In November, I wrote a blog article about the new Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews and it got me to thinking about Eagle Mountain Crew 1625, that was started in the last few weeks. It is sponsored by the Porter Rockwell Charter High School and they have a very active group of teens; about 15 of them.
About six weeks ago, along with other Porter Rockwell District Scouters, I met with their charter school board and principal. It didn’t take much to get them on board with the idea of sponsoring a crew. Two weeks later I attended their first planning meeting where they also elected officers.
We showed them three activities from the new Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews and they were underway big time. In less than an hour they had moved from a few disconnected teens into a group, alive with ideas for future programs.
Two weeks later, I was at their business meeting where they knocked out the final details for a service project helping the Eagle Mountain Fire Depart with their “Santa on a Fire Truck” candy distribution tradition. They also planned a winter sledding activity.
Let’s talk about one of the key elements of all successful crews and an indicator of a potentially successful year. Of course that would be the crew’s annual program plan and planning conference.
Research conducted by Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana, showed that a common element of strong units is they all have a good annual program planned a year in advance that is then shared with all families in the form of a calendar. The important result of a shared annual program calendar is that your crew will attract more families and Venturers will stay involved longer.
Two other key elements of successful units identified in that study were training and having just the right leader to start with.
Here’s how a crew program planning process works. A month or two before the scheduled face-to-face conference, crew Advisor, committee chair, and crew leader meet and perform the following steps.
Step 1 — The crew Adviser holds a crew officer briefing immediately after the crew’s annual election and starts the program planning process. The Adviser explains the process, goals, and what each officer needs to do to prepare for the next step.
- Key school dates, like holidays and exams
- Community event dates, like proms, homecoming, graduations
- The chartered organization’s key dates
- Personal dates that may affect your crew’s activities, such as the Adviser’s anniversary cruise
- Key district and council dates
- Data from completed Program Capability Inventory Information sheets (PCI) from parents and others who might offer resources
- Data from Activity Interest Surveys from each member
- Last year’s crew annual plan, if you have one
- Crew priorities and goals
- Venturers’ advancement records
Step 3 — Following the membership survey, hold the annual crew officers’ seminar, where officers plan the coming year’s program. So you have plenty of uninterrupted time for the process, it is recommended that this be conducted in a retreat setting over a weekend. This could be the most important meeting of the year—do it right!
For support and to add some color to the process, you can use the electronic program planning conference “Guide to the Crew Annual Program Planning Conference.” This narrated, to-the-point presentation takes the crew step by step through the planning process. The result is an annual calendar and plan that all parties agree upon—and a very satisfying process.
The Crew Annual Program Planning Conference
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what keeps Venturers 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 program, and it doesn’t just happen by chance; it takes planning and preparation. It starts with your meeting to gather ideas.
Start with these ground rules for your conference.
- It is important to respect the views of each other. Listen and don’t interrupt.
- Keep focused on your task, which is to plan your annual program. Don’t get sidetracked.
- Write out your ideas so everyone can see them.
- Be in agreement.
Step 1 — Your president and/or Advisor leads a discussion on your crew’s goals for the coming year. Write the goals on a flip chart or eraser board and narrow them down to a final list of goals for the year.
Step 3 — Evaluate the ideas you have developed to see if they match your Program Capability Inventory. Do you have the resources needed for each idea? Vote on your chosen programs.
Step 4 — Expand your basic program by adding support programs and activities leading toward your big activities or activity.
Step 5 — Draft your plan and calendar, including big activities, meetings, support activities, and key dates that apply. Officers approve the final calendar. Assign activity managers.
Step 6 — Distribute the annual plan and calendar to the Venturers, their families, and the chartered organization representative.
Take good notes throughout the process. After each activity, do a critique/debriefing on what went well, what didn’t go well, and what you can do differently next time. After each step, put the notes in your crew history file. These updates will help during your next planning cycle.
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: Share your plan and calendar with every Venturing family!
These tools will make it easier to create newsletters, revise calendars, keep youth members and families informed, and help youth members manage the crew more effectively and efficiently.
Activity Interest Survey
Use this survey to help develop the crew’s anual program plan of activities.
Activity Planner Sheet
This tool comes in handy for planning a well-organized activity.
Boys’ Life Resources
Boys’ Life produces a number of useful resources such as a planning calendar, planning charts, and other program helps.
Crew Calendar Template (2013 – 2014)
Crew Calendar Template (2014 – 2015)
This template allows you to fill in dates and events important to your unit and the annual program plan. It can be saved, revised as needed, and printed or emailed, making it easy to update and share. When you first know about an addition or change to crew activities, add that to the calendar so it will always be up to date and ready to print or share.
Crew Budget Planning
These fillable electronic forms help make crew budgeting straightforward.
Planning Your Crew’s Annual Program Budget
Crew Operating Budget Worksheet, available in PDF and Excel formats.
Guides to Unit Money-Earning Projects
Program Capability Inventory
Use this resource to help get more adult volunteers involved with your unit, and to get those who are already involved even more engaged.
Venturing Crew Annual Program Planning Conference
Use this PowerPoint presentation to help guide your crew through its annual program planning conference.
Author: Boy Scouts of America | Venturing Website