Posts Tagged ‘meetings’

Those of you who read this blog and follow me on Twitter (stevejb68) may have noticed that out troop has been having some rough times. Last month I sat down with the Boy Scouts during a troop meeting and discussed the future of the troop with them. We needed to make some changes. They seemed to be ready to do what needs to be done. Tonight was a night that really began to take us in that direction.

Tonight’s troop meeting would be the first one in which the new senior patrol leader and his assistant would really take charge of the troop. They had been elected last month but last month’s meetings were a little chaotic and not planned well. This month’s had been planned by the new ASPL (the only Scout who attended the patrol leader council meeting) and were planned out very well.

Even though I have been a scoutmaster for 29 years I have been finding myself being up in front of the boys too much during a troop meeting. Tonight would be different. I pulled my assistant scoutmaster off to the side when he arrived and explained that we are going to sit in back of the room tonight and let the boys run the meeting, something we should have always been doing but were not. I wanted to be behind the boys tonight, out of direct eyesight with them.

The boys did pretty well. Oh, everyone was a bit late coming to the meeting. Yes, there was some goofing off and joking around but they did get much of the meeting’s agenda covered. I only stepped in front of the troop twice for short moments; once to ask a few questions about the menu and plans for the weekend outing at the end of the month followed by a quick uniform inspection, and at the end of the meeting to give announcements and a scoutmaster minute. All in all, it was a successful meeting.

It will be interesting to see how things go during the next few meetings. Actually, for the next few months. I have decided to step back, like a scoutmaster should, and let the boys handle things. It is the best way for them to learn. Unfortunately, I have to re-learn a few things again. Or, may not so much re-learn as much as re-apply the things I already know.

If you have been involved with Scouting for any length of time you have probably heard someone say, “It only takes an hour a week.” What a joke that is! Just a bit of a misleading line there, huh? Let us take a look at a typical month of Scouting during this scoutmaster’s life.

We have three troop meetings a month. At ninety minutes per meeting, plus drive time, plus waiting for parents to pick their boys after the meeting, I can estimate two hours per meeting. Monthly total here is 6 hours.

One committee meeting per month, average of 1.5 hours. One patrol leader council meeting per month, average two hours. One district roundtable meeting each month with drive time to council office, average of three hours. Total of monthly meetings is 6.5 hours each month.

One weekend camping trip per month. The Scouts arrive at 6:00 Friday evening. Parents pick up the last boy at 11:00 Sunday morning. Total hours of camping trip is 41 hours. (Yes, I counted the sleeping hours. I am still in charge of the Scouts, am I not?)

Now, let’s add this up. It comes to 53.5 hours during the month. (Keep in mind that this does not include any prep time, fund raising, training, or special activity time yet.) Divide this figure by four weeks per month. Gosh! That comes to an average of 13.75 hours per week.

An hour a week? Not even close! But this demonstration does show that those of us who are scoutmasters can be quite dedicated to the program and the boys. The amazing thing is that I sometimes feel that I am spending more “quality time” with the boys then some of their parents do. What does this say about our society?

Scouting can be a great organization for boys and their parents. It gives them a chance to do some things together. Come on parents! Get involved with that Cub Pack or Boy Scout Troop. Become a committee member, a pack leader, or an assistant scoutmaster.

After all, it only takes an hour a week.

(This article was originally posted on August 22, 2007.)

Last year, during one of our Boy Scout troop meetings, the whole troop ended up in the emergency room of our local hospital. Oh, don’t worry. There were no serious injuries. Our theme for the month was first aid so our committee chairperson set up a tour of the hospital’s emergency room and facilities.

Melrose is a community of 3300 people, but we have a very well staffed hospital. Our emergency room is not as big and chaotic as the one in the television show, or as a big city hospital would be. Our E.R. only has three beds but is fully equipped to handle most emergencies, from heart attacks to car crashes. Luckily for the troop, it was not being used while we were there for our visit.

The nurse was a great tour guide. She was very patient with the Scouts and answered all their questions very professionally. I think there were a couple of times a few of the boys were being grossed out, but you know teenage boys. They like being grossed out.

The nurse began our tour in the entry/garage for the ambulance. Almost immediately, the boys started asking questions. “Has anyone ever died in here?” The nurse told us that sometimes people die on the way to the hospital while being transported by the ambulance, and sometimes they may die in the hospital.

The emergency room was out next stop. The nurse explained the uses for the many pieces of equipment found in the room. The boys were very interested in the “shockers” that are used on some heart attack patients. They were surprised to see the drills and other equipment used to puncture hip and shoulder bones. The various kinds of I.V.’s and fluids also caught their interest.

The nurse lead the troop to the surgery room. Due to the sterile environment needed in there we did not actually get to enter the room, but we were able to look through the door windows into the staff prep room. Once again, the nurse gave a nice but brief summary of the things that happen in the area.

The tour lasted a bit over thirty minutes which was just enough time to give everyone a basic understanding of the E.R. and still have enough time to return to our meeting location (the school gym) and play a game, have a quick patrol meeting, and have our closing.

The troop thanks the staff of the Melrose Centracare Hospital for allowing us to tour their facility.

The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have had an interesting and fun time during their troop meetings in May. The theme was cooking, and a special guest paid them a visit during the last meeting of the month.

The Scouts experienced new ways to prepare food during May. The guys kept busy during the first meeting trying to cook a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and hash browns in a paper bag, and then trying to cook an omelet in a plastic bag placed in boiling water. During the second meeting they made tin foil dinners using carrots, potatoes, hamburger, and chicken patties. Deserts were the subject of the third meeting as the Scouts made apple cobbler and fritters.

Lance Stueve, race car driver at the local I-94 Raceway, brought his car to the troop’s May 21st meeting. As the boys stood around his race car Mr. Stueve discussed what it is like to be a racer, the fuel used, and the car itself. The Scouts were then given the opportunity to sit behind the wheel for a photo. The visit ended with each of the boys receiving a photograph and wrist band from Mr. Stueve and his son.

The troop would like to thank Lance Stueve for taking the time to visit with the Scouts. A video of the visit can be seen on YouTube and the troop’s website at

I recently received an email from a troop Scout leader asking for help in a few areas in which they are having some difficulties in their troop. Two of the questions were about troop meetings and having a boy planned program. As I wrote my reply, it occurred to me that this might be a good blog entry for other leaders, especially newer adult leaders. So here it is, the letter I wrote in reply to this Scout leaders questions.

Okay, first of all, I am no expert, but I do have quite a few years of experience (over 25 years as scoutmaster.) I can tell you what works or not in our troop, but that may not be the case in yours. That being said….

Melrose is a community of 3300 people. Troop membership has varied over the years. We peaked at 41 boys a decade ago but membership has been in a decline since then. We are currently down to ten boys, nine active. Part of this is due to the Cub Pack having a rough 5-6 years, barely surviving at times. Of course, most of the boys graduated from the Cub Pack. During the last 5 years I think only 3-4have graduated from Cubbing.

I blame parents for a good portion of this because it appears that many parents do not want to get involved in Scouting anymore. I think many parents are blind to what Scouting can offer their sons. Of course, and I hate to say it, there are many lazy parents also. But I also think some of them do not understand what Scouting is all about.

Our troop meets year round. Many of our boys have been involved in sports over the years. I encourage them to attend the meetings as often as they can. It works pretty well until the parents pull them from Scouting to concentrate on sports instead of Scouting. (I could right a whole column on how I feel about high school sports. Maybe a subject for a future blog entry.)

The troop meets the first three Mondays each month except July (summer camp month) and December (only two troop meetings), from 6:30 to 8:00. Once in awhile we make take a month off, but that does not happen too often. There are too many activities the boys want to do during the year. We begin the meeting with an opening ceremony involving something Scouting and something patriotic. Then we have skill development taught by older Scouts,adult leaders, or special guests, depending on the subject. This is followed by 15 minutes of game time or patrol competition, which is the highlight of the meeting for the boys. After patrol meeting time we end with announcements and a quick closing ceremony.

Just try to keep meetings fun. We try to keep the skill development portion of the meeting hands-on if possible so the boys are actually doing something, instead of just sitting there. Boys like to do something, not sit around like in school. You just need to be sure to bring enough “props” for everyone to work with.

The patrol leader council plans the meetings during their once a month meeting held on the last Monday of the month. They plan the opening, closings, games, and the skill development sessions. They decide who does what and if guests need to be brought in.The PLC also plans the details for the outing each month, and the agenda for courts of honor. Of course, there is always a bit of training involved after each election, but the boys ARE capable of doing the planning, so LET THEM. Just be there to help them out when they run into problems.

Also, the boys are more willing to participate if they planned the program instead of being adult planned. Once a year the troop has a weekend “yearly planning session” in which the boys brainstorm and plan a program schedule for the next twelve months. In is interesting to watch the boys in action, but can be a bit frustrating at times. It would be quicker for the adults to do it, yes, but then it would be the adult’s program and not the boy’s program. It is important for the boys to plan their own program. The adult’s job (troop leaders and committee) is to help the boys carry out that program.

You can see some of my troop’s yearly programs at Okay, this email has gotten long enough. I will write back about more later.


Steve B
Scoutmaster, Troop 68