Blue & Gold


2013-BGThe National Scouting website says this about what a Blue & Gold represents:

“The purpose of the blue and gold banquet is to celebrate the pack’s anniversary, thank pack leaders and other adults who have helped the pack, and inspire the leaders, Scouts, and parents. Packs often like to invite former members and other Scouting or community leaders to take part in their blue and gold banquet.” 

If you’re in the Boyscouts, it called the “Red and Green”.  I do not know what it would be called for Teams, Crews, Ships or Posts.

In a Facebook Cubscout group, there has been a lively discussion on how Blue & Golds are put on and what happens.  A lot of the forum people are putting in all the details on what they do, the entertainment, speakers, gifts, awards, food, rank advancements, Arrow of Light, Crossover’s and unruly kids.  I even heard of a Pack that hands out the Pinewood Derby cars.

Blue and Golds are supposed to he held within the month of February.  It’s to celebrate the Birthday of Scouting in the United States. Some Packs hold it in March.  I suspect even in April, but I have not heard that.

So during all of this, I posted that our Pack had forgone Blue & Golds up until now.  A fellow Cubscouter asked me why?  Which, got me to thinking that I need to post about this before it gets hazy.

Here goes.  My son joined in the fall of 2008.  Our first Blue & Gold was in 2009.  I really had no idea what the culture of Scouting was at that time.  I had never passed beyond Wolf back in 1976.  So, I do not remember it from back then.

I believe that we did have a Blue & Gold that year.  I know this because I brought Pulled Pork.  Though, it might have been part of the Pinewood Derby.  I am getting old and feeble….and cannot remember well.

During 2010 I was the Cubmaster as I took over in April 2009.  Because of the 100th Anniversary, we got ourselves to a Pizza place called Roundtable.  Families ordered their own Pizza and soda. NO BEER.  The cake, two of them, were bought.  Yes, I got one and so did the Webelos I Den Leader.  Neither of us communicated.  We wrote letters to the military and had a FOS guy come speak.  BORING.  Not that fact that it was FOS, but they guy really was kinda boring.  The talk was good, but we did not relate.

2011, I just cannot remember if we had one.  I know we didn’t do anything special.  I think the timing of the Pack Meetings just got messed up.  Even in my notes on Pack Meetings has nothing for February.  I know we had the DE come talk to us about FOS.  Again, not the best use of time.  The FOS part was on a stage with a Pack Meeting going on in the Gym and all the yelling made it hard.

While, I need to as Cubmaster take responsibility for the Program.  The Blue & Gold was a lot to do by myself.  In 2010, it was myself and the WDLI doing it.  This year we had the Committee and a B&G Chair.  The Committee spent a lot of time working through details and handing out assignments.  KISSMIF.  And that’s the difference.  There was support from all sides.  In earlier years, there just wasn’t.

This year, we had a potluck.  Each Den was responsible for some type of Food.  I brought Pork Butt.  It was gone at the end.  There were the basic veggies in a plastic container, Pizza, Nachos, Dips, Chips, Salads, 3-Bean Salad and Crockpots full of goodness. Oh, and yes…Spaghetti.  What Scout event does not have some type of Spaghetti?  Yes, again, we bought Cake and too much.  ;)

We had our Den Leader Awards, Songs, a small history lesson on why Blue & Gold is celebrated.  We had a great guest speaker who spoke about tradition.  In total we had about 110 people attending.

Now, here is what we did not have.

Rank Advancements, FOS, Awards for the Scouts or paid entertainment or Catering. There was no Arrow of Light or Crossover as well.  Nothing like all that.

Here is why, and I hope it keeps that way.

Blue & Gold is not a Pack Meeting.  Nor is it for the Scouts, in general.  It is a time to come together and recognize the Scouting Movement within the United States.  It’s a Party.  It is also a time, the one time a year, that the Pack Leadership and Den Leaders are recognized by the Scouts and the Parents who bring their sons to the meetings.  It is not an Arrow of Light or Crossover or Rank Advancement time.  Hold those at different times.

Here is where it gets sticky and I got some of this from my Troop Guide in the WE1-492-09 Wood Badge Course.  Yes, I am a Beaver.  My Troop Guide is a Bear.  He was a Cubmaster for seven years, and a pretty good one at that.  His main thought on Arrow of Light and Crossover is to keep them seperate.   Crossover should be a separate ceremony for just the Webelos II.  It’s their time, not Pack Time.  There should be time between Arrow of Light and Crossover so the Webelos IIs can be the highest rank in Cubscouts.  Not crossed over and be the rank of Scout in Boy Scouts at the lowest.

Are some of you getting rankled?  Your green BSA Socks in a twist?  Need to loosen your Bolo Tie?  Maybe slide the homemade slide back off your necker?

Why do this, we have done X and Y and Z forever!  That’s the way we have done it!  Well, yes you have.  Am I saying YOUR WRONG?  No.  You are having Blue & Gold.  We were not.

Now, I do believe that no Rank Advancement, FOS and Crossover and even Pinewood Derby should be a part of Blue & Gold.  These are all separate and unrelated items.

Again, Scouting.org describes Blue & Gold as: The banquet can be like a regular pack meeting, with songs, skits, stunts, and awards. Or it can be something different and a little more special. Your pack may decide to bring in an entertainer such as a magician or a storyteller. Or you could have a video or slide show of what the pack did over the past year.

If your Pack is comfortable in the way it does the Blue & Gold. Fine, don’t change.  Why fix it.  If you feel you’re doing WAY too much…then take a look at what you’re doing.  Spread it out, but talk to the parents and Scouts.   I know that putting on Pinewood, Crossover and Blue & Gold all into one event is a lot of work.  Again, my opinion.

The great thing is that the Pack is now been shown a tradition of Scouting and it will grow from there.  We were not perfect this year, and we won’t be perfect next year.  But, it’s all about fun and recognition of Scouting and those who help along the Journey of Scouting.

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6 thoughts on “Blue & Gold”

  1. I’m in agreement Adam. Although we do hold our B&G as a much larger more formal pack meeting we keep the AOL ceremony and pinewood derby separate. B&G for us is to celebrate the Scouting program and traditions and we celebrate the Scouts who have earned their advancements in rank because that is part of the program. It’s the one time a year that we see a Scout’s entire family because we treat it almost like a graduation. Our AOL is done separately because it’s the highest award a Cub Scout can receive so we make a BIG production of it. I love that each pack can do things differently and either recognize that another pack’s way may not be best for them or they can pull ideas from them.

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    1. Great! That works too. I think if going in everyone knows what’s expected then it works. You just need to have clear lines between the two during the whole event.

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  2. Very good article and reasoning. I agree that each event needs to be separate. We are a small unit (< 20 total), so we have our AOL and Crossovers in front of the pack. Since there aren't that many of us, it helps to inspire the younger scouts, we believe.

    As for the B&G, we are one of the few that do it in April. We do it then for the following reasons:

    1. We do it outside. We tried that one year, and the boys declared it the best ever and it has been requested that way ever since. The theme changes, but the location does not.

    2. We close the B&G by retiring a flag (requiring it to be outside). We have had several people in the Pack and in the community donate flags to be retired. It has been an awesome experience especially watching the rowdiest of boys salute in respect as the flag is retired.

    3. We talked about February, but it is still too cold to have it outside then. We tried March and almost got blown away (literally). April has worked well as a result.

    I am a firm believer that what is best for one is not necessarily best for all. I really love your ideas, and don't see anything wrong with them. (I just like mine better. lol)

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    1. Joseph: PERFECT! If we could have Blue & Gold outside (We are in Portland, OR) I would! So, AWESOME! So, you did prove do what works for you! I also love the fact that you retire a flag!

      Overall, you have a great tradition and it really works for you. Continue on!

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  3. David: BEAVERS!

    Ok, so our Packs are run differently. That’s fine. The boys have fun, learn and move onto Boyscouts to continue their Journey in Scouting. That’s the ultimate goal. Again, it’s the Journey.

    I think that as our Pack moves forward, they will find their Groove and adapt as needed.

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  4. Can’t say I disagree necessarily, especially as a fellow Beaver :)

    I fully agree to keep AOL and Xover separate, and our large pack actually does those in reverse of the order you mention – crossover at March pack meeting, followed by an awesome AOL ceremony put on by a local troop at our spring family campout in April a couple of weeks later.

    We encourage our Web2s to join a troop AS SOON as they have attained their AOL so they can start getting integrated, ready, and earning/paying for their first summer camp as soon as possible. In the case of my den this year, most did this by the first week in January, the rest by early February. They all continue to participate at the pack level in a final PW Derby, B&G, and of course Xover and final campout (AOL).

    To the main subject of your story…I think the benefit of including rank advancement in Blue and Gold is that it makes it a good reason to invite extended family to support the boys. That, in turn, leads to why it is a great venue for a well delivered FOS talk – grandparents, etc can and often do open their wallets. Taking out advancement would take away some of the appeal for the extended family, and moving FOS would reduce the captive audience for the same.

    I’m not saying we do things right or you do them wrong – we have been a large pack and things can drag out sometimes. I guess I’m just pointing out some of the pros and cons to different approaches.

    Happy Scouting from Texas!

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