Ideas for unit outings

New Guidelines for Cub Scout Aquatics: Freedom!

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From the Council Training Committee meeting this week comes this news:


Contrary to past BSA program design, all Cub Scouts — not just Webelos — may participate in paddle sports as a pack or den; previously, they could only do so at district or council events. And, of course, Cub Scouts may continue to participate in swimming as a pack or den activity.

The Cub Scouting team worked with the Aquatics and Health and Safety committees to relax the council- or district-only requirements for paddle sports. But as adult leaders, you still must make sure that the points of Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat are incorporated, including training and staying within the BSA’s aquatics framework.

The new Cub Scout program includes one aquatics-related adventure for each rank, but you’ll notice they’re all elective, not required. That means Cub Scouts who aren’t interested in water activities are fine to stay on dry land.

Safe Swim Defense: Any time you take Scouts swimming, even if you’re going to a council event or local pool where lifeguards are present, you still need leaders trained in Safe Swim Defense.

  • You can take Safe Swim Defense online at (Click My Dashboard, then Training.)
  • You always need at least one leader trained in Safe Swim Defense — even if you’re somewhere that provides lifeguards.
  • When lifeguards are notpresent, you need additional rescue personnel trained in Safe Swim Defense.
  • Swim tests are not optional. A key part of BSA aquatics is knowing one’s limits.
  • Safe Swim Defense training is good for two years.

Safety Afloat: You are permitted to take Cub Scouts boating as a pack or den. (Previously you could only go boating with your Cub Scouts at district or council events.) But any time you take Cub Scouts boating, you need at least one leader with Safety Afloat training taken within the previous two years. At least one adult leader must be trained in first aid and CPR as well.

  • You can take Safety Afloat training online at (Click My Dashboard, then Training.)
  • For Cub Scout boating activities, the ratio of trained adults, staff members or guides to participants must be at least one to five. (For Boy Scouts, it’s one to 10.)
  • Cub Scouts must know how to swim to try paddle sports.
  • All participants must wear properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Any swimming done in conjunction with the activity afloat should operate using Safe Swim Defense.

(Scuba: Cub Scouts aren’t permitted to do scuba.)

PLEAS NOTE: Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.

For more information, always look to the Guide to Safe Scouting. The online aquatics section is here.


IYOS website rebuild

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What is “IYOS”? It is the “Ideal Year in Scouting.” It is the way for the Crossroads of America Council to tell you what the Best Practices for units will be in the next 12-18 months. What camping opportunities and activities are coming up. When deadlines for summer camp are. When rechartering will take place. When popcorn sales will begin and end. How unit budgets should be developed. How big summer events can be paid for.

Council is in the process of rebuilding the website dedicated to IYOS. Make sure to stop in regularly and monitor the progress. Hopefully you will learn something every time you stop in. We expect the 2018-2019 district calendars to be added in the next couple of weeks.

REMINDER: District meetings

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Thursday, October 5, 2017 at Second Presbyterian Church, 4th Floor:

  1. Commissioners: 6:00 pm, Room 401
  2. District Committee: 7:00 pm, Room 405

Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 7:00 pm (except where different below), Luke’s Lodge, outbuilding on Campus of St Luke’s United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St.

1. Youth Protection Training (Y01) (6:30 pm)

2. Boy Scout Roundtable: TBA. Possible topic: path to Eagle.

3. Cub Scout Roundtable: planning your next camp out. Presented by Scouts from Troop 56 and RTC Bill Buchalter. (Great for Pack Programming Chair, Pack Chair, Cubmaster and Den Leaders, especially Webelos Den Leaders). Tents and gear explained.

4. Rechartering breakout for Unit Rechartering Coordinators. How to rechartering. Changes to system.


Hurricane Maria: An update on BSA members in Puerto Rico. Ways you can help.

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Bryan on Scouting has just posted this article on how to help after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

To my view, the most important part of this article is that the councils and units affected have been slow to report their needs. This creates a risk of their needs being forgotten or overlooked by the rest of the BSA.

This slow response to state needs makes a lot of sense. First, the BSA is built on a diffused organizational system. National Council needs information from local councils. Local councils need information from districts. Districts need information from units. Units need information from unit leaders. Unit leaders are busy caring for their families, work or businesses, and places of worship.

Now the information trickle is beginning. The BSA has created several central clearinghouses of information. Units can make direct appeals for help. The BSA has created a central fundraising website. Now we know where to look for what is needed.

So the next question seems to be, “What can our unit do?”

What you can do is still limited by BSA regulations. Let’s take a quick look so that these are all fresh in mind.

Read the rest of this entry »


Free State Park Admission . . . with a catch

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From Council:

DNR News
Division of State Parks

Celebrate public lands with free entry and
program at DNR properties, Sept. 30

Admission to Indiana’s state park properties and state forest recreation areas where entrance fees are charged will be free on Sept. 30 in recognition of National Public Lands Day.

National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort for public lands.

Volunteer opportunities at Indiana State Park properties on Sept. 30 include trail work at Raccoon State Recreation Area, Turkey Run State Park and Brookville Lake, invasive plant removals at Brown County, Spring Mill and Ouabache state parks, and river cleanups at O’Bannon Woods and Tippecanoe River state parks. Many other properties will offer similar volunteer opportunities see attached list.

But National Public Lands Day isn’t all work and no play. The day is a reminder that public lands are places for outdoor recreation, conservation and making memories with families and friends. Properties will offer hikes, pioneer activities, crafts and live bird shows, too.

For complete list of programs, visit  and look on Sept. 30.

For more information on National Public Lands Day, visit

Jody Heaston
Indiana State Parks Volunteer Coordinator
Ouabache State Park,  4930 E. State Rd 201
Bluffton, IN 46714
Phone: 260-824-0926  Fax: 260-824-9402
Email: (best way to contact)

Learn more about Indiana Master Naturalists

On the Web:

They also offer the events listed in this flyer through the rest of the year.


Roundtable: Dream Big, Good Programming

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At April’s Roundtable we focused on the importance of Big Dreams to Good Programming. Boys join scouts for the programming: camping, games, and fun. They don’t join for to sit in meetings or to sit in classes.

We discussed how to make programs that excite the boys.

Take a look at the video for a quick review of the discussion. We went longer than the video, but you can see the overall vision that we proposed.

Share this video with your unit so that you can all be on the same page.

We also referenced thre every good links on the BSA website which were:


I also recommend using the PowerPoints on these pages to lead off your planning. It shares many of the same points, but with a briefer format.


Shooting Sports in Scouts

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Since the Spring Camporee is tentatively scheduled to focus on rifle shooting and archery, we should probably start boning up on the rules of shooting sports in scouts.

First, some basic rules. Cubs can only do BB Guns and archery in very strictly controlled circumstances, such as a Council campsite. No rifles. Ever. Scouts can do much more, but must follow the scouting rules carefully.

So how do we know the scouting rules?

This is scouts. Of course there is a manual for that. You can download the whole thing from the BSA website along with many other new resources.

Second, why are we so picky about the rules? Remember strict adherence to the Guide for Safe Scouting in shooting sports is the only way to guarantee that the BSA insurance will cover you as a unit leader and your chartered organization when you do shooting sports. This is extremely important, especially adhering to the stricter rules for Cub Scouts.

Our first duty is to protect the boys. Our next duty is safety for other participants. Our final duty is to keep the chartered organizations happy and continuing to support scouting.

If you have questions, contact the District Commissioner or the District Executive.


Ideas for Summer Camp

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As October drifts away and November arrives, it seems to early to think about summer activities. Yet, November is often the last push for the year to do much big in scouting until January. Once January hits, more units focus on summer camp and activities.

If you want to do something different, the November PLC is a great time to take a poll of your scouts or November Pack meeting a chance to poll your Cubs about where they would like to go to summer camp.

My home unit used to have a practice of going to some place out of council at least once every four years. One of our District’s bigger troops goes to Canada every other year. Both are great ideas for keeping scouting interesting for all your scouts.

Last year, Scouting Magazine ran a great article about wonderful Scout Reservations around the country. (Ransburg made this list!)

The Summit at Bechtel Scout Reservation is now running both high adventure and older scout summer camp opportunities.

In addition, your future troop youth leadership can attend White Stag, our local version of the National Youth Leadership Training. (Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops/Crews is a prerequisite, which we may offer at Winter Camporee, if NYLT_4ksufficient interest exists.) This one-week, Wood-Badge for youth course is well worth for future or past SPLs, patrol leaders, Troop Guides, etc. (Crossroads BSA website has not been updated for 2016 yet.)

Start the discussion in November, so information gathering can be planned and implemented. Then less pressure is on in January 2016 when real planning needs to begin.


Nov. 1st Cub Hayride: Update

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Pack 358 has decided to pay for the entire costs of the wagons. That means that all other packs only need to pay $6.00 per car (out-of-county residents) or $5.00 (Marion County residents) and contribute a pitch-in dinner dish per family.Cub Scout logo

To RSVP, click here.

For more information and a flyer to distribute to your Pack, click here. Pitch in dinner dish requests are by age level, and are printed on the flyer.


Haunted House for all Ages

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The Children’s Museum’s Pirate’s Revenge Haunted House is now open! Oct. 10th through Halloween. 

This makes a great scout outing for all ages. The Children’s Museum’s Haunted House has haunts with

  1. lights-on for Cub Scouts or other persons who scare easily
    1. Wednesdays–Saturdays 10 a.m.–3 p.m.;
    2. Wednesdays 3:30–8:30 p.m.;
    3. Sundays 11 a.m.–5 p.m.;
    4. Halloween: 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
  2. lights-out/frightening for Webelos and Tenderfoot scouts, or other persons who dare to be scared
    1. Thursdays–Saturdays 3:30–8:30 p.m.
    2. No Frightening Hours on Halloween
  3. Xtreme Scream, strongly recommended limited to teens and adults
    1. Oct. 23, 24, & 30: 8:30–11 p.m.

All Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who visit the Children’s Museum Haunted House can earn a patch for free with their paid admission. Ask for the patch at the Bootique’s cashier (sign about patches hangs over her head).

Other special events that are especially appropriate for Cub Scouts, such as Feast with the Witches, is also available. See the Haunted House webpage for more information.

Look for some of your fellow scouts and District Commissioner staff, haunting at Xtreme Scream!