Troop calendar planning conferences: What works, what doesn’t?


  1. I teach troop program planning at our University of Scouting every year. Below is our basic outline. This is done BY they boys, FOR the boys!

    Troop Program Planning
    Step 1 – Gather information
    • School calendars
    • Church calendars (religious holidays)
    • Meeting place calendars
    • Council calendar
    • Community resources
    • Survey the boys (PL’s)
    Step 2 – Assemble the PLC
    • Plan for several hours
    • Make it fun (order pizza) and comfortable (not school)
    • Come prepared!
    o Calendars listed above
    o Markers, wall calendars, sticky notes, tape, flip charts or white boards, etc.
    o Boy Scout Requirements Book (or app)
    Step 3 – Build the Plan
    • Brainstorm activities & merit badges
    o Mix fun MBs & Eagle required MBs
    o Don’t be a MB mill!
    • Construct a calendar
    o Wall charts w/ sticky notes
    o 1 fun activity per month
    o 1 PLC & committee meeting per month
    o 3 troop meetings per month (recommended)
    • Build a budget
    Step 4 – Share the Plan!
    • Handout the DRAFT calendar to the troop committee for approval
    • Once approved, distribute to the families
    • Ask for feedback / compare to other calendars
    • REMAIN FLEXIBLE! Plans can change due to weather, school calendar changes, council calendar changes, etc. The Troop calendar should remain flexible.

    Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail!

    Families are busy. Having a plan will help them get their boys to scout meetings and activities year-round. That will help keep them involved in the troop, and hopefully keep the boys in the program!

  2. We have a meeting where we encourage parents to attend. The parents work with one of our ASMs on working out best available dates and the boys (in another area) come up with the activities they would like to do. We then match activities with dates. This system seems to work well.

    Gary Holewinski

  3. We have used the monthly Roundtable/Boys Life themes as a starting point, then ask the Scouts to opt in or out. Easier than going around the table with boys saying “Whaddya wanna do? I dunno…” Couldn’t find the themes this year, tho.

  4. I’ve been involved with Scouting as a youth and as an adult for over 20 years. I still struggle with annual planning. Fight to keep the reigns pulled in on adults doing it for the boys. Tried having Boys’ Life magazines available for ideas, but when it comes to asking for ideas, we get…movie night, or 2 hour visits to a local climbing wall, or miniature golf. Paintball always gets mentioned. When smoke clears, boys have only enough ideas for three months of the year.

    As mentioned in other posts, we have school calendars, council calendars, etc. Our goal is to have 1 outing per month. I refuse to affirm that our boys are boring. Looking for what is missing in getting boys to come up with ideas. I think the adults would be more than happy to see that they happen (safely and economically feasible).

  5. Perhaps some rules in the troop that the youth earn the money for the campouts through the Troop Fundraiser. That way the Scouts would not be voting for things that would break their parents bank.

  6. Being mostly a cub leader, is it okay for leaders to insist on some events? I’m thinking specifically of camping events with Webelos. Boy Scouts don’t necessarily think of including a camp out or two for rising webelos 2 dens but it’s a key resource for maintaining a strong and healthy troop. Maybe the district provides a camp out like Camporall or Campor-ree just for this purpose.

  7. As I responded already to Matt Smith, ADULTS DO NOT NEED TO BE INVOLVED BECAUSE OF THREE SCHOOL CALENDARS (emphasis not shouting). My troop dealt with 14 different school calendars: public middle school, public high school, and the rest an assortment of private middle and high schools. We had a day long planning session in which we got the year organized. Difficult, Yes. Need adults to help, No.

    To paraphrase BP, Never let an adult do what a Scout can do.

  8. With the internet there should be no shortage of camping trip ideas.

    There are two ways to determine a camping trip: 1.) You want to do something particular. Then you go find a camp site that is appropriate for the activity or in close proximity. Our scouts once wanted to tour Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty on the Saturday of their trip. This November we will have our first Zip line trip. You can plan plenty of scouting activities this way, such as shooting sports, winter sports (skiing and snowboarding), summer activities (the beach), backpacking, cycling, fishing, orienteering…. The list is endless. 2.) You want to go to Camp XYZ. From there you can build your activities for the weekend.

    It seems that the scouts might lack enthusiasm for camping, because they keep using the same ideas. Challenge them to come up with new ideas. Use the STOP – START – CONTINUE Method. After a trip, ask the boys should we continue going here or stop going here.

    Keep a folder for each trip with contacts, maps, agendas, cost. Wouldn’t you like a file cabinet of ten years worth of trips? It would be a gold mine. Wouldn’t it be nice to pass along to a new scoutmaster?

    Plan a year’s worth of activities. Our troop goes to summer camp in July and our calendar ends with the August camping trip. This helps scouts (and parents who might be needed to drive) get these events on their calendar early. Also, it is impressive to show Webelos when they visit where you have been and where you are going. (Wow, you’re going white water rafting!)

    Finally, cost must be considered. When we plan skiing, we stay at a scout camp and have winter or shooting activities for those who don’t like to or want to spend the money on skiing. When we go rafting, we will have a cycling alternative (at no cost).

    Good luck! I hope this helps.

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