Program Features for the 21st Century

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Program Features 1

Back in 1989, when I was just a few years into my time as an adult Scouter, the BSA came out with what I thought was an amazing resource. Called Woods Wisdom, it combined 36 program features–three full years of monthly troop programming–with a wealth of information on Scoutmaster minutes, games, ceremonies, and more. In one very thick volume, it offered Scoutmasters and youth leaders pretty much all the program content they needed.

Over the years, however, that content became dated. While the BSA eventually split Woods Wisdom into pieces–the three volumes of Troop Program Features plus Troop Program Resources–it didn’t really update the information. New users encountered the same black-and-white, pre-internet, narrowly defined content I did so many years ago.

That has all changed over the past few years with the introduction of Program Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews: A Guide to Program Planning. I was fortunate to be able to help write and edit this massive resource, working alongside veteran Scouter Jim Virgin, who chaired the project.

Like Troop Program Features, the new resource comes in three volumes, but there the similarity ends. Here are a few things that are different:

  • Each volume includes 18 modules, giving you a year and a half of programming.
  • The modules cover a much broader array of activities, spanning six areas: outdoor program, sports, health and safety, citizenship and personal development, STEM, and arts and hobbies.
  • The modules address the needs of Boy Scout troops, Varsity teams, and Venturing crews (in part by incorporating discontinued materials in those other programs)
  • The skills development sections in the troop meeting plans offer ideas at the essential, experienced, and advanced levels, and there are main event (outing) outlines for each level.
  • Each module includes a page showing how to use the elements of the Teaching EDGE along the way.
  • The modules are self contained, eliminating the need to refer to other publications.
  • The modules encourage appropriate uses of technology, such as showing YouTube videos that demonstrate particular skills.
  • The modules are in full color, meaning your PLC members might actually look at them!

All three volumes are now available at ScoutStuff.org. Here are the specific links:

I think you’ll find these books a useful resource as you plan meetings and activities. Feel free to share your stories in the comment section.

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