Blue and Gold Overload
Make your annual banquet enjoyable, not unendurable.
Illustration by Dave Wheeler
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.
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.
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
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.
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.