The BSA updated a lot of things this year, including the training slide shows. There were only a few changes to the training class I give (Den Leader Specifics), but I really like them. They add some specifics that I think will be really beneficial to leaders, their dens and their packs.
One addition that I especially like is a more detailed look at Monthly Pack Planning Meetings. The training now includes a very specific outline of what a Pack Planning Meeting looks like:
1 - Evaluating the previous month
2 - Finalizing the current month
3 - Planning ahead
4 - Unit Leadership Enhancements
5 - Social time and fellowship
The notes include allusions to special committees reporting during parts 2 and 3 and den leaders turning in den advancement reports to the person in charge the awards for the next pack meeting during part 2. The suggestion for "Unit Leadership Enhancements" is that "the pack trainer should include one of the Unit Leadership Enhancement topics."
There are two reasons I like this so much. In the different packs I have observed and been part of, I have seen a big difference in Monthly Pack Planning Meetings, and the difference in the meetings reflected the difference in the overall quality of the programs. In the very best Cub Scout program I have seen, the Monthly Pack Planning Meetings looked almost exactly like this.
These meetings even included what I would call Unit Leadership Enhancements. Everyone had a copy of the Scouting Handbook in his or her binder, and at every meeting we would read a section out of the Handbook. I think this served several purposes. It kept the program in check with the standards set up by the Church. Even our knowledgeable Pack Chair or Bishopric member would occasionally find something he didn't know that needed to be changed. It reminded everyone what his job in the pack was. It let us know what everyone else's job, was and we didn't have to worry about whether anyone else was doing what he was supposed to. Finally, I think it gave everyone a sense of pack solidarity and that we all had a place there. I highly recommend LDS units consider adopting this practice of reading from the Handbook at planning meetings.
There are several other things about the way that pack held its planning meetings that I think helped its success. The meetings were held at the church, consistently on the same night every month, so everyone knew when to expect them (for example, everyone knows to try and keep the second Thursday of every month free). The meeting included all the Den Leaders and Assistant Den Leaders, the Cub Master, several Committee Members (including the Primary representative), the Committee Chair and the member of the Bishopric over the Scout program. Just as the involvement and support of parents have a big impact on a an individual Scout's experience in the program, my observation is that the involvement and support of the Bishopric makes a big diference in the Ward's experience with Scouting. Having a good Committee Chair is also important. If one isn't called, the Bishopric can act as the Committee Chair.
In contrast, I witnessed a pack in another state with very different meetings. The meeting time was not consistent. They were usually held on a Friday morning, whenever it was convenient for the person whose house they were at. Of course, most of the men in the pack couldn't make it to these meetings (there was one who worked 4-10's who was able to come). There was no Committee Chair and the Bishopric didn't attend or have much to do with the program at all. The meetings were usually made up of 2-3 people who would briefly go over plans for the next Pack Meeting. Often, meetings ended up in arguments over Church policy, whether the pack would be run the "right way" or "our way," and whether things like training and uniforms were really necessary.
Needless to say, the program was lacking in several areas. Very little was accomplished at the meetings. Most leaders were not trained. Mostly everyone in the pack did his own thing. There was no cohesion, a lot of contention, and the boys didn't get the kind of program they deserved.
I have also seen Pack's that were at some level in between, and whatever level they were at usually corelated with the amount of involvement and support from the Bishopric.
If you have a "lower level" calling in your pack, you may not think that there is much you can do about the way your pack is run. The best thing you can do is to remember that you are an important part of pack planning and that it is important for everyone to be on the same page. It is also important for you to have proper training for your position and to encourage others to attend the training as well.