January 15, 2017
Because Wolf Cub Scouts enter the den as soon as they are age eight and go into Bear Cubs near their 9th birthday, the different dens are always changing. This month we have two Wolf Cubs. Next month we will have only one for a few months. We have what we call “adventures” in the Cub Scout Program. For Wolf Cubs, in January we do “Cubs Who Care.” The activities focus on becoming aware of disabilities and on how to treat people who have them. We speak of visible and invisible or mental disabilities. The program emphasizes active learning with lots of fun and a minimum of talking.
So two little Cubs in uniform appeared, and we tried out various tools to help the physically disabled. To make the experience more real, we put fake blood on a leg and wrapped it in a bandage, letting some “leak through” to add to the yuck factor (important with 8-year-olds). Then we practiced with a cane, a walker and a wheelchair outside on the sidewalk.
The cane helped them with their imaginary injured heel. Then we told them they had been sick for a very long time so were very weak and needed a walker. They build on such ideas. The first boy learned how to take the walker down a step and walk. The second was very, very “weak.” He kept getting exhausted and falling onto the seat to rest up to go farther. In fact, he got so weak that he stumbled into a snow bank and we all helped pull him out with laughter and admiration for his performance.
The smaller boy rode in the wheelchair while the larger pushed him down a step, onto a sidewalk, down a driveway, across the street. The smaller pushed the larger back to where we came from. Those boys found out how slow, how potentially dangerous, and how difficult it is to be in a wheelchair.
After that experience, we did some blindfolded drawing to feel how it is to be blind and we spoke of experiences such as actual injuries one of the boys had had. The time went very fast as we did other Cub Scout things such as learning American Sign Language for some of the items in the Scout Law.
Will the lessons last? Will they remember to offer a blind person an arm rather than trying to push him or her? Will they be quick to open doors for people who are disabled? Making that leap between learning something and doing it is the big challenge with teaching and learning. That aha! when the precept turns into action is what every teacher wants. The point is that the six Den Leaders in our Pack 3768 love those Cub Scouts (and Webelos). We try as hard with one boy as we do with seven. Each Cub is unique, delightful, funny, curious, eager and active. When we checked to see who would be coming in to add to our one boy, and we were assured we’d have three cubbies by September, my partner Becky and I said “Whee!” Becky added, “That’s job security.” PMA