Monday, January 8, 2018

Harry Potter banquet and pack ideas and a few other new odd bits on the ol' blog

 Well, I'll admit I still have a lot of final details to sort through, but I'm getting absolutely giddy about the North Caribou District Blue and Gold Banquet coming up this week. We held our first big Akela's Adventure course last August (comprehensive Cub Scout program training for all Cub Scout leaders) and as part of our activities that week, we held a Hogwarts-themed Blue and Gold Banquet. It was a blast. So much so, that I promised the participants and staff I'd pull together four pages crammed with ideas for throwing their own Harry Potter Blue and Gold Banquet or pack meeting. So of course, this has become the theme for our district Blue and Gold as well.

By this point, the handouts are done, and you'll find in the right margin the aforementioned Harry Potter pack ideas, as well as samples for doing your own Wizard's Bingo gathering activity and more than a dozen Harry Potter/wizard-related jokes. Why the jokes? Well, don't we all need a few silly jokes for our boys? But in particular, these are the jokes I put into mismatched, colorful, odd socks which I then hung on a clothesline and identified with the sign "Dobby's Socks." For run-ons at your banquet or pack meeting, simply have a participant go over to the clothesline and pull a joke from one of the socks. It's amazing how many people want to be part of the fun with Dobby's socks! :o)

The Blue and Gold isn't our only excitement at roundtable. We also held another carnival at our roundtable meeting a couple of months ago. This time, instead of doing a standard carnival, we opted to go with a "Let It Snow" carnival. Check out my handout in the carnival ideas section (also in the right-hand column) for lots of wintery-themed fun. Keep in mind this is an elective adventure for the Bears now, and done right, will be one of your biggest pack meeting hits.

And finally, I'm often asked for some good service project ideas -- to which I always succeed in going completely blank. So let's scrap my terrible memory and get this down in print! In the left-hand column I've added two great lists of service project ideas, one of which comes from (Ironically, I just logged into that link to make sure I had the address right and they are also talking about a Harry Potter-themed Blue and Gold Banquet! What are the odds?! Evidently great minds really do think alike!)

Incidentally, if you haven't subscribed to the "Bryan on Scouting" blog posts provided through, I highly recommend doing so. It's just one more way to stay in the loop on what's going on in the BSA.

Happy New Year, stay warm, and good luck with all those upcoming Blue and Gold Banquets!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Great news about Cub Scout program modifications and a "How To Train Your Dragon" Blue and Gold Banquet

Since the new Cub Scout Program launched in 2015, Cub leaders have scrambled to find updated resources and begin implementing the "adventure" requirements that will lead their boys towards earning their next Cub Scout rank.

Apparently, the BSA has been just as busy, watching, learning, and determining what adjustments now need to be made to the new program. And so, on November 30th, 2016, the BSA officially announced modifications to the new program introduced in 2015. As a Bear den leader myself, I will confess I was pretty excited. Suddenly I could see it would be significantly less stressful trying to squeeze in all those requirements in one small year's worth of meetings. Perhaps the most important change for the Bears was relaxing "Grin and Bear It" to an elective adventure and upgrading "Baloo the Builder" to a required adventure. While I think carnivals are still a terrific idea, I was relieved to feel that a little of the pressure was off to present one every single year. It means cubmasters again have a little more flexibility in what they do with their pack meetings, putting a carnival in every so often on a less rigid and hopefully more enjoyable basis.

For those who haven't seen the modifications, I'm posting a link to it on my blog (see the right margin). These modifications still work with the original handbook for the new program, so don't fret about running out to buy a new book. Simply compare the old and new requirements (which are side by side in this link) to become acquainted with what adjustments you'll need to make as you prepare to move your Cubs forward with their required and elective adventures.

Along with the modifications to the program, it was time again to pull together another roundtable Blue and Gold Banquet for the Cub Scout leaders in our district this month. And, having had such great success with Legos last year, we decided to tackle dragons and Vikings, all in one feast, in another contemporary-themed Blue and Gold event, with inspiration from the movie How to Train Your Dragon. 

I'm working on providing you with the latest Cubmaster Pack Picks for this theme, as well as a single-page pdf to give you a visual of some of the things we pulled together for the banquet (some of which are mentioned in the "Pack Picks.") You'll see both files posted here on my blog.

It was a fabulous banquet, by the way. We had a great turn out, even with all the crazy winter weather this month, and our Cub Scout leaders, as always, just added to the tremendous fun of the evening. Many thanks to those who brought food, helped with preparation, and just came and brought their energy with them. And a special thanks to my staff. They really knocked themselves out to pull this one off. You, my friends, are amazing!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Getting Your Parents a Little More Oriented . . .

For about ten years I lived in a small community with residents whose ancestors had lived in that area for generations upon generations. It didn't take long to realize that, although we spoke the same language, we really didn't. There were several terms or explanations that left me mystified. Reminders in the church bulletin would regularly encourage people to get their stuff in for "DOTS." (What on earth is that?!) And if a church event was held at someone's home (which happened quite frequently), they would simply announce that it would be at so-and-so's home Thursday evening at 7:00. When I would sheepishly ask -- yet again -- "And where does so-and-so live?" Their answer always began with, "Well, you know where the Barnhills live . . ." The who? Is there a beacon at their house? Or maybe a giant arrow?

When families join Cub Scouts, they come into a culture that has been around now for more than 100 years. And just like my experience in that small community, they are sometimes startled to discover they don't "speak the language" of Cub Scouting.

For this reason, I'm convinced the way to get everyone on the same page -- and speaking the same language -- is to plan an annual orientation meeting or "Parents' Night" for families in your den or pack. The payoff at your end is that you then have parents who understand what is expected of them or needed from them, and who are more involved and supportive of what's going on in your unit.

My sermon is over, but I offer my own "support" for your cause: I've just finished updating the Cub Scout Orientation booklet I created several years ago. (Check it out on the left-hand side of this page.) I've tried to make it generic enough that you can use it as it is, or at the very least, use it as a springboard for all the stuff you'd really like to tell your fabulous Cub Scouting families.

I've also added a few more things, including a couple of pages of "Boaty Fun," now available in the Fun and Games section, also in the left column of this blog. The tinfoil boats were a blast at roundtable, and I learned that soap boats that remain in the water too long . . . well, like most soap in life, they eventually get reduced to slivers!

Have a great remainder of the summer and may it be followed by a glorious fall and a fabulous orientation meeting for your Cub Scouting families --

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Update Time! And Lego Time!

Great news! At long last, I'm finally getting around to the updates I planned to do nearly a year ago. Hooray!! With the new Cub Scout program going into effect last summer, I knew I needed to get stuff up to snuff on my blog. But oh, I've had so many, many other projects as well!

However, having attended a Cub Scout leader training in Utah -- Akela's Council -- I'm now feeling the pressure to work on all those great Cub Scout goals I made. (Not to mention pressure from some very kind -- but firm -- but kind -- Cub Scout leaders at roundtable . . .) As much as goals and deadlines can drive us crazy, they can also be a great blessing because they prod us to move forward. Yay for goals!

As part of my goals, I've promised to do some serious updating to the information on my blog. The first step was updating my "Cubmaster Pack Picks." These pack picks are meant to help you come up with great ideas for your monthly pack meetings. Many are tied to core values (the "old" program, now), but they still work great with the Scout Law. As part of my updating, I've gone in and given them their "thematic" identity, rather than simply listing the core value each covers.

As a bonus, I've also produced a brand new Cubmaster Pack Picks, as part of our district roundtable Blue and Gold Banquet events this month. And so, I share with you four glorious pages of "Lego Mania." This contemporary theme would work great for a Blue and Gold Banquet, as well as for any other pack meeting and includes opening and closing ceremonies, refreshment ideas, skits, run-ons, cheers, advancement -- the whole ball of wax! I hope you enjoy it. :)

Over the next few weeks, I'll continue updating files on my blog, hopefully making it even easier for you to grab the info you need most. (Yay for goals! Did I already say that?) Keep grinning, and keep scouting --

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Frying-Pan-and-Fire Moment

It's one of those days when I feel like I've leaped out of the frying pan and into the fire. It was only a few short months ago that our amazing cub scout roundtable commissioner announced she was stepping down. Well, stepping over, more like, as she agreed to shed her commissioner duties and take on the challenge of overseeing all district training. Probably her frying-pan-and-fire moment, come to think of it.

And then there was the other news that went with it: I was invited to take her place as the cub scout roundtable commissioner. That was certainly my frying-pan-and-fire moment. But more than that, it meant a definite time of change. Those who know me well know I'm a cubmaster through and through. I love that once-a-month party and all the fun and adventure that go with it. But it was time to hand off the cubmaster class -- on both the district and council level -- to someone else. Yeah, a little bit sad. But so cool to have someone come in with a fresh perspective and their own clever ideas. I'm definitely all for that.

Since that crucial turning point in the spring, the question has come up, "Will Cubmaster Pack Picks continue?" After four years of digging up advancement ceremonies, skits, and cubmaster minutes, I will admit, it's time to take a break -- at least for a little while, while I work on filling those really big shoes left behind by my fellow frying pan leaper.

But while I take on more of a commissioner's role, and do less with Cubmaster Pack Picks, I also fully intend to maintain my cubmaster blog. Well, I'm not big on the chatty part. But I'm definitely big on the resources part. And I'll continue to add those, especially as we take the initial steps into embracing the new cub scouting program, the transition occurring next summer in 2015. So the blog is here to stay, with more to come. And maybe even a few Pack Picks surprises. Because it's true what they say about cubmasters -- we just can't seem to stay away from a good pack party. :o)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Need More Stuff?

I'll admit I've tried very hard to keep my blog updated with the monthly national pack meeting resources, as well as my own Cubmaster Pack Picks (just more great monthly pack meeting ideas), but in preparing to talk to my cubmasters at roundtable about bridging ceremonies, it occurred to me that maybe there really wasn't enough stuff on my blog yet. So here it is, more stuff!

This evening I've added a few extras to my blog which include more Arrow of Light ceremony ideas and a few bridging ceremony ideas (right column, under "Special Ceremonies") as well as more "Extra Helps" (left column) including Balloon Fun, Jelly Bean Games, and more. I even posted instructions for the famed "Balloon Racer" my cubmasters had so much fun building several months ago. And oh yes, not done digging through the files yet. But in the meantime . . .


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Making a NEW New Year's Resolution

While stores and internet ads are now pushing aside the decadent desserts of the holidays, shedding the fleece-lined sweatshirts, putting their snow boots on clearance, and focusing all energies on helping us lose that 20 pounds gained over the Christmas break, this morning I was inspired to eat better, get a little more exercise, and NOT make losing weight my only long-term resolution this year.

Instead, this morning I faced a startling decision: a new year calls for a new goal all together. I was struck by this inspiration after getting onto Blogger for the umpteenth time since our roundtable in December, only to discover I still had no way of editing my blog and adding the latest issue of Cubmaster Pack Picks. And so, begrudgingly, I decided to quit blaming Blogger and try a different route. I ditched my traditional browser of choice, downloaded an entirely different browser, held my breath, and clicked on the icon. Within moments I was on my blog, loading the link to the January 2014 Pack Picks.

From this experience, I received the firm reminder that the internet and digital media are tools for our use, not some mysterious overlords to whom we must bow in submission. Or put another way, it was time to suck it up and be braver with technology.

It's sort of the pot calling the kettle black, really. It hasn't been that long since I first urged my cubmasters to "embrace technology" and let it make their job easier. With the rapidly increasing popularity of smart phones and tablets, there is also an increasing opportunity to embrace a whole fantastic world of digital media. We no longer need to buy one copy of the Guide to Safe Scouting for our pack and then fret about whose car it ended up in and whether we have it for our latest cub scout outing. Instead, with a few clicks, a free digital copy can be quickly loaded onto your device, ready to go wherever you do, the moment you load up your cubs and go. Check out the "Books and Guides" section I have on my blog, as well as all the links down either side column, and you'll quickly discover there is all sorts of great stuff that could live happily on your device, never again more than just a couple of taps away.

My new year's resolution? Try out other browsers, go looking for apps to make my life easier, and -- in one of my stronger moments -- finally give in and try out Windows 8 on the new laptop. Although I may have to break my other long-standing resolution and devour a bar of chocolate before I muster the courage to do that one --