Event Chairs Guide to Planning an Event
Registration | Finance | Promotions | Tips
Event Chair Job Description
The event chair’s primary goal is to provide leadership and motivation, enthusiasm and challenge, and friendship and fellowship to every volunteer and participant so they have an opportunity to experience Scouting at its best. Duties include:
- Selecting, recruiting, and training key staff (including providing job descriptions/expectations, staff recognition, and following up to see that jobs are being completed)
- Presiding at staff meetings
- Overseeing the overall event details (e.g., location, date, budget, timeline, theme, program, patches, t-shirts, registration forms/event fliers, promotion, facilities)
- Completing the event diary and post-event evaluation (How did we do? Did we stay within our budget? What went well?, What went wrong? What can we do better and how?, Who might make a good chair for next year?)
- Reporting progress (to the district activities chair, district committee, district executive)
- Writing thank you notes
You will likely lead an event that was conducted the previous year. You can repeat it, or you can change it. All events reflect the creativity and talents of the event chair and volunteers, so think of ways that you can improve things. Remember that Scouting changes, so we need to adapt our programs accordingly.
The event chair is responsible to the district activities chair and district program chair. Get to know them. It is important that you report progress and/or opportunities to them. It is especially critical that you communicate often with the district activities chair whose responsibility it is to see that each district activity meets the guidelines, policies, and objectives of both the Sam Houston Area Council and the district committee. Effective and timely communication will keep everyone aware of progress. It is important that you attend district committee meetings to facilitate district support. The Activities Work Plan is to be submitted to the district committee during the months leading up to the event and the month following the event. If you cannot attend the district committee meetings, then submit the Activities Work Plan to the district activities chair or program chair prior to the meeting.
Activities Work Plan
There are more duties than titles and there are plenty of jobs to go around. You must determine how the responsibly is to be divided and to communicate the job descriptions. Decide what tasks need to be accomplished and make sure every detail is clearly understood. Be mindful of those who guard their turf. Here are some examples of key staff positions and sample job descriptions:
Sample Key Staff Job Descriptions
||organizes overall event details; reserves location (requests liability insurance from SHAC if required by event site); recruits key staff; gives key staff job descriptions; checks on staff frequently to see that agreed upon assignments are being carried out; approves event volunteers recruited by the key staff; schedules and chairs staff meetings; selects a theme; submits the proposed & final budget to the district activities chair (keeps detailed notes of all expenditures); an assistant chair (with the approval of the district activity chair) to “groom” to be your successor; designs a patch; finalizes the registration form; notifies the district health and safety chair about the date of the event; attends district committee meetings (or sends a Work Plan report to the district activities chair) for the months leading up to and the month after the event to update the committee and review event needs; promotes the event; writes thank you notes; provides key staff recognition; keeps detailed notes and updates the event diary to give to the district activities chair; holds an Event Close Out Meeting (ECOM) with the district executive two weeks after the events; ensures safety and that all SHAC and BSA policies are followed
||works closely with the event chair; assists the chair with all tasks; promotes the event; ensures safety and BSA policies
||plans and schedules program activities for the event; recruits volunteers/units (also district commissioners and district committee members) to help run events; knows the Scout advancement program; frequently checks on volunteers to see that agreed upon assignments are being carried out; helps to gather supplies; ensures that all program activities have all needed supplies; works with facilities director on the location of each activity; promotes the event; ensures safety and BSA policy.
||purchases supplies; requests bids and supplies; keeps records of expenses; promotes the event; ensures BSA policy; works very closely with the district executive
||keeps key staff notified of registration numbers; recruits a staff of enthusiastic volunteers to check-in/check-out Scouts; sorts and passes out t-shirts and patches; develops event fliers with the event chair; passes out and collects evaluation forms; provides a lost and found box; keeps a sign-in sheet for volunteers and visitors; ensures that each volunteer gets an event patch; helps the event chair keep documentation for the event diary; collects any onsite payments (should be minimal) with the district executive; provides badges/name tags for key staff; ensures that all attendees have a medical form; provides district executive with a list of all Scouters (and unit number) who attended the event (so registration in BSA can be verified); provides district commissioner with a list of units that attended the event; promotes the event; ensures safety and BSA policy. For day camp, compiles SHAC’s Camping report and provides a copy to the district camping chair and day camp chair
||develops recognition awards for the event; secures door prizes; helps make staff recognition; orders participation ribbons; promotes the event
||plans campfire program; emcees the campfire; signs up dens/patrols for skits; plays up beat music while waiting for campfire/during campfire; conducts ceremonies (e.g., flag retirement, flag folding); builds fire; brings sound/video equipment; promotes the event; ensures safety and policy of BSA
||conducts a nondenominational worship service on Sunday morning; promotes the event
||meets with event site personnel regarding the location of event and site rules; recruits volunteers to help set up and clean up and help during the event; organizes security; organizes parking; hauls equipment; makes and puts up signs for directions and activities; arranges for portable toilet facilities; sets up tents (e.g., registration); keeps ice and water in water coolers; picks up trash; promotes the event; and ensures safety and policy of BSA
||takes pictures/videos of the event and sends them to the district webmaster and district dinner chair and district communications chair
||distributes event fliers; promotes the event at roundtable, Program Preview, trainings, district events, district committee meetings, district commissioner meetings, units meetings; works with the district communications to involve local news agencies to cover the event; submits information to district webmaster and district social media chair.
||collects score forms; calculates scores; determines winners; writes ribbons; provides emcee with a list of winners; promotes the event
||ensures safety; recruits volunteers to help with parking and traffic control; ensures that adequate parking is provided for staff and participants; develops a system for moving cars into and leaving the parking area; makes signs or cone off “no parking” areas; provides instructions for unloading and reloading vehicles with camp equipment; secures parking vests/flashlights for parking staff; promotes the event; ensures policy of BSA
|Health and Safety
||The district health and safety officer should be notified of every district event. It is the district health and safety officer’s responsibility to assign a trained member of the health and safety team to attend every event. The health and safety team is responsible for setting up a well-equipped tent or shelter for first aid; providing all necessary first aid equipment; recording all persons treated in the First Aid Log Book; displaying a large red cross flag for identification; obtaining fire permits (if required) and ensuring that fire safety is maintained; checking the water supply; surveying toilet facilities and arranging for temporary latrines if necessary; ensuring that toilet paper and wash water are at latrines; having a vehicle available for emergencies; and ensuring that safety is maintained.
Make an event diary to pass along to your successor (electronic and hard copy). It’s the tiny details that are most important!!!! Include:
- staff list with name, phone number, and event job descriptions
- evaluations from both staff and participants
- notes or suggestions for next year’s event including things that you found out the hard way (if it happened to you it will happen again!)
- information on how to make site reservations
- detailed timeline
- where to find and purchase supplies
- planning/staff meeting notes
- attendance reports
- program/activity descriptions
- one complete check-in packet including announcements, schedule, name tags, etc.
- copies of fliers (e.g., event flier, map)
- budget (proposed and final budget)
- staff meeting agendas and minutes
||District committee sets the date of the event in cooperation with the district activities chair
||Promote event at district Program Preview during May roundtable
||District activities chair, in cooperation with the district executive, submits event budget to council
||Reserve event location; Recruit key staff
Make key staff assignments and review job descriptions, review timeline, start developing theme/patch design/t-shirt design/registration forms/program ideas
||Staff meetings scheduled
||Event promoted monthly at roundtable, district events, and trainings , and on social media platforms; finalize theme; plan program; recruit volunteers and units to help run activities; request health and safety officer; review draft registration link at www.shac.org/registration and submit corrections at www.shac.org/dk; review district website event page and submit corrections to webmaster or www.shac.org/dk.
||Online registration goes live; submit quartermaster list to the district or division quartermaster; sketch patch/ t-shirt design; submit a request for bid for t-shirts/patches/awards/supplies; order supplies and patches; attend district committee meeting; promote
Arrange facilities (reconfirm location/physical arrangements, water, sanitation, liability insurance if needed for site); hold staff meeting: finalize schedule, map, announcements, handouts, program, volunteer assignments/needs; Secure supplies/donations for event; order trophies/awards/staff recognition/ribbons/t-shirts/ port-a-potties; attend district committee meeting; promote
||Hold volunteer meeting; check on key staff to see that agreed upon assignments are being carried out; secure recognitions/last minute supplies; attend district committee meeting or provide a report to the activities chair; promote; collect pre-registrations
Secure fire permits; meet with the Health & Safety officer, program director and facilities director at the event site to make a map and inspect for safety
||Turn in all requests for photocopying into the district executive (e.g., handouts, maps, schedules, evaluations)
||Pick up patches/t-shirts/awards/supplies; remind key vendors and event location personnel about the event; treat outdoor areas for fire ants; mow
||pick up keys; charge walkie-talkies; set up temporary barriers/fencing
||Pick up ice, put signs on emergency vehicles, walk event site to check for safety hazards, clean restrooms, serve coffee & donuts for set up/registration team, pass out staff i.d. badges; Set up: registration, health and safety canopies, traffic signs, check-in signs, no parking signs, first aid flag, trash cans, recycling center, program events/signs, flag poles, flagging, water coolers and ice, audio systems, tables, chairs, smoking area signs, lost & found box
||Hold “after action” meeting with key staff to reflect, review evaluations and write up suggestions for next year; update the event diary; take lost and found box to roundtable; return district supplies;
||Hold Event Close Out Meeting (ECOM) with district executive and activities chair; Submit all receipts to district executive; submit the following to the activities chair: Completed event diary, first aid log, evaluations from participants and staff, extra patches, extra supplies; send out thank you notes to all staff, volunteers, and donators.
||Provide a report to the district committee on the success of the event and recommendations for next year; display pictures of the event at Roundtable or on the district website; send pictures and a write up to local papers; hand off your expertise
Sample Supply Lists
||arm guards, arrows, backstops, barricade tape, bow strings, bows, quivers, range fencing, range signs, red flags and flagpole, scoring book, stakes, string, table, tarp
||barricade tape, BB guns, canopy, magnets (to keep BB’s from rolling around), mats, range signs, red flags and flagpole, safety glasses, targets, tarps
||baby wipes, baggies, clothespins (to hang up craft projects), craft material, crayons, glue, glue sticks, hammers, hole punch, hot glue guns, markers, paint, paper bags, paper towels, plastic sheeting to cover tables, protective goggles/ eyeglasses , scissors, scotch tape, staplers, staples, string (to hang items up to dry), tables
||broom, canopies, caution tape, cones for parking, disinfectant, duct tape, extension cords, fire extinguishers, gloves, hammer, ice, ice chests, ladder, light generators, parking cones, post setters, Sharpies, shop brooms, signage, squeegees, trash bags, trash cans, vests for parking people, wash stations for latrines, water coolers, water hoses
||canopy, cot, flag (w/ red cross), flagpole , first aid box, insurance form (available from district executive), table
||American flag, awards, batteries (for megaphone or cordless mic), district flag, extension cord, flag poles, fire extinguisher, PA equipment, sound equipment, table, tarp to cover sound equipment (for rain or dew), wood for fire
||air horn, baggies, batteries, blank registration forms, canopy, change, clip board, copies (e.g., medical forms, registration forms, maps, schedule), emergency contact sign, envelopes, extension cord, file box, file folders, fire extinguisher, highlighters, lost & found box, money bag, medical forms, paper clips, patches, pens, poster board, post-it notes, registration packets (containing name tag, schedule, map, evaluation form, information), registration sign, rubber bands, safety pins, scissors, Sharpies, sign-in sheet (for guests, volunteers), staff name tags, stapler, staples, tables, tape (masking, duct, clear packing), timer (to remind when to blow air horn), trash bags, t-shirts, wrist bands, zip ties
Each district event must have a designated staff person in charge of first aid. The district health and safety officer will select a trained person to be in charge of the first aid station. The health and safety team is responsible for setting up an a well-equipped tent or shelter for first aid; providing all necessary first aid equipment; recording all persons treated in the First Aid Log Book; displaying a large red cross flag for identification; obtaining fire permits (if required) and ensuring that fire safety is maintained; checking the water supply; surveying toilet facilities and arranging for temporary latrines if necessary; ensuring that toilet paper and wash water are at latrines; having a vehicle available for emergencies; and ensuring that safety is maintained.
The first aid location should be on the event map and clearly marked with a sign. The first aid station should have its own first aid kit in addition to any first aid kits that units may have. Emergency numbers (e.g., police, fire, area hospitals/clinics) should be posted. Directions to the area hospitals and copies of the SHAC insurance forms should be handy. Medical forms collected by registration should be readily available to the first aid staffers. Consider placing the first aid station next to registration / headquarters.
Before the event, the first aid staff should work with the facilities and program staff and provide input on the location of all activities to ensure that safety requirements are met and should also be involved in developing the backup plan for emergencies. The event/district first aid kit should be checked to make sure that all items are stocked and up to date.
Medication forms are now on the medical form available at www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/ahmr.aspx for scouts who need over-the-count or prescribed medications administered at the event. All medications should be in the original container and administered in the prescribed dosage by the responsible adult as per the written instruction by the parent or guardian.
The event health and safety chair must record each incident and injury no matter how minor in the district bound first aid logbook. Fill each line. Do not skip lines or double space. It is advisable to retain these logs for at least one year after the date of the event. This may be very useful for insurance purposes.
If an accident should occur that requires a trip to the emergency room, the district activities chair and the district executive should be notified as soon as possible.
A key responsibility that all volunteers and professional staff share is providing an effective program that meets the needs of young people and provides the proper health and safety of everyone concerned. It is important that we sustain the safe operation of our programs and promote continuous improvement through organizational learning. Timely and complete incident reports support analysis that is critical to identifying needed improvement of the programs offered by the Boy Scouts of America. Learn more at www.shac.org/erm#report.
Mandatory Report of Child Abuse
All persons involved in Scouting shall report to local authorities any good-faith suspicion or belief that any child is, or has been, physically or sexually abused, physically or emotionally neglected, exposed to any form of violence or threat, exposed to any form of sexual exploitation, including the possession, manufacture, or distribution of child pornography, online solicitation, enticement, or showing of obscene material. You may not abdicate this reporting responsibility to any other person. Learn more at www.shac.org/erm#report-child-abuse.
'Scouts First' Helpline for Abuse and Youth Protection
Scouts First Helpline. As part of the BSA’s “Scouts First” approach to the protection and safety of youth, the BSA has established a dedicated 24-hour helpline at 844-SCOUTS FIRST (844-726-8871) to receive reports of any known or suspected abuse or significant violations of youth protection policies that might put a youth at risk.
24-hour helpline: 844-SCOUTS FIRST (844-726-8871)
All known or suspected abuse and significant youth protection policy infractions must be reported to the Scouts First Helpline after mandatory reporting to law enforcement or child protective services. Learn more at www.shac.org/erm#scoutsfirst.
SHAC General Liability Insurance for Volunteers
Report all serious incidents, accidents, or if a summons is served on a volunteer to SHAC program services at 713-756-3306.
Health and Safety
The council Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan is provided for Scouts and volunteer registered in the council, and covers them for accidents and sickness while participating in any official Scouting activity. Claim forms are available from the district executive. The health and safety officer should have claim forms at each district event. In case of an accident, it is easier to have the form filled out immediately, although it may be filled out after the event one must be filled out for each incident. While planning and executing a district event, health and safety matters should always be a major consideration.
Tools to plan events and campouts
The campout safety checklist provides guidance on safety issues that you may encounter at a Scouting campout. Along with the Guide to Safe Scouting and the tour and activity plan, this tool will help you in having conversations on identifying risks that need to be mitigated or eliminated.
The event safety checklist provides guidance on safety issues that you may encounter at a Scouting event. This is a tool, not a list of mandatory guidelines. The intent of the checklist is to create conversations among event organizers around risks and ways to mitigate or eliminate them.
As an aid in the continuing effort to protect participants in a Scout activity, the BSA National Health and Safety Committee and the Council Services Division of the BSA National Council have developed the "Sweet Sixteen" of BSA safety procedures for physical activity. These 16 points, which embody good judgment and common sense, are applicable to all activities.
Guide to Safe Scouting
All participants in official Scouting activities should become familiar with the Guide to Safe Scouting, applicable program literature or manuals, and be aware of state or local government regulations that supersede Boy Scouts of America practices, policies, and guidelines. The Guide to Safe Scouting is an overview of Scouting policies and procedures gleaned from a variety of sources. For some items, the policy statements are complete. Unit leaders are expected to review the additional reference material cited prior to conducting such activities.
Guide to Safe Scouting
In situations not specifically covered in the Guide to Safe Scouting, activity planners should evaluate the risk or potential risk of harm, and respond with action plans based on common sense, community standards, the Scout motto, and safety policies and practices commonly prescribed for the activity by experienced providers and practitioners.
The BSA’s Commitment to Safety BSA Scouter Code of Conduct Preface
Top of Section
The event chair has the opportunity to bring together the brightest and best volunteers in the district to help plan and run an event that promotes the mission of Scouting and is fun for the Scouts, volunteers, parents, and siblings. Key staff identification and determining their duties will be an early consideration. But remember BEFORE you recruit key staff you need the approval of the district activities chair and district executive.
Before recruiting begins you should define all the key staff roles and responsibilities. It is important to give each key staff member a detailed job description. You can begin by asking the event’s previous chair and/or district leaders who they would recommend to be key staff members. Identify those volunteers you know have proven track records, but don’t forget to latch onto the hidden talents of that brand new enthusiastic leader. Watch for potential staff at roundtable, district events, district training sessions, and unit meetings. A good slogan is to hire for attitude and train for skills! Try to evaluate their skills, interests, experiences, and expectations before making job appointments. Choose a staff structure that matches your style of leadership. Look for people who get things done; are successful in their other volunteer positions, life, and work; can recruit others; know their resources; have influence with others; are well liked and respected; and have good character. Take a course on generations offered at University of Scouting or College of Commissioner Science to understand the traits of those who are being recruited.
Refrain from recruiting volunteers over the phone, particularly people you do not know or do not know well. Meet with them face to face. There are many parents out there who would enjoy helping if personally invited. Work with the district activities chair to identify and select an assistant chair to learn your position and ideally serve as the event chair for next year’s event. Ideally, districts use this approach to train and develop talent. They will recruit an assistant chair the first year with the hopes they will be the event chair the second year (or longer), and an advisor to the event chair their last year. The key staff will likely be people with more than one year of experience in their area. They, in turn, will help you recruit their staff. Make sure they know to consult with you before adding someone as part of their staff.
When recruiting, remember to diversify. It is also important that 1/3 of the staff are very experienced staffers, 1/3 are medium experienced staffers, and 1/3 brand new staffers. This ratio ensures the on-going annual success of the event. Make every effort to identify specific jobs and then fill all staff positions. Every job is easier when more people pitch in. This ensures proper staffing ratios and shares the burden with many so that the work is easier. Additionally, back up or reserve staff members help relieve the burden of drop out staff members. Dropouts will happen – have a backup plan for each position, including yours.
Recruit staff from every unit in the district. Staff recruited from different units will promote the event across the district and help identify additional talent. Do not underestimate the power of diversity – everyone has something they can share. Other diversity considerations include having both men and women on staff and different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
At the Cub Scout level remember that the parents of 5th grade Webelos Scouts will likely be moving on with their Scouts as they progress to troops. Likewise, parents of Lions and Tigers will be learning the ropes. Try to identify enthusiastic parents of Wolf and Bear Scouts as they have two to four years to develop as event staff. Invite troops to help run district events. Many Scoutmasters will let Scouts earn service hours at Cub Scout events. Make sure to have the sign-in at registration so you can report to the Scoutmasters how many hours they worked. Also, give each volunteer an event patch.
Get people willing involved. If someone volunteers but does not state the desired position, avoid saying you will get back to them. Assign them a task right then and there, even if it is a small task since you can always to back to say you have another, more important job that better reflects their talents.
This size of your staff will be dependent on two factors: event size and program intensity. The size of the event often dictates a minimum number of volunteers. The size of a job will reflect the number of volunteers to accomplish that job. The second factor, program intensity, deals with both the type of programs offered and the intensity of the willingness and skills of your volunteers to work on the event. Cross-train your staff on multiple positions.
When recruiting your staff, don’t be disappointed if someone turns you down. They may be overworked or already committed to other things and in the long run you’d rather have the rejection than someone who can’t fulfill their commitment. If a volunteer says, “no” to a position then have a couple of smaller ways in mind they could help out. Most people are willing to help in some way – after all, their child is involved. Some may be willing to share (e.g., co-chair) a position with another person.
Consider requiring each unit to provide a certain number of volunteers to help the staff on site in order to attend the event. Announce this plan at Program Preview to give units plenty of time to prepare.
Tips for Recruiting
- Be selective
- Make a personal visit – take time to talk and get to know them
- Check references
- Emphasize selecting rather than recruiting
- Tell it like it is – explain responsibilities, time involved, resources, and why you selected him/her
- Go over all the gotchas, deadlines and critical needs.
- Explain the value of leadership – it’s worthwhile and satisfying and an opportunity to help Scouts grow
- Nurture your leaders (start them off slow, maybe working on a committee or event team)
- Allow some time. Give your prospect a few days to think about the decision
- Persevere. Don’t pressure and permit the prospect to say no. A leader who joins under pressure may not be the right person.
- Once you have recruited leaders, support them, help them get started, and provide continued assistance, encouragement and training.
- Make your leaders feel special, valuable and valued
- Let them know you want them to be successful
- Selecting Quality Leaders for troops and crews
- Selecting Cub Scout Leadership for packs
Location! Location! Location!
Reserve the location early. Consider the following questions while you are looking for the ideal site. Please note that only the district executive can enter into a contract for the Boy Scouts of America and obtain funds for a security deposit, if necessary.
- How many people are expected to attend?
- Is it an indoor or outdoor event?
- What types of permits are necessary (e.g., fire, police, health)?
- Is there a cost involved or deposit necessary?
- Is the area a secure, safe area? Be sure to have the health and safety officer inspect to make sure.
- Does the facility require security guards?
- Is there a contract that needs to be signed?
- Is a copy of a certificate of insurance from SHAC required?
- Is a standby location in case of bad weather needed?
- If an outdoor event, does a rain date need to be reserved?
Communication with Staff
Communication is vital to the success of any event. As the event chair, you must meet with your staff. Determining what you need to communicate will determine how often and which staff members need to meet. Often times a full event staff of a large event needs to meet only once or twice, while a smaller sub-group of that staff can and should meet separately for a more in-depth coordination and discussion of the details that need to be hammered out. Timelines also determine staff meetings. Set up an e-mail group for your key staff and a separate one for larger or other groups.
Find out which is the best way to communicate with each person. Do they prefer email, text, phone calls or Facebook message? Do they not communicate a certain way? Customize your communications to their styles and use more than one if needed. Usually, frequent communication is better than infrequent. When important deadlines are approaching the whole staff might need to meet to make decisions. Don’t assume people know what’s going on or that they understand what you said. Provide as much information as writing as possible. Give all key staff a copy of the Event Diary. Be clear. Get feedback. Talk with people face-to-face. LISTEN!
Organizing the Event
The success or failure of an event can depend upon the staff. Here are some important factors that determine the staff’s effectiveness.
- Proper attitude toward the Scouting and its goals.
- Correct uniforming
- Adequate preparation
- Proper control of time
- Knowledge of subject matter or program
To help prepare the staff, the event chair should:
- Make assignments to fit the talents and abilities of the staff members.
- Hold a planning meeting well in advance.
- Meet in advance to:
- Be sure they have the facts correct and are up to date on current policy.
- Make sure the program presented is relative and relevant to the purpose of the event.
- Make sure the program stays within the time permitted.
- Be sure each person knows what is expected of him/her.
4. Be prepared for emergencies. Have a backup in mind.
5. Stay in touch with the staff in order to assist with any problems which may occur.
During staff meetings give everyone a chance to know each other. Have some informal time with refreshments or an ice-breaker to get acquainted. Lots of fold won’t speak up in front of a group of “strangers.” You need to be the instigator or creator. Get the ball rolling. If you’re enthusiastic, others will join in. Creativity can trigger more creativity and so on, and so on. And remember, ideas come from everywhere. Share ideas and resources with others. Networking pays off.
Brainstorming can be an effective way to generate lots of ideas. Brainstorming should be performed in a relaxed environment. If participants feel free to relax and joke around, they'll stretch their minds further and therefore produce more creative ideas. It is designed to help you break out of your thinking patterns into new ways of looking at things.
During brainstorming sessions, there should be no criticism of ideas. Ideas should only be evaluated once the brainstorming session has finished - you can then explore solutions further using conventional approaches.
When brainstorming, set up the rules (i.e., the leader has control; everyone contributes; no one will insult, demean, or evaluate another person’s response; there are no wrong answers; each answer is recorded; setting a time limit). The facilitator should write responses (no matter how silly or impossible an idea seems) on a white-board, flip chart or poster board while guiding the session, encouraging participation, and allowing participants to build on each others’ ideas. Laughing is to be encouraged while criticism is not. Brainstorm event themes, event locations, and activities.
Sample Theme Ideas
Troops / Crews
||· Animals (zoo)
||· Are You Smarter than a Scout
||· Bugs / insects
||· Beach / Tropical
||· Crime Prevention
||· Derbies (pinewood, space, regatta)
||· Emergency prep
||· First Aid
||· Highland games
||· Merit Badges
||· Native Americans
||· Nature / Conservation
||· Shooting Sports
||· Sports / Olympics
||· STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
||· Patriotic / America
||· Texas / Wild West
||· Wilderness Survival
||· STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
||· Beach, Jungle, Texas, Hometown Heroes, Space are typically used for day camp
Parking…Check-in…Early bird activities…Opening…Evaluation…and Closing…all make the event fun---or not so fun---for the participants, so consider each carefully in your planning.
In planning the activities which will take place at an event, the sky’s the limit! So how do you choose? The following questions keep you focuses on the Scouts and theme
- Will this activity help you move closer to the objective?
- Is this an activity the Scouts/adults want and is appropriate to the age/experience of the participants?
Refer to the Cub Scout Leader Book and the Scoutmasters Handbook to get some guidelines concerning understanding youth. Send out a questionnaire asking Scouts/adults what activities they would like.
- How will the activity fit into the overall plan?
- Is a special site necessary? If so, what type?
- Will bad weather affect this activity? What adjustments would be necessary?
- What preparation will be necessary for this activity?
- What special equipment or supplies are needed?
- Will Scouts need to learn special skills before the event? How will you pay for the costs involved? Remember SAFETY!
Once you know the answers to the above question, decide which activities to include and overall schedule will best fit the activities. Remember Scout will be participating. Will these activities appeal to them?
Before the event, walk through the event from getting out of the car, finding registration, first aid, and all of the events.
Check-in is the first thing you see at the event and it makes a lasting impression. Registration should take no more than five minutes. Overstaff check-in with enthusiastic helpful and informed volunteers. No one wants to wait in a long line to check-in and then ask a simple question no one can answer. You may want to have event and/or campsite layout maps available so everyone knows where they are going or the staff can direct them.
Get participants involved in activities quickly—plan for a fast check-in procedure and early bird activities. Divide the check-in procedures so the Scouts/units can get their packets very quickly without waiting in line. Packets may contain: name tag, schedule, map, evaluation form, and information sheets.
Make sure everyone knows what comes next – schedules for all!! Use air horns or other loud noise for a signal. Have event staff easily identifies (hat, t-shirt, etc) in order to answer questions.
Some materials registration may want to have available: air horn, baggies, batteries, blank registration forms, canopy, change, clip board, copies (e.g., medical forms, registration forms, maps, schedule), emergency contact sign, envelopes, extension cord, file box, file folders, fire extinguisher, highlighters, lost and found box, money bag, medical forms, paper clips, patches, pens, poster board, post-it notes, registration packets (containing name tag, schedule, map, evaluation form, information), registration sign, rubber bands, safety pins, scissors, Sharpies, sign-in sheet (for guests, adult volunteers, Scout volunteers), staff name tags, stapler, staples, tables, tape (masking, duct, clear packing), timer (to remind when to blow air horn), trash bags, t-shirts, wrist bands, zip ties
- Have someone in the parking lot to direct traffic and to stop parents from just dropping off Scouts. Ask them to wait until their son has checked in. This may eliminate parents having to come back if all the paperwork is not properly completed.
- It is the responsibility of the parents, leaders, and check-in staff that all registration and medical forms are received on each participant (including adults and siblings) entering the event.
- If necessary forms are not provided by the unit or youth, or someone is improperly attired, it will be the leader’s responsibility to call the parents to fill out the required forms, bring different clothing, or pick up the youth.
- After checking-in, give the Scout something to do until the opening begins.
- Have lost and found box available.
- Openings can be as simple or elaborate as you want. It marks the official beginning of the event. Make sure that an effective sound system is used.
- Welcome and give the reason for the event
- Introduce staff
- Make announcements (if possible provide written announcements)
- evacuation plan
- first aid location
- toilet facilities
- handwashing facilities
- smoking areas
- Explain schedules
- Explain check-out procedures
- Inspect campsites and event sites before dismissing the units and staff and providing them with the departure packets. Be sure to leave the site better than you found it.
- Make sure all fires are properly put out.
- Collect evaluations.
- Dispose of trash bags in a proper manner.
- Closing mark the event as being officially completed
- Thank everyone for attending
- Present awards
- Thank staff volunteers
- Remind everyone of check-out procedures
- Request help for clean up
- Display lost and found items
Have the participants evaluate prior to departure, with the evaluation form fitting the age of the participants. Have a box at registration to collect the evaluation forms or consider handing out the event patches when the evaluation forms are received. Website surveys can also be utilized and can be completed by individuals, dens, patrols, or units, and even separate youth and adult forms. Design the evaluation questions so those who attended the event will understand them and are easily tallied. Perhaps younger Scout could be asked to react with one word (e.g., super, okay) that best describes each activity, or the reliable happy or sad face marked for each activity. The key questions to ask are: Was the job done, done right, and on time? Did everyone take part? Enjoy themselves? Are they ready for more? Some questions you may want to ask:
- What should we include or leave out next time?
- How did you hear about the event (e.g., leader, roundtable, district newsletter, website, social media)?
- Proposed improvements?
- How could we make the event better?
- Were the events prepared?
- Was there sufficient leadership?
- Did the events run on-time?
- Rate the following (registration, bathrooms, activities, campfire, opening) on a scale of 1 – 5.
- Rate the staff
Evaluations allow the event attendees to communicate back to you. This is their time to give you necessary feedback as the final step in a quality event. With all the planning and executing, something is likely to be overlooked, forgotten, missed – be sure to receive the words of others as a gift to ensuring the future success of an event.
Key staff should also write a review of his/her job with suggested ideas and changes to be handed to the event chair to include in the event diary. Plan a staff evaluation meeting to hash out the pros and cons of the event, always ending on a good note. This is a good time to distribute thank you’s if you did not do so at the closing ceremony of the event.
Sample Online Evaluation Form
The Boy Scouts of America are very aware of the environment. You should think out any activities, crafts, etc. ahead of time as to how this is going to affect the environment.
- Are you going to use any special chemicals in a craft? If so, what disposal process will be used?
- Have a recycling bag for aluminum cans. Include this in your announcements at the beginning of the event.¬
- Use extreme caution with balloons. All remnants must be picked up. They can injure animals.
- Scouts should always leave an area cleaner than when they found it.
- Have smoking area marked and have butt cans available.
- Snip plastic pack rings before putting in the trash.
- Remind the participants to bring drinking cups.
- Avoid using glass if possible.
- Make sure all fires are properly put out.
- Wrap any glass before putting it in the trash.
Recognize your volunteers
Recognition is very important!!! Everyone appreciates recognition. One of the best ways to keep your leaders and other volunteers coming back is to recognize them for all their efforts. It is common to give key staff a certificate of appreciation, or plaque; however, a smile, and a warm, hardy, well-deserved pat on the back can go a long way to making a volunteer feel appreciated.
Thank your volunteers often both privately and publicly. Thank them at staff meetings, at the event (e.g., during cracker-barrel, opening/closing ceremonies), and at other district events (e.g., roundtable, district dinner, district committee meeting). Send an informal note of thanks. Tell others of your volunteer’s contribution. Praise them on the job. Submit a kudos to be included in your district newsletter or on the district website or social media thanking them for their service.
There are all types of awards, many of which can be either serious or fun (see below for more ideas). Be creative! And don’t worry about being too corny – remember this is the Scouting program! In lieu of a store-bought plaque or certificate (http://dyetub.com/certificates/scouting), consider giving homemade plaque, gift, neckerchief slide, item to use for Scouting, or special staff name tag/badge. Also, consider giving key staff a special colored event t-shirt to wear during the event. This also makes them easily recognizable for participants.
Nominate deserving leaders for district awards. A helpful hint: as part of their recruitment, ask them for a Scouter resume. It should have the positions they have held and when as well as events they have chaired or assisted. This way you have all the background that is necessary for a proper nomination. This type of information is otherwise difficult to get without it being obvious as part of an award.
The district committee may have determined an event date for you or you may be given the option of choosing your own date, but whatever the situation you will have a limited amount of time to work with. The key is to plan carefully and well in advance. Some events may take as long as two years to plan. Don’t put it off. Strive for quality. If you cannot give an event the time it needs, don’t do it. Save it for another time. You cannot make it with an idea alone, no matter how great it is. Work out the event or program in detail, then put everything down on paper and review it carefully. Sometimes event chairs don’t realize the entirety of the work required in planning and executing complex or large events and find themselves shorthanded and in a frazzle as the day arrives. Sometimes the best plans will go awry. Hurricanes happen. Locations get canceled. It can happen and it’s better to face the facts in the beginning. Always be flexible.
First, find out if there are event diaries from past events. If not then please make sure to retain your records and document them in an event diary for your successor(s). Events are easier to plan if you know what happened in the past. Then take out your calendar and start at the event date. Work backwards from that date and try to include all those details you will need to complete. Also remember that some of these details will be time sensitive (e.g., submitting a location reservation, ordering patches and t-shirts, turning in a budget for approval, ordering supplies, ordering port-o-cans). They must be completed within a certain time period. Identify all other events that are scheduled (council, district, unit, schools, local sports, holidays, etc) and keep in mind that volunteers and resources may be scarce during those times.
Proper Prior Planning Prevents Pitifully Poor Performances. Always have Plan B (and C, D, E and more!!).
problems opportunities happen
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Sometimes it’s better to be proactive rather than reactive. The best way to deal with a problem is to avoid having the problem or at least having identified the likely problem before it happens. Proactive actions are usually seen in a positive light. Problems happen despite our best plan so there will times when you need to be reactive. With so many people/personalities in a district, problems and conflicts are unavoidable – so expect them, and accept them. During the event, realize that what happens at the staff levels are typically not seen by the participants (e.g., the participants may not realize that the staff had to leave camp to buy supplies that were not purchased ahead of time; or that a staff member had to take over for another staff member at the last second).
Helpful hints for handling conflicts include:
- Listen and empathize
- Be sensitive, the problem may not be with you or Scouting (there may be issues at home)
- The problem/issue/concern may be valid. Try to focus on the facts and NOT the emotions. Be big enough to admit when you’re wrong- it may be simply a misunderstanding or bad communication. Remember you’re only human – we ALL make mistakes. “I’m sorry” goes a long way. Ask if they can help solve the problem.
- Be responsive/take responsibility. Don’t let problems remain unattended. They rarely just go away and frequently get worse. People want to feel as if they’ve been heard and understood. If something’s wrong – FIX IT! If you say you’re going to do something, DO IT – when you say you’re going to do it. Learn from mistakes – many of our greatest advancements are a result of correcting mistakes!
- Don’t hold a grudge. Let things go. Refocus – It’s about the Scouts! You may have to agree to disagree. Not every problem is resolvable. Not every challenging adult can be turned around.
- Use other resources (e.g., activities chairs, previous event chairs, district executive, vice chairs, district committee members, district commissioners).
It’s About the Scouts!!!!!
If you’re in Scouting for any other reason, you’re in it for the wrong reason!!! Always keep coming back to “Why am I here?” The Scouts! This attitude will help make issues with adults not look too big or seem too important. Ask yourself – “Why am I a volunteer?” Constantly remind people why you’re there – the Scouts.
Remember that you have the rare ability - and responsibility – to make a positive difference in a young life. If you do not then someone or something will and we pray it is not a negative influence. Scouting offers wholesome and proven methods for enabling Scout to become productive adults. As a Scouter, you are playing a key part of the solution to our future. An American Indian saying states that there are many paths in life. Some are good and some are bad. One is best. You can choose to go down any path. Scouting helps you and the lives you touch choose the best path.
Art of Delegation
Delegation is one of the most important and difficult of skills that you need to acquire. You can accomplish only so much in one day. A great way you can achieve more is through delegation – dividing your load and sharing your responsibilities with others. Delegation does not mean dumping! Delegation, a critical management skill, enables you to extend your knowledge and energy and time through the efforts of others and is important because once a person’s job grows beyond his/her ability the success of what is done is at risk. Effective delegation will not only give you more time to work on your important opportunities, but will also help volunteers learn new skills. No successful organization survives without it. Even though others may have a different approach or standards, it’s not all down to you! Give someone else a chance to learn or fail. You are much more likely to recruit a replacement if volunteers don’t see you doing everything. Don’t be irreplaceable. Remember, someone that is irreplaceable cannot be replaced. Remember if things go wrong, it’s ultimately your fault! Assess the risk of failure before you decide to delegate a task, and manage any risk appropriately. The only person you can blame is you, for not effectively delegating the task at the beginning. And you never know, they might even do it better than you! Handoff your expertise.
Tips for Successful Delegation
- Determine what can be delegated... Be willing to delegate. Don't do an activity that someone else would be willing to do for you if you would just ask them. Delegate as much as possible to develop your staff to help train them to be as good as you are now. Remember, you are not the only one that can accomplish an end result. If you can’t define the task to be delegated, it isn’t ready for delegation. Good tasks to delegate are Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Vague tasks are impossible to complete or result in such a mess you’ve squandered more time than you could potentially have saved. Trust others to be capable of achieving it. Delegate tasks in which you have experience and are the easiest for you to explain to others. Tasks in which your staff have more experience must be delegated to them. This does not mean that you relinquish responsibility because they are expert, but it does mean that the default decision should be theirs. You should ensure that they spend some time in explaining these decisions to you so that you learn their criteria.
- Be specific... It's easy to give someone an assignment (e.g., facilities chair) only to find out later that what they understood this to mean was very different from what you intended. Provide written job requirements and timeline so all key staff know their responsibilities. Make your priorities clear. Inform your key staff what decisions and jobs you are delegating and to whom. As an event chair, you have high standards. When you delegate a job, it does not have to be done as well as you could do it (given time), but only as well as necessary: never judge the outcome by what you expect you would do (it is difficult to be objective about that), but rather by fitness for purpose. When you delegate a task, agree then upon the criteria and standards by which the outcome will be judged.
- ...but don't micromanage. Clearly define what outcome is needed, then let individuals use some creative thinking of their own as to how to get to that outcome. Leaving the person room to make some independent decisions lets them choose a style of doing things that suits them best. Keep your mind open to new ideas and ways of doing things. There just might be a better way than the way something has previously been done. It makes them feel respected and trusted and part of the team. It builds a greater sense of pride and ownership in the project, and it gives them a chance to develop their skills and confidence. A person will be more excited about doing a project when they came up with the idea of how to do it.
- Agree on deadlines. Make sure volunteers understand when their part of the task needs to be done, why the deadlines are important, and how this fits in with the larger timeline for the event.
- Follow up. Check back with the person you've delegated to, to find out how it's going, particularly in the early stages of planning. You will soon know if these delegates are in need of more or less guidance. Agree on a monitoring procedure that will keep you informed as to the progress because you are ultimately still responsible for it and need to know that it is progressing, as it should. If you are constantly interfering, you cannot expect good performance but if you do not devise some means of checking on what is done, you may soon find out that you have a catastrophe. Ask if any questions have come up since you last talked. Make sure they have what they need to do the job, and that they're getting the necessary assistance and cooperation from others. Sometimes people are reluctant to admit they didn't understand something, or that they're having trouble. Asking gives them an opening and permission to say so. It's also a way of finding out if someone simply isn't doing the job before it's too late. Good communication will assure ongoing success.
- Match assignments with people's skills... Find out the talents and interests of your volunteers and you will be able to delegate more intelligently and effectively. Some people write well but hate to talk on the phone. Some people can schmooze anything out of anybody, while others would rather do anything besides ask for donations. Find out what people are good at, and what they like to do, and make the most of it. Never underestimate a person's potential. Delegate slightly more than you think the person is capable of handling. Expect them to succeed, and you will be pleasantly surprised more frequently than not.
- ...but don't let people get typecast against their will. People with particular skills (e.g., registration, awards, crafts) often get stuck with the same jobs over and over, because they do them so well. If they like it that way, that may be fine (although you might want to encourage them to stretch a bit and do something unfamiliar once in a while). But they may be more than ready for a change--and someone else may be just waiting for a chance to do "their" job.
- Make sure assignments get handed out fairly and realistically. Most groups have at least one workhorse who tends to take on too much--sometimes to the point of exhaustion and burnout. Another problem is the person who gets carried away with the enthusiasm of a moment and volunteers for things, then finds her/himself unable to follow through. Encourage people to take a realistic look at their workload and abilities, and to take on the jobs they can reasonably handle. Many volunteers wear many hats across the district and their units.
- Give accurate and honest feedback and reflect. Give praise. People want to know how they're doing, and they deserve your honest opinion. Praise effort and good work, but also let them know where they might have done better. Encourage risk-taking and growth by treating mistakes and less-than-successful efforts as a chance to learn and do better next time. Effective delegation is about sharing the workload, with the added bonus of developing skills and responsibility in others. Maximize the learning experience by taking time for shared reflection of the task once it’s completed – what worked, what didn’t work and what would you do differently next time?
References: Tips for Successful Delegation, Delegation, The Art of Delegation, Delegation Tips
Adjust as you need too. Have Absolute, Rigid, Flexibility.
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