When you have built it… did they come?

As promised in the last post, we are going to wrap up this topic with a few FAQs that I have received relating to recruiting and building the program.  It is fair to say that the last few blog posts have hardly scratched the surface of this subject and that working toward building and maintaining a great Scouting program is on going and lots of work.  The key is that the Scouts own the process and have great support from all of the adults of the unit.  That would include the Committee, Scoutmaster and Assistants, and parents.
So here you go.
Question #1.
What if your unit is just starting out and the Scouts are not mature enough or old enough to take on this level of planning?
Good question, the simple answer is this, train them.  Be a mentor through the process.  Make lots of suggestions but allow the final decisions to be theirs.  Newer Scouts may not be able to articulate what they want and certainly may not have the planning experience of older Scouts, but they do know what they want out of Scouting.  They want adventure, they are looking for a challenge, and even though they won’t admit it, they are looking to learn something.  So training the young Patrol Leaders Council is critical.
Question #2.
What do I do about my unit that wants to do the same old stuff year after year?
This may not be all the problem you see it as.  Remember, this is their program.  If they are happy doing the “same old stuff” and that is what they are planning, then let them do it.
OK… you really didn’t think I would let that one that easy now did you?  Ask yourself this.  Are the Scouts having fun?  Is the unit losing membership?  Is the unit gaining new members?  What are your older Scouts doing?
The first few questions are the easy ones, the last one is important.  If your older Scouts are engaged, having fun and sticking around, then what they are doing is what they want to do.  No matter how boring or unexciting that is to you.  On the other hand, if they are not engaged, not having fun, and not sticking around, then you have a problem and I would suggest a few things.
First.  Get a copy of the Troop Program Resource Books.  Introduce it to your Patrol Leaders Council and allow them to use it in planning.
Second.  Show up at the next planning session with a number of things (places, activities etc) that you think they would be interested in.  Give them to the Senior Patrol Leader and say something like, hey check out this stuff I found, it may in neat to see or do.  Chances are they may work it into the plan.
Finally.  Get some help from folks in your area.  A local climbing outfitter, the local Scuba shop, a rancher near by that may allow the Scouts to come and ride horses or camp on his land.  Bring in guests to the meetings that talk about adventure and Scouting.  Use these resources to light a fire in the Scouts you have.  When they see the endless possibilities that Scouting offers, they may just jump on it and work it all into their plan.
Question #3.
How do you work advancement into the plan?
Advancement is one of the eight methods to achieve the aims of Scouting.  Using the Troop Program Resource books is a great help because it outlines throughout each activity what advancement opportunities are available in the out come of each plan.  That is a great place to start.
I am not a big fan of using meeting time to work on merit badges or rank, but setting some time aside each week is a good idea.
When it comes to the planning part though, here is the suggestion that I make to the PLC.  Make it one of the Troops goals in the plan.  Then come up with a plan, hopefully at the Patrol level to complete the goal.  For example; The goal is that everyone in the Patrol earns at least one rank or merit badge this year.
Don’t get so hung up on advancement that you forget about a great program.  Advancement comes when the Scouts are engaged and having fun.  Participation is what you need to look for.  When they are participating, they will advance.

Ok that will do it for this post.  Thanks for the questions that were emailed to me regarding this subject.
You can email me and ask questions as much as you like.  Send your email to: tbirdironchef@gmail.com

Have a Great Scouting Day!

One comment

  1. We have suggested a rule for the annual planning conference that 1/3 of the outings cannot be repeats from the previous two years. Of course, the leaders (boys) have to agree to that.Last year, we tried a troop meeting where Scouts and adults could pitch and outing (90 second limit) and the troop could vote on whether they would go. It didn't completely work, but it is worth trying again as a way to introduce new ideas for outings.


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