The Royal Rangers program provides churches with a powerful tool for developing boys into Christlike young men. But as with any program, the full benefits of the program are only achieved as the result of a well-planned and well-conducted process. A systematic process of planning and preparation is, therefore, essential to the success of any outpost.
The following represents a suggested program planning process that can help to insure your outpost is achieving the greatest results of your efforts. The process requires time and effort to complete, but it will be time well spent, resulting in a program that provides leaders, parents, and boys with a road-map for success while minimizing the stress and challenges of trying to throw things together week-by-week.
This process should be done well in advance of the beginning of your activity year. If you plan events based on the calendar year, begin planning in the fall before the business of the holidays begins. If you plan based on the school year, early to mid-summer may be your best time, provided all necessary leaders are available. Regardless of when you conduct your planning process, be sure to allow enough time to complete the process and distribute the results before the year begins.
Before you begin making plans for the coming year, take time to gather the relevant dates for all activities that are already on the calendar. This would include the following dates:
Add these events to a central calendar. This could be a large planning calendar on the wall or a shared electronic calendar online, such as Google Calendar. Online calendars enable you to share your information with anyone involved and insure everyone has the most current information.
Once you have your initial calendar created, the next step is to review last year to identify events you may want to do again or do differently. As you review last year ask these questions:
Take care not to spend too much time on this review process since the focus of the meeting needs to be on planning for the coming year.
Now it’s time to begin brainstorming ideas for next year. Remember that when brainstorming, all ideas are welcomed. Evaluation of each idea will come later. Ask your group:
Key Point to Remember: Effective outposts provide activities in all the core competencies of the program—outdoors, sports, trade skills, technology, and arts. Provide something for every boy!
This information can easily be collected through use of the "Royal Rangers Program Capability Assessment" process. This process provides a way for outpost leaders to identify both the interests of their boys as well as the skills represented by the men and women of the church and community. The two lists are then compared to identify activities that may be the most suitable for your group. Information and forms relating to the Program Capability Assessment can be found on the leader's resource track of TRaCclub, under "Resources" and "Annual Program Planning."
It’s now time to begin finalizing your plan. Discuss and evaluate each suggested activity.
Identify the skill merits and related activities you plan to do each month in each age group and create a merit teaching schedule for the entire year. Depending on the size of your outpost and the activities involved, some activities could be done together. The girls from Girls Ministries could possibly be included in special activities as well.
See also: Skill Merits
A key part of the success of your plan is getting multiple people on board to make it happen. Successful outposts are seldom the result of one or two leaders but typically involve a variety of people making valuable contributions.
One of the most important steps in your annual planning process is that of distributing your plan to everyone involved. Parents, leaders, boys, pastors, and anyone involved in leading a merit or activity all need to be made aware of your plans. And as updates occur, they need to be clearly and efficiently communicated. Keeping parents informed is essential to insure your boys attend events and activities consistently, particularly if costs are involved.
Once your plans are made, it’s important to implement a process for regularly reviewing and updating it. Changes are bound to occur as situations change throughout the year, so a good deal of flexibility is always in order. However, having a plan in place will put your outpost on a firm foundation for a successful year and minimize frustrations and miscommunication.
By following these simple steps in developing an annual program plan, your outpost will be well positioned to provide an effective mentoring ministry to the boys of your church and community throughout the coming year. Remember to be in prayer as you complete each step of the process and seek the Lord’s direction as He leads you to building your program into an effective ministry. As we partner with His Spirit, we will see great things take place in the hearts and minds of boys.