The enhanced council calendar aims to help units
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The enhanced council calendar aims to help units

Now, then, and always

Online calendar apps have been around for more than a decade so chances are you’re already using one. And if you’re not, you should be. Your smart phone likely came loaded with a calendar app straight out of the box. If not, there are great free versions which can help you avoid planning a scouting event on your anniversary or other dates that might cause conflict with your loved ones.

Along with adding text and live video to its communication methods, Northern Star recently enhanced its digital calendar ( https://www.northernstar.org/calendar  *powered by Google ) to help scout leaders plan effectively, meet timely objectives, as well as take advantage of seasonal opportunities. The best part is this calendar can be tailored specific to your program(s) so you get only the information you want when you want it. 

There’s an umbrella council calendar and then there are three program specific calendars; Cub Scouts, Explorers and a combined Scouts BSA & Venturing calendar. Each of these calendars can be subscribed to so their content auto populates on your personal, family or business calendar.

The following link is to a review on the top calendar apps of 2020 and why:  https://zapier.com/blog/best-calendar-apps/

Why subscribe to a calendar feed?

While you can get the information by going to northernstar.org/calendar this requires one to actively seek out information. When you subscribe to a calendar feed the information is pushed to your smart device. 

Once subscribed you will see calendar entries important to your Scout role on your own personal, family or business calendar. With this feature you will hopefully never miss an opportunity to sign up for camp or University of Scouting or other the early bird discount window. 

Furthermore, to make sure you never miss such a thrifty scouting opportunity, within your calendar app you can turn on notifications which will text and or email and or some other alert outside the calendar app notifying you of some time sensitive actionable information.

On a surface level, the calendar feed helps leaders avoid planning awesome unit events on top of some awesome council events such as Spookaree, Fall Camporee or OA weekends when site amenities might be reserved.

Digging deeper, the calendar feed contains a wealth of information. Besides time and date, each entry will have a clickable address which can open map apps with driving directions or a website in the case of a video conference or online training. Also included in each entry is a description of the event, links to important information, pdf’s of needed documents as well as clickable contact information to who to call or email with questions. 

Cub leaders might appreciate on the first of every month, themed den and pack meeting plans and ideas. And on the 2nd of the month, Scout Leader 2 Do’s aimed at helping leaders hit timely goals such as JTE guide posts, recruiting tips, and seasonal opportunities that are free, cheap or just too good not to pass along.

All this information is accessed by clicking on the title of the calendar entry - no need to search the world wide web for what an event is, what’s needed, how to register, etc. Just about everything a leader needs to know is contained in the entry.

Also, if an event is rescheduled or cancelled the initial scheduled calendar entry will be modified to include rescheduled or cancelled in its title. Within the description of a rescheduled event will be the new date(s).  

How to subscribe to the calendar feed(s).

To access the calendar(s) you can go northernstar.org, scroll down and click calendar or go directly to it at northernstar.org/calendar. Desktop users and mobile device users will find on this page 4 different colored rectangles with titles for that program calendar. Clicking on a colored rectangle will open the calendar app on the device you’re using and ask “Add Calendar ‘the name of calendar’ and buttons to “Cancel or Add.” Click “Add” to add that calendar. Do this for all the calendars from which you wish to receive information. It really couldn’t be any simpler.

What if my scouting calendar is cluttering up my personal calendar?

It’s possible several things happening on the same day - especially for those of us who have feet in different programs. The result on a calendar app might look like a severe weather report - lots of vivid colors everywhere. This is easily remedied by clicking the correlating color of the calendar feed located on the side of the calendar. Clicking the color or colored box will hide or show that feed from your current view

There are lots of subscribable calendar feeds out there. Personally I subscribe to our own MN Twins channel ( via: webcal://mlb.am/tix/twins_schedule_full ) so I can see when games are, who the opponent is and when rained out games get rescheduled. 

If I ever decide not to be a fan of the team, within my calendar app settings I can hide the feed from my list and I will never see that feed again.

Why now?

With Units First came an opportunity to provide the entire council with the same level of content through several means. Hopefully by providing every unit with the same timely information, all our members will experience a better and more consistent program across our council. Along with Texting, Live Video, new email content the enhanced calendar is another tool aimed at providing members with the right information, at the right time to the right people. 

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