If there is one event in the Cub Scout year that could be considered the high point, it’s the Blue and Gold Banquet. Every winter, Cub Scout packs hold a celebration of Scouting’s anniversary. Scouts gather, along with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for food, fellowship, recognition, entertainment and Scout spirit.
And the Master of Ceremonies is you – the Cubmaster.
If you’re a new Cubmaster, you might be wondering just what you’ve gotten yourself into! It’s a big moment for you, and you might think you’re going to be in the spotlight. Parents may look at you that way, but it’s best to think about yourself as the one operating the spotlight, shining it on your Scouts instead. Never forget – Scouting is all about the boys!
With that thought in mind, here are some tips for having a successful Blue & Gold Banquet without going totally crazy. And note that most of these can and should be delegated to other leaders and parents!
Before the big day
- Establish the location, date and time. Every pack is different in where and when they celebrate. Many use the facilities of their chartered organization; others meet in another place. Confirm everything a week or so beforehand. And don’t forget to tell pack families so they can plan to attend!
- Plan your meal. With your committee, figure out what kind of food you’re going to have – catering, potluck, snacks or desserts. Your budget will dictate this to some extent. Appoint someone to be totally in charge of the meal; that’s one thing you shouldn’t have to worry about.
- Line up your entertainment. Are you hiring an entertainer? If so, reserve him or her for the date of your banquet. Find out if advance payment or deposit is required and if payment will be due at the event. Make sure your treasurer knows what needs to be paid. A den leader, committee member or parent can do this.
- If you’re doing home-grown entertainment, such as den skits, discuss your needs and possibilities with your den leaders. Give them some guidelines as to how much time they’ll have to run through their acts, including setup and take-down time. And don’t be afraid to include this element; parents love to see their kids perform.
- Confirm other outside participants, such as a veterans’ group for your flag ceremony.
- If you’re awarding advancement or other recognitions, decide if you’ll do them all at once or by den, and in what order. Coordinate with your advancement person to establish a cut-off date for the den leaders to report what’s been earned so the advancement materials (badges, pins, loops, etc.) can be purchased and sorted without a last-minute rush. (The Scout Shop can get quite busy this time of year.) Work with your advancement coordinator.
- Don’t forget adult recognitions. Your volunteers deserve to be recognized for the time spent making sure Cub Scouting can happen for the boys in your pack. There are many ways to honor adults, from pins and certificates you can purchase at the Scout Shop to handmade tokens of appreciation that don’t cost a fortune. And if you have den leaders or committee members who are leaving the pack along with their sons, consider something memorable such as a plaque or trophy. As unit leader, you take the lead on this, but your assistant Cubmaster can help.
- One thing to consider is to have your Arrow of Light ceremony conducted by your Order of the Arrow lodge. The OA members do impressive ceremonies and are an inspiration to Cub Scouts of all ages. Your unit commissioner or district executive can put you in touch with your lodge or chapter chief or adviser. But plan early, because OA Ceremonies teams tend to book up quickly.
- Will your Arrow of Light recipients be crossing over to a troop at your banquet? If so, find out from the den leader which troops they’re joining, then contact the Scoutmasters of those troops to confirm. Determine who will conduct the ceremony; most troops are able to do this, but if you’d rather do your own, that’s fine too. Your Webelos / Arrow of Light den leader can assist.
- Are you having your Friends of Scouting presentation at the banquet? It’s a convenient time because all the families will be in attendance. Ask your unit commissioner, your district executive or your district’s FOS coordinator to put your date on their calendar. Find out from them who your presenter will be, give the presenter a call to confirm, and reconfirm a few days beforehand. Your pack should appoint a Friends of Scouting coordinator; this responsibility falls under the treasurer and should be overseen by the committee chair.
Most importantly, don’t try to do it all yourself – or even a large part of it! Your job is going to be managing the progress of the event. Let others do the detail work. Everyone wants to be part of the fun! You’ll probably want to have a couple meetings of everyone involved in the weeks leading up to the banquet.
Next week we’ll look at the event and immediate preparations. In the meantime, please leave a comment with any questions or advice from your own experience.
Other articles in this series:
- Surviving your First Blue & Gold Banquet: Final preparations
- Surviving your First Blue & Gold Banquet: The big day
Image: Akela’s Council