When I began serving as District Executive in central Utah in 1976, Cub Scout Olympics was an annual part of program. By the time our first son became a Cub Scout it was entrenched into our district plans and operations, with dens, packs, and, most of all, boys anticipating the excitement of the “Games.”
By the time our second son became a Cub Scout, our District Olympics were a pretty big deal and Austin was excited for the chance to compete along with everyone else in our district. Imagine more than 100 packs from 13 elementary schools each sending their best team forward after holding their own games.
Austin won the local competition and moved on to compete in the Provo District Cub Scout Olympics, taking one of the top places in several events. Perhaps this event led to his love of sport; he was a true athlete running faster and jumping higher than most and in the end winning his way to college through an athletic scholarship.
Those were exciting times for him and all the boys, but like the Olympic Creed states, “The essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.” Every four years amateur athletes, living by this creed, from throughout the world gather to compete in the Olympic Games. This summer the games are slated for Rio, but while the interest is still high, August is a great time to hold your own games in your pack—it’s not too late to combine it with this month’s Pack Campfire theme.
Make the event more than competition, by celebrating the values of the Scout Law, fitness and well-being in addition to Olympic ideals of fair play, perseverance, respect, and sportsmanship. Use the Olympic Creed to make your point that noble athletes of the past have lived by the same ideals for centuries.
- District: Use this activity as an early fall activity for Scouts, prospective Scouts, and families to recruit them into your pack as school begins.
- Units: Schedule this fun activity for Scouts, prospective Scouts and families in conjunction with the campfire fun theme in AUgust.
Your Olympics can be held anywhere there is a fairly large open area, with room for a “track” about 30 yards long and space for throwing the discus, javelin and shot-put. A swimming pool or waterfront is a big plus since you can schedule swimming races also, which goes along with June’s Aquatic theme.Districts and units can use this activity to heighten community involvement and spread the word about Scouting in your area. Make it a full-day event that is fun-filled for all age groups. The main purpose is to encourage physical fitness through outdoor activities and attract and recruit more families into Scouting.
The Olympics program is made up of track and field events, but don’t hesitate to add other events if you think your Cub Scouts will enjoy them. The real Olympic Games include such sports as archery, basketball, cycling, field hockey, soccer, gymnastics, and volleyball, but if you can get to one of our camps you might add canoeing or rowing to the list.
To start, appoint a parent who is not a pack leader to be your Olympics chairman. He or she could name these committees to help:
- Site—to secure a suitable field preferably with a swimming area. Don’t forget to arrange for a rain date
- Program—to plan the Olympic events, decide on rules and scoring, and recruit parents as scorers, judges and timekeepers
- Publicity—to ensure that all pack families are informed of the plans and to notify news media if possible.
- Recognition—to make Olympic medals and to decide on some sort of recognition for all participants, not just winners.
- Picnic—to coordinate den plans for a picnic to follow the Olympics (if desired) and to purchase any food or beverages provided by the pack.
Good planning is a must for the Olympics day program, especially if it will involve more than one Pack. If not well thought out, the events will tend to drag and the whole program will run over time. The program committee should schedule events so that two or more boys can be running at once. Cub Scouts of each den should be the competing or preparing to compete in some event at all times and every boy should be able to compete in some event.
Three or four parents could be assigned to each event as starters, judges, timekeeper keepers, etc. One should keep a record of heat winners so that the contestants can be called for the final as soon as all heats are complete.
The Olympics committee should consider whether to run separate competitions for Webelos Scouts or to have them compete in the regular events with handicaps, such as 3 yards extra in the 30 yard dash or 2 feet in the running long jump, etc. The rules established should be known by all Cub Scouts and leaders before the competition starts.
CONDUCTING the COMPETITION
Have starting and finishing lines and field event equipment on hand when Cub Scouts arrive and permit them to practice. A crew, team or troop from your church could be placed in charge of equipment. Provide a special area were dens can exhibit their work this month for new adventure and activity badges.
Set out your rules. Something like: No spikes or cleats will be permitted to be worn by participants. All participants must wear tennis/gym shoes.
Each Cub Scout or Webelos Scout will participate in 5 events. In order to be as equitable as possible – and yet keep it simple – points will be given to each participant as follows:
- Standing Broad Jump: 1 point for each inch of the broad jump
- Softball Throw: 1 point for each foot the softball is thrown, measured from throwing line to the point where the ball lands.
- Push-Ups: 2 points for each push-up completed in one minute.
- Sit-Ups: 2 points for each sit-up completed in one minute.
- 50-Yard Dash: Run off on time basis. 1st place – 100 points, 2nd place – 90 points, 3rd place – 80 points, 4th place – 70 points, 5th place – 60 points. All other runners – 50 points for participants.
- Standing Broad Jump: 1 point for each inch of the broad jump.
Cub or Webelos stands with his feed comfortably apart with toes just behind the takeoff line. He prepares for jumping with knees flexed and arms swinging in rhythmical motion. He jumps, swinging arms forcefully forward and upward, taking off from the balls of his feet.
His jump is measured from the takeoff line to the heel or any part of his body that touches the surface nearer the takeoff line.
Record the better of two trials to the nearest inch.
Equipment needed: Tape line
- Overhand Softball Throw: 1 point for each foot the softball is thrown measured from the throwing line to the point where the ball lands.
Cub or Webelos may run up to line and throw overhand the regulation 12-inch inseam rubber or leather covered softball. He may throw two times and the better distance thrown is the one that counts. If he crosses the line, that throw is disqualified.
Equipment needed: Softballs and tape measure
- Sit-Ups: 2 points for each sit-up completed in one minute. Cub or Webelos lies on his back for starting position, arms crossed on chest touching opposite shoulder with knees elevated and feet flat on the floor about one foot apart.
Another boy holds his partner’s feet to the floor while each successful sit-up is counted. The boy sits up, and returns to the starting position. Judge holds a hand on the floor and counts each time the boy’s back touches the judge’s hand when returning to starting position, each time counting as one sit-up.
Equipment needed: Mat; digital watch or watch with sweep second hand
- Push-Ups: 2 points for each push-up completed in one minute. Cub or Webelos extends arms and places hands on floor under shoulders with fingers pointing forward. With knees on floor, keep the body straight. Bend elbows and touch chest to floor. Return to original position. (Body must be kept perfectly straight, buttocks must not rise, and abdomen must not sag.) Judge holds hand under chest on floor and counts each time chest touches judge’s hand.
Equipment needed: Mat; digital watch or watch with sweep second hand
- 50-Yard Dash: Run by age group (Scoring as stated above).
All Cubs or Webelos (by age) stand behind starting line. On signal, the judge raises his hand. “On your mark” – All boys step forward to starting line. “Get Set” – All boys assume starting position. “Go” – Starter brings hand down quickly, hitting thigh at same time. The boys leave the starting line and run 50 yards. Five judges are needed at finish line. Each judge will watch for one of the five top finishers: Judge 1 – 1st; Judge 2 – 2nd; etc.
Equipment needed: Objects to show start line and finish line
Bonus Points: to the winner of each event, according to his age level (6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 years of age as of September 1 this year) 10 bonus points will be added to his score. One boy could get as many as 50 bonus points if he excelled in all five of his events in his age level.
For me the greatest fun is watching them all trying, but if they make the winner’s stand like our son Austin did, there’s all the more pleasure for parents.
What’s keeping your pack from going the extra mile in inspiring Cub Scouts to new fitness levels?