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Was wondeering how many of you stick to the monthly themes. Have been trying to get the PLC to use them, but they just don't seem very interested. They prefer to come up with their own plans and then find a theme to fit it. I want to encourage them to make plans themselves, but it just seems like it would be much easier to follow the themes and program suggestions.


Any ideas on how to move them toward using the themes to make their plans, rather than the other way around?

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Why would you force-fit kids enthusiasm and imagination into an adult-designed box? Sure, it's always easier if the adults just run things with shrink-wrapped materials. But dat's not scouting. Scouting is kids running things with hand-lashed materials.


I've never met any troop anywhere that uses the shrink-wrapped monthly themes for anything other than pulling ideas from as they plan their own thing.

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Perhaps I didn't phrase my question correctly. I am not trying to force feed enthusiasm into an adult-designed box. I am just trying to find the best ways to get our troop organized and help them find ways to better plan their meetings and outings.


Thus, my question is really whether anyone out there uses the themes as they are designed and if they find that to be the best method for planning their year.


Most of the troops I know of do not use them either. However, the largest and most active troop in my area use the themes each month, and even posts a schedule for the year on what is theme related activities are being covered at meetings and camping trips.


Our troop is newly reorganized and the boys have only this past year begun to get with the boy run idea. But, it's a long slow process and I'm just trying to find ways to help them move forward.


So, restating my question - what does your PLC do with monthly themes? Use them, ignore them, pick and choose. What seems to work best for your troop?

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Ours picks a few things from the monthly themes but otherwise goes with their own ideas, which they developed at their annual planning meeting. Each month has a theme (whether original or canned) and these are supposed to be related to the month's campout activities in some way, but implementation has varied.


Actually it seems like we're moving more in this direction right now. One complaint about troop meetings that came from the SPL is that the skill segment of the weekly troop meeting is often poorly planned (or not planned at all and just thrown together last minute) and executed, leading to boredom, lousy teaching, and chaotic meetings. So the PLC recently decided to require whichever boys are doing the skill segments to turn in a written plan to the PLC ahead of time, and it must be clearly related to the monthly theme the boys had already chosen. Hopefully this will improve both the quality of the skill segment and the organizational efforts that are necessary for a well-run meeting. We'll see.




A good old bobwhite too!

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If your PLC uses Troop Program Features when they do their annual Program Planning Conference, they will select 12 monthly themes for the upcoming year, either straight from the book ("shrink-wrapped", I believe it's being called), or tailored to fit the unit, the environment, the resources, District/Council calendars, etc. By definition, they should pick and choose, because there are 36 monthly themes, and only 12 months in a year.


Unlike some on this thread, every unit I've been associated with uses Troop Program Features, even if we modify them to substitute certain interpatrol activities that don't work for us, or replace some skill instruction with upcoming camporee-specific prep events, etc (check the Web; there's lots of unit sites with fillable blank TMPs that make it easy to tailor). However, we very much do consider them a critical part of both annual and monthly program planning. In my opinion, they key to using them is to start with the annual program planning conference, publish the annual calendar, and flesh out the Troop Meeting Plans, based on the theme, at each month's PLC. In my experience, when the PLC realizes that the Troop Program Features constitute a significant portion of their planning task, already completed, they'll be a lot more inclined to embrace them.


Check out the SPL Handbook for a full explanation of how it's supposed to work.



Good luck,




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The boys in our troop have been exposed to monthly theme/troop program features and choose to ignore them. Instead, they seem to opt for last minute planning which results (no big surprise) to unorganized boring meetings. Now, as SM, I've tried many remedies. I stated to the PLC, that if their primary goal is to socialize at meetings, put that down in the meeting plan. If they want to work on skills, put that down in a meeting plan. If they want to do a game for one hour, put that down in a meeting plan. My first goal is to teach them organization, not dictate content. S L O W L Y but surely, we seem to be coming around.


Why on earth they don't choose to take advantage of what is contained in the program features is beyond me.(This message has been edited by acco40)

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Our PLC develops monthly themes during the annual planning process. They use the program helps to assist them in generating ideas, but they do not limit themselves to those ideas. Some themes are consistent from year-to-year, while others tie into activities that are planned. Here is this year's themes:


Jan - Winter Camping

Feb - Community Service/Do a Good Turn

Mar - Cooking

Apr - Camping (great timing to fit with first year program)

May - Water Safety (tied in with canoe trip)

Jun - Summer Camp Prep (enuf said)

Jul - Auto Mechanics (tied in with big custom auto show in town each year)

Aug - Forestry

Sep - Pioneering

Oct - Wilderness Survial (gonna try that shoebox campout idea)

Nov - First Aid (We do this every year)

Dec - Citizenship

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We do use the program features as a starting point each month. The PLC will then tailor the feature to fit what resources and time we have available, and to pick and choose what activities they think they'll have some fun with.


We've been doing a lot of reorganizing this year, and with the program features as a guide, our meetings have been more "filled" than made up on the fly. Before, a lot of our meetings had plans like "rank advancement" with no details as to what was going to be done. One thing I've been emphasizing this year to the PLC is that they really need to provide the detail for what's going to be done at a meeting. It's slowly taking effect, with the emphasis on the slowly :)

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