Maybe when they asked for volunteers to step forward, everybody else took a step backward. Perhaps you were approached by the pack committee chair who lured you in, telling you “it’s only an hour a week.” Or you always wanted to be the big guy up front and you didn’t see anyone else brave enough to do it.
In any case, congratulations! You’re the new Cubmaster!
No doubt, you’re thinking about what you might have gotten yourself into, and are imagining that, having been a den leader, being Cubmaster is four times the job because you’re the leader of all the dens, not just your own. But it’s not. As someone who spent three years as the leader of the pack, I can tell you that it’s probably the best job of all, and it isn’t that difficult!
- As Cubmaster, you really only have to worry about planning one meeting a month, not two or three or four. (You might also preside over the leaders’ meeting, but the committee chair usually takes care of the details there.) The Cubmaster is the master of ceremonies for the monthly pack meeting. You might also lead some special activities, like the Pinewood Derby, but for the most part the big show is all you need to be responsible for.
- Much of the pack meeting can actually be handed off to others! A pack meeting has seven sections [PDF] and with some advance planning, five of those seven parts can easily be assigned to the den leaders. On a rotating basis each month, a different den can take the gathering, open, close, refreshments, and game or program. The Cubmaster should ensure that the meeting is planned and the room is ready, oversee presentation of advancement (certainly with participation by the den leaders), moderate the announcements and optionally deliver a Cubmaster’s Minute at the end.
- Your other primary responsibility is to help the den leaders succeed. Since you probably were a den leader yourself, you already know how to do this, so passing along your knowledge should be easy. As a servant leader, you provide them with the missing pieces – or better yet, help them find them for themselves.
- Best of all, you get to act like a big eight-year-old in front of the kids and families. The sillier you are, the more fun they have, and fun is the name of the game!
You’ll probably use many of the same resources as you’ve been using all along, just in a different way. Here are a few:
- Naturally, you’ll want to take position-specific training for the Cubmaster position. This can be done online through the MyScouting portal, but the added dimension of interaction with instructors and other Cubmasters makes taking it in person so much more valuable.
- Don’t forget about Roundtable, the monthly meeting of Scouters from around your district. If you’ve been attending, you know what to find. You’ll hear about events planned by your district and council and get the latest news and flyers. You can meet your district unit-serving executives and your commissioner staff. Cub Scout leaders have their own session devoted to next month’s national theme, with all sorts of ideas and examples on how to put on your pack and den meetings. Cubmasters will meet and discuss issues specific to them, so it’s a great opportunity to get answers to your questions and concerns. You’re not in this alone!
- BSA publishes monthly den and pack meeting planning guides. [Updated link.] You’ll find all sorts of ideas along each month’s theme. Just pick the ones you want to use and go with it!
- You’ll also find lots more great information in non-BSA publications like Baloo’s Bugle. Each month’s issue runs dozens of pages (the current issue is sixty pages long!) and has theme ideas, training tips, den and pack meeting activities, games, activity badge plans, skits, cheers, songs, ceremonies, snacks and a whole lot more. There are back issues dating to 1997 available online. If you can’t find everything you need to plan your pack meeting in the Bugle, you just aren’t looking!
- Baloo’s Bugle is part of the U. S. Scouting Service Project, which also hosts cubmaster.org where you’ll find links to training, advancement, e-mail lists, Pow-Wow events and books, and more.
- What’s Pow-Wow? Sometimes called University of Scouting, it’s an annual or biannual day-long training event held in your council or jointly with other councils. Leaders from all over can choose from dozens or hundreds of different classes on every imaginable Scouting topic.
IfWhen you go to Roundtable, they’ll have information there.
- While you’re going through the archives, remember you can always recycle old stuff. The boys will never know, and most of the fun and activities don’t go out of style. Themes repeat every few years, so you can use old Pow-Wow books and planning guides (if you or your pack library have them) for additional ideas.
Being a Cubmaster is a lot like riding a bike or a skateboard. Once you discover that you really can do it, it can be a lot of fun. You’ll learn new tricks all the time, and it’s something you’ll never forget how to do once you learn. Fun is the name of the game, so have fun, let loose, and put on a good show for the boys!
Image from the USSSP Clip Art Library