LINDA CASE JUMPED onto a moving train when she married a widowed father of three sons in 1986. The boys were 4, 6, and 8 years old; her new husband, John, was Webelos den leader and Cubmaster of Pack 459, and Linda was in for the ride of her life.
A quarter-century later, the ride continues. The boys are grown, and John now works with Troop 459. But Linda remains the anchor of Pack 459, where she has served as Cubmaster, committee chair, pack trainer, and den leader. Today, she’s the go-to person for Cub Scouting in her community and beyond. Beyond Cub Scouting, she has served as a unit commissioner, district commissioner, and merit badge counselor, and she has worked on six Wood Badge courses, including the one she led in 2005.
Most people don’t stay with a pack after their sons graduate. Why have you stayed so long? We had Cubmasters coming and going. I thought it was good for me to stay. My husband eventually moved on to being Scoutmaster within the troop. As I always tell him, I’m preparing boys to come to him.
When did you realize you were in Cub Scouting for the long haul? When I realized that my children might have children at some point. I wanted to see them and the other kids who’ve come along through the pack come back to us as Scouters. There have been great leaders in Cub Scouting in our area, and I want to continue their great legacy.
I guess you would disagree with those who say the real fun in Scouting starts in a Boy Scout troop. Yes. Cub Scouting offers a thousand things to do. There’re another thousand things that Boy Scouts do. Cubs can’t do those things yet. Focus on what they can do. I tell everyone, “Cub Scouts is a great program to enjoy and not just something you tolerate until you can become a Boy Scout.”
As a veteran Cub Scouter, what message do you give new pack parents? For me, it’s a matter of saying to new people who come in, “This is going to help your family. It’s going to help your boy grow up. You’re going to have a different child at the end of the Cub Scout program, and your family will be enriched by it.”
Your pack meets at a school, but you can’t hold a traditional school night there. How do you recruit? We rely more heavily on peer-to-peer recruitment. We send out invitations with the kids, saying, “I’ve already got them filled out; all you have to do is put them in the little cubbies for your group.” Also, we’re at every park that has a field day with a booth set up. We’ve done things like set up a campsite outside school. When you get a tent set up and someone’s out there sitting in a chair, kids come by and ask.
How do you persuade new pack parents to volunteer and get trained? We try to set an example by volunteering ourselves. We have seasoned leaders who mentor the new leaders. We have a library of helpful books for them to check out. We’ll pay for registration or gas. If we’re selling pack T-shirts, and you’ve got three boys and you’re a leader, you get the shirts for free.
How does your pack ensure that boys don’t fall through the cracks? The best thing we do is to involve the current leaders, future leaders in the dens, and all parents in the progress of the den. We keep up with youth as they attend meetings; if they miss, we call them to see if there are issues. We advise parents that we will work through absences (sickness, school-event conflicts, or behavior issues) and help the youth to complete all advancements.
Do you think Cub Scout parents are different today from when you started? Parents today seem to be much more concerned about their own progress toward things. I think they are concerned about their children, but the focus has come more to adapting the child to the parent as opposed to adapting the parent to the child.
Attending Wood Badge is a big commitment of time and money. What’s your sales pitch? You get real-life leadership skills; you join a great group of people—local and national—who’ve also attended; and you finally understand the progression of Scouting training and can encourage your own son.
How do your service and your husband’s service overlap? We’ve kind of divided it up within our community. I’m known as the Cub Scout person; he’s known as the Boy Scout person. That gives us the opportunity to see different things within the program. But it also gives us an opportunity to know the same people.
Any plans to retire from Scouting? If I’m capable of doing this, I will continue to help make this a successful program at whatever level I can. Cub Scouting is a wonderful program that offers youth and adults fun and the opportunity to change their lives.
Years as a Scout Leader: 26
Current City: White House, Tenn.
Current Positions: Committee chair, Pack 459; unit commissioner, roundtable commissioner, and merit badge counselor, Warioto District; council training committee and Eagle Scout mentor, Middle Tennessee Council
Day Job: Retired research biologist, Department of Veterans Affairs
Favorite Camp: Boxwell Scout Reservation. Activities with family and friends at Boxwell are some of my best memories.
Proudest Moments in Scouting: Several, including presentations of the Eagle Scout award to my son and youths in my home troop, and also being the first woman and the first Cub Scout leader to direct a Wood Badge course in the Middle Tennessee Council.
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