Rangers at Philmont Scout Ranch do a great job of teaching campers how to secure food and other smellables in bear bags hung from trees at night. But since they know that campers will occasionally slip up and leave something out, they also teach the concept of the oops bag, a small, lightweight bag that can be hoisted onto the bear cable at the last minute.
This concept applies equally as well to troop meetings. As Scouters, we teach our Scouts how to plan troop meetings, we push them at PLC meetings to come up with good weekly plans, and we follow up midweek to make sure those plans become reality.
But we also know that they’ll slip up from time to time. Perhaps the senior patrol leader has to stay home to study. Perhaps the instructor forgets to bring the triangular bandages. Perhaps the Scout in charge of the outside game doesn’t take the weather forecast into account. Whatever the reason, Plan A flies out the window.
At those times, most troops default to a standard Plan B: cleaning out patrol boxes, teaching basic knots for the umpteenth time, or something else equally unexciting. A better approach is to create a set of oops meetings—canned, self-contained meetings you can pull of the shelf and run with little notice. I’ve created seven of these for volume 2 of the Troop Leader Guidebook:
- Supermarket Smorgasbord
- Neighborhood Observation Test
- Advancement Checkup
- Troop Olympics
- Indoor Campfire Program
- Photo Scavenger Hunt
- Meeting Place Scavenger Hunt
While you’re waiting for that book to come out this winter, what plans can you create to make your next Plan B meeting more exciting than a dishwashing marathon? The comments section is open.