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Building a Better Pack Meeting

Posted by on Wednesday, 28 December 2011

As promised in the last post (long ago), I wanted to mention some of the things covered in the The Strictly for Cubmasters class during Week 7 at Philmont Training Center. I know it has been a while, but for some reason I never hit the “publish” button on this one. Hopefully there are some ideas in here you can use in the new year!

Interactions with the two trainers Debbie Spohn and Jim Hou started well before the week at Philmont. Introductory emails explained the Race Fan theme for the week, and little notes and small gifts (candy!) showed up every few weeks as we counted down to our week. That was a lot of fun!

After our arrival on Sunday afternoon, I initially met the instructors at a short check-in that evening. We made the introductions, and they had each participant make a slide to go with the checkered flag neckerchief we were given. Our theme for the week was racing, so everything was NASCAR or racing related.

The format for the class was a morning session that lasted about three hours then a break for lunch (when our families came back from their outings) then another three hours in the afternoon. We had class on Monday and Tuesday, then we were off for family stuff on Wednesday, and another two days of class on Thursday and Friday. It was a really nice mix of training and family vacation.

We spent time talking about meetings and recuriting, how to include outdoor activities in your program and the magic of campfires. We met up with the “Strictly for Scoutmasters” class and spent some time talking about what makes a sucessful transition from Webelos to Boy Scouts. At the end of the week we put on a Pack meeting on the lawn of the Villa Philmonte, adding a bunch of the extra touches we had learned during the week.

At one point toward the end of the class we did an exercise called 30 ideas in 30 minutes. The class wrote ideas down on index cards and then when yours was selected you stood up and talked about it for a minute. We had more than thirty, but that’s ok, we took longer than thirty minutes too. I think we could have continued this for an hour or more, it seemed that when someone would present something it would jog another Cubmaster’s memory about something that worked in their Pack. Hopefully something here is useful for you!

Here’s what we talked about-

  1. Hold Blue & Gold outside.
  2. Have Scouts earn pool time at the community pool by mowing lawns and doing yardwork at abandoned/neglected houses.
  3. Dress in full Native American regalia for graduation.
  4. Turkey bowling. Exactly what the name implies – bowling with a fully frozen turkey. Winner gets to take the “bowling ball” home!
  5. Spirit Water – put food coloring in the lid of a baby food jar, and let dry (probably for 3-4 days, or use a blow dryer to speed the process). When you shake the jar filled with water, tell the Cub Scouts that it will only turn blue if they have Scout Spirit.
  6. Lad & Dad Cake Bake – have the boys work with a male counterpart (older brother, dad, grandpa, even a neighbor) to bake a cake for the blue & gold.
  7. Survival Bracelet
  8. Use fake vampire teeth to present rank advancement awards to the boys. All representative animals (bobcat, wolf, bear) have sharp teeth, so the analogy is an easy one for the boys to grasp.
  9. The Twix vs. KitKat election. A mock election to show the different ways we elect representatives. Dens vote for their favorite- first with one vote/den then based on number of members, and then elect a representative to vote for them, and finally a full vote of all Scouts. Everyone gets to take one of the winning candy.
  10. Use Day Camp as a recruiting tool. Statistics prove that cubs who go camping within the first 60 days of joining stay with the program much longer.
  11. Five after five. For popcorn sales, the boys hit “five after five” – five houses after 5 p.m. Five houses doesn’t seem overwhelming, and waiting until after 5 assures better odds of catching people at home.
  12. Outlaw pinewood derby race as a fundraiser. The pack has created an “outlaw” category for the Pinewood Derby (similar to the Open Class), open to everyone. Invite local dignitaries to enter (such as Police Dept., Fire Dept., city council members) and charge an entry fee.
  13. Ideas for an outdoor pack meeting: provide a bag of Frisbees for a gathering activity of free play. Make ice cream in a bag as a “game”.
  14. Science Olympiad event at a pack meeting. Editor’s note: look back in old Pow Wow books and Program Helps books for information on “Genius Nights” and putting together genius kits. Excellent way to link school and Scouting.
  15. Hand out a 1 page sheet with announcement and upcoming events at the end of each pack meeting rather than take up time during the meeting to read announcements.
  16. Encourage attendance at religious retreats.
  17. Invite the local TV weatherman to speak at a pack meeting.
  18. Outing to a battleship with a sleepover.
  19. Save campfire ashes and add them to the next campfire your pack has.
  20. The glowing bobcat ceremony.
  21. Year in a Night. A 15 minute talk about cub scouting and then we let the kids go have fun. We have 4 areas set up for the boys to go through. a) pinewood derby (our biggest event of the year), b) water bottle rockets (from day camp), c) cubmobiles (from a fall District event) and d) popcorn tasting (to let parents know about our fall fundraiser and to let the boys taste what they are selling. So 4 fun things for the boys to do representing 4 different events that they will get to experience during the year.
  22. Popcorn blitz prize. We set up a goal for the kids in our pack to reach in a certain time frame. We tell the boys that if they sell $500 worth of popcorn in the first 14 days of the sale then we will reward them with an additional prize (typically valued between $10-15).
  23. Get parents involved more with songs & skits.
  24. Have a pack storage unit and use it to share materials between the leaders. This cuts down on the initial cash outlay for various resources, and encourages everyone to use props and things for pizzazz.
  25. Pack Rocket Launch Party.
  26. Do a pack family trip to an historic place for a weekend with families all staying at the same hotel.
  27. If your state parks offer it, use the naturalist/historian. Time permitting, they’ll usually put on a great program at no cost.
  28. Museum /ship overnighters. Ditto previous listing, including having a sleepover in a museum.
  29. Make rope out of plastic bags. The idea here was to recycle plastic grocery bags and use that material to make rope.
  30. Every pack meeting has a table for each den to showcase month’s activities. Not only does this glam up the room with displays, it encourages families to attend the Pack meeting, to pick up the things little Ralphie made!
  31. Precook as much as possible for pack camping. Plan ahead! If most of the cooking is already done, and you just need to either reheat or mix up and serve. This can allow the cooks to actually spend a little more time with the family.
  32. Have the boys decorate cookies for the Police Dept or Fire Dept. Deliver with a “Thank You for keeping us safe during the holidays” message.
  33. Donate leftover food from Blue & Gold to the homeless shelter. Take Cub Scouts when delivering, and use this as a learning experience about their community.
  34. Send a Care Package to troops. Include a banner signed by all the boys, and include their school picture by their message. Our banner said “Pack 913 Loves Our Troops”. Troops deployed in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan like to get care packages of disposable wipes, hand sanitizer, travel soaps & toothpaste, etc. One caution here: the USPS no longer delivers letters/packages addressed to “Any Soldier”. Work with your local recruiting or reserve center to get names and addresses of soldiers.
  35. Do recruiting with an Eagle Scout.

There are a whole lot of classes offered through the Philmont Training Center in 2012, and if you hurry and register you can get the discounted rate through the end of this week!