Information for Pack 55 Families
Pack Meetings, Outings & Events
Adults & Scouting
Scout Summer Camps
Tips for Tiger Dens (1st Grade)
Q: What is Cub Scouting all about?
A: Shhh.... Don't tell the boys, but Scouting is really about character and values. To the boys it just looks like fun. Scouting is about helping our sons grow into men we can be proud of. Adults tend to have a really good time too.
The founder of Scouting, Lord Baden Powell, often described Scouting as “a game with a purpose.” After nearly a hundred years that is still a pretty good short-hand explanation of the program.
The 10 purposes of Cub Scouting are:
Q: Do the boys need the uniform?
A: Absolutely yes. The uniform really is part of the Cub Scout program, and every boy should have at least a uniform shirt with the proper insignia, the appropriate neckerchief and a neckerchief slide. Many boys have a Scout belt, and some have a scout ball cap.
Scout pants, shorts, socks and many other official uniform items are available but are not necessary. If uniform purchases would be a genuine hardship for your family, please contact one of the Cubmasters or the Pack Committee Chair in confidence. We will make it possible for your son to participate in Scouting.
Q: Do parents really need a uniform
A: Parents who have a leadership role, such as den leader should definitely have - and wear - a uniform. As with the boys, a uniform shirt with appropriate insignia, neckerchief and neckerchief slide will be enough. Other uniform items are up to you.
Q: How do I know what needs to go on the uniform, and where on the uniform?
A: Check you son's scout handbook or the BSA national web page. The best way is to go to the Scout Shop prepared with your pack number (Pack 55) and your den number (ask your den leader) and ask the folks at the Scout Shop to help you. They will be glad to help you get the right bits and pieces for either your son's uniform or your own.
On the Pack 55 webpage click "Forms & Documents" on the left hand side. The last three documents contain diagrams showing where patches and insignia go on the uniforms.
Q: Where do we get the uniform?
A: The Houston Scout Shop is located at the Sam Houston Area Council offices at:
2225 North Loop West
Houston, TX 77008
Mon.-Fri.: 9am - 6 PM
Sat.: 10am - 5:00 PM
When you go to the Scout Shop you need to know three things:\
You are buying a Cub Scout uniform (not boy scout)
You are in Pack 55
Your den number. (Check with your den leader for the den number.)
The folks at the Scout Shop will make sure you get all the right uniform parts. It is easiest if you take your son with you, so he can try on the shirt. Once you know the size, you can also order online.\
Q: What is the difference between the
Pack and a Den?
A: The Pack is the large group - our entire group of more than 150 boys is the Pack. A Den is a small group, typically a group of say 5 to 15 boys who attend the same school and same grade.
Q: What happens at a Pack meeting
A: The Pack meets monthly for one hour. We make a very small number of announcements, sometimes present awards or badges that boys have earned, and most importantly have a program that is fun and educational. For example, we have had presentations by the Houston Fire Department (complete with fire trucks), U.S. Secret Service, police dogs, search and rescue teams, and the U.S. Coast Guard. We have also had programs by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and Houston Zoo. We try hard to have the Pack meeting be something the boys will enjoy and learn from.
Q: What happens at a Den meeting?
A: That is really up to the den leaders and the families in that Den. Most dens meet once, or perhaps twice a month for an hour or two, often on the weekend or right after school. Den meetings often feature games, craft or construction projects, and work on rank advancement. The families in each Den pitch in on a rotating basis to help with the Den meetings, so that the workload is shared and no one person has too much to do. The den leaders organizes and coordinates, all families help out.
Q: Does Pack 55 go camping?
A: Yes, Pack 55 goes camping three times per year, usually in December, January & March. Cub Scouting is a family activity, and our campouts are for the whole family. For years, the boys have consistently told us that camping is their favorite thing about scouting. Camping is a priority at Pack 55.
Q: What is Pinewood Derby?
A: The Pack sponsors a Pinewood Derby event each year, usually in January. For Pinewood, boys build a small model race car from a kit that consists of a block of wood and wheels. Pinewood derby car kits are included in your pack dues. Building the Pinewood Derby car is a family activity. Dens often have a pinewood derby car workshop lead by dads who are handy with woodworking tools.
In addition to the tradiational timed speed events, Pack 55 also offers a unique Pinewood Derby event – a demolition derby where two cars are launched down a track at each other and crash head on. This is a traditional Pack 55 crowd pleaser. Boys (and family members) can enter more than one car.
Q: What is Scout Fair?
A: Sam Houston Area Council puts on a Scout Fair every year, normally in April. Scout Fair is an entire exhibition hall building at Reliant Center filled with games and activities that boys want to do. There is no charge for Scout Fair, except for the parking fee at the Reliant Center.
Q: Does the Pack have summer time activities?
A: Yes. We usually have at least four summer activities. Many of our boys attend a week long evenings only Twilight Camp. In recent years, our summer activities have also included a swim party, bowling party and laser tag outing.
Q: I might be willing to help lead a den for my son, but I've
never done this before and don't know where to start.
A: Don't worry, we've all been there. There are lots of resource materials, with ideas on how to run good den meetings. Talk to a Cubmaster or the Pack Committee Chair - we will help you get going. We can put you in contact with someone who recently led a den for that age group, who can serve as a coach or mentor for you. The most important thing is to involve other parents in the den, with everyone pitching in a little – so that no one is left with too much to do.
Q: Is training available or required?
A: All leaders attend training, some training is offered on line. Other training opportunities are in person. Touch base with our Pack Trainer, the email address is listed on the Contacts page of the Pack website.
Q: Can I get some help to run my den?
A: Each family is responsible for helping out with den activities. Families take turns assisting with den meetings, providing snacks, helping with the campouts, and other tasks involved in running the den. We encourage Dens to take on one or more Den Chiefs, older boy scouts with specific training to assist Dens.
Q: What is a Den Chief?
A: A Den Chief is an older Boy Scout who serves as an assistant to the Den Leader. Den Chiefs help with games and activities at Den Meetings and campouts, and generally assist the Den Leaders. Den Chiefs generally attend den meetings, pack meetings and campouts. Den Chiefs also encourage Cubs to continue on into Boy Scouts.
Before serving as a Den Chief, boy scouts attend specific training and are approved by their Boy Scout Troop. Troop 55 has a Den Chief Coordinator who manages Den Chief assignments to our Pack. Boy Scouts take on the Den Chief job to meet leadership requirements for their own rank advancement.
There are many Troop 55 boys who need Den Chief jobs. All Pack 55 dens are strongly encouraged to accept one (or more) den chiefs. Please consider taking on more than one Den Chief, especially if you have a large den – say more than 10 boys.
Q: If we take on a Den Chief, is the Den Leader responsible for getting the Den Chief to and from den meetings or campouts?
A: No. Den Chiefs are responsible for their own transportation to/from all Den and Pack events. Of course, you are encouraged to offer a ride to your Den Chiefs when possible.
Q: Will a Den Chief really be helpful to me as a Den Leader? Or would I just be taking on more work?
A: Our experience in the Pack has been that Den Chiefs are genuinely helpful, responsible and fun to have around. Almost universally, Cub Scouts are really happy to have an older boy to pal around with. Den Leaders who have had Den Chiefs in the past have been pleased with the experience.
In the very unlikely case that a Den Chief assignment does not work out, please immediately contact one of the Cubmasters or the Pack Committee Chair. We will coordinate with Troop 55 to take care of the problem. The Den Chiefs are very aware of their responsibility to help the Den Leaders. Our experience has been that you are unlikely to have problems with a Den Chief.
Q: Can my den have more than one Den Chief?
A: Yes. Because of the number of Troop 55 Boy Scouts who need leadership jobs for advancement, we encourage you to take on more than one den chief. Also, since Den Chiefs will probably not be able to attend every den or pack activity, having two or more Den Chiefs ups the odds that you will always have one available for any activity.
Q: How long does a Den Chief serve?
A: Normally a Den Chief will serve about 6 months. Your Den Chief may not necessarily serve for an entire school year. This is another reason to take on more than one Den Chief.
Q: What are some other things that Den Chiefs can do?
A: A Den Chiefs is the assistant to the Den Leader. You should look to the Den Chief whenever you need a song, game, or skit. Ask your Den Chief to organize a game or sport and then referee. Den Chiefs can teach scouting skills, and help with advancement. Keep in mind that Den Chiefs are not responsible for planning den meetings or for discipline of the Cubs.
Q: Should I involve the Den Chief in planning den activities?
A: Yes. The Den Leader and Assistant Den Leader are responsible for planning and implementing the den's activities. Do ask for input and suggestions from your Den Chief. When planning den meetings, it is a good idea to let the Den Chief know what you are planning and give him plenty of advance notice for any activity you will ask him to lead. After a den meeting, campout or other event, talk to your den chief about what went well, what to change and how to make the next event even better.
Q: What do parents do in Cub Scouting?
A: Cub Scouting is a family activity. Boys participate in outings and activities with their parents. Parents go on the campouts with their boys. Boys and their parents work as a team to complete the advancement requirements.
Parents also help their Den and the Pack by volunteering to take on small jobs. In the den, parents take turns helping the den leader with den meetings, or take turns providing snacks or running games. In the Pack, parents help with a variety of small jobs.
Anyone interested in taking on a larger leadership role should talk to the Cubamasters or the Pack Committee Chair. We are always interested in including as many parents as possible in the Pack's leadership team.
Q: Can I just drop my son off at Cub Scout activities and come back later to pick him up?
A: Generally not. Cub Scouting is a family activity. For your son to get the benefit of the Scouting program, you must actively participate with your son. While parents do not have to take an active role in 100% of Scouting activities, parents must be actively engaged with their sons.
Parents should plan on working with their sons on meeting the advancement requirements. Parents attend pack meetings with their sons. Parents go camping with theirs sons. In order for the den and the pack to work well, parents need to volunteer to help out.
BSA safety guidelines for cub scouts generally require boys to participate most in cub scout activities with a parent. Cub Scouting is not a drop off activity. Cub Scouting is something you do with your son.
Q: Is rank advancement required?
A: It is not exactly required, but it really is at the heart of the program. The advancement requirements are simple, and geared to the boy's age. The requirements for Tigers (1st grade) are simpler than those for Webelos (4th grade). Boys who are not participating the advancement program will almost certainly feel left out, when their buddies are all earning awards. The real value of Scouting comes in the advancement requirements that encourage the boys to explore new ideas, challenge themselves, learn new things, and generally have fun.
Dens typically plan some activities around satisfying advancement requirements. Most of the requirements can be done by families at home. Parents and boys work together to complete the requirements. Boys who are not participating in advancement are missing out on a key part of the program.
Q: Who decides if a boy has completed advancement requirements?
A: Cub Scouting is a family activity, and a boy's parents decide if he has done his best and completed the requirements. Parents sign off on the boy's handbook.
Q: Where do we get the boy's handbooks?
A: The handbook contains the advancement requirements, and each boy needs his own book for his current rank. The Pack provides the handbooks. Normally we distribute these at the beginning of each school year. Contact a Cubmaster or the Pack Committee Chair if you need a handbook for your son.
Q: When the boys have completed a rank or have earned other awards such as a belt loop, how do we get the badges or awards?
A: The boys advance at a pack event such as a pack meeting or campout. Den leaders are responsible for contacting the Pack Awards Chair at least two weeks in advance, so that the badges can be purchased. Since this requires a special trip to the Scout Shop, please do not wait to the last minute to request badges. The Pack pays for the boy's rank badges and belt loops.
Q: Do boys have the opportunity to earn religious awards in
A: Yes. There are a variety of optional religious awards available to Cub Scouts. Specific award programs are available for about 40 denominations and faiths. This program is entirely optional, and while many of of our boys participate, not all do. The choice is up to you.
St. John the Divine offers classes for the awards based on the program used by most protestant Christian denominations. Whether you choose to participate in the religious award classes at St. John the Divine, or at your own place of worship, Pack 55 will be glad to help your son earn religious awards. Contact the Pack Chaplain for more information, the name, phone number and email address are listed on the contacts page of this website.
The awards can be presented at a Pack meeting, either by the Pack or your religious leader or you might decide to have the awards presented during a worship service at your own place of worship. Either way is fine.
Q: Where does the Pack go for campouts?
A: Typically, we go to a state park within about an hour's drive of Houston.
Q: What facilities are available at the state parks?
A: Each campsite at a state park usually has a water tap and one electrical outlet, plus a designated place for a campfire. Many, but not all state park campsites also have a BBQ grill. All state parks have bathroom/shower facilities with hot/cold water. The Pack provides firewood and porta-potties.
Q: What equipment will we need for a campout?
A: Before you go spend money on camping equipment, please talk to other families who have been on a campout with us before. You do not need elaborate camping gear. What you really need is:
Dens normally cook as a group. Your den should coordinate about cooking, and will likely already have enough camp cooking gear on hand.
Q: What about stoves and lanterns?
A: It is useful for a den to have several propane lanterns and propane stoves. Pack policy is that only propane stoves and lanterns may be used on our campouts. The ban on liquid fueled stoves/lanterns is for both safety and environmental reasons.
Please do not go buy stoves and lanterns until you have talked with other families in your den, and compared notes on what equipment is available within the den.
Q: Who can come on a campout?
A: Camping is a family activity at Pack 55. The whole family is welcome to come. Our families often bring younger/older siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles.
Q: Can my son attend a campout if I can't come?
A: Ideally, each boy would attend a campout with one of his parents, or another close adult (21+) family member such as a grandparent. If a parent/guardian cannot attend, then a boy may attend under the supervision of specific adult who has agreed to be responsible. Let your den leader know if your son will be attending a campout under the supervision of someone other than a parent.
When a boy attends a campout under the supervison of an adult who is not his parent, the boy must sleep in a separate tent - either by himself or with other boys. The boy may not sleep in the same tent as an adult who is not his own parent.
Q: What are the adult leadership requirements?
A: Boys should attend campouts under the supervision of one or more of their parents or close family members. While boys may attend a campout under the supervision of another responsible adult, for Tiger cubs the rule is more rigid. Tiger cubs must attend campouts under the supervision of a parent.
BSA policy requires two deep leadership for all cub scout activities. This means there must be at least one trained / registered adult leader plus one parent who is at least twenty-one years of age with each den on all campouts. This rule also means that boys must be continually supervised by two adults. However, if at all possible each den should have a minimum of four adults in attendance at a campout, so that the boys can benefit from two deep leadership at all times, and the parents have some flexibility.
Q: Can boys sleep in a tent together?
A: Yes. A boy may sleep in a tent with just his own parents, or a boy may sleep in a separate tent with only other boys. BSA policy requires separate tents if a boy attends a campout with an adult who is not his own parent. This national policy means that an adults may only sleep in a tent with their own children.
Q: What about parents who smoke?
A: BSA national policy is that there should be no smoking at any Scout event or outing - such as a campout. This is a BSA national, not Pack, policy.
Q: Is it OK for parents to have a glass of wine or a beer with dinner on a campout.
A: Sorry no. Again, BSA national policy is that no one may consume alcohol on any Scouting event or outing, such as a campout. This rule applies to all kinds of alcoholic beverages, and even if the boys are not aware of what you are consuming. Please follow this national policy.
Q: Could we bring our dog? She's really well behaved.
A: While state parks do allow leashed dogs, the Pack's policy is strictly "no pets" on campouts. There are simply too many of us, packed too tightly together. Please leave all pets at home.
Q: What happens at the campouts?
A: Mostly the boys get a chance to be boys, and to explore the outdoors. We strongly encourage dens to come prepared with activities and games. Check the Texas Parks & Wildlife website for details on the state park, many have nature programs, ranger talks or guided nature hikes.
On Saturday evening, the Pack has a campfire program where we recognize boys who have advanced in rank, and each den has the opportunity to put on a skit, do a song or tell jokes.
On Sunday morning, the Pack holds a simple “Scouts Own” worship service.
Q: Are there any guidelines for songs & skits for the campfire program?
A: Yes. Songs, skits & jokes should be in good fun and consistent with the values of the Scouting program. Our Pack policy is that bathroom humor or "potty" language are not appropriate. Given the wide age range and spectrum of families, an appropriate rule of thumb is to ask yourself: Would this skit be OK in front of these boys' grandparents? Would it be appropriate in a first grade classroom? If you have any doubts, you should choose another skit.
We recognize that boys will be boys, and they like bathroom humor. But, in keeping with the Scouting program, some things are not appropriate. If you have any questions about whether a skit is appropriate, please talk to one of the Cubmasters or the Pack Committee Chair before you put on the skit. Any feedback after the fact will be given privately to the Den's adult leadership.
Q: How can we help our boys put on a good skit?
A: Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be a skit. Many dens have done songs or told jokes. Most, of course, do put on a skit. Ask your Den Chief for help with skit ideas. There are many websites with skit ideas. Just remember to exercise good judgment in choosing a skit for your boys.
A google search for “cub scout skits” will turn up all kinds of ideas. One good source is http://www.usscouts.org/skits.asp But keep in mind, that just because you find a skit on a scout themed website, does not make it necessarily appropriate for cub scouts.
Den leaders should have the boys rehearse the skit several times. New scouts may get a stage fright, and rehearsals will help them do better. Ask your Den Chief to help with skit ideas and with getting the boys to rehearse.
Please have your boys practice speaking loudly. If your son is like mine, you have a hard time imagining him speaking too softly. We often have really great skits that the audience cannot hear. This is very, very common. Boys will definitely benefit from practicing the skill of saying their lines loudly enough to be heard by the audience. This is something that requires practice and coaching. Get your den chief to help.
Also, please consider ways to include siblings in the skit. We have had many really great skits that included the sisters and little brothers. They would like to participate too. There is nothing wrong with poking a little good natured fun at cubmasters, den leaders, or other willing adults.
Q: Do BSA publications have any guidelines on skits?
A: Yes, here is some information taken directly from BSA publications.
The Boy Scouts of America emphasizes a positive place in Cub Scouting. Any Cub Scouting activity should take place in a positive atmosphere where boys can feel emotionally secure and find support, not ridicule. Activities should be positive and meaningful and should help support the purpose of the BSA. When making decisions, resolve to follow the high road—"If in doubt, take it out."
BSA publications offer these guidelines for determining appropriate activities include:
Q: Is it OK for us to bring a portable DVD player or a hand held electronic game?
A: We strongly encourage you to leave electronics at home for our campouts. The boys should be free to get completely wet and muddy, without having to worry about keeping up with or keeping safe any electronic gadgets. Boys have plenty of chances to play computer games or watch movies at home. Let's make our campouts an electronics free weekend.
Some families like to bring walkie-talkies. These are OK. As always, you will want to make sure the radios have your name on them.
Q: What about bikes?
A: Most state parks are bike friendly. Some families do bring bicycles to our campouts, some do not. Pack policy is that all bike riders (adults or kids) must wear helmets when riding. Parents should model good safety practices by wearing a bike helmet if riding a bike on a Pack outing. Expect the Pack's leadership to talk to anyone (kid or adult) riding a bike with no helmet.
Q: Can Cub Scouts go to scout camp?
A: Yes, there are two kinds of scout camp opportunities for Cub Scouts. Twilight Camp and Cub Adventure Camp at Bovay Scout Ranch.
Twilight Camp is offered in Houston in two different one week sessions during the summer. Boys sign up for one of the week long sessions, either on their own or with other boys from their den. Twilight Camp is an evenings only (6pm-9pm) program, not a sleep away camp. At Twilight Camp boys participate in games, build things, and have the chance to participate in a closely supervised archery and bb-gun shooting range. Boys typically have the opportunity to earn belt loops and for Webelos, activity badges. Boys are placed in groups, and are accompanied by several adult leaders per group. Often dens will sign up as a group, although you can go individually if need be.
Information on Twilight Camp can be found of the Golden Arrow District website.
Cub Adventure Camp at Bovay Scout Ranch is a 72 hour traditional scout camp experience, geared specifically to Cubs. Fun, not advancement, is the focus of Cub Adventure Camp. Boys attend Cub Adventure Camp with a parent. You can sign up individually or as part of a Den going as a group. Bovay Scout Ranch provides meals in an air conditioned dining hall, hot showers, and even coffee delivered to the campsites each morning.
Many boys from Pack 55 participate in Twilight Camp, and we strongly encourage families to make time for their boys to attend Twilight Camp. For maximum fun, a den can sign up for the same session and request to be put in the same group. Pack 55 boys that have attended Cub Adventure Camp at Bovay have had a great time, and we encourage parents to consider this summer opportunity.
Information on Cub Adventure Camp can be found with the information about Camp Bovay on the Sam Houston Area District website.
Q: Are there fundraising events?
A: There are three fundraising activities each school year: selling Scout popcorn in the fall, the Friends of Scouting pledge drive in the winter, and selling coupon packs in the early spring, around the time of Scout Fair.
Proceeds from the popcorn and coupon pack sales are split between our own Pack and the Sam Houston Area Council. We use our share of this money to help pay for the Pack's own activities. The Council's share goes toward supporting the overall scouting program in Houston. The registration fees the Pack pays go to the national organization, not the local Council. By participating in these fund raising activities, we are helping to pay our own fair share of the local costs of delivering the scouting program, as well as providing funding to help the Council deliver scouting to Houston kids who would not otherwise have the chance. We ask boys to participate in selling popcorn and coupon packs to give them a positive experience of selling themselves and a meaningful way for them to have a hand in helping others.
Q: Why should we support the Sam Houston Area Council (SHAC)?
A: SHAC is the greater-Houston area arm of Boy Scouts of America that provides the framework within which our Pack operates. While all Pack-level jobs are performed by parent volunteers, SHAC has about 60 paid staff who organize at a higher level and provide activities and events, training and support for our parent leaders, and numerous administrative functions. In addition, the Council owns several camps ringing the Houston area, which are available to Cub Scout packs. When our Pack uses a SHAC facility, we pay only a subsidized fee (which is kept artificially low to ensure access to boys of all means). For 2009, SHAC will spend approximately $150/youth. By participating in fund raising, we help pay our own way. Fundraising reimburses the Council for the services we receive.
The Council also runs a very significant Scouting program for at-risk youth around the Houston area. These low- or no-cost programs provide a character-building alternative to boys who might not otherwise have positive male role models in their lives.
The winter Friends of Scouting pledge drive purely benefits the Council. Participation in Friends of Scouting is completely voluntary. However, we encourage every family to make a pledge, first as reimbursement for the benefits our own sons receive, and second to allow less-advantaged youth in our area to benefit from Scouting as well. Our goal is 100% participation - a pledge of some amount from every family - but in an amount according to their own personal situation.
Q: Is the popcorn fundraiser that important?
A: We sell scout popcorn for two reasons. The Pack keeps half the profits from popcorn sales, and we use this money to help pay for the Pack's own activities. The funds generated by Popcorn supply a significant part of our annual Pack budget. The Pack relies on this money to keep our pack dues at a reasonable level. In addition, through popcorn sales we help the Council deliver scouting to kids throughout the Houston area as well as help pay our own fair share of the costs of the Scouting program our kids receive.
Q: How about some advice for a brand new Tiger Den Leader?
A: Don't try to do it all yourself. Running a Den is a team sport. Be bold about asking all the parents in your den to help out. When all help out, no one has to do too much. The regular involvement of many parents builds a strong and healthy den.
Q: When do Tigers advance?
A: The Pack awards Tiger rank advancement during the May pack meeting. Tiger dens need to work toward having all boys complete the Tiger rank advancement requirements by the end of April. At least two weeks before the May pack meeting, contact the pack awards chair with a list of the names of the boys from your den who have completed the Tiger rank. The pack provides the rank badges, and the awards chair will pick those up from the Scout Shop. Each den is responsible for contacting the awards chair with the list of their boys who have completed all Tiger requirements.