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Annual Planning for the Pack

posted May 9, 2010, 1:16 PM by Jacob Moorman   [ updated May 12, 2010, 4:00 AM ]

It's important that every pack have an annual plan.

Want to cut to the chase?  Check out my pack's delivery plans and our calendar for the next year.

Here's what I've learned in the planning process this year:

Why plan?

Every pack should establish an annual plan.
  • Planning will make sure time and funding is used wisely, to maximize opportunities.
  • Planning will identify sources of opportunities, so coordination of funding, staffing and location can occur in advance.
  • Planning spreads major events out across the calendar, so leaders don't get overloaded.
  • Planning keeps parents informed of plans in advance, so they can factor events in to their schedule.
  • Planning ensures there are fun scouting activities occurring throughout the year, which keep scouts excited about the program.
  • Advance planning allows leaders to coordinate their den meeting plans to align with the pack's goals and events.

Planning Cycle

I've found this timeline to be a good rule of thumb -- it has worked for our pack:
  • Monthly: Each monthly Pack Committee meetings can be used to drive part of the planning process.
  • Annually: Once per year in the spring, establish the basics of your annual plan by filling in plans for each month.
  • Ongoing: Leaders should work to finalize the details of activities occurring in the next three months.
  • One month before events, details should be completely finalized.

Communication and Staffing

Our pack plans to do the following in the next year:
  • Once the plan has been approved by pack leadership, give parents a copy of the plan, marked "tentative".
  • Staffing for each plan item should be established as early as possible.  Provide reminders as events approach on the calendar.
  • Every parent should sign up for at least one event that interests them.  This ensures everyone has a stake in the success of the pack, and will reduce the workload of the leaders.
  • Each event should have a leader assigned with coordinating the event, and additional leaders be assigned roles to support the event.  One leader should never need to do everything.
  • Announce the event one month in advance, and again as the event approaches.

Types of activities

When laying out the schedule, I view events as falling in to one of these categories:
  • Outdoors: Ensure your scouts are getting outside often.  Hiking, camping, and environmental service projects.
  • Service: Ensure your scouts are learning responsibility and giving back to the community.
  • Traditions: Repeat the events that define the scouting experience within your pack.
  • Scouting Fun: Provide opportunities to safely try new things and develop basic scouting skills.

Sources of Events

The events on our pack calendar come from a lot of sources:
  • Resources within your pack, which you might identify through the Family Talent Survey.
  • Council and district events, including camporees, jamborees, outdoor activity days for Cub Scouts, and summer camp.
  • Regional and local events, often tied to specific seasons. Your local Chamber of Commerce likely sponsors a few events.  Other community organizations, like the VFW, American Red Cross and farm associations may also sponsor events.
  • Requests from the community, your chartered organization or parents.
  • Proposals or initiatives prepared by scouts.  Some scouts may choose to pursue awards which require the planning of an event, outing or service project; and some of these events will be appropriate for the whole pack.
  • Calendars from prior years are a good source of pack traditions.

Considerations

When building an annual plan, consider:
  • Safety: Is every item on the plan age-appropriate and on track to be conducted safely?
  • Compelling: Is there a good reason for everything in the plan?
  • Time: Does the event work with the rest of the schedule?
  • Spacing: Is the event so close to other events that pack leaders will be overloaded?
  • Scale: Is the event best done by individual dens rather than the whole pack?
  • Legacy: Will the event be memorable for all the right reasons?
  • Reputation: How will the pack be seen within the community?
  • Quality: What quality targets should a pack aim for this year?
  • Special opportunities: Are there any special or new opportunities the whole pack should pursue this year?
  • Retention: Will the plan support retention and growth?
  • Funding: Is this the best use of funding, and is funding available?
  • Advancement and awards: What pack activities will support rank advancement and awards?

Process

This is the process we have used in our planning cycle this year:
  • Kickstart: A couple leaders meet to come up with a straw-man proposal.
  • Review: Present the proposal to the pack leadership for review.
  • Refine: Merge feedback from pack leadership and ensure everything fits in the plan.
  • Approve: Ensure the plan has been approved by pack leadership in its final form.
  • Announce: Ensure all leaders and parents receive a copy of the plan.
  • Execute: Use the plan to guide the events of the pack for the next year.
  • Repeat: Repeat the process in a year, baking-in feedback collected over the prior year to make an even better plan.

Can a plan be changed?

Of course, but make sure the change is necessary.

The plan exists as a guide of what the pack plans to do over the next year.  The plan may be revised as new events are scheduled or as events are cancelled.

Make sure changes are reviewed in the context of the broader plan, e.g. for funding, spread on the calendar, and to determine if other events need to be changed to accommodate this event.  Any changes to the plan should be approved and communicated, so parents and leaders know what to anticipate.

My Pack

Planning cycle

My pack kicked off its planning cycle in April.  The straw-man was built by our Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmaster (me) over the course of a one-hour meeting.  It was sent to leaders by email in advance of the Parent/Leader meeting, reviewed, refined and approved during the Parent/Leader meeting.  It was announced to the pack by posting to the pack website.  We're now starting to execute on the plan.

Funding

Our pack is powered by popcorn.

We use the prior years of popcorn sales numbers to help project our funding for the next year.  Changes to pack size can impact both the manpower to raise funds and the demand on those funds -- make sure everyone in the pack participates in fund raising projects.  Make sure the fund raising projects are approved by the council.

Goals

All of these goals are based around awards.  Award requirements exist to drive packs and leaders to pursue activities which increase the likelihood of providing a successful and enjoyable Cub Scouting program.

General goals

  • Organized: We want to be organized, encourage participation by the whole pack, and do our best to provide a very strong program.
  • Diverse: We want to provide a broad set of opportunities for scouts to try new things in a safe setting.
  • Outdoors: We want all of our scouts to have fun outdoors and learn basic scouting skills.
  • Global: We want to tap in to events occurring nationally related to scouting, citizenship and environmental responsibility.
  • Local: We want to provide a program which taps in to local events and provides our scouts exposure to knowledge of our area.
  • Legacy: We want to be known in our community as a pack who provides service within the community.
  • Documented: We want to publicize the activities of our pack, to show the benefits of scouting and the hard work of our pack.
  • Traditions: We want to carry on our existing traditions, so when a scout joins our pack, they know they will get to do certain things in the next year.
  • Recognition: We want to engage our Tiger Cubs early to ensure they get off on the right foot, and provide exciting and rewarding ceremonies for all of our scouts throughout the year.

Specific targets

  • Packs should provide summertime activities and pursue the National Summertime Pack Award.
  • Packs should pursue the Centennial Quality Award.
  • Packs should be aware of the requirements of the National Den Award and support dens in pursuing this award.
  • Packs should be aware of the requirements of leader training knots and encourage their leaders to pursue these awards.
  • We would like all of our scouts to advance one rank in the next year.
  • We would like all of our scouts to be aware of the 100th Anniversary "Year of Celebration" award, since it can only be earned this year.
  • We've seen that boys who attend summer camp have a great time end up ahead, so we want to encourage everyone to attend summer camp.

Other events

  • Our district has a spring camporee and a district Pinewood Derby each year.
  • Our council has a big event in the fall, Trailblazer's Day in the past, but this year a Scout Fest for the 100th anniversary year.
  • Summer in Maine, though buggy, provides great opportunities for outdoor fun, including summer camp.
  • Local farm associations host agricultural fairs in the fall, and also farm open house events during the summer.
  • Maine is well known for its maple syrup, and has an annual Maine Maple Sunday in March.
  • Winter conditions in Maine support a diverse set of snow activities.  Snow tubing is suitable for almost everyone.  Skiing and snowshoeing are also popular winter pursuits.

Delivery

We plan to deliver the Cub Scouting program to our scouts through a few vehicles:
  • The pack will have a goal for each month, to drive training, uniforming, funding and other organizational aspects of the program.  Rewards for participating in work toward these goals will vary -- some rewards will be for the scout and others will be for the den.
  • The pack will have an event each month open to all scouts.  Participants of each event will receive an activity patch.
  • The Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmaster(s) will provide extra opportunities as part of the pack meetings.  Each opportunity will be tied to a Character Connection.  All of these opportunities promote or complete specific awards, which will help reinforce the Character Connection.
  • Each den will conduct activities each month, including two or three combined den/pack meetings and one Go See It.
  • The pack will make information available about district and council events, and other local events of interest to scouts.

Our annual plan


In the words of George Peppard, "I love it when a plan comes together."
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