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jbelanger86

Pack meetings and handing out advancements

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So im pretty new to scouting, I only joined in Jan. My husband and I took over a failing pack. Since then we have taken the pack from 11 boys to almost 50 and we have "managed" to get by on pack meetings. The first few were horrible though, lol. I just didnt have the time to plan them because the pack was falling apart and I was trying to help the dens get in order, and finally get everyone trained ect. I have a non existent committee for the most part. I am technically the Committee chair but everyone knows me as the asst cubmaster so when i switched roles we just left it that way. Im also the wolf/bear den leader, merging them because we only have 2 bears and no other leaders. So im constanlty trying to make sure that i get 17 boys all their requirements, lol. I do love it though. 

 

Anyway, on the topic. Because im just now trying to put on a great pack meeting, im really kinda lost. Then you add the new beltloops into the mix too. 

 

Here is what I have: I have a den of 6 webelos 2 who the den leader just piled on a sheet of 30+ pins that they earned and she just never turned in, how the heck am i to hand them out? Thats a lot of pins for each kid. 

 

Then, all the webelos 1, bears, and wolves have earned their first beltloop for the new program, what is everyone doing to hand those out? Normally when a badge was earned I had the parent come up and pin it on the boy's shirt, but im lost about what to do with these. What are you doing?

 

Then, how to make it fun!! I asked each den to come up with a skit or a song to do but knowing my leaders, I might have one den ( other than mine) that does something decent, so how do i make it fun even with the dens not participating? 

 

Also, I was thinking of doing some halloween themed finger foods/snacks, is this something you do? 

 

Should i decorate in any way?

 

Any other help you can provide would be great. Ive looked all over the internet for ideas and the pack meeting guide, but it just doesnt seem all that fun for the boys and the parents, and I really want them to enjoy the pack meetings. 

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avoid the temptation to be a baggie pack.

That's what my pack has always done, since before my time.

and with the exception of AOL, have never done any sort of ceremony. meaningful or otherwise.....

call the name, he earned this, that, and the other thing.... hand him the bag, everyone claps

repeat.

I was never happy doing that

 

The best I have read for larger packs is to do them in mass

 

will the following boys come to the front

when they get there, you say these boys have earned X

I suppose you could then even elaborate with some sort of ceremony or whatever

 

Then do the next group of awards.

 

Some boys may get called to the front a few times in the evening if they earned more than one award....

 

 

Or even better, encourage your Den Leaders to present the awards immediately at Den Meetings, or ASAP at the next Den meeting ....

then at the pack meeting you can recognize the boy

maybe by reading off everyone that earned any award since the last pack meeting and having them stand at the front....

then you can very quickly recognize each boy for what they did as they stand in line in front of the pack.

Personally I like this immediate recognition much better.

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In our pack meetings we always had

sign in at the door so we knew who was there

some displays of what the scouts have made or done over the past month

 

gathering activity was a very simple craft, or game.  something 5 minutes maybe

we had themed neckerchief slides, often they were the gathering activity to make a neckerchief slide to wear for the month. So for October it would be make a ghost neckerchief slide with a piece of pvc cut thin for the slide part, take a square of white fabric, cotton balls in the middle, wrap around a pipe cleaner to make the head and attach to the pvc and sharpie on 2 eyes and a mouth. simple and neat looking too. 

 

Then flag ceremony--we rotated and each month a different den would do the flags, practicing to carry the pack flag and American flag to the front and lead everyone in the pledge and cub scout promise (Scout oath)

 

Cubmaster would often come out dressed as a character for that month.  This was when national was pushing themes like Knights of the roundtable and the cubmaster would come out dressed as a king (bathrobe and a burger king crown lol)

He would do a cheer or a repeat after me song or something to get everyone excited.

 

The would call up the den leader to present their den's awards,

often the den leader would have the scouts come up and do a cheer, the den cheer, a short skit or sing a little song first, before or after the awards..

 

for ranks parents come up and pin on awards and we make a huge deal of it

 

Most things it would be just the scout, or scout and parent when tigers are too scared to go up on stage by themselves.

sometimes the awards were given out very nicely, Cubmaster would take the award from the den leader and "I dub you George the trustworthy" with the awards given out with a flourish to "knight" the kid. 

Sometimes they were unfortunately just a baggy with a list of awards written on the front.

 

When there were LOTS of awards for each rank, the den would be encouraged to hand out some of the "less important" things in den meetings, trying to keep awards at pack meeting just the top 2-3 things for each kid.  At one point a den leader was so crazy putting their large den in for every single thing we had to make a financial ruling to give out no more than 2-4 awards per month that the pack would pay for up to a certain $ amount.  The den could use den dues to pay for the remainder, collect from the parent, or wait til next month for the remainder.  It helped slow down dens pushing to earn 10 belt loops a month that was just more than the pack could afford.  

 

There would be a pack game together, sometimes as simple as having the whole pack see how long to keep a balloon in the air from their chairs, or how many balloons can the whole pack keep in the air at the same time, adding a new balloon every minute or so.  sometimes it was something more elaborate.  One that made people really laugh was a race to blow a feather across the floor of the cafeteria to the other side, the prize was just a big sparkly feather.  Parents almost killed themselves trying to blow a small feather across the floor. :D For Halloween we tied a white balloon with a face drawn on to the legs of kids and adults who wanted to play, and then played stomp the ghost.  Last kid with an unbroken balloon would win a bag of Halloween candy.

 

we'd do very quick announcements.  My favorite announcement was "grab a copy of the newsletter off that table, no I'm not going to read it to you". and flags taken down.

 

Stay after for cookies and clean up.  Kids inevitably start playing a game and you have to chase everyone out.

 

for your pack you'll have to decide if the adventure loops will be given out at pack meetings or den meetings.  It might be nice to give out at a pack meeting at least occasionally.  For some kids being called to the front of the room at a large pack meeting is very exciting and worth the time it takes to do that for ever scout.  Maybe at least acknowledge the loops at every meeting, with them getting the loop itself at the den meetings.  then you are just reading names, handing out cards.  which is, of course, kinda boring. 

 

set up some traditions and expectations in your pack.

and recruit yourself some help!!!!

Edited by 5yearscouter

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I think @@5yearscouter outlines a pretty good meeting.

I'd agree that once in a while at least it's a good idea to get each boy up as an individual.  My suggestion for doing it in groups is just based on the size of the pack.

 

I also like his suggestion of having the dens display what they have been up to.

My predecessors had a habit of den time.... a time during the meeting for each den to do a skit or some activity.  I tried to start something new where they would present what they have been up to..... either a show, or a tell, etc....

I liked the idea of displaying it at their table but 

My hope was that this way required less prep time of the den leaders to come up with a display.... since they were usually scrambling and unprepared just to get their awards in order.... Sadly, now that my predecessors are now my successors, it has died....

 

I stuck with the den time idea for skits though..... and sometimes My den leaders wouldn't have anything..... or it would be done on the fly and not very good...... so I can sympathize with you @@jbelanger86.  

I would always try to have an activity to get the boys up an screaming and such.  If there were no skits, I would just let this go on a bit longer.... or have a second one in my back pocket just in case. Have a package of balloons handy.... there are tons of things you can do with them on the fly.....

 

I once did a relay race where the boys each inflated a balloon (or their parents).  It was a big hit I think....

the balloons all went in a pile and the boys lined up in teams on the other side of the room.  

One at a time a boy would run and grab a balloon, run back to the head of his line

and sit on the balloon to make it pop.

The next boy couldn't run for his balloon until it popped.

 

I used to do up an announcement flyer as a handout to reduce or eliminate announcements.  I'd usually point out anything big though..... but found that most folks didn't even bother to take them and I could never get anyone else on the committee to take over that role when I took CubMaster.... so I dropped that.

 

Oh, rereading your post..... one more thing about awards....

it seems like the den leaders are handing all the awards to you for passing out.

I'm assuming you are CM

We have always called the Den Leaders to the front of the room to do the handing out.....

 

 

I sure do wish I had one more year with it as CM.... oh what am I saying....

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As for the Skits or Songs and other activities ... I usually have a couple of "back pocket" skits that require almost no time to practice, especially ones that can have varying numbers of people, and the Scouts have a lot of fun doing them (invisible bench, CPR, pulling rope and other run-ons).  I also always have one or two songs that I know by heart that can cover a dead space; if it's a repeat song, I can still call up the responsible den to "help" me lead the song.

http://www.macscouter.com/Skits/

 

Our Camping coordinator, for skits on the campouts, has a bunch of skit idea cards in a bag, and has the scouts pull one out with one minute to learn the sketch before doing it.  He called it skit ninja, and it's a big hit with the Scouts.

 

Each pack meeting we usually ask one den to have a skit, one den to have a song, another den does the flags, etc.  This distribution of the tasks gets each den a chance for each activity, but not where they need to spend each den meeting planning the next pack meeting's skit, etc.

 

For Awards ...

In our pack, I usually call up a den leader to present the awards earned by their den.  If the boy has earned a lot of awards, we will probably hand a baggie of the awards to the boy, but we do call out each award earned.  If there aren't too many boys and/or awards earned, we'll usually ask the Scout to say one think they learned while working on that award.

 

We always try to make each rank award a big presentation, matching the theme of the pack meeting, and involving the parents of the Scout.

 

The pack meeting plans ...

http://www.scouting.org/Home/CubScouts/Leaders/CubmasterResources/PackMeetingPlans.aspx

are also a helpful resource on ideas for presenting ranks and other advancements.  The Baloo's Bugle http://usscouts.org/bbugle.asp also has ideas for advancement ceremonies, award presentations, games, etc.

 

Finally, if you can, attend your District (or a nearby district's) Roundtable.  These leader training meetings are often run like a mini pack meeting, presenting materials from the recommended theme for the next month (i.e. October's Roundtable will present ideas for a November meeting).  They will often include songs and sketches that can be adopted into your pack meeting.  The roundtable is not just for you, but for any of your den leaders, committee members, and parents you may be looking to recruit.

 

Good luck and thank you for your service.

Edited by gumbymaster

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avoid the temptation to be a baggie pack.

That's what my pack has always done, since before my time.

and with the exception of AOL, have never done any sort of ceremony. meaningful or otherwise.....

call the name, he earned this, that, and the other thing.... hand him the bag, everyone claps

repeat.

I was never happy doing that

 

The best I have read for larger packs is to do them in mass

 

will the following boys come to the front

when they get there, you say these boys have earned X

I suppose you could then even elaborate with some sort of ceremony or whatever

 

Then do the next group of awards.

 

Some boys may get called to the front a few times in the evening if they earned more than one award....

 

Just curious, what is it about the baggie approach that you don't like?  At least that way a kid gets called up individually.

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Historically, the baggie approach is that you call up a boy, hand him a bag of awards and say "here are your awards".  In short, you recognize the Scout but not the (qualntity and quality of) achievements.

 

The Baggie itself is not the problem, and even the Scout leader guides recommends the use of it or a similar item to organize and track the awards for each Scout. 

 

The key is to make sure that each Scout gets recognized for each achievement.

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yep, it's not the baggie itself.

 

Usually, it's half a step better than "here's your awards."

 

More like 

The DL calls up a boy

"Billy earned is outdoor achievement award and his chess belt loop this month"

usually recited before the boy even gets up front....

The DL then tosses or hands the bag to the boy.

and tries to get the boy to shake hands.... which most do reluctantly

so he's up front less than 20 seconds

 

With a mega pack, it's probably hard to do much more than that

but it's not what I would call "Meaningful"

there could be more discussion about the awards, what was fun about it, what was required, etc....

Make a big deal about it.  make the boy a little proud for an accomplishment.  let the other boys hear what he did, maybe make them want to earn it too....

and maybe for the bigger ones, such as rank, perhaps the Outdoor Achievement Award, etc... I think it would be better to try and do a ceremony, even if a very short and basic one...

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Whatever you do, never ask the boy what he did to earn the award.  I had a CM do that to one of my Webelos boys.  He just stood there with the traditional deer-in-the-headlights stare.  It was the communicator pin.  I didn't make a big deal out of advancement, but blended it into the different activities we did.  I stood and said, "It the Communicator pin, tell everyone how much fun you had sending codes with the flags and flashlights."  He lit up like the 4th of July and the CM had to interrupt him so we could continue.  The next boy earned the Readyman pin.  Same initial reaction to the CM's inquiry, but I merely mentioned the first aid thing and carrying people on the stretchers and the boy lit up.  The CM then went back to just handing out pins.  :)

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For my Den (Tigers) I made up certificates which I plan on handing out at our meeting (before they get the belt loop).  

 

A question I had related to this topic is, what do you do if all but one of your boys didn't earn the achievement?  I feel bad for him, it wasn't his choice, but do you go through that?  Here you go x 4, oh but sorry little Billy, you don't get one.  Moving on..

 

How do you handle that part?

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For my Den (Tigers) I made up certificates which I plan on handing out at our meeting (before they get the belt loop).  

 

A question I had related to this topic is, what do you do if all but one of your boys didn't earn the achievement?  I feel bad for him, it wasn't his choice, but do you go through that?  Here you go x 4, oh but sorry little Billy, you don't get one.  Moving on..

 

How do you handle that part?

you just don't call him up.  No big deal..... 

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Thanks, yeah I figured the most simple/logical route would be the way to go.  I don't like to sugar coat stuff, and quite honestly I've never been a fan of "give a kid something for not trying", like a consolation prize.  

 

You didn't earn it, you don't get it.

 

These days, that's likely to get you sued (or worse) though, just wanted to see what others might be doing in that situation.

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Kids are pretty resiliant.

 

If he is earing something, but maybe just not as much as some others in the den, I wouldn't worry about it in the least.

 

Otherwise, If you have a chance, before the meeting, you can talk with the Scout and his parents.  Manage their expectations.

 

"Billy, I know you didn't have a chance to complete the xxx award that the others will be receving tonight.  I want to make sure that you and your parents both know that you can finish that award at any time you like, and when you do, let me know and we'll make sure you get it at the next meeting."

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