Hyping the Skills Showdown, Part 2


I've been thrilled with the level of excitement and positive reactions that there have been to the Skills Showdown, our Troop's November campout. I've been working to build interest by keeping things an intriguing mystery, and working to ensure it's an exciting time by planning some never-before-played games.

First, I announced the Skills Showdown. Next I started to hype it. By the way, as an aside to this, I've been refining my activity plans, continuing to seek feedback on them, and ensure that we'll have the supplies we need. A lot of work has to go into this weekend to ensure it's a good time--and not just "all talk."

2-1/2 Weeks Away

I again started at the opening of the Troop meetings by quickly running through what they already knew: new location, stone soup, buffet, competitions, and Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First class skills-related activities.

I reminded the Scouts that I told them we would have competitions and that there would be winners: Sherree is creating ribbons for the winning patrol of each game. I had swatches of the fabric she is using to create the ribbon, and unvelied them one-by-one, giving the Scouts a chance to guess at the activity. I told them I would confirm if they guessed correctly.

I pulled out a black swatch with flames on it and they guessed right away, "fire-building!" "Yes," I told them, "but it's more than just fire building--it's going to be... a little more involved"; I didn't share any more detail than that. For the next swatch, the multicolored rope on blue background was an easy guess: "knot-tying!" "Yes, knot-tying, but you'll need some strong teamwork to complete this task." The next swatch was red with gold specs in it. A lot of guesses were shouted out, but none correct; an adult finally spoke up, "first aid?" "Yes! But I would say it's more of a first aid/physical fitness challenge." The last two swatches are green and orange, and I told the Scouts the color didn't have anything to do with the activity, but if they could guess it I'd tell them if they were correct. Nobody guessed correctly, but a few minutes after the opening a Scout eventually guessed at one of them: a tug-of-war. (Such a classic!) I didn't make an announcement about the tug-of-war so I don't think it's really public knowledge yet. There will, of course, be a few twists to make this game into more than just a simple rope-pulling! Lastly, I reminded them to sign up for the trip.

I was very excited about the closing of the meeting: I was going to unveil a special aspect of the Skills Showdown. I pulled a brown lunch bag out of my pocket and told the Scouts that I had something in it related to the campout. This was something that only I knew about: no Scouts knew about this, and no adults knew about this. It would be a complete surprise for everyone. It was something that only Scouts who went would receive, and it was something that I knew they would all want. It was so cool. Did anybody want a peek?

Scout's hands shot up so fast, and several of them were jumping! Just the reaction I wanted. I invited a Scout over, and I told him he had to keep this a complete secret. Nobody could know about this. He could, however, tell the Scouts if he thought it was cool, if he thought they'd want one, and if he thought that it would be worth going on the campout for. I opened the bag and let him take a look.

And the reaction was huge: "Oh wow, that is amazing! That's so cool!" What a huge grin. I asked the questions again: was it something others would want? Should they all sign up to go? Resounding yes' and excited yells followed. And at that, I folded the bag back up, put it in my pocket, and told everyone to sign up. Nobody would see this again until the campout.

I think this was the pinnacle of excitement. I don't know if the coming weeks can hold near as much excitement as there was at this meeting--it was just huge. I wonder if I should have saved this for the next meeting? I don't know.

On the downside, several people came to me after the meeting, "that Scout was a plant, wasn't he?" They didn't believe the excitement was genuine!

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