By Ken Cluff
Dec 18, 2014

Annual program planning for Varsity Scout Teams

YAS-Scouting-growing-a-garden-thumb-200x112-297976Let’s talk about one of the key elements of all successful Varsity teams and an indicator of a potentially successful year. Of course, that would be the team’s annual program plan and planning conference that typically takes place in November or December for the coming year.

New research conducted by Eli Lily in Indianapolis, Indiana, showed that a common element of strong teams is that they all have a good annual program planned a year in advance that is then shared with all families in the form of the calendar. The important result of a short shared annual program calendar is that it will encourage your Varsity Scouts to stay fully involved and excited about participating.

Other key elements of a successful Varsity Scout team are training (both youth and adults), and having just the right leader to start with and that is you, the Varsity Scout coach and/or teachers quorum advisor.

Here’s how our team program planning conference works. A month or two before the scheduled face-to-face conference, the committee chair, coach, team captain and all five program managers perform the following steps

Preparation steps

Step 1Step one—Gather the following key information:

  1. Key school dates, like holidays and exams
  2. Community event dates
  3. Key Church calendar dates
  4. Personal dates that may affect the team’s activities, such as the varsity coach’s anniversary cruise
  5. Key district and counsel dates for activities
  6. Data collected from the team resources survey (take a look at this adapted survey from Mat Greenfield)
  7. Last year’s team annual plan if you have one
  8. Team priorities and goals
  9. Varsity Scouts’ advancement records
  10. List of program features ideas
  11. National operation on target they on third Saturday in July 2015

Varsity_team_captainStep two—You as the Varsity Scout coach will discuss this process with your team captain

  1. He will be completely in charge; explain the importance of this process and his role in it.
  2. Discuss your options for programs and activities and your team goals.
  3. Share your draft outline for next year’s program and ask him for his input and thoughts. (Don’t forget the operation on target hike to a mountain peak for the signaling activity on July 18, 2015. Be flexible at this point.)
  4. Review this presentation so he will understand the agenda and work ahead on what he needs to do.

Varsity Scout PlanningStep three—Your Varsity Scout captain shares the draft plan with all five program managers

  1. They share it with team members to get their input and ideas.
  2. The program managers gather information and ideas in their specific area of emphasis from the team members.
  3. Each ask each team member of your Varsity Scout team to prayerfully answer questions like the ones below. You could do this in a planning session or through surveys and take good notes:
Varsity Theme Plan

You may find this tool helpful in balancing your program

*How can we serve others around us? Who needs our help in the ward? Is there anything you would like to change about our Varsity Scout team? What talents do you feel God has given you to serve others?

*Who do you want to become as you get older? Where do you want to see yourself in five, 10, or 20 years from now? What do we need to do now to prepare for our futures?

*What are you? What do you like to consists and activities like horses scout team?

Scouts PlanningStep four—Invite the following people to attend the planning conference to maximize the efficiency of your planning:

  1. Your Varsity team’s youth leaders
  2. Adult team leaders
  3. Chartered organization representative (optional)
  4. Anyone else who might be helpful, such as other parents

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what keeps Scouts in the program. They like to have fun, do really cool, challenging stuff, go places, and learn things, even though they might not want to admit it. That is what we call program, and it doesn’t just happen by chance. It takes planning and preparations, starting with this annual program planning conference.

Use these ground rules while discussing ideas at your conference, and you can add your own rules to:

  • It is important to respect the views of each other. Listen and don’t interrupt
  • Keep focused on your task to plan your annual program. Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Write out your ideas so everyone can see them.
  • Be in agreement.

Go ahead now and carry out your Varsity Scout annual program planning conference

A—Your team captain leads the discussion on your team’s goals for the coming year. Write the goals on a flipchart or whiteboard, and agree to a list of goals.

B—Your team captain will share the draft printed calendar with the rest of the meeting attendees. Ask if anyone has any other dates they need to add. The calendar will show the dates you researched.

C—The team captain will take a few minutes to discuss these dates and events. Once he feels comfortable with this stage of the calendar, he might even take a vote to approve the dates you have so far.

D—The five program managers will share information they have gathered from the Varsity Scouts in their specific area of emphasis. This can be the most challenging exercise in your program planning conference, so take as much time as you need.

You could use the Varsity Team Program Features, Volume I, II, and III as a base for your Scouts’ desired programs or themes. There are 27 different program features in the three volumes with one being a wildcard for filing other areas filling other areas your team may be interested in.

You might take it one month at a time. Don’t forget to add in advancement opportunities the flow of your team’s program is up to you and could be driven by your goals. For example, if one of your goals is for the team to take a hike through a slot canyon where rappelling is required, some of your preparation programs could focus on learning climbing and rappelling techniques. Also learn about deep canyon wilderness survival trip planning and wilderness first aid.

Again as you agree on a monthly feature or program team, be sure all five areas of emphasis are covered. Write this information on a flipchart or whiteboard and take a vote. Designate and assign program managers to be responsible for each of the five fields of emphasis. Be sure to have someone write all this on a master calendar and take good notes

Annual PlanningE—Add other important dates such as:

  1. Boards of review
  2. Courts of honor
  3. Varsity team open house
  4. Service projects
  5. Any other dates already planned this far in advance

At this point you should have a complete annual plan, a calendar, and a set of Varsity Scout team goals.

F—Hold a final discussion on the plan, calendar, and goals, and then take a vote for approval. Once you approve your annual plan, it will go to the team committee and your Ward Bishop for final approval.

G—In order for this plan to be a truly valuable tool, it must be shared with each Varsity Scout family, your ward organization, and all other interested parties. This is a must!

Your plan will be a living, breathing document. For it to have real value, you must follow it, share it with everyone and review it regularly to see if modifications have to be made. Good luck on another great year, and don’t forget to share your planning calendar with every Varsity Scout family!


These tools will make it easier to create newsletters, revise calendars, keep youth members and families informed, and help youth members manage the troop more effectively and efficiently.

Program FeaturesProgram Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews
Just off the press, this guide to troop, team and crew program planning features offers 12 months of program helps. Volume I includes: Aquatics, Athletics, Backpacking, Boating/Canoeing, Business, Camping, Citizenship, Communications, Cooking, Cultural Awareness, Emergency Preparedness, and Engineering.

Boys’ Life Resources
Boys’ Life produces a number of useful resources such as a planning calendar, planning charts, and other program helps.

NEW! Troop Annual Program Planning Conference Guide
Adapt this PowerPoint presentation to help guide your team through its annual program planning conference.

Team Calendar and Planning Worksheets (see pp. 19a-c Varsity Scout Play Book)
The appendix gives your form to fill in dates and events important to your unit and the annual program plan. It can be  printed or emailed, making it easy to update and share. When you first know about an addition or change to Team activities, add that to the calendar so it will always be up to date and ready to print or share. Use the meeting outline tfor framework for conducting efficient, well-run troop meetings.

Budget Planning
These fillable electronic forms help make team budgeting straightforward with just a few adaptations.
Planning Your Troop’s Annual Program Budget
Troop Operating Budget Worksheet, available in PDF and Excel formats.
Guides to Unit Money-Earning Projects

Troop Program Features
The 36 monthly program features allow units to plan meetings and events around activities that Scouts will find challenging and exciting.

Team Resources Survey adapted from Troop Resource Survey or use page 19e in the Varsity Scout Play Book)
Use this survey to help get adults involved with your unit even more engaged.

Ken Cluff, Editor Varsity Vision Newsletter
Author: Ken Cluff | Editor, The Varsity Vision Newsletter
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