By Darryl Alder
Jun 23, 2016

Varsity Vision Part 4—Making an Annual Plan

This is part four of the online Varsity Vision—Team Coach Position-Specific Training. Other sessions include:

  1. Varsity Scouting, a Tool for the Quorum
  2. Aims of Scouting and the Varsity Scout Program
  3. The Captain and the Five Fields of Emphasis
  4. Making an Annual Plan
  5. Executing the Annual Plan
  6. Planning Team Meetings
  7. Planning Team Events


The purpose of this session is to:

  • Demonstrate putting together a Varsity Scout team yearly planning calendar.
  • Explain how a plan should be balanced by picking events from the five fields of emphasis.
  • Demonstrate how every program manager participates in planning every team event in some way.

The Yearly Cycle of Events


Research conducted by Eli Lily for the BSA shows a good annual program planned a year in advance is a common element of strong teams. When that annual calendar is shared, family support grows for the group. Other key elements of a successful Varsity Scout team are training (both youth and adults), and having just the right leader to start with. That’s you, the Varsity Scout coach and/or teachers quorum advisor.

A Varsity Scout team’s yearly plan of events is made a year in advance; it’s a once-a-year team activity that usually takes place in the fall to plan for the coming year. The plan is updated as details are added by program managers (working with program advisors).

Everyone in the team should participate, and Boy Scouts who are about to turn Varsity Scout age can as well. The important result of a shared annual program calendar is that it encourages team member participation in events and creates eager anticipation for team activities.

Here’s how a 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 such as youth conference or commemorative events
  4. Personal dates that may affect the team’s activities, such as the varsity coach’s anniversary cruise
  5. Key district and council activity dates (major events like Operation On Target and high adventure camps offered by the council can work to kick start a team’s program).
  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 day

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

  1. As teacher’s quorum president, the team captain’s keys of presidency put him in charge; explain, demonstrate, guide and enable him as you coach him—get him ready to lead through this process.
  2. With him, discuss your options for programs and activities and your team and quorum goals.
  3. Keep in mind a balanced program. That’s what Varsity Scouting’s five fields of emphasis are for.
  4. Share your draft outline for next year’s program and ask him for his input and thoughts. Show him something like this and encourage his additional ideas. Be flexible at this point.5 fields for planning
  5. Review the presentation he will make to the team. Help him with an agenda and make sure he knows what work he needs to do ahead of the meeting

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

  1. Help the program managers reach a majority consensus, and try to space the activities evenly so they are not all in one season.
  2. Then they share it with team members to get their input and ideas.
  3. The program managers gather information and ideas in their specific area of emphasis from the team members.

You may find this tool helpful in balancing your program: annual-varsity-scout-team-planning-chart-with-come-follow-me-and-duty-to-god

The goal is to have a variety of events and for each program manager to help plan a part of each event. In the Executing the Annual Plan presentation, which is our next session, you will see how assignments are made to each program manager.

As part of this, you can ask each team member to prayerfully answer questions like the ones below. You could do this in at the planning session or through surveys:

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 five, 10, or 20 years from now?
What do we need to do now to prepare for the future?
This can be a great reflection activity for your 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

Carry out your Varsity Scout annual program planning conference


  • Leadership development is one of the ways the Varsity Scouting program helps you to grow.
  • Skill comes from practice: No practice, no skill.
  • Leadership is a set of skills that can be learned.
  • As a Varsity Scout, you are at the stage of your life where you are deciding whether to lead or to let others make your decisions for you.
  • Leadership skills require:
    – Constant practice of the basics.
    – Close observation of good leader role models.
    – A strong desire to take charge of your own life.
  • Sometimes leaders don’t do it right the first time. When that happens, they analyze their mistakes, ask for feedback, and try to get it right the next time

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 your team may be interested in. However, the new Program featuresProgram Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews are much superior.

These guides to troop, team and crew program planning features offer 48 months of program helps rated at three levels: beginner, intermediate, and difficult. Intermediate levels will match the abilities and interests of most youth in Varsity Scouting.

Volume I (pictured here) includes: Camping, Climbing, Rappelling, Communication, Cycling, First Aid, Games, Geocaching, Hiking, Outdoor Ethics, Paddle Sports, Pioneering, and Rifle Shooting.

Volume 2 includes:  Archery, Backpacking, Citizenship, Engineering, Fishing, Fly-Fishing, Fitness & Nutrition, Living History, Mathematics, Mentoring, Music, Orienteering, Scuba Diving, Soccer, Special Needs Awareness, Wilderness Survival, and Wildlife Management.

Volume 3 includes: Caving, Cooking, Duty to God, Emergency Preparedness, Ethics, Financial Management, Multi Media, Nature & Environment, Project COPE, Project Planning, Shotgun Shooting, and Skateboarding.

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 it to the calendar so it will always be up to date and ready to print or share. Use the meeting outline 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

Old Online PDF Team Program Features (Vol 1, Vol 2 and Vol 3)
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 19 in the Varsity Scout Play Book). Use this survey to help get adults involved with your unit even more engaged.

When you are ready to move on, our next session is Executing the Annual Plan.

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