No pressure, but if your troop meetings aren’t exciting and extraordinary, you risk losing Scouts to other activities.
In other words, one bad meeting could be a young man’s last.
So how do you add “wow” to your weekly troop meetings? You start by listening to the December 2016 ScoutCast, the latest episode of the monthly podcast for Boy Scout leaders.
We were joined by Eagle Scout Mark Ray, key writer of the 13th edition of the Boy Scout Handbook and the new, two-volume Troop Leader Guidebook. He also writes extensively for Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.
Ray shares these tips (and others) in the podcast:
1. Start with the Scouts
Boy Scouting is boy-led, so Scouts should drive any change to your troop meetings. But adults can — and should — still play a role.
“The Patrol Leaders’ Council still has the primary responsibility, but the adults can play a role in helping the Scouts think a little bit bigger — asking them sort of what-if questions,” Ray says. “So, if the Scouts decide that they want to teach first aid then the adults maybe say, ‘What if we came up with some realistic-looking wounds that we could put on our victims?'”
2. Plan earlier
Better meetings take more time to plan.
“If you want to bring in that police officer to show off his car and his gear, if you want to bring in that EMT to teach first aid, you can’t just decide to do that on the spur of the moment or the night before the meeting,” Ray says. “So you’ve got to plan a little bit ahead.”
3. ‘Do’ always beats ‘show’
Some troops teach canoeing skills by bringing a canoe inside the church basement and practicing on dry land. Others go to a lake or pool and teach it the right way.
It takes more effort, but it’s a better experience for the Scouts.
“So that’s a simple example,” Ray says. “Another one: If you’re thinking about hiking, for example, why couldn’t you turn your troop meeting into a hike that ends at a favorite ice cream parlor and then the parents pick the Scouts up there?”
4. Get out of the traditional meeting place
Once a month, have a meeting away from your regular location.
“Almost like when you go to school and you get to go on a field trip,” Ray says. “You feel like you’re sort of cheating somehow because you’re outside the walls of the school. The same way when you take that field trip from the troop meeting place you’re sort of escaping and seeing something different, and learning something there that’s going to benefit you when you go camping.”
5. Invite guest speakers
Do your Scouts only hear from their fellow Scouts or their adult leaders?
Bring some guest speakers — an elected official, local sports star or businessperson — to enliven the lesson. Your troop committee might have some leads.
Live far away from any potential speakers? Have them join you via Skype.
Listen to the entire ScoutCast
Above I have included just a taste of the great takeaways on this episode. Listen to the complete December 2016 ScoutCast here or by searching “ScoutCast” in your favorite podcasting app.