Although Cub Scout den leaders and cubmasters have some really great resources to help them plan their den meetings and pack meetings, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes it’s weather that necessitates the change of plans. Sometimes a leader doesn’t show up with their assigned parts. Sometimes it’s a medical emergency. Sometimes you just need one more game to fill some empty time. There are various reasons to have a “Plan B Box”. Rather than talk about WHY you should have one, I would like to share with you what I keep in mine. Hopefully, many of you will share additional ideas in the comment section at the end.
What size and shape is the box?
Mine happens to be an old cat food container. I like that it has a handle and an easy snap-on lid. You could start with an old shoe box or even a backpack. It doesn’t really matter so much what you keep stuff in. It’s more important that you have stuff. I like to keep a variety of small items, so I have lots of choices. To be honest, I have a second one full of misc. craft supplies. I used it more as a den leader than I do as a cubmaster, but you never know when you might need some construction paper or a glue stick. I bought some items at the dollar store, and others I just had laying around the house. You might be surprised what you can find around your house once you start looking and thinking about the objects differently.
My Plan B Box – What’s in it and Why.
The Scout Oath and Law written out and divided up on craft sticks and 3×5 cards – It’s great for a gathering activity or a team relay race. It’s never a bad thing to have Scouts practice. At the next pack meeting, you could try having a relay race for scouts vs. parents or scouts vs. siblings. I also have a version of the Pledge of Allegiance cut up into phrases, so they can see if they can get those all in the right order.
Paper plates – There are lots of things you can do with these, especially if they are the thin white basic ones. You can write on them, fold them, step on them, make masks, frisbees, UFOs. And I guess you could put food on them too if you really needed to.
One fun activity to do with paper plates is to give each boy a paper plate and then give them one extra. (You can do this all together or in teams.) Give them a starting line and a finish line. Working together, every boy has to get from start to finish by only stepping on the paper plates. Don’t tell the boys how to get across the finish line; let them figure it out themselves. The first person steps on his plate. Then, the next person passes the extra plate up the line to the first person, who puts in on the ground. The team then moves forward one step (one plate) by stepping on the new plate. Players must always stay on the plates. This same game could also be played with pieces of printer or construction paper.
Craft Sticks – Boys can make their own Scout Law puzzle. Of course, the “Craft stick “Bomb” is always a winner. You can even make a catapult of sorts if you have some rubber bands too. I’m sure there are quite a few uses for craft sticks. Craft wise you could make a frame, puppet, sign, Have them write their name on the stick, wrap a pipe cleaner with beads and start their own doodle.
Foam Dice – I happen to have a set (I think I found them at the dollar store) including one blue and one yellow dice – Cub Scout colors. Dice are good for many games, and I have a couple games specifically for them. One is called “Bobcat Trail”. Roll one dice. Depending on the number, do what it says. Your choices may look like this: 1-say scout oath, 2-show salute, 3-Say Motto, 4-show sign, etc. Another game requires two dice. Yellow tells them what to do: 1-jumping jacks, 2-sit ups, 3-hop on 1 foot, etc. The blue dice tells them how many to do. These games can be played by just one boy or as a team.
Blank 3×5 cards/Post-it notes – Boys could make up their own card game, memory game, trivia game or use as cue cards when planning a skit. Anytime you need a small piece of paper, a 3×5 card will do. Like 3×5 cards, there are lots of ways to find a post-it handy.
Short lengths of rope – The rope is great for knot tying practice for 1 boy or knot tying relay races for all. It could also be used for the classic 3-legged race or even tug-o-war if you have a longer piece.
Balloons – Balloons are good for lots of games. Balloons can be used in place of a ball for many games. A fun game you might want to try works by dividing people into teams. Give each boy their own balloon. Have everyone blow up their balloons but don’t tie them- just have each youth hold his pinched shut. The first player lets his balloon go. Wherever it lands is where the next person stands and lets go of his. You continue with the balloons, hopefully heading towards a finish line. The first team to get a balloon to land over the finish line wins. Or, the team farthest from their starting point wins.
Bandannas/neckerchiefs – Bandannas are good for first aid practice or can be used as blindfolds in various games. They also may be helpful in disability awareness-type games too.
Orange Cones – I found a set of four small orange cones at the dollar store a few years ago. They are good for lots of things like marking the area, bases etc. Mine are very small, stack together and are pretty flexible also. I actually bought three or four sets and have used them for all sorts of things. They come in handy when we do our bike rodeo also.
Plastic spoons – Spoons can be used for relay races, making puppets, stirring something or even eating dessert. There are various uses for spoons.
Balls of various shapes in sizes. I have a pink bouncy ball, a whiffle ball, and several other small balls. They are good for lots of games. I even have a bag of Cotton Balls. Lightweight and smaller balls work best, especially if you plan to play with them indoors. Juggling balls or nerf type balls or inflatable beach balls are all good examples or lightweight balls.
What’s in YOUR plan B box?
You may want to include other miscellaneous items. I have some short lengths of PVC pipe. They can be used as a baton when racing or a marker to throw and see whose goes furthest. They can be used to balance balls, balloons or cotton balls while racing. My bucket is just big enough that I even have a small frisbee with the Cub Scout logo on it.
I also have a print-out, kept in the box, of some easy games. Games are divided into “No-Supply” games and games that need supplies. Then, the supplies needed are highlighted, so I can easily see which games I have the right stuff for. When you are stressed, it’s not a good time to try to think of something. Having backup plans already in place will save you time and anxiety.
You may choose to pick a specific game yourself OR you may open up the box, and ask the boys to make up their own game. You might split them into groups and have them make up a game, using supplies from the box, and then teach it to the other group(s). This can teach teamwork, compromise, kindness, and lots of other character traits. It’s fun too.
You never know when you might need your Plan B Box. Maybe you won’t need to fill an entire den meeting with ideas from your Plan B Box. Maybe you just need to fill a little time. Having a backup ready will help things run smoothly. Having a few fun songs to teach is always a good idea too.
Having a Plan B Box does take a little work to put together, but once you have it done it can really help a leader KIS-MIF – Keep it Simple, Make it Fun!
Author: Annaleis Smith has been a Cub Scout leader (Cubmaster, Den Leader, Pack Trainer and Cubmaster again) for 13 years. She loves Cub Scouting and how it can help a boy grow into a fine young man. She currently serves as the Cubmaster in her ward/pack and as the Utah National Park’s Council’s Vice President of Membership.