Please join us as we congratulate Matt Klutzaritz, who will serve as Scout executive of the Pine Tree Council in Portland, Maine, effective January 1, 2020.

Matt began his Scouting career as an exploring executive at the Minsi Trails Council in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He moved on to become a district executive, district director, Scoutreach director, field director, and director of field service of the council before being selected to serve as Scout executive of the Northeast Iowa Council in Dubuque, Iowa.

Matt enjoys music and sports.

Matt and his wife, Carolyn, have two children: Mark (19) and Jamie (16).

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

Please join us as we congratulate Jeff Brasher, who will serve as Scout executive of the Norwela Council in Shreveport, Louisiana, effective November 15, 2019.

Jeff began his Scouting career as a district executive at the Tukabatchee Area Council in Montgomery, Alabama. He moved on to become the senior district executive and later field director of the Istrouma Area Council in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was promoted to field director, program director, and then director of support services of the Greater Alabama Council in Birmingham, Alabama, before being selected to serve as Scout executive of the Northwest Georgia Council in Rome, Georgia.

Jeff is an Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow and Professional Circle Award recipient.

Jeff and his wife, Auburn, enjoy kayaking, hiking, cooking, reading, and attending Auburn University football games.

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

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 Name

Unit Total

Youth Total

Silicon Valley Monterey Bay

San Jose, CA






Lockport, IL





Pacific Harbors

Tacoma, WA


Rainier District



Las Vegas Area

Las Vegas, NV


Northern Area



Connecticut Yankee

Milford, CT


02 Scatacook



Circle Ten

Dallas, TX


Chisholm Trail



Pacific Harbors

Tacoma, WA


Olympic District



Silicon Valley Monterey Bay

San Jose, CA


Coyote Creek



Verdugo Hills

Glendale, CA





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. 


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