Make your life easier with next-gen troop program features

The new design for the Science program feature (above) and the old design.
The new design for the Science program feature (above) and the old design.

Update, June 3: As several people have pointed out, these aren’t just for troops. Teams, crews, ships, and posts can find great use out of them.

In Scouting, one size doesn’t fit all.

So suggesting a month-by-month troop planning calendar on a national level, as in the past, just doesn’t work.

For example, take the Fishing program feature. A troop in Texas could make that work in March, but a troop in Wisconsin would find that timing a little less, well, comfortable.

Enter the next generation of troop program plans, sure to make your life easier. I have a preview of two from the upcoming generation that I’ve been authorized to share with you.

There will be 48 in all, delivered in three volumes of 16 each over the course of 2013 and early 2014.

But the best part is that the new program helps are flexible, and troops can customize their own year from the 48 months of activity ideas. Selection is key as youth leaders plan the upcoming year.

There’s also customization within the program features themselves. You don’t expect every skier to go down the same run, so why expect a 13-year-old First Class Scout to complete the same troop programming as a 17-year-old Eagle Scout?

That’s why meeting plans, like ski runs, come in three flavors: green, blue, and black. Skills marked with green circles are essential, those with blue squares are challenging, and the ones with black diamonds are the most advanced.

Another change is the way the program features are divided by volume. Nobody creates a troop calendar alphabetically, but past program features volumes were organized that way. This time they’re mixed up, deliberately combining outdoors, careers, and hobbies to make each volume more diverse.

Vol. 1 comes out this fall, Vol. 2 is out by the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014, and Vol. 3 is released in first or second quarter 2014. The hope is that each of the 48 program plans will be made available individually and digitally so units can purchase and download only those they want to use. Stay tuned for more details about distribution once I learn more.

Curious what one of these program features will look like? Well, gone are the black-and-white pages with illustrations that were charming but not always informative. The new versions are broken into chunks with information that’s clearly presented and easy to use right away.

It’s perfect for the Scouter who doesn’t have time to sift through pages and pages of information and just wants a clear, proven, effective plan for meetings and activities.

Take a look at the First Aid program feature, and the Science program feature (links open PDFs in a new window) to see what I mean.

And big thanks to Scouting pros Don Shepard and Diane Leicht for this exciting preview.

What are the program areas?

Here’s the tentative list of 48 subject areas:

  1. Camping
  2. Backpacking
  3. Pioneering
  4. Hiking
  5. Cooking
  6. Winter Camping
  7. Outdoor Ethics
  8. Nature and Environment
  9. Wildlife Management
  10. Rifle
  11. Archery
  12. Shotgun
  13. Climbing/Rappelling
  14. Fishing
  15. Cave Exploring
  16. Swimming
  17. Wilderness Survival
  18. Canoeing
  19. Kayaking
  20. Scuba
  21. COPE
  22. Geocaching
  23. Orienteering
  24. Bowling
  25. Cycling
  26. Fitness/Nutrition
  27. Basketball
  28. Skiing/Snowboarding
  29. Soccer
  30. Emergency Preparedness
  31. First Aid
  32. Special Needs Awareness
  33. Citizenship
  34. Safety
  35. Mentoring
  36. Financial Management
  37. Communications
  38. Project Planning
  39. Engineering
  40. Science
  41. Technology
  42. Mathematics
  43. Games
  44. Music
  45. Drama
  46. Spectator Sports
  47. Living History
  48. Ethics

What do you think?

How do you like the new designs? Do you use the existing program features? How will you use these new plans? Leave some thoughts below.

About Bryan Wendell 3283 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.