Cub Scout update: Bike Rodeo (whew!)

bike rodeo (2)

So here’s an update on my Adventures as Cub Scout Committee Chair.

We are a small pack — by my count, 31 boys.  Maybe a few more, if we get some more new boys.  Maybe a few less, if we some of the boys we’re assuming are continuing this year, turn out not to be doing so.  This means that we don’t really have the numbers for some of the Big Things that other packs might do, and we don’t have the cash to lay out for a big budget activity, either, so we try to do things that are inexpensive but still entertaining for the boys and worthwhile for the parents.  On the other hand, being small does have some advantages since we can do some things that would just be too chaotic with a larger group.

Which means that last year we had a pack meeting where the Boy Scouts came in and demonstrated camping skills.  At another meeting, the boys played “minute to win it” games.  Another time, we had the middle school and high school robotics teams come in and demonstrate their robots.  We had a Raingutter Regatta where the boys brought in plastic-bottle boats, and we raced them informally, with boys with successful boats sharing with those whose boats sank in the first round, and with dad vs. son and dad vs. dad races.  We had a pack rocket launch where our small size meant that each boy got a turn or two at launching the rocket and got to chase after the rocket, vs. the hyper organized affairs where boys get to do little more than watch.  This year we’ll have a couple navy veteran dads put together a Veteran’s Day-themed pack meeting in November (with PT and uniform inspection), and I’m playing around with the idea of recruiting some high schoolers to do some science demonstrations.

And tonight was the Bike Rodeo.

This was the pack’s first time trying this event out, and it was a little chaotic.  I think I’m reasonably competent at coming up with ideas and planning them out, but implementing them — well, that’s where I hope for the best, and by that I mean, hope for sufficient number of other parents to help maintain order.

This is what we did:

We started with a “bike inspection,” which really ended up taking the form of the Scoutmaster talking to the boys about helmets and safety and the like.  In a perfect world it would have been more organized.  Oh, well.

We then had three stations:  a slalom course, a “Rock Dodge” and a “Look Back” station.  The Rock Dodge was meant to simulate an obstacle on the road.  The “Look Back” was meant to practice signalling, looking back, and then turning, if the way was clear, by having an adult with, in this case, a white cushion (it was supposed to be a car-shaped cardboard, but the white cushion seemed the better choice for tonight), stand behind the boy as he rode on a cone-marked path, so that the boy was required to look behind him to see if a “car” was coming.  The boys rotated through these by den.  Then we switched the cones around for a “slow race” (slowest wins, to practice balance), and a “pebble drop” game, dropping, in this case, sticks into buckets while riding.  After this we moved indoors for a brief flag ceremony, announcements, and the like.

Now, the whole thing gave me quite some worry beforehand, not only because keeping boys in line, and soliciting help from parents, is not among my skill set, but also because the whole event was set to take place after dark.  We’d been having our pack meetings at 7:00, because I figured that the old 6:30 start time was causing problems for parents, and dropping our attendance due to conflicts, dinnertime, etc.  But sunset was 6:51 — not good.  So we located the events at the part of the parking lot closest to the school building’s lights, asked everyone to get there early if possible, hoped for the best, and, well, we did manage to have enough light to do the activities, and we didn’t lose any of the boys to the darkness, so that’s a plus.

As I was putting together my notes on the activities earlier today, it occurred to me that I could have probably taken this a step further and called the police station or the local bike shop to see about some kind of Bike Safety booklets or stickers, or even having someone “official” give the safety talk.  But I got some positive feedback from the parents and hopefully the parents of the younger scouts, when my son moves on to Boy Scouts in the spring, will see this as something worth repeating and improving upon.

So there you go.  And now I can move on to getting other things done.

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