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. Archery
  11. Climbing/Rappelling
  12. Fishing
  13. Cave Exploring
  14. Swimming
  15. Wilderness Survival
  16. Canoeing
  17. Kayaking
  18. Scuba
  19. COPE
  20. Geocaching
  21. Orienteering
  22. Bowling
  23. Cycling
  24. Fitness/Nutrition
  25. Basketball
  26. Skiing/Snowboarding
  27. Soccer
  28. Emergency Preparedness
  29. First Aid
  30. Special Needs Awareness
  31. Citizenship
  32. Safety
  33. Mentoring
  34. Financial Management
  35. Communications
  36. Project Planning
  37. Engineering
  38. Science
  39. Technology
  40. Mathematics
  41. Games
  42. Music
  43. Drama
  44. Spectator Sports
  45. Living History
  46. 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 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.