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  • Boy Scout Style Pack Meetings

    Most Boy Scout Troops have weekly troop meetings. The program is (ideally) designed by the Senior Patrol Leader who is a Boy Scout and Patrol Leaders who lead the Boy Scout equivalent of Cub Scout dens.

    All the patrols typically meet as a group, and usually during the course of the troop meeting there is time for the dens to meet as individual groups and pursue their own programs for twenty minutes or so.

    But thats under the umbrella of the troop meeting.

    In Cub Scouts, the dens are supposed to meet and organize their own programs for three weeks out of four. The pack meets once per month for something like the Boy Scout troop meeting.

    Would there be advantages to adopting more of the Boy Scout troop format, with a common gathering activity, opening and closing activity and such that all participate in?

    A lot of packs have all the dens meet at the same time in more or less the same place. Often those dens don't have much in the way of gathering activities, opening and closing ceremonies.

    Perhaps such packs would be better off adopting more of the Boy Scout Troop meeting format, with time set aside during the meeting for dens to meet separately.

  • #2
    Out of curiosity, what advantages do you have in mind? The primary purpose of the pack meeting is to celebrate the boys' and the dens' achievements from the past month with each other and with their families, not plan the program. Planning meetings occur with the leadership team and the parents, but these are separate events from the actual pack meeting. I'm not sure I understand what the point would be for the dens to have a 20 minute meeting in the middle of a pack meeting, I guess.


    • #3
      I think packs that adopt the common-meeting arrangement are losing out, big-time.

      >> The packs and dens lose out by effectively barring any Cubs and parents who aren't free on that one weeknight out of five. With dens meeting on different nights, there's a greater chance that one of them will fit a Cub's schedule.

      >> The Cubs lose out by being concentrated in one location, usually the CO's meeting place and usually indoors. Cubs should be running around in someone's back yard, learning whittling in a woodworker's shop, going on a nature hike at the local park or building Genius Kits at someone's kitchen table, not clustered on hard metal chairs in meeting rooms or (worse) corners in the church or VFW hall.

      "Often those dens don't have much in the way of gathering activities, opening and closing ceremonies."

      That's a program problem that can best be solved by one-on-one coaching between the DL and the CM. No need to force a one-size-fits-all meeting structure down the throat of three or four functioning dens to solve a situation with one poorly run den.


      • #4
        The Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs are COMPLETELY different.

        Boy Scout Patrols do not all have their own separate, and distinct, program. Neither are they all working on the same award/rank at the same time.

        As a Scouter who wears many hats, especially that of Unit Commissioner, I would think you would know that already.


        • #5
          I think the main problem with the "Boy Scout style" meeting for cubs is that the cub based program is an age-based program. "Graduating" to the next year and not doing "that little kid stuff (you did 12 months ago) is a big incentive.

          I suppose a very small Pack this is a lessor evil; but ours had 8-10 dens with parents; really hard to meet.

          Also, for example, Webelos need to meet more frequently than Bears to work through the program.

          The "great gathering of the pack" should be kept as a special occasion IMHO.


          • #6
            Mixed emotions on this topic as my pack does somethignlike this. We all meet together and have an opening and annoucements. Then break away.

            Advantages: Info is out there to everyone.
            Nicer opening ceremonies
            Everyone realizes they are part of the pack

            Disadvantages: Some info is not relevent to all dens.
            Sometimes can go longer than anticipated,
            cutting into den time.
            Late arrivals need info repeated.

            I'm an old fogey, so I'd prefer to have it done as it always have been. But all scouting is local, and needs to meet the needs and desires of the local audience.


            • #7
              A-men to all the previous.

              The Den ,ideally, meets and does it's thing in somebody's back yard or rec room. They go off together to visit the zoo, or neighborhood model railroad or hike the Civil War battlefield and have a frisbee toss/picnic after.
              The Dens get together for "the great gathering of the Pack" (I like that phrase) to "celebrate the boys' achievements" of the past month. If the Den leader(s) have problems with the idea of LEADING the Den, then, as has been said, that is as much a problem of innate talent and desire as much as training ang program ideas.
              If the Pack is meeting so the Dens can meet (more efficient for the parents? Mebbe not...) in the same place and 'eliminate the need for another meeting (groan?)', then that may well short circuit the design and intent of the Den/Pack idea and thereby shortchange the boys of their due.
              Is Cub Scouting for the benefit of the parent or the boy?

              My ideal plan: Ms Smith is the Den leader of Wolf Den #3. Den meeting every September Thursday afternoon after school at Ms Smith's rec room or backyard. It has been discussed among the parents,and agreed that the Den meeting goes to another parents home in November, then December, etc. (This is only fair). Ms Smith remains the Den Leader, but the venue can change. Stand in a circle, say the Cub Scout promise, the Law of the Pack, the Pledge of Allegiance, practice flag folding, make a key holder for dad. One thursday, they meet at the Volunteer Fire Dept. and learn about fire safety( Wolf requirement!) Kids like the Firemen's ready room, but they can't meet there everyday! One Saturday, they go down town to visit the zoo, and picnic there. No Den meeting that thursday. Some meetings, they even help each other with their homework.
              Pack meeting is first friday every month, in the social hall of the church. Dens gather, Bear Den does opening, they've been practicing at their meetings (Wednesday at Mr Kent's gararge, after school), awards are made, maybe a skit or two. Cheers and a song. Announce the Pack campout coming up, (parents have already done email and phonecalls for planning). Mr. Jones has his BALOO training, we're ready. Boys practice tent setting up. Den 4 wins the competition. Webelos Den does closing.
              Now, all that can change when the parents insist that their plans are what need to be accomodated, ("Soccer Syndrome": Drop the boy off and come back 2 hours later. Maybe the kid has learned something?) so the BSA becomes the Baby Sitters of America. The Den being the preferred Kid's Gang is lost. It is another day at school, not an adventure or something new to set them apart from the usual kid.

              When i read the title of this thread, I immediately thought, "isn't it usually that we complain when Scout TROOPS are run like Cub PACKS?" Here the discussion is "can the Cub Pack be run like a Scout Troop"? Ummmm... not the ideal to be approached, IMHO.


              • #8
                We did this by default for the back half of my son's Tiger year, because we lost our CM (and it became me), and we only had 12 boys, and no one would be Den leaders.

                So I just held "Joint Den Meetings"; it actually worked pretty well.

                But now, with 40 boys, we meet in Dens individually; we only have 1 Den for each Rank right now. If a Bear can't meet on Monday, well... sorry. So that's still a drawback.

                I agree that because Cubs are grade/age-based programs, it's important for each group to meet separately, then come together at the Pack Party (as I call it) to share with the other guys what they've been doing all month.


                • #9
                  I think the weekly pack meeting would only be sustainable with small numbers. For me the tough thing about pack meetings is the decibel level. It took me about a month to recover from the "shell shock" of each pack meeting! (I now hold CM's and elementary school teachers in very high esteem.)


                  • #10
                    We do 'pack-wide' den meetings when we have a really cool activity that all the boys would like that doesn't work out for a pack meeting, for recruiting in the fall or for fun in the spring when the den leaders are starting to get a bit burned out. It takes a different level of organization and energy to fun activities for the whole pack than for individual dens. To do it on a regular basis would need a longer meeting time, I think. An hour would not be enough time for my pack to meet as a group for an opening, do achievement activities as a den, then gather up again for a closing. And Cubs are pretty young to be out too late in the evening. It might work better in an area where school starts later in the morning though. That is a strength of the Cub Scout program, that it is adaptable for different situations.

                    We do have all the dens meet at the same time, in the same place but the same place is a church with classrooms. So the dens meet separately but together. It is very convenient for the parents to know the schedule YEARS in advance and to have boys in separate dens meet at the same time. The den leaders can work together if they need to do similar activities or need more boys to do an activity. The CC and CM are available to talk to parents or back up the den leaders. I don't really recognize our pack in the description of the disadvantages. The dens still have field trips, they can still run around outside (we are located next to a park, so really ideal), there are no folding chairs and Ms. Smith doesn't have to clean every week for the scout meeting.


                    • #11
                      I think the original post was a good question by someone considering ways to improve the program. That's something we all should be doing.

                      I'd have a hard time sitting through more pack meetings each month. Den meetings are where the fun is because it's just for that small group of guys. If the den leaders aren't having gatherings, openings, and ceremonies in their den meetings, then some informal or formal training might be in order.

                      On the other hand, if patrols are only getting together at troop meetings, then they are missing out. The National Honor Patrol award describes how a good patrol should be active outside troop meetings. A patrol should be hiking, doing service, working a merit badge, earning a special award, helping each other advance, and having its own program outside the troop.

                      Scout On


                      • #12
                        I appreciate the comments.

                        Do the dens in your pack routinely do gathering activities, opening and closing ceremonies?

                        A lot of dens I see don't do that, and doing a common program for those elements of the den meeting are what I'm contemplating here.

                        I'm thinking you might appoint an Assistant Cubmaster to do that, or perhaps rotate that assignment to different parents each month.


                        • #13
                          Do the dens in your pack routinely do gathering activities, opening and closing ceremonies?

                          I don't currently work with a pack, but in my experience, most dens do have those. They're just part of the program.

                          A lot of dens I see don't do that, and doing a common program for those elements of the den meeting are what I'm contemplating here.

                          What's there to do to create this "common program"? Gathering activities can & should be simple - drawing, shooting marbles, a quick no-mess craft, etc.

                          Opening ceremonies help get the boys centered and focused that the real fun is about to begin - a den yell, a friendship circle, something with flags, even as simple as reciting the Promise and Law of the Pack.

                          Closing ceremonies help refocus the Cubs and calm them down from the rambunctiousness of the meeting. They're also the DL's opportunity to remind them of activities to do at home, to announce upcoming events & dates to parents who are there for pickup.

                          I'm thinking you might appoint an Assistant Cubmaster to do that, or perhaps rotate that assignment to different parents each month.

                          If your DLs can't come up with a gathering activity and simple opening and closing ceremonies on their own, they probably either (a) shouldn't be DLs or (b) need some major coaching, guidance and support.

                          The job of the pack leadership should be to support the DLs to run their dens fairly independently from the bottom up. If there's a program problem, solve it one-on-one. Don't create some new meeting structure from the top down.


                          • #14
                            We do the "whole pack together" thing. We've always been small with all the boys from the same school so it worked for families that had more than one kid.

                            A normal meeting is the boys play for a bit. Come in and a different Den does the Opening Flag. I(CM) give any annoucments for the up coming month. Then, I'll ask each Den Leader to tell what they are working on that night (the boys like that 'cus the younger one get a hint of what to look forward to and the older ones like saying how cool it was). If a Den is meeting somewhere eles (ie, Fire Station or Zoo) they just don't come that week and I'll say where they are. We don't do a closing in case some one runs long or if they have a short meeting.

                            I've never had any parent not join because of meeting on the same night or complain about it. In fact since I've become CM, we've grown from 6 boys to 25-30 depending on the week.



                            • #15
                              Frankly, one of the biggest complaints I hear about Troop meetings (from the boys) is that they are BORING! This is a big reason many boys who loved the high-energy atmosphere of cub scout den meetings, quit after crossing over into boy scouting.

                              I don't see how it would be to our advantage to replicate that at the Cub Level. Bore them sooner?