Pack 34 Parents Guide

This guide provides a high-level overview of our unit, Pack 34, and provides basic ideas on how you can help make the Pack go.

As a unit, we include the whole family in the scouting experience.  We ask parents to actively participate in den meetings, pack meetings, and other activities throughout the year.  For most events, siblings are included and can participate with the scouts. Note that Cub Scouts is not a “drop off” event (or as it is jokingly referred to, the “Babysitters of America- B.S.A.”). In the spirit of the Parent-Boy basis of cub scouting a parent/guardian must be present at all meetings and outings.

Unit Philosophy

The leaders of Pack 34 are committed to providing a quality, year-round program of Cub Scouting.  Our philosophy is to place emphasis on our three core Pack tenants: FUN (the “point” of Cub Scouts), FOCUS (on the outdoors/camping/woodcraft, and respect/civics/citizenship/honor), and FACTS (knowledgeable, trained, competent Adult leaders).  We strive to be the most fun and ‘Scouting-ist’ unit in the area and believe that our families appreciate this approach.

 

Unit Organization

Pack 34 is presently made up of 60+ scouts from Marin County (predominantly greater Mill Valley) in grades 1 to 5.  We have students from around ten different schools in the area, including Edna Maguire, Strawberry Point, Greenwood,  MCDS, Tam Valley, Park School, St. Marks, Mount Tamalpais School, and more (we are known as “the melting-pot Pack”).  Our pack is open to all elementary school-aged boys and girls.  Scout Hall is our normal meeting facility and is located at 177 East Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.

The scouts meet in age-based subgroups called Dens.  Our dens range in size, depending on the rank.  Each Den has at least two parent leader called a Den Leader.  Dens meet at least once a month at a location determined by the Den Leader.

Pack 34 uses a web-based pack management system called scoutbook to manage den membership, events, calendars, RSVPs, and most important, advancement. Parents will be asked to join scoutbook with an emailed invitation. This membership is free to parents and scouts. Parents can use scoutbook to record advancement adventures and awards, RSVP for events and connect to the pack calendar.

Pack 34, together with other scouting organizations from Marin County, make up the Marin Council BSA; we periodically participate in events sponsored by the Council.  The Council office is located at 225 West End Ave., San Rafael; their phone number is (415) 454-1081.   There is a Trading Post store located in the council office where you can buy scouting essentials such as uniforms, patches, books and accessories.

Our charter organization (which sponsors us) is the Rotary Club of Mill Valley.

Meetings

Den Meetings: Dens are organized by age.  The Den Leader sets up den meetings, and are held once a month.  The Den Leaders will ask parents to lend a helping hand at the meetings (for example: lead a tutorial on first-aid, or knot tying, etc.).  This participation on your part is core to the Cub Scout experience.  Your son will remember it forever.

Pack Meetings: We have one Pack meeting per month, from September through May.  The Cubmaster directs the monthly Pack meeting and is for all of the boys and girls in the Pack (and, again, is not a ‘drop-off’ event).  Siblings too are welcome as long as they are not too much of a distraction.  Pack meetings tend to run for one hour.

Committee Meetings: The leaders of Pack 34 meet about four times a year to plan events, exchange ideas and discuss organizational matters.  Each Den is asked to have a leader or parent representative at each Committee meeting.  In addition, those parents tasked to support/conduct events/meetings being planned or discussed are highly encouraged be present.  Please note that Pack families’ input is welcome.

Bridging: Early in June we have our annual awards ceremony to recognize the time and effort put in by the boys.  This is where they will move from one rank to the next.  They literally cross a bridge (hence “bridging”) from the rank they’ve completed to their new rank, and a celebration is held afterward.

The Cub Scout Ranks and Advancement 

The Cub Scout program uses ranks and advancements to challenge the scouts to work on skills that match their ability and interest level.  The scouts are not supposed to be perfect, but are encouraged to “do their best”.  Unlike sports, Scouting is a program that all boys can advance in if they want to.

All scouts regardless of their starting age will earn the Bobcat award first.  They will then work toward the rank of appropriate for their age level.  When boys earn various achievements for their particular rank, they are awarded rank-specific belt loops which they can put on their official Cub Scout belt and wear with their uniform.

 

Our youngest Cub Scouts are the Tiger Cubs; Tigers are 1st graders.  Tigers work “as a team” with their parents or guardians.  They must have an adult partner present at all times i.e. at all Den/Pack activities, events & meetings.  They will spend the year working together towards their Tiger badge.

Our 2nd graders are called Wolves; 3rd graders are called Bears.

 

Our 4th and 5th graders are called Webelos (“We Be Loyal Scouts”) 1 and 2 respectively.  Once they complete the Webelos requirements and requirements for the “Arrow of Light” (the highest achievement award in the Cub Scout program), they have the opportunity to “bridge” to Boy Scouts.  At the end of their second year as a Webelos they move to a Boy Scout Troop and start on the path towards being an Eagle Scout.  Pack 34 leadership will assist your Webelos with selecting the best Boy Scout Troop for his goals, personality, abilities etc.

 

Positions within the Pack

Cubmaster: Responsible for the program, is the Pack “MC”, reports to the pack committee. Head of the ‘front office.’

Assistant Cubmaster: Works directly with the Cubmaster to develop the program and co-ordinate with the Pack Committee Chair.  Steps-in when the Cubmaster is unavailable.  Is the ‘bridge’ between the ‘front office’ and the ‘back office.’

Pack Committee Chair: Person in charge of the pack committee.  Helps with the planning of pack programs and runs the committee meetings. Head of the ‘back office.’


Pack Committee: Supervises the pack and accomplishes administrative tasks.

Den Leader: An adult in charge of a den.

Assistant Den Leader: Helps the den leader.

Den Chief: An older Boy Scout from a local Troop who helps to lead a den.

Denner: One of the Cub Scouts elected by his den to help the Den Leader and Den Chief.

You: Parents are also needed to volunteer at den meetings, coordinate or help with outdoor activities or special events, and contribute their input to the Pack Committee.  Your involvement and support is critical to the success of the program for you child.  Bottom line: if you don’t contribute & volunteer your time, we don’t get much Scouting done, and the first Pack philosophy tenant of FUN starts to dwindle.

Uniforms 

Boy Scouts of America - BSA uniform inspection sheet cub by ...An essential component of Cub Scouting is the uniform.  Cub Scouts are made to feel part of a unit and have a place to display their insignia and certain awards when they wear their uniforms.  Cub Scouts buy their own uniform (shirt, vest, neckerchief and neckerchief slide) including the council patch and pack numerals.  This is called their “Class A” uniform.   The pack also has a “Class B” uniform (an official Pack t-shirt, when available).

Class A uniforms are the formal dress of Scouting and are worn at Pack meetings and most Pack functions.  Tiger, Wolf, and Bear cubs use the blue Cub Scout uniform.  Webelos wear the blue uniform for their first year and change to the tan Boy Scout uniform shirt for their second year of Webelos (in preparation for becoming a Boy Scout the following year).

Uniforms are available at the council office trading post or at www.scoutstuff.org .  We don’t require the formal scout pants, but we encourage you not to wear camouflage pants with the uniform.  Since your Tiger or Wolf scout will be wearing this uniform for a few years, we recommend getting it a bit large.  Most scouts get the short sleeved uniform (we do live in California after all).  They are more versatile that the long sleeved version (your scout can wear an extra shirt underneath in colder months).  The Council store and the scout stuff site have diagrams for badge placement.

For our pack for a Class A uniform we require:

  • Rank Neckerchief
  • Slide
  • World Crest Emblem
  • Council Shoulder Patch
  • Unit Numerals
  • Shirt
  • Rank Handbook
  • Rank Cap
  • Belt (for belt loops they will earn, Tigers through Bears)

For the most part we do not use den numbers; consult your Pack leaders if not sure.  Tell the folks at the trading post that you are with Pack 34 and they will make sure you get all of the correct patches, etc

Your scout will undoubtedly accumulate a bunch of cool patches during his Cub Scouting career, and will need a place to put them (they don’t permanently go on the Class A uniform!)- we recommend the purchase of a BSA Red “brag” Vest (to wear) or BSA red “brag” blanket (to be brought on camping trips) to accommodate the collection.

Frankly the official BSA red vest sold at the council store is not that great; a better option is a vest like this one.

Handbooks

 Handbooks are available at the council store for all the ranks.  We recommend that scouts get the book for their child’s age group to work on and read at home.  As Cub Scouting is a family activity we strongly recommend the parents read through the books as aware of your scout’s requirements and electives and integrate them into your routine as appropriate.  This is an excellent way to make the activities for your scout seem natural and fun for the whole family.

Camping

You can’t say Scouting without saying “outing”.  Pack 34 goes camping many times each year, and camping and its related skills are central to the FOCUS aspect of our unit’s philosophy.  Cub Scout camping is family camping and all scouts must have an adult responsible for them on overnight camping trips.  Pack 34 also participates in the Council day camps over the summer.

Council Events

Marin Council regularly hosts Council-wide events during the year. Day Camp provides a five day program of scouting activities such as archery, crafts, wood working, and athletics.  The council also has a program called Webelos Woods which is a resident camp offering many of the same programs as Day Camp, but allows the boys to spend more time with the different programs, including an overnight camping experience.  Up at Tamarancho, the Council hosts very popular bb-gun and archery shoots for Cub Scouts, as well as adult leader training seminars.

The Marin Council Roundtable is the first Thursday of every month from September through June. The location is the LDS Church at 220 N. San Pedro Road in San Rafael. The regular session starts at 7:30PM and runs until 9:00PM. Roundtable is open to all Pack parents.

Parents

The Pack leaders do our best to provide a quality program.  All the leaders in Pack 34 are parent volunteers and depend on other parents to help ensure a quality program.  We firmly ask every parent to help the Pack in some capacity.

The most important (and most fun) job is that of the Den Leader.  If, as a mother or father you are not sure what position is needed most in the Pack, we strongly encourage you to volunteer to become an Assistant Den Leader.  However, there are many other areas where your help in running the Pack is needed and very much appreciated.  Remember that when you volunteer your first task is to see to it that the core tenant of FUN is achieved!

For more information on official Pack leadership, please visit here.

Asking for Help

Don’t be shy or reluctant to ask questions.  The leaders of our pack are all parents who believe in the value and benefits of the program and are committed to its success.  Our ongoing success is dependent on having a dedicated group of leaders and parents.  Each year, we must engage “new” parents.  Any leader in the Pack will be more than happy to spend time answering questions or sharing their program ideas, successes and lessons learned (the FACTS tenant of our philosophy).

Your Very First Month With The Pack

For your benefit, you should expect a new family’s very first month + with the Pack to look like the following:

  1. Be added to the ‘new recruits’ list-
  2. Attend the ‘beginning-of-the-year recruitment event’.  You will meet the Pack leadership, and your child will meet the active scouts in the unit plus other new recruits.  You will fill out your hardcopy paperwork and provide your contact details here as well-
  3. Be introduced to your child’s Den Leader, who will share with you information regarding the first Den meeting of the year-
  4. Get your child their uniform, accessories and handbook at the Council Trading Post
  5. Get officially registered, here
  6. Attend the first Pack meeting of the Scouting year, at which you will be asked to select which events/positions/volunteering opportunities etc. you as a Pack parent would like to participate/join in-
  7. Begin working with your child on achieving his first rank badge (regardless of age), the Bobcat: learn and say the Scout Oath (with help if needed), learn and say the Scout Law (with help if needed), show the Cub Scout sign , show the Cub Scout handshake & tell what it means, say the Cub Scout motto, show the Cub Scout salute, and together complete the exercises in the handbook regarding “How to Protect Your Children From Child Abuse: A Parent’s Guide.”

Summary

We hope that the above provides an easy-to-understand overview of Pack 34.  We are a proud unit that will continue to be the best Cub Scout Pack we can possibly be- hence the Cub Scout Motto,

DO YOUR BEST