In doing research for the new Troop Leader Guidebook—volume 2 of which will be published this winter—I spent a fair amount of time reading through previous Scoutmaster manuals. One of the most practical of them, Bill Hillcourt’s 1947 Handbook for Scoutmasters, included some hints for troop meetings that are just as relevant today as they were then. Here they are:
Begin on time—close on time.
ACTION—VARIETY—PURPOSE: the Three Musketeers of all troop activities.
Recipe for a good meeting:
- Something old (a couple of the old favorite games)
- Something new (a brand-new game; a new song; a new Scoutcraft trick)
- Something surprising (a special visitor; a treat; a Scout movie)
- Something true (a story based on the Scout Law; a story of a hero)
Boys have a thousand muscles to wiggle with and only one dozen to sit still with. That dozen gets mighty tired mighty quickly.
Keep every moment busy. Crowd things along, and you will have no discipline problems, no uncontrolled rough-housing.
As a general rule, allow no more than 20 minutes to any one activity.
Plan for more than can be accomplished rather than too little. Better leave some things undone than to have the meeting “peter out” a half-hour early.
Shift to something else before the boys tire of what they are doing.
If the planned program doesn’t work, be resourceful. Throw some out, if necessary, to suit conditions.
Encourage members of the troop committee to attend regularly. When they come, have something definite for them to do.
Keep visitors on the sidelines. Most of the time visitors come to see what is happening. Don’t let them interrupt the meeting.
How many of those tips do you follow? Which ones could you adopt in the new year to improve your troop’s operations?