Program Features

The BSA wrote the book on fun and engaging Boy Scout, Varsity and Venturing programs. Literally.

I mean the three-volume Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews. It’s your youth leaders’ go-to resource for planning a great program. Your Scouts and Venturers can use these Program Features to plan their main monthly activities or as a way to supplement gaps on their Scouting calendar. The books are all about making a youth leader’s job easier and more fun.

Volume 1 — packed with 16 topics ranging from Camping to Spectator Sports — is available now. Volume 2 is due out in the next couple of months with Volume 3 to follow by the middle of 2015.

So what’s inside these Program Features, how should they be used and where can you buy them?

For those answers I asked the expert. In this case that’s Peter Self, head of the BSA’s Member Experience Innovation team. Here’s what he said.

What are the Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews?

Program Features for Troops, Teams, and Crews is a three-volume set containing a total of 48 unique topics that a Scouting unit could use as either the core of its activities, or as a way to round out what’s already on the calendar,” Self says.

“The features cover six general categories: Outdoor, Sports, Health & Safety, Citizenship & Personal Development, STEM, and Arts & Hobbies. You can find program ideas for SCUBA, Science, Multimedia, Fitness & Nutrition and more.”

Sounds cool. What are the 48 topics?

Why do we need these? Aren’t the youth supposed to plan the program?

Self says:

Teaching youth leaders how to plan an engaging and fun program that also fulfills the mission of the Boy Scouts of America has always been a challenge. There’s a fine line that adult leaders often straddle in the process. On the one hand it’s tempting to simply take control of the planning process to make sure nothing is missed and that a quality program is delivered. On the other hand we may not give enough support, and youth leaders end up muddling their way through a frustrating process. This is where the new Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews can be a big help.

The idea of having a “go-to” resource for youth leaders isn’t new. Many of us recall the old Woods Wisdom, which evolved into the Troop Program Features and the Varsity Team Program Features. Each of these publications provided introductions and outlines for unit level program. Even the first Venturing Leader Manual contained a number of tools to help plan activities.

While each of these publications provided great resources, they were aimed at our adult leaders, rather than the youth. And to be quite honest, they needed a facelift. That’s where the new Program Features for Troops, Teams and Crews comes in.

It’s what’s inside that counts, right? What do these look like inside?

For a sample, check out the First Aid program feature. And below, see the first page of the Science program feature.

Where can I get these Program Feature books?

Volume 1 (item No. 616351), which includes the first 16 program features, is available at your local Scout shop or at