The Yearly Planning Session (YPS) is an activity held by the Patrol Leader Council of Troop 68 the first weekend of each August. During this session the PLC, under the supervision of the scoutmaster, will plan the troop’s program for the next twelve months.
Boy Scout Troop 68 has conducted these sessions in different ways over the last twenty six years. Sometimes they are weekend events held at a resort or cabin. Sometimes they are a simple one day event that ends with a movie or game. However we do the session, we always try to mix in a little fun with the work.
The troop usually begins the session with the Scouts rating the troop on how it has done during the past year by filling out a questionnaire. The form covers about twenty-plus areas and gives us a good look at where improvement is needed and where we have been doing well.
The PLC will take several minutes to review the previous year’s program. What went well? What did not? What were the popular outings? Which ones had low participation, and why? Were any activities canceled? If so, what was the reason? Based on these evaluations the junior leaders will set goals for the next year. These goals will be incorporated into the next year’s program.
By this point the guys usually need a break. If we are conducting a weekend session the break may be followed by some leadership training.
Now it is time to brainstorm ideas for monthly themes and activities. Each junior leader will make a list of ideas he thinks should be part of a great program. The patrol leaders include any ideas from the patrol members. All these ideas are then written onto a white board for the whole PLC to see.
This list of dozens of ideas for activities and monthly themes must now be narrowed down to twelve months of program. This will take two or three rounds of voting. During the first round each Scout will vote for twelve activities and themes. Ideas that receive no votes or only one vote are eliminated from the list. During the second round the boys will only vote for eight ideas. If a third round is needed they will vote for six ideas.
Once this list is narrowed done it is time to place the themes and activities into a monthly schedule. Dates are chosen for meetings, activities, fundraisers, service projects, and other events. This new program is then reviewed one last time and tweaked a little if it needs it. The final step is for the senior patrol leader to present the program to the troop committee at their next meeting for their stamp of approval. The committee then calls for a parents meeting to review the program and find chairpeople for each event.
This is a very brief description of the process in Troop 68. It has worked well for us. How does your troop plan its program year? Do you have any other ideas to share?