Depending on where you live and your situation, you may not be able to meet in person as usual at the start of the Cadet season. While meeting virtually may not be ideal, it is one of the best ways to maintain the connection to the boys that is integral to the success of your Cadet club.
Zoom provides a relatively easy (and free) way to host virtual meetings, but it can be challenging to know how to adapt the usual club meetings and activities to this newer platform. We’ve put together a few ideas and hints for plans for meeting virtually, but we realize that there’s no “one size fits all” solution, so feel free to adapt these ideas to fit the needs of your club.
We’ll also be suggesting that you use many of the materials found in our Cadets@Home kits, but of course, you can substitute similar materials if that’s easier for you. We encourage you to use the methods and materials that will most effectively maintain the connections between your counselors and cadets.
Before the start of the season, consider getting some materials to the boys where they live. Counselors can deliver the materials personally, or you can facilitate a “drive-through” with the counselors set up at church and the boys and parents stop by to pick up materials. You can use our Cadets@Home kits (see below) or something similar that you put together yourself. This may involve getting guidebooks and/or Cadet Quest magazine copies from the church and packaging them for delivery to your cadets. The idea is to have a package that includes Bible lessons, badgework, and possibly craft projects that cadets can work on before, during, and after virtual meetings.
Before your first meeting via Zoom, be sure to familiarize yourself with the Zoom platform. There are lots of tutorials and tips online. Consider hosting a test meeting with some of your counselors ahead of time to get some real practice with muting participants, screen sharing, breakout rooms (if needed), and other features of Zoom.
Remember that your meeting will have to keep moving for a number of reasons. Zoom is free, but the free version is limited to meetings of 40 minutes or less. This might not seem like a lot of time, but you can cover a lot of ground if you keep your timeline in mind. Keeping meetings shorter will also help keep the attention of your cadets, and will leave time for siblings and parents to use their internet connections and devices. Shorter meeting times may mean adapting your usual meeting timelines, but that is fine as long as the time is used to connect with the boys.
Suggested Meeting Plans
Here are some suggestions for planning out your virtual meetings over the course of a month or even a season. We suggest starting as you would normally with landmarks, opening prayer, and announcements. After that, consider focusing on one aspect of Cadets every meeting to maintain interest from week to week. Be sure to plan some things out so that you can assign lessons or projects in a way that will keep boys occupied at home while not overlapping too much with the activities you have planned for future meetings.
Week One: Bible Lesson Focus
Focus on a Bible lesson for the first week of the month. After opening exercises, work through a Bible lesson as a club, or consider using Zoom breakout rooms to split into cadres. You can use the lessons included in the Cadets@Home kits, the Quest magazine, or materials of your choosing. This will likely take up most if not all of your time, so feel free to encourage the boys to do some more lessons on their own or with their parents’ help in-between meetings. Be sure to assign specific lessons so you don’t overlap with the next meeting that focuses on Bible lessons.
Week Two: Badge Work Focus
After opening exercises are complete, you may want to have a short devotional even though you’ll be focusing on badge work. Counselors should decide on a few badges that you can work on through the season that cadets can work on at home as well. The Cadets@Home kits and books include badges chosen for at-home ease-of-use. Other badges suited for boys to work on at home include Baking, Fire Safety, Hiking, Chess, Geocaching, Modelers, Reading, Art, Fishing, Chivalry, Bible Exploration, Bible Study, Devotions, and Prayer.
Again, you may want to split your meeting into cadre breakouts so that boys can more easily ask questions and interact with each other. Depending on your timeline and situation, you may want to encourage boys to continue working on badges at home on their own or the following month as a cadre. Note: If your club is doing a mix of virtual and in-person meetings, consider working on a badge that allows for group time outdoors for when you do meet together in person.
Week Three: Project/Activities Focus
There are a few ways to approach the meeting focused on projects or activities. You can assign a project (during one of the prior meetings) that cadets can work on at home throughout the month (our Cadets@Home kits include suitable projects, or you can use the craft project from the Quest magazine, or something of your choosing). Then, after your usual opening exercises, this week becomes a time of sharing, where cadets show off their completed (or even in-progress) projects.
Alternatively, you and your cadets can work on a small project together over Zoom. If you go this route, be sure that the boys are aware ahead of time of the materials they might need. You may also want to practice the project on your own to make sure it will work in the time allotted.
If you are meeting in person, a craft project could be a good option, but consider putting together bags of materials needed for each cadet to help with social distancing.
Week Four: Games Focus
Games are another good way to develop relationships between the counselors and the boys. After opening exercises and devotions, you can adapt some games to the virtual meeting format. A scavenger hunt for common (or uncommon) household objects works well. Modifying a game such as Scattergories can also work. You can find other hints and ideas for ways to play games together virtually online.
Tailor Your Approach
If possible, continue this rotation of weekly focus throughout the season to maintain a sense of structure. If you don’t meet every week, or if you meet in person on occasion, you may have to spread out and modify these plans. If there is a “fifth week” in the month, you will want to have additional ideas.
Outside of Meetings, Get Outside
Remember that Cadets is more than just your weekly club meetings. While the weather allows, try to put together outside activities that your club can do. A scenic hike, cleaning up a park, or even a father/son campout (with each family unit in their own tent) are viable options. These sorts of activities are especially suitable for developing relationships with cadets and counselors.
Be Ready to Adapt and Share
These plans are merely suggestions. You know your club, and you know what will work and what will need adaptation for success. The important thing is to plan things out so that you can effectively maintain connections with the boys.
Program Materials and Badges
Cadets@Home Books and Kits
These resources enable cadets to work on badges, Bible lessons, and crafts at home. Buy a kit and get a “Dive Into the Word” bag with an @Home badge book (with badgework for 3-5 badges), theme Bible lessons, project worksheets, theme poster and bookmark, and Cadet pencil included. @Home badge books are also sold separately and are available in Junior Cadet, Recruit, Pathfinder, and Builder editions.