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How long are your weekly troop meetings?

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I amy have this posted in the wrong forum so I ask your tolerance. I know that the BSA Program Features plan a meeting to last 90 minutes. In business, I dread meetings anywhere near that long. In talking to a couple parents and one of my own sons who dropped scouts about why boys don't go to the meetings, length is a common theme. I know that we as many troops struggle with boy-led planning and execution of meetings especially during those 6-month periods when we don't have a strong SPL. It would seem to me that reducing the length of the meeting might help. I would like to know the length of meetings of other units. Other tricks and ideas are also appreciated. In the interest of full disclosure, I am only a committee member and am researching this to aid the SM and ASM's.

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Have the SPL use the Troop Meeting Plan.

 

http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34425.pdf

 

When was SPL back in the day it was essential to planning out a proper well-executed meeting, and doesn't leave time for anyone to get bored because things were always moving.

 

In a well-planned meeting, 90 minutes will feel like it's not enough time rather than too much time.

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Seems to be between 1.5 and 2 hours. Usually there are BOR's going on along the side as well.(This message has been edited by Engineer61)

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back in the day, we had 1.5 hours. BUT it was a fun 1.5 hours. Opening, skills, game time, patrol, corners closing, etc etc.

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Meetings are 90 minutes, but most elements last no longer than 20 or 30 minutes without a change.

 

As a SM myself, the best way you can aid the program is to coach your son and the other families whose ear you may have to pitch in and make it better. If the meetings are boring, your BOYS need to go to their PLs and SPL with ideas for improvements. Lead, follow or get the heck out of the way, as Captain Courageous used to say. Secondly, help your son understand the nature of Scout-led troops mean that the guys leading the meetings are learning their jobs too. He will be at the front of the room one day and will appreciate some consideration from the younger Scouts.

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Our meetings last 1.5 hours:

 

15 minutes opening, attendance, announcements

40 minutes Scouting related activity (planned by PLC)

30 minute game (We meet in a school gym)

5 minute closing

 

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20-30 Minutes OPening, Flag, Announcements,

30 minutes Patrol time, Troop presentation

25 minutes game

5 SM minutes

 

7-8:30 on Tuesdays

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If you look at the 1936 Handbook for Scoutmasters that introduced the Patrol Method to Scouting you see a troop meeting plan that is very similar to the 1.5 troop meeting plan recommended by the BSA today.

 

The difference is that then the 5 min SM minute was a 30 minute campfire where the SM told a story to the Scouts. The meeting plan back then was 2 hours.

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>>The difference is that then the 5 min SM minute was a 30 minute campfire where the SM told a story to the Scouts. The meeting plan back then was 2 hours

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Huh?

 

I have no problem with 90 minutes meetings, especially if you're trying to do troop business, and also have an outdoor game at the end of the meeting. I think the problem is what is going on in the meetings, not the length of the meetings.

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60 minutes or even 45 minutes is too long if the content is boring. Make it interesting, fun, and relative and 90 minutes will not be long enough.

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During my last tenure as SPL (2006) we met for 90 minutes. The meeting was broke down like this...

 

10 minutes---Open Ceremonies and Overview of Meeting

20 minutes---Patrol Time to Focus on Upcoming Camp Out, Skits for COH, Etc

20 minutes---Advancement, Merit Badge, Skills Instruction

20 minutes---Patrol Competition

5 minutes---SM Minute

5 minutes---Announcements and Closing

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The challenge in planning a meeting is NOT to achieve the longest, non-boring meeting be it 90min, 2hours, 2.5hours, rather to achieve balanced compromise between the troop program and the boy's schedule. A troop meeting should not monopolize a school night, which likely includes an after school activity or job, family dinner, chores, and HOMEWORK.

 

Maybe you should be asking how many scouts participate in an after school activity or job. How many hours of homework do they typically have on meeting night.

 

90 minutes generally seems a good balance.

 

My $0.02

 

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Being a new troop, I made a deal with my scouts and their parents. The door will never be locked, but we will always start on time. If the boys are late, they're late. No punishment or discipline, but I sure hope they didn't miss something really good because when it's done it's done. If they NEED to know it, that is up to the PL if he wants to offer the scout what he missed.

 

But as I have asked for my time to be respected, I told them I will also always have respect for their time as well. By the 90th minute at the latest, the door is locked and we are walking to the car. If I can't figure out a way to make sure the boys to get everything they need in 90 minutes, that's my problem. It just means that either I or the SPL have homework to do that week, depending on what didn't get done.

 

All that said, 90 minutes really does seem to be about how long it takes to get from hello to good night. When the boys are running the show, something that would take us 5 minutes can sometimes take 10 or 12. But that doesn't mean there won't be the occasional 60-70 minute night. Sometimes those games the boys thought would be great turn out to be duds, or they get through things a little quicker than they thought. Every once in a while an early night isn't a bad thing.

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My son, the SPL, is adamant that meetings start at 7 pm and are over by 8. He wants to be in the car on the way home at 8:15 since he left home at 06:45 for school. And, he's doing very well enforcing it, to the relief of all. There were some nights last year when we didn't get away until nearly 9 pm.

 

This works very well for the troop.

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