One of my jobs as a unit commissioner is to keep the leadership of my troops and packs informed about happenings around our council. Most events are pretty well publicized and advertised in newsletters and at Roundtable, but we often get inside information at commissioner meetings that can help our units when it comes to planning their activities.
However, it frequently happens that a pack plans its winter sleepover on the same date as another council event, or a troop camps the same weekend as the required adult leader training course that their new Scoutmaster needs to take. Some plan their meetings on the same night as Roundtable.
Recently, one of my units planned a terrific activity for the same weekend our council held its biennial University of Scouting day of training. This unit does a great job of program planning, and the date for the event was set far in advance – possibly before the council firmed up the date for its day of supplemental training – but the value of attending University of Scouting needs to be balanced against the consequences of changing a planned unit activity.
These conflicts in planning might not affect Scouts directly, but they can affect their overall experience. if a campout prevents an adult leader from receiving training, or the pack plans to do something on their own the same weekend as a big district Cub Scouting event, our boys risk not getting the most out of Scouting.
How do you avoid these planned-in conflicts? There are several considerations.
- Check the council calendar. When holding an annual or periodic planning meeting, compare the events you’re planning in a given month against the council’s calendar. Sometimes you’ll find a district or council event that your unit can participate in. Other times, you’ll find out about activities for adult volunteers – training, for example, or the district volunteer recognition dinner for another. By being aware of council and district events, you can avoid planning conflicting activities.
- Check the school calendar. Most school districts put their calendars out well in advance. Make sure you aren’t planning a campout for Homecoming weekend, or the Saturday of college entrance exam testing. If you have Scouts who also participate in music, drama or sports, check those calendars to see what the impact might be. School, church and extracurriculars are usually higher priority than Scouting, so we must adapt and schedule our events around school commitments.
- Be aware of holidays. Our communities, and therefore our Scouting units, are becoming more diverse in religious and national origin, and we need to be aware of holidays and other events that are important to faiths and nationalities other than our own. For example, if your pack has a lot of boys of Indian origin, you may want to take into consideration celebrations like Diwali or other Hindu festivals.
Proper planning to avoid conflicts with dates that our families place importance on can go a long way to increase attendance at unit activities and help to integrate our families into the Scouting family.