Which Pack do I join?

Joining a group can be a daunting experience.  Finding friends, fitting the meetings into your families schedule and feeling like your time is spent wisely are just a couple concerns we had when our family joined the pack.
One of the choices my wife and I made when my son was a Tiger Cub was to think about what school he would be in and looked at a pack where other classmates would potentially be part of.   Boys who have friends who are activity in scouts stay involved with the program longer.
After a couple years, our oldest son doesn't have any classmates (from his school) in his grade in our pack.  Looking back on it, we realized that having our son be a part of the group, and the other boys interacting with him is more  important than what school they are in.  As the boys grow, the elementary schools feed into the same middle school, junior high and then (mostly) into the same high school.  Making friends from the other schools in the district now will lead to stronger friendships as they age.
Scouting is about family. As part of your sons family, you also need to feel welcomed and that you will fit in.  My wife went to the first PTO meeting when we joined our school.  There definately was a clique, none of the other moms (yes there were no males at the meeting) came over and said hi.  The PTO officers made very little effort to make her feel welcomed, and only the principal came over to introduce herself. Needless to say we haven't gone to any other meetings (but we do support them).
Scouting has much to do with opportunities and experiences.  If the unit doesn't have a published calendar, that may raise a red flag.  If the calendar is available and there are not many activities outside of meetings, that would be a bigger red flag. How can you plan your families schedule to fit into the pack events if you do not know about them in advanace.  To be fair, many scout units end up adding some events at the last minute.
Meeting day, time and location is another thing to think about. Many parents commute to work. Adding a 15 or 20 minute ride to a weekly meeting may become dreadful, and you as the parent could become an obstacle in your sons scouting career. 
If you are not sure which pack in your area to join, and you have the time, attend a meeting or two of both packs.  Talk with the leaders, poke around their websites, try to spot the differences.
Lastly, everyone makes a bad choice.   If after a couple months you feel like you aren't getting what you expected out of the program, talk to your den leader or cubmaster about your concerns.  Transferring to another unit is not that difficult.  Reach out the the other pack or the Rainbow Council service center for help.   Rainbowcouncil.org
To find units in your area, check out BeAScout.org


-Kevin Kantorski