Every unit meeting has a beginning and an end, often with a lot of raucous and exciting activities in between. As a leader, you’ve probably planned or helped plan quite a few, and have realized that scheduling can provide much-needed structure.

That structure allows for moments of team-building, reflection and instruction. A prime time for these moments is during the closing of a meeting. It doesn’t have to be long; in just a couple of minutes — or even seconds — you can leave your Scouts with a smile on their faces or a thought to ponder on their ways home.

Some units retire the colors in a flag ceremony, play “Taps” on a bugle and recite the Scout Oath and Law. Others adopt traditions like singing a song or doing the “Cub Scout Living Circle,” where Scouts form a circle by grabbing each other’s thumbs and say together, “Akela, we’ll do our best!” And many units pray or say “The Scout Benediction” while standing in a circle, “May the Great Master of all Scouts be with us until we meet again.”

The Leader’s Minute

To wrap up a meeting, you can also take a minute or two to share a little wisdom or provide positive feedback on the day’s activities. This short speech can be most memorable when it’s clear, pithy and relevant to all your Scouts. It’s definitely helpful to practice beforehand. You can use props, like showing how difficult it is to get toothpaste back in the tube and relating that to the problems caused when unkind words are uttered. You can share age-old parables or historical anecdotes, like the origins of the Scout Motto, or draw from the wise words of Robert Baden-Powell:

Be contented with what you have got and make the best of it. Look on the bright side of things instead of the gloomy one. But the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it…

It’s also a great idea to engage your Scouts during this time by asking them questions. You can use examples from Scouting magazine’s Ethics section as prompts for discussion or you can use some of these conundrums from the August 1932 issue:

In a rally, your patrol is all set to win when one of your fellows muffs a knot in the patrol knot tying event. Your patrol is disqualified. What would you say to him after the event?

You are asked to distribute posters for the Red Cross on a day when you have planned to go to the movies. You persuade another Scout to take your place, but he fails to show up. Who is responsible? What Scouting is involved?

That issue of Scouting magazine describes The Scoutmaster’s Minute as a way to convey the spirit of the Scout Oath, Law and Motto without preaching.

For more tips and inspiration, click here or listen to this ScoutCast on The Scoutmaster’s Minute:

Sound off

How does your unit end its meetings? What are some Leader’s Minutes that had a lasting impact on you or your Scouts? Do you consult your Scout songbook?

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