Starting off the Scouting Year on the right foot can be a challenge but doing so can mean long-term benefits for your program. From the outset, emphasize that your Section’s program will be as youth-led as possible. While it can be tempting for the Scouter team to take on selecting and planning adventures with every intention of gradually giving the youth more say and responsibility for their program, this approach is unlikely to go as well as you might hope.
Before sharing a meeting with your entire Section, organize a meeting just for the Section Leadership Team. Work with these senior youth to plan out the first two or three meetings of the Scouting Year. Encourage and support the Section Leadership Team as it decides on fun and creative ways of welcoming new members to Scouting. Your Section’s Trail Cards can be a helpful resource for the youth as they tackle this planning stage. Suggest games and other activities that will help everyone to get to know each other. Learning each other’s names might seem like an obvious place to start, but it’s all too easy to overlook. Invite the Section Leadership Team to come up with something fun to do that will ensure every smiling face has a name to go with it.
Encourage and support the Section Leadership Team as it decides on fun and creative ways of welcoming new members to Scouting.
Team-building activities can also be a lot of fun and will help to set a collaborative tone for the months ahead. Take the time to review the activities your Section shares; this will help ensure all the youth fully appreciate what they’re discovering about the importance of being a good team.
Setting the expectation that youth determine their own adventures and have an important role in planning adventures right from the outset of the Scouting Year will set the right tone for your program.
It is also a good idea to ensure your Section begins planning both short- and long-term adventures early on in the Scouting Year. This should be as youth-led as possible and appropriate for your Section. Why is youth-led planning so important? It fosters self-confidence, organization and teamwork—in short, it’s a great way to develop well-rounded youth, better prepared for success in the world. Giving youth as much a say as possible over their program will also help build excitement and commitment to Scouting. Setting the expectation that youth determine their own adventures and have an important role in planning adventures right from the outset of the Scouting Year will set the right tone for your program. For youth who are new to your Section, this will form their early impression of what they can (and should!) expect from Scouting: a program of their very own, made up of the adventures they want.
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