So how do you run a meeting? There are many different options for this.
We've found it's best to have a meeting agenda
written out with estimates of how long each activity will take, when to switch activities, who you will need to help you, and what materials you will need.
- 5 Steps to Better Lesson Planning from Kids Discover. This blog post is meant for teachers, but the same ideas apply to running an effective scout meeting. You need an objective (e.g., a badge, but think about what the badge's aim is, not just working through the requirement recipe). If you have a good idea of the objective, you will know how best to tailor it to your troop and how to incorporate variations to spice it up while achieving the stated goal.
Active versus calm time. It is best to alternate active movement activities (sports, games, stations) and calm, cool down activities (discussions, story time, business items).
Stations. Need to break up a large troop to make the activities more manageable? Need to find a way to fit in 4-5 different activities in one meeting? If you have 3-5 shorter activities (~15-20 minutes each), then you can do "Stations" - split the scouts into smaller groups (or patrols). Then have each group rotate around to each of the activities until they've done them all. Depending on the activities, you may need to have an adult at each station to help out and give instructions. If you have a girls of different ages, you may want to create groups with a mix of ages in it.
Be Courteous and Caring. Like any good classroom, the meetings will not go well if the girls do not obey basic rules of courtesy and safety. No one should dominate a meeting; everyone should get a chance to participate. Girls should politely be quiet and listen to others during discussion times. I'm not a hugely patriotic person, but Flag Ceremony should be done seriously -- no joking around with the Pledge of Allegiance (I make the girls redo it, if they are goofing around).
It may help to have the girls come up with troop behavior rules. Many of them do this at school, so they can come up with a list fairly easy.
If you continue to have problems, you may have to have the girls read and sign a behavior contract -- even one that states that if they don't behavior, the leader can call their parents to come pick them up.
Parent Leaders. When the program activity leader is also the parent of one or more of the girls, they may try to dominate the meeting more, take more liberties, or show more frustration during activities. It always seems best to have his/her girl(s) in a separate group, whenever possible. For instance, when we did a sewing activity and had more parents around to help out, the girls that were at the same table as their parent tended to show more frustration and whining than those at separate tables. If everyone is in one group, it tends to help if another adult it sitting near the activity leader's child.
Keep Out Signals. Our meetings are in two adjoining rooms. Whenever they get a break, the girls tend to go to the room with the wide open areas and horse around. To keep them out, we've started turning out the lights in that room when we aren't using it (we meet in the evenings so it's more obvious when the lights are out).