Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meeting Kit

Today I’m going to talk about putting together a meeting kit.  This may not be the best name for what I’ve implemented, but I’m going with it.  We’re deep in the territory of my personal opinion here, but I don’t think my experiences are all that uncommon.

WHAT IS A MEETING KIT?

A meeting kit is a collection of materials and resources you bring with you to each of your Scout meetings.  The purpose of it is to allow you to have all of the materials handy to conduct the bulk of your meetings.  You may need special equipment for specific meetings, but your meeting kit should cover most of what you need for a standard meeting.  I keep mine in my trunk at all times so that I’m certain I don’t forget something.

Why do you need a meeting kit?

I, personally, have found myself to be a fairly lazy person who doesn’t want to have to constantly think about the same stuff over and over.  As a scout leader I didn’t want to have to spend a lot of time each week prepping for that week’s meeting.  Preparation is important, don’t get me wrong.  I just wanted to limit how much time I spent in preparation and I certainly didn’t want to have to prep the same meeting topic multiple times.  Putting everything together into a kit that I dragged to all of my meetings enabled me to not stress over every single detail of every single meeting.  I only had to stress about the “outlier” meetings.  Those that weren’t directly served by the materials in my kit.  Also, and I can’t stress this enough, plans go awry.  You may walk into a meeting ready to cover a specific topic only to find your plans blown to pieces because none of the scouts that needed those requirements showed up for this meeting.  At that point you can push on and present a topic that everyone present has completed or you can switch gears and present a different topic that meets the needs of those scouts in attendance.  Personally I have always chosen the latter path, so I needed to be prepared to switch gears at a moment’s notice.

What goes into a meeting kit?

First let me talk about the basic containers.  I have found that I go to two types of meetings as a scout leader.  One is for the youth, one is for the leaders.

Leader Meeting Kit Container

I don’t need my full meeting kit when I go to leader meetings like roundtables or committee meetings.  To that end I have a briefcase that has all of my meeting junk.  I use a hard-sided Samsonite briefcase that I’ve had for ages.  I don’t know where I got it or if they still sell them, but it works great for me.  It’s durable, has open area for loose junk and has a reasonable amount of space without being too large and bulky.  You can use whatever book bag, shoulder bag, laptop bag or accessory you desire.  The important thing is that it does the job you need and doesn’t (and this is important, at least to me) make you look like the weird guy/gal walking into the meeting with some bizarre, over-the-top contrivance.

In my briefcase is all of the standard office-type stuff like notebook, pens, calendar, etc that I would need for a leader meeting.  I also have the youth-meeting items that are small, loose, fragile or easily destroyed if carried in the other container.

Youth Meeting Kit Container

For youth meetings I’m much more likely to need larger, bulkier items.  I have found that a large Rubbermaid tub works great for me.  Something that easily fits in my trunk but is large enough to accommodate my stuff is what I needed.  Again, use whatever works for you.  A larger container for holding larger random junk is what I wanted, so that’s what I have.

No, really, what goes into a meeting kit?

Exactly what goes into your meeting kit really depends on what you want to have handy to meet your needs.  I’m going to give you a list of what I use, but modify it as you see fit.  I don’t have my kits in front of me, so I’m going to work from memory.  You should get the general idea.

Briefcase Contents
  • Scout handbook
  • Program calendar – multiple copies
  • Pens – a couple dozen in a pencil bag
  • Notebook
  • Three or four knife sharpeners of various styles
  • Chalk and eraser
  • Small set of dry-erase markers – I don’t know why I still carry them, I never use them
  • Magnetized needle floating on water demo set
  • Training cards – the little cards they give you at the end of a training to prove you’ve taken the training
  • Electrical tape – again, I don’t know why.  I think it got stuck in there for a specific meeting and has lived there ever since
  • Measuring tape – for long jump, high jump measuring
  • Scout song set – approx 25 songs with 10 copies of each song – see the resources section
  • Compass games – two different ones purchased from the Scout shop
  • Scoutmaster’s Minute book – a great little book that I got at the Scout shop that has a ton of Scoutmaster’s Minutes
  • Adult and Youth Scout applications
  • Troop Activity Roster – a handy little book I created for tracking what was covered at each meeting and who attended.
  • Merit badge blue cards (blank)
  • Totin’ Chip cards (blank)
  • Firem’n Chit cards (blank)
  • Compasses – 4 or 5 on lanyards, each with a small flashlight attached.  It’s sometimes dark when we’re doing compass games
  • Scout Badge Visual Aid
  • Patrol Emblems Sheet
  • Firem’n Chit Test
  • Plant and Animal Identification Cards and Answer Key
  • Poisonous Plant Test
  • Safe Swim Defense – A packet for teaching about swimming safety.
  • Safety Afloat – A packet for teaching about boating safety.
  • Contour Lines – A visual aid for teaching about contour lines.
  • Map Symbols – A worksheet for teaching map symbols.
  • Topographic Map – A visual aid for teaching about topographic maps.
  • First Aid Baseball Cards – cards for running First Aid baseball
  • First Aid Steps Cards – A flash card-type presentation of first aid steps
  • Stopwatch – I use an app on my phone, but you need one for athletics stuff
Tub Contents
  • American Flag, flag pole and stand – I always have to provide my own flag for my Scout meetings so I carry a pole and stand that collapse down to a reasonable size
  • Wiffle ball bat and balls
  • Frisbees – two or three
  • Nerf football
  • Bandage kit – for teaching first aid bandages
  • Small orange cones – for the compass games and whatever else I might need them for
  • Samples of kindling and tinder
  • Patrol flag(s)
  • Ropes – long enough to use for knot-tying and lashing practice
  • 1-inch diameter dowel rods – Several 1-foot lengths to use for lashing practice.
  • Paper shopping bags – Several.  Used for a practical compass exercise.
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