For those new to Scouting, especially Cub Scouts, there can sometimes be the misconception that Scouting is based around the school year. We do Join Nights in the fall and spring, and in the case of my pack, we pull most of our Cubs from two schools. So, as we make our way into summer, new leaders might not be thinking of how to keep the momentum going into the fall. Schedules get very busy with vacations and family activities. And unless school is year-round, or the boys live down the street, they are probably not seeing each other on a daily basis. So how do you keep them excited about Scouting during the best outdoor months of the year?
Enter the National Summertime Pack Award. This recognition is arguably one of the easiest to earn and encourages packs to provide year-round programming and foster the idea that Scouting is a 365-day-a-year activity. What makes this award particularly appealing, aside from its simplicity, is that fact that it has several different parts: a pack award, a den award and an individual award.
For the pack to earn this award they need to plan three pack activities for the summer months, one in each. Doing this simple task earns the pack recognition as a group and a streamer for their pack flag. Our pack likes to incorporate our own activities along with district and council sponsored events. We also try to have two events a month so as to accommodate as many boys as possible. Even if we were to hand out activity dates a year in advance, there would still be scheduling conflicts. So the option of two activities in a month ensures more Cubs will have an opportunity to attend. This year we’re participating in a safety fair at a local church and attending Day Camp in June, having a family picnic and hosting a Raingutter Regatta in July and hiking in a local state park and attending a Back To School night in August. Just by scheduling and holding these events our pack will earn this award.
Each den can be encouraged to earn this award as well. The requirements are that at least 50% from the den attend each monthly function. The recognition is a streamer to hang on their den flag. For us, this portion of the award is not stressed as much as the next part, the individual recognition. I’ll have to save the discussion of why for a separate post, but for now suffice it to say that the dens don’t have an identity other than their rank. But for packs that have well-defined dens that are perhaps a bit competitive, then this is a great recognition.
Since the pack award is pretty automatic, this is the award we emphasize the most for the Cubs. This award can be earned by simply attending one event each month. They receive a pin to wear on their right pocket flap (overtop the Outdoor Activity Award patch if they have it) denoting, by color of the pin’s rim, the rank at which they earned it. And they can earn it every year. So it really encourages them to stay involved year in and year out. We only first implemented this last year and there were several boys that earned the award. This year there will no doubt be several more, and hopefully quite a few who earn a second one. Part of the reason we hold two events a month is because we really want the boys to have a chance to earn this award.
So the National Summertime Pack Award is a great tool to keep your unit together and active throughout summer and to maintain a level of enthusiasm as you transition from one school year to the next. If you haven’t looked at this yet this year, then now would be the time to quickly organize a few pack events. It’s really easy and really fun. And after all, summer is one of the best times to get the Cubs outside and “put the outing in Scouting!”