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Baloo's Bugle

March 2006 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 13, Issue 8
April 2007 Theme

Theme: Cub Cafe
Webelos: Family Membe & Sportsman
Tiger Cub


Are You A Ziploc Pack???
By Sean Scott

Most leaders recognize that rank advancement ceremonies should be impressive and representative of the amount of work the boy has put into earning the award. But what about the belt loops, activity patches and other "smaller" awards your boys earn?  Unfortunately, these awards are often given out using the "Baggie and Handshake" ceremony. You know, a baggie with the boy’s name, and a hearty handshake. No offense, but that’s not PHUN! And Scouting, especially Cub Scouting, is supposed to be PHUN!

What many leaders don’t realize is that these "minor" awards can be a blessing in disguise—a chance to really make your meetings exciting, and get parents and boys alike pumped up about the Scouting program!

So how do you polish up your pack meeting to be shiny and baggie free? Use your imagination! There’s no limit to what you can do to present awards to your boys, parents and leaders. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Shoot your awards in on balloons. Tie up a string with some cut straws, tape the award to the balloon, the balloon to the straws, and fill the balloon with air. When you release the air from the balloon, it will propel the award/balloon rocket down the string. Take on the role of "mission control" and with a little help from some willing parents you have a space themed recognition! 

Tape awards to the undersides of Frisbees and throw them out to boys standing in the back of the room. Have them throw them back to you, and let an assistant reload the Frisbees. Or mount them on paper airplanes for similar effect.

Pot a dead tree or branch and put paper leaves on it with the awards stuck to the leaves for a conservation and nature themed ceremony.

Place the awards in a piñata and let the boys go at it with a stick, one or two hits each. While they’re taking their swings you can announce who got what.

Hide the awards around the room and give each boy a treasure map that leads them to their award. Tell everyone what they received while they’re looking. Or hide ‘coins’ that the boys can use to ‘buy’ their award from the Cubmaster, er, I mean Pirate King at the front of the room.

Have them pan for gold nuggets and exchange them at the bank for their awards. You could make a speech about them being more precious than gold while you’re at it.

Dish them out of a pot dressed as a chef. Or make cupcakes or a cake and stick them in the icing on top.

Have someone dressed as a delivery person "hand deliver" important packages to the boys during the meeting. Or have them dress as a military courier or paratrooper, with open parachute dragging behind them. (I’d make sure they took as lengthy a route through the room as possible in order to catch and twist the ‘chute around as many things as possible. Ham it up!)

Fire them from catapults your Webelos made. Make castle walls from refrigerator boxes and shoot from inside the castle (or outside, depending on where you want to be...)

Give them out as carnival prizes, with each boy performing some simple, fun skill. (Don’t make it so hard that your Tigers can’t do whatever it is, and just get something handed to them.)

Find someone who’s good at magic or sleight of hand to conjure them out of the boys ears, from under their hats or neckerchiefs, etc.

Put them inside Whiffle balls or balloons and hit them out to the boys with a big plastic bat. Let them "field" the award.

One month my assistant Cubmaster and I dressed as cowboys. We took the roles of Wells and Fargo, and were distributing the dividends of a successful summer of mining operations to our "employees" from a cardboard safe. Each boy got a small cloth bag marked "Gold—Property of:" with their name on it. Halfway through the ceremony, another leader appeared to rob the bank. We wrapped him with a Mylar emergency blanket we had hidden behind the safe and pulled him out of the room as he shouted, "Drat! Foiled again!"

Another month, we dressed as pirates and distributed awards from a treasure chest, while punctuating the ceremony with a variety of pirate jokes.

It doesn’t need to be elaborate, just fun and memorable. Use costumes, props and your imagination. Anything that requires throwing, catching, hitting, running, jumping, breaking, popping, bouncing, stomping, rolling, crawling, climbing, swinging or dropping is bound to bring a smile to the face of a nine-year-old.

Don’t be afraid to explore and write your own ceremonies! And make it PHUN!

Sean Scott is the Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner, Cub Scout Training Chairman and Cubmaster in the Tahquitz District, California Inland Empire Council

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