Baloo's Bugle

August 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 15, Issue 1
September 2008 Theme

Theme: New Buddies
Webelos: Citizen and Communicator
Tiger Cub
Achievement 1

TRAINING TIP

PACK MEETINGS

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

Be sure to read Sean Scott's Admin Help on Ziploc Packs, too.  The two articles together are great!! CD

PACK MEETINGS

The monthly pack meeting brings together boys from every den, their leaders, and their families, to participate in a large-scale event that serves as a showcase for everything the boys have learned and done in their individual den meetings. The pack meeting gives the boys a larger experience beyond their own den, and helps them to connect their individual activities to the entire Cub Scouting program

Purposes: Why do we do this, anyway?
   Generally, pack meetings are held to recognize and reward dens and individuals for their good Cub Scouting endeavors. They are sort of pep rallies to generate enthusiasm for the rest of the program.

Resources

One of the first things to look at is your meeting place. The layout and facilities will both limit and enhance your program. What does it provide in the way of space, seating, facilities, storage, etc? How can you best use it to make your pack programs exciting and effective?

Do have a stage? Lighting? Sound system? If you have fixed seating, how will boys and parents move out to participate in ceremonies, skits and stunts? How will you fill the time it takes? Check sight lines around the room. Will everyone be able to see and hear what is going on, or should you move the action center so they can?

When I was a Cubmaster, we met in a small school room so we had the boys and siblings sit on the floor by dens in a horse-shoe formation with parents on chairs behind the boys. All our activities ceremonies, skits, games took place inside the horse-shoe. This limited things like games and big productions. It forced us to rely on monthly outdoors activities to provide more excitement. On the other hand, it was great for audience participation stunts and songs. Everyone was so close, even the parents had to participate. Advancement ceremonies were close and personal.


 

PLAN IT
Lack of planning ruins more pack meeting than any thing else. Plan everything down to the last detail.

Who is going to do what, when, and for how long?

Get as many of the participants (the TEAM) involved in planning as possible. This will help ensure that each member knows his or her part and is willing to do it. Remember to plan the little things like pre opening activities, cheers and run-ons. The more you plan, the more spontaneous everything will play out and the more prepared you will be when something unexpected happens. Write it all out and give a copy to everyone involved.

TEAM LEADERSHIP
A whole bunch of jobs have to be done to make a pack meeting work:

  Master of Ceremonies - someone to introduce each star performer and lead the applause.

  Cheer master - someone to lead the sparklers, the audience participation stunts and support all the acts.

  Award Presenter - someone to open the envelopes, call up the honored and conduct the ceremonies.

  Director - someone to keep track of who is up next, cue the acts, and keep the whole gang on schedule.

  Stage Manager - someone to make sure that all the props are in place, the color guard has the flags, the artificial campfire is plugged in and the badges are ready.

  Song Leader - in case the Cheer Master isn't up to a quick round of Do Wah Ditty.

  Information Manager - someone to distribute newsletters and flyers, or stage gorilla theatricals to promote some noble Scouting cause.

You can double up or rotate and share some of the functions but you should involve all the Assistant Cubmasters and most of your Pack Committee in these jobs. You will also need a few people to do run-ons, help with ceremonies, and handle the lights.

KEEP IT MOVING
A successful pack meeting grabs and holds the attention of everyone there: the Tigers, Cub Scouts and Webelos as well as the parents, and siblings. You do this with short fast-moving bits. You change the mood of the audience with every dramatic and comedic trick you can borrow or copy or invent. Keep the pace changing with faster or slower sparklers or audience participation gags. Use the entire room so that if someone leads a song from the north end of the hall, the following den skit enters from the south-east corner. Move the center of attention around with action, sound and lighting.

Dead time is a killer. Make sure that when one bit is finished, the next participant is ready with a cheer, a magic trick or presentation. Don't let them sit still for the entire meeting - sprinkle in lots of stunts that get everyone standing, jumping, applauding and shouting.


 

Sean Scott of San Diego tells us:
I've observed a lot of pack meetings (good and bad) and I've seen a definite correlation between the behavior of the kids and parents and the quality of the program being presented. If it's not interesting to both groups, one or the other will stop listening. So, as leaders, we have to tailor the program to include "Interesting to kids and adults" right along side "Recognize advancement" and "Inform the membership".

Focus on the boys, and fine tune for the adults

BUILDING BLOCKS
Pack meetings are constructed from a variety of building blocks that you should use effectively. Here are some of the common ones:

Watch for the links in the following text!!
If it is underlined, it is a link!!  CD

  Ceremonies - Main elements of your program. Build everything else around these. The openings and closings frame the program. Advancement and graduations are your highlights.

  Den presentations - Headline acts. Set these up carefully so that they can not fail. Good den presentations build pack membership and retain good den leaders.

  Games - Bundles of FUN for everyone. Involve parents and all family members. These are the activities that will be remembered long after the meeting.

  Sparklers - Mood changers.  Use these to build excitement and intensity or to settle things down for a more serious bit.

  Songs - More effective mood changers. Songs can be just plain fun or can make a closing ceremony very special.

  Costumes - Great for setting up the theme of the month. You don't have to be in uniform every meeting. Check out Skits and Costumes and Puppets sections of the Cub Scout Leader How-To Book.

   Promotion - Create enthusiasm for upcoming special events. Think of TV commercials, movie trailers or circus parades.

  Visitors - New families, someone from the Chartered Organization or a neighboring Scout Troop should be introduced with proper fanfare and even a special cheer. Caution: be careful about letting them speak.

FLOW and MOOD SETTING
Each part of the meeting sets a tone or mood that will carry on to the next part. The opening ceremony will catch the attention of the audience and things usually begin in a subdued and attentive mood. You usually want to build the fun and excitement before you bring on a high-light event like a den skit. You can do this with sparklers, audience participation stunts,  and  games. If things get a bit dull, liven them up with cheers and run-ons. If the boys get too rambunctious, use a song or story to bring the mood down to earth.  You may want to set a serious tone for a graduation ceremony or a closing so choose your stunts and gimmicks accordingly. A good team of leaders can, with a bit of practice, become expert at this.

VARIETY
Variety and surprise can do a lot to make your meetings successful. Vary the pace throughout each meeting and vary the elements, themes and moods from month to month. When the boys and parents start wondering what will this crazy bunch of leaders do next, then you have reached top form.

SOME TIPS FOR PACK MEETINGS

      DON'T BE A ONE MAN SHOW. Putting on a ninety minute show is a huge job. It's a lot easier and things run smoother when you work as a team. Use your Assistant Cubmasters, Committee members to help. Plan and Prepare!

      VARY THE PACE. Keep things moving at different speeds, different volumes, and different moods. Use songs and cheers and lively songs to speed things up, stories and ceremonies to slow them down. Build toward the big event of your meeting - it may be rank awards or a special visitor but make it special.

      INVOLVE PARENTS. Don't let them sit at the back of the room and talk. They should be drawn into every part of the meeting - especially ceremonies and audience participation stunts. Have the occasional game just for parents - the kids will love it.

      HIDE ANNOUNCEMENTS. Put most information about upcoming events in your news letter. If you need to say something about a big event, do it the form of a run-on, skit or ceremony. All you need is some fun gimmick to draw attention to where the details are written down.

      USE SONGS. Most - almost all - of us start with the assumption that we could never lead a song. With Cub Scouts, it is really the easiest thing in the world. Kids love to sing - the dumber and livelier the song, the better. Start by leading some of the audience participation stunts in Group Meeting Sparklers or Program Helps. Next, try a very simple song like Tarzan of the Apes.  All you need is three or four songs you and your pack like to sing - most of them you may learn at summer camp. It does wonders for your pack meetings.

Ever gone to a baseball game and sung,
 "Take Me Out to the Ball Game?"

How did that tradition start??

Harry Caray, who is credited with singing it first at a ball game in 1971, once said, "I would always sing it, because I think it's the only song I knew the words to!" On Opening Day in 1976 Bill Veeck noticed the fans were singing along with Caray so a secret microphone was placed in the broadcast booth the following day to allow ALL the fans to hear him. Veeck explained to Caray, "Harry, anybody in the ballpark hearing you sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' knows that he can sing as well as you can. Probably better than you can. So he or she sings along. Hell, if you had a good singing voice you'd intimidate them, and nobody would join in!"

Now lets apply this to your pack meeting - the worse you sing the more people will join in!!!  I know this to be true, just listen to me sing!!  CD

      LET THE DENS BE THE STARS. Feature several dens at every pack meeting. They should be doing opening and closing ceremonies, skits and other presentations. Give Webelos Dens opportunities to demonstrate the spectacular things they have learned as they worked on Activity Badges and Arrow of Light. Reward every den with a special cheer.

      USE PROPS AND SPECIAL EFFECTS. Flags, artificial campfires, den doodles, candle-lit ceremonies all add drama and interest to the meetings. (And they help cover up the fact that we are all a bunch of amateurs doing this.) If your pack doesn't have all these, assign groups of parents to make them. Check the Cub Scout Leader's How-To Book for starters. Also they will look great in the photos for your web site and your next roundup.

What are YOU going to do now?

Go get em. We need all the help we can get.

    The best gift for a Cub Scout.......
                                     ......get his parents involved!

  Also, be sure to visit Bills website

http://www.wtsmith.com/rt

to finds more ideas on everything Cub Scouting.

Have any Comments for Bill
just click right here!

 


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