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Ideas for 2005 year program

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Hello, I am the SPL of a boy-led troop in Western Massachusetts, near the Connecticut border. I have served for about 5 months.


The troop was in decline (general chaos) when I was elected because of a lack of leadership. The core group of older boys were now 17, and starting to spend less time in scouting (as expected). The old SPL was replaced by a young egomaniac who wanted the position without the responsibilty. Our troop suffered losses during his short term, not only in membership, but in dignity. I was never sure whether it was better when he was leading us (even though, he led us to do completely stupid things) or when he was ignoring the troop altogether. I was ASPL during his term and I trained the new PLs (some of them first-year scouts) to lead their patrols, in spite of the SPL's stupidity. In the last weeks of the SPL's term he realized the chaos he was causing and stopped showing up most of the time.


I was elected, by a sizable majority, in the next election. My primary goal after stability was leadership development. During the few weeks afterwards, I restored order to prepare for the up-coming Webelos. We recieved one of the largest groups of new boys we've had in a while, and retained all but one. Our reputation in the council is growing and we are now drawing boys from the collasping troops in our area. We have about 30 members, 20 active, and 3 patrols. We camp monthly. I am now confident in our troop's ability to pull almost anything off, and I am planning on putting together a strong program for 2005. I would like your input.

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Well,since you said please... In some ways, I was quite impressed with your post. Definitely a go-getter who wants to see his troop succeed. On the other hand, I detected a certain amount of arrogance in some of your comments (calling your old SPL a young egomaniac who led you to do stupid things, for example). But, I'll write this off to youthful exuberance for now.


The key to building a successful plan is to find out what the boys like to do. What activities/campouts have been successful in the past. What have they heard of other troops doing that sounds cool? What would they like to do, but have never had the chance to do before?


We do this by conducting a survey. The boys rank each activity on a scale of 1-5 in response to two questions "did you enjoy it?" and "would you want to do it again?".


We then survey other interests like backpacking, whitewater, climbing/repelling, horse riding, biking, canoeing, etc. Get the ideas from the boys, and build the program around what they want to do.


Make sure it's seen as "their plan" not "your plan". Whether you are an SPL or the SM, you have to avoid personal ownership of the plan. It needs to belong to the boys. To do this, of course, you need heavy involvement from your PLC.


Best of luck!

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I feared I might sound arrogant when I wrote my post, but the old SPL has himself admitted that he wanted the job only to feel superior. It's a bit hard to condense a situation which had taken several years to happen in one post. This SPL would demand scouts to eat pine needles. Although he was often ignored in these situations, his outbursts of rage afterwards often drove some to obey. I once had a conversation with him where he likened the scout troop to a kingdom and the boys to his army. Perhaps I did exaggerate a bit by saying "stupid egomaniac" etc. so ,but I am still angry that anyone could cause so much trouble for the troop only to make himself feel powerful. Thanks for humbling me.


I laughed when you called me a go-getter, however. I was sort of pushed in to the job as SPL. I was surprised at my election because my opponent (not the old SPL) was campaigning a lot, whereas I was just focusing on keeping things running smoothly until the election. Wow, I've rambled on. All of this stuff really doesn't matter any more, but I thought it might help you understand the situation.


I haven't had the planning meeting yet, but I'm just "doing my homework." The ideas I have so far for campouts are:


-One in-town campout in September

-A canoeing trip

-A deep-sea fishing trip

-A winter tenting or Adirondack shelter

-A cabin winter trip

-Our annual fun and games night

-Running a district camporee

-Going to camporees

-Backpacking, with a possible 50 miler (depending on interest)


I have more ideas, but I'm going to see what the PLC has to offer first.


Outside campouts, I have a few ideas for the yearly program. Most are changes according to things specific to our troop (Patrol formations, Troop equipment etc.) But, I was thinking about trying a month-long patrol competition in September. Each patrol would be awarded points according to performance on campouts and games. Points would also be awarded for scout-like behavior and spirit, points subtracted for un-scoutly behavior. A prize would be awarded at the end of the month. What do you guys think? Has anybody's troop done anything else like this?(This message has been edited by Sirjimmyg)

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First, how about ideas for the 2006 program year!


Your Scoutmaster should be a tremendous aid in this process. There are five basic steps in the annual planning process: 1) Do Your Homework, 2) Get Patrol Input, 3) Conduct the Annual Troop Program Planning Conference, 4) Obtain Troop Committee Support, and last, 5) Distribute Information.


The "Do Your Homework" process should be done primarily by the Scoutmaster. These tasks should include: 1) Gather district, council, school and CO dates for events that will effect the troop; 2) Review resources needed to plan the annual program; 3) Review the advancement status of each Scout; 4) List goals for the troop (advancement, equipment, quality unit, membership growth, etc.); and finally - 5) Review the program features available to the troop.


Only after the homework is done & patrol input gathered should you begin the planning conference. Don't look at it as "where do we want to go" but "what does the troop wish to accomplish and THEN what outings/activities would support those desires.


Good luck!


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To generate ideas for your 2005-2006 program, try a


Troop Brainstorming Session


This is a whole-Troop event, not just the PLC.


The rules for brainstorming are:


1) Quantity Not Quality.

2) No Negative Feedback Allowed.

3) Hitchhiking is Encouraged.


Make sure everybody understands the three rules. Then write down the ideas as they are shouted out so that everyone can see them from where they are seated. Try using a blackboard or a tripod easel that holds a large tablet of newsprint or some other surface on which you can write.


1) Quantity Not Quality: Try to get as many ideas as possible. If you have 20 active members, you should easily be able to generate at least 100 ideas in about 10-20 minutes.


2) No Negative Feedback Allowed: Don't allow the Scouts to start judging each others' ideas. If you get into a period where the class clowns try to outdo each other's stupid ideas, then try to gently bring them back on track by offering some practical ideas of your own and writing those down.


3. Hitchhiking is Encouraged: This is the reason that you don't want to discourage stupid ideas. If someone suggests "Let's go camping on the space station," try hitchhiking with suggestions of your own like "visit local science museum, observatory, planetarium, etc." or "space station theme at next campout, with space-theme Wide Games." See:




After the brainstorming session type out all of the ideas and make a copy for every Scout.


At the next Troop meeting divide into Patrol Corners, and have each Patrol decide on what it thinks are the twelve best ideas (for twelve monthly themes). One method is to have a Patrol discussion, then have each member circle his three favorite activities on his own copy of the 100 idea list. Then prepare a Patrol master list based on these individual votes.


At the next PLC each Patrol Leader represents his Patrol's 12 favorite ideas.



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Thank you. I think I'll be able to use most of your suggestions in your troop. I think I now pretty much know how to run the planning meeting itself, but I was wondering if any of you had some original ideas for program content. I know the PLC will be able to plan a good program; I'd just like some ideas to get the ball rolling.

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Welcome sirjimmyg,


If your looking for specific suggestions for outings, if your troop has not done much backpacking, or would like an introductory trip for younger scouts, check out Mt. Alander in Mt. Washington State Forest in your own backyard. There are campsites about a mile and a half hike away from the parking area with minimal elevation change. It's a very pretty hike, with several stream crossings to make things interesting. At the campsites there are several large rock outcroppings and you can continue on to the summit of Mt. Alander after you set up camp. The view of the Conn. River Valley is spectacular.



Good luck, sounds like your well on your way.



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Patrol Competitions


You can find the "point system" details for our Patrol competitions at:




Basically, we award different colored ribbons at weekly meeting openings and closings, and at monthly campouts.


The categories of colored ribbons are based on the requirements for the National Honor Patrol Award, plus additional categories that reward a Patrol for other traditional Scouting practices, such as best Patrol campsite; quickest silence at "Signs Up;" introducing new songs, skits, and wide games; teaching a skill at a meeting or campout; and so on.


The ribbons are tied to the staff of the Patrol Flag with a colored piece of yarn that indicates the season in which the ribbon was awarded. A colored bead on each piece of yarn indicates the year. This is important because it allows the ribbons from past competitions to remain attached to the Patrol Flags during future competitions.


You mention subtracting points for bad behavior. Don't do that. Since the very beginning, Scouting has always been about what we now call "positive reinforcement." As William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt wrote in 1936 about Patrol competitions:


Experience has definitely shown that it is unwise to include any demerits or penalties in a point contest of this kind. It is agreed that a positive stimulus is much better than a negative threat or punishment.


You can find additional ideas and details at:





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SirJimmyG writes:


I was wondering if any of you had some original ideas for program content. I know the PLC will be able to plan a good program; I'd just like some ideas to get the ball rolling.


The basic idea is to spend the weekly meetings developing skills for the next campout.


108 specific ideas for outdoor winter activities can be found at "Okpik On Line:"




42 Night Games (to train for the world of Night Scouting) at:




84 Wide Games (for older Scouts) at:




For next spring, 75 kite-making plans at:




2,000 other pages of stuff to keep you busy:



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This kinda goes OT, but Kudu, your 1st post in this thread was very informative and is something i intend to bring to our PLC tonight as a suggestion for better troop input. Sirjimmyg, I am an ASPL from a troop in Virginia, its nice to see other scouts on this forum!


- A backpacking trip, i highly reccomend. If you have a good trail or mountain in your area, have your SM look into that.


- Attend at least 2 district camporees in the year.


- A winter freezoree is always a fun challenge. If you have a merit badge counciler for this badge, it is also a good way to work on the wilderness survival merit badge.


- This is a fun kind of campout my troop just started doing. If you have any historic battle fields in your area, check with them to see if they allow camping there. It is a great opportunity to have fun and learn alot about American history.


Well thats my 2 cents worth. I pretty much took some of the things my troop plans and elaborated on them. Good luck as SPL.


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Thanks everybody. Scoutingagain, our troop is of moderate backpacking skill. We have a few of our more senior scouts who did a 50 miler (actually more like 60, due to a certain ASM's map reading error), on the Appalachian Trail last year, but also a lot of first and second year scouts. Your suggestion sounds great though, especially for an earlier in the year trip. I was wondering how I'd go about getting a campsite though, I am trying the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation website; although it shows Mt. Washington State Forest; it doesn't show where I can camp there. If anyone else can help me out, the website is: http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/mwas.htm

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As much as I liked your first post (and your second;)), I liked the third one better. Your humility and common sense shine. Thanks for setting an example that reminds me that I can do better with my posts.


You've already received tons of good advice - go with it. Additionally, you might put together a quick survey that district or council can help you distribute to neighboring Units. Don't reinvent wheels that are sitting just down the road. What do other Troops do? Where do other troops go? You might also make some useful connections so that your smallish group can pair up with another Unit for events.


Take advantage of the specialness of your area. New England abounds with options - winter, mountains, history, the Ocean, nearness to Canada, downhill skiing, history, fishing, fall foliage, the Berkshires, the Whites, the Greens, ice fishing, . . . did I mention history? . . . Salem, Plymouth, Mystic, Boston. You'll run out of paper before you run out of ideas!


Remember what Acco said and that your game should have a purpose, plan fun activities that serve a purpose. And don't forget to give a little back with service projects that aid your community, CO and neighboring units - particularly the Cubs!





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Sirjimmyg, if you click on the "trails" link in the text, it will take you to a map of the park. Put your cursor over the map so an "expand map" box shows up, click on it to make the map larger. It will show you multiple areas in which to camp in, some near the two mountains.


Additionally, you can make reservations on line by clicking the link for reservations.


Just remember to have all your forms/paperwork done for the trip.


EDIT: Not sure about the camping there. While the map shows multiple camping locations, this park doesn't show up as a park to make reservations at. You may need to call the park directly and get information. Maybe they can also send you a map of the park...(This message has been edited by scotiacat)

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