With Scouting meetings going virtual, it can be tricky to think of fun and engaging socially-distanced troop activities. Luckily, I’ve got you covered! In this article, I’ll be telling you my 7 best remote meeting ideas to save your troop from boredom, even when unable to meet face-to-face. 🙂
Without further ado, here are my top 7 virtual scout meeting recommendations (P.S Idea #4 is a personal favorite!):
- Work On At-Home Rank Requirements
- Learn New Knots Or Take On The Red Rope Challenge
- Present Patrol Scouting Minutes
- Play Patrol (Or Troop) Pictionary
- Learn Morse Code
- Run A Scout-Led Merit Badge Seminar
- Review And Share An Online Safety Lesson
Some of these virtual meeting ideas are things I’ve done in the past, while others were recommended to me directly, from readers like you! Regardless, they’re all great options. In the article below, I’ll be giving you some helpful resources and tips so that you can easily plan these ideas for your own troop!
Also, I challenge you to actually try at least 1 of these ideas during an upcoming troop meeting! Any of these awesome Zoom meeting plans will help scouts to advance, learn useful skills, or grow even closer to their patrol. But, you actually need to put in the work of introducing the idea or planning it if you want it to actually happen!
Here’s a crucial tip: If you don’t already do this, you should know that Zoom hosts are able to enable breakout rooms, which are basically groups within a Zoom call. These are excellent for conducting patrol meetings, or for creating groups of scouts who want to do different activities!
Now it’s time to begin planning your best virtual troop meeting yet! Pick a couple of your favorite options from my list. Then, hop over to your favorite idea and let’s get started!
1. Complete At-Home Rank Requirements
Personally, I think that after every virtual meeting, a scout should walk away with at least one new skill. By completing rank requirements remotely, scouts are able to learn valuable information, stay motivated, and get even closer to their next rank!
I heard that some councils had been compiling lists of do-at-home requirements but I couldn’t find anything to link to. Not to worry! I’ve taken the time to make a list of my own for you. 🙂
Tenderfoot Virtual Rank Requirements
- Tenderfoot 2c: Explain the importance of eating together as a patrol.
- Tenderfoot 4b: Describe common poisonous or hazardous plants, identify any that grow in your local area or campsite location. Tell how to treat for exposure to them.
- Tenderfoot 4d: Assemble a personal first-aid kit to carry with you on future campouts and hikes. Tell how each item in the kit would be used.
- Tenderfoot 5c: Explain the rules of safe hiking, both on the highway and cross-country, during the day and at night.
I’d recommend letting the Second or First-Class scouts practice their virtual leadership skills by teaching any of these Tenderfoot requirements to the new scouts. For example, Tenderfoot 2c could simply involve talking about one’s own experiences when eating with their patrol!
Second Class Virtual Rank Requirements
- Second Class 2a: Explain when it is appropriate to use a fire for cooking or other purposes and when it would not be appropriate to do so.
- Second Class 2f: Demonstrate tying the sheet bend knot. Describe a situation in which you would use this knot.
- Second Class 2g: Demonstrate tying the bowline knot. Describe a situation in which you would use this knot.
- Second Class 3c: Describe some hazards or injuries that you might encounter on your hike and what you can do to help prevent them.
- Second Class 5a: Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe swim.
- Second Class 5d: Explain why swimming rescues should not be attempted when a reaching or throwing rescue is possible. Explain why and how a rescue swimmer should avoid contact with the victim.
- Second Class 6d: Explain what to do in case of accidents that require emergency response in the home and backcountry. Explain what constitutes an emergency and what information you will need to provide to a responder.
- Second Class 6e: Tell how you should respond if you come upon the scene of a vehicular accident.
- Second Class 8b: Explain what respect is due the flag of the United States.
- Second Class 9a: Explain the three R’s of personal safety and protection.
- Second Class 9b: Describe bullying; tell what the appropriate response is to someone who is bullying you or another person.
First Class Virtual Rank Requirements
- First Class 1b: Explain each of the principles of Tread Lightly! and tell how you practiced them on a campout or outing. This outing must be different from the ones used for Tenderfoot requirement 1c and Second Class requirement 1b.
- First Class 3a: Discuss when you should and should not use lashings.
- First Class 5b: Identify two ways to obtain a weather forecast for an upcoming activity. Explain why weather forecasts are important when planning for an event.
- First Class 5c: Describe at least three natural indicators of impending hazardous weather, the potential dangerous events that might result from such weather conditions, and the appropriate actions to take.
- First Class 5d: Describe extreme weather conditions you might encounter in the outdoors in your local geographic area. Discuss how you would determine ahead of time the potential risk of these types of weather dangers, alternative planning considerations to avoid such risks, and how you would prepare for and respond to those weather conditions.
- First Class 6b: Tell what precautions must be taken for a safe trip afloat.
- First Class 7d: Tell what utility services exist in your home or meeting place. Describe potential hazards associated with these utilities and tell how to respond in emergency situations.
- First Class 7e: Develop an emergency action plan for your home that includes what to do in case of fire, storm, power outage, and water outage.
- First Class 7f: Explain how to obtain potable water in an emergency.
- First Class 9a: Visit and discuss with a selected individual approved by your leader (for example, an elected official, judge, attorney, civil servant, principal, or teacher) the constitutional rights and obligations of a U.S. citizen.
While this list doesn’t include every requirement that one could possibly teach during a remote Scouting meeting, I think these are your best options. Some requirements require face-to-face contact to best learn, so I’d recommend saving those for when in-person meetings resume!
However, there are plenty of other skills that can be learned during a virtual meeting. Some are even more competitive and fun! Take, for example, knot-tying competitions…
2. Learn And Practice Knots
Learning knots are another great way for troops to become even more closely tied together! 😉 Ba-dum-tsss. Too punny? Seriously though, don’t be constrained by the 7 main Scouting knots. I’ve been told that some troops are virtually teaching 1 new knot each week, and the scouts are loving it!
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: Run a simple review and tutorial of the 7 main Scouting knots (with each knot taught by a different older scout).
Through this educational virtual meeting idea, the younger scouts are exposed to the tying methods and uses of these all-important knots! Meanwhile, the older scouts can practice their teaching and leadership skills.
Scouting Knot Challenges
If you want to up the ante, you could turn your troop’s knot tying into a cross-patrol competition! There are a few different ways you could do this, but I’d recommend choosing 1 member of each patrol to race in tying a randomly selected knot. The patrol with the most individual wins takes the prize!
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: Once everyone in your troop is a pretty advanced knot-tier, it might be time to take on the infamous Red Rope Challenge!
What’s the Red Rope Challenge? Glad you asked! Watch the video below (2:45) for a Scoutmaster’s awesome explanation of how to complete the Red Rope Challenge:
To complete the Red Rope challenge, you’ll need to tie 14 different knots in under a minute. It is possible, I swear! For more info, check out Troop 811’s fantastic resource on the Red Rope Challenge which includes a demonstration, a tutorial on each knot, and the rules.
Once some scouts start getting good at the challenge, you could even keep a record of the fastest times to beat! This challenge is an awesome way for scouts to build the muscle memory needed to quickly tie 14 very important knots.
3. Present Patrol Scouting Minutes
Scouts don’t need to become Scoutmasters to begin practicing their Scoutmaster’s minutes. Public speaking and effective communication are useful skills that should be developed at every age — and a patrol setting is a perfect place to cultivate this ability!
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: Break into patrols to practice delivering informative speeches! Scouts can talk about things they’ve been taught in school, their families, or lessons they’ve learned throughout their lives.
I’d recommend giving each scout 1-2 minutes to communicate their response to a thought-provoking question. However, you could also have a few of the older scouts prepare speeches that are a bit longer, beforehand. Most scouts will love having their voices heard, however you decide to organize this fun activity!
Speaking on camera is a great learning experience for scouts, and something I wish I’d practiced more often while growing up. To get your creative juices flowing, here are a few prompts that patrols could deliver improvised (or prepared) speeches around:
- If you could go back in time to give advice to your 13-year-old self, what would you tell him/her?
- What is your favorite Scouting memory? Why?
- If you could organize any troop activity, regardless of cost or how realistic it sounds, what would you plan?
- What lesson have you learned that’s had the greatest impact on your life? How might the rest of your patrol use what you’ve learned to improve their own lives?
- What is your favorite part of Scouting? What is your least favorite? If you were the president of Scouting, what changes would you make to the organization, as a whole?
Virtual communication practice is great for 2 reasons: 1) It’ll give the older scouts an opportunity to teach the younger one’s skills and lessons that aren’t necessarily Scouting-related. 2) It’ll be fun and interesting to hear the stories that each scout has to tell!
Bonus: Earn the Communication Merit Badge
Virtual meetings also present a great opportunity for older scouts to complete 3 of the hands-on requirements to the Communication merit badge. During these virtual meetings, scouts could have the opportunity to deliver a 5-minute speech, share personal stories in a small group setting, or to teach a skill before an audience!
In my opinion, the Communication merit badge is one of the most difficult merit badges that most scouts earn, so a virtual meeting would be a great opportunity to get started!
4. Play Patrol (Or Troop) Pictionary
While the previous 3 virtual meeting ideas can help scouts to advance and learn useful skills, sometimes, Scouting should be about having fun! A fantastic Zoom troop meeting option is to play an interactive game, like Pictionary.
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: Play Scouting-themed Pictionary with your troop! Patrols can either race to guess each word fastest, or your entire troop can play together in one big free-for-all! Trust me, both are really fun options.
In my experience, Skribbl.io is the best free option for large groups to play Pictionary together. Setting up a game is easy! Just follow the steps I’ve outlined below:
- Click the “Create Private Room” option to create a Pictionary group for just your troop
- Choose the settings you’d prefer. I normally play with a 60 second time limit and for 5 rounds.
- In the “Custom Words” section, type in your words. I’d recommend using words that are Scouting-Related if you’ll be playing this during a troop meeting.
- Click the checkbox “Use custom words exclusively.”
- Then, share the link with your troop. That’s it! You’re all set to play.
Since I want to make this as simple as possible for you, below is a list of Scouting words that you can copy/paste into the “Custom Words” section of Skribbl.io so you can start playing right away:
Bald Eagle, Merit Badge, Fleur d’ Lis, Senior Patrol Leader, Campfire, Scout Vespers, The Outdoor Code, Be Prepared, Tenderfoot, Life Scout, Cyber Chip, Dutch Oven, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, ScoutSmarts.com, Scoutmaster Conference, EDGE Method, The Scout Law, Scout Signs, Scout Handshake, Patrol Leader Council, The Order Of The Arrow Ordeal, Eagle Projects
Playing Pictionary with friends is a blast, so I’m sure your troop will enjoy it during your virtual meetings as well. Hope you all have a great time and don’t get too competitive while playing!
5. Learn Morse Code
What if I told you that online meetings are also a great opportunity for Scouts to learn Morse Code? Well, they are! A great idea for your next troop meeting could be to learn and practice decoding Morse Code Sounds. 🙂
First, I’d recommend that each scout watch the super-informative video (15:10) below to learn to draw the Morse Code table. Then, below that, I’ve planned a fun meeting idea and Morse Code tool that I think you’ll love!
Got it? I’d recommend just starting out by learning the chart, then working your way up to memorizing the sounds once you’ve had more practice. Morse Code is also a super fun way to get hidden messages to friends, so I’m sure most every scout will enjoy learning this cool skill!
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: After every scout watches the video above and draws the basic Morse Code chart, have one scout signal a word on camera. Then, have your troop guess what they’re saying! As you improve your skills, you can begin to decode longer words and even sentences!
To turn your words and sentences into Morse Code, I’d recommend using the Morse Code Translator. This website will translate your English sentences into Morse Code! You could play a phrase aloud a few times and then have a patrol race to see which team can decode it the fastest.
6. Run A Scout-Led Merit Badge Seminar
I’m a firm believer that one of the best ways for scouts to develop leadership skills is by teaching other scouts. Scout-led merit badge seminars are perfect for practicing this all-important skill!
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: Let a few older scouts (who’ve earned the badge beforehand) teach the Fingerprinting merit badge in a troop meeting breakout room. Encourage them to answer questions and interact with their audience in real time.
While, obviously, an older scout can’t sign off on another scout’s merit badge card, these seminars are more about the learning and explaining process of building new skills. Afterwards, the newer scouts should meet with their official Fingerprinting merit badge counselor to reflect on what they’ve learned.
If you’re not interested, or have already earned, the Fingerprinting merit badge, you have other options! Check out my article on my 7 favorite merit badges that scouts can earn at home while practicing social distancing.
7. Review And Share An Online Safety Lesson
Last, but certainly not least, reviewing online safety lessons could be a great use of time during an online troop meeting! Although most scouts have already earned theirs, a review of the Cyber Chip requirements could be a helpful reminder for anyone. 🙂
Here’s a Virtual Meeting Idea: Allow each older scout to each teach 1 section of the Cyber Chip. Encourage them to share personal examples to make their lessons hit even closer to home.
Somehow, computers are even more widely used than when I was going to school a few years ago! To help scouts stay out of trouble in the digital age (where everything is permanent!) I’d highly recommend spending at least 1 troop meeting reviewing online safety guidelines.
Just try one of these activities and I promise you’ll have a fun and educational virtual meeting that your troop will love! Share this article with a Scoutmaster or your SPL right now to make it happen. A good plan, no executed, is the same as no plan at all. 😉
I hope you enjoy these fun meeting activities. While online meetings may not be as fun as actual Scouting, with just a bit of creativity, you can continue using your time to rank up, earn badges, and learn new skills!
Thanks for reading this far! I hope your troop finds my article helpful. Be sure to check ScoutSmarts often, because I’m constantly putting out new content to help scouts like yourself. Until next time, best of luck on your Scouting journey.