A troop minute, often delivered by your Scoutmaster or SPL, can be one of the most educational aspects of Scouting. This “minute” is an opportunity for your troop’s leaders to relay important life lessons to you and your fellow scouts. In this article, I’ll teach you everything you’ll need to know to hold an impactful and memorable troop minute!
What is a Scoutmaster’s Minute? A troop minute, usually known as a Scoutmaster’s minute, is an occasion where a troop leader tells an engaging, short story in order to explain an important lesson. The speaker will then tie their story back to the scouts in attendance, and charge them to take the story’s message to heart.
However, not only Scoutmasters can deliver troop minutes! While an SPL’s minute isn’t an official practice according to the BSA, in my troop as well as many others, SPL’s often told stories to motivate and inspire their fellow scouts.
PS. This article is based on the experiences and research of Eagle Scouts, Kevin A, and Cole 🙂
You might be wondering why an SPL would even be qualified to deliver a troop minute. Well, SPLs are closer in age to the scouts they’ll be delivering their minute to. This can be a huge advantage! While Scoutmasters are seen more as wise mentors, SPLs are viewed as peers who have chosen to take on important leadership responsibilities!
Whether you’re a Scoutmaster, SPL, or someone who simply wants to inspire their troop, holding a minute is a great way to communicate important lessons to your fellow scouts — and I’m about to tell you how it’s done!
First though, if you’re an SPL, you should definitely check out my article on 5 Simple Tips For Being An Amazing Senior Patrol Leader. Practicing these tips will make scouts much more likely to listen to you (and learn from your minute!).
So the question is, how can we create a short but powerful message to deliver in our minute? Well, the good news is that there are tons of topics you can talk about. Pretty much any story that can tie back to Scouting, morals, or mindsets is fair game for a troop minute!
In this article, I’ll first teach you some basic principles you can use as a foundation to create a stellar troop minute. Then, we’ll move on to some examples of how you can use these lessons to develop a great message! Now without further ado, let’s get into it! 🙂
The Principles Behind a Great Troop Minute
1. Draw From Your Personal Experiences
When it comes to delivering a troop minute, it’s best to talk about lessons that you’ve learned throughout your own life. After all, you’ve gotta walk the walk to talk the talk! Here are a few ways that you can use your personal experiences to structure an impactful troop minute:
- Talk about a single experience you’ve had and the lesson you learned from it.
- Draw from multiple different experiences to showcase a common moral between them.
- Describe the positive behaviors you’ve seen within your own troop. Talk about the scouts in attendance during the minute.
However, you aren’t limited to always talking about your own experiences! Here’s an amazing collection of Scoutmaster minutes, courtesy of boyscouttrail.com. Feel free to relay these or any other messages you’ve heard from parents, teachers, or friends, and teach those to your troop. Just make sure that you give credit when it’s due!
2. Make Your Message Engaging and Unique
The tried-and-true method of delivering a troop minute is through a quick story. However, there are so many other effective and engaging ways to get your message across! I’d encourage you to try to think outside the box, especially if you’ve already delivered a number of ‘traditional’ troop minutes.
Some great ways to spice up your troop minutes are to add props or make it interactive. One idea that immediately comes to mind is a group being stronger than the sum of its parts.
To illustrate this point, have the scouts break twigs. Each twig is individually pretty easy to snap. But, when they’re put together in a group, they’re practically unbreakable! The same is true for your troop. One scout, alone, isn’t too capable. However, an entire troop working together can move mountains!
Hopefully, this example inspires you to consider using props or visual aids in your own troop minute. Lessons are learned when you see things, hear things, or do things. By combining all three of these mediums, your troop will be much more likely to take your message to heart!
3. Deliver With Passion!
You could’ve crafted the best troop minute in the history of Scouting, but if you deliver it in a monotone, emotionless way, it’ll have little impact. Speaking with passion and conviction is key to effective communication! You may have to go out of your comfort zone a little here, but that’s okay. Say it with me: My message is worth hearing!
So, to recap, here are a few key tips to deliver a memorable troop minute:
- Think of fun and entertaining ways to deliver your message.
- Try to get your audience involved and participating, even if it means asking questions.
- Talk about your own experiences to keep your minute genuine and relatable.
- Show passion and belief while presenting your minute. Don’t waste your breath by not going all-in.
- Relax. Even if you fumble a few words or mess something up, all that matters is that your message gets through. Speak to the audience.
Now that we’ve gone over some of the tools to the trade for creating fantastic troop minutes, I want to show you an example of what a great troop minute looks like! 🙂
Scoutmaster’s And SPL’s Troop Minute Examples
Below, I’ll share with you an example SPL’s Minute from Kevin’s life! When coming up with troop minutes of your own, there are a few questions to consider so that you’re sure your minute will head in the right direction. These are:
- What is my target message?
- How will I be delivering this message? What is my style?
- How will I capture my audience’s attention? What’s my hook?
Only after you decide on these three things can you dive into the 4th step — actually planning out the structure of your troop minute! Now, let’s get into the example!
1. Target Message: The basic idea of this troop minute is to showcase that even the simplest things in our life shouldn’t be taken for granted. Therefore, we should respect and honor everything and everyone who’s supported us to get to where we are today.
2. Style of Message: Narrative; told like a story.
3. Hook: I’d hand out #2 pencils to everyone without context. Then, I’d ask the audience to look at the pencil and voice aloud their observations. Afterward, I’d proceed to step 4.
Kevin’s Troop Minute: The Pencil
4. Story: What does it mean for a scout to be reverent? Most commonly it means being faithful to their own religious beliefs and practices, which is a great way of being a reverent scout. However, this is not the only way to show reverence in your life. By definition, being reverent is “showing or feeling a deep or solemn respect”.
This means that by simply showing respect to the world, others, or even normal everyday items, we can practice reverence. Let’s take a look at the #2 pencils I gave all of you. Have you ever thought about just how amazing it is that we have this simple, cheap, and easily accessible tool in our lives?
The pencil’s structure must have been created from wood. This means that trees needed to have been cut down, transported, treated, and shaped to take on the form that the pencil is now in. The metal that connects the wooden shaft to the eraser is made from ore that needed to be mined out of the ground, refined, and shaped perfectly to wrap the eraser.
The pencil’s eraser is made out of rubber — Another material that needed to be extracted and synthesized from special trees that produce the rubber compounds. The pencil’s graphite, much like the metal, had to be mined from the ground and treated so that it could take on the form of pencil lead.
All of these materials had to be harvested, transported, shaped, transported again to stores, and then put out by employees for us to buy them. It took an incredible amount of manpower, resources, and time to get this simple object into our hands, and yet we often treat it just as we would a disposable piece of trash.
For a scout to be reverent, they don’t have to be a devout religious member or the most solemn individual in the world; respecting even the little things about our world, its inhabitants, and the incredible commodities we produce is enough to show reverence.
You’ve been supported by many individuals and communities to have become the person you are today. The first step to being a reverent scout is to recognize those who came before you and have supported you. Now, Scouting challenges you to both acknowledge and appreciate that you are built from many pillars of support.
The best way to start practicing reverence is to start with the simple things in your life. Food, your house, your family. So, the next time you drop a #2 pencil on the ground and think “eh, it’s just a pencil”, practice being reverent and think about what it took for that pencil to get to you!
By giving the scouts in attendance a new take on a seemingly commonplace item, Kevin’s troop minute did a fantastic job of inspiring his audience! Want another example? I’ve got another great one in store for you!
This next troop minute comes from the Sespe Scouter (you should check out his YouTube channel!). During his Scoutmaster’s minute which he posted at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he talks about how everything can change in an instant. You can check out his video (2:56) below:
I especially like how he added humor, passion, and made his minute really engaging to watch. Hopefully, these two examples, along with the tips I told you earlier, can inspire you to come up with an awesome troop minute of your own!
Troop minutes, whether they’re delivered by a Scoutmaster, SPL, or even just regular scouts themselves, are an essential part of Scouting. In fact, some of the greatest lessons I’ve encountered have come from Scoutmaster minutes within my own troop! Now get out there and deliver some impactful lessons at your next troop minute. 😉
Effective communication is key, not only to delivering a great troop minute but also for passing on any message at all. As a leader, you’ll need to get your point across clearly and effectively. That’s why I’d highly recommend checking out my Ultimate Guide To The Communication Merit Badge!
If you’ve already earned the badge, or even if you’re an adult leader, I’m sure you’ll still find some valuable pears of wisdom. Plus, Communication is a great badge to work together on as a troop, as it’ll help everyone to get comfortable speaking and expressing their opinions!
Great work reaching the end of this article! If you’re planning to deliver a troop minute, I applaud your initiative and wish you all the best on your leadership journey. That’s it for now! Come back to ScoutSmarts soon and, until next time, be the best individual you can be!