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10 memorable ways to pump up your Scoutmaster’s or Cubmaster’s Minute

You’ve got 60 seconds; make them count.

After a pack or troop meeting filled with learning, fun, and fellowship comes the grand finale: the Scoutmaster’s or Cubmaster’s Minute.

Consider it a closing argument to your Scouts — one last chance to inspire before they head home.

But how do you find a message that’s relevant, powerful, and memorable that can be crammed into 60 seconds?

I’m here to help. I scoured the Internet, asked our Facebook friends, and used my own experience watching my dad and other great Scoutmasters deliver memorable messages to find these 10 ideas:

1. Try some ready-to-use stories.

Turn to some BSA-selected stories to help get you started. (Stock)

Your first stop should be this BSA-produced document (PDF) containing 18 pages of Scoutmaster’s Minutes (they can be adapted for Cubmasters, too). You’ll find parables and real-life stories that will get Scouts thinking. They’re ready to read, but try to memorize them for full effect.

2. Look in unexpected places.

You can even find inspiration while standing in line for lunch. (Photo by flickr user sandphin)

Scouter David M. says he’s “always on the lookout for quotes and sayings that people have posted around their offices. If I find one that I like, I use the camera on the iPhone to take a picture so I will have it later. I have even taken a picture of a sign at a local Jimmy John’s sandwich shop.” The sign here says “Proper Apologies Have Three Parts: 1. What I did was wrong. 2. I feel badly that I hurt you. 3. How can I make this better?”

3. Follow the law.

"A Scout is Kind" and 11 other Scoutmaster's Minutes that write themselves. (Cropped Norman Rockwell painting)

Twelve points of the Scout Law equal 12 Scoutmaster’s Minutes, says Scouter Chris F. “I once went for months just talking about the 12 points of the Scout Law,” he writes. “It didn’t take long for the boys to be telling me which one was next in the series.” To keep Scouts interested, consider finding a new twist on each point or tying it to a real-life story.

4. Read the news (and Bryan on Scouting).

Pip, an Eagle Scout on NBC's "The Voice," has a good message for your Scouts. (Photo by Lewis Jacobs/NBC)

Scouter Joe W. uses the stories of everyday heroes — Scouts and non-Scouts “in the community making a difference.” Some examples he includes are “the Eagle Scout on The Voice, the Eagle Scout slacklining at the Super Bowl, and the 12-year-old girl who saved a kid drowning on the Oregon coast while adults looked on wondering what to do. When boys see this stuff in the news, it lets them know that people like them are making a difference. It makes it all possible.”

5. Prop up your presentation.

A postage stamp: a tiny prop with a big message. (Photo by flickr user karen horton)

Scouts are visual learners, so bringing in something that you can hold, use, or pass around will instantly make your presentation more engaging. For example, bring a postage stamp to sell the lesson that Scouts should stick to their task until it’s finished, just as a stamp stays put until the letter reaches its destination.

6. Go to the movies.

Show a short movie clip and then apply it to Scouting. (Stock)

If your meeting place has the right audio-visual equipment, share an inspirational speech from one of your favorite movies. Most of these can be found with a simple YouTube search. To help you find one, check out this funny video montage of 40 speeches in two minutes.

7. Make it personal.

Why not write your own story? (Stock)

Sometimes the best stories are your own. Preachers have used this tactic in sermons forever, so why shouldn’t you? If you were in Scouts as a youth, think about your favorite memories. Or make it more recent and pull from a Scouting trip where you saw something that inspired you.

8. Find a poet.

Poets have been delivering short bursts of inspiration for centuries. (Stock)

Poems have a way of telling a simple message in a profound, unforgettable way. Find an inspirational poem, such as Rudyard Kipling’s “If,” and read it aloud. Longer poems could even be split over several Scoutmaster’s/Cubmaster’s Minutes.

9. The search is on.

A simple Google search can be your friend. (Stock)

A Google search for “Scoutmaster’s Minute” turns up several great resources, including unofficial sites and troop and pack pages. All are worth checking out, but a personal favorite is this Boy Scout Trail site. If you’re looking to narrow things down, search for “Scoutmaster’s Minute” and then a subject, such as “fear” or “hope.”

10. Stay current.

Big football game this weekend? Incorporate that into your message. (Photo by flickr user slapstix55)

The most memorable Scoutmaster’s/Cubmaster’s minutes connect the message of Scouting to something that’s already on a Scout’s mind. Is it standardized test time at school? Make that the topic. Is the big football game this weekend? There’s your hook. National or world occasions (the Super Bowl, the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking) can work, too. But avoid bringing politics into pack or troop meetings.

One more thought…

Another approach that preachers and other religious leaders employ is a “sermon series.” Consider finding a monthly theme, such as honesty, and make each Scoutmaster’s/Cubmaster’s Minute that month about that topic. Repeated themes can heighten the impact of your message.

What do you think?

Where do you find ideas for Scoutmaster’s or Cubmaster’s Minutes? What tips do you have for delivering a message that’s memorable? Leave your thought below.

5 Comments on 10 memorable ways to pump up your Scoutmaster’s or Cubmaster’s Minute

  1. Eric Simon // April 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm // Reply

    Very timely post Bryan, I’m a new Cubmaster and will be giving my first Cubmaster’s Minute at this months pack meeting. Thank you for the tips.

  2. Asking questions of the scouts draws them into the discussion. I find that it’s easy for some at the end of the night to be “glazed over” on information overload and sharing a story can become “just another lecture” unless I’m getting the boys involved. We’ve had some unexpectedly high interest while discussing a point of the Scout Law or a precept of the Scout Oath. Sometimes the boys don’t agree and that’s a great way to get them thinking. We also invite them to share with the group how their faith handles or addresses the issue at hand which leads to more learning and sharing. Another great resource from scouting.org — http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/SMMinute.pdf

  3. The scoutmaster minute book mentioned in point 1 has some good stories. However the one vote can make a difference story needs to be removed. Every point made in that story is wrong. Check out snopes to confirm my claim. Stories are good but NOT when the truth is subverted. It is through well meaning people that these inaccuracies and misrepresentations get perpetuated.

  4. Mike Brannon // June 1, 2014 at 7:01 pm // Reply

    Very good and timely information. This past year I made the commitment to not read a single Minute to my troop. Yes, SM minutes memorized. For most stories exact memorization is not required, however poems and quotes should be. Remember it’s the most important minute you have each week.

  5. One great tip for helping scouts transition to the Scoutmaster’s Minute is to appeal to the parts of the brain that learn from doing. I often have the scouts gather and then do a simple physical task like jump 7 times, or pat their head and rub their belly. This works particularly well after a physical activity. Try it out.

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