August 2008 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue
September 2008 Theme
Citizen and Communicator
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy
Be sure to read Sean Scott's Admin Help on
Ziploc Packs, too. The two articles together are great!! CD
The monthly pack meeting
brings together boys from every den, their leaders, and their families, to
participate in a large-scale event that serves as a showcase for everything the
boys have learned and done in their individual den meetings. The pack meeting
gives the boys a larger experience beyond their own den, and helps them to
connect their individual activities to the entire Cub Scouting program
Purposes: Why do we do this, anyway?
Generally, pack meetings are held to recognize and reward dens and
individuals for their good Cub Scouting endeavors. They are sort of pep rallies
to generate enthusiasm for the rest of the program.
of the first things to look at is your meeting place. The layout and facilities
will both limit and enhance your program. What does it provide in the way of
space, seating, facilities, storage, etc? How can you best use it to make your
pack programs exciting and effective?
have a stage? Lighting? Sound system? If you have fixed seating, how will boys
and parents move out to participate in ceremonies, skits and stunts? How will
you fill the time it takes? Check sight lines around the room. Will everyone be
able to see and hear what is going on, or should you move the action center so
When I was a Cubmaster, we met in a small school room so we had the boys and
siblings sit on the floor by dens in a horse-shoe formation with parents on
chairs behind the boys. All our activities – ceremonies, skits, games – took
place inside the horse-shoe. This limited things like games and big productions.
It forced us to rely on monthly outdoors activities to provide more excitement.
On the other hand, it was great for audience participation stunts and songs.
Everyone was so close, even the parents had to participate. Advancement
ceremonies were close and personal.
Lack of planning ruins more pack meeting than any thing else.
Plan everything down to the last detail.
is going to do what, when, and for how long?
Get as many of the
participants (the TEAM) involved in planning as possible. This will help ensure
that each member knows his or her part and is willing to do it. Remember to plan
the little things like pre opening activities,
cheers and run-ons. The more you plan, the more spontaneous everything will
play out and the more prepared you will be when something unexpected happens.
Write it all out and give a copy to everyone involved.
A whole bunch of jobs have to be done to make a pack meeting work:
Master of Ceremonies - someone to introduce each star
performer and lead the applause.
Cheer master - someone to lead the sparklers, the audience
participation stunts and support all the acts.
Award Presenter - someone to open the envelopes, call up
the honored and conduct the ceremonies.
Director - someone to keep track of who is up next, cue the
acts, and keep the whole gang on schedule.
Stage Manager - someone to make sure that all the props are
in place, the color guard has the flags, the artificial campfire is plugged in
and the badges are ready.
Song Leader - in case the Cheer Master isn't up to a quick
Do Wah Ditty.
Information Manager - someone to distribute newsletters and
flyers, or stage gorilla theatricals to promote some noble Scouting cause.
You can double up or rotate and share some of the functions
but you should involve all the Assistant Cubmasters and most of your Pack
Committee in these jobs. You will also need a few people to do run-ons, help
with ceremonies, and handle the lights.
KEEP IT MOVING
A successful pack meeting grabs and holds the attention of everyone there: the
Tigers, Cub Scouts and Webelos as well as the parents, and siblings. You do this
with short fast-moving bits. You change the mood of the audience with every
dramatic and comedic trick you can borrow or copy or invent. Keep the pace
changing with faster or slower sparklers or audience participation gags. Use the
entire room so that if someone leads a song from the north end of the hall, the
following den skit enters from the south-east corner. Move the center of
attention around with action, sound and lighting.
Dead time is a killer.
Make sure that when one bit is finished, the next participant is ready with a
cheer, a magic trick or presentation. Don't let them sit still for the entire
meeting - sprinkle in lots of stunts that get everyone standing, jumping,
applauding and shouting.
Sean Scott of San
Diego tells us:
observed a lot of pack meetings (good and bad) and I've seen a definite
correlation between the behavior of the kids and parents and the quality of
the program being presented. If it's not interesting to both groups, one or
the other will stop listening. So, as leaders, we have to tailor the program
to include "Interesting to kids and adults" right along side "Recognize
advancement" and "Inform the membership".
Focus on the boys, and fine tune for the adults
Pack meetings are constructed from a variety of building blocks that you should
use effectively. Here are some of the common ones:
Watch for the links in the
If it is underlined, it is a link!! CD
Ceremonies - Main elements of your program. Build everything else around
these. The openings and closings frame the program. Advancement and graduations
are your highlights.
Den presentations - Headline acts. Set these up carefully so that they
can not fail. Good den presentations build pack membership and retain good den
Games - Bundles of FUN for everyone. Involve parents and all family
members. These are the activities that will be remembered long after the
Sparklers - Mood changers. Use these to build excitement and intensity
or to settle things down for a more serious bit.
Songs - More effective mood changers. Songs can be just plain fun or can
make a closing ceremony very special.
Costumes - Great for setting up the theme of the
month. You don't have to be in uniform every meeting. Check out “Skits and
Costumes” and “Puppets” sections of the
Cub Scout Leader How-To Book.
- Create enthusiasm for upcoming special events. Think of TV
commercials, movie trailers or circus parades.
Visitors - New families, someone from the Chartered
Organization or a neighboring Scout Troop should be introduced with proper
fanfare and even a special cheer. Caution: be careful about letting them speak.
FLOW and MOOD SETTING
Each part of the meeting sets a tone or mood that will carry on to the next
part. The opening ceremony will catch the attention of the audience and things
usually begin in a subdued and attentive mood. You usually want to build the fun
and excitement before you bring on a high-light event like a den skit. You can
do this with sparklers, audience participation stunts, and games. If things
get a bit dull, liven them up with cheers and run-ons. If the boys get too
rambunctious, use a song or story to bring the mood down to earth. You may want
to set a serious tone for a graduation ceremony or a closing so choose your
stunts and gimmicks accordingly. A good team of leaders can, with a bit of
practice, become expert at this.
Variety and surprise can do a lot to make your meetings successful. Vary the
pace throughout each meeting and vary the elements, themes and moods from month
to month. When the boys and parents start wondering what will this crazy bunch
of leaders do next, then you have reached top form.
SOME TIPS FOR PACK MEETINGS
DON'T BE A ONE MAN SHOW. Putting on a ninety minute show is a huge job.
It's a lot easier and things run smoother when you work as a team. Use your
Assistant Cubmasters, Committee members to help. Plan and Prepare!
VARY THE PACE. Keep things moving at different speeds,
different volumes, and different moods. Use songs and cheers and lively songs to
speed things up, stories and ceremonies to slow them down. Build toward the big
event of your meeting - it may be rank awards or a special visitor but make it
INVOLVE PARENTS. Don't let them sit at the back of the room
and talk. They should be drawn into every part of the meeting - especially
ceremonies and audience participation stunts. Have the occasional game just for
parents - the kids will love it.
HIDE ANNOUNCEMENTS. Put most information about upcoming events in your
news letter. If you need to say something about a big event, do it the form of a
run-on, skit or ceremony. All you need is some fun gimmick to draw attention to
where the details are written down.
USE SONGS. Most - almost all - of us start with the assumption that we
could never lead a song. With Cub Scouts, it is really the easiest thing in the
world. Kids love to sing - the dumber and livelier the song, the better. Start
by leading some of the audience participation stunts in Group Meeting Sparklers
or Program Helps. Next, try a very simple song like Tarzan of the Apes. All you
need is three or four songs you and your pack like to sing - most of them you
may learn at summer camp. It does wonders for your pack meetings.
Ever gone to a baseball game and sung,
"Take Me Out to the Ball Game?"
How did that tradition start??
who is credited with singing it first at a ball game in 1971, once said, "I
would always sing it, because I think it's the only song I knew the words
to!" On Opening Day in 1976 Bill Veeck noticed the fans were singing along
with Caray so a secret microphone was placed in the broadcast booth the
following day to allow ALL the fans to hear him. Veeck explained to Caray,
"Harry, anybody in the ballpark hearing you sing 'Take Me Out to the Ball
Game' knows that he can sing as well as you can. Probably better than you
can. So he or she sings along. Hell, if you had a good singing voice you'd
intimidate them, and nobody would join in!"
Now lets apply this to your pack meeting - the worse you sing the more
people will join in!!! I know this to be true, just listen to me sing!! CD
LET THE DENS BE THE STARS. Feature several dens at every
pack meeting. They should be doing opening and closing ceremonies, skits and
other presentations. Give Webelos Dens opportunities to demonstrate the
spectacular things they have learned as they worked on Activity Badges and Arrow
of Light. Reward every den with a special cheer.
USE PROPS AND SPECIAL EFFECTS. Flags, artificial campfires,
den doodles, candle-lit ceremonies all add drama and interest to the meetings.
(And they help cover up the fact that we are all a bunch of amateurs doing
this.) If your pack doesn't have all these, assign groups of parents to make
them. Check the Cub Scout Leader's How-To Book for starters. Also they will look
great in the photos for your web site and your next roundup.
going to do now?
Go get ‘em. We need all the help we
best gift for a Cub Scout.......
......get his parents involved!
Also, be sure to visit
to finds more ideas on everything Cub Scouting.
Comments for Bill
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