Recruiting Cub Scouts, Part 2 – Who are you recruiting?

Cub Scouts is a great program for children to be a part of. They learn, they explore, they mature, all without putting them in a “classroom” style environment to “teach” them. A good den leader makes the meetings fun, so the scouts want to come back each week.

But you didn’t recruit those kids. You didn’t take any money from those kids for dues. Those kids never signed up to be in your pack.

So how did they get there? And why do they want to come back each week?

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Recruiting Cub Scouts, Part 1 – A Technique Guaranteed to Work

When most people think about Cub Scout recruiting, the first thing they ask is, “what works?” They’ve seen all kinds of ideas online, they’ve been told by others what worked for them, and sometimes these things seem to conflict with one another. They really, seriously want to know what works.

You can search online and find lots of ideas for Cub Scout recruiting. You can find activities, handouts, and even the BSA’s own “Sign-Up Night Unit Playbook.” You can dangle the BSA Recruiter patch as an incentive for Scouts to get their friends to join. You can spend weeks or months poring over all of the ideas you find and trying to figure out what will work for your pack.

Every day, it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to recruit new children to join Cub Scouts. In my area, many of the schools will not allow packs to distribute fliers to all of the kids inviting them to join. Most of the schools don’t want to allow a leader to come in and have a traditional “boy talk” to get the kids excited about joining. After all — they’ll say — if they do it for us, they will have to do it for every other youth organization and they will never have time for teaching. Regardless of how you feel about their reasoning, it is what it is. Creativity needs to be utilized to get children to join.

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Recruiting Cub Scouts

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I became involved in Cub Scouting like you might have: my son attended an information night at his school at the end of his kindergarten year. As a result, he wanted to be a Tiger Cub (as they were called at the time). My wife was “voluntold” by the other parents to be the den leader, and about 3 or 4 months later I was recruited by the Cubmaster to help the pack find a web provider.

About a year later, the Cubmaster who recruited my son was leaving the pack since his son was aging out. Things were pretty informal in the pack back then, so either he or his wife were also registered as the Committee Chair. I volunteered to take over as Committee Chair. That was over 4 years ago.

When I started in this role the pack had about 20 registered boys. When the pack grew to more than 40 boys, I became concerned. When we exceeded 50 boys, I was worried. When we got over 60 boys, I was scared. When we grew to more than 70 boys, terror set in. For the last several years we have had between 70-80 registered boys, and we still receive interest from the public.

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Cub Scout Leader Resources

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No matter what anybody tells you, being a Cub Scout leader is intimidating. You need to learn new terms and phrases, you need to understand what an “adventure” is, and you need to realize that a bunch of 6 to 10 year-olds are not going to eat you alive. It’s not for the faint of heart. But for those who step up and volunteer as a Cub Scout leader, it is a wonderful experience!

One of the problems of being a Cub Scout leader is you are often unprepared to lead the meetings. You might be given a handbook and told “Good luck!” If you are more fortunate, the Cubmaster, or some other experienced leader, will spend some time with you to explain how the program works. But even when you understand it there are still a lot of things to figure out, such as, “Where do I come up with ideas for the meetings?”

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The Quartermaster’s Store – Cub Scout version

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Cub Scouts singingAs anybody that has taken Wood Badge knows, singing goes with Scouting like syrup goes with pancakes. The two are great individually, but together they make something wonderful.

As a boy, one of my favorite fun songs was The Quartermaster’s Store. I can still remember singing about snakes as big as rakes and the mice in the rice. I wanted to share this with my sons and the other boys in the Cub Scout pack, but I wanted a version that used the Cub Scout ranks. I couldn’t find one, so I made one!

For your enjoyment, my Cub Scout version of The Quartermaster’s Store!

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Powering your server racks

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power_cordCongratulations! You have the opportunity to set up some new server racks and you want to do it “right.” This doesn’t happen very often for most techs; they usually have to live with someone else’s choices that came before. But when you have the opportunity to start from scratch, it can feel like the problems of the former racks will soon be a distant memory.

Once you have decided on the manufacturer and model of the rack you want to buy, you need to start thinking about the accessories that will be installed in the rack. One of the first accessories you need to consider is power distribution units (PDUs). There can be an overwhelming selection of volts, amps, and how many rack units (RUs) a particular PDU uses. Continue reading

It Felt Like Killing Off One of My Children

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resume-tipsBeing in IT, it’s always important to keep your resume up to date. So I spent a little time recently updating mine. It had been a little over a year, so I had to add my current job to my resume. When I did that, it pushed the resume out to three pages, which I try to avoid. As I reviewed the resume I realized that the oldest job listed was over 15 years ago.

The general rule-of-thumb is that you only list jobs from the last 10-15 years. Anything older than this is not applicable, especially in IT. After all, that oldest job had me dealing with Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0, 56 kbps data lines, a “high speed” T1 for internet access, and other “fun” technologies that I am glad are now obsolete. This job was from 1997-2000 and was pushing me to a third page, so it was time for it to be removed from the resume. Continue reading

Defining Success

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success-keySuccess is one of those words that can be defined in many different ways. I am often asked when starting a project, “How will you measure success for this project?” The person asking the question is usually looking for some sort of quantifiable number to measure against.

Americans tend to think of success as a measure of wealth and possessions. Don’t get me wrong, money and things are nice and I enjoy them. But “He who dies with the most toys, wins!” is a motto I can’t fully support.

Then there is the measure of influence and power that can be used. If you can command people to do something, or you can persuade people to vote for you, or you can win them over, you might be considered successful.

These measurements are all good ways to judge certain things. But I think they miss the mark of true success. It is often much more subtle and much more difficult to quantify. Continue reading

Be Aspirin, Not a Vitamin

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aspirinThe other morning was a typically busy Saturday morning in my house. We were all scrambling to get out the door to get the kids to soccer, and I grabbed something quick from the pantry to eat on the way.

Throughout the hectic morning, I forgot to take my multivitamin. I usually take it every morning. We’re sold on the benefits of taking vitamins: that they help us live healthier lives, they contain antioxidants that fight off diseases, and they help strengthen our immune system to keep us from getting sick. Some of the vitamins and minerals in a multivitamin tablet are essential to life itself.

But I survived the day and didn’t notice any difference from any other day when I took my vitamin. Is this because I had built up a reserve of vitamins and minerals in my body from taking it every day? Is it because I am already getting enough vitamins and minerals through foods in my diet? Maybe. Continue reading

Converting Books-On-CD to a Single MP3

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logo-audiobook1I have a long commute and I used to listen to the radio while driving. After an hour of the same jabbering on the talk radio station, or the same morning zoo DJ on the music station, along with the same commercials playing every 5 minutes, I was frazzled. I got to work frustrated, and in the evening I got home frustrated. It got so bad that nobody wanted to talk to me for an hour or so after I got to work or got home.

So I started listening to audiobooks as a way to pass the time, with the added benefit of “reading” books that I would have never had the time for otherwise. I have listened to business books, the latest best sellers, nonfiction books, and the classics. Quite a bit is available from Arthur C. Clark to Zig Ziglar.

Many public libraries have audiobooks available for download, but most will have books-on-CD available for checkout. Many people like to listen to audiobooks while driving or working out, but a CD player is no longer the most convenient way to listen to an audiobook. More and more, your iPod or smartphone is the way you want to listen. Continue reading