Hello, summer! We’ve been expecting you — and especially your long days, warm weather and break from school.
Most Cub Scout packs slow down in the summer. Dens don’t meet, advancement pauses and packs schedule outdoor activities instead of traditional monthly meetings.
It’s a great chance for volunteers to take a break from the routine and enjoy time with their family.
But Cub Scouting doesn’t have to take a total pause for the summer. Many successful packs plan ways to get together with the only real purpose being to have fun. They might have a barbecue in a local park, visit the zoo, attend a baseball game or play at the beach.
“The goal is to provide an opportunity for the families to get together, to see one another, to create some memories and enjoy themselves,” to quote from the latest issue of the Advancement News.
Summer officially begins on June 20, which makes now the perfect time to start finalizing your pack’s summer plans.
“Sometimes the reward is not the belt loop or the pin,” Advancement News writes. “The reward is seeing friends, being silly, just having a good time.”
Tip 1: Forget about working on requirements and advancement
By the time summer arrives, your Cub Scouts are now officially the next rank.
A Tiger is now a Wolf, a Wolf is now a Bear and so on.
While nothing is stopping you from starting work on those next Adventures during the summer, that might not be the best approach.
If you start working on the next set of required Adventures during June, July or August, any Cub Scouts who join your pack this fall will be starting from behind.
So in the spirit of making sure all Cub Scouts are working on the same Adventures as the other Cub Scouts in their den, most packs save the required ones for the fall, winter and spring.
“Avoid required Adventures, and look to do activities that focus on building your pack community,” says Anthony Berger, national director of Cub Scouting.
Tip 2: Aim for about three activities over the summer
During the school year, your pack and dens might be getting together every week for meetings and events.
But during the summer, it’s probably a good idea to slow down that schedule. Berger recommends planning about three activities over the course of the summer.
That might mean one per month in June, July and August, or it might mean a less balanced schedule. Go with what works best for the families in your pack.
By the way, if you do successfully hold three events over the summer — one per month — your pack is eligible for the National Summertime Pack Award.
Tip 3: Consider a ‘big annual trip’
When Berger was a Cub Scout volunteer, his pack took a “big annual trip” each summer. Unlike in Scouts BSA, Venturing or Sea Scouts, where a big trip might be a week or longer, a big trip in Cub Scouts could be a day trip that requires a moderate drive.
“Consider what kind of local attractions you have within a two- or three-hour drive,” Berger says. “You may have a zoo, an aquarium, a national park or monument. You may even have a theme park.”
Be sure to ask about group discounts when planning and purchasing tickets.
“The annual pack trip became the highlight of our program year,” Berger says.
Tip 4: Participate in your council’s Cub Scout day camp
Another highlight of a Cub Scout’s summer seems obvious but is worth mentioning anyway: Cub Scout day camp.
Check your local council’s website to learn about what will be offered this summer. Most Cub Scout day camps are operated during the day and last either one day, four days or five days. Some councils also offer a twilight camp option, which starts in the early afternoon and wraps up around dinnertime.
Tip 5: Schedule your pack’s annual program planning conference
Summer is an ideal time to hold your pack’s annual program planning conference.
This event, which is covered in a helpful online training at my.scouting.org, is where adult volunteers in your pack create the schedule for the upcoming Scouting year, which begins in the fall.
But if you’re picturing a bunch of volunteers huddled around calendars inside a windowless church basement, think again.
In the spirit of Cub Scouting, Berger recommends turning this event into something fun and memorable for the entire family.
“This, too, can become a fun pack activity,” Berger says. “Holding it at a park, having a cookout or even hiring some entertainment can turn your program planning conference into a program planning party.”
Tip 6: Hold a Back to Pack party
Kick off the Scouting year in style with a Back to Pack party, where everyone in the pack reunites to reconnect, share favorite summer memories and get ready for the fall.
“It brings everyone back from summer just before school starts and before any new families join,” Berger says. “The key step is to contact each family and invite them to the event.”
This can either be a formal pack meeting or an informal afternoon of fun in the park.
During the event, pack leaders can talk with other parents and family members to see who in the pack might make a good leader for the fall. Berger says the summer is the perfect time to plan ahead and consider who might make a good leader in the coming year.
“Remember that returning parents are much more likely to agree to serve in a leadership position if asked,” Berger says. “These events provide an opportunity to have more casual conversations with parents and get to know them.”