Congratulations to Gary Savignano, who will serve as Scout executive of the Western Massachusetts Council in Westfield, Massachusetts, effective November 1, 2019.

Gary began his Scouting career as a district executive at the North Bay Council in Danvers, Massachusetts. He moved on to become a senior district executive and later field director with the Narragansett Council in Providence, Rhode Island. He was promoted to Scout executive of the Katahdin Area Council in Bangor, Maine, in 2008 and then of the Nashua Valley Council in Lancaster, Massachusetts in 2011.

Gary is an Eagle Scout who enjoys traveling, cooking and spending time with his family.

Gary and his wife, Patricia, have three grown children who were all involved in Scouting, earning their Eagle Scout Rank and Ranger Awards.

In the comments below, please help us congratulate Gary as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Western Massachusetts Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

In our “A Scout is Reverent” series, Scouting Wire takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of religious holidays of their own faith and support fellow unit members in theirs. Join us as BSA’s Chief Technology Officer, Vijay Challa, shares his unique perspective on the importance of Diwali!

For those who may not know about Diwali, can you please tell us a little about the holiday?

Vijay: Diwali, called the “Festival of Lights” is a popular festival in Asia that is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and some Buddhists. This year, Diwali is held October 25—29. One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.” Light symbolizes knowledge and consciousness. During the celebration, temples, homes, shops and office buildings are brightly illuminated. As a part of the celebration, families adorn themselves in their finest clothes, illuminate the interior and exterior of their homes with diyas (oil lamps or candles), offer puja (worship) to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and partake in family feasts, where mithai (sweets) and gifts are shared.

Do you know Scouts who have Scouting traditions connected to this holiday, and, if so, can you please tell us about that?

Vijay: Given how important diversity and inclusion is to our movement, I am sure there are traditions around Diwali that are followed in local Scout communities.

For Scout units who may have members who follow Hinduism, what are some ways they can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe the holiday?

Vijay: Wish them “Happy Diwali”! If you are going to serve food, make sure vegetarian food is offered because folks usually don’t serve or eat meat during this holiday. If you plan to have a troop or pack meeting, try to avoid scheduling it for this day, or at least hold the meeting a little early to allow for the family to light up the lamps, light small fireworks, and partake in other festival activities.

Finally, how do you bring a different perspective to Scouting?

Vijay: A perspective of perseverance, continuous improvement and continuous learning combined with a servant leadership style is what I bring. Not new, but that is what I bring to the table. I believe any mountain can be climbed, any target can be achieved if we move forward one step at a time. I believe Scouting teaches you that too!

Special thanks to BSA’s Chief Technology Officer Vijay Challa for sharing his story on Scouting Wire. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2019 21:33

BSA Membership Fee Increase Details and FAQ

For more than 100 years, Scouting has helped build future leaders by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun and adventure in the outdoors. At Boy Scouts of America, we are dedicated to developing leaders of character by preparing young men and women for life by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. The timeless ideals of the Scout Law, such as being trustworthy, helpful, kind and brave, make up the foundation young people need to address and overcome challenges in their lives and the issues facing their generation.

Now as we continue the Scouting mission, it is important that we keep pace with an ever-changing world. While costs to the organization have increased every year, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible by subsidizing core costs, including liability insurance we must carry to cover all official Scouting activities. Unfortunately, it is no longer possible to subsidize at the level we have in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically. We kept the cost low to make Scouting available to as many young people as possible but keeping the cost artificially low for many years now magnifies the impact of changes.

To ensure we have the resources to fulfill the promise of Scouting despite increasing operating costs, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America has made the difficult but necessary decision to increase the annual membership fee effective January 1, 2020 to:

  • $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts,
  • $36 for youth members in Exploring, and
  • $36 for adult members

Every dollar of the national membership fee will go toward the cost of essential services, including liability insurance for those participating in approved Scouting activities, program resources, safety standards, youth protection and personal safety training, and services to councils nationwide to sustain Scouting. The National organization will also continue to develop and improve resources that support our volunteers and youth members such as online registration, Member Care and Scoutbook, which now includes the Den Leader experience to ensure the safe and consistent delivery of Cub Scouting; as well as improvements aimed at simplifying the annual renewal process.

Across the country and in our own community, we know that Scouting remains one of the most valuable investments we can make to support young men and women today so they can become the leaders we will turn to tomorrow. From once-in-a-lifetime adventures to merit badges that spark interests and future careers; from campouts under the stars to service projects that leave a lasting impact on our communities; Scouting’s year-round program expands horizons and provides young people with a safe and welcoming place to learn, grow, and thrive.

That is why we are committed to ensuring that all youth can experience the character-building benefits of Scouting regardless of their financial situation. In addition to our existing council and unit membership assistance, we have established a national Growing Future Leaders Fund, which is funded entirely through donations, to provide additional financial support to those who need it.

Frequently Asked Questions About BSA Membership Fee Increase

Q:        Why are the fees increasing now?

A:         While costs increase every year, the Boy Scouts of America has worked to keep the annual membership fee as low as possible to make Scouting available to as many young people as possible by subsidizing core costs, including liability insurance we must carry to cover all official Scouting activities. As the organization’s financial situation has shifted over the past several months, it is no longer possible to subsidize at the level we have in the past, especially as the cost of insurance has increased dramatically.

Q:        Does this apply to youth members and volunteers?

A:         Yes, the new fees apply for youth and adult members. Effective January 1, 2020, the new fees are:

  • $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts,
  • $36 for youth members in Exploring, and
  • $36 for adult members (includes cost of background check and Scouting Magazine)
  • $60 for unit charter fees

Q:        Is Scouting still a good value?

A:         Absolutely! While most extracurricular activities are seasonal, Scouting is a year-round program that remains one of the most valuable investments we can make to support young men and women today so they can become the leaders we will turn to tomorrow.  For most of our youth members, the new registration fee amounts to $5 a month, which is an enormous value when you consider that many seasonal extracurricular activities often start at $100 for programs that last a few weeks.

Q:        What will the money be used for?

A:         Every dollar of membership fees will go to cover the cost of essential services, including liability insurance for members participating in approved Scouting activities, background checks for adult leaders, program development and training resources, continuously updated youth protection and youth safety training, improved IT/digital experiences and services to our councils nationwide.

Q:        Is this increase being implemented to cover the cost of the additional background checks?

A:         No, the cost of background checks is not prompting the fee increase.

Q:        Why is this being announced now?

A:         We recognize the timing of this fee increase creates challenges as units have already begun collecting fees for their 2020 registration renewal process, and we would not make this difficult decision if it were not absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. We are committed to supporting you through this process and are making necessary adjustments to the online rechartering system to ensure units can carry out the recharter process.

Q:        Does this increase cover financial challenges the organization is facing?

A:         The increase was prompted because the cost of liability insurance we must carry to cover all Scouting activities has increased dramatically over the past several months, and the organization is no longer able to offset the cost of insurance. The national membership fee also enables us to provide program development and training resources, continuously updated youth protection and youth safety training, improved IT/digital experiences and services to our councils nationwide.

Q:        When will this increase take effect?

A:         The new membership fees will take effect starting January 1, 2020 for the 2020-21 program year.

Q:        Is financial assistance available?

A:         We are committed to ensuring that all youth can experience the character-building benefits of Scouting regardless of their financial situation. In addition to the many existing council and unit membership assistance funds, we have established the donor-funded Growing Future Leaders Fund to provide financial support to those who need it.

Q:        My council recently announced a new fee to cover insurance. Does this change mean that fee is no longer necessary?

A:         No, the liability insurance that we need to carry for all Scouting activities at the national level is different from local fees that are collected to address local needs, which can include such items as local property and accident insurance, as well as unique local programming costs.

Q:        In addition to the national membership fee, my council is implementing a program fee. Is that allowed?

A:         Starting August 1, 2020, councils can choose to charge a local program fee, up to but no more than the national membership fee – up to $60 for youth members in Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, Venturing and Sea Scouts; up to $36 for youth members in Exploring and up to $36 for adult members. The local program fee can include local insurance costs (i.e., accident, property, etc.), as well as cost to administer unique local programming efforts.

Q:         What happens if my council’s program fee is more than the national membership fee?

A:         Councils that are currently charging a program fee more than the national membership fee have one year to adjust their fees in order to be in compliance with the new rules.

Q:        What measures has the national organization taken to offset the financial challenges?

A:         In addition to ongoing efforts to streamline and simplify the organization, the national organization has taken a number of steps in addressing its financial challenges, including the recent elimination of more than 35 positions at the National Service Center and ongoing consolidation of departments for the most effective utilization of resources in support of Scouting.

Q:        Will the national membership fee continue to increase?

A:         Although no decision about future increases has been made, the cost of operating our organization and services increases every year. Should it be necessary to increase fees in the future, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America has agreed to evaluate the needs and make such decisions, whenever possible, at the National Annual Meeting in May or early in the summer so that they can be announced with as much lead time as possible to allow for councils and units to be able to plan accordingly. 

Read how April and Miguel Rivas, Scouter parents from Circle Ten Council, passed their passion for the great outdoors on to their children through family Scouting adventures in this ‘Families Like Mine’ story. 

What Scouting programs are you connected to?

April: We, Miguel and I, are involved in Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA as adult leaders. We have two Cub Scouts, one child in Scouts BSA, as well as one future Scout!

How long have you been involved in Scouting?

April: We have been involved in Scouting for six years, ever since our oldest child became a Tiger Scout in 1st grade. Miguel serves as a Wolf den leader, I serve as our pack’s assistant Cub master and Camp Chair, and we both serve as committee members at the troop level as well. 

How did you first get involved in Scouting, and why? 

April: I knew that as soon as my oldest child was old enough, we were going to put him in Scouts. Obviously, the values and character-driven program is incredibly powerful in shaping our youth as they grow, but I really wanted my child to have outdoor experiences with other youth. Growing up, I went camping regularly with my family (which I admittedly didn’t always enjoy at the time), but as an adult those are moments that I cherish. Miguel, on the other hand, never had outdoor experiences growing up and now loves to be outdoors– fishing, shooting, hiking, and camping. These are experiences that we want our children to have, and I feel like it’s more important now than ever to disconnect from our busy schedules and technology-rich environment and enjoy the great outdoors.

My eldest has tried many different sports and extracurricular activities, but the one thing that he wants to keep at year after year is Scouting, and I think that speaks volumes. As we’ve gone through the Scouting program, our younger children have been actively involved in many elements of Scouting as it is very family oriented. Our other children have eagerly awaited their turn to officially become Scouts with our second-to-youngest joining the Lion rank this year!

What has been your favorite Scouting experience and why?

April: We love going on family campouts. It’s so nice to go out and enjoy the outdoors with the whole family. All of my children, even the ones not old enough to officially be Scouts, are always asking when we’re going to go camping again. I love seeing them so excited to just be outside exploring!

What is the most important thing about Scouting that you think people should know?

April: I think that people should be aware that no matter their beliefs, Scouting’s curriculum is focused on shaping our children into good, hard-working, self-sufficient, value-driven adults with good character. We all want to make sure that our children and future generations are the best people they can be, and Scouting does just that!

Special thanks to Scouters April and Miguel Rivas from Circle Ten Council for sharing their family’s story.

 


The Scouting Wire ‘Families Like Mine’ series features unique stories of Scouting families and their experiences. Do you know someone who has a great story to share about the positive impact Scouting has had on their family? Share it with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and it could be featured in a future edition of the ‘Families Like Mine’ series!

Please join us as we congratulate Brian Tobler, who will be serving as Scout executive of the Golden Spread Council in Amarillo, Texas, effective November 1, 2019.

Brian began his Scouting career as a district executive at the Heart of America Council in Kansas City, Missouri. He moved on to become a senior district executive, district director, and later assistant director of field service of the council before being promoted to director of field service of the Denver Area Council in Denver, Colorado.

Brian is an Eagle Scout who enjoys watching, playing and coaching sports and spending time with his family.

Brian and his wife, Laurie, have four children.

Please help us send Brian our well wishes in the comments below as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Golden Spread Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Please join us as we congratulate Marc T. Andreo, who will serve as Scout executive of the Patriots’ Path Council in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey, effective October 15, 2019.

Marc began his Scouting career as a district executive and then district director with the Greater New York Councils in New York, New York. He moved on to become a development director and later director of development for the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was then promoted to director of field service of the Narragansett Council in Providence, Rhode Island. In 2007, Marc was selected as Scout executive of the Westchester-Putnam Council in Hawthorne, New York, and in 2013 was promoted to area director for Area 2 of the Northeast Region.

Marc is an Eagle Scout from Staten Island, New York, a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and a NCCS Bronze Pelican recipient. Marc enjoys backpacking, golf, skiing and traveling with family and friends.

Marc and his wife, Beth, have 3 daughters: Danielle, Isabelle, and Michelle.

In the comments below, please help us send Marc our well wishes as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Patriots’ Path Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Congratulations to Greg Balog, who will serve as Scout executive of the Blue Ridge Council in Greenville, South Carolina, effective November 1, 2019.

Greg began his Scouting career as a district executive at the Blue Ridge Council, where he also served as finance director and field director. He moved on to become the assistant Scout executive of the Indian Waters Council in Columbia, South Carolina. He was then promoted to foundation director and later director of field service of the Circle Ten Council in Dallas, Texas, before being selected to serve as Scout executive of the Central North Carolina Council in Albemarle, North Carolina.

Greg has 2 children, Parker and Dalton.

In the comments below, please help us welcome Greg to his new role in the BSA as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Blue Ridge Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Tuesday, 01 October 2019 14:19

Observing Hispanic Heritage Month

Carlos Cortez, Los Padres Council Scout Executive:

The observation of Hispanic Heritage Month covers the 30 days from September 15 to October 15. This year’s theme is “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving our Nation,” which both invites us to recognize the contributions made by Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the United States, and to celebrate their heritage and culture.

Members of the Latinx community serve as Civil Rights leaders, politicians, military, educators, first responders, science pioneers, public servants, and leaders of industry. Individuals who have contributed to the history of our nation include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor, former secretary of the Department of Labor Hilda Solis, UFW co-founder and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, astronaut Franklin Ramon Chang Diaz, Nobel Prize awardees Luis Walter Alvarez and Baruj Benacerraf. These leaders are famous for the impact they have made to our great country, but there are many more whose contributions to our country are also impactful.

For many of us in the BSA, Hispanic Heritage Month represents a very important time for us to help everyone feel represented and included by providing an opportunity to have Scouts talk about their culture with pride and share that pride with their fellow Scouts. As leaders in our movement, it is important that we encourage Scouts to express and demonstrate their pride as way to help their fellow Scouts learn about other cultures.

For example, there may be opportunities for units to involve their families from the Hispanic/Latinx community in sharing about their culture in a variety of ways during meetings or other special events that are culturally appropriate and respectful. Units may also visit museums, monuments, and/or exhibits pertaining to Hispanic Heritage Month to further their education, excitement, and possibly even complete some advancement requirements.

I encourage Scouts and Scouters across the country to participate in their local communities’ Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations as a unit to demonstrate support and welcome more families into Scouting.

This month presents a unique opportunity for us to expand Scouts’ knowledge of the communities they live in and further welcome our Hispanic and Latinx families into the program we all love. Your kids, families, and Scouting overall will benefit from us embracing all in our community.

¡Viva BSA!


Frank Ramirez, BSA National Executive Board Member:

For many of us in the BSA, Hispanic Heritage Month represents a very important time for us to help everyone feel represented and included by providing an opportunity to have Scouts talk about their culture with pride and share that pride with their fellow Scouts. 

Frank Ramirez, BSA National Executive Board Member, recently shared his own pride in how his Latino heritage and Scouting background align.

“I am the firstborn son of poor Latino Immigrants,” Ramirez said. “When my parents risked their health and comfort for a chance at a better life, they had no idea of the role that Scouting would play in the fulfillment of their dreams. Our family had no legacy in Scouting so the personal ‘ask’ by a grizzled ex-marine Scoutmaster, who lived down the block, made a life changing difference. The core values of my Latino heritage, respect for God and duty to family, melded seamlessly with Scouting’s core values of Duty to God and Duty to Country and through that association I joined the ranks of other young men who became strong, contributing, and principled citizens of the United States of America. My love of Scouting thus reflects the embodiment of the famous Spanish idiom, ‘Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.’ I am, therefore, honored to have helped to open Scouting’s doors to the sons and daughters of all parents who long for a better life for their children. ¡Viva Scouting!”

Much like Frank Ramirez, as leaders in our movement, it is important that we encourage Scouts to express and demonstrate their pride as way to help their fellow Scouts learn about other cultures.

Scouting Wire would like to thank Carlos Cortez, Scout Executive of Los Padres Council, and Frank Ramirez, BSA National Executive Board Member, for contributing their stories and for sharing their thoughts on what Hispanic Heritage Month means in the Scouting Movement.

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