If you’re wanting your child to step outside their comfort zone, there’s no activity more beneficial than Cub Scouting! From small meetings with their dens to big adventures outdoors, the kids will be having so much fun with their families and new friends that they won’t realize they have outgrown certain fears and developed life skills along the way.
What are the benefits of Cub Scouts? Cub Scouting helps children to overcome fears, build friendships, and develop useful skills in areas such as safety and public speaking. The program instills confidence and values, well-equipping Cubs for life’s challenges and preparing them to benefit their communities.
In this article, I’m going to explore the idea of how Cub Scouting helps children step outside their comfort zones. There are a multitude of ways this idea rings true, especially for the youngest members of Scouting. I’ll focus on fears related to meeting new people, public speaking, and health and safety issues. As you journey with your Scouts, you can encourage them to take risks in this safe environment!
PS. This article is a guest post collaboration between Cub Scouting volunteer Jaci H and Cole 🙂
My son has been in Scouting since the first grade, and my husband was the pack Cubmaster for five years. Now, my son is 17 and is working on his Eagle project while my husband is the Scoutmaster and I am the fundraising chair for the troop.
As Scouting has been part of our lives for about a dozen years, I could write numerous articles on the benefits of Cub Scouting and Scouts BSA. There are so many diverse topics that I could include. I don’t know how long it would take me to run out of them! Cub Scouts is truly an amazing organization with a lot to offer families.
3 Ways Cub Scouting Helps Kids Go Beyond Their Comfort Zone
Stepping outside one’s comfort zone varies by the person, of course. Everyone is unique. We each come from a different background with distinctive experiences and personalities. What is scary to one child might be normal to another!
What’s so great about being outside your safe area? When you go beyond it, you get to experience new things. If none of us went outside our refuge, think about how much we would miss! This quote relays the sentiment:
A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.
– John Assaraf
Cub Scouting Benefit #1: Meeting New People
In order to become a Cub Scout, you have to attend a pack meeting where you most likely will see a lot of unfamiliar faces. This step can be unsettling for youngsters—and for the parents too! Even if your child has talked his best friend into going to the meeting, he may remain shy. There are so many unknown factors when you visit a pack. Your child might wonder: will I make new friends? How much fun will I have? What if they are not nice?
Fun fact: The Lions rank, created in 2018, made it possible for boys and girls as young as kindergarten to join Cub Scouting. This rank is followed by Tiger, Wolf, Bear, Webelos, and Arrow of Light. After that, Scouts transition to a troop within BSA Scouts.
Even parents can empathize with this first experience, which can definitely be stressful. During the first few pack meetings, they might be wondering to themselves: will this be the right pack for my child? Will she have fun? Will she make new friends? How much time will I have to volunteer?
Once you’ve stepped outside your safety zones to visit a pack, what happens if it doesn’t feel right? You can always visit another pack! There is no rule that says you have to join the first pack you visit. You will want to join the one where your child feels the most secure so that it will be easy for your Cub to take risks and grow.😀
When my son was in the first grade, we went with one of his best friends to visit a pack. There was something that did not feel right to us. The friend decided to stay with that pack. We visited another pack and found it to be the right one. Our pack was large and active. My son advanced all the way through Scouts BSA where he is today.
When you’ve passed that hurdle and selected a pack, congratulations! Hopefully, your child will grow and learn within that group for many years. Your Cub will start in a smaller group called a den. A Cub Scout pack comprises many dens, which are typically 6-8 kids in the same grade and of the same gender. Scouts enjoy activities within their dens and within their packs.
There are many fun activities that Cub Scouts participate in as part of a pack. The Pinewood Derby is one exciting event where the Scouts design and build miniature cars to race and interact as a large group. In less than four minutes, learn about the Pinewood Derby:
Your Scout will continue to meet people when he attends things like summer day camp. Hundreds of boys and girls might attend a day camp where there will be so many different and fun things to do. Hopefully by the time your Cub attends a program like camp, they will be more and more comfortable meeting new people.
When you step outside your happy place to meet new people, you can make some amazing friends. Expanding your child’s comfort zone is one of the biggest benefits of Cub Scouting! 😀
Cub Scouting Benefit #2: Public Speaking
We have all heard that statistic, right? Public speaking is a real fear, alongside death and flying. Many public schools have started to address this fear early in elementary school with the introduction of Toastmasters programs. There are many ways that your Scout will step outside his comfort zone when it comes to public speaking in Cub Scouts.
Right from the start, your Cub will learn the Scout Oath and Scout Law. While they may not be standing in front of the group alone reciting these things, they will be practicing saying it aloud with their group. They will memorize and continue to recite these two important phrases through Scouts BSA. In 33 seconds, watch this youngster’s recital:
With most pack meetings beginning with a flag ceremony, Cub Scouts learn about patriotism and honoring our country while displaying the flags. Over the years, they will become independent in carrying out the flag ceremony and reciting the pledge of allegiance, Scout Oath and Scout Law.
Travis L, who shared den leader duties with his wife and also was Cubmaster for five years, recounted how they practiced flags at the den level so that the boys would be familiar with the process before doing it at the full pack meeting.
While in Cub Scouts, kids will begin to enter the wonderful world of skits. They will make up new skits and reenact old ones. Cubs will start on a small scale, within their own dens, so they gain the confidence to perform their skit at summer camp. (More about skits!) There, they’ll be so excited to perform their skit, they won’t think about the fact that they might be in front of hundreds of people.
Part of that established security will be because they are with their fellow den mates and friends. You will begin to see many beloved skits repeated over and over while they are in Scouts. They don’t ever seem to get tired of them! The JC Penney skit is one of the most infamous skits (1:27):
Although they were not presenting a skit or a speech, Mr. L recalls how the annual Cub Cup competition– with dozens of packs in attendance– brought the kids out of their shells. The dens would work as a team to complete activities like obstacle courses, water challenges, or slingshot targets.
He said sometimes they were intimidated to try a particular event. After they saw other teams doing it, they tried it– and they all cheered each other on!
In Cub Scouts, your kids will learn to talk to new people in order to support the pack’s fundraisers. Most Cub Scouting packs sell popcorn as the main annual fundraiser. They will set up tables outside retail stores as well as sell to family and friends.
In order to sell the popcorn outside stores, the Scouts are trained to use the best manners, put on their biggest smile, and talk to complete strangers. Selling is a tough job! There are two main types of people: those who love to sell and thrive at it– and the rest of us. Of course, everyone knows that the youngest kids (a.k.a. the “cutest” ones) can sell popcorn much more easily than the teenagers. Afterall, everyone adores puppies, kittens, and small children! 😜
The benefits of Cub Scouting for the non-selling personalities are that they really have to learn to speak up, share a popcorn selling point, and ask for the sale. To better understand how the sales are divided and how they benefit the packs, read Cole’s article on The Costs of Scout Popcorn!
When Scouts take a chance and perform a skit, make a den presentation, or sell a bag of popcorn, they might also find it easier to stand in front of their classmates to give a report or to simply raise their hand in class when they know the answer to a question. They might even be inspired to run for an office at school! The benefits of Cub Scouting go beyond the pack when it comes to public speaking.
Cub Scouting Benefit #3: Health and Safety
In Cub Scouting, kids step outside their comfort zones to learn about various health and safety topics, along with how to prepare for and react to different situations. The skills taught vary and build by age. The youngest Scouts learn about self-care, hygiene, germs, and natural disasters. Later they will learn outdoor survival skills and fire safety.
I don’t know of another organization that teaches kids these types of important skills. In Cub Scouting, the older Cub Scouts also learn basic first aid. That knowledge is powerful. It better prepares them, and gives them more confidence in an emergency situation.
Fun Fact: In order to earn Eagle, Scouts must earn several safety-related merit badges, which include first aid, emergency preparedness, lifesaving, and swimming. Scouts must complete at least 21 merit badges to advance to the ultimate rank of Eagle Scout.
Knife safety is an important skill taught at a young age. You wouldn’t give your grade schooler a knife and ask him to cut vegetables for dinner without training them, right? In Cub Scouting, grade schoolers earn their whittling chip by learning and demonstrating proper knife usage. They get to have fun by making a carving as part of their requirement too.
BB guns and archery are common activities at Scout camps. Scouts learn proper usage of the BB guns and archery equipment so they (and their parents) can feel safe when practicing those sports. The benefits of Cub Scouting are that the youngest learn these important skills and have fun while doing it.
Bodies of water. That may not sound scary to children who have known how to swim for as long as they can remember. Some kids joining Scouts may not have any experience swimming and therefore may feel nervous with water-based activities.
Fun Fact: Scout Life magazine –which is sent to all Scout members – publishes true stories of Scouts saving people from fires, choking, and drowning. The life skills learned by Scouts not only benefit their own families, but the people in the world around them.
Being confident around water is routine when it comes to Cub Scout day camps and while climbing the ladder in Scouting. Scouts are always tested at accessible pools. Their skills are marked on tags to denote what type of access they can have to the water.
Nowadays, Internet safety is critical to keeping kids safe and another benefit to Cub Scouting is earning the Cyber Chip. Through this award, Scouts receive age-appropriate training on Internet and phone usage, identify theft and cyberbullying. They learn how to safely navigate the web without being intimidated.
As Cub Scouts age and continue through the ranks, they will enjoy more opportunities and chances to advance and grow. While it won’t be a physical badge they receive, every time Scouts step outside their comfort zone, they increase their bravery and their confidence. 😉
Even as the Scouts age, these same three benefits will follow them until the Eagle rank and beyond. They will continue to expand the number of people they meet in their Scouting world. Their public speaking will advance as they present flags, give speeches, run for office, and oversee meetings or Courts of Honor. For health and safety, they will learn and practice valuable skills that might one day save a life.
In the end, all the chances the Scouts took to explore new things and push themselves when they weren’t sure will pay off with great benefits to their minds, bodies, and souls – and to all the people around them who will benefit from the greatness they have achieved through Scouting.
About the Author: Jaci H is the fundraising chair for BSA Troop 303 in Santa Clarita, CA, while her husband serves as the Scoutmaster. Their son started as a Cub Scout and is now working on his Eagle project. Jaci’s favorite trip with her son’s troop was exploring the landscape of Death Valley, CA.