Article submitted by Warren Wenner, Chair for the BSA National Special Needs Committee.

One of the most frequently asked questions the BSA National Special Needs and Disabilities Committee receives from district executives, leaders, and parents is: where do I go for help with advancement for my Scout with special needs? Well, the best answer may be right down the street at the Scout’s school. In fact, meeting with the Scout’s special education or reading specialist teacher at school could be the best answer.

These teachers work daily with students who have disabilities and know the challenges and needs of these individuals. Most Scouts who are in a special education program may have an ‘IEP,’ or Individualized Education Program. The IEP is a written document that is developed for each school child who is eligible for special education. It is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year. Parents have input into their child’s plan, and Scouting can be a part of that plan. Many school districts see the importance of what is being learned in classrooms that can be applied to the Scouting program and vice versa.

Provided with a general understanding of the current program in which a Scout is enrolled, a special education or reading specialist teacher may be helpful in planning what that Scout can achieve and the pace at which that Scout can accomplish the work. These teachers may also be able to help a unit committee break down the steps needed for the Scout to achieve the next rank or award.

Once lines of communication have been opened, Scout leaders may find that, in many cases, special education teachers have been doing advancement-related activities in their own classroom. For example, the Cooking Merit Badge. Many high school special education students are learning life skills, and learning to cook is one of those skills. Students have to learn about a healthy diet, menu planning, how to go shopping and eventually cook a meal. The same skills special education teachers are teaching in the classrooms are being taught in Scouting, which can reinforce the IEP for the Scout. Hand-in-hand, the unit committee working with special education teachers on a Scout’s IEP will enhance the Scout’s ability to learn and succeed in school, as well as the troop.

Similarly, Scouts who have physical disabilities may be working at school with their physical education teachers on adapted physical education skills. These teachers may also help the unit learn the limits of what the Scout can do when it comes to the physical activities of many requirements. For example, physical activities such as swimming, personal fitness, or hiking may have certain challenges. This teacher might be able to set limits and goals that a Scout can reach in a reasonable amount of time that could help the Scout complete the requirement(s).

Finally, don’t forget to ask the parents for advice and help. They know their child the best. Elisabeth Shelby, who has a PhD in Special Education and is a member of the National Special Needs and Disabilities Committee mentions, “I used to say that the parents know their child, and educators know techniques.” Parents, unit committee members, and educators should combine these two ingredients to enhance a Scout’s ability to achieve the highest possible level of learning success at home, at school, in Scouting— and beyond.

Scouting is a fantastic program for youth of all capabilities! If you’d like to learn more about growing your district by promoting Scouting to youth with special needs, attend a special membership conference held next January at the Florida Sea Base. Learn more here. Have any tips to add? Share in the comments below. 

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

Wednesday, 30 October 2019 14:46

How to Start a Sea Scout Ship in Two Months

Josh Gilliland, PR Chair for the Sea Scout Support Committee at the Pacific Skyline Council.

Article submitted by Josh Gilliland, PR Chair for the Sea Scout Support Committee at the Pacific Skyline Council.

Sea Scouts is a High Adventure program for older youth and is one means of rapidly increasing council membership by retaining Scouts ages 13-15 and expanding Scouting to youth in high schools. We need your help to grow membership!

The following are best practices learned from starting Sea Scout Ships in councils without existing Sea Scout Ships or volunteers. Many district executives may have little experience with Sea Scouts. Below is a “how to” checklist for launching a new Ship, including finding a charter partner, recruiting volunteers, and holding an open house.

  1. Find a charter partner. One strategy is to perform Google searches in the council service area for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, yacht clubs, scuba stores, kayak rental business, America’s Boating Club (formerly the Power Squadron), or any maritime entity.
  2. Contact the prospective charter partner about sponsoring a Sea Scout Ship. Discuss on the phone, web meeting, or do an in-person pitch to the group. The Presentation for Interested Charter Partner can be modified for each prospective sponsor.
  3. Set the date for an informational meeting at the council office or another location for interested volunteers with at least one month to promote it in the community if there are no prospective volunteers. If there are already volunteers, proceed to volunteer training and setting a date for an open house.
  4. The district executive and commissioner should help promote the meeting for interested volunteers to their district. This can be by email, council newsletter, or at the monthly district meeting. The district executive and/or district commissioner ideally will recruit a volunteer to be the Sea Scout commissioner.
  5. Hold a volunteer meeting and present a modified version of the following to find a Skipper, at least two Mates, and two committee members. This Presentation for Interested Volunteers can be modified for the focus of the Ship.
  6. Go over required volunteer trainings: Youth Protection, Sea Scout Basic Leader Training, and other online trainings. Provide the Skipper, Mates, and committee with the New Ship Starter Kit. The district executive or commissioner should be present with adult leader applications. The New Ship Mentor should work with the Skipper and Mates to modify the Three-Month Sample Program Outline to fit their new program after the meeting. The volunteer informational meeting should end with a date set one month out for a Sea Scout Open House.  
  7. Prepare online and print promotional material for Nextdoor, Facebook, and community boards (such as Starbucks). Focus on using one or two large eye-catching images that highlights the focus of the new Ship, such as kayaking, scuba, or sailing. Include the date, location, time, contact info, and headline promoting the open house.
  8. District executives and commissioners need to help promote the open house to districts. Council newsletter should include an announcement on the open house.
  9. Hold an open house. Check on options for Sea Scouts from other cities on helping with the open house.
  10. Open house should have hands-on activities for the interested youth. Options are unlimited; however, consider easier activities, such as knots, learning to put on life jackets, kayaking, boat rides, throwing heaving lines or ring buoys, making Turk’s Heads, Monkey Fist Keychains, and anything that is an activity where youth get on the water. Providing a barbecue lunch is strongly recommended. The district executive or commissioner ideally will be at the open house with membership forms. Open house should end with the date of the first meeting for the New Ship.
  11. New Sea Scouts should brainstorm on a Ship name at their first meeting. It is strongly recommended that the name has an image that would be great for marketing, such as marine animals, mythology, literature, or famous ships from history. The first and most used uniform of any Sea Scout is their Ship T-shirt. Having a strong logo on the back helps build Ship recognition in the community, esprit de corps among the Scouts, and marketing to other youth in the community. 
  12. Have fun! Get on the water for weekly programs with the new Sea Scouts Ship.

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

Article contributed by Wendy Shaw, National Director of Membership Growth.

Aspirational Goal – A girl troop in every district

As of October 23rd, there are nearly 3,000 girl troops across the BSA. That is an awesome number in just 8 months.

The Polaris District of the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council continues to lead the way at 12 girl troops (September month-end).

The list of the top ten districts includes (September month-end):

Council Name

Council Headquarters

District#

District Name

Unit Total

Youth Total

Silicon Valley Monterey Bay

San Jose, CA

04

Polaris

12

172

Rainbow

Lockport, IL

01

Ishkote

10

79

Pacific Harbors

Tacoma, WA

12

Rainier District

10

80

Las Vegas Area

Las Vegas, NV

04B

Northern Area

10

64

Connecticut Yankee

Milford, CT

02

02 Scatacook

9

76

Circle Ten

Dallas, TX

50

Chisholm Trail

9

74

Pacific Harbors

Tacoma, WA

11

Olympic District

9

76

Silicon Valley Monterey Bay

San Jose, CA

01

Coyote Creek

9

83

Verdugo Hills

Glendale, CA

01-B

Homenetmen

9

105

If you’d like a copy of the most recent list of girl troops by district, please contact Wendy Shaw at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019 14:42

How to Qualify for the 2020 Growth Conference

Article contributed by Wendy Shaw, National Director of Membership Growth.

Leadership60 – 2020 Growth Conference

The clock is ticking to achieve year-end membership growth by November 30th in order to qualify for the 2020 Growth Conference. Across the BSA, 114 districts achieved year-end growth by the end of September. To get a copy of the full listing of districts (September month-end rankings), please contact Wendy Shaw at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We have made one significant change since the last communication about the conference and that is regarding the location. Due to a variety of unforeseen circumstances, the conference will now be held at Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine, TX. We apologize for this change of plans, however, the Great Wolf Lodge offers a great venue for both the recognition event and to spend additional days if you choose to do so at your personal expense.

Click here for additional details about the conference and how to qualify.

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!

Search

Naugatuck Weather

Cannot get Naugatuck, CT location id in module mod_sp_weather. Please also make sure that you have inserted city name.

© 2017 BSA Troop 102, Naugatuck CT. All Rights Reserved. Designed By AlyssaAnne

Search