In a recent conversation with my DE friend, he said something that has had me thinking about it ever since. As someone who has lived mostly in the Midwest, he has had an interesting time adapting to the culture since moving here a little over two years ago, and there are many things about Church Scouting that drive him crazy. This one really took me off guard, though, especially coming from a professional Scouter. He made the comment that we don't focus enough on primary. He feels there is a very big imbalance, with all the focus on youth 12 and up. He believes Cub Scouts is important for getting the boys started in Scouting.
He is not the only one I have heard this from. More than once our Council Commissioner has made comments about how Cub Scouting is the best/easiest way to recruit/do missionary work. He talks a lot about how easy it should be to have those Cubs bring their friends to meetings with them. I have heard that something like 90% of Boys Scouts started as Cub Scouts (don't remember the exact figure).
When boys are Cub Scouting age, they are much more open to joining scouts and many of the things associated with that. If they participate in a good Cub Scout program, they are more likely to continue on and enjoy Boy Scouting. If their program is a disappointment or they do not attend Cub Scouts, they are very unlikely to have any interest in participating in Boy Scouts when they are older.
My own personal observation is that when this happens within the Church, the boy not only has no interest in participating in weekday activities, he does not seem to feel a part of his quorum on Sunday.
I think it is important to have good programs all the way through, but it really does need to start in Cub Scouting. As a unit commissioner, I recently met with a Charter Rep for one of the other wards nearby. He is the bishopric member assigned to both Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts (I know different wards do this different ways; some have the charter rep focus on Boy Scouts and the other councilor focus on Cubs, and some have just one do both). He confessed that he did not pay much attention to what was going on in the Cub Scout program. He was very busy, and he trusted that the committee chair and primary were taking care of things and it was best if he just stayed out of the way. I wonder whether he would ever take that same approach with the youth programs.
What do you think? Do we often de-emphasize the importance of Cub Scouts in favor of programs for the older youth? Is it "just" Cub Scouts, or should it be regarded on the same level of importance as any of the other programs? I know the age group of around 12-25 is considered "high risk," but does the foundation for or prevention of that risk actually begin earlier?