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Binford

My Trip into Potluck He!! and Back

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I've been CM since late last summer and with an excellent CC at the helm, it's been working out fairly well for our Pack. So much so that another local Pack, in disarray and full of disgruntled parents, has transferred over to ours practically en masse, leaving them with a Pack of 7 boys (until 4 of them cross out to Boy Scouts in a couple months!) and us with a Pack of 40. Up from 23 in two months' time.

 

Needless to say, this humble CM is still "adjusting."

 

So we had our B&G banquet last night. A pot-luck. Learned a lot, I have. Still trying to figure out what exactly went wrong and if there's anything we could do differently to make it better next time. It's going to be a very interesting Committee Meeting next week, that's for sure! I could sell tickets.

 

Several families neglected to bring a dish and naturally they were the ones signed up for the entrees! We learned last night that even many of the adults in our Pack apparently have portion-control issues, returning for heaping seconds even as half the tables were yet unserved. Were it not for a couple of our observant Moms who stepped in and started serving, we'd have been cleaned out before the other half had eaten. As it was, the TL's husband had to run to the store for fried chicken. It was about as comical as a pot-luck night could have been!

 

I'm posting mostly to share in the humor of the event, but if there's any insight I can gain from anyone's comments, I'm certainly open to it!

 

One thing's for sure, as long as I'm CM, there won't be another pot-luck at our Pack. Not that the Committee is fool enough to repeat the folly! There's just not enough time to conduct an awards ceremony and get everyone fed, especially with 105 people in the room. An no one was paying any attention to the awards, which I thought was unfair to the boys being honored last night.

 

Got any pot-luck horror stories of your own? I'd LOVE to read about them! And what have you done since that helped solve the problems you experienced.

 

-- Tim Taylor

Port Orchard, Wash.(This message has been edited by Binford)

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We do pot-luck with around 40 boys for our Christmas Pack meeting. B&G we have catered in with families bringing deserts.

 

For pot-luck the Pack usually will usually "bring" a main entree (usually chicken or a try of pasta). We let the families know how big a portion they should bring, and we make it perfectly clear that they need to let the CM or CC know IN ADVANCE if they will not be able to bring their dish. Notes are sent out a few days in advance reminding everyone what they signed up for.

 

Having servers is a good idea. They not only help with portion control, but can hurry folks thru. Make it clear that seconds are only allowed once everyone has gone thru once. Call tables in groups. When the last group is up at the tables for firsts, announce that folks can go up for seconds.

 

The favorites will always go fast. We very seldom have anyone take home many leftovers! Yes, we have had some evenings that went better than others, but that is part of it! We always have fun and never go home hungry.

 

Anytime you have dinner, of any kind, you are going to add some time to the evening. We allow for that in our planning, and also schedule those meetings on Fridays or Saturdays, when the kids do not have school the next day.

 

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I've seen a lot of crazy things at potlucks, so what you're saying doesn't really surprise me. My kids' preschool used to have them all the time, and I'd see things like a dad bringing a salad in about 15 minutes before everybody was leaving for home, to a dad bringing in a single cheese pizza (and then hoping that only his family would eat it), to another parent that loaded up their kid's plate with the bulk of a tray of macaroni and cheese because "he likes it so much." What, and the other 30 4-yr-olds here don't?

 

But I have funny idiosyncrasies about potlucks too -- for example, I believe in "true potlucks" where there are no signups, and I get the "but what if everyone brings a dessert?" That's why it is called a potluck!

 

We had a troop Court of Honor and potluck at the SM's backyard pool this last summer, and I think it went fabulously well. At first, I was a little annoyed that while one mom brought a big plate of hot apps (which were very good tiny burritos) there were a couple of teenage scouts that were plowing through the plate. But then I relaxed -- if everyone else decides to show up late, it's their own fault that they missed out on the good stuff. That's potluck! The troop liked it so much that we're planning on doing it again this coming summer.

 

Guy

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We usually do the same thing mentioned above - the Pack provides a main dish and families are asked to bring a side dish or desert. We divide the alphabet in half to avoid everyone bringing deserts. This has worked smoothly so far.

 

I have no suggestion for what to do about gluttonous or rude adults. I'm sure you're not the only one who noticed their behavior, though.

 

BTW, love your user name if TT is your real name :-)

 

 

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For our annual pot luck the troop buys the main dish and each patrol is assigned something. Ice, desert, side, cups, etc. are assigned to each patrol. We charge for the main dish like $5 a head or something. It's a family night with games and funny awards. The PLC gives awards & so does the committe. Awards vary year to year but it is stuff like loudest snore, best meal, worst meal, hardest to wake up. Then the annual "state of the troop" speeches from PLC and SM.

 

For COH reception we assign each patrol one item like chips, cookies, 2 liter drink, ice, cups.

 

It's never been a problem so I guess we're overdue for a bad one where we are short of food.

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Yes, Loved your TV show...

Oh, don't give up on the P/Ls. They are almost a Scout tradition. Just make sure everyone knows about (1)when it is (ever have folks arrive the next week with the spaghetti in hand? Good snack, laughable embarrassment...) and (2) what is expected: EX/ Tigers bring drinks, Wolves bring salad, Bears bring a hot veggie, Webs bring a main course to feed 4,? 6? 8? Or families A thru J veggies and K thru Z main course and the B&G Cake is dessert... and (3) who sets up and who puts away... and (4) any program. Awards, entertainment, set a TIME on a sheet of paper, and, with a big voice, REMIND folks as you move along.

 

And , yes, I have been to a P/L where quite literally everyone brought dessert! It was ALL delicious.

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The problem with pot lucks is you can never relax because you are always worried whether everyone will stick to their promises. We always had our B&G at the local fire company and they catered a spaghetti dinner. It is easy to cook more if you see you are running short and it is an inexpensive meal. Our budget was not inexhaustable. Our families brought drinks, rolls and desserts. It was a relaxing time and all I and my ACM's had to plan was the program.

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Potlucks require organization to be successful, so don't give up on them too soon! Otherwise you end up with one or two families trying to feed everyone. It usually just takes one bad potluck for everyone to realize they better pull their fair share next time.

 

The first trick our pack discovered is to do a theme--Italian night, chicken dinner, what have you. Then, assign dishes by den. For an Italian theme you may have webelos families bring the main dish, bears the salad or side, wolves the dessert, and tigers the bread. Give families the option of opting out of the potluck for a small donation, say $5, as long as they let the den leader knows one week before the event they are opting out. Use the $5 to purchase a potluck item to replace what they aren't bringing.

 

We usually give webelos the main course, as their families have been part of scouting the longest and understand the responsibility to the pack for a potluck. Tigers usually get the easiest item to provide because their families are newest, plus the parents are more likely to want an item they can cook with their child. Tigers also often seem to have older brothers in the pack so we don't want to overload one family with bringing multiple, hard to make or expensive items.

 

As you learned, it is always best to have someone serving to avoid plate overload and waste. Some people just see a free meal and go a bit overboard if there is no one serving. It also keeps the kids from sticking their dirty hands into the communal chip bowl! With someone serving, and sending the families and cubs up one den at a time, it doesn't take long to get everyone their food.

 

 

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Potlucks are a blast! Thoughts for you:

 

1) Smaller plates (harder to load up).

2) Announcements. "Last time we had some people sign up who were not able to come or bring their dish. That left us a little short - PLEASE work with us." Or something like that - a reminder of how it can impact others often comes through to the vast majority.

 

I am a Scouter in a pretty diverse community of mainly Anglo, Persian and Asian (Korean, Japanese and Chinese) Scouts (with a few Hispanics). Our potlucks truly test the ability to mix dishes at times - but the boys have fun.

 

We also announce when seconds are allowed.

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Yep, real name is Tim Taylor. All my life it's been so!

 

I can see the potluck working much better at a Troop than at a Pack. (I'm an ASM at my older son's Troop and see a huge difference in....orderly conduct! To be expected though.)

 

We had parents sign up last week for what they wanted to bring to last night's P/L. Each Den was to bring a certain type of dish to avoid all desserts or whatnot. Unfortunately the Wolf Den, which was assigned the main dish, happens to be made up of the least responsible families as it turns out! Reminders were e-mailed out to the families by the Committee Secretary and everything. I can't imagine how we could have organized the thing any better! Which makes it all the more amazing and humorous to me!

 

What absolutely stuns me, however, is the behavior of some of the parents--that they themselves, let alone their kids, would go back for heaping seconds before the other tables had even been called! I guess I assumed common sense is more common than it apparently is! And yes, we even called them in by table, two tables at a time, to line up. Not that this was abided by, mind you...

 

Bottom line, I guess, is that we assumed too much. We assumed people would honor their commitment to bring their dish and that, if they forgot (hey, it happens), then we assumed they would not partake themselves unless there was any left over. We assumed parents would control their kids (I know, I know...my naivete is off the chart!) and we assumed the adults would put two and two together when they saw how many had yet to eat and how much food was on the serving table.

 

I'm honestly not really too concerned by it all. I find it more amazingly humorous than anything else. But I also recognize that, if I weren't in Pack leadership and had this experience a time or two, I'd be looking for another Pack. It would be the responsible and polite families that we'd lose too. Then we'd be left with the louts.

 

The only real problem I had with the chaos of the evening was the lack of attention during the awards portion of the evening. That's my own fault as, due to the time which we understood was going to run long, we gave awards out as the tables were being called, so little attention was paid. Not a horrible thing, but it is nice for the boys to have their moment in the spotlight when they're awarded for their efforts. I'll just do awards before eating next time or save them for the next gathering.

 

That is, if the Committee ever decides to try another potluck!

 

-- Tim Taylor

Port Orchard, Wash.

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Part of the problem with pot lucks is when you tell folks to bring a veggie, they'll bring one green bean casserole and a family of five. The math doesn't work. That family could eat the entire casserole. The family would need to bring a casserole sized to make an entire meal of it.

 

Clearly, having the pack provide the entree -- KFC's new grilled chicken is a really good option -- helps with that.

 

I used to be responsible for our family reunion. The rule we had was, "bring food to serve your whole family, then share." That way what would have become leftovers at home provides enough food for the gluttons and the idiots who show up with a bag of Doritos.

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Never hold onto awards. The Cubs earned them, they deserve to get them as soon as possible.

 

Never do awards while eating, or waiting in line to eat. No way will the kids, or parents, want to loose their place in the food line just to get an award!

 

Before or after works. We get the food stuff out of the way first, then do the awards after everyone is done (or at least sipping coffee and munching on dessert). That way most of the Scouts are there by then, and ready to participate.

 

 

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Our pack traditionally does a pot luck for B&G. Each den is assigned a category (main dish, side, etc...) and each family is asked to bring a dish that serves 8-10 people. Pack provides beverages, pizza, and a cake. It generally works out fine, but most everybody already knows what to expect.

 

We do not give out awards at B&G.

 

Here's my funny pot-luck story. At a church pot-luck a few years back, the main dish table had 18 dishes of mac & cheese and 1 dish of chicken nuggets - that's all!

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Pot lucks are a great way to keep cost down but you will always have those who feel they are entitled to everything they want ruin things. I would switch to catered. Yeah it's more expensive but there is more control and less aggravation.

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We usually have the troop treasury buy the main dish, hamburgers, chicken,or ribs. If not the leaders will pool $10 bucks each and one of us will pick up the main meal. The rest are assigne salads and desserts.

 

Usually its a once through thing until a call for seconds goes outs. But we are a boy scout troop and the scouts and parents have a little better understanding of what to expect.

 

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