Cub Scout Purposes – In a continuing series we are taking a look at some of the reasons WHY Cub Scouting is important and relevant as well as HOW we achieve those purposes. This week’s article will discuss the concept of Personal Achievement.
1. Character Development
6. Respectful Relationships
2. Spiritual Growth
7. Personal Achievement
3. Good Citizenship
8. Friendly Service
4. Sportsmanship and Fitness
9. Fun and Adventure
5. Family Understanding
10. Preparation for Boy Scouts
So, what does Personal Achievement mean? Well, I’m not sure if I can actually define it because it would be different for each boy – that’s why it’s personal. Does it mean that a boy earns all the Cub Scout ranks? Maybe. Does it means he learns to get along with others? Probably. Does it mean a boy learns to like the outdoors? Possibly. Does it mean he learns to tie knots? Could be. Each Cub Scout will achieve something, but exactly what that something is will depend on the boy. So, I guess this article is not going to be so much what it IS but more of an discussion of what it could be with a mention of what it is NOT.
Which Statement is true? Personal Achievement = Advancement OR Advancement = Personal Achievement. Either statement or both could be true depending on the boy, but sometimes I think we parents and leaders need to be very very careful of our own attitudes and expectations in regards to a boy’s achievements. Much too often advancement is treated as the end goal of Cub Scouting (and Scouting in general) when in fact it is not. We need to remember that advancement it’s is just one of the Methods of Cub Scouting not one of the Purposes. A parent does not sign their son up for Scouting for the badge. They sign him up for all the many things he will learn and be exposed to in the process of possibly earning that badge.
For some boys part of their personal achievement will be met thru the advancement process. Some boys are very motivated to earn the rank badges and/or to earn as many adventure loops and pins as possible. Other boys are content to earn what they do and not worry about what they don’t. Is it okay for a boy not to earn his rank? Yes! There is much more to summer camp than how many merit badges a boy comes home with, there is much more to scouting than if he earns his eagle and there are so many things a boy can get from being a Cub Scout even if he does not earn his rank(s). It’s all about the journey not just the destination.
Let’s look at 3 examples (of the thousands there could be) of boys you may see in your pack who for one reason or another, may or may not earn a rank while he is a Cub Scout.
Example 1 – Let’s say there is a very shy, only child, who spends all his time playing video games in his room. He get’s nervous around other children and always sits by himself at school. A parent signs him up for Cub Scouting. In the year, or two, or more that he is a Cub Scout lets say he makes friends and learns to join in the actives and games a den and pack meetings, He is exposed to hiking or other nature activities. However he (for one reason or another) never does earn his rank badges – not one. Has Cub Scouting helped fulfilled it’s purpose of Personal Achievement for this boy. YES!
Example 2 – Let’s say we have a very outgoing, friendly boy from a big family. He becomes a Cub Scout and learns more about leadership. He is the denner and does a great job at it. He learns about citizenship and good sportsmanship and service too but he too never earns any ranks. Did Cub Scouting help him with personal achievement? Yes.
Example 3 – Let’s say we have a boy who is very very involved in other activities such as piano, karate, and sports. Den meetings happen to be held on the same day that he has soccer practice in the fall and baseball practice in the spring so he only makes it to den meetings once or sometimes twice a month. He is never there enough to compete an entire adventure with the den and his parents may or may not help him complete the adventures at home (he may not have the time) He most likely will not earn his rank and is that okay? Yes!
In each of these 3 examples above, each boy is still gaining something, achieving, growing, learning in some way. Weather he earns all ranks, only 2 ranks or none, a boy can still have personal achievements as a Cub Scout.
Many of you have probably watched two brothers go thru Cub Scouting and in the end one has earned more ranks than the other or more adventure loops or more arrow pints under the old program. (maybe more merit badges as a Boy Scout) Does that mean he achieved more? Not necessarily. While I believe every boy will have the opportunity to learn and grow in many ways while working on advancement, sometimes a boy can be so focused on doing what it takes to earn that rank that the requirements are just treated as a checklist. Sometimes the potential learning and growth is not internalized or applied personally. I propose that sometimes a boy who has earned less advancement wise could possibly have achieved more thru his Cub Scout experiences.
Now, I am not trying to give any excuses or rationalize for those who don’t earn their rank. I just want to be sure that we understand that it’s okay if they don’t. Yes, in an ideal world every boy has the motivation to achieve every rank. Every boy has the time to attend every meeting and activity. Every boy has the parental support and help to achieve everything he wants to. We want boys to come, we want boys to earn all the ranks they can but we must never give the impression that he is less, if he doesn’t. Cub Scouting is for ALL boys no matter what their interest, no matter what their time availability, no matter what their motivation. Each boy should be given the chance to learn, grow, progress at his own pace and in his own way. There are methods we can use to help motivate boys to achieve more, be that ranks or other, but that’s a whole different topic that we won’t even get into here.
In Cub Scouting each boy will learn, grow and achieve in different ways. Personal means personal. Just like the Cub Scout motto is Do Your Best. We should apply that to each boy individually as well. Each boy must do his own best, not the den’s collective best or the best that the den leader can do, or that the best parents want. When asked to stop and think about it a boy knows when he has done his best and when he hasn’t. We can all list a great many things that being a Cub Scout can help a boy achieve and yet I am also sure that there are things that boys achieve because of Cub Scouting that we don’t see. What is it that we really want them to achieve? In my opinion (yours may vary), what we really want is for them to become boys who are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. Will they all be come that in Cub Scouting? Nope! Odds are they won’t. That’s why we want them to continue on to Boy Scouting to keep having the kinds of experiences that will help them achieve even more.