Click here to view BSA's Guide to Advancement 2011:
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Nationwide, the Blue & Gold Banquet is an event in which nearly every Pack participates. It is traditionally held during the first weeks of February, as if celebrates the Birthday of Scouting in America, February 8, 1910. And nearly everyone loves a good birthday party.
Each Pack should design their event to suit their needs. A meal is usually a focus, but it can be potluck, parent-prepared, Scout prepared, or catered. An awards ceremony and a crossover ceremony for older Webelos Scouts are often included. Many Packs include entertainment of one sort or another.
Many Packs have most of their Scouts ready for rank advancement by February and use the Blue & Gold Banquet as their greatest awards night of the year. This night is usually one of the best attended by families and guests, so this makes sense. However, if a Cub is ready to advance in December, PLEASE to not make him wait until February until he receives his rank award. Likewise, if a Cub needs until May to complete his ranks, celebrate with him in May.
I know of one Pack that moved the Blue & Gold to May and gave every Scout his rank badge at the banquet - this is NOT the program. Celebrate each boys achievements as soon as possible after completion.
Planning and Checklists
Traditions are wonderful, but if your Blue & Gold banquets feel too routine, too ho-hum, and too fill-in-the-blank, having a theme can help shake it up.
Crafts and Centerpieces
It is always meaningful to have the Scouts create the centerpieces. True, it won't look the same as if the Scout Moms did it, but Lord Baden-Powell himself (founder of Scouting) often said, "Never do for a boy what a boy can do for himself."
Having boy-made centerpieces give each Scout a chance to share in the event and show off his skills, taking pride in doing his best.
Awards, Webelos crossovers, and leader recognitions are all natural to hold at the Blue & Gold.
When hold a crossover, please invite Boy Scouts and leaders from the receiving Troops to attend the banquet, at little or no cost, if budget allows. Allowing younger Scouts and their families to see the older Scouts is a wonderful encouragement for boys to continue in the Scouting program.
My own Pack had a tradition of taking Den photos using a professional photographer during the Blue & Gold Banquet. Photographers should have a "team package" of photos in their portfolios, just like for sports. Banquet night was the most likely time of the year to get all of the Scouts present and in uniform for all dens at once.
Some Packs hire out for local jugglers or magicians for after dinner entertainment.
Some communities have a hands-on guest presentation, like science or raptors or such.
Some invite Order of the Arrow lodges or Venturing Crews to perform Native American dances.
Others have a tradition of each den performing a song and a skit during the evening - with a leaders song and skit as well.
Some acknowledge that the evening if full and long as it is and skips additional entertainment altogether.
My favorite entertainment is a simple slide show of all that the Scouts had done since the last banquet. Reach back to last spring for photos of field trips, summer camps, fall cookout, winter's Klondike Derby, as well as ordinary den meetings. The boys may laugh at how little they look, just nine months later (if only they knew what parents see!). And reliving these events with family nearby, Scouts are likely to tell new stories and more details than the usual one-syllable answers that some boys give at any age after an outing.
The Pack Committee - Treasurer
Budget Worksheets from National
Other budget helps
Other budget helps
The chart of finances at each level of Scouting, members to National
Troop Guidebook for Finances (a Wood Badge ticket)
Third party collection service (not an endorsement)
Just because the snow falls doesn't mean that camping season is over. Winter camping requires more preparation, but also presents new opportunities for growth and FUN! Make sure that your Scouts and leaders are prepared, then have some activities on hand: Snowshoe hikes, sledding, ice fishing. Klondike Derby games can be fun on a campout, perhaps some patrol competition.
Winter Camping Tips
One troop in Canada approaches snow camping as “Hobbit” camping in this video
Klondike Derby ideas
Other winter camping activities
Camp opportunities for Scouts in MN and WI
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
High Adventures take a lot of foresight and planning. Reservations are made over a year in advance and myriad details must be discussed and decided.
Camping and Outdoor Committee Guide http://www.scouting.org/filestore/Outdoor%20Program/pdf/34786_WB.pdf
Merit Badge Counselors are an important piece of the Boy Scout puzzle. They bring extra knowledge to the merit badge, they widen the Scout's circle of adults.
Den Spirit / Pack Spirit keeps the Scouts enthusiastic, encouraged, and proud about their group. They support and bolster one another and follow the Law of the Pack.
Den spirit comes from a happy Den Leader! http://usscouts.org/baloo/bb0705/bb_trainingtips.html
Skits & Cheers http://www.scoutingpages.org/us/in/pack359/leaders.htm
Stunts & Applause http://usscouts.org/bbugle/bb0501/bbst.html
Pack T-shirts, including Pack t-shirts for the parents
Twenty Activity Badges can look daunting to a Webelos Den Leader, but he or she does not have to go it alone. Activity Badge counselors are people or programs that are available to help instruct the Webelos Scouts and to widen their circle of knowledgeable adults.
When a Cub Scout is working towards his rank, the BSA program includes incentives along the way to encourage the Cub to keep at it.