One of my favorite features of volume 2 of the new Troop Leader Guidebook (which should available by summer) is a series of “emergency” troop meetings I developed. These are not troop meetings related to emergency preparedness; instead, they are meetings you can throw together at a moment’s notice–when, for example, your game night gets rained out or the Scout who was supposed to teach pioneering forgets to come up with ropes and poles.
Emergencies will happen, and there’s nothing worse than having 20 or 30 Scouts show up at your meeting place with absolutely nothing to do. That’s where the Scout motto, “Be prepared,” applies to us Scout leaders. One of the best things you can do is come up with half a dozen meeting plans that you can institute on a moment’s notice.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Hold an impromptu campfire program (with or without a fire). Give each patrol some time to plan a couple of songs or skits, and then put on the program.
- Have a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Plan in advance a list of things that Scouts should look for and that are likely to be around every week (e.g., the street address of the house on the corner with the green roof, an out-of-state license plate, an oak leaf)
- Hold a meeting place observation test. Give each patrol a quiz on your meeting place (how many exterior doors, what does the sign out front say, what’s the street address, how tall is the church steeple, what’s the species of tree near the front door, etc.). Have them take the quiz and then go around and check their answers.
- Have each Scout write down a plan for getting to his next rank, including what merit badges he needs, a target date for his board of review, etc.
- Hold a games night (physical games if you can get outside, board games if you’re stuck inside).
- Evaluate your last trip or have Scouts brainstorm solutions to a problem such as the need to reshuffle patrols or improve uniforming.
- Show a video of an old Scout movie like “Follow Me, Boys” or “Mr. Scoutmaster.”
- Wash—I mean, really wash—your cooking gear.
What have you done when a meeting plan falls through? Post your ideas in the comments section below.