Thursday, March 10, 2016

Akela's Council Helped Fix My Pack

This blog post is on "The Voice of Scouting" and can be found here...

My son entered Cub Scouts through a Tiger Den in 2010. The Pack is a traditional pack chartered at his elementary school. Long before his enrollment, I had been leading a small Girl Scout troop and struggling. I had my own daughter, who is on the Autism spectrum, and only 3 other girls, only one of whom showed up on a regular basis. I had remembered Scouts as being the best thing I had done in my youth, but the program had changed, and direction and training was lacking.
From the beginning, my son asked if I would be his den leader. Because of the stress of the Girl Scout troop, my husband said no. So I left them to attend Scouts on their own. In March of 2011, my husband came home from the den meeting and announced that he signed us up to be leaders for the Tiger den as no one had stepped up to do it. I joke that it was pretty much the last time I saw him. I had never been to a meeting, never had brothers and was quite the fish out of water. Cub Scouting was completely different than Girl Scouts!

We had a nice pack, but over the years lack of parent involvement had really dragged on a lot of the leadership. The Committee composition was just den leaders…everyone carried more than one job. On top of that, it didn’t function as it should. Our first Committee Chair quit suddenly and moved to a different school. Several people quickly rotated through the Cubmaster position. Enrollment dropped. Those who were enrolled, were made up of very high energy children. Pack meetings became very stressful and chaotic.
The Pack had a habit of planning meetings only one week before, and frankly, they were boring. Parents sat in the back on their phones and let their kids run amuck. When the next Cubmaster and Committee Chair resigned, I jumped into the position. I had wanted to do more and try to get the pack back on track. We had lousy popcorn sales (we were 100% self-funded), lousy attendance and a dull program.

Akela’s Council Cubmaster at opening ceremony

I had done a lot of google searches and came across the Akela’s Council blog. At first, I just liked the ideas. When our Council held their first PowWow training after many years, I enrolled. A few of the classes were helpful, but the Council also had issues with volunteering and had to cut and condense a few of the classes that I wanted to take. This is when I first heard of LDS programming and realized that there were some differences.
I went searching for more information on things that were mentioned. This is when I found the Article about Akela’s Council Training. I was determined to go. I attended AC 30 in July of 2014. It was a quite the drive from Lincoln, NE to Tifie Scout Camp in Utah, but I was up for the challenge.

I was nervous attending this training with no one I knew. What happened, though, was a deep kinship with those who attended. We attended classes, watched skits presenting material, prepared special projects, and participated like any cub scout would in the numerous activities. Although lack of sleep was common, lack of warmth and community was not. Even though I was the only non-LDS member and didn’t work in an LDS unit, this was not an issue. There were very few segments that didn’t pertain to my traditional unit.

Sadly, the days flew by. I cannot remember a time when I had more fun or developed deeper friendships in such a short span of time. I left teary, but with a new energy for leading.
My Committee supported me, but was doubtful one training could make any difference. I laid out what I was going to be doing at Pack meetings. My husband thought most were hokey, but I was determined. I had some fear of standing in front of people making a fool out of myself, but the boys ate it up! I had to be creative in how to decorate with our space, but I’ve made it work. There is still a lot of things presented at AC30 that I want to implement and am slowly adding to the Pack. At my last Boy Talk in the fall, I not only had a large interest from boys, but the girls wanted to join as well!
Our enrollment since AC30 has doubled, as has our Committee size. Parent involvement is improving. The majority of boys attend every meeting, every outing, every Council sponsored event. Our Popcorn sales have been phenomenal. We still have a ways to go, but instead of “we can’t” the attitude is “how can we”. I believe this is all a result of my attending AC and finding my passion. In fact, when my son crossed over to Boy Scouts, I stayed on as Cubmaster.
Recently, I became the Registrar through my Council. The training has helped me tremendously in that respect as well. I see many newly appointed leaders come in bewildered. I have great working knowledge of how an LDS Pack functions, and have great resources to direct new leaders to. Of course, I also direct them to Akela’s Council!
Do your boys a favor, do not hesitate to attend Akela’s Council. I wish I had done it years ago!

Jamalee Scaggs
Jamalee is a Cubmaster in Lincoln, Nebraska and is registrar for the Cornhusker Council. She is the proud mother of 2; Tahlia, a Cadette Girl Scout, and Julian, a Boy Scout about to complete his Tenderfoot Rank. She says: "Akela's Council is definitely the highlight of my Scouting career thus far!"