Posts Tagged ‘planning’

The Patrol Leader Council (PLC) is one of the key elements of youth leadership within a Boy Scout troop. The senior patrol leader, assistant senior patrol leader, and patrol leaders use this monthly meeting to plan troop meetings, courts of honor, and the monthly outing. This is one way they practice the leadership skills of communication, planning, and compromising.

Our troop’s PLC meets the fourth Monday of the month, from 6:30 to 8:00 in the evening. They have an agenda which starts with a roll call and agenda approval. Old business is followed by new business which then moves into planning. The planning portion of the meeting, during which plans are made for troop meetings and activities, is usually when things get bogged down. The boys do not seem to enjoy planning things. Of course, as an adult leader, this is when I have to bite my tongue and stay quiet. I could plan the troop meetings in ten minutes instead of the 45 minutes it takes the boys. But if I did that, the boys would not be planning THEIR program. I do not want this to become the scoutmaster’s program.

There are a few guidelines I have put into place though. Troop meeting openings must contain something patriotic and something Scouting. An opening may only be used once per month. The boys must come up with three separate patriotic and three different Scout openings. The same “once per month” also applied to the game and meeting closing. This gives us a fair amount of variety and keeps us from doing the “same ol’ thing” each meeting.

I also encourage the youth leadership to only use one opening, closing, and game from the previous month. This allows us to have five or six different things in each area over a two month period. It makes it a bit more difficult for the PLC, but it works out well in the long term.

The youth leadership takes even longer to plan a troop outing. I encourage them to brainstorm a list of possible activities, then pick the ones they like the best, and finally post them into an agenda. Sometimes this goes smoothly, but other times it is like working with first graders.

Do we always get the work done during the ninety minute patrol leader council meeting? No, not always. If the boys would stay on track they could easily accomplish their goals. They have a tendency to stray from the agenda. Sometimes a look from the scoutmaster to the senior patrol leader is enough to get things back on track. (Sometimes it is the scoutmaster who got them off track in the first place.)

Even though the patrol leader council meeting can appear to be an inefficient way to get things planned, it is a great way to develop youth leadership skills and keep Boy Scouting a program for the boys, planned by the boys. I should know. I have been participating in them for nearly thirty years.

The post I wrote a week ago about how our troop plans its yearly program seems to have created a little buzz with some of you. I have received a few comments and emails asking about the form we use to rate our troop. So, being the swell guy that I am, I created a pdf file to share with those of you who are interested in seeing this. Keep in mind that this is a troop form, not something that was created by the national office. It has come in handy to give the Scouts a guide to looking back and seeing how the program and troop is doing. I have even used it with the parents a few times.

The form can be found here:

I would be interested in hearing what you think of it. You can leave me a comment through this blog or email me at

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?