Scouting Tech: Visual Aids for Virtual Meetings

2020 will go down in history for a lot of reasons, but I sure hope the countless positives will outweigh the negatives when tested by time. What I’ll remember most about 2020 is that the world was encouraged to think outside of the box and then moved to share their clever creativity with everyone else.

It’s absolutely no surprise that many of those clever creative thinkers are our educators! You can’t search Pinterest without finding countless resources that were thoughtfully and carefully developed by our educators, many of which are so flexible and well done that they can be tweaked with very little effort to suit the needs of other groups – like Scouters!

Laura Cahill is a genius!

When I stumbled upon a blog post by engageducate.com, my first thought was, “how can this brilliant idea be used for Scouting?” A virtual Zoom background that displays an agenda, is attractive and attention-grabbing, helps maintain order, clearly displays expectations, and can be used to organize materials like You Tube and supportive links? Sign.Me.Up.

Using Laura Cahill’s awesome video tutorials, I was all set-up in Google Slides and happily clicking along, creating sample meeting agendas and thinking up ways to modify this from a classroom resource to a Den/Pack meeting tool.

My first test of this format was to have my son, a Patrol Leader, set up an agenda board and supporting slides for an upcoming patrol meeting. In under 30 minutes, he had organized his meeting plan into a Google Slideshow that set the tone for a smooth, interesting meeting. He’s since worked hard to make his patrol agendas even more interactive, finding new ways to use Google Slides to his advantage. His biggest win is that he can use materials that already exist on the web without having to manage the links. He simply shares his screen to his Slideshow and, in Presentation mode, is able to click on the links he creates for himself. Here’s an example of a recent Google Slide patrol meeting he developed.

Why Google Slideshow Agendas Are Made For Cub Scouts!

Where this is perfect for Troop-level meetings, it is especially engaging for our younger Scouts at the Pack-level. When we adopted virtual meetings in the spring, we noticed that some Scouts dropped off because it felt a lot like school. As we were all learning how to use new-to-us technology, like Zoom, we were building the plane while we flew it… there was a tremendous learning curve and guess what? Whether you built a Boeing or one of those paper airplanes that immediately nosedive into the carpet, you did a great job!

The good news is, we’ve had months of trial and error to learn and grow from, and now we’re ready to embrace a Year in Scouting that looks almost nothing like anything we’ve ever seen before, and we’re not going into this thing along. We have each other, and I for one will share any and every piece of wisdom I glean in the process.

So, here’s why Google Slideshow Agendas are made for Cub Scouts. These little lords and ladies need visual aids to stay interested. It’s no fun for us as adults to sit through an hour of someone talking to us over Zoom, so it’s easy to imagine the torture that is an hour-long lecture as an elementary school aged child. Google Slides provides you with almost limitless opportunities for pulling together eye-catching, interesting, fun presentations that can be shared and passed down to other leaders. Having all of your virtual meeting materials in one place will make your job as den leader that much easier – it won’t be necessary to juggle clicking around to find materials on the web or trying to remember where you found something on the fly. It will also help you to stay on track and add resources to your meeting, like You Tube links and interactive games, that will keep your Scouts engaged.

Please feel free to make a copy of this template, which includes Google Slides for each den, some Pack meeting slides, and even meeting openers, to include the Pledge of Allegiance, Cub Scout Oath, and Scout Law.

A sample Lion Den slide from the template (linked above).

Once you’ve logged into Zoom, you can share your screen and click the “Present” button in the top right corner of your screen to set your Google Slideshow to full-screen, making it viewable to all of your meeting attendees. It’s that easy!

Don’t Forget…

There are countless resources available to you, so please don’t reinvent the wheel when planning the content for your meeting. The template (linked above) includes some suggested resources to help you keep it simple, make it fun. Use my Free Cub Scout and Scouts BSA Zoom Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings to make great Google Slide backgrounds, and check out some of my Virtual Games below to help keep your Scouts excited about joining your awesome online meetings.

Youth Protection is still central to a safe and successful Scouting program. Please take some time to read my post, Scouting Tech: Youth Protection in a Virtual World, to ensure you and your Scouts enjoy a great Year in Scouting together.

Last but not least, please take it easy on yourself! That you’re even reading this or doing other research to help plan your virtual meetings means that you’re going above and beyond for the youth in your charge. You’re a hero who’s keeping Scouting alive in a difficult time – THANK YOU for your service to our Scouts and THANK YOU for remembering that Scouts are always prepared and always ready to do their best. Nice work!

Yours in Scouting,
Rebekah

Virtual Games

See Also…

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

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