Resiliency of Pack 1818
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Resiliency of Pack 1818

A year of national controversy and COVID didn’t stop girls and boys in Atlanta’s Jewish Cub Scout Pack from having fun experiences, learning skills and making friends.

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Cubs promoting Pack 1818 at Dunwoody Fourth of July Festival and Parade.
Cubs promoting Pack 1818 at Dunwoody Fourth of July Festival and Parade.

Cub Scout Pack 1818, Atlanta’s Jewish Cub Scout group, continued to meet with a mix of virtual and COVID-compliant live events despite national scouting controversies and strict pandemic restrictions. Scoutmaster Adam Throne and a team of dedicated volunteer parents were determined to see the pack endure where other Jewish scout groups in the past have not.

“I am in awe of how Adam kept the pack going,” said pack committee chair Phyllis Silverstein. “He would do a weekly pack Zoom program, and whether he had 10 kids or 2, he kept them engaged and having fun!”

Webelos den leader (and Eagle Scout) Ben Burnstein teaches his group how to light a fire.

Pandemic programming included a streamed Pinewood Derby car race, a virtual interactive Chanukah party, and an annual banquet with an online trivia challenge. Most Cubs advanced in rank, earning required badges in whittling, outdoor cooking, and Duty to G-d, while also earning awards in electives, including swimming, moviemaking, and crafting instruments. Cubs even interacted on a streamed Zoom Camporee, and then camped with their families in their yards.

Pack 1818 organizes den activities by age-group for kindergarten through fifth graders at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and other locations, such as the Dunwoody Nature Center. The pack includes families from Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Roswell, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Marietta/East Cobb, Alpharetta, Roswell, and Druid Hills/Brookhaven.

Spring and fall overnight Camporees take place at Bert Adams Scout Camp. Cub families, including siblings, can experience all the event has to offer at family camping, such as scout skills, physical challenges, archery, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities, games, sports, and arts and crafts. Pack 1818 cooks and camps as a group and sometimes joins other packs for activities.

Pack 1818 She Bears den attends swearing-in of Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Silverstein talks about maintaining Pack 1818’s mission of community involvement during COVID. “The Pack worked hard to engage kids through interactivity and increased community awareness. Our families valued what the pack offered their children, when so many other things demanded their attention, and that we kept the core values of Jewish scouting alive.”

She emphasized, “Although we get support from Boy Scouts of America headquarters and help from district contacts and regular roundtables, the actual work and planning is done by our committee and implemented by our invaluable volunteer leaders. Parents with outdoor skills help with camping; others set up the Pinewood Derby, organize and lead activities, and help at Cub Camp and the Dunwoody parade and festival.”

Pack 1818 and their families explore caves of Island Ford Park.

Scouting events reinforce the heritage and traditions of Judaism and build the core character traits practiced in scouting: being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

When Pack 1818 camps, they celebrate Shabbat and Havdalah. The pack’s nature and service projects mirror Jewish teachings of tzedakah, charity and tikkun olam, repairing the world, Silverstein said.

Throne, whose son is in the pack, stressed that Cub Scouts do not have to be MJCCA members to join. “There are boys’ and girls’ dens, and families are of different backgrounds, but all love the Jewish aspect. We presently have several Lions (kindergarteners) registered, and our largest group is the Arrow of Lights (fifth graders), the final Cub Scout year.” Pack 1818 membership is expected to increase in August, with events such as Scout Night at the Atlanta Braves Aug. 28.

Throne, himself an Eagle Scout, said that scouting builds character and teaches skills and appreciation for the world, while helping others and being fun. “And who gets to build and race cars or sleep in a cavern in first grade? Scouts do!”

Silverstein got into camping because of her twin daughter and son in Pack 1818. “After the first camping trip, which took me way out of my comfort zone, we were hooked. Scoutmaster Adam Throne is the kid whisperer! His passion is infectious and it’s one of the reasons I baked 20 challahs and delivered them with my own Cubs to Pack 1818 families for Scout Shabbat, and we did the same with pies on March 14, Pi Day.

Pack 1818 on Columbus, Ga., trip just before the COVID lockdown.

“I believe that the Scout oath and law align with Jewish values, and experiential activities for Jewish children leave an imprint on them as they become adults.”

Throne said, “Cubs wear their Pack 1818 T-shirts to den meetings and the Scout Class A uniform at formal and public events. Adult leaders wear uniforms as well. The outfits can be purchased at the Scout Shop at Circle 75 (near Truist Park/Braves stadium). We also have a lot of scouts who pass down their uniforms to siblings and friends. We affiliate with Troop 1818 scouts in grades six to 12, and most of our Cubs move up to Scouts.”

An opening Pack 1818 Meet and Greet at the MJCCA is planned for 4 p.m. Aug. 15. RSVP at or visit the pack website, www.pack1818 for programming updates.

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