By Maria Milligan
Jan 16, 2015

Making the Most out of the New Program Features: Part 3

Once you have planned the annual conference (Part 1) and successfully held it (Part 2), you need to make sure your plan is carried out. This post will go over creating the calendar after your conference and making it useful. This includes using monthly planning as a time to check on your progress, remind everyone of the annual plan, and plan specific activities.

I love the new program features because they focus on experiences and adventures. You can use them to plan months of activities that build toward a goal while being geared toward the needs and interests of your Scouts. Be sure to check out our tips on implementing these new features in your LDS troop, team, or crew.

After the Planning Conference

Prepare the calendar in an easy-to-use format for distribution. Here are some features to consider.

  • Include as much detail as possible, including meeting start and end times.
  • Indicate when regular meetings won’t be held or will be held at different times.
  • Color-code events for easy reference. For example, you might use blue for unit meetings and outings, green for meetings that don’t affect all members (such as patrol leaders; council, unit committee, boards of review), red for special notices (such as meeting cancellations), and black for external events (such as national Scout jamborees, roundtables, and training courses).
  • Add a revision date at the bottom of every page. If the calendar must be updated later, change the revision date and highlight the changes.

Distribute copies of the final plan to youth members and their families, adult leaders, members of the unit committee, and representatives of the chartered organization. Be sure to include Cub Scout pack leaders, the unit commissioner and district executive, and the chartered organization’s leader, secretary, and facilities manager. Also be sure to post the calendar on the unit website and at the meeting place.

Monthly Program Planning

No matter how comprehensive and well planned your calendar is, it’s simply a skeleton on which to build your program. Short-term planning puts flesh on the bones. Each month, the patrol leaders’ council or crew officers plan in detail the coming month’s outing and meetings. If the group is on the ball, it actually looks at three months of programming each time.2683-07-07.mv5

  • Briefly review the month that’s just ending using the “start, stop, continue” model.
  • Plan in detail everything the unit will do in the month that is just beginning (or will soon begin).
  • Briefly preview the following month and make assignments for tasks like reserving campsites.

As with the annual plan, be sure to communicate the results of each monthly planning meeting with all members, leaders, and other stakeholders—especially if changes are made to the annual plan.

How to Use the Program Features

Each program feature in this book provides a month’s worth of program ideas for Boy Scout troops, Varsity Scout teams, and Venturing crews. You will find the following content:

  • General information about the topic
  • Related advancement requirements and awards
  • Games related to the topic (or that are just for fun)
  • Ideas for using the EDGE method (Explain, Demonstrate, Guide, Enable) to teach topics
  • Four weeks’ worth of meeting plans
  • Outlines of three main events (outings) that build in length and intensity
  • Print and online resources related to the topic, including a list of related program features

You will find these icons in each program feature:

Green circle


Essential: Basic skills-development information and beginner-level activities

Blue square


Challenging: Skills-development information and activities for those who have moved beyond the basics.

Black diamond


Advanced: Learning topics and activities for those who are ready for the ultimate challenge

A Note to Venturers

For the purpose of earning the Discovery and Pathfinder awards, the main event examples from each module can be considered as follows:

Essential (Tier I): Beginner level activities requiring little preparation or planning; events often last less than a full day (not overnight); activities are not far beyond the comfort zone of most participants.

Challenging (Tier II): Midlevel activities requiring some planning or preparation; events last less than four days; some prior skills development may be desirable or required; activities extend beyond the standard range for most participants.

Advanced (Tier III): Higher level activities requiring extensive preparation; events last at least four days; activities are mentally and physically challenging, requiring skills development prior to participation; such adventures are highlights of the program year and may take place once or twice annually.

See also the Boys’ Life Troop Program Planning Chart

See more of this introduction in Part 1 and Part 2.

Stay tuned! Next week we’ll go over specific program features and how you can use them in your troop, team, or crew.

Program features
Author: Utah National Parks Council | Information from the introduction to the new Program Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews: A Guide to Program Planning


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