The Oops Meeting



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.


2 thoughts on “The Oops Meeting

  1. (Indoor Campfire Program sounds like fun!) From my perspective, troops should have a repertoire of Plan B activities, and if necessary be ready to string them together, depending on the length of time needed. Each of them should:
    • the required materials readily accessible and stored in a holding pattern
    • suffice nicely to fill in a troop meeting gap and contribute to ensuring Scout meetings will be fun with positive outcomes
    • be easy to pull out of a hat and require only a negligible amount of limited, indoor space
    Here are some favorites that provide an opportunity for interpatrol competition and/or create a troop-wide spectacle:

    Materials: 20-foot length of 1/2-inch soft, synthetic rope, two platforms 6 to 8-inches tall (two halves of a cinder block or two cuts from a downed tree, 8-inches in diameter)
    Method: Two Scouts stand facing each other 12 to 15 feet away on the platforms. On signal, each tries to unbalance the other by either pulling or letting up the tension on the rope. Both must hold onto the rope and all times while trying to unbalance the other. The Scout left standing the longest on his platform while still holding onto his rope wins. If a Scout lets go of the rope, he’s out, even if he’s still standing on his platform. Scouts can take turns challenging the winner.

    Materials: Two identical decks of playing cards
    Method: This game works best if you have at least four patrols. Shuffle the two decks of cards together and deal them into equal stacks, one stack for each patrol. Before giving the stacks of cards to the patrol leaders, instruct the troop that they are to try to get a complete suit (hearts, diamonds, spades, or clubs) of cards (ace through king) by trading cards with the other patrols.
    Scoring: The first patrol to collect a complete suit wins.

    CAN IT!
    Materials: 2 No. 10 cans, one pine cone, stick, and stone for each patrol
    Method: Patrols sit in a straight line with their legs extended. Each patrol counts off so there is an even number in each line. One can is placed at each end of the patrol lines. The three objects are placed in the can at the head of the line. The leader calls out a number and a name of an object. Scouts having that number race to the can, pick out the object named, transfer it to the can at the other end of the patrol line, and return to their places. (Scouts must keep track of objects as they are transferred from can to can. When their number is called, they must know where to find the object.
    Scoring: The first Scout back in place with the object transferred wins a point for his patrol.

    Materials: ten numbered cards (1 through 10: card 2 is a double, card 6 is a triple, card 10 is a home run, all other cards are singles), list of questions based on Tenderfoot, Second and First Class first aid requirements
    Method: A miniature baseball diamond is marked out on the floor. The first patrol lines up behind home plate. The “umpire” (game leader) holds the cards in his hands. In turn, each Scout in that patrol tries to answer a question given to him by the umpire. If the Scout gives the correct answer, he draws a card. He scores whatever hit is indicated on the card and becomes a base runner as in regular baseball. If he does not answer the question correctly, he is out. After three outs, the next patrol comes to bat.
    Scoring: The patrol with the most runs after two innings is the winner.

    Materials: 6-foot line for each Scout
    Method: Each patrol forms two lines facing each other. Each Scout holds his rope in his right hand raised above his head. At the word “Go,” each races to tie a Bowline around his waist, then join the ropes together with a Sheet Bend. Scouts lean backward with their full weight to test the knots.
    Scoring: The first patrol to have all knots tied correctly and all Scouts leaning backwards, with their Sheet Bends next to each other in a straight line, wins.

    Materials: 6-foot rope for each patrol
    Method: On signal, the first Scout ties the rope into a hoop with a sheet bend and passes it over his head and down his body. He steps out of the hoop, unties the knot and passes the rope to the next Scout who repeats the Method and so on down the line. A judge for each patrol will observe the knots.
    Scoring: Points are given for each correctly tied sheet bend, and extra points to the patrol that finishes the quickest. If there are different numbers of Scouts in the patrols, announce a specific number of knots to be tied. This will mean that one or more Scouts may have to tie more than one knot apiece.

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