Scouts and Scoutmasters should always be on the lookout for fun new activities to spice up their troop meetings. From playing team-building games to learning new skills, or even bringing in a guest speaker, this article has got you covered! In it, you’ll be learning about some of the best and most fun troop meeting activities!
PS. This article is a collaboration between Star Scout, Mary-Blakely, and Eagle Scout, Cole 🙂
I’m the SPL of a smaller troop, and we often struggle to come up with ideas for meetings. Scouting is meant to be fun, while still teaching future adult leaders valuable skills they’ll need in life. However, balancing both of these types of meeting activities can be a challenge.
As my troop and I have grown, we’ve found several Scout activities which consistently make for great meetings! The activities I’ll be sharing with you were always our very favorite nights. We’d learn new skills, discover new ideas, and grow in leadership; but most importantly, we always leave with great memories. 😀
My Favorite Engaging and Creative BSA Troop Meeting Ideas
Invite a Guest Speaker
Some of my most memorable meetings involved having a speaker come to our troop to teach us about a topic. By bringing in people from many different career fields, we Scouts had the opportunity to delve into new topics we hadn’t previously considered!
Whether the person presenting was a family friend, a Scout parent, or just a knowledgeable professional, hearing about their varied experiences always inspired us Scouts to think from multiple perspectives. From there came new thoughts and questions that absolutely broadened our horizons!
Pro-Tip: A speaker can sometimes help your Scouts fulfill rank-advancement or merit badge requirements! For example, you can fulfill First Class requirement 9a by bringing in a civil servant who can have a conversation with the troop about “the constitutional rights and obligations of a U.S. citizen.”
Here are some great ideas for the types of people you could request to speak at your next troop meeting:
- Park ranger
- Police officer
- Pro sports player
- Doctor or nurse
- Military recruiter
- An Eagle Scout!
- Professional actor
- Martial artist
- Self-defense or martial arts teacher
- Construction worker
- Non-profit representative
- Social worker
- School teacher, principal, or college professor
- Counselor or therapist
- Someone who has made a positive impact in your community
If you want a guest speaker to come by your troop, ask your Scouts who on this list they’d want to learn from. Then, as a troop, you can brainstorm if any Scouts have connections to someone who could come in. Ask your parents too! Often, your ideal speaker could be closer than expected. In fact, many of our guests have been parents or family friends!
Play a Team-Building Game
Team-building is key when it comes to a solid troop. Having a troop that can communicate effectively with each other helps in every aspect of Scouting, from running meetings to coordinating campouts to doing service projects. It also helps individual Scouts become better team members in the future!
Team-building games can come in many forms. You could play a sport, like flag football, basketball, field hockey, soccer, relay racing, or baseball. Or it could be something less active — my troop once played BSA trivia steal-the-bacon! Here are a few others I like…
- Back-to-back drawing: Give each Scout a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Split each person up into groups of two and have each group sit back-to-back. One person draws something (it should be something easy to draw) while describing what they draw to the other person. Afterward, compare the two drawings to see how well the two communicated!
- Human knot: Have everyone in your troop (or groups of around 6-14, depending on your troop’s size) stand in a circle and randomly grab hands with two other people (not the ones standing next to you). Now, try to “untangle” yourselves without unclasping your hands! (To add another challenge, try doing this with all eyes closed except for one person; that person has to guide the whole group to unknot themselves). Might want to have hand sanitizer nearby for this one!
- Keep-up: Take a balloon full of air and, as a group, attempt to keep it off the ground. This one might be best played outside if you have a smaller space, and have some extra balloons on hand in case the unthinkable happens.
If you need more ideas, check out the BSA’s list of team-building games you can do at your next meeting!
Teach a New Skill
One of the biggest parts of Scouting is learning new skills which will help Scouts succeed in life. Having a meeting dedicated to learning real-world skills can help the Scouts in your troop to be prepared for anything as they grow into responsible adults.
Plus, these skills don’t even have to be part of Scouting advancement or merit badges! While the Scouting curriculum covers hundreds of important topics, it’s impossible to include everything Scouts need to know. That’s where a meeting to learn real-world skills comes in handy! Here are just a few ideas:
- Car maintenance. How to change a tire, how to know when to change your oil, what to do if your car breaks down, and other skills are important things to know, but many Scouts might not have learned them.
- Survival knots & rope skills. While Scouting advancement requires plenty of extremely useful knots, this class would look at what’s beyond two half-hitches and the bowline! For example, the trucker’s hitch, prusik knot, and hitching tie, are all super useful knots that aren’t normally taught in Scouting.
- General etiquette. Depending on your troop, etiquette may include interviewing presence, sitting up straight, holding the door open, practicing random acts of kindness, or even something as complex as how to act at a formal dinner, dance, or party.
- Sewing, knitting, or crocheting. This one can make for a fun meeting! Sewing is an especially great skill for life, and knitting or crocheting can be an incredibly useful and rewarding hobby.
- Useful plants. This is a great Scouting skill that isn’t covered much. Knowing which local plants are edible, could be used as soap, are good for making fires, and more can be so helpful in the case of an unexpected situation in the outdoors. Make sure to also cover dangerous plants, too!
- Online discernment. This is a great one! Often, especially now that the internet is so ingrained in our daily lives, we struggle to know who and what to trust online. This might be a great meeting to invite a speaker who works in a related field.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. I challenge you to do some life skill-brainstorming at your next PLC and see what ideas the rest of your troop comes up with! 😀
Plan a Service Project
Instead of having a regular meeting, why not use that time to give back to your community? If possible, your troop can convene elsewhere for the night and spend your meeting time giving back to the community!
You likely won’t have as much time as a typical service project, so in your search, ask around for something which fits your time limit. Example service projects that could be done include volunteering at an old folks home, helping out at a soup kitchen, or creating thank-you cards for veterans.
Plus, your troop can always go back on a weekend and provide some extra help if needed!
If you don’t want to change up your meeting place, doing service projects where you meet is just as wonderful an idea! In the past, my troop has done projects for the church we meet at, such as spreading new mulch at their playground. It’s the least we can do, considering we meet there for free! It shows our gratefulness for their generosity and also demonstrates the Scout Law in action.
Run a Merit Badge Clinic
Merit badges are another great way to spend a troop meeting! If you have a counselor, you can start your Scouts off on countless merit badges (or even finish them!).
Covering merit badges at meetings has many perks. Firstly, you can get some Scouts who may not have as much motivation to start working on one. Hopefully, this will get them interested and help them to stay interested! Secondly, some Scouts have limited time in their everyday lives, and this can sometimes mean Scouting advancement shifts down a few notches on their priority list. This is totally okay!
By starting a merit badge in a meeting, you’re helping to support the Scouts in your troop who might struggle to get things done. As an added bonus, you might even introduce merit badges that a Scout would never consider earning. By introducing a new topic, your Scouts might find a new hobby or interest they never would have discovered otherwise!
Here are some great merit badges to cover in a meeting (like before, this list is certainly not all-exhaustive; it’s another good one to brainstorm!)
- Fingerprinting. This is a really simple one that you can easily knock out in one meeting! I finished it at my first summer camp in one evening, in under an hour.
- Photography. All the basics of this merit badge can easily be covered in a meeting, and the actual photography can either happen at the meeting or as homework.
- Cooking. You could either go over some of the discussion requirements or (if you have access to a kitchen or other place to do so) plan and make a meal in patrols!
- Personal Management. This is a good one to discuss over a few meetings, going over one requirement at a time.
- First Aid. This merit badge has lots of group activities like carries and bandaging which you can do as a troop or in patrols.
Hold a Troop-wide PLC
It’s important to hear everyone’s voices, not just those in leadership. While our troop is small enough for everyone to have a leadership position, our larger brother troop has a troop-wide PLC at least twice a year to make sure every Scout can contribute to the troop’s activities.
This is beneficial for many reasons, especially since it helps Scouts who aren’t in leadership yet give ideas for meetings, campouts, service projects, and other activities. Often, fewer younger Scouts (other than patrol leaders) have a leadership position, so this can even out the age gap and help younger Scouts stay more engaged in the activities.
Additionally, it gives Scouts who aren’t in leadership an idea of what a PLC looks like. When leadership switches, these Scouts are often unprepared and don’t know how to properly plan activities. This gives them an opportunity to see how it’s done and learn from older Scouts!
Plus, a group PLC engages the whole troop. When more Scouts feel like their opinions are heard, it builds a stronger community. If a Scout feels like the troop’s recent activities don’t interest them, they can mention it at a troop-wide PLC. Otherwise, they might not know when to bring it up or who to speak to. Collective PLCs help Scouts feel more like they belong!
Make sure to check out the ScoutSmarts guide to running a great PLC!
Have a “Chill Meeting”
Sometimes it’s good to take a night off of activities. Maybe it’s a holiday, a holiday weekend, the end of the school year, or the day back from a campout. If fewer Scouts are likely to attend the meeting, planning “lighter” activities is often best.
Around Christmas time, my troop takes the week off from serious activities and decorates cookies or does a gift exchange. And, at the end of the school year, we watch a movie! These activities break up the “work” of Scouting and give everyone something to look forward to.
If you have meetings on holiday weekends or holidays, avoid planning big activities and instead opt for things like game nights. Doing this will increase attendance and help to take some pressure off, showing Scouts that not everything troop-related has to feel like work!
If you liked these ideas and want to learn more, be sure to check out Cole’s article on Epic Troop Meeting Activities: More Fun Ideas For Scouts And Patrols. There, you’ll discover even more great activities to bring your troop closer together!
Planning your troop meetings doesn’t need to feel like a slog. Hopefully, this list gave you some great ideas for the next time you feel stuck. These meeting ideas will help your Scouts grow and step outside of their comfort zones, all while learning important new skills! 🙂
Thanks for reading, and for making our world a better place through your involvement in Scouting! If you enjoyed learning about my 7 favorite troop meeting ideas, I’d highly recommend also checking out any of the following articles if they spark your interest:
- The Essential Camp Packing List: A Scout’s Trek Gear Checklist
- The FASTEST Way To Reach Eagle Scout: A 2-Year Timeline
- 67 Epic Scouting Quotes To Keep Scouts Prepared And Inspired
- Scout Recruiting 101: Tips And Hacks For Growing Your Troop From Scouts And Scoutmasters
- Scout Camping Activities: 5 Outdoor Games Your Troop Will Love
Before you go, I challenge you to put one of these ideas into action at your next troop meeting! Doing so will help to make your troop even more tight-knit and fun. That’s all for now, best of luck in your Scouting adventures!
About the Author: Mary-Blakely is an aspiring Eagle Scout from Troop 32, who is so grateful for the community she’s found and skills she’s learned through Scouting. She can’t wait to continue learning, growing, and glorifying God throughout her adventures, and hopes her writing will help you do the same.