In September 1978, Carl Moslener organized Pack 44 and became the first pack Cubmaster. That was the year my boy became old enough to join Cub Scouting. At that time, boys had to be at least eight years old to join.
Registration was at the Grammar School, now the Toll Gate Grammar School, where Carl had a table in the front hall. The pack has a special meaning for me because Rosemary and I have been associated with the pack in some capacity since its beginning.
The pack has been sponsored, since its inception, by the Pennington Presbyterian Church. Pack meetings were held in the Titus Hall basement. When the pack grew, the meetings were moved upstairs to Titus Hall. Now, meetings are held in Heritage Hall.
When the pack started, den leaders were almost always mothers. Den meetings were normally held right after school, and usually at someone's home. Since the Webelos were the big kids, we tried to arrange for them to meet in the evenings at the Presbyterian Church, with a male leader (usually the packmaster). This was important because National did not allow women to lead a Webelos den at summer camp.
As more mothers began taking jobs outside the home, there was a real urgency to recruit more fathers as den leaders. Since more people were working away from home, it became difficult to hold den meetings in the home and right after school. Leaders started holding meetings in the evening, usually at the Pennington Presbyterian Church.
These changes have moved the den environment away from a friendly, home-centered atmosphere to a more impersonal classroom feeling. Further, there can be no question that males tend to emphsis values differently than women. The very best dens, that I have seen, are when a husband and wife act as coleaders. We used to have several of these dens, but lately this is a rare situation.
Around 1987, National lowered the starting age to 7 years old and split the Webelos program into a two year program of Weblelos I and Webelos II. Because of the longer program, the number of Webelos activity pins was increased from 15 to 20.
This changed the pack by introducing younger, more active boys. By the second year of Webelos, the boys had done it all four or five times. They were bored and started to drop out. National began encouraging packs to move the Webelos graduation from the end of the year (June) to the mid-year. Most packs began graduating their Webelos II at the Blue and Gold dinner, usually in January or February. I encourage Webelos II leaders to concentrate more upon trips and activities that teach the boys, while maintaining their interest.
The pack started with about 15 boys. By 1988, the pack had grown to 27 boys. Then, the pack had a huge increase in size. This sounds great, but the sudden growth created major problems for the pack over the next few years.
In 1988, Hopewell Pack 71 failed to register enough boys and their registration lapsed. Some of the Hopewell parents asked about joining the Pennington pack. We saw this as an opportunity to help the Hopewell pack survive until they could restart and perhaps grow our pack to about 50 boys. In September 1989, we held a registration meeting at Kunkel Park that was far more successful than we had ever anticipated.
Well over 90 boys came to register, far more than we were prepared to accommodate. We stopped registration at 70 boys, putting the remaining names on a waiting list. We recruited new leaders vigorously, without much success, which meant that there were too many boys in each of the dens. I lost a very sincere, harding working leader around January because he was totally stressed out. We never really solved the leader problem.
The large pack size forced us to cut back on the number of activities we could offer because of the planning required and the need for additional resources. We discussed splitting the pack into two separate groups, with a single committee and leadership structure. However, we survived.
By 1992, we were at 100 boys and growing. Fortunately, Hopewell Pack 71 was restarted and we split the pack. We continued to support the Hopewell pack at the leader and committee level for that year, while Hopewell ran their own dens and activities. In 1993, Pack 44 registered 49 boys, which grew gradually to about 72 boys and has drifted back to around the current 50 boys. I consider 50 to 60 boys about right for Pennington, enough boys to run enjoyable activities, without stressing our resources.
In 1994, we registered our first Tiger Den with 5 boys. National introduced the Tiger program a few years earlier. However, we did not have the resources to get involved until the pack size was reduced.
There are some great kids in Pennington. We have good, hardworking, serious, caring parents and strong families. This is a nice place to raise a family. With the area around Pennington growing rapidly, I see an active Pack 44 for many years to come.