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Troop program planning: how do you do it?

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Amen to the elephant Twocubdad. There are times I swear somebody is reassembling the elephant just when I think I am making progress. As new boys come in and older boys have gaps between leadership positions it becomes one giant step back. I keep hoping the older ones will hang on a bit longer, but after 16 or Eagle they become ghost scouts. They want to do the camps and not much else.


My "senior" leadership is usually 9th grade or younger. The cause-and-effect thought process is not ingrained in this age group. It is a constant battle for planning and training.

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This year we're doing a planning camp out, which I think is a good idea. Last year our planning meeting was squeezed into two hours and that really was nowhere near enough time. What ended up happening is the SM pretty much told the guys what they ought to do. I'm sure he realized it, and actually we had a really good year in terms of program this year - but it would have been nice to give more ownership to the guys.


One thing that's come up in conversation with my son about this topic is that a lot of the scouts don't really know what is available locally, except for things they've already done. Given that, how do you help your guys develop/explore new ideas? Now that my son has been in the troop for 2+ years he says he wants to see the troop do some "different" things, but he isn't sure what that means. I've got some thoughts myself but I hesitate to insert my thoughts too far into the process.



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We institued a new meeting feature at the request of the senior scouts. First a little background


65 scouts of which troop meetings average 35 to 40 scouts, mostly junior scouts. I have 2 patrols of crossovers (14 boys) and 2 patrols of last years crossovers (16)


The senior scouts have been griping about "camping with the little kids" and "been there, done that" so I called their bluff.


We meet on Wed. nights, so, the first Wednesday of every month the senior scouts get a room to themselves to plan their own high adventure / extra curricular activity. Scouts must be 14 and 1st class to participate. They have their session during skills sessions and then during the patrol sessions, an ASM or I meet with them and "review" what they have been discussing and provide guidance as needed or asked.


All participants must bring ideas to the table, develop, plan and execute their plans. Some ideas so far have been a 21 mile two night trip on the Applachian Trail, a trip to a TV and radio station, a guest speaker on finding a job and interview skills, a guest speaker on obtaining a drivers license, and a summer camp week at ranger school in Georgia for summer 2008 .


There are several upsides to this

1. It is a carrot for the younger scouts

2. Senior scouts have 100% ownership of their program in which they will sink or swim on their own accord.

3. I am seeing more older scouts at meetings.


Time will tell.....




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"..I hesitate to insert my thoughts too far into the process."


I don't think there is anything wrong with coming up with suggestions for outings. Most boys will not have had the depth of outdoor experiences as active adult leaders. We just need to remember, and keep reminding new parents.. who makes the decisions with respect to activities.







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