Posts Tagged ‘Program’

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?

The Boy Scouts of Melrose Troop 68 have had an interesting and fun time during their troop meetings in May. The theme was cooking, and a special guest paid them a visit during the last meeting of the month.

The Scouts experienced new ways to prepare food during May. The guys kept busy during the first meeting trying to cook a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and hash browns in a paper bag, and then trying to cook an omelet in a plastic bag placed in boiling water. During the second meeting they made tin foil dinners using carrots, potatoes, hamburger, and chicken patties. Deserts were the subject of the third meeting as the Scouts made apple cobbler and fritters.

Lance Stueve, race car driver at the local I-94 Raceway, brought his car to the troop’s May 21st meeting. As the boys stood around his race car Mr. Stueve discussed what it is like to be a racer, the fuel used, and the car itself. The Scouts were then given the opportunity to sit behind the wheel for a photo. The visit ended with each of the boys receiving a photograph and wrist band from Mr. Stueve and his son.

The troop would like to thank Lance Stueve for taking the time to visit with the Scouts. A video of the visit can be seen on YouTube and the troop’s website at

Over ten thousand Boy Scouts and leaders gathered at Camp Ripley in central Minnesota for this year’s Ripley Rendezvous. I will be writing a blog entry about this event later, but in the meantime you can check out this article found in a local paper: St. Cloud Times.

(Sorry, but the Times does not archive its articles for very long.)

I recently received an email from a troop Scout leader asking for help in a few areas in which they are having some difficulties in their troop. Two of the questions were about troop meetings and having a boy planned program. As I wrote my reply, it occurred to me that this might be a good blog entry for other leaders, especially newer adult leaders. So here it is, the letter I wrote in reply to this Scout leaders questions.

Okay, first of all, I am no expert, but I do have quite a few years of experience (over 25 years as scoutmaster.) I can tell you what works or not in our troop, but that may not be the case in yours. That being said….

Melrose is a community of 3300 people. Troop membership has varied over the years. We peaked at 41 boys a decade ago but membership has been in a decline since then. We are currently down to ten boys, nine active. Part of this is due to the Cub Pack having a rough 5-6 years, barely surviving at times. Of course, most of the boys graduated from the Cub Pack. During the last 5 years I think only 3-4have graduated from Cubbing.

I blame parents for a good portion of this because it appears that many parents do not want to get involved in Scouting anymore. I think many parents are blind to what Scouting can offer their sons. Of course, and I hate to say it, there are many lazy parents also. But I also think some of them do not understand what Scouting is all about.

Our troop meets year round. Many of our boys have been involved in sports over the years. I encourage them to attend the meetings as often as they can. It works pretty well until the parents pull them from Scouting to concentrate on sports instead of Scouting. (I could right a whole column on how I feel about high school sports. Maybe a subject for a future blog entry.)

The troop meets the first three Mondays each month except July (summer camp month) and December (only two troop meetings), from 6:30 to 8:00. Once in awhile we make take a month off, but that does not happen too often. There are too many activities the boys want to do during the year. We begin the meeting with an opening ceremony involving something Scouting and something patriotic. Then we have skill development taught by older Scouts,adult leaders, or special guests, depending on the subject. This is followed by 15 minutes of game time or patrol competition, which is the highlight of the meeting for the boys. After patrol meeting time we end with announcements and a quick closing ceremony.

Just try to keep meetings fun. We try to keep the skill development portion of the meeting hands-on if possible so the boys are actually doing something, instead of just sitting there. Boys like to do something, not sit around like in school. You just need to be sure to bring enough “props” for everyone to work with.

The patrol leader council plans the meetings during their once a month meeting held on the last Monday of the month. They plan the opening, closings, games, and the skill development sessions. They decide who does what and if guests need to be brought in.The PLC also plans the details for the outing each month, and the agenda for courts of honor. Of course, there is always a bit of training involved after each election, but the boys ARE capable of doing the planning, so LET THEM. Just be there to help them out when they run into problems.

Also, the boys are more willing to participate if they planned the program instead of being adult planned. Once a year the troop has a weekend “yearly planning session” in which the boys brainstorm and plan a program schedule for the next twelve months. In is interesting to watch the boys in action, but can be a bit frustrating at times. It would be quicker for the adults to do it, yes, but then it would be the adult’s program and not the boy’s program. It is important for the boys to plan their own program. The adult’s job (troop leaders and committee) is to help the boys carry out that program.

You can see some of my troop’s yearly programs at Okay, this email has gotten long enough. I will write back about more later.


Steve B
Scoutmaster, Troop 68