Ideally, no Troop should have a single indoor meetingall its activities should be in the outdoors! Ideally, we sayfor Scouting is a Movement of the out-of-doors, teaching boys citizenship through woodcraft. Boys join Scouting to have fun under the open sky, not to be cooped up in a Troop room.
But because of climate and the set-up of modern life, we have to confine some of the activities of the Troop to the surroundings of a meeting roomor even within its four walls.
As the years have gone by, some Scoutmasters have set this Troop Meeting upon a too elevated pedestal. They have spoken of it reverently; they have spent hours and hours in perfecting its programs and have seemed to consider that the conducting of a Troop meeting successfully once a week was the whole idea and purpose of the Scout Movement-that by running a fine, lively meeting on Friday nights-or Tuesdays or Thursdays-their work was done for seven days.
There never was a falser idol set up than this glorification of the weekly Troop meeting to the exclusion of other forms of Scout activity.
Troop Meetings a Means to an End.
We must keep clearly in mind at all times that the weekly Troop meeting is but a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. Its business is not to be the Scouting of your Troop for a week. Its business is to make Scouting for a week-to inspire it, to pep it up, to give it purpose and activities, to make it extend all through the week in each Patrol's and each boy's life.
We can't accomplish much actual work in one and a half or two hours every week, but we can use those hours to motivate every other hour of the same period. And by motivate we mean to stimulate activity by providing a motive to every boy and every Patrol.
Purposes of the Troop Meeting
How Often Does The Troop Meet?
Although many Troops meet every week, this is by no means a requirement for running a good Troop. Patrol work is the important thing. Troop hikes and camps come next. Troop meetings are only necessary to hold the gang together and help the boys to steer the right course.
The idea, then, is to have just enough Troop meetings to round out the Troop's program of hikes and camps and Patrol activities.
If you have smoothly working Patrols and a Patrol Leaders' Council that's running in high gear, one meeting a month may be just enough to supplement your outdoor activities.
Or you may find that your schedule of hikes, Patrol meetings, and leaders' meetings, will suggest a Troop meeting every two weeks. The monthly arrangement for the whole gang might then be somewhat along this line: Patrol meetings every week . . .Troop meetings, first and third week . . . planning meeting of Troop Leaders Council, second week . . . training get-together of Leaders' Patrol, fourth week . . .Troop hike or camp, third Saturday. This arrangement has proved satisfactory to numerous Troops.
Some Troops may come to the conclusion that they can manage weekly Troop meetings, besides the weekly patrol meetings, regular leaders' meetings and Troop hikes. Fine-but only if such a schedule strengthens the patrols. If weekly Troop meetings crowd weekly Patrol meetings off the calendar, then you'd better take stock and reconsider--the tail may be wagging the dog, the Patrols may be losing out.
In all events, let the Patrol Leaders' Council make the final decision. The boy leaders know how much time their Scouts can give to Scout activities without impairing their school work and home life.
Setting Your Dates
When the frequency of Troop meetings has been determined, consult the whole Troop, if yours is a new gang, to find out what days suit the majority of the boys. Then set specific dates for the future. In an old Troop, you'll already have your meeting nights set.
If you meet twice a month, a rhyme may keep your boys reminded: "Every Scout in the Troop has heard: We meet on Wednesdays-first and third!" If you have weekly meetings, have a slogan of "Friday Night is Scout Night in Troop Five!"
Keep these dates as permanent as anything in this world can be, so that if something else comes up, your Scouts will automatically say: "Sorry, can't make it, it's Troop meeting night."
The Meeting Place
OUTDOORS-The outdoor program of the Troop begins just outside the meeting room door. Get those youngsters outdoors for every meeting you can-if not for the whole meeting, then at least for part of it.
City Troops may meet in a park or vacant lot or school yard for the complete meeting. Or the meeting may start and end indoors, with the main feature an outdoor treasure or scavenger hunt.
If your Troop is located in a small town, you can plan to get entirely out of town for evenings of outdoor work and fun. Patrol suppers can be part of the program, and you can wind up with a camp fire, a commando game in the dark, or orientation by the stars.
The chapter on Hiking will give you numerous program suggestions that are applicable to the outdoor type of meeting.
INDOORS-A number of Troops are lucky enough to have their own Troop room, decorated in a "Scouty" manner, with a corner for each Patrol.
Other Troops have to meet in rooms used by other groups during the week-church halls, Sunday school rooms, club rooms. With very little effort you can give that kind of a room a Scout atmosphere by hanging charts, pictures, banners, maps on the walls, to be taken down and stored between meetings. Patrol screens can here take the place of permanent Patrol corners.
Whether you have your own room or not, you need some place to keep Troop records and equipment used for the meetings, such as flags, ropes, staves, signal devices and so on. An artificial camp fire will prove a great asset.
The activities of the meeting will be influenced to a great extent by the type of place you have. If the meeting room is large, vigorous games are in order. If it is small, activities will have to be comparatively quietgames and Scoutcraft projects that need plenty of elbow-room are out.
What Goes Into the Troop Meeting?
In determining the activities of your Troop meetings, keep in mind that they must not only fit the facilities you have, but, what is even more important: They must fit your Troop-your Patrols and your boys.
So, early in the game, have a session with your Troop Leaders' Council for the express purpose of lining up your Troop meetings. Go over the great variety of possible activities listed below. Pick those that best suit your Troop. Then arrange them into a skeleton outline on which you can base your future meetings:
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Last modified: August 20, 2012.