Posts Tagged ‘Program’

It was a good weekend plan. We would arrive at the campsite Friday night, set up camp, have a relaxing evening, sit around the campfire, and go to bed. After breakfast on Saturday we would work with the younger Boy Scouts on their Tenderfoot Rank, play disc golf, try our luck fishing, go for a pontoon ride, maybe go swimming, and end the day with a campfire. We would take down camp Sunday morning after a quick breakfast and head home for Father’s Day.

The permission slips for the outing were due on Monday, the 21st. Only one Scout, out of ten Scouts, turned in his slip on schedule, but others said they planned to attend. One more turned in his fees on Tuesday, another on Thursday. Food was bought Thursday night for five boys and two adults.

I received a call Friday afternoon in inform me that one Scout was ill and would not attend the outing. I received another call after I got home from work from another boy who told me his mother was ill and that a family function had come up so he would not be going on the campout.  That left only one Scout to go camping Friday night since the other two Scouts planned to join us Saturday morning. After a few phone calls, we decided to change it to a one day event.

Saturday morning arrived. The Boy Scouts were to meet at my house at 8:30 am. Only one arrived on time, and he came alone. His brother was sick that morning and would not be attending. The last Scout arrived 20 minutes late. We were down to only two Scouts and two adults. I was not pleased, but there was nothing I could do about it.

We stuck to our Saturday plan. We worked on advancement. We played disc golf. We went for a pontoon ride around the lake. We caught a few fish. We enjoyed eating some-mores around the campfire. It was an enjoyable day for everyone involved.

Unfortunately, food for four people for four meals had been bought. We do not have any other weekend outings planned until August. The dried good will keep of course, but other foods will have to be used.

As a scoutmaster I was disappointed with the turnout, only two for ten. I realize that I have no control over sickness and family activities, but it is still frustrating. I will get over it though. Summer camp is coming in July and we have a decent group attending that.

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.

Merit Badge AppSo, you are a Boy Scout, or a Boy Scout leader, who has an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Did you know that there are a few apps available just for you in the Apple iTunes App store? Yep, that’s right. There are now apps available for the Scouting geek in us. These apps range in price from $.99 to $9.99. Too bad they are not free.

The Boy Scout Handbook – $9.99 – Here is the complete version of the latest handbook for your favorite gadget.

eBook, Boy Scout Handbook – $2.99 – Here is a copy of the first edition Boy Scout Handbook.

Merit Badges – $.99 – Would you like a copy of the requirements for each of the merit bdages available to you on your iPod? Here is your wish fulfilled.

Guide To Safe Scouting – $2.99 – This one is for all the adult leaders out there that have an iPhone or Ipod Touch.

ScoutTracker – $1.99 – Keep track of one Boy Scout’s requirements as he earns the various Boy Scout Ranks.

Unfortunately, I do not own am iPhone or iPod Touch, yet. I own an iPod Classic. I am waiting for the iPod Touch to come out with a camera. However, that has not stopped me from downloading some apps I wish to put on my iPod Touch. I already downloaded the Merit Badge app and will soon be downloading the Guide To Safe Scouting app. If you have already downloaded and used any of these apps leave a comment here about what you think about them.

The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 recently spent a weekend at Parker Scout Reservation, the Central Minnesota Council’s camp. One of the highlights of the weekend was a tour of the newest building on the site, the Miller Castle.

The castle was built with Cub Scout camps in mind. The building really does give the impression of a medieval castle nestled in the woods. It features a grassy courtyard surrounded by a 15 foot high masonry wall, complete with an outer catwalk. Inside, the medieval theme continues with banners hanging from the walls, chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, and suits of armor placed around the great meeting hall. The meeting hall also contains a small stage that is accessible for interior and exterior programs.

The castle was built for year round use. Unlike some of the camp’s buildings, this one includes heating and air conditioning, insulated walls, and insulated windows. There are separate restrooms facilities for boys and girls, and also separate shower facilities for men and women. The two large bunk rooms can sleep 32 Scouts each. There are separate sleeping quarters for the adults. A large modern kitchen is found off the great meeting hall.

When the Melrose Boy Scouts walked up to the castle’s outer walls I could tell they were impressed. As they entered the courtyard the stood and looked around in awe. When they entered the great meeting hall their imaginations were flowing. “We need to play a game of Dungeons and Dragons in here”, they remarked.

I took a few pictures of the boys touring the Miller Castle which I plan to post to the troop’s website in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can check out the photos at the council’s website found at under Camp Parker.

Last year, during one of our Boy Scout troop meetings, the whole troop ended up in the emergency room of our local hospital. Oh, don’t worry. There were no serious injuries. Our theme for the month was first aid so our committee chairperson set up a tour of the hospital’s emergency room and facilities.

Melrose is a community of 3300 people, but we have a very well staffed hospital. Our emergency room is not as big and chaotic as the one in the television show, or as a big city hospital would be. Our E.R. only has three beds but is fully equipped to handle most emergencies, from heart attacks to car crashes. Luckily for the troop, it was not being used while we were there for our visit.

The nurse was a great tour guide. She was very patient with the Scouts and answered all their questions very professionally. I think there were a couple of times a few of the boys were being grossed out, but you know teenage boys. They like being grossed out.

The nurse began our tour in the entry/garage for the ambulance. Almost immediately, the boys started asking questions. “Has anyone ever died in here?” The nurse told us that sometimes people die on the way to the hospital while being transported by the ambulance, and sometimes they may die in the hospital.

The emergency room was out next stop. The nurse explained the uses for the many pieces of equipment found in the room. The boys were very interested in the “shockers” that are used on some heart attack patients. They were surprised to see the drills and other equipment used to puncture hip and shoulder bones. The various kinds of I.V.’s and fluids also caught their interest.

The nurse lead the troop to the surgery room. Due to the sterile environment needed in there we did not actually get to enter the room, but we were able to look through the door windows into the staff prep room. Once again, the nurse gave a nice but brief summary of the things that happen in the area.

The tour lasted a bit over thirty minutes which was just enough time to give everyone a basic understanding of the E.R. and still have enough time to return to our meeting location (the school gym) and play a game, have a quick patrol meeting, and have our closing.

The troop thanks the staff of the Melrose Centracare Hospital for allowing us to tour their facility.

The first time the Boy Scouts of Troop 68 scheduled a trip to southern Wisconsin to spend a weekend at Eagle Caves we had one young Scout who was very excited about going spelunking. In fact, after a month about hearing him talk about nothing except spelunking we finally had to turn down his excitement a bit because it was getting on everyone’s nerves.

Eagle Caves is a large privately owned cave. Scouts and youth groups can make arrangements to spend the weekend camping in and exploring the cave. Campgrounds, a shower house, and a dining hall are all located on the site. We visited the cave during the winter months so we chose to stay inside the cave, along with a couple dozen other troops.

Due to the seven hour trip from Melrose to Eagle caves we did not arrive until after 11:00 Friday evening. The staff placed us just inside the entrance to the cave. The entrance had a door to keep the cave at a constant year round temperature.

After breakfast in the dining hall Saturday morning, the boys began their spelunking experience. The cave was quite large and they were many nooks, crannies, and tunnels to explore. The main areas of the cave were large and easy to walk through. Other areas, especially the tunnels, could be so small that you would crawl on your belly to get into them. It did not take long for the boys’ clothes to be covered in cave dirt and slim.

Jeff, the father of one of the boys, and I were relaxing in the cave when his son and another Scout ran up to us. They were excited about a tunnel they found and they wanted us to follow them and explore it. Okay, we were game.

The tunnel entrance was small, like crawling on your hands and knees small. The boys charged into the tunnel, leaving Jeff and me to follow. We were starting to have second thoughts but we got down to the floor and followed them. Soon, we were flat on our bellies creeping through the shrinking tunnel. We could hear the squeals of delight ahead of us. The tunnel finally opened into a small area in with Jeff and I could stand at an angle, but the tunnel continued through another small opening.

As we stood there in that tight little area, I had a completely random thought. “What if an earthquake would happen?” I asked Jeff. That was the last straw. We were done. We could back on our bellies and shimmied our way back out of the tunnel.

Jeff and I did not explore anymore tight tunnels that weekend, but the boys had a great time.

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?