Planning Resources

Your Annual Unit Program Plan & Annual Planning Conference

One of the key elements of all successful Scouting units and an indicator of a potentially successful year would be the unit’s annual program plan and planning conference. Once or twice a year, all of your unit’s leaders should meet to plan and establish the following year’s calendar. This is the best time to discuss what events worked and didn’t work for your unit, to identify what your goals are for the following year, and to address any upcoming vacancies or new positions that need to be filled. Ideally, this process should be completed in the winter or spring while school is in attendance to make sure that all youth and adult leaders can attend.

Research has shown that a common element of a strong unit is a good annual program planned six months to a year in advance that is then shared with all families in the form of a calendar. By having your activities clearly laid out and planned for the year, your unit attracts more potential families, and Scouts remain in your program longer.

It doesn’t take a veteran Scouter to figure out what keeps Scouts in the program. They like to have fun, do really cool stuff, go places, and learn things (even though they might not want to admit to that last part). That is what we call program, and it doesn’t just happen by chance. It takes planning and preparation, starting with your pack’s planning conference. Once a scout enters the Boy Scout or Venturing programs, this process becomes youth-driven through the patrol leaders’ conference.

Use these ground rules while discussing ideas at your conference, and you can add your own rules, too:

  • It is important to respect the views of each other. Listen and don’t interrupt.
  • Keep focused on your task to plan your annual program. Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Write out your ideas so everyone can see them.
  • Be in agreement when you leave the meeting.
  • Include your district staff in your planning process. They are here to serve you, provide advice, and keep you up to date on upcoming events and activities. To contact your district staff, click here.
  • Check the Council Calendar for upcoming activities and events like Merit Badge Days, youth and adult trainings, day and overnight camping, and more.

Your plan will be a living, breathing document. For it to have real value, you must follow it, share it with everyone, and review it regularly to see if modifications need to be made. Below are tools that you can use in your planning conference at any level of the Scouting program.

Cub Scout Planning Tools

Boy Scout Planning Tools

Venturing Planning Tools

A Note on Budgets

It is vitally important that you review your unit’s budget every year along with your calendar to determine how much your Scouting year will cost. This is also the time to discuss your funding sources for the year, such as unit fundraisers, popcorn, and member dues. Below are resources for planning your unit’s finances.

Cub Scout Budget Worksheet – customizable Excel sheet formulated to generate a working budget for your pack.

Boy Scout Budget Worksheet – customizable Excel sheet formulated to generate a working budget for your troop.

BSA Fiscal Policies – FAQ – answers to our most commonly asked questions about unit finances.

Unit Money Earning Guide and Application – this must be filled out and submitted for all fundraisers conducted by the unit that are not run through the Council.

Popcornwe firmly believe that for Packs, Troops, and Crews, the Council’s annual Popcorn Sale provides the lowest risk and best return on investment to both the Scout and the Unit out of any fundraiser. Your unit/Scouts keep up to 35% of your sales, all unsold product is collected by the Council with no charge to your unit, your scouts can earn cool prizes while learning about salesmanship or working towards a common goal, and you have many resources available to help you run a successful sale (and as a bonus to your families, units that sell Popcorn collect lower annual dues on average than units that do not sell). Click to learn more about our Popcorn Sale and start selling!