Troop Meetings Page 2
Using the Troop Meeting Plan
The seven-part plan for Troop meetings is an important guide, but use it flexibly. While the seven parts of the meeting are to be followed, the times noted in the plan are suggestions only and can vary to fit various situations. For example, the Troop may be getting ready for a camp-out. The usual amount of time set aside for Patrol meetings might be expanded to allow Scouts time to complete their patrol camping preparations. Or, a troop nearing the date of a District Camporee may devote extra time to skills instruction so that everyone will be ready for activities involving the theme of the camporee, and the inter-patrol activity can include an extended competition that also focuses on the key skills.
When the minutes allotted to one part of the Troop meeting plan increase, consider shortening other portions of the plan. Every Troop meeting should be interesting and useful, and begin and end on time.
As Scouts begin to arrive for a Troop meeting, a Patrol Leader or an older Scout assigned by the SPL gets them involved in a pre-opening game or project designed so that additional Scouts can join in as they show up. The pre-opening is often well-suited for the outdoors. Those in charge of the pre-opening activity should be ready to start about 15 minutes before the scheduled beginning of the meeting. Varying activities from week to week will keep the pre-opening fresh.
Scouts whose Patrol has been assigned to serve that week as the service Patrol should use the pre-opening time to prepare for the troop meeting. The meeting room may need to be rearranged, chairs set up, flags displayed, and other preparations completed before the meeting can begin.
THE OPENING (5 MINUTES)
Call the meeting to order on time, the SPL instructs his PLs to line up their patrols in formation. Then, the Patrol responsible for the opening ceremony may conduct a flag ceremony and then lead the Troop members in the Scout Oath and Law, Motto, patrol attendance (with Patrol yells!), etc.
SKILLS INSTRUCTION (15 TO 20 MINUTES)
This portion of the meeting is devoted to the mastery of knowledge that Scouts need to participate fully in an upcoming activity, or upon skills they must learn to complete advancement requirements. The skills to be taught at each meeting will have been determined in advance by the Patrol leaders’ council. Often the skills will relate directly to the month’s program plan for troop activities. Instruction should be hands-on learning rather than lecturing. Those who may be effective in teaching skills are the troop guide, instructors, youth assistant Scoutmasters, assistant Scoutmasters, and members of the troop committee. Older Scouts and members of the Venture Patrol also can be effective instructors, though at most meetings they will be involved in their own activities. Whenever possible, troop skills instruction should be divided into three levels:
Basic Scouting skills instruction for the new Scouts
Advanced instruction for the experienced Scouts
Expert instruction for the Venture Patrol
Each instructional area should be separated from the others so that distractions are minimized.
PATROL MEETINGS (5 TO 20 MINUTES)
At the end of the skills instruction, the SPL asks the PLs to take their patrols to their areas for their patrol meetings. Matters to be dealt with during this time include taking attendance, (sometimes) collecting dues, planning the Patrol’s involvement in upcoming troop activities, selecting menus for hikes and campouts, assigning patrol members to specific tasks, and working out any other details for the smooth operation of the patrol. The SPL circulates amongst the patrol meetings, ready to serve as a resource if a PL asks for assistance. Once the patrols have completed their work, the SPL has the PLs bring their patrols back together, and they move on to the next part of the troop meeting.
INTER-PATROL ACTIVITY (15 TO 20 MINUTES)
The SPL (or someone he appoints) leads this opportunity for the patrols and their members to interact with one another in a competitive or a cooperative effort. The activity might be a game that will test the skills the Scouts are learning for an upcoming activity—pitching tents or tying knots, for example. The BSA books, Troop Program Resources have a wealth of games to foster friendly teamwork and competition. The BSA manual, Project COPE (No. 34371), also contains many appropriate games and challenges.
CLOSING -SCOUTMASTER’S MINUTE (5 MINUTES)
The closing of a meeting is the Scoutmaster’s opportunity to step forward—this is actually the only time he appears before the entire troop in a regular troop meeting! The SPL asks his PLs to sit their patrols quietly, then he turns the meeting over to the Scoutmaster for (brief!) reminders and announcements about upcoming events, and support of the patrols for their achievements and progress.
The highlight of the closing will be the “Scoutmaster’s Minute”—a brief message built on one of Scouting’s values. As the concluding thought of a troop meeting, the Scoutmaster’s Minute is a message each Scout can carry home.
THE “AFTER THE MEETING” MEETING (5 MINUTES)
Here, the PLCs’ stays a few moments after the closing to discuss with their SPL and Scoutmaster the quality of the just-concluded meeting. The SPL offers praise for portions of the meeting that went well, and talks about ways that future troop meetings can be improved. The Scoutmaster offers commentary only when called upon by the SPL.
Here are some questions to ask about the meeting:
Was the meeting fun?
What should we not do again?
Did we accomplish a purpose?
Did we do something new and different?
Did we have all the resources necessary to accomplish tasks?
What worked well that we should do again?
Finally, the PLC reviews the Troop Meeting Plan for the next meeting and makes sure that everyone who will have a role is aware of the assignment and is prepared to do a good job. While the PLC is reviewing the meeting, the Service Patrol is putting away Troop gear and returning the meeting room to order.