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  • What Makes Good Pack Meetings?

    <<around 120 last I heard. they are successful, I've been to a couple of their Pack meetings, great fun.>>


    I heard somewhere recently that the #1 reason families leave Cub Scouts are boring den and pack meetings.

    What are the keys to exciting pack meetings in your experience?


    Personally, I'm not big on trying to stuff in the showmanship recommended by Cub Scout program helps.


    My personal bias is to have a fun competition or activity as a focus for a pack meeting, and then add the awards boys earn as the next activity after that competition.

    For example, our April pack meeting had each den competing to set up a tent they's never seen before. In October I'm aiming to promote a family pumkin carving activity as part of the pack meeting. In December I've had dens make cardboard "sleighs" and then had sleigh races around a race course with boys taking turns being pulled around by their other den mates.

    I find the most reliable motivator for boys to be competition. And simple, fun competitions are pretty easy to arrange in Cub Scouts. So my bias is to work those into the program rather than songs, skits, run ons and such.

    I also have a bias for doing this because it doesn't rely as much on den leaders to be prepared with songs, skits and stuff. I find it takes a lot of preparation to do songs and skits well, and usually they come off pretty poorly.

    Anyway, I'd be interested in comments.

  • #2
    It's been a while but the best ones I had were ones that involved snakes, other wildlife, fire, or food. I knew several different people who kept a nice diversity of snakes professionally and I'd engage one of them for a demonstration, including letting the boys handle the snakes. Some of the parents (and not just the moms) would occasionally inch toward the exit but the boys had a great time.
    Other wildlife include whatever our local natural resource agency had available in either living specimens or else stuffed ones. A live tree squirrel or opossum was an instant hit.
    One cub generation included a father who was the chief of the local fire dept. Each year he would show the cubs and their parents how dangerous fire is and how to properly respond, even extinguishing fires of different types.

    Some of the pack families had chefs in their families. They would get 'volunteered' for various tasks and sometimes one of them would show mechanical things, how to repair bicycles, etc. The cubs were fascinated.

    Just keep the cubs busy

    Comment


    • #3
      Keep 'em moving or keep it interesting.

      I have visited local Packs and the leaders are up at the podium talking while the boys are getting ants in their pants.

      Obstacle course. Relay team competition. Crawl thru a tunnel made with chairs and a tarp. Solo cup blow. Race with ping pong ball on a spoon. Pumpkin broom push. They always come back sweaty and smiling.

      K-9 police demo.

      Dance troop performance. This one shocked me. The local middle and high school song and dance team performed for the scout families. The kids were mesmerized. They didn't move.

      Camping expo. Different stations with knots, fire starters and tent set up.

      Ultimate frisbee or another group sports game.

      Camping equipment team relay. Camping equipment thrown in a pile or plastic tub. Same stuff in each pile. (For instance, hiking boots, whistle, sleeping bag, water bottle, carabiner, etc.). Parent at each line calls out an item on a list and on the Cubmaster's "Go," the scout runs to the pile, finds the item, runs it to another bin and runs back to tag the next scout. The scout waiting to get tagged already knows which item he is looking for next.

      Sometimes we involve the parents in the games.

      Another thing we tried this year are shorter meetings. Our meetings may go 45 mins to 1:15 now. The parents have been very supportive of this, so we run a tight schedule with an organized agenda. I have tried to keep announcements to emails and the Pack online management system, but this hasn't worked for us. So, the meeting announcements are very limited.

      We give out the awards at Pack meeting. Beads are given out at the den level. The scouts and parents know if they miss the meeting, they will have to wait until the next den or pack meeting for the bling.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have the same question. This year we tried to improve pack meetings. Some are better, some are not.

        One piece of advice I received early on was to make the meetings more "fun". Some folks want this to mean, make the pack meeting "entertainment". They'd like to have the pack meeting be a show, presentation, or game with the bare minimum of time for awards or announcements. As such, we did away with den skits, cheers, and songs.

        Pack meetings start at 6:30 and run for about an hour. Right now our meetings go something like:
        6:20 - gathering game
        6:35 - opening flag ceremony - a den does this monthly. We always start 5-10 minutes late.
        6:40 - announcements - CM makes announcments. There may be a special announcement or two.
        6:42 - awards - 10 mintues. Usually given by the den leaders who call up boys to the front. Due to the time, there is not a lot of ceremony here.
        6:55 - actvity or special ceremony
        7:25 - closing

        At the meeting, we have rows of chairs set up. Boys sit with their parents wherever they want. We don't sit by dens. The meeting is run by the CM, one or more ACMs, and the advancement chair.

        I'm not sure that focusing just on meetings as entertainment is working so well. I feel like we've lost some of the purpose behind the pack meeting with the boys having no role. Even when the den does the flag ceremony, the leader is sort of scrambling to find out who is there. Den leaders generally come - though not always. We get at most 50% attendance.

        My gut feel is that a great pack meeting can't be just a fun show/activity/game. It's got to be more. I've just not hit on the right formula yet.

        Comment


        • #5
          <<My gut feel is that a great pack meeting can't be just a fun show/activity/game. It's got to be more. I've just not hit on the right formula yet.>>



          My preference would be to organize pack meeting by dens, and generally to have games and activities den oriented as well or as some kind of competition between dens.

          Too much time spent on awards becomes tedius for boys to sit through. But the awards that are handed out at pack meetings should be as special as possible, to provide meaning for those receiving them and excite the interest of other boys in earning awards themselves.

          If there are too many awards to hand out, I'd start having some handed out at den meetings.

          I have a theory that in large packs, it might make sense to have two pack meetings, one for Tiger and Wolves and a second for Bears and Webelos. Each pack meeting could then have more age apprpriate activities.


          But these are all my own biases, not the official Cub Scout recommendations.

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm really interested in the idea of den activities at a pack meeting. In my time, we've never organized a pack meeting that way, so I'm curious how you'd do it.

            Would your pumpkin carving by an example of a den activity, or are you thinking of something different?

            Comment


            • dedkad
              dedkad commented
              Editing a comment
              What we did this year was assign each den leader a pack meeting. It was their den's responsibility to come up with the program for that month. As one leader put it, it was their job to "entertain" the rest of us for 1 hour. Many of the dens used that as an opportunity to showcase or complete some of their den requirements. For instance, my Webelos put on a puppet show to earn their Showman badge. The Bear Den constructed a bunch of games to meet one of their requirements and the whole pack got to play them. The Tiger den leader scheduled a hike for the pack to meet his hiking requirement. Some dens had a speaker come to speak to the whole pack on a subject that would meet a den requirement. So I wouldn't really call what we are doing at the pack meetings a den activity. It is a pack activity that meets a certain den's badge requirements.

          • #7
            With den activities at a pack meeting, what makes it different than a den meeting? Isn't the point to bring the pack together? To show the cubs they are part of something larger, sort of like a camporee or jamboree ? We are still looking for that magic formula also. Our best one this past year was each boy got to smash a pie(shaving cream) in the face of their chosen adult for each $150 in popcorn sold. Guest speakers are ok but need to be very short. The worst thing we did was make the cubs sit through the FOS representative pitch. Poor cubs.

            Comment


            • #8
              Yeah, I don't feel like we've hit the magic formula either..... not even close.

              I've been trying to "suggest" to our CM that we need some sort of activity or something to get the boys out of the chairs, but that's not his style. He's following the model of his predecessors.
              Basically we do maybe a prayer, flags, announcements, a few jokes from the CM maybe, awards..... maybe a skit or two from one of the dens. More blah blah blah..... much of it directed over the kids' heads to the parents in the back.
              I even suggested that instead of chairs at the tables, he get the boys to sit on the floor around him..... more of a camp fire discussion with the boys. Hasn't happened yet.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by blw2 View Post
                Basically we do maybe a prayer, flags, announcements, a few jokes from the CM maybe, awards..... maybe a skit or two from one of the dens. More blah blah blah..... much of it directed over the kids' heads to the parents in the back.
                I even suggested that instead of chairs at the tables, he get the boys to sit on the floor around him..... more of a camp fire discussion with the boys. Hasn't happened yet.
                This is us a year ago. The only difference is that we had some activity in there as well - some activities were better than others. I tried the sit on the floor in a circle thing and it sorta worked, but it can get chaotic. As a CM, one suggestion. Pick an area of the pack meeting you'd like to see improved and volunteer to the CM to take that on. If I had a leader that came to me and said, "I'd like to make awards" more meaningful, I'd be most appreciative!


                What interested me in the den activities is that I have a gut feel we need to move beyond the pack meeting as entertainment + awards, and towards something more. I'm also thinking that we need to find a way to be more than just 50 boys in a room all together. Put slightly differently... Right now, I think our general approach to the year is that boys go to den meetings and do den & rank stuff. Boys go to pack meetings to get awards & play. There is little relationship between the two. Also, there is little meaning from going to the pack meetings. That doesn't seem right.

                Comment


                • blw2
                  blw2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  great points......
                  there are so many directions, I'm honestly a bit overwhelmed as which area to tackle first!
                  Right also for us too, re. the lack of a deeper meaning. Even though they are boys and really don't care on the surface about any deeper meaning, I'll bet it matters down deep in there somewhere!

              • #10
                One aspect we failed at as the year went on was incorporating the month values theme. We are primarily a values organization. Lists of games on UsScouts.org. With the weather nice I bough 200 cloth spins at Walt world for $4.00 took them out to the field and played clothspins tag. Leaders joined in also. Several had to drop out from exhaustion. Was a good moment for the CM to corner the parents and let them know about their responsibility to step up and take a POR themselves. The whole you are a partner in this pack also and need to help it go as well speech. One goal I have for next year is weather permitting, get them outside. Budget permitting would love to have as many of them as hot dog cookouts as well.

                Comment


                • blw2
                  blw2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I've had similar thoughts about getting them outside. Have suggested it too, but there's always the logistics and it's just so much easier to go inside, pull up a seat, and do the same old distribution-o-baggies thing.....

                  I want to do something different, but I'm not the one running it, and can't turn a ship by myself.....

                • King Ding Dong
                  King Ding Dong commented
                  Editing a comment
                  What distro of baggies thing do you do?

                  I suggest outside at the end if possible even if it means no closing flag ceremony.

                  Talk to the den leaders and other parents in the pack. If you have a CC, them as well. Build some consensus for change.

                • blw2
                  blw2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  oh, the baggie thing is the awards. Basically the leaders each stand up with a handful of baggies. One baggie per boy. "Little Johnny earned, this and that and the other", and Johnny comes up for his baggie.

              • #11
                If you haven't already, talk with the CM more one-on-one. Perhaps buy him/her an adult beverage and have a chat. Make a few specific recommendations. If those recommendations require more effort, be prepared to help.

                Were I the CM of your pack, I'd welcome it.

                Comment


                • #12
                  Boys LIKE and are MOTIVATED by competition.



                  So I like to use competition to motivate boys during pack meetings. That is typically either individual competition of some kind or usually inter den competition.

                  It's not used or intended to be sharp competition with winners and losers.


                  Just as an example, I've had dens make "sleighs" as den activities, then had den relay races at the December pack meeting. One boy in the sleigh gets towed around the race course, and then boys swap out.



                  They make their own competition.



                  Last edited by SeattlePioneer; 05-26-2013, 03:22 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    I've found the following work best at Pack Meetings, songs , skits, small art projects and food, oh did I mention FOOD!!!! Make it a dinner, with everyone's busy schedule everyone love to be able to sit down and eat beforehand. Plus keep it simple.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Skits? Really? I find that most skits are poorly rehearsed by den leaders and MANY boys are too shy to speak loudly eneough to be heard.

                      Bears and Webelos can maybe do skits reasonably well, but I avoid them for Tiger Cubs and Wolves in particular.

                      Songs are better and can be done more reliably. But the key is usually to choose a simple song with a familiar melody, and often a poor choice of song leads to a poor performance. A lot of den leaders don't have much skill at leading songs and do a poor job, which doesn't help matters.

                      Small art projects--- I like to make decorating pretty much any project a den does a part of the program. Some boys really like that and others couldn't care less. The problem is that if you make an art project the OBJECT of a den project, the boys that don't care about such things rapidly become bored.

                      As an example, we made paper airplanes and then decorated them and had contests flying nthe planes, with a boy receiving a sticker for their airplane each time they won one of the numerous contests. Boys were welcome to take as much time decorating their airplanes as they wished, or they could ignore that part and go on to flying their airplanes.

                      Comment


                      • jc2008
                        jc2008 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        People who are comfortable in front of a crowd and able to speak up and not worry about how silly they look are few and far between. We typically don't have much time during Den Meetings to rehearse skits so when we are asked to do a skit its usually something simple that the kids can learn in 5 minutes before the Pack Meeting. We are lucky though because my husband (the den leader) can be a total obnoxious and loud goofball and the other den leader in our den plays the "deadpan" roll which is even more hilarious at times.

                        I think something that is missed is at the Cub Scout age, the repetition is important for the kids. Sure we all know "Row row row your boat" but we have to remember our kids are just learning these songs that are classic to us. So repeating songs we have done well with before is not a bad thing, because the kids get the practice at them.

                        You just have to hopefully identify someone with a great energy who isn't scared to stand up and use it! Not every Den Leader has that energy or ability.

                    • #15
                      We have a den leader who loves to sing songs with the kids and it goes over very well and most songs are do as I do say as I say. Our tigers did a skit for the end of the year banquet that they spent time over the last month rehearsing and it was great. We did lego christmas stockings at our holiday party that went over great. It's up to the commitment of the leaders to make it work.

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