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  • Getting their attention

    Ok, at your pack meetings, how did you get everyone attention. We have about 60 scouts now. It's quite noisy and at one point towards the end of a game it was like controlled chaos. I don't want to be someone who yells all the time. The old cub master would just hold up the scout sign and stand there and wait somtimes for ever for people to notice it. But even at one point I did that last night and all the kids got quiet, but it was still noisy and I realized it was the parents making all the noise.
    We were going to flip the lights on and off, but the school changed the light switch and I can't get at them anymore. Do I blow a whistle? Yell? any suggestions?

  • #2
    I like the clapping technique to quiet a crowd of kids - 'If you can hear me, clap once.' then 'If you can hear me, clap twice.' and so on until the room is quiet and most people have clapped their hands in response. I think the average is 5 claps. It's more of a pebble in the pond method, works more quickly than just holding up 'the sign' and FAR better than 'Signs UP! That means your mouths are closed and your eyes are on me.' Blech.

    Our leaders (including myself) will also directly ask the parents to be quiet if the boys are quiet and waiting. They usually respond to this for a few minutes at least.

    I think controlled chaos with moments of calm is perfect for a pack meeting, so you are doing well there!

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    • #3

      Where are the parents? Are they all in a big group in the back of the room? It's much easier to have the scouts sit in a horseshoe with all the activity happening in the middle, with you at the open end of the horseshoe.

      Parents should be sitting behind/near their sons.

      When you put "signs up", if the boys quiet down, but the parents don't, just say: "Boys please turn around and tell your parents to be quiet so we can continue with the meeting/get on to our next game/hand out some awards. Maybe they don't know that signs up applies to them, too."

      Parents will get the hint and things will quiet down, especially if you are very consistent about stopping the meeting whenever noise and chatter from the parents starts up again.

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      • #4
        Yes, they are in a horseshoe in order of level in the center of the room and parents are at tables/benches along the edges of the room, so not all parents are always facing forward. They are sitting at the kids cafeteria lunch table. The kids are sitting on the floor.

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        • #5
          I have used an airhorn. It works.

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          • #6
            The Scout sign is what we always used. I would hold the Scout sign up until it was silent.

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            • #7
              Well first of all, get out of the habit of using the scout sign to beat folks into submission. Most adults do it, I know. But that is an inappropriate use of a symbol of respect.

              Next, assume that you will never have a totally quiet room with the ages involved. And if the parents are part of the problem, well you are really in trouble.

              The best pack meetings are the ones where the scouts leave exhausted. How do you do that? Well keep them moving and all the time. After the Flag ceremony, do some kind of loud cheer that requires scouts to yell at the top of their lungs for 30 seconds. Trust me, after that, you have their attention for the next few minutes. Then do another yell that requires them to stand and stomp their feet. I always did something like, HEY guys, any time I hold my neckerchief or hat out to my side, you stand and stomp your feet as fast as you can, but once it hits the ground, you have to be totally quiet. See what your are doing is wearing them out a little holding the hat out, and then Im getting total silence when the hat its the floor. They are so worn out by stomping their feet, or yelling, or whatever that they welcome the sudden quiet. And its kind of fun even for them to hear the sudden quiet. Do couple of times in a row so they can hear the the quiet. I found that when the natives start to get restless, I grab my hat or neckerchief and hold it out.

              I personally dont like the scouts to sit quiet for more than five minutes, so I plan something that will get them moving, but one time the UC did a surprise uniform inspection one meetings. Well there is no way to keep 100 scouts quiet while the UC inspects all the dens. So when the boredom got to the point of scouts teasing their buddy, I ask the UC to pause for a moment and without saying a word I held up my hat and listened to about 30 seconds of foot stomping loud yelling cubs. When the hat hit the floor, the UC was able to finish his inspection in relative calm. NO signs, no yelling to shut up. Just Cub Scout acting their are to harmony.

              Trust me it works. There are plenty of sources on the internet for hundreds of cheers and yells. Do something different at each meeting so the scouts dont get bored, but think of reasons for them to stand, yell, cheer, scream, stomp their feet, beat the chest, clap their hands, even twirl around three times as fast as they can. Just Wear Them Out. Even do a cheer for each den getting their awards. Award presentations shouldnt be quiet. Scouts like to show theiir respect LOUDLY.

              As for those silly parents. I always kept a few corny jokes in my pocket to interrupt the meeting. In general, adults like corny jokes that may be even funnier to adults than scouts. HEY Parents, Knock Knock.

              I also learned that scouts love to see their parents in front of the crowd, so I usually found a CM skit where I asked a few parents to participate. I always ask parents to lead songs. They have to be silly songs that make the parents do silly things because the Scouts love it. That keeps the parents engaged.

              My Pack meetings for 100 scouts usually last about 50 minutes. That 50 minutes, is packed full with at least two den skits, two walk on skits done by the Webelos, one silly song, at least four corny joke interruptions, three cheers, announcements and awards(awards cheers). Announcements where usually some kind of silly CM skit like coming out on roller blades to announce the roller skating party. Most serious announcements were given in the newsletter handed out to parents at the beginning of the meeting. I couldnt stand boring announcements because the scouts were bored out of their minds.

              So you can see if the scouts are yelling at the top of the lungs for about 30 minutes. Our scouts are exhausted when they go home.

              Finally, if I need the audiences attention, I put my sign up for no more than five seconds asking for their respect. Then I jump into the next meeting agenda item even if they arent quite yet. When you move from one agenda item to the next, scouts will learn to get quiet quickly so they dont miss the fun that is coming. But you have to make the meeting something they dont want to miss. I always did a check on myself, if I saw scouts getting bored at any point in the meeting, I was doing something wrong and I changed it. That is how I request the committee put announcements on a newsletter. Your meeting should go fast and have high energy. The last 15 minutes should start to taper down in energy to an end of quiet vespers and retrieving the flags.

              Whats also fun about this is the scouts siblings will have just as much fun yelling and jumping around they will look forward to the pack meetings as much as their brother. If you get the parents involved with songs, skits and jokes, you will find that your meetings are look upon as a fun family night.

              It will take a little practice, but give it a try.

              I really love this scouting stuff.

              Barry

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              • #8
                To start meetings, I've called for the "Den Cheers". I'd shout "Is Den 7 here?" and they'd do their cheer, and so on. By the time we get to the "quieter" dens, everyone is focused on the start of the meeting. After that, we keep it pretty lively so its less likely to break down.

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                • #9
                  Your parents are treating the meeting like social times for themselves. There should be some of that - but their primary purpose is to be there for their sons.

                  Take away their tables. MAKE them sit with their sons. They should participate in the songs/games/ceremonies. They can't do that if they're on the other side of the room "chatting". Rather than having to keep reminding them to be quiet and pay attention, make it possible for them to participate by re-arranging the room so they are in the heart of the action **with** their sons.

                  Use the gathering period before the meeting and 10 minutes or so at the end (especially if you do refreshements) for the social time. That way they'll still get to chat, but will also be engaged with their sons.

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                  • #10
                    EagleDad's comments are very good. I have seen some Cubmasters speak really really low.That also worked.

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                    • #11
                      Air horn! Come on people!

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                      • #12
                        Whoever said you've got to expect a certain level of noise and just talk over it is correct. This isn't Sunday morning worship, you're not going to get that level of quiet. Use a PA system to be heard over the din, if necessary, depending on the size of the group.

                        Depending on the space, the parents yacking in the back can be a big problem. We met in a gym-size room so parents thought standing in the back was out of ear-shot. It's not. I like the idea of having the boys turn around and asking their parents to please be quiet and listen. Even with the Boy Scouts, in a much smaller room, the parents still think it's okay to talk during presentations. I've taught the Scouts that they have the ability to ask an adult to please stop talking or step outside. Being called down by a 14y.o. is pretty effective. Of course some are conducting important troop business, but still. I try to lead by example and whenever some asks me a question off-line I point to the door without speaking and lead them into a side room or outside for the conversations.

                        One technique that has not been mentioned is the pacing of the meeting. Don't expect to have a wild participation song or a game then immediately go into a quiet reflection. Even worse is to have an agenda which is loud, quiet, loud, quiet, loud, quiet. The old adage to follow the campfire -- that is to start the meeting bright and cheery then fade to glowing embers -- is good. Even still, you've got to give the boys an opportunity to settle down. Do the game or song, then maybe a presentation which doesn't require total quiet then move into the reflection.

                        But I'm cool with the airhorn too.

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                        • #13
                          Whisper. -works occasionally.(This message has been edited by Callooh! Callay!)

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                          • #14

                            Hold Cub Sign up, look at watch..... "Okay, not bad, 45 seconds. LET"S MAKE SOME NOISE!!!"
                            Wait... hold up sign,.. look at watch... "Getting better! 15 seconds! Okay, now we have Den 3's skit..." etc.

                            "Cubmaster sez, put your hands on your head! Cubmaster sez, hands on shoulders! Hands on head! Oops, Tommy, ya gotta listen. tsk, tsk, tsk.. Cubmaster sez, hop on your left foot! " etc.

                            Yep, 'silent announcements' are desirable. Have a Tiger hand them out to the adults. Include the adults in the meeting when you can:
                            Write one word of the Cub Promise and Law of the Pack on each of enough) 3x5 cards. Collect them in a big grocery bag. When you are starting the meeting, have the flag ceremony, and just before Johnny Cub is about to "lead the Pack in the Cub Scout Promise", intereupt and say," Wait, Johnny, I know YOU know the Cub Promise and the Law of the Pack, but I want to know if the adults have been listening." Here, you walk over to the adult group and shake up the bag. "Here, everyone take a card out of the bag. I'd like to ask you to come up front and arrange yourselves in the proper order, WITHOUT TALKING, now! Yeah, I know, but we need you to help the Pack go, too! Come on, ..."
                            The Cubs will love it...And you will get more attention from the adults!



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                            • #15
                              I simply stand in front of them and wait till they notice and quiet down I started doing it last year, as Wolves. When they were Tigers I abused the Scout sign a lot, hey I was new too. Now they know that I'll just stand there till they quiet down and the longer it takes the more of their activity time the burn up.

                              That's for inside, which I try not to do too much, outside I tend to yell "huddle up" to gather them all together. I also worry less about the racket outside, their 8-9 I don't want them to associate scouts with school.

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