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Planning and running meetings

Here are some thoughts for Cub Scout leaders about meetings and meeting planning, captuing how Pack 521 has been doing things in recent years. Nothing is carved in stone. This is your pack and you should always be looking for ways to make it run more easily and ways to make it better serve our boys and our community. 

The sign is your best friend. 
Use the scout sign to insist that scouts and parents pay attention. You might have to shout "Scouts, signs up!" but otherwise please just stand there with your sign up until everyone is attentive. Insist that everyone, parents and scouts, raise their signs too. Proceed only when it is quiet, and then lower your sign before you speak. The boys (and parents!) will learn this discipline if you follow it patiently and rigorously. 

A formula for meetings and other activities, even for go-see-its and camping trips. 
You've all seen my usual scheme. Its routine appearance will be helpful to you and the boys. It is: Gathering, Opening (flag ceremony, Pledge of Allegience, Scout Promise; silly cheer), Activities (including elements of sharing, learning, fun, and recognition), Closing (Fellowship Circle, words of wisdom from Akela, Pack Law and Scout Motto). No need to be elaborate, boys like things simple. Also, most boys (and dads like me) like meetings to have multiple elements, with none lasting too long. Don't be reluctant to lead silly cheers. The boys love it and you will, too. Expect scouts to wear uniforms unless the activity is likely to mess up a uniform. I wear a uniform because I feel I can't ask the boys to do something I won't do myself. I hope you will feel the same way. 

Planning den meetings. 
Be an organizer, orchestrator, and convener, not a doer. Delegate as much as you can to parents. Divide meetings into several parts and assign parents to help in some way, such as providing materials or leading activities. Involve your parents in planning. You can't go wrong if you plan activities around rank advancement in you den's handbook. Plan your meetings so that all scouts have an opportunity to earn their rank badges by February. Please ask us veteran leaders for activity ideas if you are stumped, and even if you are not, because we are proud of some of the things we've done and like to talk about them and we are delighted to help. The Pack Resources page on the website has a link called Program Helps for Leaders.   Please take a look at this; the information there will help you. Remember that the meetings are all about the boys. If you have business to conduct with parents, you need to do that separately while the boys are engaged in activities under someone else's supervision, or have a separate meeting with parents.

Pack meetings. 
The pack meetings are planned by the Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmasters, and they provide any needed supplies. Dens take turns sponsoring the meetings. If your den is the pack meeting sponsor, that means that your parents and scouts should arrive 15 minutes early to set up the room and to be "trained" to lead the activities. The pack leaders should send den leaders information about the activities ahead of time. During the meeting, your scouts will be responsible for the opening ceremony, and your parents will assist in the meeting activities. Your scouts and families should stay after the meeting to help pack up and put things away. 

How dens should prepare for pack meetings
Dens should present news and examples of their activities and sparklers to the pack meetings. A sparkler is a skit or some other bit of fun (see link above) that the scouts can share. The pack meetings are also the place for recognition, especially rank badges, and the den leaders announce and distribute awards to their scouts. The pack provides award badges and pins. If you have scouts that have earned awards, send our advancement coordinator (Mark Melton) well in advance of the pack meeting to ensure that awards are logged into the scout advancement system, and to make sure that the awards will be available at the pack meeting. If you have awards for one scout, attach them all to a card or place them in a baggie with the scout's name written on it, so you can distribute them efficiently. Don't hand out multiple individual beads or pins. Think ahead about what you want your den to present at the pack meeting, and please strive to keep each den's contribution to less than 5 minutes. We want every scout to contribute, but we don't want the meeting to drag on. If scouts are inattentive, use the sign and insist on polite attention.  The pack meetings are organized around the monthly theme (see link above) so you may want your scouts to address the theme in prior den meetings and in the news and the sparkler that you bring to the pack meeting.