Northern Trail District

Planning your Scout Year

We are rapidly approaching the start of a new scouting year and for many troops, packs and crews this the time that annual plans for the coming year are brought into focus and calendars developed.

The calendars for the council, district and schools are available now and this makes it possible to coordinate your unit activities and avoid overlapping events.

For example, if a unit campout conflicts with adult leader training, this can derail both the participation in training and your event.

Both the council and district have events during the scout year which can really benefit your unit and make your planning job easier. Events like Northern Trail to adventure, Adult Leader Training, Webelos Woods, Winter Camp, University of Scouting, Scouting for food, Camporee and Twilight Camp. Many older scouts and adults enjoy staffing district and council events and if they conflict with unit events, then they are forced to choose one over the other.

In the case of troops and crews, it is essential to involve the youth in the process. Your role is to advise and suggest activities which fit into the program and help achieve the aims of the program. Often this is difficult, I can recall more than once asking the boy leadership what they wanted to do and often all I got was a shrug! Too often items months away don’t seem so critical when you are focused on today! It often takes some real prodding and sometimes making direct suggestions; “would you rather do this or that?“

The best approach is to call a planning meeting and make sure everyone is aware in advance that the purpose is to set the calendar for the coming year. Suggest that participants come with a list of what “they” want to do. Define a set of goals for the meeting; what types of activities do you want to have? Many troops have regular monthly campouts during the year. In addition to setting the dates and locations of these campouts, it’s best to work out in advance any specific goals for that event. For example you might have a campout dedicated to cooking or backpacking or even a shoebox campout.

A number of events which are coupled can be scheduled in advance. A series of troop meetings designed to prepare first year scouts for their first campout will make the activity run much more smoothly.

The best thing about a calendar is that once complete, everyone knows the plan and with a plan you can prepare in advance. Advance preparation means several things; first of all it means that you can begin the process of “selling” event to your scouts and parents. If they know what is coming and know in advance what to expect, then the odds of having good participation are greatly increased.

Too often units fail to develop a good calendar because there are unknowns which cannot be immediately determined. There is no reason that you can’t just define the date and basic title. “We will have the events on these dates and fill in the details as they become available.“

While sometimes the need for details might seem to trump setting the date, if you don’t set the date in advance, other plans will get made. The time vacuum will be filled! If you plan for a pinewood derby and the usual venue is not available, another one can be found, one just needs to be inventive.

A major mistake often made, is the rescheduling of events at the last minute. It’s always better to make other arrangements rather than change the date. Many of your members won’t be able to participate. So before you reschedule, aggressively look for an alternative solution.

No calendar is perfect or static, but they are a great starting point for an effective scout year. Once you have the dates set in stone, then keep reviewing the calendar and fill in the details as quickly as you can. Make sure everyone in your unit is aware of any changes or additional information.

By all means, publish the calendar online so everyone in your unit can find it easily. If you don’t have a website, you can use any number of free services like Google Calendar.

With a good plan and calendar, your scout year will run like clockwork!

Commissioners Needed

If you have been involved in scouts for a while and particularly if your Scout has moved on, commissioner service is a great way to keep up with scouting, continue to provide a valuable service, and make a difference. Continue reading

On the Calendar

Full event list here, includes 2016/2017

Much more on the website.

Yours in Scouting,

John Slaughter
Northern Trail Communications Committee

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