How can I encourage our unit to have an annual program planning meeting? We have not had a calendar for months. Activities are advertised about 2 to 3 weeks prior. My husband and I have asked for a 12-month calendar since the spring and nothing. What do we do?
You didn’t say what your role in your unit is, nor who you’ve already spoken to in the unit, so it’s hard to give specific advice.
Some options include:
- reaching out to the Committee Chair if the Scoutmaster isn’t being responsive (or vice versa),
- offering to host/plan the planning meeting itself,
- talking to the SPL to find out what’s planned and letting them know you need more notice,
- registering as a direct contact leader (e.g. ASM) and helping the PLC conduct the program planning conference.
There are many different strategies for various different situations.
I’ve never seen a successful scouting unit (or any other organization) that didn’t plan. I agree with Charley, that we need more specific information so that we can give specific advice… and I also agree with you, that at least an event calendar is a minimum expectation.
Please tell us more!
If not involved in the troop leadership, become involved, even if it’s just at a basic level. Unfortunately some units don’t plan for the year. If yours is one, it will take work to get to an annual calendar. Lobby for a monthly, then a quarterly, then an annual calendar. Creating an annual calendar in a void is a huge challenge for some and it’s likely not to happen over night. be supportive of incremental changes in a positive direction.
There are a lot of things which feed in to a good annual plan (council events, OA involvement, district events, holidays, school vacation schedules, etc.) which should enhance a unit’s program (selling point here).
The simple way to start a calendar is ask “what/where have we done/gone this past year?” & write it down. You’ll need historical info for what happens next.
Speaking only for the way our troop does this, we have our annual planning meeting about a month (for us, this is usually late August) after the council planning calendar roll-out. This way we know when the council & district events are we can participate in & we know the OA weekends so we increase opportunity and don’t create a “one or the other” camping situation.
Then we overlay the holidays & school schedules. This helps with the long weekends which give us opportunity for longer travel (most camp-outs are with an hour or two, leave on a Friday/back on a Sunday). On a long weekend camp-out we can drive further (like to the upstate or mountains), we’ll leave on a Saturday morning and return Monday.
Then we block a window for Summer Camp & Winter Camp (our unit goes to both). Add in some dates for recurring service like Scouting for food, Beach/River Sweep and we’re half way done. Oh, add in a New Scout camp-out in late March for the new scouts bridging in from the den’s in February.
Then we meet as adults (scoutmasters, committee, parents, & SPL) and plug in the remaining open camping windows (we try to do something each month, typically the middle of each month). The Scoutmaster facilitates. We may adjust date so we’re not camping weekends too close together, but this is pretty minor and we usually have some “TBD” events especially in the next years Aug/Sep window. We will use parents as “activity coordinators” so one person isn’t doing all the work. The activity person will usually gather reservation info, etc. which helps with parent participation.
Key to this Final calendar planning meeting is the Scoutmasters meeting ahead with the boys and getting their input about what they want to do in the upcoming year (sometimes this takes some prompting for past “good” camp-outs and managing expectation for monthly trips to Disney & other places. We don’t not put ideas on the list but do discuss cost, distance, and the need for scouts to participate in needed fund raising to make events happen. We do try to salt the calendar with as many boy-idea related outings/camp-outs as possible. And we let them know which items came from their ideas when the calendar is done.
I’ve been doing troop annual for a long time now and the hardest part is just getting started. I hope this helps a little.