The latest 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. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

The Road to Adventure Lies Ahead! (Cont.)

May is the time for annual program planning. Our District Roundtables focus on programming hints and resources providing some suggestions for the coming year. Each unit should take time to seek input from their Scouts and families, solicit suggestions for outings and other activities, and build a calendar through Spring 2025. It helps families plan their own calendars around Scouting rather than force them to try to fit Scouting into an already full agenda. It is also very helpful in recruiting new families, providing a glimpse of what they might find in Scouting upon joining. It helps them to determine whether Scouting is right for them, whether it is a good value for their investment of time and money. Perhaps more importantly, it provides a roadmap to adventure, to the fun and excitement that fulfills the promise of Scouting. A few essential steps in planning should be part of your unit’s process.

  1. Set your calendar for meeting dates, times and locations now. Regular, predictable meetings make is so much easier for families to plan. Secure the location of your meetings before summer when it is more difficult to reach people.
  2. Plan advancement programming for each week, each month in order to assure progress in rank. The new Cub Scout program can be implemented as of June 1st and lays out a series of new adventures for every age group. Scouts BSA units can also schedule merit badge and rank advancement activities so Scouts can plan ahead for their own advancement.
  3. Don’t forget some fun along the way! Learning new Scouting skills can certainly be fun, but our Scouts need time with one another to create their own fun, discover new interests, and build relationships with other Scouts. Our youth come to a unit from different schools and neighborhoods and need time to find friendship and build bonds with one another.
  4. At least once a month, an outing or activity should be part of the program. There is wisdom in securing a predictable weekend, for example the second weekend of each month. It helps families to plan! Camping, spending time at an attraction, museum, work setting, service project, or simply gathering for a picnic and games can really enhance a Scouting experience. Selecting activities that engage the whole family is essential for Cub Scouts and helpful for Scouts BSA units.
  5. Check out the Council and District calendars to include some of the exciting programs being planned with you in mind. Consider talking with neighboring units and combining efforts, sharing a cabin in camp, joining together for a weekend or evening program. It is one way to lighten the load on a unit, helps smaller units interact with more Scouts, and can even make possible activities that cannot be accomplished without larger numbers.
  6. Don’t forget the summer! Just because school takes a break, Scouting doesn’t have to. In fact, summer allows for some activities that cannot be done during the school year or when weather is less hospitable.
  7. Finally, don’t forget to plan for recruiting. Set dates and locations for join events. Secure a place in your school open house or welcome activity. Seek out other locations and settings for recruitment, such as an after school program, local community event that focuses on families or youth, faith community summer festival or picnic. Find out if you can tag along at youth sporting events. Partner with other units to host an area-wide recruiting activity. Find ways to be visible, wearing uniforms and pitching in on park clean-ups, marching in parades, providing activities at summer park programs.

The success of the Scouting experience lies in our program of activities and advancement, filled with opportunities of self-discovery, mastery of skills, building life-long friendships. It saddens me whenever I learn that an Arrow of Light Scout elects not to cross over and continue in Scouting. He or she is missing out on what should be a life changing experience, and of course so much fun! At its best, the Scouting experience is an adventure of discovery; learning new skills, finding fun in creating your own fun with friends, discovering the world around you and all that it encompasses, discovering what interests you, what brings you pleasure. As leaders, it is incumbent upon us to chart a course down that road of discovery through planning an adventurous program, seeking the input of those Scouts we serve, even helping them to learn how to chart their own path to adventure. Along the way, it also provides us as leaders with so much satisfaction. It reassures me that our youth will be prepared to take on the challenges of life as they grow and mature, become active and engaged citizens, and will be ready to assume leadership as we pass the torch along.

Thank you once again for entrusting your youth to Scouting and sharing your talent and treasure, and most importantly your time.

Paul Shrode