Happy New Year! I hope you had a great holiday season and maybe enjoyed a little break from weekly Scouting, or perhaps a change of routine if your troop planned any special activities. You’ll be back at it soon enough, so here are a few things to think about as we head into the new year:
- January means it’s time to get moving on summer camp. Yes, you need to kick your planning into high gear now, so your summer camp experience will come off without a hitch when the time comes. You should already have a camp session reservation (if not, call your council program office ASAP), so the most important thing is to reconfirm and make sure that the required deposits are paid. Know and understand your council’s procedure for signing up Scouts, the deadlines for head count, registrations and payments, and whether advance signups for merit badge sessions are required.
- One of your committee members or an assistant Scoutmaster should be designated as the summer camp coordinator. This leader is the point of contact between the troop and council, provides information to families, and leads the promotion of summer camp to the Scouts. (Keep in mind that the boys themselves are the best vehicle for promotion – especially those who went last year and had a great time!) Begin informing parents now of all the details, and give them links to the council’s summer camp resources on the web, including the leader’s guide (it’s not just for camp leaders).
- The coordinator also works with the treasurer to track fee collection and payments to the council, and with your adult in charge of health and safety to remind families about medical forms and annual checkups.
- Council Friends of Scouting programs are kicking off for the new year, and your troop should schedule a FOS presentation to your families. An ideal time for this is at a quarterly court of honor. Your treasurer should designate a unit FOS coordinator and ask him or her to contact your district executive or district FOS chair to schedule a presenter for your next court of honor. The unit coordinator should assist the presenter by promoting FOS to families, distributing pledge cards and informational pamphlets, and following up with families who did not attend the presentation.
- Most lodges schedule their annual Order of the Arrow youth elections in the first couple months of the year to allow time for call-out prior to the spring conclaves. Your Scoutmaster should schedule your troop’s election with the chapter elections team and compile a ballot of eligible youth with the required qualifications. A list of those Scouts of First Class rank can be provided by the advancement coordinator, and the outdoor/camping coordinator should be able to identify who has met the camping requirement.
- Meet with your Scoutmaster to also discuss whether any of your registered adults should be recommended for nomination to the lodge adult selection committee. If the Scoutmaster isn’t yet an OA member, he or she can be nominated. In addition, one adult can be nominated for every three youth elected in the current year. When considering adults for nomination to OA membership, bear in mind that adults must meet the same camping requirement as youth and are expected to further the aims of the OA by being of service to the lodge and its members. Adult OA membership is not for recognition of service or because it’s somebody’s “turn”. For full particulars, talk to your chapter or lodge adult adviser.
- Webelos Scouts will be crossing over in the next couple months, and your membership coordinator and/or Webelos resource person should be assisting the Scoutmaster by obtaining and furnishing den rosters and information on pack crossover ceremonies. Don’t let those Webelos Scouts slip through the cracks – give them every opportunity to join your troop. Be prepared with information for the parents and answers for their questions and objections.
- February means Scout Sunday and Scout Sabbath. Your chaplain and youth chaplain aide should be promoting these important dates to your Scouts and families. If you are chartered by a religious entity, coordinate with their youth ministry to participate in worship.
This all sounds like a lot to do, but you should have plenty of help with the heavy lifting from your committee members. The chairman’s job is to make sure all the positions are filled and provide them with the support and resources they need to do their jobs effectively.
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