How can you add spice, fun and a sense of excitement to your weekly Timber Wolf meetings? What can you do to get your Timber Wolves interested in a particular subject or activity? How can you involve them in their community and give them an appreciation of what's happening around them? One answer that works each and every time...
Bring in a guest speaker.
Every community has its share of experts - people who will be happy to talk to the Timber Wolves about their field of expertise, whether it's a career or a hobby. Many large companies or organizations with an interest in young people will also provide speakers.
Sit down with your leadership team and review your upcoming program objectives. Then take a careful look at your specific den program plans to see if they lend themselves to inviting guests to a meeting or a camp. To share the workload, you might ask each leader to be responsible for bringing in one or two guests during the year.
Once you've determined who you'd like to invite, decide when you would like the guest to visit. Make your first arrangements verbally. Try to give potential guests more than one date from which to choose, outline your suggestions around the topic, and provide a time guideline. The younger your Timber Wolves are, the shorter their attention span. We've found 20 to 30 minutes a good interval for our Timber Wolves especially if the guest speaker is interactive with our boys, to let them touch, or try something new!
Remind your guests that they will be talking to young children rather than adults so that they can plan to keep it simple. Encourage them to bring along as many visual aids as possible to demonstrate or explain their topic. The more the Timber Wolves can see and touch, the better. And don't forget to ask your guests what you can do for them. What equipment will they need (table, chair, movie or slide projector, screen)? How much floor space?
Follow up your verbal commitment with a letter to confirm the place, time, date, group name, age of your Timber Wolves (9 to 12), time limit, and equipment which you will supply. Provide a contact name and number so that the guest knows whom to call if he or she needs further information or encounters problems or changes in plans.
Finally, prepare your Timber Wolves before the guest arrives by telling them what they can expect and what you expect from them. They will be excited and you will need good supervision to make sure that both they and your guest enjoy the meeting.
Our Timber Wolves enjoyed and learned a great deal from three disabled younger people who came to visit, a policeman with a working police dog, and a lady from the zoo. Perhaps the person who made the greatest impact, however was a blind guest who brought in her guide dog. The Timber wolves were fascinated by her Golden Retriever and amazed to see what it could do. They learned about the training and its cost and, during a general question and answer session, they learned how someone who is blind counts money, uses public transport, reads books, works, eats, and wants to be treated. All of them left the meeting with a very positive attitude towards people who have disabilities.
Here are a few ideas to help you start your own list of possible guests. Our Timber Wolves enjoyed these visitors and topic's, and you'll doubtlessly be able to add many more of your own.
Start lining up people from your list as you do your year's planning. You'll find that guest speakers not only add a lot to your program, but also give you another way to bring our FSE Explorer program and group closer to our community at large.
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