Venturing Program Planning

Your Annual Crew Program Plan = Satisfied Venturers and Families = A Lifelong Love of Scouting!


Dear Committee Chair, Advisor, and President:

Let’s talk about one of the key elements of all successful crews and an indicator of a potentially successful year. Of course that would be the crew’s annual program plan and planning conference.

Research conducted by Eli Lilly in Indianapolis, Indiana, showed that a common element of strong units is they all have a good annual program planned a year in advance that is then shared with all families in the form of a calendar. The important result of a shared annual program calendar is that your crew will attract more families and Venturers will stay involved longer.

Two other key elements of successful units identified in that study were training and having just the right leader to start with.

Here’s how a crew program planning process works. A month or two before the scheduled face-to-face conference, crew Advisor, committee chair, and crew leader meet and perform the following steps.

Preparation Steps

Step 1 — The crew Advisor holds a crew officer briefing immediately after the crew’s annual election and starts the program planning process. The Advisor explains the process, goals, and what each officer needs to do to prepare for the next step.

Step 2 — Gather the following key information.

  1. Key school dates, like holidays and exams
  2. Community event dates, like proms, homecoming, graduations
  3. The chartered organization’s key dates
  4. Personal dates that may affect your crew’s activities, such as the Advisor’s anniversary cruise
  5. Key district and council dates
  6. Data from completed Program Capability Inventory Information sheets (PCI)  from parents and others who might offer resources
  7. Data from Activity Interest Surveys  from each member
  8. Last year’s crew annual plan, if you have one
  9. Crew priorities and goals
  10. Venturers’ advancement records

Step 3 — Following the membership survey, hold the annual crew officers’ seminar, where officers plan the coming year’s program. So you have plenty of uninterrupted time for the process, it is recommended that this be conducted in a retreat setting over a weekend. This could be the most important meeting of the year—do it right!

For support and to add some color to the process, you can use the electronic program planning conference “Guide to the Crew Annual Program Planning Conference.” This narrated, to-the-point presentation takes the crew step by step through the planning process. The result is an annual calendar and plan that all parties agree upon—and a very satisfying process.

The Crew Annual Program Planning Conference

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what keeps Venturers in the program. They like to have fun, do really cool, challenging stuff, go places, and learn things, even though they might not want to admit it. That is what we program, and it doesn’t just happen by chance; it takes planning and preparation. It starts with your meeting to gather ideas.

Start with these ground rules for your conference.

  • It is important to respect the views of each other. Listen and don’t interrupt.
  • Keep focused on your task, which is to plan your annual program. Don’t get sidetracked.
  • Write out your ideas so everyone can see them.
  • Be in agreement.

Step 1 — Your president and/or Advisor leads a discussion on your crew’s goals for the coming year. Write the goals on a flip chart or eraser board and narrow them down to a final list of goals for the year.

Step 2 — Brainstorm ideas of what the crew might do based on your Activity Interest Surveys. Write them on a flip chart. Remember, don’t critique the ideas while brainstorming.

Step 3 — Evaluate the ideas you have developed to see if they match your Program Capability Inventory. Do you have the resources needed for each idea? Vote on your chosen programs.

Step 4 — Expand your basic program by adding support programs and activities leading toward your big activities or activity.

Step 5 — Draft your plan and calendar, including big activities, meetings, support activities, and key dates that apply. Officers approve the final calendar. Assign activity managers.

Step 6 — Distribute the annual plan and calendar to the Venturers, their families, and the chartered organization representative.

Take good notes throughout the process. After each activity, do a critique/debriefing on what went well, what didn’t go well, and what you can do differently next time. After each step, put the notes in your crew history file. These updates will help during your next planning cycle.

Your plan will be a living, breathing document. For it to have real value, you must follow it, share it with everyone, and review it regularly to see if modifications have to be made. Good luck on another great year and don’t forget: Share your plan and calendar with every Venturing family!


These tools will make it easier to create newsletters, revise calendars, keep youth members and families informed, and help youth members manage the crew more effectively and efficiently.

Activity Interest Survey 
Use this survey to help develop the crew’s anual program plan of activities.

Activity Planner Sheet 
This tool comes in handy for planning a well-organized activity.

Boys’ Life Resources
Boys’ Life produces a number of useful resources such as a planning calendar, planning charts, and other program helps.

Crew Calendar Template  (2013 – 2014)
Crew Calendar Template  (2014 – 2015)
This template allows you to fill in dates and events important to your unit and the annual program plan. It can be saved, revised as needed, and printed or emailed, making it easy to update and share. When you first know about an addition or change to crew activities, add that to the calendar so it will always be up to date and ready to print or share.

Crew Budget Planning
These fillable electronic forms help make crew budgeting straightforward.
Planning Your Crew’s Annual Program Budget 
Crew Operating Budget Worksheet, available in PDF  and Excel  formats.
Guides to Unit Money-Earning Projects 

Program Capability Inventory 
Use this resource to help get more adult volunteers involved with your unit, and to get those who are already involved even more engaged.

Venturing Crew Annual Program Planning Conference
Use this PowerPoint presentation to help guide your crew through its annual program planning conference.