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Cubmaster Pete

Multiple Bobcat Ceremonies

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20 hours ago, Cubmaster Pete said:

We have been toying with the idea of doing belt loops and pins at den meetings and only doing rank at pack events, so I think we will go that route. 

Our pack had between 100 to 140 cubs depending on crossovers, so to keep the pack meeting entertaining and under an hour, we only recognized the major recognition badges at the pack meetings and left the minor ones to the den leaders. We also handed out a monthly news letter at each pack meeting that listed each scout's other earnings as well. Bobcat is a biggy for us.

21 hours ago, Cubmaster Pete said:

I hear what you mean about the face paint, so maybe I will find something different to do.

There isn't any ceremony that can be done without someone being offended, it's the times we live in. One pack did a ceremony where they branded each scout by dipping a homemade branding iron of a Bobcat in washable paint and placing it on each scouts arm. The scouts loved it,  but the CM said one mother was offended because it implied slavery.  Shesh. I guess drawing a quick tattoo like their parents have is ok. :huh:

Barry

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This is the time when I wish for the Bronze Bobcat pin. My cub master, back in 1964,made me and a couple others recite the Promise, the Law of the Pack, and then gave us, through our moms and dads, our bobcat pins, to be worn upside down. 

 

Time:  5 minutes. 

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3 hours ago, John-in-KC said:

This is the time when I wish for the Bronze Bobcat pin. My cub master, back in 1964,made me and a couple others recite the Promise, the Law of the Pack, and then gave us, through our moms and dads, our bobcat pins, to be worn upside down. 

 

Time:  5 minutes. 

John, thank you, your post brought back great memories.  My Bobcat pin was presented in 1971, same exact ceremony.  Pin worn upside down till we did our first good turn, if I recall.

A little bit of ceremony goes a long way.  Many ceremonies today, especially for Webelos crossing over and Eagle, are overwrought.  Too many words, too many props, too much time expended. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Thunderbird said:

@qwazse  I think you are misunderstanding my point.  I don't mean that the recognition has to be exactly the same in every way.  Of course if you have 30 brand new Bobcats in October but only 1 Bobcat in January, then the time taken for the ceremony will be different even if the ceremonies are otherwise the same.  All I meant was that if you make a big fuss over the Cubs who join in October, then you should make a big fuss over the ones who join later, too.  They are all deserving of recognition regardless of when they join.

Make a big fuss? Yes! Fuss similarly? No!

Even if it's the same number of Bobcats awarded at both meetings ... It's perfectly fine if, in October, @Cubmaster Pete does a face-painting ceremony and in January, for example, simply has all of the October-cats come up and give the new Bobcats' cub scout scout handshakes and salutes. Then, maybe when prepping for next October ask those January (and later)-cats if they want to help paint faces since they missed getting painted last year.

Indeed, these boys are all deserving of recognition. And by using different ceremonies you focus on what the recognition is.

It's The badge!!!!!

We scouters often get lost in our little traditions. In this case the Bobcat badge is what recognizes some pretty ambitious memorization work on the part of a young scout. No ceremony recognizes it. (Proof: try painting faces without giving the badges see how happy these scouts would be!) What you may do around awarding the badge is nice, but superfluous. In the scouterverse, patches are the best thing ever. Really and truly the gratification of holding a well-earned patch is second only to using your skills to forestall death. So, a little face-paint may break up the monotony of doling out badges, but if it needs to be done every time for each awardee no matter what else needs to be done then it becomes the monotony! How do we know that? Well, this topic wouldn't exist if it were so much fun that no scouter could resist doing it for every awards ceremony!

Another example, at CoH's, I like to shake the hand of each scout who advances and give him a personal word of encouragement. But, say all the boys rack up copious bling one term, and a parent/sibling decides to fresh-bake cookies downstairs -- the smell of which motivates us to hustle things along and forgo pleasantries ... Are those boys any less recognized by myself or the rest of the troop because I didn't get a word in with them? By no means! They've got their rank and we all know it! Trust me, that 1st class scout will be called on to anchor a ridge line with a timber hitch whether I shook his hand or not!

One final example in two words: Wood badge. I won't expound because many of you are still recovering from that trauma ...

So break the monotony, give recognition diversely!

Edited by qwazse

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I started in cub scouts and have almost zero recollection of any ceremonies. All I remember is sitting and waiting for whatever was going on so we could go play. This was for the pack events. The weekly den activities on the other hand were always fun. We did stuff, built stuff, visited places. Others I am sure have different recollections.

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I get the pressure though to add elaborate ceremonies.  As a Cubmaster, I started with very simple presentations for rank awards. Then, I tried to make them more meaningful - so that meant more talking in an attempt to make them a bigger deal.  Then folks start saying- too much talking.  So, you find the Bobcat ceremony like this one.  Scouts and adults all love it. Now you're thinking- wow, they finally like It and you start looking for more like this.

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No two Cubmasters are alike and we all own our own style.

My goals for the pack meeting were to make if fun and keep it under an hour.  We averaged between 90 to 140 Cub Scouts over the years I was a Cub Master, so I had to also be efficient.

I like ceremonies because they lift up and celebrate honor. And they are fun. So the challenge is to create the ceremonies to fit in a 55 minute pack meeting. I created my ceremonies under themes. Except for the Bobcat, I rarely repeated themes to keep the ceremonies fresh. 

I still have my Bobcat pin given to me "up-side-down" in 1965. 

I love this scouting stuff.

Barry

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Good point @Eagledad

I'm struck by how many people do the Bobcat face painting ceremony.  I suspect there are many Cubmasters (myself included) who were new enough to the role that they were just trying to figure things out.  You look around or online and this is a popular ceremony to try - so people do it.  It would have been helpful to me if I had seen some other good examples of the kinds of things that were well received for a ceremony like this.  I wonder if it would be worth folks sharing more details about ceremonies that worked for them and why.

Just a thought.

As an aside - I remember attending things like University of Scouting and Roundtable desperate for information like that.   "What could I do as a Cubmaster to make pack meetings more fun and interesting?"  Everything I saw was always stuff that felt odd to me.  Roundtable guy wanted us to dress up and do slap stick kinds of stuff.  The UOS guy had suggestions that all involved very elaborate pack meetings with tons of setup.  

 

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

...  Roundtable guy wanted us to dress up and do slap stick kinds of stuff.  The UOS guy had suggestions that all involved very elaborate pack meetings with tons of setup.   ...

I'd wager that @ParkMan's instructors were deeply moved by their Wood Badge experience (which included lengthy dress-up skits, Win-All-You-Can pranks, and moving recognition dinners). We scouters need to understand that it is a huge and moving thing for a six-year-old to have a grown adult give him a badge in front of peers of scouts and their siblings. Therefore, one ceremony is fitting when a bunch of buddies achieve the same challenge together in due season, but a different ceremony is fitting when a single scout or a bunch of buddies meet the same goal out of season.

A good instructor will tell you this. And, he'll demonstrate both kinds of ceremonies. -- except the upside-down Bobcat. It's a roundtable-gone-wrong when grown-ups try to flip each other upside down.  :dry:

Edited by qwazse

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49 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

I wonder if it would be worth folks sharing more details about ceremonies that worked for them and why.

 

Sure, that is what forums are for. Our first pack meeting for the year typically was at a local park where we had a campfire. Since it was the first meeting of the year, our only ceremony was typically the Bobcats presentation. We started out holding scouts up-side-down because the was the common ceremony of the time and the scouts loved it. But when the National asked packs to stop the ceremony, I came up with my own. I tide a feather to some leather cord and made headbands. I presented each Bobcat with a headband when I gave them their patch. I made a few drums from coffee cans and asked the Webelos to beat them during the ceremony. I added a few words of wisdom and then sent the proud new Bobcats on their way. I kept a few headbands with me during the year for the late comers. I'm sure someone would be offended using a Native American theme, but I never heard one complaint and I was told many of the new Bobcats wore their feather headband to bed that night

56 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

As an aside - I remember attending things like University of Scouting and Roundtable desperate for information like that.   "What could I do as a Cubmaster to make pack meetings more fun and interesting?"  Everything I saw was always stuff that felt odd to me.  Roundtable guy wanted us to dress up and do slap stick kinds of stuff.  The UOS guy had suggestions that all involved very elaborate pack meetings with tons of setup.  

 

I was OCD about having fun for the scouts and keeping the meeting under an hour for the parents. The University of Scouting and roundtables are good at giving fun ideas, but not at keeping the meetings under and hour. So I took a lot of their ideas and modified them to work for my style.

I'm not one of those adults who stands stiff for several minutes holding my sign up until everyone is quiet. We are talking about elementary school boys who need to release some energy after sitting in school all day. If scouts would rather talk to the scout next to them than what was going on up front, I took that as my problem and changed that part of the meeting. I wanted the scouts to be exhausted by the end of the hour. So I generally created calm moments by giving permission to stand up and scream during other moments. 

We also eliminated boring announcements and put them in a monthly news letter to save time. We did do the announcement song many times because the scouts loved it, but my announcements where just few funny jokes.

Each meeting had a minimum of two skits (many times three), along with lots of one liner walk-on skits (usually by the Webelos), and at least one silly song. Pauses between agenda items generally take up the most time of a meeting, so we tried to eliminate as much as the dead time as possible. Each Den leader knew at the beginning of the year when their den was doing  a skit, song, or whatever so they could be prepared.  They knew before the meeting when to have their scouts ready to come up front. We only presented major badges and honors to save time. There was rarely a pause between agenda items, but if there was, I had a collection of silly jokes in my back pocket to fill in. If the scouts started getting loud because that part of the meeting was moving a little slow, I had a few tricks to get them jumping a screaming long enough to wear them down, then we got back on agenda. 

One other thing new Cubmasters need to learn is how to present last minute surprise awards. Rarely did I have a pack meeting where a den leader didn't surprised me with a scout who needed to be awarded with an unplanned badge or honor. 

That's the kind of stuff that can be passed along to pack leaders.

Barry

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Thanks @Eagledad

This is great.  Next question is probably a little off topic - but seems appropriate given the discussion...

As a general flow, how did your pack meetings tend to go.  I see you've got:

  • under an hour
  • 2-3 skits
  • several walk on skits
  • high level awards only
  • very limited announcements - mostly just a few jokes to allow Scouts to sing the announcements song

Did you typically do activities, have guest speakers, etc?  We're your meetings more hands-on with the boys doing things or were they more like entertainment where the boys sit and watch for an hour?

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

Did you typically do activities, have guest speakers, etc?  

First and last meeting were campfires at the local park by the lake. The first meeting campfire was for the Bobcat ceremony and the last meeting campfire was for graduating each den to the next year rank. The last meeting campfire was on a Friday so the New just graduated Webelos could spend the night with the new Webelos IIs. January was AOL ceremony, February was Blue and Gold and Pinewood. The snake guy came in April when the awards agenda was light. They always like the snake guy. 

1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

We're your meetings more hands-on with the boys doing things or were they more like entertainment where the boys sit and watch for an hour?

A little of both I guess. The Webelos led all the Opening and closing flag ceremonies. One Bear or Wolf Den was part of the opening and closing. The Webelos showed them how and where to carry the flag. The Webelos (called CM helpers) were expected to perform at least one skit, and several walk-on skits, with a Bear/Wolf den also performing a skit. Often the adult leaders did a skit....because everyone wants to be part of the fun. Many of the Award ceremonies were participation with the whole pack doing a cheer, yell or even a dance as the scout received their award. We got the parents as involved as we could. I found by accident that scouts love to watch their parents sing silly songs. I generally recruited a parent to lead the songs. Only silly songs worked for this age. Boys of this age don't sit and watch very well, so my goal was to get them on their feet yelling as much as possible through chants, cheers and jumping until the neckerchief hits the floor type stuff. I told a lot of jokes. But that ,believe it or not, was more to entertain parents. Turns out parents like to participate also. Of course little brother and sister like the jumping yelling stuff. 

As I said, the key to a short meeting is moving from one agenda item to the next with a little pause as possible.  And the key to that is everyone knowing when do their part. I learned the younger the scouts, the more the den leaders have to participate. Tigers pretty much require the Den leader to stand holding the their hands. The Webelos need no help or guidance from their leader.

The only time the sign was raised to get the groups attention was by the Webelos to start the flag ceremony. The rest of the meeting flowed too fast to loose  a scout's attention. That was the goal anyway.

Each meeting was a little different. The Webelos II den came 45 minutes early to set up the chairs and we never set them up the same. Sometimes the awards ceremony was done at the first part of the meeting, sometimes it was done toward the end. It sounds complicated, but actually each meeting had the same parts (skits, song, and awards), they were just moved around so the scouts never knew what was coming, which helped keep their attention.  

This was around 22 years ago, so I'm forgetting a lot.

Barry

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On 1/9/2019 at 6:30 AM, DuctTape said:

I started in cub scouts and have almost zero recollection of any ceremonies. All I remember is sitting and waiting for whatever was going on so we could go play. This was for the pack events. The weekly den activities on the other hand were always fun. We did stuff, built stuff, visited places. Others I am sure have different recollections.

My Bobcat is the only one I remember, but I remember touring the Chevrolet factory, the railroad shops, the...😀

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