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pack-meeting plans that are available at bit.ly/packmeetingplans. She com- pares themed meetings to birthday parties. You could have a birthday party for your son where people just handed over presents, but it would be a lot cooler with a piñata or a magi- cian or a bounce house. “They want to play with their friends and interact,” she says. “I think that’s really impor- tant for kids.”


USE THE CUB SCOUT ACADEMICS AND SPORTS PROGRAM. If boys (or their parents) are badge-hungry, earning belt loops can take the edge off their appetite. “A new Scout—whether he’s starting as a Tiger Cub or as a fifth- grade Webelos—can come into the program and get some bling at that first pack meeting if he just tries a couple of things,” Baumeister says.


Because many boys are as excited


about belt loops as they are about rank patches, giving out belt loops takes some pressure off of the den leader. He or she can then give rank achievements the time they require.


TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t feel that your boys all have to earn their ranks by some arbitrary deadline—like February’s blue and gold banquet. After all, they have the whole year to advance. Barker says that’s especially important when boys join late after playing fall sports. “You can give them a list of what you’ve already com- pleted to help them get caught up, but the goal may not be to have it done at blue and gold,” she says. “I think that’s important to stress. They don’t have to have done in two months what we’ve been doing for the last four or five.”


ENCOURAGE FRESH STARTS. Finally, if a boy is learning and enjoying himself, don’t worry too much if he doesn’t achieve this year’s rank—especially if he joins late in the year. “Once school is over, he’s going to be right at the same level as the rest of his peers,” Baumeister says. “They’re all going to start on that next rank not knowing anything. They’re all basically on a level playing field at that point.” In the end, Cub Scout leadership is a balancing act. “You can focus so much on advancement that you for- get the fun,” Barker says. “But you can’t just be having fun and not doing any advancement because that’s doing a disservice to the Cub Scout.”


The Cub Scout motto—Do Your


Best—applies to Cub Scout leaders, too. ¿


HELP YOUR TROOP STAND OUT


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