Remember for your new leaders – Fast Start training and Youth Protection training is available on-line -
Fast Start traininghttp://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/faststart/
Youth Protection Onlinehttp://www.scouting.org/pubs/ypt/ypt.jsp
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy
Pack meetings set the stage for everything else in Cub Scouting: the den meetings, the home and family activities, the service projects, outdoor action, and even an introduction to the Boy Scout program. You might think of pack meetings as the gateway to Scouting.
Without pack meetings, those other things might not happen at all.
First, don't think of your meeting as a 'meeting'. Start to think in terms of a one night show, a production. Meetings are dull, we go to them every day and rarely (if ever) look forward to them. A show, however, is entertainment! People want to be entertained, and while they'll forget to go to your meeting, they'll remember that they have tickets to your show!
You may honestly believe that you're doing this for all the boys in your community, but the truth is that the person who benefits the most from your work as a as Cub Scout leader happens to live with you. Your Cub Scout son sees what you do, he is aware of your commitment and attitude and he will end up copying a good portion of what he sees and admires in you. Your first responsibility as a pack leader is to be a good Akela to your son. So put on a good show for him. Let him see you doing your best, planning ahead, being a good team member, and especially having fun while doing all this: the sort of life you would like him to emulate. Be a good role model.
The pack meeting must provide an arena for your dens to show their stuff. Strong dens perform regularly at pack meetings in ceremonies, skits, and other activities that can be seen and appreciated by parents. When den leaders and Cub Scouts look forward to their parts in an upcoming pack extravaganza the den meetings take on a focus and excitement that just makes Cub Scouting fun. When dens have no part in pack meetings, they tend to fill their den programs with rank advancement - this, in turn replaces the family and parent participation. This can weaken the whole program and structure of the pack.
The heart and soul of the Cub Scout program takes place in the boy's home with his family. Activities at the pack meeting must exalt the family's part in the program. Be generous with your recognition of the parents' contribution to the boys' advancement and their help with all phases of the program. As a general rule, you probably can never heap too much praise and accolades on parents.
Your highest attendance usually occurs at pack meetings, making them excellent locations to get the word out. The trick will be to do it without messing up the flow of fun and idealism that you want in your pack meeting programs. Long, boring announcements are killers so you will want to replace them with better communication methods. Newsletters and flyers are great for explaining details like dates, times and meeting places of upcoming events.
Posters and banners set up around the meeting room can emphasize future activities. It is amazing how something as simple as a few ribbons and a small fan can draw attention to a notice on poster board. Wrap your promotions for Service Projects, Friends of Scouting Appeals, and Summer Camp registration in skits, run-ons, and parodies of songs or TV commercials. Use ceremonies to honor contribution of parents and others.
VIOLATE THESE AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Lack of planning ruins more pack meeting than any thing else. Plan everything down to the last detail.
Who is going to do what, when, 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 round of 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 southeast 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.
Pack meetings are constructed from a variety of building blocks that you should use effectively. Here are some of the common ones:
- 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 cannot fail. Good den presentations build pack membership and retain good den leaders.
- Games - Bundles of FUN for everyone. Involve parents and all family members. These are the activities that will be remembered long after the meeting.
- 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.
- Promotion - 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.