How to Plan a Service Project
“To help other people at all times.” That part of the Scout Oath reminds us to be of service to others, and at this time of year, a patrol or troop service project is especially fitting.
Begin planning by discussing various service ideas with your patrol members. Adult leaders and representatives of your unit’s chartered organization are also good sources for ideas. Remember that any project must be well planned and properly led and should fulfill the following expectations. It should:
- Be significant. The project should be something important. When it’s done, everyone should be able to look back with satisfaction on an effort that has made a difference.
- Be democratic. Patrol members are more likely to buy into the project if they have taken an active part in selecting, planning, and organizing it.
- Be clearly defined. A project should have a definite beginning and end point and logical steps in between. A clear goal lets everyone measure the progress along the way and increases everyone’s sense of participation and pride in a job well done.
- Be well prepared. This begins long before the service project starts. Ask these questions: What is the project’s purpose? Who should be contacted as resources? How many Scouts must be involved to complete the work within the allotted time? What tools, equipment, supplies, and expertise will be needed? What safety issues must be addressed before work begins? Is the project worthy of media coverage? If so, how should that be handled?
- Include reflection and recognition. Spend 10 or 15 minutes when the project is finished discussing such topics as: What impact did the patrol’s project have on other people or the environment? How can the effort be improved if it is repeated? What should the patrol change in order to work together more effectively?
Recognition doesn’t always involve badges and awards. The greatest reward can simply be an individual’s heartfelt gratitude for the cheerful, unselfish service that all Scouts are honor-bound to give.
Troop program ideas and methods for improving patrol teamwork, adapted from material by the late William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt or from other sources, appear periodically in this column.
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