Monday 14 September 2009


Now that DS1 is old enough I had another look at what Cub Scouts branches are currently active in our neighbourhood. The closest Scout hall is long-abandoned and derelict, and the next closest packs have their weekly meetings starting at 6:30pm on nights that DW and I both return home fairly late from work. A 6:30 start is not really practical as DS1 and DS2 are at day care/after-school care until 6pm on those days. Fortunately there's another Cub Scout group a few km away that holds their meetings from 7pm-8:30pm on a non-working (for DW) week-night, so we dropped in for a visit last Tuesday to check them out. DS1 enjoyed the activity (building model rafts using corks and paddle pop sticks) and the overall club atmosphere, and he was intrigued by the list of tasks required for the various achievement badges and the bronze, silver and gold "boomerang" awards.

The cost for Cub Scouting is very reasonable ($10 each school term to help pay for materials, around $65 for the uniform shirt, belt and cap, and an annual association and club fee of about $180). I've filled in the application paperwork and will probably join him up after he's attended a few more weekly sessions as a "chum" (to check that his enthusiasm doesn't wear off too quickly).

I found it interesting that the cub "oath" is offered in two versions (one mentions the Queen of Australia and the other that just mentions Australia - to avoid putting off republican supporters I guess) but that both versions include an affirmation of belief in "my God". While the Australia Scout movement is less restrictive that the BSA (the "official" US Scouting body) in that girls have been allowed to join Scouts and Cubs in Australia since the 1980s, it still requires at least lip service to having belief in a God. It doesn't seem to matter WHAT God you believe in, but an expression of faith is an intrinsic part of the weekly meetings. Given the historic background of Scouting I have no problem with them including faith as one of the positive attributes they want to encourage in their young members, but making it a mandatory part of the oath for Cubs seems anachronistic given the relatively secular nature of modern Australian society. Oh Well, DS1 did attend a local church "Kids Club" for several years and knows the basic Christian Sunday school stories and he was Christened when he was one year old, so I suppose making the oath won't really be lying. I left the religion/denomination section of the forms blank though, as we don't attend church and therefore aren't affiliated with any particular brand of religion. There seems to be an assumption that having faith in "my God" means you will be a member of one of the organised religious movements. If I have to fill in the blank on the form it will be a toss up between putting down Methodist Christian (a simple answer) or Naturalistic Pantheist (possibly a more "honest" answer).

Next meeting I'll ask the pack leader what the process is for completing the various "achievement" badge requirements. A lot of the tasks can be done at home, but I'm not sure if DS1 will need to get approval from the pack leader before hand, or if DS1 can just do the required work and then make a presentation at Cubs when he's completed all the required activities. I remember from my short time as a Cub Scout many decades ago that the biggest hurdle to earning more than a couple of merit badges was the lack of interest from the pack leader (especially any topics they weren't "expert" in). There are only so many times that repeating the same course on "map reading" remains interesting for a child! The "new" (since 2004) list of 35 achievement badges includes a lot a topics DS1 is interested in (eg. music, entertainer, scientist, space, information technology) and can easily complete. For the "flight" badge it might also be possible to organise a day-trip for the pack to attend the Scout activity centre at Campden airport (there's a $53 fee that includes all the requirements for completing the "flight" achievement badge and also a half-hour joy flight in a Cesna 172).

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