ScoutingMarch - April 2003

Of Cub Scouting And Core Values

By Kathy Vilim DaGroomes
Photographs By Vince Heptig

Cub Scouting's Character Connections Program enables leaders to incorporate character development into regular pack and den programs and activities.

"Keep in mind in all your teaching that the to form character in the boys."

—Robert Baden-Powell
Scouting for Boys, 1908

Ann Erekson, a camp guide last summer at the American Heroes Cub Scout Day Camp, took a group of Cub Scouts to their next station: Firemen. After pointing out that firemen go into burning buildings to save people, she asked the boys which character trait made firemen heroes.

"Courage!" several volunteered—the answer Erekson was looking for.

"I have the boys guess what the value at their station is, then I ask them what they think that value means and how it could apply to them," said Erekson, 16, one of the camp staff at the Tracy Scout Reservation of the Great Salt Lake Council in Utah. "At this station I told them that, just as firemen have to be courageous to go into burning buildings, they—the boys—have to have their own kind of courage: like not lying to their parents, and not stealing if their friends tell them to."

Part of regular activities

Pack 3284's Bradley Ludlow, Mckay Evans, Trevor Orgill, and Tyler Austin project pure positive attitude on a sandy Webelos Waikiki beach.

Erekson's discussing values with Cub Scout day campers was a direct result of a new program launched 18 months ago by the BSA's Cub Scouting Division.

The National Cub Scouting Committee developed the program following wide discussion among volunteers and professionals and extensive research that identified 12 core values. It replaces the Ethics in Action program, which was implemented in the early 1990's to provide Cub Scouts with additional character development opportunities.

"Ethics in Action, a booklet we handed out to den leaders and which was also available in the Cub Scout Leader How-To Book, gave the impression that you did the characterbuilding action outside of regular den activities," said Sue Weierman, a member of the character development task force of the National Cub Scouting Committee.

Pack 4042's Stefano Dryden, Michael Milner, and Boaz Hsia show compassion while petting a bearded dragon lizard. (Left) Pack 3411's Parker Mede learns of courage at the Firemen station at the American Heroes Day Camp.

"We needed to connect the core values to the activities and advancements that the youth do," she said, "so that as a den leader or a Cubmaster works with their boys, they have character development all during the program."

The new program is called the National Cub Scouting Character Connections Program. The key elements are 12 core values, several of which relate directly to points in the Scout Law. The character-building process is called Character Connections, which connects the values to the activities and advancement.

"Character development has been a basic element of the Cub Scouting program since its inception and is an important objective in the mission of the Boy Scouts of America," said BSA associate national director of the Cub Scouting Division Jerry Dehoney, who has served as staff advisor to the character development task force of the National Cub Scouting Committee since 1999.

A hit at pow wow

Pack 4003's Trevor Wilson gets cooperation from his teammates.

As vice president of Cub Scouting in the Great Salt Lake Council, Sue Weierman helped introduce the Cub Scouting Character Connections Program to 2,000 Great Salt Lake Council Scouters at the council's annual pow wow in November 2001.

At the opening pow wow ceremony, volunteers introduced the core values in a skit and gave handouts to attendees. "Right then a lot of people bought in on those values and wanted to do some programming with them," said Weierman.

At the pow wow, three camp directors for the BSA's Tracy Scout Reservation in Millcreek Canyon, outside Salt Lake City, decided to use the new program emphasis at summer camp 2002.

Which is how Ann Erekson and the camp staff at the American Heroes, Australian Outback, and Webelos Waikiki day camps at the Tracy reservation began emphasizing character and encouraging Cub Scouts and their leaders to think more deeply about values in their program activities last summer.

Focus on character development

After learning about honesty, Wesley Walls takes aim, aided by den leader Caren Hughes.

Tracy Scout Reservation director Kent Gregersen was responsible for seven camps and 15,000 campers in summer 2002—including the three day camps that used the Character Connections Program.

"The core values really highlight Cub Scouting's emphasis on character development and focus on what we are trying to accomplish," he said. "Our foundation is a desire to develop young men and youth—to teach them correct principles, skills, and core values that will allow them to do what's right; to remind them of the importance of being honest and fair, of taking good care of themselves, of serving other people."

Tim Gillie, camp director at Webelos Waikiki, found it easy to connect core values with his day camp's learning stations. "The volleyball station was a natural for the value of cooperation because it teaches teamwork and working together," he said. "At the scientist station, we realized scientists have to report their results accurately, so we figured honesty would go with that one."

Swimmers practice responsibility while in the pool at the Webelos Waikiki Day Camp. (Left to right) Pack 4003's Trevor Wilson, Skyler Ross, Jesse Sanchez, and Joey Mariani.

Sue Weierman was not surprised at Gillie's ease at matching values to day camp activities.

"I believe that any activity a Cub Scout is involved in with a parent or a den leader can be linked with a value," Weierman said. "But we've learned that you plan the program first. You make sure your program fits the objectives for your theme and for the age level of your youth. Then you'll soon see that many of the values can be linked with the activities—although we try to limit it to one value emphasized for one activity."

A great tool

Tracy Scout Reservation's Kent Gregersen noted that Cub Scouting's 12 core values "mesh very well" with the 12 points of the Scout Law.

"The individual principles in the Scout Law and in the core values of Cub Scouting not only are very similar, but they also correspond well with values boys learn at home, at church, and in school," he said. "The Character Connections Program is a great tool for parents to use when they are trying to teach their children to do what's right. And Cub Scout leaders should take the time in den and pack meetings to review the core values, teach boys what they mean specifically, and relate them to their activities."

One must be responsible to throw a spear, learns Pack 4042's Nick Fox from Alex Reschke, who instructs Nick in the activity at the Australian Outback Day Camp.

Natalie Kaddas, a den leader from Pack 4003 attending day camp for the third year at Tracy, agreed.

"The camp staff talked about the designated core values, bringing them into play before every activity," said Kaddas. "For example, we talked about respect and nature: how you respect nature and how you don't. The boys were able to be interactive and give feedback, which put things in real-life situations for them; they got a better understanding that way. They understood that carving your name on a tree is disrespectful of nature.

"Making core values more visible in activities is a great idea," she added. "One of Scouting's main purposes is to teach a boy about those values, and this program helps to do just that."

Kathy Vilim DaGroomes is associate editor of Scouting magazine.

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