Scouting's Secret Weapon:
by MaryAnn Gardner
Scoutmaster holds his handkerchief high in the air. "Scouts, let's
give the Handkerchief Cheer," he says. The Scouts begin to cheer. He releases the
handkerchief and it falls. When it touches the ground the cheering stops.
At the Pack meeting, Clint's name is called to receive the
award for top salesman of the fundraiser. The members of his Den chant "Den 3! Den 3!
We're the best there's ever gonna be!"
I hope these are familiar
occurrences to you and your Scouts. There was a time it was not familiar to me. I was a
young Den Leader, new to Scouting. I was attending the training offered by my District,
but still wasn't sure I understood just how this program for my son and his buddies
worked. Being a teacher, I understood the importance of planning. I knew the elements of a
Den meeting. My assistant, Mary, and I poured over PACK-O-FUN and other craft magazines at
the library in search of activities for our young Cub Scouts. My husband who had grown up
in Scouting kept telling me how much fun and how exciting a program it should be.
My first Pack meeting was a disappointment. It was obvious
the Pack Leadership was not excited about training. The meeting consisted of a basic flag
ceremony, Pack business announcements, awards, and refreshments. Where was all the
activity I had read about in my handbook? Throughout the meeting the Cub Scouts squirmed
in their chairs. After the meeting they chased each other through the meeting hall. Was
THIS what he considered fun and exciting, I demanded of my husband on the ride home. He
assured me it was not.
Then, I attended another
Cub Scout meeting. The results were much different than at my Pack, however. Those same
boys who squirmed in their chairs at our Pack meeting sat quietly all the while someone
was talking. When it ended, they returned quietly to their cars. Instead of
disappointment, I understood what made the difference. Yes, I knew that skits, games and
songs had been missing at the Pack meeting. I had already decided I would insist that my
Den be allowed to perform a skit next time. But, even more, I realized how Scouting
intended the program to function. I understood how they harnessed all that boyhood energy.
It was something I came to call "Controlled Chaos".
At that second meeting, each Den gave their Den Yell - several
times. The Scouters in
charge of the meeting used the "Watermelon Cheer" (eat your melon, then spit out
the seeds), "Cheer for your Unit" (from the Sparklers book), and several others.
I recognized how cunning those Scouters of yesteryear really were. Scouting was designed
for the Scouts to cheer and yell and stomp - because Scouts like to be noisy and active.
Only then, would they be asked to be quiet and listen. After a while, they would be
led in cheers again. Then, quiet. Then, cheers. Our boys had fun at this meeting. I had
fun. Everyone had fun. It was an exciting meeting.
took awhile for my Pack Leadership to accept change. Slowly, Dens began stepping up to sing a song or perform
a skit at Pack meetings. However, it was not until the next year, when their boys crossed
the bridge into Scouting, and the Leadership changed hands, that the Pack Meetings changed
completely. Finally, Den Leaders had their Cub Scouts prepared each month with their
crafts to display, skits, ceremonies, songs, and games. The Pack established a "Word
of the Day" for each Pack meeting, which the Cubmaster would announce. Whenever the
"word" was spoken, the Pack shouted "Hip, Hip, Hooray" in unison. The
Pack's Cub Scouts thought the meetings were just more fun than before. Only the Leadership
knew we were zapping them with Scouting's Secret Weapon.
If you are searching for Yells
and Cheers to use in your Unit, please browse through the links SCOUTER has collected.