Cub Scouts: Pirates of the Caribbean Blue & Gold

Aye, matey, picture it! Ye and yer merry crew of bandits have battoned down the hatches and set sail toward Port Royal. Yer aboard the Black Pearl, the cursed ship with black sails that’s captained by the worst pirate ye’ve ever heard of.

But ye have heard of him, mate.

If you haven’t seen the 2003 movie, Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, or any of it’s incredible sequels, you’re missing out on hours and hours of swashbuckling fun and adventure, endless quotable moments, and an awesome opportunity to give your little pirates a banquet they’re sure to never forget! Our Pack transformed our chartered organization’s Fellowship Hall into Barbossa’s treasure-filled cave on the Isla De Muerta. We had treasure, rock walls, photo back drops, cave murals, skeletons galore, and of course, Captain Jack Sparrow himself!

Sparrow not the Droid you’re looking for? Check out my Star Wars Blue & Gold post and Pinterest Board! Star Wars not your thing? Are you a wizard, ‘Arry? Check out my Harry Potter Blue & Gold post and Pinterest Board!

What Is A Blue & Gold Banquet?

The tradition of the Blue & Gold Banquet is to celebrate the anniversary of Scouting in February. Consider it a birthday party that focuses heavily on the success of your Pack with a nod to the BSA’s anniversary (February 8th)! It’s an opportunity for the Pack to get together to celebrate the Scouts and their accomplishments, and to thank adult leadership and parent volunteers. Because it’s a banquet, there’s food! And because it’s a Scouting event, there’s fun.

Some units use the February event as a goal post for rank advancement. In most cases, leadership aims to use the banquet as their deadline for completing rank requirements and spend the rest of their Scouting year working on additional electives, special awards, and more.

Planning a Blue & Gold Banquet

Baden-Powell taught us to “Be Prepared”, and the key to a great B&G is to plan early and well.

Your Pack committee meets over the summer to set a budget, so knowing how much is set aside for this event is the very first step in your planning process. It should also be determined during that planning period exactly who will coordinate the event; is it a leader that was eager to step up at your meeting OR do you assign it to a specific den? In our Pack, we assign the B&G to our Bear Den (which is why we’ve had a carnival theme time and again). Assigning this particular event to a specific den works well because rising Bear families know that it’s coming and can assist or take notes from previous years to help make their event a success.

A good plan requires a good planner. When it was my Bear year and, thus, my turn to coordinate, I created a Pirates of the Caribbean Blue & Gold Planner (DOC) that I printed out and put directly into a binder. I began assigning specific duties to people early in the new Scouting year, maintaining an electronic copy of the planner that I shared with them regularly. As you work through your planner, build a punchlist for Friday and Saturday. That punchlist should include everything from rolls of tape to the talent.

Booking the Talent

Speaking of the talent, some themes provide the perfect opportunity to book an impersonator to come in and take your event to the next level. We did some research on local Jack Sparrow impersonators and found the RVA Captain! If you’re local to Richmond, Virginia, and you’re pulling together a Pirates themed event, I truly cannot suggest the RVA Captain enough. He gets all five stars! Before he even entered the building, he was wandering the parking lot in character, which was a treat for the folks who weren’t even attending our banquet. He was absolutely on character down to the smallest detail, was extremely flexible with our schedule and event needs, interacted beautifully with the Scouts, and made for one seriously memorable evening.

Truly, RVA Captain was icing on an already awesome cake! When I say that, I mean that our event would have been the tremendous success it was regardless, even if Captain Jack was marooned on an island, growing out his back hair and standing in the ocean ’til all manner of sea creatures ‘came acclimated to his presence. We are grateful to have had a nice budget to work out such a special addition to our banquet, but Scouts are thrifty, so I’d love to tell you all about the basics of our event.

The Invitation

If you use my Pirates of the Caribbean Blue & Gold Planner (DOC), you’ll see that you need to create and share an Evite early and often. We considered making “messages in a bottle” as a Save the Date announcement for our big event, but we decided it wasn’t necessary and relied on our Evite instead.

There are a lot of great websites out there to help you talk like a pirate; here are a few I relied on heavily for the Evite and my ceremony script.

Personalized Logo and Font Downloads

I created a personalized logo (editable PNG) for our Evite and Power Point Presentation (link to follow). There are a lot of files I’ll share throughout that use two special font faces. Consider downloading those from the links below:

Printables and Decorations: The Pirates Cave

The pirate cave at Isla Del Muerta… our inspiration!

You’ll want to work on printables and decorations as early as possible, especially if the decorations are hand-made. You may very well need to head out to your banquet hall and take some measurements of items you’d like to cover to better suit your theme; think cork boards, hanging art work, etc.

Each year, I like to use the banquet as my creative outlet and enjoy painting murals that cover the art work, boards, and doors in our space. I purchased Pacon fadeless bulletin board art paper, 4′ x 50′ roll in brown and used my stash of acrylic paint to quickly paint stalactites, stalagmites, treasure, and doorways.

Not all treasure’s silver and gold, mate! A Scout is thrifty! This is a great opportunity to rummage through your recycling to find treasure. It’s easy to make some pirate cave sea life with a little creativity.

Egg crates make beautiful barnacles, and toilet paper rolls, paper towel rolls, and plastic bottles make awesome anemones. For the plastic bottle anemones, cut the bottom off of your bottle, cut vertical strips down to about an inch from the bottle top, and use a lighter or a lit candle to melt the strips down into natural curls in a well-ventilated area. You can separate any strips that melt together and form your anemones however you’d like while the plastic is cooling. A little spray paint turns your recycled bits into sea life in a snap! We used these as decorations around the hall, stuck onto the door murals and placed along our rock walls.

You can’t have a cave without the rock walls. Our space is tremendous, so we ordered several rolls of Brown Jumbo Craft Paper, 18″ x 175′ to get the job done. While we waited on the paper to arrive, we asked family, friends and neighbors to save all of their cardboard shipping boxes to form the wall structures, even reaching out to local businesses like our neighborhood pharmacy and big box store. The response was overwhelming, and we found ourselves storing cardboard boxes in several locations, using every single one to build our cave. We also used lots, and lots, and LOTS of masking tape to strap the boxes together into rock formations and then tape the craft paper to the boxes and walls. We also used a staple gun to staple the craft paper to the boxes as needed. Building the paper cave was the most time-consuming of our decoration projects and couldn’t be tackled ahead of the event, so when you are setting up for our banquet, make sure you have a lot of helping hands to get this part completed with time to spare.

We decided the entrance to the Fellowship Hall is the perfect place to set the scene, and built a tremendous pirate cave entrance, complete with a bridge (the one our Scouts cross at graduation).

The blue foil fringe backdrop came in a two-pack and was perfect for our waterfall. We also picked up a bunch of blue plastic table cloths from the dollar store to create the water effects, from the small stream that trickled around our rock wall, to the stream under our bridge. We also used them to create a focal point on the ceiling that looked like we were under the sea, with the sea life cut from scraps of craft paper we had leftover from other projects. We loosely hung the plastic table cloths by tucking the ends under the ceiling tiles, covering some of the canned lighting to give the hall a more watery feel. This blog post was our inspiration!

To help complete the theme, we dimmed the lights and used blue uplighting throughout.

It’s hard to sell a pirate cave without a little sunken treasure, including the mast of a ship that crashed at the Isla Del Muerta! There are a lot of ship tutorials on my Pinterest Board, but this one was created using insulating foam boards and leftover PVC one very talented den leader had at home.

This theme presents a great opportunity to ask family, friends, and neighbors for permission to use their best pirate Halloween decorations. We put a request out for skeletons and found ourselves surrounded by fearsome pirates, some forever guarding their treasure. Children’s Halloween costumes (some found at our local Goodwill) completed the look!

Tiki torches, beads and gold coins left over from birthday parties of the past, and a few pieces of treasure thrifted from the local Goodwill, completed our trove of treasure chests and hoardes.

We always set-up a photo backdrop at Blue & Gold. Sometimes we hand paint a backdrop, and other times one magically appears in our Amazon suggestions that we simply cannot turn down. Such was the case with the LFEEY 10′ x 7′ Pirate Ship Backdrop, which totally completed our space and gave us a real Black Pearl to escape on.

Know what’s a bummer? Holding an event in February at the height of flu season and NOT taking a few steps to help everyone keep their germs to themselves. Aside from planning on supplying LOTS of hand sanitizer, it’s also important to consider all of the areas where germs are most likely to spread. We’ve found that the utensil baskets are like magnets for kids who like to wipe their noses with their hands, then fish around for the perfect fork. We decided years ago that we would provide napkin rolls for every attendee, complete with a fork, knife, and spoon, and place it at their tables. We picked up luncheon napkins in red and black, both from Oriental Trading Company, and bulk boxes of utensils at our local big box store. It’s not just about germs, this also helps those parents who are balancing three plates in their two hands from having to go back for utensils or carry them under their armpits or in their pockets to their table. Yep, when you have a big event, making the napkin rolls can be time consuming, but it’s totally worth it. Your families will thank you, trust me.

This brings up your table settings! Another bummer is having worked hard on the decor just to have your table cloths be transparent, tear easily, or not fit your tables properly. We use the plastic dollar store table cloths often, but have found that nicer cloths can be just as easy on the budget if you shop around. We purchase the 84″ round tablecloths from Crown Table, this year in red and black. They are super durable and thick, fit our tables well, and come in a variety of colors. We stick to the rectangular dollar store cloths to cover our buffet, cake, and award tables. We create a table seating chart that we post at the entrance to our Fellowship Hall, using our Evite to organize our attendees by rank. We seat the Lions at the front, followed by the Tigers, and so forth.

To complete our tables, we found a local printer who donates 100 black and white folded programs for our big event! We also print table numbers that coincide with the seating chart to help families better find their seats. This year, our table tents (PUB) and banquet programs (PUB) were customized to go along with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, donning the likeness of our favorite pirate, Jack Sparrow.

The programs are single-fold. I used two in this photo to show the front and back of the program while protecting the names of our Scouts.

We challenged our dens to create three centerpieces each and were not disappointed with the results!

Awards and Advancement

We like to make a big deal out of it when we present awards and advancement to our Scouts at our monthly Pack meeting, but like to go a bit overboard at Blue and Gold. Their monthly swag means a lot to them, and they mean a lot to us, so why not stay on theme and present their treasure for what it is? We picked up Beavo Pack of 100 5″ x 7″ Gold Jewelry Pouches and loaded them up with loops, pins, special awards and rank patches. Under our blue lighting, these bags looked like real gold and the Scouts were thrilled to receive them!

Each year, our Pack likes to also recognize our adult leadership and volunteers in a ceremony we now refer to as our “Packie Awards“. In years past, we’ve made funny award trinkets to go with each volunteer role (like a golden box of popcorn for our Kernels) but found that they end up tossed soon after the banquet. This year we decided to print certificates of appreciation that were presented in nice navy blue and gold covers. I tried to come up with my own design, but couldn’t get it right and decided to go to the pro’s – the fine folks over at the Cub Scout Volunteers Facebook Group! The perfect certificate was in the files section… if you aren’t a member of that group yet, I could NOT suggest it more. I edited it a little bit and uploaded it to Google Docs (PPT), but you’ll need to download the Cinzel and Affectionately Yours free fonts to make it work properly.

Ceremony and Presentation

You can’t have a pirate themed Blue and Gold without a pirate themed ceremony. I delved deep into the world of pirate-speak and Pirates of the Caribbean movie quotes to create an entertaining ceremony that I’d love to share with you. Please note that I’ve done my best to remove identifying information, which may very well throw off some of the formatting, especially on the slide numbers in the left-hand margin. Those will need to be moved around depending on any changes you might make to the script. I rely heavily on those little slide numbers to keep me on track as I speak and need to move slides forward.

My Blue and Gold Ceremony – POTC (DOC) is readily available for you to download, change, and use how you see fit. Please excuse any errors in the document that were caused by said attempt to remove names and other identifying information.

A big part of the presentation is, well, the presentation (PPT) itself. This file covers just about everything, from your opening ceremony to your closing prayer. It’s easy to customize using the personalized logo and associated fonts linked at the very top of this post. Just print out your advancement report to type up the awards and advancement for each den, and compile a list of leadership and volunteers to make this presentation your own!

Giveaways

What’s a pirate party without swords? Each year, we come up with a giveaway that matches the theme, so swords only made sense. We found a great blog post outlining the entire process from start to finish, making tiny adjustments as we went. We’ve found that local hardware stores, especially the larger brands like Home Depot, will donate paint sticks to you if you ask. We asked for paint sticks four years ago that we’ve now used for several different projects, and STILL had enough left over to make almost 100 pirate swords. PRO TIP: don’t hand out giveaways until families are physically leaving the event, especially something like a sword. Kids get these and naturally want to have a sword fight… these particular swords are pretty sharp, so handing them out at the end, and only after a Scout has gotten permission from their parents, cuts back tremendously on accidents. Having a fun giveaway is an opportunity to have them leave with something to remember their night by!

Final Thoughts

This was my very last Blue and Gold before my den of AOL’s bridges into a Troop this spring. It was bittersweet! The years of Blue and Gold Banquets are fast and furious, full of imagination and joy, and may seem like endless work but are worth every bead of sweat. If you start feeling overwhelmed in the planning process, ask yourself one very important question: If this is left out of the plan, am I still covering the basics and will anyone mind? Chances are you have a lot of extra ideas that don’t need to come to fruition to make the event a success, so give yourself a big ol’ break. Don’t let this fun event get you down or stress you out beyond belief. Ask for help and rely on it. Do your research and find the best prices on the items you want or need to purchase. Ask for donations and make sure you return everything in one piece and in a timely manner. Don’t reinvent the wheel… if you find a good idea out there, use it!

Don’t forget to take it all in and enjoy yourself! Congratulate yourself and your team on a job well done and forget the small issues you had along the way. If even one Scout smiled, you absolutely ROCKED your event and should be proud of yourself. On behalf of parents and leadership teams everywhere, THANK YOU for taking the time to celebrate the successes of Scouting, your Pack, your Scouts, and your volunteers!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Sparrow not the Droid you’re looking for? Check out my Star Wars Blue & Gold post and Pinterest Board! Star Wars not your thing? Are you a wizard, ‘Arry? Check out my Harry Potter Blue & Gold post and Pinterest Board!

Look Wider Still is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Oriental Trading Affiliate Program , affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising.

Published by Look Wider Still

Rebekah is the mother of two wonderful sons, Michael and Nate. She and her husband, Mike, married in 2002 and have built their family on a foundation of adventure. Between geocaching, camping, hiking, cooking, fishing, crafting, reading, and snuggling their Irish Terrier, Bentley, they enjoy a long and happy career in Scouting. The boys come from a long line of Scouters, including Eagles on all sides. Mike has served as assistant den leader, treasurer, and Pack Committee member, and Rebekah has served as den leader and Cubmaster for Pack 521 out of Mechanicsville, Virginia. LookWiderStillBlog@gmail.com

2 thoughts on “Cub Scouts: Pirates of the Caribbean Blue & Gold

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: