Bobcat in a Box

Signing up to be a Den Leader can feel like getting thrown into the deep end of a mile-wide pool with no flotation devices. I know from firsthand experience. My son joined cub scouts at the tail end of his Tiger year (first grade), so we were only able to attend two meetings before the summer break. Shortly before the new school year started, I found out our den leader was leaving the Pack. Her son played multiple sports and they had to pick something to cut from the schedule.

No den leader means no den meetings. So, somehow I ended up being the newest parent in the pack and the new den leaders for a relatively large group of Wolf Scouts (second grade). It took me a while to get up and running – and I tripped a lot along the way. There is so much I wish someone had told me before I ever had my first den meeting. There are so many resources I wish existed (and if they do exist, I wish they were easier to find!). Most of all, I wish I had someone to help me through planning those first few meetings.

I eventually found my stride and, after one year experience as a den leader, I was once again thrown in the deep end when I as asked to also take on Cubmaster. The learning curve started all over again, this time with a whole Pack of Cub Scouts and parents watching me stumble through those first few meetings. Which, of course, is made all the worse by the fact that fall is also recruiting season, which means some families has their first experience with scouting at meetings I struggled to get through. Ouch.

I can’t fix how people are onboarded or come to be den leaders, but I can help make those first meetings easier. As Cubmaster, I have tried so hard to make sure our Den Leaders feel supported and have access to resources that make their role just a little bit easier. And this is how Bobcat in a Box came to be.

Building the Bobcat Box

For all cub scouts in first grade and up, Bobcat is the first stop on their scouting journey. Learning the basics can feel overwhelming for families and younger scouts, especially all that memorizing. To make Bobcat feel more attainable, I leaned into the concept that scouting is a game with a purpose.

I decided to put together a full meetings worth of Bobcat related activities. I then hand off a bin with these supplies to the new den leader and voila, their first meeting is all set. They just walk through these activities with their new scouts and get to know the kids while the kids get to know scouting. If a new den doesn’t have a den leader for their first meeting, the box can be handed to any den parent and they can work their way through it with the scouts. Usually, one parent will emerge as the clear leader by the end of that meeting.

What’s in the Bobcat Box?

The box contains a mix of consumables and reusable items including a beach ball, a story, two worksheets, jumbo popsicle sticks, and index cards. These materials are used to conduct six different activities. By the time they make it through all six, the cub scouts are usually ready to complete their Bobcat requirements.

Gathering Game

The activity only requires a beachball and a sharpie. On each color segment of the beachball, you write a different topic. We have a few different balls that I have used, so we have quite a few topics. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Book
  • Superhero
  • Show
  • Dessert
  • Fruit
  • Movie
  • Color
  • Animal
  • Cartoon

The scouts stand in a circle and throw the ball. When they catch it, they look at where the thumb on their right-hand lands. This decides their topic. They then say “My name is _ and my favorite (insert topic here) is _.” An example might be “My name is Jessica and my favorite animal is the okapi.”

The scout then throw the ball and someone else catches it and takes their turn. While this can get repetitive, it gives new scouts a way to learn everyone’s names. This is especially important when you have a new scout joining a den that is made up of kids that have already been in scouts together for a year or two.

Some of the skills they are working on with this game are public speaking, hand-eye coordination, directionality, and interpersonal skills.

Akela’s Test

Next up is story time. This is a chance for the scouts to cool down a little, and hear a fun story about Akela that helps set up a little background for earning ranks.

There are many versions floating around. This is one I pieced together from the few different versions. It has been a perfect fit for our pack as we incorporate the story in the Bobcat Ceremony and again during the Advancement Ceremony.

This is the version we use: Akela’s Test

If the scouts are old enough and confident readers, I have them pass the story around and take turns reading a segment. I feel it is very important to make this optional. Especially when your scouts are new to you, there is no way of knowing who is a rock star reader and who struggles. Do not set up your scouts for a situation where they might feel embarrassed or uncomfortable.

Yes, I believe in helping our scouts with these skills and work through that fear and embarrassment, but the first or second den meeting of the year is not the time.

Some of the skills may be working on with this activity are public speaking, reading, listening, and turn-taking.

Scout Oath Scramble

This is where the jumbo popsicle sticks come in. Each stick has a portion of the Scout Oath written on it with sharpie. The sticks have been painted white to prevent the writing from bleeding in the wood. I start by showing the kids an unscrambled version. They then have a chance to practice unscrambling it.
If you have multiple sets, the scouts can all work on this at the same time. If you only have one or two sets, they can take turns or race their friends if they so choose.

I also like to use our speed stacks timer mat. They can use this to time themselves and try to beat their own best time.

Some of the skills they are working on with this game are sequencing, hand-eye coordination, retrieval, and sportsmanship.

Bobcat Jeopardy

Next up is Bobcat Jeopardy. It is a simple game but the kids love it. Most of them will likely have some experience playing similar games in their classroom as review activities, but it is a good idea to walk through the rules so everyone knows exactly which version of the rules you will be using so no one is left confused of feeling it was unfair.

Split the kids into two teams. If you have an usually large den, you may want to split them into four teams and have two games going simultaneously so that everyone has the opportunity to contribute an answer.

You can lay out the question cards or tape them to a wall or poster board. They should be organized by topic and have the points facing up and the question hidden from view. One team starts by picking a topic and point amount. That card is flipped over and read aloud. The team that picked the question gets first chance to answer. If the answer is correct, they get that number of points and the game continues. If they do not answer correctly, the other team gets one chance to answer. If they get the answer correct, they get the points. If they also answer incorrectly, you read the answer and then set that card aside for later.

For the next question, the other team gets to pick the card and gets first chance to answer. This continues until all the cards are cleared from the board. If time allows, I like to go back through the stack of unanswered questions and give them one more shot to answer correctly. I work from the bottom of the stack up, to the questions they saw most recently come last.

At the end of the game, you tally up the points to see who won. Then ask both teams “Did you do your best?” And talk about how important the cub scout motto is to knowing that, win or lose, you gave your best effort.

Here are the questions and points I use for our cards: Bobcat Jeopardy Cards

I like to color code them by topic to make it easier to sort each time they are pulled out of the bobcat in a box bin.

Some of the skills they are working on with this game are teamwork, strategy, retrieval, mathematics, and sportsmanship.

Bobcat Worksheets

These last two activities are a good wind down to the meeting. I use them as time allows, but it is also a good way for the scouts to test what they have learned. It also give the den leader a chance to chat with other den parents while the kids work on the sheets.

Scout Oath Fill in the Blank

Cub Scout Law Word Search

For older scouts, I like to take away the word bank on both worksheets to help them test their memory a bit more.

Some of the skills they are working on with this game are retrieval, verbal reasoning, scanning, decoding, word recognition, and spelling.

Bobcat in a Box Wrap Up

At the end of this meeting, I usually hand out a small take home prize in the form of a small zipper pull compass. I tell the scouts that, just as a compass guides them on a path, the Scout Oath and Scout Law are there to guide them through scouting and life. They like having something to take home, I like that is relevant to scouting skills, and parents usually enjoy the symbolism of it.


And that’s it. You did it! When the box is done, you have finished your first meeting as a den leader. Your scouts have earned their first rank, or are at least well on their way to it. Next stop is the Bobcat Ceremony!

Hopefully, after the Bobcat in a Box meeting, you or your new den leader is feeling more confident in their role, the scouts feel more comfortable with their peers, and the den is starting to feel more cohesive and manageable.


Military spouse and mom of one with experience in marketing, volunteer management and, most recently, web design, project support and copy writing. Currently leveraging a BS in Marketing from a top University to negotiate with a pint-sized version of myself. Outside of work and managing the household, I am a serial dabbler and have rarely met a craft or hobby I didn't enjoy. Whether it's painting, volunteering, or running through the sprinklers, there's always some small way to make every day its own adventure.

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