Friday, January 4, 2013

Pack Communications 2013

We were sorry our guest presenter had to miss Roundtable in order to tend to an ill child, but we were pleased that he was prepared and sent along his notes.

Communication avenues include:
  • E-mail
  • Direct phone calls
  • Calling trees
  • Text messages
  • Twitter
  • Web sites / Blogs
  • Facebook groups
  • Weekly Den Meetings (announcements, handouts)
  • Monthly Pack Newsletters
  • Monthly Pack Meetings (announcements)
  • Monthly Roundtable (announcements, handouts, discussions)
  • Twice-Monthly Council Mailings
Each Pack has its own culture, how they relate to one another.  This culture can change from year to year as leadership changes; most families participate in Cub Scouts for only five years.

In preparing for this topic, our guest presenter, a Cubmaster, asked his Pack families for feedback about Pack communications - too much or little?  Not timely?  Poorly formatted?  Too formal or casual?  Inconvenient meeting days/times/places?  Meetings too long or short?  Meetings too informative or not enough?

As of Thursday afternoon, there were no replies, though another e-mail that same day, about popcorn prizes, had about half of the families replying.

Discussion questions prepared:
  1. How do other Packs handle communication?
  2. Do any Packs have a communication policy?
  3. Do any units experience communications related issues?
  4. Is there standard boilerplate text that Packs use to elicit feedback?
  5. Do Packs follow up emails with phone calls? All the time? Certain instances, only? When?
  6. Has a Pack found success using 1 (or more) means of communications?
  7. What kinds of positive and/or negative feedback have you received?
  8. Are there lessons that have been learned that can be passed on to other Packs? The Council at large?
Ideas shared include:
  • Cozi calendar: to keep a central online Pack calendar that everyone can consult
  • Scoutlander free website:
  • Weekly News: One Cubmaster took an idea from his child's coach and he sends out an e-mail to his Pack families once every week about the activities for that week.  He shared that having a calendar of a full year's activities is too much for many of this Pack's families, but focusing on just the week ahead works well.
Last year, we also addressed Pack Communications.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dealing with Food Allergies

The number of children with food allergies is growing and Scouts with food allergies need to have their conditions taken seriously.  Best outcomes for everyone will occur when Unit leadership:
  • Works with the Scout and his parents to understand the specific triggers and reactions for this Scout's allergies.
  • Communicates to parents and Scouts in the unit so everyone understands the seriousness of the situation.
  • Allows the Scout to participate in activities that he is capable of doing
  • Finds alternatives to snacks, meals, and food crafts that avoid the allergens.
The video "It Only Takes One Bite" explains many of the possible allergic reactions and treatments and ways to work around the allergies.  This video is on YouTube and can be shared with adults and with Boy Scouts.

National's "Guide to Safe Scouting" advises Scouts with allergies to have appropriate treatment with them at all times and to alert leadership prior to an event so that precautions can be on hand.

If an incident happens during a unit event, National has an Incident Information Report form that can be filled out online and printed to document the incident.

Food allergies should guide the decisions abut Scout treats and snacks as well as at meals, whether at a Troop campout or a Blue & Gold banquet.

One Cub Scout Pack developed their own Food Allergy form.

UFAN - The Utah Food Allergy Network - offers a patch to Cub Scouts who learn about food allergies, with many age-appropriate activites.

FAAN - The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network - has good suggestions with their Be a PAL: Protect A Life program.  They have a very helpful booklet designed to earn a PAL Girl Scout badge.

Food allergy considerations for Jamboree are made known well before the event, so alternatives can be prepared.

Some Camps have practices in place for dealing with food allergies and other good related issues (managing diabetes, religious diet, vegetarian)

Troops are encouraged to manage risk and include allergies to their Emergency Response Plan.

Parents can get involved in Unit leadership as a way to monitor and to educate, as this parent tells:

Snacks for Dens and Packs

Today's Roundtable will include Share and Tell snack time, for leaders to tell about their favorite Cub-pleasing snacks.

In my own den, the Cubs have always enjoyed Goldfish Bubbles, which is so easy to make.
Cub Scout requirements encourage young chefs to get a start in the kitchen.
Tiger Elective #25: Snack Time  Make a snack and share it with your family or den.
This site argues in favor of snacks at den meetings:
Snack time is a good time to make announcements, because (in theory) the boys are quieter due to chewing.

Do Your Best to encourage healthy snacks.

Other sites for Cub-friendly recipes:

See our entry on Food Allergies for more information about group snacks.

Adult Cooking on Campouts

Troop camping works on the patrol method: each patrol plans their meals, buys their supplies, and cooks for their patrol.
Adult leaders stay out of the boys' way and take care of their own menus, shopping, and cooking, acting as their own patrol.

Many boys tend to value fast preparation and easy clean-up over a warm, tasty, filling meal.  Adults can lead by example and demonstrate a wider range of meal possibilities.

Adult Patrol recipes and methods:

Planning time for cooking:
Planning enough food for more active Scouts:

One district's survey results about troop cooking practices (Scroll to page 19):

Articles about the broader role of adults on a campout: