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scouter1960

Control during pack meetings

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I am looking for some suggestions for pack meetings. We have a lot of new families and scouts following a successful recruiting campaign. We are having huge problems with behavior during the pack meetings now. We have younger siblings running around the room while the parents just sit and watch. We have scouts (old and new) being disorderly and running around as well. There was playful pushing and shoving during the flag ceremony last week that was very annoying.

 

We had a police officer come and give a presentation not long ago and it was very embarassing. He was frustrated himself at their behavior during his presenation. All the boys are aware of the "quiet" sign but it doesn't hold them for very long.

 

The boys all sit on the floor up front near the CM and the parents are in the audience. Is there a better way to do this? What do we do with parents that can see their kids really acting up but just sit there?

 

We want them to have fun, but it's a bit out of hand.

 

I'd appreciate any advise. Thank you

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Wow, Sounds like a tough situation.

 

I would recommend that the CM or ACM go to each den meeting and explain to the boys what behaviour is expected as scouts. Teach them scout skills and the respect that they must show toward Akela. By doing it at the den meetings, it's a smaller group and may be easier to get the point across.

 

Then, invite a well trained Boy Scout patrol to attend the next pack meeting. They do the flags, show proper uniforming and attentiveness. This may show the cubs what's expected of them.

 

Next up is the parents. If they are not at den meetings to hear this, set up a game and pull them aside at the Pack meeting and give them the riot act too. They are Akela and have the responsibility to control their own child.

 

Instead fo the floor, which can make it easy to squirm, can the scouts have chairs segregated by den with a DL or Den Chief near them? If not, tape off the floor into den segments.

 

Also, work the scout sign hard. Just stop whatever is going on as often as necessary.

 

Good luck.

 

 

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Is this a mob or a pack meeting? Are the boys sitting with their dens? Are the DL's with their dens? or are all the DL's and parents expecting the CM to control the crowd? Are parents sitting with the dens or are they in a place reserved for parents and other visitors? Are siblings sitting with their brothers in the dens or with their parents in the visitor section?

 

Once these boundaries are removed, it's a free-for-all. Unless the process is designed for control and until each den takes responsibility for their own actions, there will be no crowd control.

 

Set the Pack room up accordingly A table for each den, a section reserved for parents. DL's sit with and are responsible for the behavior of their boys. Siblings sit with parents and other visitors in the area reserved for visitors. Parents are not part of the pack meeting unless they are specifically invited a such as part of a presentation for example.

 

Flag ceremony is assigned to the most responsible den, not the mob fka the pack. If a den wants to challenge the best den at doing a flag ceremony, they can make their request known to the CM. A Cub is constantly challenged to do their best, then expect it from them and recognize it when one sees it.

 

Maybe award a ribbon for the den flag to the den that behaves the best at a pack meeting. Don't think for a moment the other boys won't notice. The den that does the best behavorially this month is doing the flags next month.

 

While it's been a while since I did Cubs (and then only Webelos) I never used the scout sign to rein in bad behavior. I can't hold my hand up for hours at a time anymore (nor do I want to).

 

Remember if the situation is designed for chaos, chaos is what one is going to get. Discipline is better when the environment is designed appropriately.

 

Stosh

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Things we do that help -

 

Have an activity area set up for the younger siblings. Have an older sibling, or parent, in charge.

 

The room is set up with chairs in a U shape. We start with the Tigers seated at the top right of the U, then Wolf, Bear, 4th grd Webelos, and end with 5th grd Webelos at the top left of the U. Parents and siblings sit RIGHT BEHIND their Scout. Activities happen in the middle of the U.

 

This is not school, you can not expect the boys to sit still for an entire hour. Move the pace along and mix slower activities up with more active stuff. Include songs & run-ons. Have fun awards presentations.

 

Have the den leaders cover expected Scout behavior at den meetings, including the meaning and use of the Scout Sign. At the beginning of Pack meetings, have the CM remind the parents that THEY are in charge of their children. Discipline is THEIR job. Remind the Scouts of the behavior that is expected of a Scout, including respect and courtesy. Go over the meaning of the Scout Sign.

 

Include parents and siblings in everything possible.

 

Every so often, when using the Scout Sign, after they quiet down, throw in something loud and fun. Do an active song, or a group cheer. This way when they see the Sign, they will anticipate something fun, and not just another droning announcement.

 

 

 

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Don't be above correcting the behavior of other people's children, siblings included. Get to know their names. Nothing stops my daughter in her tracks faster than some other adult calling her to task. She hears me often enough to tune me out.

 

You'd also be surprised how many parents tune out their own children because they get to talking to the other parents and aren't aware of what's going on. MOST of them will back you up if you are consistent in enforcing behavior. The ones that get bent out of shape over it will either get over it or they aren't really into scouting's values anyway and you are probably going to lose that family no matter what you do. After all, most of them put their boys into scouts for character development and will accept that this is a part of that.

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Scouter1960,

 

Greetings!

 

I skimmed over this thread quickly, but you've gotten excellent responses from everyone. Specifically, jblake47 commenting on a behavior award, and Scoutnut commenting on moving the pace along with multiple activities.

 

My own attention span is maybe 30 seconds before I become distracted. So I can empathize with some of the Cubs, Boy Scouts, and Venturers.

 

If I can echo some of the previous comments. I've seen other Cubmasters (though they were friends) and their Pack meetings would run longer than an hour. Cubs and siblings were uncontrollable.

 

Here is my own story.

When I was Cubmaster, I had a master script and all the DL had the script. If a den did not have a cheer ready, there was one I selected already on the script (kept them from deciding on a cheer for 5 minutes). The Dens would run up to the front, I would high five the Den Leader, and the Den Leader would pitch the patches out to the Den, commenting a few seconds on individual names. Then the Wave, another set of running high fives, a cheer then set them down. We even had announcements at the beginning and an interactive (action) stories in the middle of all the advancements.

As the Cubmaster, I was the EMCEE, but I had the Den Leaders hand out the advancements.

 

 

Towards the very end of our Pack meeting, we had two rotating awards (decorated bowling pins). The highest Attended Den and the Best Behaved Den. High Attendance was quickly counted by view and counting by quickly assembling into groups, even grandparents would hustle to get to the appropriate group. The Behavior Award was voted by the DL's during the interactive story.

 

The boys (and families) were constantly moving, but their energy was directed towards the meeting. I never gave them idle time. Visitors were pre-briefed that they were welcomed, but, they knew that presentations would have to be flashy and no longer than 2 minute.

 

My advice (as was already stated by fellow forum members), keep them (Cubs and Parents) busy the entire time, keep Pack Meetings less than one hour, and create a rotating award for behavior.

 

 

Scouting Forever and Venture On!

Crew21 Adv

 

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I agree with everything said so far - jblake hits it right on the head. A few more points:

 

- I hate it when kids have to sit on the floor separated from adults. I've seen it devolve into chaos too many times at library presentations, story hours, etc. Any time kids sit on the floor, you have to have something that holds their attention EXTREMELY closely. As soon it gets boring, they start looking, poking, whispering, punching, getting tired and lying down... a recipe for a big mess. Sitting them in individual spaces breaks them up and you lose the "mob."

 

- Den leaders and den chiefs should be immediately responsible for their dens. That means staying with them and having individual den spaces - whether they're sitting in rows or groups of chairs, on the floor in sections or at tables. It largely depends on the space you have available.

 

- The Cubmaster should not be put in the position of moderating the behavior of the entire pack. That's a no-win situation.

 

- An hour is way too long for a pack meeting that doesn't include some active event, preferably outdoors, or else some REALLY cool speaker or presenter (note neato props are a must!) - a cop with a police dog, a magician with dry ice, a nature guy or gal with snakes, a firefighter with a big ladder truck (outdoors, of course), a juggler with stuff the kids can do, etc.

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Lots of good points here. I would add one more about seating. Don't use tables. Don't separate the boys from their parents. There is an excellent diagram in the Cub Scout Leader book showing how a room should be set up for a pack meeting.

 

Basically it is an open square of chairs. One side of the square is "head" of the room where the flags are displayed, and ceremonies, etc. take place. The other three sides of the square are rows of chairs. The Cubs & den leaders sit in the first row. Their parents & siblings sit in the rows directly behind them. This way the adult supervision is distributed throughout the pack AND the action is up close and personal. Skits, presentations, etc. take place in the open area in the center of the square just inches from the boys. This arrangement also lessens the distance which Scouts have to travel to get up front to participate. Both the boys and their parents are right there and can pop right up to receive awards. It speeds up the pace of the meeting, incredibly.

 

At tables they are looking at each other, not the front of the room, where you want their attention to be. They're also much farther from the action. Unless we're doing a craft, we put away almost all the tables in our meeting room.

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All very good pints thus far...

 

I would include the following:

 

1) Scouts sit by Dens either in chairs or on benches at the front. DL's and any assistant DL's sit with their Den. Youngest in front, so Tigers and Wolves in the front rows by Den, followed by Bears and Weebelos behind them. DL's are responsible for control of their individual Den.

 

2) Parents and siblings / family are behind the scouts in chairs. Parents are responsible for controlling sibling behavoir.

 

3) STATE EXPECTATIONS UP FRONT ! I begin every Pack Show with a quick reminder on decorum... we will have fun and be loud. We will be silly. Also, we will look for and respect the Cub Scout Sign. The only times I expect absolute seriousness is during these three events: a) Anything to do with the Flag (posting / retiring) b) Anything to do with a prayer c) During a rank advancement award.

 

4) Tell the parents (again a 1 min review at the start of meeting):

a) If you need to answer the cell phone - step outside the hall

b) Siblings (small ones) squirm and I understand that. However, if they are disruptive to others enjoying the "show", I will stop the show and ask the parent to take the child out of the hall. The threat of embarrasment alone is enough to get them to keep the little ones on a short leash.

c) If you have something SOOOOO important to discuss with another parent in the middle of the Pack Show, then you can either take it outside the Hall, OR come up and have your discussion in front of the entire pack - your choice? However, if you were out in the hallway talking with your neighbor lady when your little Johnny got his Leave No Trace Award.... then you have to explain to your son WHY you missed it.

 

My point to the parents is this is NOT their social hour. The Pack Show is for the SCOUTS - its about THEM, not about the parents having an hour of downtime from being a parent.

 

Finally - keep it fast paced and INCLUDE THE SCOUTS in everything !!!

 

Not only skits, songs, but I use 4 to 5 scouts each meeting to do "run-ons" to transition from one topic to another....

 

Example: Transition to Popcorn sales announcement.... Scout A enters stage left moving to stage right with a big movie bucket of popcorn... states as he reaches center stage, "This is the Best Pack SHOW I've ever seen !! Wish I had some popcorn to enjoy with this fine show !!!" (The campier done the better).....

 

Then the popcorn chair comes out and gives a very SHORT announcement.

 

Bring the scouts into being part of the program even if they aren't getting an award that night. It keeps them interested and keeps them from becoming disruptive to the Pack.

 

Have the scouts in the audience participate in the ceremonies with sound effects... If you're telling a story about camping in the rain, have the entire audience pat their knees while sitting.... it sounds like rain! We "brand" our new ranks on the hand with a hand stamp attached to a dowel (looks like a branding iron).... the entire audience gets to make the "sizzzzzzzzzzzle....." sounds (hissing Sssssss) as the scout receiving rank has the stamp pressed on their hand. Its silly, yet keeps them engaged in the action when they're not the one getting an award.

 

We also have 2 or 3 raffles every Pack Show. (gum, model plane / etc...) The quicker they quiet down for the sign, the sooner they get to have the raffle prize announced. Have various scouts draw the number for the raffle - it keeps them part of the action, instead of just being the audience.

 

I also publicly PRAISE the proper behavoir when I see it.

 

Last month, the TIGERS were the best at responding to the Cub Scout Sign. I pointed out to the other Dens that the newest and youngest in our Pack were making the "older" ones look bad because they were showing better scout spirit than our expirienced scouts. I wasn't mean about it, I just commented, "Man, look at those Tigers and how they quiet down so fast.... The Bears and Webelos could learn a thing or two from those Tigers....". Funny how the Bear and Webelos dens shaped up after that. No 4th or 5th grader wants to be shown up by a 1st grader.

 

Finally, keep it to 1 hr MAX ! Between 45 mins and 1 hour is best. I you have a large pack and this means Belt Loops and pins get awarded at the Den meeting instead of the Pack Show, then so be it. Save the Major Awards (rank advancements) for the Pack Show.

 

Thats enough of a ramble...

 

Just seat them by Den (tell DL's beforehand the expectation on them for Den control), keep it fast paced and exciting. make sure they know up front when its OK to be goofy /loud and when they should be serious. Keep length to 1 hr max. Everything else will fall into place.

 

Best of luck

 

YiS,

 

Dean

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When the Scouts get out of hand again, just stand there with you sign up until they quiet down. Do that every time it starts to get rowdy.

 

As to the siblings being unruly, I would address the entire pack at the beginning of the next pack meeting. I would tell the parents that this isn't a playground & they should take charge of their kids. If they can't control them, leave them home!

 

Ed Mori

1 Peter 4:10

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I have just a couple of brief stories:

 

My family has been in three different packs...one folded, and one was just too big. Routinely 200+ people at pack events, including cubs, parents and siblings. In those events, there was little organization, and rows of chairs were set up. The problem with that is that in the front rows, there would be families seated, and fifteen rows back, there would be families with younger kids who couldn't see, or hear, anything beyond their own row.

 

I always thought it would have been better to remove the first few rows, and seat dens on the floor up front -- now I hear that isn't such a good thing either :).

 

Another quick story -- at a recent training event, an ex-CM told me a story about running a pack meeting, where there was a parent sitting close to the front of the room, turned around talking to someone else the entire time -- the CM was so annoyed by it that she just stopped and watched, and everyone else did too. The talking continued. So, the rest of them started to discuss the situation. So they all decided that the two who were talking and oblivious should do something, like lead a song. So then the CM stopped the talkers and told them. After that, the CM said she had no problems with oblivious parents.

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I heard a potentially good solution in a training session lately. One committee member from another pack said they have their dens bring their den flags to each pack meeting. They get rewarded for good behavior by getting a star for their den flag. Great idea on positive rewards. She said this not only included the scouts in the dens BUT their parents too. They used to have a bad problem with parents talking/disrupting during pack meetings. She said they announce who gets stars, most of the packs, but they have dens on occasion who don't get a star and they are told why. I'm sure it's a fun ride home for the parents when they are told they didn't get a star because they wouldn't stop talking. They don't single out the parents but everyone is rewarded based on the entire den's behavior parents and scouts. At the end of the year the den with the most stars gets a pizza party at a local place that has video games, etc.

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Our pack has nearly 100 scouts so our pack meetings approach the 300+ person mark.

 

Here's what we do to keep things under control...

 

1) Organization for a large pack is essential! We break our meetings into 4 basic sections. Gathering, Opening, Stations, Closing.

 

The Gathering is simply getting everyone in, registered and seated. We generally have a Gathering Activity for the scouts to perform before the opening.

 

The Opening is the flag ceremony, prayer and any opening business that needs to be addressed to the pack as a whole.

 

We then break into 'stations', each having a different activity. The scouts are sent to stations by rank - all Tigers start at station 1, Wolves at station 2, etc.. Depending on our timeframe for the meeting and number of stations, we usually alot 15-20 minutes at each station.

 

The Scouts and parents are thencalled back to together as a pack and the Closing ceremony and any additional pack business is taken care of.

 

In order to pull off the stations, a huge amount of planning is required as is a LOT of help from parents the night of the pack meetings for setup and manning the stations.

 

Our stations consist of Advancements, Refreshments, activities as needed (hike, popcorn prizes, pinewood derby registration, etc. - whatever is needed that month)

 

2) Make use of the WOLF EARS (Scout Sign) early and often!!! We have used this since day one and the scouts (and parents) know that when the wolf ears are up - they need to be quiet and pay attention. If things start getting out of hand - up go the wolf ears until things are settled down. We use a gymnasium for our pack meetings and the noise levels can get quite high in a short matter of time. When we use the wolf ears, the place will quiet down until you can literally hear a pin drop! Make sure whoever is running the meeting holds the ears and waits for that 'total' silence before beginning again.

 

3) Seating arrangements for the Pack meetings also seems to be key for us. We typically arrange tables in a horse shoe shape with the cub master at the opening of the shoe. We then have den flags stationed on each table and the parents/scouts are reminded to sit with their respective dens.

 

Engagement is key. Keeping scouts (and parents) focused on the meeting is tough, especially with a large group. That's why we find the "Stations" approach to work so well. It keeps everyone moving and focused on what's in front of them. Overall group pack business is kept to a minimum if possible.

 

I agree with others statements that it should not be CM's job to discipline other peoples children but it should be the CM's job to facilitate and control the meeting. If the meeting is getting out of hand - stop the meeting! Wait for quiet and calm to prevail and then continue. A few times of this and people will start getting the point.

 

Hope that helps. Good luck.

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Here are some suggestions:

- Make sure you are speaking load enough or get a microphone. Onc I started using one you could hear a pin drop!!

-- Don't just put up your sign- claps four times - da-da,da-da then put your sign up. this gives a signal for them to look up front. Soon they will be repeating with out you saying anoything.

-- let them know you're timing them. Look at your watch a nd announce the amount of time it takes and then challenge them each time to make it quicker- Even give incentive- if you make it less than 30 secs They get to do something special.

 

-- dont' sit them on the floor- arrange chairs in a semi circle with break in the middle so they are in 2 rows at the most- and leaders on the ends.

- Have another room for sibings-or use a divider for the room.

-- At start of meeting close doors or block off any entrances that have them enter in front- we put up divider and they have to take a detour that leades to the back of the room otherwise they enter up front and everyn looks at them and gets distracted.

-- get them involved in the meetings with songs or skits- any speaker should have a 10 min limit. and then move on.

 

Be silly and have fun too!!! Dress up and tell jokes.

Use songs and audience participations. I save my participations until the end because they get rowdy after that.

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"Have another room for sibings-or use a divider for the room."

 

Can't say I agree with that. Then you have to have babysitters and other activities to keep them busy.

 

Pack meetings are a time for the Pack families to come together, to celebrate the successes of their Scouts, and have FUN, together.

 

The families should be taking care of their own siblings.

 

 

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