Welcome to the LDS Scouter Blog. We hope to provide you with valuable information, share useful resources and maybe even improve some attitudes and Ward Scouting programs. The recommended way to use this blog is to start with the post, "Why I started this blog." Then browse through the post titles in the archive (found in the sidebar) for topics of interest.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adding "Sparkle"

In the first training class we taught, there was a woman who said, "I don't know why they called me to this. I hate the stupid skits. I hate the stupid songs. I hate the stupid cheers. This is not the calling for me."

I cannot blame her. When I first started teaching this age group, I would always skip the "dumb" stuff, because they're going to think it's dumb too. Right?

I have since learned that boys this age, for the most part, do not think that stuff is dumb. They love it. There is nothing funnier to a boy than a skit with a groaner punch line. They love doing cheers, the more active the better. They even like the songs. I didn't think anyone would want to sing those goofy songs, but they really do.

I think realizing that the boys will actually enjoy that stuff and they won't think it's dumb is the first step to loosening up. If you're willing to relax a bit and have fun as a Scout leader, you'll find meetings becoming more enjoyable for both you and the boys. With enough practice, you too may someday find yourself in front of a large group of adults singing, "I'm a Little Teapot," to get their attention.

What many people aren't aware of is that in recent years the BSA has instituted some guidelines for things like skits and cheers. There are many resources online for skit ideas, but most of them come from old time Scouters who aren't aware of the guidelines (or choose to ignore them) so you need to be careful in selecting what you want to use. Just because it comes from a well-known site like USScouter doesn't mean it fits the guidelines.

The list the BSA has given of "some of the things that can make activities inappropriate and unacceptable," includes:

o Name-calling, put-downs, or hazing
o References to undergarments, nudity, or bodily functions
o Cross-gender impersonation that is in any way derogatory, rude, insulting, or lewd
o Derogatory references to or stereotyping of ethnic or cultural backgrounds, economic situations, or disabilities
o Sensitive social issues such as alcohol, drugs, gangs, guns, suicide, etc.
o Wasteful, ill-mannered, or improper use of food or water
o "Inside jokes" that exclude some of those present
o Cultural exclusion - emphasis on the culture or faith of part of the group while ignoring that of the rest of the group
o Changing lyrics to patriotic songs or to hymns or other spiritual songs

If you don't want to remember the whole list, just follow the rule, "When in doubt, take it out." If you think there's a chance it will offend anyone, or even make someone uncomfortable, find something else. In a way, this is kind of a nice cushion, because it gives you an excuse to nix things that make you uncomfortable: "I'm sorry. That sounds like a great idea, but it's against the rules."

My suggestion is to look through as many lists as you can, and compile from those your own lists of the skits, cheers and songs that you like best. Print these out and keep them in whatever it is that you take to den meetings and pack meetings, and in a pinch you can pull them out and have them ready. You may even want to keep a few extra gathering activities and game ideas in there as well, just in case.

Another popular idea for Cub Masters is to have a whole bunch of different cheers printed on slips of paper. Cut a hole for a hand to fit through out of a"Cheer" detergent box and keep the papers in there. Two or three times during a pack meeting, have different boys come up and take turns picking out a cheer for everyone to do.

However you do it, I strongly recommend you make use of skits, songs and cheers in your den meetings and pack meetings. They may take a little getting used to at first, but you'll be glad you did.

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