Packs, troops and crews should be meeting to plan their programming for the coming year. The planning process got a jump start in May with the annual Program Kickoff which provided helpful hints for budget planning, scheduling advancement and outings, and suggestions of area events and opportunities to engage our scouts in fun and enriching activities. A number of resources are available on the Bay-Lakes Council website at under the resources tab. It is particularly important to plan meetings, programs and outings for the year by early August, both to help families with their planning and to welcome new members with a robust and exciting plan, one that entices them to join Scouting. Other articles in this issue of The Guide call attention to the fall recruiting process and training scheduled later in the summer, and to the Popcorn Sale kick-off. There is plenty of help available through District and Council leadership and the professional staff. Reach out to unit and district Commissioners – they can connect you with great resources and people to help.

Being prepared is not just a call to action for units and adult leaders! Scouting is a family affair and depends upon the active involvement of families to assure a great Scouting experience for our youth. Parents, encourage unit leaders by asking how you can help with planning, offering your suggestions and expertise. Consider taking on a role within the unit committee or assuming an adult leadership position. There is plenty of training available online at with topics for every role and position. This training is free and open to all. Be prepared for those roles you are considering by taking the training. This is the time of year when packs, troops and crews need to secure leadership in order to be fully ready for fall recruiting, unit meetings and programming.

Did you know that adult training is available at summer camp? The Council plans various training seminars and workshops for selected groups of adults throughout the year. Summer camp affords a setting free of distraction. Some training is built into the program while other opportunities are available upon request. What if your unit is not attending summer camp this year or the dates just didn’t fit into your family calendar? Reach out and let us know of your interest. We can easily connect scouts to camping opportunities and connect them with other units or programs designed for this sort of situation. It is not too late to sign up for a camp session!

Helping our scouts to Be Prepared is also important, and summer provides them with time to work on advancement requirements and Scouting skills. Summer is also a perfect time to tackle Activity Pins and Merit Badges. Many advancement activities can be done within the family, Den or Patrol setting during the summer. Some are particularly well suited to summer weather and the ability to be active outdoors. As parents, you can review advancement requirements and information found in the Scout’s handbook. Helpful hints, materials and instruction is also available online. You should check with your unit leadership, but parents and older scouts can work with your youth and sign off on their advancement. A scout is trustworthy, and we most certainly trust that you will ensure that skills are mastered and lessons learned before signing off on their completion.

Older youth can participate in the annual National Youth Leadership Training program offered as a resident camp and a high adventure pack and paddle program each summer. Units can also provide youth leadership training workshops and summer is an excellent time to organize this training. Materials and a complete training program are available from the BSA.

Summer also affords the time for families to be prepared. In addition to setting aside the funds to participate in Scouting, families should consider investments in equipment and clothing that may be necessary. Scouts are likely to need camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags, packs, boots, rain gear and other items. These can make excellent Birthday or holiday gifts. The Popcorn sale is an excellent way to raise funds for Scouting. Proceeds support unit programming either by providing no-cost activities to the entire unit or by apportioning a share of the proceeds to each scout to use for Scouting fun. Charter renewal will come again in November and December, and planning ahead will help families be prepared for the fees collected at that time. By planning ahead and being prepared, you will be in a much better position to support your Scout and assure a better Scouting experience.

Be Prepared! It sounds so simple, yet it requires thoughtful planning and consideration. As parents and adult leaders, your best efforts to plan ahead and be prepared for Scouting will make your involvement easier and more enjoyable, and will help to deliver the best possible program to your scouts. More importantly, you can model the importance and process of preparation for your scout, a skill that will pay countless benefits as he or she moves through life.

Paul Shrode

Scouting Around is the eighth in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works, and how to get the most out of the experience.