By Darryl Alder
Jul 14, 2016

Varsity Vision Part 7 — Planning Team Events

This is part seven 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

Planning Team Events

The purpose of this session is to help team leaders understand planning for an event, but the main objective is to build leadership skills for youth leaders as they plan and run those events.

Main Ideas

The balance of responsibility shifts here from adult advisors who have coached, to the team’s youth members. The youth should be responsible for the planning and execution of the team’s activities. Depending on the team’s size,  squad meetings expand that leadership practice by allowing multiple youth to serve on planning committees for each event.

How It’s Done

Varsity Team FeatureIn a team meeting once a quarter, and briefly once a month, all youth program managers and adult program advisors meet to consider the future activities from the team’s Annual Plan. They examine the chosen theme in Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews to find elements of the meeting they should prepare for and explore how their field of emphasis can be part of every meeting, activity, or event. The idea is to give every member of the team part of the activity; an assignment for every Varsity Scout.

The team committee, captain and other youth and adult staff members provide information on available equipment and geographical resources. Adult leaders may suggest ideas from which the participant program managers might choose, but adults always extend discussion to the youth and defer to the leadership of the quorum president.

If the team is large, representatives from each squad meet in program management groups with an adult program advisor. If the team is smaller, just the program advisor and youth program manager meet, but this must be in a setting that does not violate youth protection rules of no one-on-one contact. In either case the team’s program manager and the adult program advisor begin a discussion about part they can take in upcoming events over the next three months, with very detailed consideration for the coming month.

Using the Varsity Scout Team Activity Planning Worksheet may be helpful:varsity-scout-team-activity-planning-worksheet

The goal is a fairly detailed plan of each future activity and event with assignments for youth who will take responsibility for leading each activity. Plans must be clear enough for the program managers in a large team to take back with them to their squad meetings, so that squad members understand what part they will play in the program. The more each Varsity Scout can be involved in planning the better.

In large teams, the program managers return to their squads with information about needed plans for their involvement in the five fields of emphasis activities. The squad receives information reports from each program manager and from the captain. The squad then makes its plans and preparations for taking part in the activities. This may also include the program manager giving instruction to the squad as necessary for participation by squad members.

Preparing the Plan

Big plans can require lots of steps or parts to get the job done. Planning helps you make sure you haven’t forgotten anything and that everything is completed in an efficient way.

A simple but very effective planning tool is the What/ How/ When/ Who Planning Tool from National Youth Leader Training (NYLT/Timberline in our Council). planning-tool-worksheetLet’s run through a scenario to see how it works:

Your team leaders decide to do Operation On Target with the September cluster (AZ, CA, NM) which means an outpost camp in Southern Utah in mid-September. There are many parts to this activity, but one of your goals could be enjoying a terrific outpost camp meal cooked over backpacking stoves on your team’s peak.

Ask: “What steps do we need to complete to be prepared for the meal?” Expect answers like,

“Ask everybody what they want to eat,”
“Look in my Boy Scout Handbook,”
“Figure out the menu,”
“Go to the store.”

Choose a task that is likely to happen earlier than half the tasks, for example, “Figure out the menu,” and write that response in the WHAT column.

Ask: “How do you do this?” Choose a method that most participants can relate to like

  • Talk to squad or team members about what they want.
  • Select dishes to prepare.
  • Find the recipes.
  • List the ingredients.
  • Determine ingredient amounts.

Ask: “WHEN do you need to figure out the menu?” On the Planning Tool Work Sheet, record at least one “before” item and one “after” item in the WHEN column. Some examples:

  • “After we know where we’re camping.”
  • “Before we go to the grocery store.”

Now that we have the columns filled out, how much time will the task require? Help participants determine a reasonable amount of time for the task.

Explain that once you have figured out HOW to do something and WHEN to do it, we can go back to the WHAT column and add whatever is missing.

There’s one more slot in the Planning Tool Work Sheet, and that’s deciding WHO will be responsible for each of the steps in our plan. Some responsibilities are big ones—‘The Big R,’—and some aren’t so important— ‘the little r.’ Once your name is written down in the WHO column, though, the responsibility is yours.” To review, ask the team what they think is the value in making a plan.

Help team members use this tool to plan every team activity. Help them see the idea that planning increases the chance that you will get to the desired outcome or goal and ask “If we didn’t plan, what might go wrong?”

The Start, Stop, Continue Evaluation Tool

The backside of this worksheet has another planning tool. One that you use after the activity:preparing-your-plans-worksheet

Let’s look at the three parts of Start, Stop, Continue:

Start—“What should we be doing that will make things better?”
Stop—“What should we stop doing because it isn’t helping?”
Continue—“What is our strength and is working well that we want to continue doing?”

The Start, Stop, Continue tool is used to provide constructive ways to improve. It is two positives with a negative sandwiched in between.

A poster that contains the three sentences above will help your Varsity Scouts keep these in mind when reflecting on an activity. Each time you use it, elicit responses from as many team members as possible. Encourage comments that specify what to start, what to stop, and what to continue. As your team develops the habit of reflection, ask: “Where else could we use Start, Stop, Continue—school, Scouting, home, work, etc.”


Planning is a means of efficiently reaching goals.
Goals are the steps leading toward fulfilling a vision.
Vision is what future success looks like.
To accomplish goals, you must have good planning.

The What, How, When, Who Planning Tool organizes reaching a goal into four parts:

  • What has to be done?
  • How to do it?
  • When to do it?
  • Who will do it

Start, Stop, Continue is a tool for testing the effectiveness of your plans. It can be used whenever evaluation is appropriate.

Tools for planning work only if you use them. The success of team efforts will be determined largely by the effectiveness of the planning that takes place ahead of time.


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