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Scout Planning Meeting - A Lesson For Adults

Last weekend I attended our Boy Scout Troop's Annual Planning Camp Out. This is a meeting that the Scouts run, and they plan out all of the activities, advancements, service projects, and outings that they want to complete in the next year. The meeting was held in a cabin at Three Tree Point and was pretty low tech. The majority of the meeting was done with paper, pens, and Post-It Notes. The amazing (and slightly embarrassing) part is that this meeting, that is run by the kids, accomplished more than most "professional" planning meetings that I have attended in my software career.


The Homeowner's association at Three Tree Point set aside space for the Youth Cabin, and volunteers built the cabin decades ago. Over the years, many, many Scouts have had the opportunity to stay there, and various plaques bear testimony to the many Eagle Scout projects that have helped to improve it. Our plan was to have the meeting over a two day period, and to camp out there at the Point.

We met on a Saturday morning, set up the troop cooking area, and the boys that intended to sleep outside set up their tents. The boys started the meeting by laying out their objectives, rules of conduct, and their agenda:



They then broke down the plan into four parts: Themes, Advancement, Activities, and Service. There were a dozen boys at the meeting and they all wrote their ideas on Post-Its and placed them on the chart.


After that was done, the boys copied the various ideas onto color coded Post-Its and placed them on the various months:


In between the various steps, the boys took breaks to perform some maintenance on the trails that are around the cabin. We like to do something to say "thank you" for the use of the cabin, and trimming and raking are excellent ways for Scouts to work off excess energy. There were also breaks for food, but it was not a catered event like most corporate, off-site meetings. The Scouts cook their own food, do their own dishes, and then clean up. They planned the meals, did the shopping, created a duty roster, and helped each other out if chores needed done. We even made a Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler.


After dinner the Scouts made a camp fire (in the rain - only 1 or 2 matches), played games, sang silly Scout songs, and hung out.


In the morning we made breakfast, packed up the gear, finalized the detailed plans for the next 2 months, cleaned the cabin, and dismissed. We were out of there by 11:30 AM on Sunday. 

The result of our "Off-Site Planning Meeting" was a full year's plan created and approved by the Scouts, and all of the trails around the cabin were cleared. The cost? A few groceries.  As an exercise, imaging trying to do this with a dozen of your peers from your job. How would that work out? The adult leaders did meet with the Scout leaders beforehand, and we passed along some suggestions and tips. Some of the Scout leaders had also attended a youth leadership conference last summer, and they must have been paying attention. During the meeting, the adults offered just a couple of suggestions during the actual planning meeting, and helped and guided the Scouts with the trail clean-up, cooking, etc. Mostly, though, the boys did it. They felt really proud of the plan that they had put together, and the adult leaders felt very proud of them. I am looking forward to another great year.

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