Running a Successful Progra
Peter Van Houten (peterva@QM.WV.TEK.COM)
Mon, 22 Nov 1993 09:07:21 -0800
Running a Successful Program
This started out to be a private reply to Vicki Andros, but upon reading it
felt that others may benefit. Its not that I hope to brag, but there are
people in our pack doing some things right and as such we have a successful
program. If this helps one person I feel it was worth distribution to the
net. Thank you, Peter Van Houten
Thank you for your message! I shall attempt to do justice in explaining what
we do, how we do it and why we do it!
> Peter, Your 'Nothing Important' note was the best thing that I have
> received in weeks!! You have a wonderful Pack!! I read with great
> interest about your 57 minute pack meeting, with all the awards, the
> skit, song, audience participation, etcetera. Really!!! 112 boys
> and a 57 minute pack meeting!!!
Thank you for your kind words. We are very proud of our pack, and in fact
we've caught the eye of the National Director of Cub Scouting, Gene Stone,
who looked me up at our PowWow this past weekend to talk to me about our
> OK, 4 years ago I helped start our pack and we had 7 boys. We now have
> 88 boys, and our pack meetings are not even close to an hour. So.....
> How do you do it??
One, it took 3 years of modifications to get it to where it's at now. The
motivating force was parental complaints. Even though the pack meetings were
fun, anything longer than 1.5 hrs resulted in parents murmuring, even walking
out. Thus I took a hard long look at what we were attempting to accomplish
and implemented the following changes:
1) All announcements are brief, stating where to find the detailed
information (ie. Pack Mtg Program or Newsletter).
2) While the sports pins and segments are an important part of Scouting, we
had so many that it was taking 15 minutes just to distribute these. So we
had a training session at one of our Den Leader meetings on doing special den
ceremonies! At the pack meeting we bag all of the segments and sports pins
in baggies and call each den's denner to come forward. They receive the bag
and remain in front until all dens have been recognized. We than do a cheer
(usually a 'grand howl') to recognize all the Cubs in the pack for earning
these awards. The Denner turns the bag into the Den Leader, who at the next
meeting presents them in a formal ceremony (usually with parents present).
3) The last thing we do is keep a close eye on the clock. We start ontime
and end ontime! If something appears to be going longer than expected I
tactfully encourage the leader to speed things up (usually this happens
during the announcment times). We don't wait, while a den is setting up for
a skit we're doing something else, song, cheer, run-on, or announcment. We
distribute a program for every meeting, which includes the agenda, the names
of boys receiving awards, the words to songs, and announcements for the
upcoming activities. I keep a Master copy of the program on a clip board
with my written notes on what needs to be accomplished.
Bottom line for a 60 minute pack meeting is cooperation. Cooperation
includes parents/scouts assigned to setup having room setup prior to everyone
arriving, remainder of parents/scouts arriving on-time, starting the flag
ceremony on time irregardless if everyone is there (you'll find those that
are late once, won't be late the next time), communicating with Den Leaders
exactly what is going to happen during the meeting, when they're expected to
be doing something, and setting those expectations in advance, and finally,
your audience. They need to be responsive and inclusive in the meeting. It
may take a couple of meetings before you get it under an hour, but you
> Do the boys get individual recognition for Wolf, Bear badges, and for
Absolutely, I've created a Rank advancement ceremony for Bobcat, Wolf, Bear
& Webelos where each boy, with his parents, is brought up front. They are
marked with the color of their awarded rank, signifying the honor they have
brought to themselves and to the pack. The parents are awarded the badge and
requested to award it to the boy. The boy is than awarded a token from the
pack that he can wear that shows he is a member of Pack 383 and has brought
honor by earning his award in our Pack! These tokens include a tooled
leather belt doodle for the Bobcat, a tooled leather neckerchief slide for
the wolf, a bear claw necklace for the bear, and a hiking staff for the
webelos (note: The Hiking staff presentation includes the BP challenge to
make the staff an extension of the boy, and to use it as he completes the
trail of Cub Scouting and begins the challenges of Boy Scouting). Each of
these items I personnally create for the boys.
> How do you award the hundred of den/pack Awards (segments, belt loops,
sport pins, etc)???
See above for the answer on this one.
> How long do your committee meetings take? How often do you have them??
> How are they structured (who attends meetings, leaders, committee members,
The committee and Den leaders meet the week prior to the pack meeting. The
committee meets from 6:30 to aprx 7:15 pm, the den leaders meet from 7:15 pm
to 8:15 pm. The committee meeting is open to all parents in the pack. The
Den leader meeting is open to den leaders and anyone who wishes to hang
Committee meeting -- Receives reports from Cubmaster, Treasurer, Sec.,
Advancement, Membership, and Fund Raising. Addresses and approves all issues
/ activities for the next 2 months (usually everything is known in advance
because it was approved at the annual planning conference).
Den Leader meeting -- Run by the Den Leader Coach. Ours runs the meeting as
if it were an ideal den meeting, presenting information and resources that
can be used with the next months theme. It includes:
Opening: A ceremony that can be used in a den meeting
Opening activity: Usually a game is demonstrated, with instructions handed
out on how it can
be done in a den meeting.
Business items: Cubmaster gets a chance to cover last minute details on the
meeting, and verify assignments for the next
months pack meeting. The
extra pack activities (ie pool party, snow trip,
SFF, etc.) and details are
covered. Committee Chairman gives report of
Game / Craft: DLC introduces a craft or game which can be used in a den
Closing: DLC introduces and leads us in an inspirational closing, again
targeted for the months
Our DLC organizes a packet for each den that includes resources, examples,
and even a fully planned den meeting that is targeted for the theme of the
month. He is the keeper of the Pack Library and when requested will search
out literally anything to assist the den leader in doing their job.
Everything we give our den leaders, committee, parents is in writing,
supported by visual and verbal presentation/example.
> Our Pack has grown so fast that I had become afraid that we were going
> to choke ourselves with our size. Don't get me wrong, we have a good
> pack, very active (almost as active as yours), but I see signs that
> concern me, and hope you can help. I see from your note that big is
> possible, but I'm sure you have found some methods of doing things
> that would benefit us. Our pack meetings take too long, but I can't
> figure out how to productively shorten them and still give all the
> recognition to the boys they should have. (I think organization
> is the problem, but we have a Cub Master who thrives on chaos!!)
> So, please share how you organize your pack. If I ever make it to
> Oregon, I hope I'm there when you have a pack meeting. I'll sure
> check into it if I get to your area!!
Organization and COMMUNICATION is very important. Having good leaders who've
ALL completed basic training is essential. Encouraging leaders and parents
to attend supplemental training helps to support your program (ie. PowWow).
This Saturday we had our PowWow, and in my last class 4 or 5 people in my
class (Leader Appreciation) stated: "Oh, You're Peter Van Houten...We've
heard about you in almost everyone of our classes. " Well, blushing I came
to find that many of the instructors were using our Pack as an example.
Besides I had 6 of my pack leaders teaching courses....One (my DLC) showed
why power tools are not a good idea at the cub level when he clipped two of
his fingertips on the power saw. But thats another tale!
Vicki -- you and anyone else is certainly welcome at our Pack meetings.
We're located way out West here in Oregon, Beaverton. We meet the last
Wednesday of every month except Nov/Dec due to holidays. Meeting starts at
7:05 and ends at 8:05pm. Call for directions, my number is 503-591-1503.
> Again, congratulations on a wonderful pack!!!
Thank you again for your kind words!
In Scouting . . . .
Peter Van Houten
Snail Mail: 7225 SW 160th
Beaverton, OR 97007
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City