Make your blue and gold banquet enjoyable

The biggest Cub Scout event of the year doesn’t have to be the longest. After all, families shouldn’t have to bring a late-night snack to survive their pack’s annual blue and gold dinner. Blue And Gold Banquet

Yet some blue and gold banquets last longer than Gone with the Wind, testing the endurance of boys and parents alike. This happens because leaders try to cram everything into the event: advancement ceremonies, Webelos Scout crossovers, leader recognition, skits, slideshows, songs, outside entertainment, announcements, and—oh, yeah—a three-course meal.

So how can you get everything accomplished and still get the boys in bed on time? Elaine Hebenthal, pack trainer for Pack 23 in Tallahassee, Fla., says, “You can’t do it all and not have it take a long, long time.”

But that doesn’t mean you should consider marathon blue and gold banquets inevitable.

Hebenthal and Kathy Gaidos, Cubmaster of Pack 382 in Nashville, Tenn., suggest three simple steps to avoid blue and gold overload.

Prepare Properly

To spend less time at your blue and gold banquet, spend more time planning it. Gaidos starts the process after Christmas. By the time she’s finished, every leader has an agenda of how long each segment will take. “I break it out by den,” she says, “so I know that I’m going to allow this much time for this den and that much time for that den. They really appreciate it because I’m not hurrying them.”

Preparing properly also means ensuring that workers set up the room and place all recognition items long before the program begins. And to save time, she puts each boy’s awards in a labeled, zip-top bag.

Prune the Program

Next, Hebenthal says, decide what needs to take place at the banquet and what could happen in another setting. For example, “Some packs will have the Webelos crossover separate from blue and gold, maybe at the March pack meeting or maybe even something entirely separate,” she says.

Also, don’t hand out every arrow point, bead, and belt loop at the blue and gold banquet. When her boys earn participation patches, Gaidos presents them at a regular pack meeting. “I’ll have all the boys come up together and say something about what they’ve done or where they went,” she says.

If you take that approach, consider listing the awards in the banquet’s printed program. “That makes it visible so that everybody can see who’s earned what,” Hebenthal says.

Pruning the program allows you to give activities the attention they deserve. If the Webelos Scout crossover is a standalone event, for example, you might invite the dance team from your Order of the Arrow lodge to participate. And by holding off on activities such as leader recognition, you avoid sending the message that the Cub Scout year is ending.

Emphasize Efficiency

For step three, make sure you don’t waste time during the banquet. That process starts at the beginning: “If you say you’re going to start at 6:30, start at 6:30. That really does help us keep it on schedule,” Gaidos says. Encourage families to arrive early. Her pack begins a slideshow of the year’s highlights about 15 minutes before the start time. Since everyone wants to see the photos, they’re usually in their seats when the banquet begins.

Efficiency continues when the meal is served. By having multiple serving lines and setting up separate drink and dessert stations, Hebenthal’s pack seats people more quickly. You can also use eating time strategically. One pack in her district, recognizing that boys scarf down their food and then get antsy, schedules den skits during dinner. Other packs use the last part of dinner for leader recognition.

Both Hebenthal and Gaidos recommend keeping announcements to a minimum, referring families to newsletters and Web sites instead. “Announcements just take too long, and boys don’t care,” Gaidos says.

What they do care about is having a good time. By keeping your banquet simple, making it fun, and watching the clock, you can ensure that your banquet is remembered for something besides its record-breaking length.

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Korea Historical Image Archive.

5 thoughts on “Make your blue and gold banquet enjoyable

  1. I like the observation that scouts get antsy after eating so get the energy out by using skits. I also appreciate the note about using newsletter and not dragging the night out with announcements. Excellent article!

  2. Its such as you learn my mind! You appear to grasp a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the guide in it or something. I believe that you simply could do with a few p.c. to force the message house a bit, however instead of that, that is fantastic blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

  3. The BSA program calls for 5th grade Webelos to receive their Arrow of Light in February and begin meeting with a Boy Scout troop in March. The purpose is to get those Webelos to be new Scouts in time to attend district events (camporee a, etc) in the spring and to allow Scouts and parents to be comfortable with attending Boy Scout summer camp.

    Whether it is an official crossover or just a recognition of the 5th grade Webelos accomplishment, make sure it is special.

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