you should start by listening to the February 2015 CubCast.
The special guest this month: Bobby Lester, who has been involved as a Cub Scouter with the Longhorn Council in Fort Worth, Texas, for about four years.
He offers several great tips, and I picked out these four:
1. Get them to settle down with the Scout sign
The sign of Akela — two fingers in the air — is a time-tested signal to Scouts that they need to quiet down and pay attention.
“But it means nothing unless you have total buy-in from everybody there,” Lester says, “not just Scouts, but parents and even siblings. From the very first meeting and sometimes even before that during recruitment, we always tell the Scouts and parents what the sign means and what is expected. I expect every person in the room to quietly put up the sign when it’s given and pay attention and then stay quiet until everybody is ready.”
2. Use those Den Chiefs
Your Cub Scouts respect you, sure, but they’re even more likely to listen to an older boy — someone closer to their age.
“That’s one of the key reasons that Den Chiefs are so important,” Lester says. “They show the boys what a model Scout should look like. If I have a boy who is particularly good at a certain task or subject, or even one who’s just willing to help, I put them front and center.”
3. Get tough with parents
Have parents who come to meetings and then sit in the back playing Candy Crush? That’s not helpful.
“The big thing that we do is we always tell parents along with the sign of Akela, there’s another thing I tell directly to parents,” Lester says. “‘When your son is here, you’re here,’ and I make that a very pointed statement.”
But you can’t just say “come help me.” Give them a specific task so they feel important without feeling like they’re stepping on someone’s toes.
4. Deal with Scouts who have behavior issues
There’s a right way and a wrong way to deal with a Scout who is acting up, Lester says.
“The important thing is to focus on behaviors, what the kids are actually doing. If one kid keeps getting up and running around the room, or a kid is not sitting with the rest of the den and they’re sitting off on the side somewhere, I will go to the parent and say, ‘Hey Mr. Jones/Mrs. Jones, I noticed your son hasn’t been sitting with us, or he hasn’t been doing the activity that we want everyone else to do. What can you do to help us?'”
Find even more tips
Scouting magazine’s What Would You Do: “When It’s Time to Settle Down”