Article contributed by Wendy Shaw, National Director of Membership Growth

Last month we shared the national aspirational goal of having a girl troop in every district. The number of girl troops continues to climb. Let’s look at some of the highlights to date…

If you have eight or more troops in your district, you are in the TOP TEN in the BSA! Great work to the staff serving those districts. If you have seven girl troops in your district you are in the TOP TWENTY! Impressive work in less than seven months.

Congrats to the following councils for having a girl troop in every traditional district:

Northeast Region

Spirit of Adventure

Mayflower

Connecticut Rivers

Greenwich

Housatonic

Connecticut Yankee

Suffolk County

Twin Rivers

Five Rivers

Leatherstocking

Allegheny Highlands

Westmoreland-Fayette

Susquehanna

Cradle of Liberty

Puerto Rico

Transatlantic

Southern Region

Bay Area

Suwanee River Area

Daniel Boone

Central North Carolina

Palmetto

Shenandoah Area

Cherokee Area

Cimarron

Central Region

Voyageurs Area

Samoset

Bay Lakes

Chippewa Valley

Black Hills Area

Water and Woods

Hawkeye Area

Northeast Iowa

Lake Erie

Muskingum Valley

Mountaineer Area

Santa Fe Trail

Pony Express

Northeast Illinois

Glacier’s Edge

Potawatomi Area

Rainbow

Western Region

Ore-Ida

Mount Baker

Pikes Peak

Rocky Mountain

Alameda

Sequoia

Pacific Skyline

Marin

Redwood Empire

Piedmont

Silicon Valley Monterey Bay

Greater Los Angeles Area

Western Los Angeles County

Los Padres

Far East

Scouting Wire would like to thank Wendy for contributing this article.

Monday, 26 August 2019 12:13

How to Attend Growth Conference 2020

Article contributed by Wendy Shaw, National Director of Membership Growth

2020 Growth Conference

We heard positive feedback from those of you who attended the 2019 Regional Growth Conferences. The feedback was so positive that we are pleased to announce the return of the Growth Conference in 2020. Once again, the attendees will be invited to attend based on their membership performance. 

Three significant changes for 2020 include:

  1. Having a single event in Las Vegas instead of four regional events
  2. Districts will be grouped by size so attendees will be invited to attend based on their membership growth as compared to other districts of a similar size
  3. The deadline to qualify for an invitation to attend is November 30, 2019 (not year-end)

For more information, click here.

Scouting Wire would like to thank Wendy for submitting this article.

Article contributed by Jim Bollback, District Executive of the Northern Star Council and Central Region Top New Unit Executive

Recently a colleague asked me, “Jim, how did you start so many new units?” I gave my response little thought and blurted out, “start early and work hard.”

But since that brief conversation, I have given the question a good deal of thought. My initial response was accurate but incomplete.

It was about this same time that I also downloaded the Central Region New Unit App and began to plug in the information for my new units. And as I did, my colleague’s question kept reverberating in my mind. As we all know, starting new units – even under the best of circumstances (like the opportunity to start new girl Troops) – is not easy.

Here are the four things that I put into practice to start Scouts BSA troops for girls:

1.Start Early. My first contact with a troop committee to discuss the future possibility of a girl troop was in March 2018 – after girls were first welcomed into Cub Scouts. With few exceptions, discussions started with chartered organizations and troop committees months in advance of the official launch date in 2019. In most cases, multiple meetings and conversations were required to work with the volunteers to put all the pieces together. In the end, I was glad I started early.

2.Invest in People.This is our modus operandi in Scouting, but it is easily forgotten. I was able to recruit an “ambassador” for girl troops and got the enthusiastic buy-in of my district chair and district membership chair. That would not have been possible, however, if I had not first spent time investing in them, getting to know them, and listening to their perspectives. Their participation, and that of many other volunteers, along with the synergy that was created was essential to the successful formation of new units.

3.Don’t Rush. It takes time to cultivate chartered organizations, potential new leaders, and to recruit new Scouts. Last minute rarely works, nudging is better than pushing, and working slowly and steadily toward the goal wins the confidence and support of all the players necessary. It also assures that all the details are covered.

4.Work Hard. It takes a lot of hard work to start new units! There are no shortcuts. It means repeating the same answers or making the same suggestions over and over again. It means flexing my work schedule so that I can be available to meet with the key players. It means research and study to select locations and growing knowledge of what constitutes a healthy unit and a source of youth to recruit.   

I can only speak from my personal experience, but I know these tips can help you, too: Start Early, Invest in People, Don’t Rush, and Work Hard!

Scouting Wire would like to thank Jim for contributing this article.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019 22:12

Scoutbook: Simplifying Cub Scout Leadership

Cub Scouts doesn’t happen without our parents and volunteers. It is, at its core, a family program.

I say it often and I’ll say it again: I am incredibly grateful to each of you who give your time to drive your children to meetings, volunteer to coordinate program activities or answer the call to serve as leaders and mentor Scouts. You make an incredible difference in the lives of young people. While this is true of volunteers for all our programs, Cub Scout volunteers are unique in that their role is the most engaged. We are always looking for ways to innovate and make the delivery of our programs easier, more consistent and accessible to all. This is why we’ve updated Scoutbook to make it a one-stop-shop for den leaders to access the tools they need to deliver this great program.

With the new enhancements, Scoutbook now offers den leaders the ability to plan activities, track attendance, record advancement, communicate with parents and leaders, and access leader resources. You can learn more about the features in this Bryan on Scouting blog. This technology will streamline required administrative activities and simplify the role of den leaders to keep the focus on what den leaders do best – bring the program to life. These individuals are the heart of Cub Scouts, so we want to give them the support, flexibility and freedom they need to create fun and meaningful experiences for their den. I hope you’ll go check out the new enhancements to Scoutbook this week. When we have consistent program delivery, it saves time for leaders and adds value to the Cub Scout experience by ensuring all Scouts get the full benefits of our time-tested curriculum.

One benefit of Cub Scouts that I consistently hear about from parents is how they look to this program as an opportunity to make the most of the time they have together as a family. We want to make it as easy as possible for parents to engage in our programs and technology is key to making participation simple. I encourage you all to help us move forward in the goal of reaching more families by using this system to connect and make Scouting even more accessible.

While this Scoutbook update specifically benefits Cub Scout leaders, we’re working toward similar functionality for our other programs in the future. If you experience any issues or have feedback on Scoutbook to share, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you all for helping youth make the most of right now.

Yours in Scouting,

Mike

This article was contributed by Michael Johnson, National Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America.

Recent media reports have highlighted claims of abuse against the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). As Director of Youth Protection here at the BSA, I share the same concerns as anyone seeing these stories, and I have the utmost respect for the courage demonstrated by these men coming forward. These claims understandably raise questions about what we do to keep kids safe in Scouting today, and I’d like to take the time to address those questions.

Sadly, there have been times when individuals targeted youth in our organization and took advantage of our programs in order to harm children. This infuriates me and our entire organization. We are heartbroken for victims and apologize to anyone who was harmed during their time in Scouting. We believe victims, we support survivors, and we encourage them to come forward.

In my 24 years investigating child abuse cases as a police detective, I spoke with hundreds of victims and spent decades interrogating predators and sending them to prison. I know what we as an organization and as a society are up against.

I understand the scars victims carry throughout their lives and have seen firsthand the impact on families. Victims and survivors must be believed and supported unconditionally. Protecting children is a duty we all share. 

The BSA understood this when it took the step of creating a full-time National Director of Youth Protection position in 2010, which is dedicated exclusively to working to keep kids safe from predators in Scouting programs. Contrary to many inaccurate reports, our youth protection policies are in line with – and sometimes even ahead of – society’s knowledge of abuse and best practices for preventing abuse. We actively share and continually improve these policies through our mandatory youth protection training, our ongoing collaborations with groups such as the Centers for Disease Control[1] and youth-serving organizations, and continuous engagement with survivors of abuse and top experts in this area. We also make our training and policies available free to the public.

Our efforts began in the 1920s with what we now call the Volunteer Screening Database (VSD), formerly known as the Ineligible Volunteer Files. This system has been the subject of much misinformation, but it was established at a time when there were virtually no resources or tools for protecting youth. It was intended as a screening mechanism to prevent individuals accused of abuse or inappropriate conduct from joining or rejoining our programs. Today, experts[2] agree that maintaining such a database is one of the most effective ways to prevent predators from having access to children.

While local chartered organizations and parents are responsible for selecting their unit leaders, the national organization mandates criminal background checks as part of that selection process. It is worth noting, however, that background checks alone are not sufficient, as experts have found a significant amount of abuse goes unreported.[3] This is why we will continue to push for the creation of a national database to serve as a clearing house for all youth-serving organizations and go beyond existing criminal databases. We believe all organizations such as ours should identify, document and report adults who have harmed children or have been suspected of harming children and report this information into a national registry so that these individuals cannot move from one organization to another, regardless of whether authorities pursue criminal charges.

In addition to mandating that volunteers complete comprehensive, research-based and expert-informed youth protection training, we also require adherence to youth protection policies including “two-deep leadership,” which prevents one-on-one interactions between adults and children – both in person and via digital channels. Additionally, even when not required by state or local law, we mandate all volunteers and staff members nationwide immediately report any abuse allegation to law enforcement. We require this in every Scouting program across the country despite the fact some states have exceptions to the mandated reporting of child abuse.[4] The child safety policies and procedures we utilize are among the most advanced and comprehensive of any youth-serving organization today.

It is a tragedy and a national epidemic that out of the general U.S. population, one in six boys and one in four girls experience sexual abuse or assault by the time they turn 18.[5] This is an unacceptable public health and safety problem that must be addressed. I’m proud that our organization has long sought to be a part of a collective solution to confront this epidemic and work toward a holistic solution, and we will continue to do so.

I can’t say that I, or the BSA, have all the answers; nor will there ever be a simple solution, but I can say we are working with key stakeholders to identify solutions. Our organization has always sought to protect youth, both in and out of Scouting. If there’s one thing that we have learned, it’s that keeping children safe requires a commitment by experts, government officials, organizations, families and survivors across the country to work together to end the national crisis of child abuse and exploitation. 

If you have been a victim of abuse or have any information about suspected abuse, please reach out to our 24/7 Scouts First Hotline at 1-844-Scouts1 for immediate assistance. For more on what the BSA is doing to keep kids safe, please visit: https://www.scouting.org/training/youth-protection/.

Michael Johnson is the National Youth Protection Director for the Boy Scouts of America. He is an internationally recognized expert on child abuse prevention and investigation, and for 24 years of his 28-year law enforcement career he served as a Detective and the Lead Child Abuse Investigator in the Criminal Investigation division of the Plano Police Department outside of Dallas, Texas. He has conducted more than 350 trainings for child abuse prevention professionals in 47 states and internationally.

[1] Child Safety in Youth Serving Organizations: Assuring Safe, Stable, Nurturing Relationships and Environments. The CDC Foundation.

[2] Saul J, Audage NC. Preventing Child Sexual Abuse Within Youth-serving Organizations: Getting Started on Policies and Procedures. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control; 2007.

[3] Michael L. Bourke, Lance Fragomeli, Paul J. Detar, Michael A. Sullivan, Edward Meyle & Mark O’Riordan (2014): The use of tactical polygraph with sex offenders, Journal of Sexual Aggression: An international, interdisciplinary forum for research, theory and practice, DOI: 10.1080/13552600.2014.886729

[4] Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2016). Mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.

[5] Dube, S.R., Anda, R.F., Whitfield, C.L., et al. (2005). Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 28, 430-438.

Article contributed by Eric Wagstaff, district executive from Portland, OR

Empowering community members to promote their positive Scouting experiences is one of the most poignant and rewarding aspects of being a Scouting professional. We have each encountered individuals who may be unaware of the amazing opportunities available to them through Scouting. Our leaders, that is, the people who are passionate about bringing Scouting to their communities (not necessarily the people who wear uniforms or provide great program), have the energy and connections to create these relationships. When their enthusiasm is harnessed and deployed correctly, their connections lead to amazing and sustainable growth.

Scouting units are full of widely unique individuals – each with their own thoughts, patterns, hobbies, and skillsets. These leaders exist in our current units and might be among those who have little to no knowledge of Scouting as an organization. Many may be interested in starting a unit of their own. Through our direct contact with these people, we have a great opportunity to harness their skills, communication channels, network circles, and time to grow Scouting in our respective service areas. We must be brave enough to ask and avoid the habit of going to the same one or two people within a unit when asking for help.

Sparking a casual conversation and encouraging these individuals to envision what they believe the ideal Scouting experience can be is the first step toward empowering them to become more invested in the growth of our programs. Once they present their vision and ideas, the diligent professional can guide the volunteer closer to full commitment and program buy-in. Through the process of identifying their ideal Scouting experience, some of their passions, skillsets, and community connections will be apparent, and you can begin to provide them with information about how you can help them make their ideal Scouting experience come to life in their community.

At the conclusion of this conversation, you will know whether an individual is excited about spreading the word of Scouting to their local spheres of influence and to families who may be interested in joining the adventure; they are excited to participate in their ideal program and see it come to life!

The Scouting program has a structure that allows for these champion parents, grandparents, and others to bring Scouting to their communities in unique ways. Using our knowledge and expertise to connect with and empower these individuals to become excited about Scouting is extremely powerful. When someone is invested in radiating a distinctive delivery of the Scouting program that reflects their community’s needs, we should be there to identify these people and help facilitate.

Scouting Wire would like to thank Eric for contributing this article.

Article submitted by Harold C. Young Jr., Southern Region Team Lead

“How can I use my membership committee effectively?”

“My membership committee is too small!”

“Where can I plug them in?”

We’ve heard your questions and comments, and we’re here to help.

Membership committees are designed to be a support system for the district. With recruiting season fast approaching, we would like to provide unit-serving executives with a few helpful tools that can make fall recruitment a little less stressful by engaging your membership committees.

  1. Communication
    • Develop a clear plan for each member and their responsibilities.
    • Keep in constant contact with your membership committees’ members – make phone calls to your committee members.
    • Share the Council Membership Plan.
  2. Utilize your membership committees to help with new unit development
    • Build a team whose sole purpose is to develop new unit prospects.
    • Make sure this team is diverse and reflects your area of service.
    • Take them on sales calls.
  3. Provide your membership committees with short term projects
    • Flyer distribution
    • Join Scouting sign-up nights
    • Applications collection center
    • School Scout talks
  4. Committee members as resources
    • Resources to community involvement
    • Become a part of the local PTA/PTO
    • Promotors of the Scouting program

The above items are just a few ways in which we can engage members of our membership committees. We have provided two links below with helpful information and additional resources on how to utilize those volunteers that serve on your membership committees.

References: Membership Committee Guide and Unit Performance Guide

Scouting Wire would like to thank Harold for submitting this story.

Article contributed by Colin Lemon, Director of Exploring – Western and Southern Regions

Exploring is the career education program of the Boy Scouts of America, and it’s celebrating its 70th anniversary this year! What does Exploring look like in your service area? How can Exploring help you reach your goals and impact as many young men and women as possible? Here are four things you can do to grow your Exploring program and make it a vibrant and exciting element of your district or council:

1.Get to Know Your Exploring Advisors

This is one of the most critical keys to success in any program, including Exploring. If you have Exploring already in your district, visit your posts and clubs and see what they are all about. Bring an interesting resource from your council or www.exploring.org that they might not know about. Offer your support in any way you can. Explorers are just like Scouts and Venturers; they want to feel supported and be part of the council family. Many times, when we see a decline in Exploring units, it can be tied to a lack of service on our part. Let’s do everything we can to make it known that we (you, council, national Exploring team, etc.) are here to support them and keep their program alive and kicking!

2.Think Outside the Box!

Exploring aims to give young men and women a chance to pursue any career they choose. Nationally, over 78,000 career interest surveys were conducted in 2018 and data for over 500,000 students is analyzed weekly. That data consistently shows that the number one career interests are in healthcare. Over 26% of the 78,000+ surveys collected show that students want to explore healthcare while only 6% showed an interest in law enforcement and fire/EMS careers. Look at your Exploring units. Do you have any healthcare posts or clubs? Surgeon and registered nurse are the top two careers being requested by youth, and veterinarian is high on the list as well. Many times, Exploring units at hospitals will have 50+ active Explorers! Stop by a veterinary clinic and let them know that you have an awesome program to help them get students involved in their field. Visit your local community college and start healthcare units there. Community colleges have great resources to teach nursing, dental assisting, veterinary techs, surgical techs, radiology, patient care, and much more!

3.It’s About More Than Careers

We often focus on the career aspect of Exploring, which is a major element, but we forget that Exploring has five areas of emphasis: career opportunities, character development, life skills, leadership experience, and citizenship. If your Exploring units focus on careers but do not take advantage of our character and life skills curriculum in the online Activity Library, they are truly missing out on what Exploring is meant to be! Leadership is an important area of emphasis and can be encouraged by starting a district or council Exploring Officers Association. This is a perfect way to give your Explorers a voice in the Exploring program. The districts and councils with Exploring Officers Associations are usually the districts and councils with the healthiest Exploring programs.

4.Don’t Forget the Younger Students!

Several years ago, Exploring introduced a new concept in welcoming young men and women of middle school age (10-14) to enjoy the benefits of the program. Most Exploring posts nationwide do not have an Exploring club associated. That’s like having most of our troops without packs to feed them! If you want to grow Exploring, clubs are essential. Middle schools are looking for programs that will help them expose students to career opportunities and we have exactly what they need. We even have a career and character curriculum designed by educators, just for Exploring clubs to use as part of their program.

The above tactics, while highly impactful, are just a few of the many ways to strengthen and grow the Exploring program in your district or council. Exploring impacts membership, can bring in new funding and new volunteers, satisfies a need that ALL youth have, and can build new and interesting relationships with community leaders.

Exploring is an awesome program but can only grow if we do our absolute best to serve our units, provide a complete and diverse program, and, most importantly, think outside the box. If you need the resources mentioned in this article plus a whole lot more, visit www.exploring.org and scroll to the bottom of the page where our three resource boxes can be found. If you have questions about implementing these ideas in your district or council, drop me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or a call at (972) 336-1882. I’d love to help you grow Exploring!

Scouting Wire would like to thank Colin for contributing this article.

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