As a new year begins once again, many of us take time to reflect on where we’ve been over the last 12 months and look ahead to the next 12. This is also a great time to asses what your unit has accomplished and what resolutions and changes you can make to improve things. Your Journey to Excellence evaluation is a good place to start, but it can really be very simple for you and your unit to look back at your past year of Scouting and see what your youth have benefitted from and what they would like to improve upon.
It is important for you to develop your own goals as a unit, but here are five examples of Scouting New Year’s resolutions for your youth to consider and five resolutions for leaders to consider:
Resolutions for Scouts
Earn Your Eagle
If you’re a Life Scout or are nearing the rank, it may seem like your trail to Eagle is almost over. However, this is not the time to slow down, even if you have plenty of time before you turn 18. This year, make it your goal to earn your Eagle. Give this last leg of your journey one big push. Spend the beginning of this year finishing up your Eagle project and any remaining merit badges and don’t leave anything for the last minute.
Go to Summer Camp
Going to summer camp is the quintessential Scout activity. There is no other place where youth get to learn skills, challenge themselves, and find joy in the outdoors. Whether you choose to go as a participant or as a staff member, you are sure to have an experience of a lifetime. This is a great resolution for units to make together. Choose a camp to attend, fundraise, and plan your trip together as part of your goal.
Earn Merit Badges
This year, set a goal to earn a certain amount of merit badges. Make sure you challenge yourself! If your goal is to earn your Eagle Scout Award this year, make sure you complete all of your required merit badges. Earning merit badges can also help with advancement. Often, while learning and performing the skills required by merit badges, you are completing rank advancement requirements at the same time!
Hike 50 Miles
Whether you love to hike or don’t, this is a great resolution. It will get you outside and either spark a love of hiking you never knew you had or put your hiking skills to the test. 50-mile hikes are popular in the BSA, and there is even an award for completing 50 miles on foot called the 50 Miler Award. Whether your goal for the new year is to get outside more or earn more awards, this is a great place to start.
Resolutions for Leaders
We found most of these ideas and more at Scouting Magazine.
It’s the single most effective way for you to stay “in the loop” on what’s happening in your district and council, to learn more about your role in Scouting, and how to build a better program for your boys. It’s also a great social event where you can exchange ideas or ask questions of your fellow Scouters. And, it helps you earn your Scouter’s training award (knot). Check with your council office or its website calendar and find out where and when your next district Roundtable will be held, clear the evening, and commit to attending. While Roundtable is for all Scouters, at least one adult from every pack or troop should attend every month.
Attend Wood Badge
For leaders contemplating the decision to attend, let us just say: Wood Badge lives up to the hype. For new Scouters, it’ll jump-start your Scouting career faster than you can say “Be Prepared.” And for the old-timers, many BSA veterans can vouch that it recharged their Scouting batteries more than they ever dreamed. Make it your goal this year to attend a Wood Badge session near you.
“Wood Badge is expertly designed to stress you out, tie you in knots and take you on the same emotional roller coaster we put our Scouts on as they advance in the program. In other words, you might not leave Wood Badge feeling relaxed, but you’re guaranteed to be recharged and ready to tackle any problem your Scouts throw your way. And it just might be the most fun you’ll ever have as a Scout leader.” -Bryan Wendell
Use Your Council Camps
Cub Scout packs can go family camping, and Webelos dens can camp by themselves, and what better place to do so than at your local council’s camp. You’ll be in a Scouting environment with facilities and resources at your disposal that you can’t find anywhere else – archery and BB ranges, waterfront, hiking trails, maybe even a trading post – and you’ll be supporting your council’s outdoor program. Likewise, Boy Scout troops can fill an entire year’s outdoor program at Scout camps in your general area, either your home council’s or that of a neighboring council. Each one is different, so explore and enjoy!
Encourage Scouts to continue down the advancement trail
As a parent or leader, you can make it your goal to encourage and enable your Scouts to finish those last three Eagle-required badges, earn their first badge ever, or complete the requirements need to move up a rank. Some Life Scouts race against the clock to earn the Eagle Scout award before they turn 18, including a handful who complete their board of review on the eve of their 18th birthday. It doesn’t have to be that way. Dial down the drama of eleventh-hour Eagles by encouraging advancement early on and throughout the year.
Commit to the patrol method in Boy Scouting
The patrol method isn’t one way to run a troop. It’s the only way. The patrol’s a small team of eight or so Scouts, and it’s more than organizational convenience or a Boy Scout version of the den. It’s the place where boys learn skills together, take on leadership responsibilities, perhaps for the first time, and develop friendships that will last over a lifetime. This year, commit to making the patrol method work in your troop. It will be of great benefit to you and your Scouts.
There are, of course, many other ways you can incorporate Scouting into your New Year’s resolutions. These are just a few of our ideas. We would love to hear about how you are resolving to improve your Scouting experience over the next 12 months. Let us know in the comments below!