Program Planning




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About Program Planning

Sample Program



Parents and Open Nights

Play Acting

Singing and Music Making


Story Telling

About Program Planning

A planned program is an essential part of training the young Otter. It is only by planning that progress can be plotted. Programs should be planned as far in advance as is possible, with the co-operation of all the Scouters and Instructors in the Pack, so that all concerned are fully aware of the part they have to play in each individual program. Obviously, when programs are planned for out-of-doors, alternative programs should be at hand if the weather is not too kind.

One of the great things about the American way of life is the tradition we have built up over the years and tradition plays a large part in the mysticism of Scouting. The general outline of the Pack meeting should always be similar from meeting to meeting. This allows games to be slotted in between work periods and quiet periods. 

The main objective with young children is to keep them occupied at all times, either boisterously or quietly, so that they never became bored or run around aimlessly. Always ensure that there is adequate supervision for every Pack activity. Where a game has to be explained to the Pack, always make sure that the rules are fully understood before the game starts.

The use of hand signals reduces the need for the spoken word.

Each Den should be allocated a particular place in the Headquarters, which they can regard as their own for the length of the meeting. If work is to be done in Dens then the Den will know where it has to go in order to do that work.

When the attention of the whole Pack is required and it does not necessitate standing, then the Pack should sit on the floor, comfortably, preferably in a square formation. The best position is cross-legged with straight back and hands on knees and with all the Pack sitting exactly the same. This is the start of disciplined behavior.

Both the opening and closing ceremonies should be of a set pattern so that the Otters know what to do.

The length and content of the program will be limited to the number of Scouters and Instructors available and to their limitations regarding training. The essential ingredient is a well balanced and varied program.

Sample Program

bulletCouncil Rock
bulletRoll Call, Inspection, and Dues
bulletTwo games or outdoor activities depending on weather and season
bulletStory, either read by a Scouter or a visitor
bulletMusical game, singing or play-acting
bulletCouncil Rock

Ingredients of Program Planning

Building:  Handicrafts, Model Making, Drawing and Painting

Energy Release:  Games, Physical Effort

Adventure:  Exploring, Visit to Park, Zoos, Beach, Farm

Entertaining:  Music Making, Singing, Poetry, Play-acting

Variety:  Visitors to give talks (e.g. Policeman, Firemen, Postman)

Story Telling:  Short, simple stories read or told

Always keep a program book to record what you have done for reference purposes.

Note: Handicrafts should always have a use, and not just be ornaments.


Games which are suitable for other Scouting Sections are not always suitable for Otters.

Variations of other games may be found suitable and all suitable games can be entered into a notebook and thus the Pack will have a games book which provides a ready supply of favorite games. 

As has been explained in Program Planning, the rules of a game should be thoroughly explained before the game commences. Try to use games which bring out the individualism of the Otter. 

It should be realized that the games chosen may sometimes be played at school, or at home, with different rules and this may vary from school to school, so that all the Otters should be made to understand that the Pack rules apply to all Pack games. 

All games used in Scouting should have a purpose and games should not be chosen just to fill in a space in the Pack program.

The younger the child the more time spent in playing and games can be made up from all Sorts of odd items. Games help a child to develop self-discipline, body control, co-ordination of eyes and limbs, unselfishness, physical development and the realization that the society in which the Otter lives exists by rules being observed. 

Keep your Otters happy and alertly occupied and you will have a good Otter. The Founder said, "Play is the first great education" and we should use playing wisely.

It may seem stupid to some people to enter the land of make-believe with youngsters but to that youngster that world of make-believe is real. You must look at the world through the eyes of children to be a successful Otter Leader. One of the qualities of a good Otter Leader is the ability to let your hair down and enter into the spirit of things.

Hints for Games:

1. Stop the Otters from wondering about by having them sitting down while you explain the game.

2. No complicated games - use simple games with simple rules well explained.

3. First time is a practice game - no penalties.

4. Try to prevent having to eliminate Otters during games.

5. Remember, a long game becomes boring.

6. Remove all objects which may give rise to accidents. Clothing should be in accordance with the weather conditions. ALWAYS guard against hazards.

7. A First Aid Kit is essential. Keep a plentiful supply of band-aids on hand.

8. Vary games week to week by referring to your game book and program book.


Youngsters like to make things from all sorts of what adults would call junk. Handicrafts suitable for Otters are well within the capability of Scouters within the Pack. It is not necessary to have a lot of expensive items as most things can be constructed from odds and ends using the old Scouting tradition of IMPROVISATION.

Some basic materials are:

bulletDrawing paper
bulletRound end scissors
bulletPowder paints
bulletPaste and Glue
bulletFelt tip pens
bulletMagic markers
bulletThin cardboard
bulletPaper clips
bulletElastic bands
bulletPaper scraps
bulletToilet paper rolls
bulletEmpty match boxes
bulletPaint brushes
bulletColored cord
bulletPaint pots
bulletOld postage stamps
bulletOld postcards
bulletEgg cartons

The purpose of handicrafts in the Pack is to allow the youngsters to develop their creativity and to enjoy the pleasure of making things. It also helps development of simple manipulative skills. If the handicraft has a practical use, it is more likely to be used around the house, once it is taken home - a self-esteem builder for the Otter concerned.


PREPARATION. Before you start the session there must be available a good supply of things to be used in it. As has been mentioned, in the section entitled "The Leader in the Pack", not all Otters will want to be doing the same thing at the same time in handicrafts unless it is something which interests them all. As all youngsters will have different mental ages a varied number of articles can be made at the same time and afterwards can be displayed within the Den.

Before the session it is best to try out the ideas yourself and see if they work. You will then be able to demonstrate to the Otters and prove another Scouting tradition "Never ask the youngsters in your care to do something that you couldn't or wouldn't do in the same circumstances". Consult and have handy some suitable books and handicrafts.


A few hints:

bulletBe able to show a finished article to provide incentive and show how it was made.  Something mentioned in the course of Pack meetings as a result of a few dropped hints could be an ideal subject.
bulletSelect something that preferably WORKS and which can be completed quickly in several stages.
bulletDon't select anything which is complex and complicated. Make it FUN.
bulletMake sure that there is plenty of help available where you need it.
bulletDon't allow a little gooey mess to put you off. Paints and glues tend to be messy.
bulletDrawing, painting and colored sticky shapes are popular and simple to start off with. Don't forget to put plenty of old newspapers or plastic sheeting on the floor. You'll need plastic aprons for painting. If you don't protect the clothes you will find the parents NOT on your side.

Some Ideas for Handicrafts

First Nations Headdress:  Feathers from any available source and lengths of duct tape. The feathers can be colored. The headdress can be worn on the head or as a Chief's headdress, down the back.

Pipe Cone Christmas Decorations:  Collect the cones in the woods and either glue and then sprinkle with glitter or paint the cones and attach a wire around the stem to enable them to hang on the tree.

Snowmen:  Use a liquid dish soap bottle and pad it with cotton wool. Use cotton wool For the head and paint on eyes, mouth and nose. Hat and scarf can be made from scraps of cloth.

Animals from rocks:  When on a trip to the local beach, pick up the rounded beach stones. Pieces of wool or felt can be glued on, and they can be then painted to resemble many different animals.

Masks:  Paper bags can be used for this. Cut eye and mouth holes out and paint or crayon the funny face on to it.

Cut-out designs:  This can be done by folding the paper into a number of folds and then cutting out small pieces of paper. When the paper is opened out a pattern emerges. By experimenting, the Otters will also be able to make long chains of figures in the same way.

Decorated flower pots:  Each Otter brings a flower pot to Pack meeting. A supply of shells from the visit to the beach and a supply of Polyfilla or putty is all that is needed. Cover the pot in the putty and then stick shells into the putty in patterns until the whole of the sides of the pot are covered.

Shells:  Large shells such as scallops can be used to make ornaments for the home.

Cardboard Knights:  Old cardboard boxes can be used to make "armor" and swords.

These are just a few examples. You can probably think of a lot more. Books in your local library will also provide some ideas.

Parents and Open Nights 

Open nights present an opportunity for the interested parties to see what goes on in the Pack and for the parents it enables them to see what their child has achieved.

The first step is to decide when to have the Open Night. It can either be by invitation or by a note to the parents taken home by the Otter. If presentations are to be made a special guest could be invited to carry out the presentations.

Normally, an Otter Pack program should be the basis of the night. One or two special items should be included to add to the interest of the spectators, such as dressing-up and performing a short play. Games which involve the parents are also a good idea. If the weather is fine an outside program gives much more scope for games.

Presentation of badges and Jumping Up ceremony to Timber Wolves make an ideal subject for an Open Night.

A display of Pack and individual achievements and of Pack handicrafts should prove of interest to parents. Other Scouters of the Group could be invited and they would normally then gain further insight into the workings of the youngest Section.

A short report of Pack activities to date, together with a word of appreciation and thanks for the interest and help provided by parents, should either open or close the meeting.


bulletDO NOT allow or select any one Otter to become a start performer. The more extrovert youngster will tend to overact to catch the eye. This should be discouraged. It is a PACK night.
bulletEACH MEMBER of the Pack should have something to do during the program.
bulletEACH MEMBER of the Pack should be awarded some small award for taking part.
bulletEVERY SCOUTER in the Pack should have something to do in the program. It is a "family" night and the Scouters are part of the Pack family.
bulletCONSULT with the Pack Council. The Otter Leader can put his/her own ideas and those of the Otters so that the program includes things that the Pack would like to do on a special night.
bulletKNOWLEDGE of any Otter having a disability or having a retiring nature is a must and Ahmeek should be able to find a suitable part in the activities to slot the Otter concerned into the pattern of the program.
bulletPLAN AHEAD and allow for variations in the weather.

Play Acting

PLAY IS A TOTAL EXPERIENCE to the Otter. Not a minute of the day is wasted and sometimes the youngster can be so totally involved as not to notice anything going on around him/her.

Play acting can take several forms. When the Otter is mixing clay he/she may play act, imagining that he/she is being a sculptor. When taking part in team games such as the rhyming games, again the Otter may be play acting. The most easily understood form, for us, is the dramatic play which involves either acting out a small play from a script or an improvised form devised by the 'actors' themselves, either from a hurried huddle in the corner or by being totally 'impromptu'.

Not all of us are Thespians and sometimes we ourselves may gain the confidence we need from our Otters. The Otter has a freedom within him/her self that is not available anywhere else. It is safe to say that most of us at sometime have imagined that we are somewhere else and doing more exciting things. All that has to be done to turn daydreaming into play acting is to put dreams into actions. 

Guidance is still necessary where the Otters are concerned in the choice of materials made available and the choice of stories made available; also in the decision as to when to participate in the play acting with the Otters.

In play children learn about the world through playing about it and also have an outlet for complex and often conflicting emotions.

As no part of the Timber Wolf program should be used for Pack activities except those Otters attempting the Jumping Otter Badge, it is not thought advisable for the Jungle Book dances to be used in the Pack.

Your local library will be able to assist in suggesting suitable material for Pack Programs.

Finally, free play is also important and the occasional 5 -10 minute period of allowing Otters to freely express themselves is a good thing, provided that it is not allowed to get out of control, as there must still be limits beyond which the Otters realize that they cannot go.

Singing and Music Making

Otter age children are not likely to play an instrument and sing at the same time. The main objective at first is to get the Otter to take part in Pack music-making.

Once an Otter has shown a talent for a particular thing, then that should be fostered.

Commencing with something easy and working up to more involved exercises should make the Otter feel that he/she is making progress. Enjoyment and Entertainment are the two necessary objectives.

Some of we Scouters find singing difficult, so we pick songs that we can all sing - not too high a pitch and not down in your boots.

An important part of Scouting is the Campfire. Although some other Scout Associations have decided that the traditional campfire is out of date, this will not be the case as long as the youngsters enjoy them.

In organizing your Pack first find out who is a fairly good singer and who cannot sing.

Don't prevent them from singing but perhaps make them your first 'instrumentalists'.

Some ideas for suitable songs:

bulletOne man went to mow 
bullet This old man he played one
bulletLondon's Burning 
bullet Old MacDonald had a farm
bulletTen Green Bottles 
bullet Michael Finnigan
bulletIf your happy and you know it 
bullet Yankee Doodle
bulletKum By Yah 
bullet Amazing Grace

Material is always available from your local library. As with other parts of the Pack program the music session should not be long enough to bore, but should be long enough to enable the Otters to enter into the spirit of the thing and achieve an end result.


This is where we emphasize the "OUT" in Scouting. There should always be 1 adult Leader, or Parent helper, to every 4 Otters on every outing, hike, or camp.

If we do not get our Otters out of doors, they will simply pine away. The Otter is essentially an outdoor type. Outside activities give fresh air, sunshine, exercise and the space to run 'wild'. This has another benefit - that of allowing the noise to go to the four winds and not to vibrate Ahneek's eardrums.

A Pack meeting over at the local park does not take much organizing but organized it must be. An tour out of doors running wild is neither productive nor interesting to the Otter. Safety first and activity second is the order of the day. 

Parents place their offspring into our care and we must protect them at all times they are with us. Full use should be made of Otter instructors, Senior Explorers, Rovers, and Pack Parents.

If we are going further afield we need to plan ahead. At the age of our Otters we need to know, what mode of transport we will be using, whether anyone has motion sickness, or suffers any other affects of travel. Toilet stops will be necessary. A full day's outing may be too much for some but alright for others; therefore provision must be made for rest periods so that all may benefit and no-one will feel he/she is being treated differently from the others. 

During the travel it is possible to play "I SPY" games to retain their interest and prevent boredom setting in.

Before leaving home the Otters should all know what is in store for the outing. During the travel adequate supervision is necessary because in the case of small children fast action often has to be taken. 

The permission of parents, in writing, is necessary and also the understanding that you will be allowed to deputize for the parents if any medical treatment is required whilst away from home. This permission MUST be written and details of the outing MUST be given to the parents together with a telephone number (wherever possible) they can use to contact you in an emergency.

In the case of an overnight or weekend stay a list of necessary items should have been handed to the parents and all the medication the Otter has to take should be handed to the Scouter-in-charge, on departure for the camp, together with instructions as to dosage.

Teddy Bears ARE allowed (free of charge!). All allergies should be known to you so that you can be prepared as, when something crops up, it can be a frightening experience.

For day outings there are numerous places to visit - Fire Station, Police Station, Museums, Zoo, the Beach, Airports, Parks, Steam trains, Adventure playground.

Can you remember when you did such things as sand castle building; collecting shells or colored stones; looking for crabs in a rock pool? I'm sure you can, and Otters are no different to other children. Make it interesting and join in the fun.

Whether you take packed lunches or purchase the goodies wherever you are going, the fact of eating out, be it in a café or a picnic, is exciting to the youngster. The main objective is to have FUN. However, don't forget to make alternative arrangements in case of wet weather (Plan B!).


Story Telling

A good story, well told, is one of the most valuable forms of teaching a child and can be used to illustrate a point. It is well known that a comic book with pictures is more easily understood than one with printed stories. 'Pictures speak louder than words'. A well-told story is, in a way, a comic book with pictures, it makes a child's imagination come alive.

HOW to tell it - not easy for some people and often takes a lot of practice. Some people are naturally shy and have to make a sincere effort to emerge from their shyness. One of the attributes of Scouting is the ability to imagine you are seeing the exercise through the eyes of the child concerned.

The story should be kept short - not more than 10 minutes in length - or should be a chapter in a longer story - to be continued next week. The more action in the story, the more the interest created. There should be an easily understood plot to the story and the conclusion should be definite and not left to the child's imagination. 

Reading from the book word for word is not a good idea and the story can be emphasized with the use of hand puppets or cut-out characters. The use of long words does not help and the best way to tell a story is with a close circle of attentive Otters in a cozy, friendly atmosphere - the sort of atmosphere created when telling a story around the fire to your own young family. We are, after all, a family - the Scouting Family.

WHO to tell it - should be decided by Ahmeek by knowing who in the Otter leadership team is best acquainted with the subject matter. All the Scouters and instructors of the Pack should be able to take part in this activity at some time. A good idea for those amongst us who are timid and shy is for those people to tell a story to the assembled Scouters prior to trying it out on the Otters.

If you are expecting a visitor to the Pack Meeting it might be possible to invite them to tell a story, either real or imaginary but they should be warned beforehand so that the request is not sprung upon them.

WHAT to tell - can be difficult. The entertainment value should be assessed and also the teaching value. It should be exciting and with a point in view. It may amuse, inspire or instruct, or do all three but exciting it must be or the impact will be wasted.

WHEN to tell it - and it should be inserted in the program as a quiet period. The time depends on your planned program but would normally follow a boisterous game. It is a time of physical relaxation and allows the body to wind down and the Otter to regain his/her breath.

WHY tell it. It is part of the child's development process.

There is a wide selection of children's stories available from a large number of sources. These include the children's section of the local public library, children's bookshops and teacher's specialty stores. Most public libraries provide a CD and tape story library.

Otter Leaders' Handbook






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.