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Tuesday Talkback: Keeping momentum during the holidays

Tuesday-TalkbackMy biggest gripe about the holidays isn’t the endless electronics ads, the pumpkin-spice overload or the inflated airfares. It’s the timing.

The Scouting year hits its stride right as the holidays arrive. Most packs, troops and crews have built up tons of positive momentum right when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah — followed closely by Christmas and Kwanzaa — come along. Blink twice, and it’s 2014. Units that hibernate for the season lose six weeks and essentially must start from scratch in January.

Now don’t get me wrong; I love holiday time spent with family and friends. I’m just looking for a best-of-both-worlds scenario that lets Scout units stay strong even during the season of out-of-town visitors, family vacations and holiday stress.

But how do you do it?

Start by reading Mark Ray’s excellent Scouting magazine piece called “Ideas to help your pack build — not lose — momentum during the holidays.” You’ll find some great suggestions there.

Then join this week’s Tuesday Talkback discussion by sharing your tips for helping your Scout unit survive the holiday season ready for a great 2014.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by WoofBC

12 Comments on Tuesday Talkback: Keeping momentum during the holidays

  1. Hold a Holiday party.

    For Cubs, they get a holiday gift of their Pinewood Derby kit with instructions on building it. The Holiday period is when a lot of parents have off, so its a good time for parents and Cubs to begin work on it at home.

    For Boy Scouts/Venturers informal gift exchange of outdoor / Scouting related items is a way of keeping things going.

    For both, it’s a good time to also hold a meeting at a local skating rink, which adds to the winter theme. Boy Scouts can also start work on Skating Merit Badge there.

    And of course, service projects to visit senior or veterans institutions and spread cheer are always appropriate.

  2. The monday before thanksgiving is the Troop feast. The monday before Xmas (2 days before this year) is the xmas party. Jan 5th is OA winter banquet, Jan 6th meeting, Jan 7th Klondike planning meeting.

    We are suppose to take a break?????

  3. Barry Puryear // November 19, 2013 at 9:58 am // Reply

    My Pack and Troop did holiday themed service projects in November and December. We would fill gift boxes, work at food pantries, and the like. These projects were some of the best attended service projects all year, and allowed our boys to show how Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, and Kind Scouts can be.

  4. Our pack rides bikes in one of the local holiday parades.

  5. In the past, we have decorated gingerbread houses at our December meeting and had the dens compete for awards like “highest” and “most / least candy used”. This year, we’re doing our first-ever space derby.

    And the weekend after Christmas vacation ends, we meet and go ice skating at a local rink.

  6. We hold our last COH at the beginning of December in place of a meeting and then encourage the patrols to do a service project on the next normal meeting night. Our local camp is hosting a climbing/rapelling weekend in mid-Dec and then we have several boys attending winter camp between Christmas & New Years. Not much down time in my opinion. But then again, our troop is active year-round so we don’t typically see the drop off in the summer and then the uptick in the fall.

  7. We don’t do anything special to celebrate the holiday season as a unit. And we find that it’s okay. We have a very active pack otherwise, we meet weekly for den or pack meetings, we have service projects and fun activities through the fall season and the entire year. Our meeting calendar follows the local school calendar, so we do take a couple of weeks off at Christmas. We start right back up again after the New Year without a hitch. I think the leaders and pack families are glad to have the time to spend with family. I know I am.

  8. Becky Sandquist // November 19, 2013 at 11:42 am // Reply

    Our pack shares a common den meetings’ night and location. In December, we use one of those nights to have the boys make a variety of Christmas ornaments. At the second meeting we host a Holiday Party full of songs, games, and activities at a local nursing home for the residents. The boys present the residents with the ornaments they made. It is one of the highlights of the year! At the pack meeting the boys also receive a wrapped box with their pinewood derby car in it. They get so excited just because it is wrapped!

  9. LENNY JENNINGS // November 19, 2013 at 11:54 am // Reply

    National BSA has provided enough resources to keep any program exciting 24/7 365 days of the year. Keep it going right up until the week of the 25th. Sing Carols, Collect food, etc. Our best Christmas and Thanksgiving was serving dinner to our Firefighters and Police in the surrounding area on the day of the Holiday. It was the best time for all of us.

  10. Catherine Montegna // November 19, 2013 at 12:43 pm // Reply

    Our pack has a tradition of going on a winter hike at a nearby state park between the time school vacation starts and Christmas. We also do some of the other things already mentioned. We hold regular meetings in December except during school break. Taking six weeks off would definitely stall the program.

  11. H. David Pendleton // November 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm // Reply

    Our Troop continues to meet every Monday night unless it falls too close to Christmas & New Year’s. We are helping out the Marines again with their Toys For Tots campaign at a local Toys R Us store. We collect the carts in the parking lot, give the customers a cart, and take the toys they donate. We may expand to do it for 2 days this year.

    We are also doing a service project on December 30. It hasn’t been completely decided. We have also suggested that Scouts help out other charities on their own through their church, church group, or other venue. If the Scouts want to get credit for service hours, they have to run it by the Scoutmaster first.

    After that, we begin prepping for Trappers Rendezvous held over President’s Day Weekend and the District Klondike just two weekends later. Too much going on through Scouting to hibernate 6 weeks.

  12. For the past couple of years, my troop has done this one thing during early December; our annual Christmas camp out. We don’t set up tents, we set up TV’s, projectors, and game consoles. This is the only camp out where electronics are permitted; it’s pretty much become a requirement to actually go. We stay for a whole weekend in our troop’s cabin, play video games till about midnight, wake up, and play some more.

    This is really our big event and we have an excellent turnout every time, one year someone was doing there eagle project and we pitched in. We have yet to actually add another activity to the list, but these ideas might help.

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