Ideal Year of Scouting

What keeps youth in the programs of Scouting and Exploring? Studies show, these are the key ingredients to keeping youth engaged:

  • Fun and interactive regular meetings with advancement
  • Informed parents who understand the calendar and the budget
  • High communication

Your unit may already be checking each of these boxes. If so, keep it up! The Ideal Year of Scouting Guide is a tool to help keep that momentum going or get it started. The goal is to have each unit use these tools to help your youth have an Ideal Year of Scouting!



This summer, your unit committee (youth leaders should be involved for Troops, Crews and Posts) should plan out its program for the next year. Going through this process will help you excite your families, retain your Scouts and Explorers and it will help you recruit more leaders.

While this is a simple process, it will probably take 2-or-3 meetings to complete. Here are the basic steps:

  • Membership - How many of your Scouts/Explorers will be returning in the fall and how many more do you expect to pick up at a Sign Up Night, Open House or through other efforts?
  • Volunteers - Who is confirmed and where do you have holes to fill? Leverage existing families and their networks to fill Lion and Tiger Den Leader roles over the summer. They may have an upcoming Lion themselves or have a neighbor, friend, or collegue who would be interested in joining and serving as a leader.
  • Program - Brainstorm a big wish list of all the activities you’d like to do over the next 12-18 months.
  • Calendar – Create a calendar and fill in the items you know will be happening (Camporee, Cub Family Campout, Pinewood Derby, Courts of Honor, Blue & Gold, trips, etc.) Then take your top ideas from the Brainstorming session and fill those items in to finish up your calendar. 
  • Budget - Families want to know how the money for your unit is brought in and spent. Keep them in the loop. Look at the cost of all your activities for the year and other Unit expenses (such as awards, camperships, equipment and registration) and plot them out. Know what it will cost for a youth to have a full year of program in your Unit.
  • Income - How are you going to pay for all of this fun? Most should come from the Popcorn and Camp Card sale. So, start creating excitement for them! Popcorn and Camp Card sales are easy options because they are branded to support Scouting. If your unit wants to do more, just make sure you are following the BSA policies for Unit Fundraising. Those fundraisers will deliver the program that you have planned out!
  • Educate - Let your parents know the plans for the next year. Show them the calendar and the budget. Show them how money raised can help their youth earn their Ideal Year of Scouting. For Cub Scouts, have a “Back to the Pack” kickoff event in early August. Troops/Crews/Posts should plan a fun event, such as, a picnic to bring everyone together and review the plan. These events are a great time to engage new volunteers, plan fall fundraisers and prepare for Sign Up Night.

If you have questions or need help, contact your unit commissioner or District Outdoor Experience Team.