Happy Cubs mean happy volunteers!

Lisa Storey has been a Pack Scouter with 1st Muizenberg for nearly a decade. Here she shares the why, the how and the adventure that is adult volunteering with Cubs.

“I officially joined the Scout Movement in 2013 when our Pack needed a Pack Scouter. Before that I was already a Scout mom as the rest of my family were already 1st Muizenberg members”, she says with a smile. “My eldest son had been a Cub and by then had gone up to Scouts. My youngest son had just joined the Cubs at age 7 and my husband Richard was the Troop Scouter. I had attended many Troop camps and events by that stage and knew what a fantastic organisation it was!

When the previous Pack Scouter left with very little notice, Richard had to jump in and run the Cub Pack too. Then in 2013 I attended the Kon-Tiki Raft competition  at the Sea Scout Base and was chatting to Penny Raad – a Scout mom, Scouter wife, and ex pack Scouter – about the situation we were in. She gave me the most brilliant advice. “If you are looking for someone to take over as Pack Scouter, why don’t you do it yourself?” …” The rest as they say is history.

So, what has kept Lisa going? “There are so many reasons, but the joy on the Cubs’ faces when they learn new skills definitely stands out. Also, the lifelong friends I’ve made, the families I’ve gotten to know through my Cubs and their support over the years. There have been so many amazing moments and too many favourite memories to count! The pride of a Leaping Wolf receiving their badge and certificate, the excitement of a Cub at their investiture, the thrill of new Cubs experiencing so many “firsts” at Cub camps, and then more personally – receiving a heartfelt letter written by a Cub which reminds me why I keep doing this.”

With her experience and being a parent herself, we asked her why Cubbing is so important for children? “It teaches them skills they don’t learn at school”, she states firmly. “Cubbing exposes them to experiences many of them may never have otherwise, it allows them to meet others and make friends from different backgrounds. It also builds children’s confidence in actually doing something practical like striking a match, lighting a fire, learning a knot, or climbing a mountain. It also teaches them that being a good citizen and trying to save the world is something they can contribute to through conservation, recycling, picking up litter, etc. It is the most important thing they can do for their own futures.”

The Cub programme also enables Cubs to lead as Sixers in the Pack. “Leadership skills are essential for children to learn, and schools don’t always provide practical ways to do this.  Every Cub gets a chance to be a Second or a Sixer in our Pack and we encourage them to take charge of their Six, lead the younger Cubs, take care of new Chums, and take pride in their Six doing well at meetings. We do mini training sessions in this at our termly Sixer Council meetings too”, adds Lisa

“As Scouters it is very important that we teach our Cubs self-confidence, acceptance of others, and the importance of conservation. Our Pack has worked hard towards contributing to the SDGs. One of our projects involved an outing to Kirstenbosch Gardens to do the miniSASS Interest badge for SDG 14. We had a great time as we did each requirement while hiking around the gardens, and then had a picnic lunch.  Many parents joined us, and everyone had fun searching for insects in the rivers.  For SDG 8 the Cubs did the Entrepreneur Interest badge which included a mini market where the Cubs donated a portion of the profits to a local charity. We also do regular litter clean-ups along Zandvlei and get great parent support which is so important.”

“Running a successful Pack and being an adult volunteer can also come with some challenges such as a shortage of adult volunteers, finding and nurturing the volunteer team you do have, and finding the time to manage the admin and plan the programmes. When Covid threw a spanner in the works of traditional Scouting we were able to get straight onto Zoom because the adult leaders around me stepped up and led the way. It’s amazing what’s possible. I’d never heard of Zoom before Covid!  We accomplished a lot during lockdown despite not seeing our Cubs face-to-face for so long. Most parents were also happy to assist their Cubs and had just as much fun as their kids!  As soon as face-to-face meetings were allowed, we started up again, first in the local park and then back at the Sea Scout Base hall when it re-opened.”

The 1st Muizenberg Cub Pack has a strong team of volunteers. What’s the secret to keeping her team motivated? “I’m organised and fairly tough about my APS’s producing fun programmes that keep the Cubs enjoying themselves while covering the advancement tasks.  I think I communicate well, and we have thorough termly planning meetings for the upcoming term’s programmes. Star Awards and Cub National Challenge requirements always factor into our planning so that we can continue to be a Gold Star Pack. I would love parents to realise how rewarding it is to help at Cub meetings.  I used to struggle with getting parents to volunteer to assist at meetings, but we now have a roster per term and that seems to have done the trick. When parents know when to help, they are there. Also, having a happy group of Cubs enjoying the meetings is motivation for everyone!”

It’s safe to say that over the years Lisa has had many fun moments with her fellow Scouters. “There are many funny stories, but I remember this one camp where one of our parent helpers – who is now an APS – slept in her car because “something” ran over her pillow in the middle of the night! As for her Cubs, well there have been many cute gestures over the years, Cubs often give me beautifully made handwritten cards for my birthday or at Christmas.  The comments are endearing and remind me that the hard work really is worth it!”