In 2019, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the BSA asked six teams of volunteers and professionals from the local, area, regional and national level – including current or recent youth members and subject-matter experts – to develop plans on how to optimize the BSA for success in key areas based on input provided by more than 1,100 local, area, region and national volunteers and professionals, including:

  • Youth Safety: How do we keep young people safe?
  • Program: Are the BSA programs aligned with today’s young people?
  • Communications and Marketing: How can National Council improve communication with stakeholders?
  • Organizational Structure: Do we have the most effective organizational structure?
  • National Council Effectiveness: Are there changes that would make the National Council more effective?
  • Financial Health: How do we build a solid financial path forward?

Since the fall of last year, these six groups convened to assess their designated areas and determine opportunities for growth and improvement in the future as we look to bring Scouting to youth of all backgrounds – regardless of race, faith, nationality, gender or economic circumstances. While the groups were encouraged to think broadly and considered various inputs from interviews and ongoing research, all efforts were anchored in ensuring the delivery of our proven programs in a safe manner grounded in the Scout Oath and Law.

In June 2020, the six groups presented the National Executive Committee (NEC) with proposed recommendations they believed would be needed to strengthen Scouting so that our next century is even stronger than our legacy.

What are the Next Steps for the Churchill Proposed Recommendations?

In the next phase of this effort, the National Executive Committee has asked the National Management Team to facilitate the evaluation of the proposed recommendations (noted below) and, as appropriate, develop corresponding action plans that would be executed should the NEC decide to move forward with the respective recommendations. It is important to underscore that the proposals of the six Churchill study groups remain recommendations, are now under review by the National Management Team and appropriate committees, and have not yet been approved by the NEC.

Members of the Scouting family are welcome to provide input to aid in the assessment. Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

After their deliberation, the Management Team and the appropriate committees will recommend to the NEC whether the individual proposed recommendations should be adopted, amended, delayed, or declined given interests of the organization.

In the fall of 2020, the NEC will review and weigh these recommendations with the corresponding proposed action plans to decide how to move forward, including deciding whether to accept the recommendation, how to implement, and against what timeframe.

The Importance of Embracing Change

Meaningful change is rarely easy. However, it is a process that is necessary to grow and succeed, which is a shared goal we all have for Scouting, whether you are a Scout, a volunteer, a professional, a parent, or a donor. Our commitment to the mission of Scouting will continue to guide this effort, and that commitment will also be crucial in guiding the bold steps needed to ensure future generations can benefit from Scouting even more than those that trekked before them.

The 26 Proposed RECOMMENDATIONS Being Considered:

  • Reinvigorate the on-boarding program for new Scout families and members, with a continuing key focus on “Safe Scouting” and “Keeping Young People Safe.”
  • Streamline all Safe Scouting Resources and consolidate in one location.
  • Instill a culture of timely reporting, sharing, enforcement and transparency of safety incidents.
  • Provide tools/resources for councils to deliver Youth Protection/Safety Seminars.
  • Hire a youth adolescence expert on the national level to guide program development.
  • Combine Sea Scouting into Exploring as an aquatic focused career path.
  • Sunset Learning for Life in-school program/curriculum.
  • Evaluate program methods and age parameters to provide an engaging option that enables youth members to transition to adult leadership roles and remain active in Scouting with an ongoing commitment to safety.
  • Establish a volunteer corps for young adults ages 18-29.
  • Streamline the unit rechartering process.
  • Prioritize National BSA strategic communications and marketing and make additional investments in related efforts.
  • Establish a national Chief Communications and Marketing Officer.
  • Update and enforce BSA’s national brand standards.
  • Consolidate local and national websites into a single unified web platform.
  • Leverage High Adventure bases in overall marketing communications strategy.
  • Combine National Annual Business and the Top Hands meetings.
  • Establish minimum standards to be considered a council.
  • National should focus on providing councils with support pertaining to program standards, legal, insurance, IT, brand/PR management, HR, and asset management.
  • Replace Areas and Regions with one streamlined organization support structure that is focused on council sustainability and effectiveness.
  • Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees.
  • Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance.
  • Greater council flexibility in operating within brand standards.
  • Create a membership category for youth and families with no advancement programs.
  • Greater reliance on volunteers to offset national staff reductions.
  • Rotate national volunteers back to local councils or new intermediate organization.
  • Transition to digital merit badge resources.

Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

Please join us in congratulating Karen Meier, who will serve as Scout executive of the Pacific Harbors Council in Tacoma, Washington, effective July 16, 2020.

Karen began her Scouting career as a district executive at the Transatlantic Council in Mannheim, Germany. She moved on to become the senior district executive and later development director with the council in Livorno, Italy. In 2012, Karen was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Far East Council in Okinawa, Japan, and in 2016, moved on to serve as Scout executive of the Inland Northwest Council in Spokane, Washington.

Karen is a Vigil Honor member and Founder’s Award recipient of the Order of the Arrow, and has also received the Silver Beaver Award. Her hobbies include embracing the culture around her, volunteering with the local Rotary Club, and healthy living in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Karen and her husband, John Paul, have two grown children and six grandchildren. Their son, John “J.R.”, is an Eagle Scout and Afghanistan Veteran, currently serving as a Captain in the U.S. Army. J.R. and his wife, Nicole, live with their four children in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Their daughter, Tara, is a Venturing Silver Award recipient who lives in the Northwest with her fiancé and two children.

Please help us send Karen our well wishes in the comments below as she joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Pacific Harbors Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of the communities they serve.

Please join us as we congratulate Mark Saxon, who will serve as Scout executive of the Green Mountain Council in Waterbury, Vermont, effective August 1, 2020.

Mark began his Scouting career in 2008 as a district executive at the Old North State Council in Greensboro, North Carolina. He moved on to become a district director at the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he has served as director of development since 2015.

Mark is an Eagle Scout who enjoys gardening, snowboarding, and hiking.

Mark and his wife, Bethany, have two daughters: Riley and Abigail.

In the comments below, please help us welcome Mark to his new role in Scouting as he joins in partnership with the volunteers and staff of the Green Mountain Council to deliver quality Scouting experiences to the young people of Vermont.

Congratulations to John C. Fenoglio, who will serve as Scout executive of the newly established Golden Gate Area Council, effective June 1, 2020. The Golden Gate Area Council was created when the Alameda Council, the San Francisco Bay Area Council, and the Mount Diablo Silverado Council consolidated to enable the Scouting community to meet the ongoing mission of providing the foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership to youth in the area.

John began his Scouting career in 1987 as a district executive at the Crossroads of America Council in Indianapolis, Indiana. He moved on to become the director of programs at the Indianhead Council in St. Paul, Minnesota. John continued his career as director of field service of the Mid-Iowa Council in Des Moines, Iowa, and then was selected to serve as Scout executive of the Anthony Wayne Area Council in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He most recently served as Scout executive of the Mount Diablo Silverado Council in Pleasant Hill, California.

John is an Eagle Scout, a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, and Rotarian who enjoys golf, traveling, and fishing.

John and his wife, Stephanie, have three children: Lydia, Elena, and Charlie who is an Eagle Scout.

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

Article submitted by Paul Verwers, District Executive, Longhorn Council

Fall time for a District Executive can seem daunting. September is a very busy time in Scouting. Not only is it our biggest recruitment month, but we must keep up with many other tasks. New Scouts are joining, the popcorn campaign is popping, the Family Friends Scouting chair is preparing for the fundraising campaign, new leaders need training–activities are all happening one right after the other. Being organized is not optional, especially that time of year. Look at your calendar and update your to-do list every day.

With all of the activities keeping you busy, it is still important to stay in touch with each of your volunteers. Communicate with your District Key 3 and make sure they have the tools to keep your district functioning at a high level. Don’t forget your Family Friends of Scouting chair. They need to start recruiting and training presenters for the upcoming fundraising campaign. Remember to check in with your Fall Camporee volunteers. Verify that the volunteers have budgets and understand the steps that need to be taken to hold the events.

All this being said, keep in mind that our best laid plans may not work, and we may need to pivot and adjust quickly to the changing environment. Our school recruitments may look very different this year. Keep in mind that you may have to find new ways to do Scout Talks, including sending Virtual Scout talks or previously recorded videos. We may have to rely more on the digital world to get our message out and bring new youth to the program.

In the end, it’s important to remember our mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Every youth deserves the opportunity to be a Scout. Don’t let them down, and put in every effort to give all youth a chance to be a part of this awesome adventure!

Look into the future and envision September now. You have already set up all your school nights, whether they will be in person or virtual. You finally made it to the fall sign-up night period of your Scouting year! Are you ready for all the hard work that you put in over the last eight months to result in tangible results? Below are some tips to a successful fall roundup.

  • If local health guidelines permit, attend sign-up nights. It is important that volunteers at the district and unit level run the sign-up nights, but your attendance at sign-up nights can positively improve recruitment efforts. Often, questions come up that you as a professional can easily answer. Your presence will show volunteers that you care about growing their pack. Be present at as many sign-up nights as you are able.
  • Keep your vehicle well stocked! Just as teachers need to be ready with their lesson materials, September is not the time to run out of youth applications, sign-up sheets, field receipts, and other often-used items.
  • Track your recruitment data. Know how many Scouts each school/unit recruited at its sign-up nights the year before. This will let you know if the pack is on track or underperforming on expectations. If a school recruited 12 scouts last year and only 3 this year, try to find out why, and if a follow-up sign-up night at the school is required.
  • Communicate with your fall sign-up chair and district membership committee. We have great volunteers in the BSA, but they still need support and guidance. Verify that everyone knows the sign-up night location, schedule, and any local health guidance. Ensure that they are prepared with all the needed supplies and training.
  • Continually follow up with your schools. Confirm that Scout Talks are scheduled and that all details associated with them are arranged with the school representative.
  • Are you are doing virtual Scout talks or sending previously recorded videos to schools? If so, ensure that the schools have the capabilities to share those videos and that the videos have the correct info on how to join BSA.
  • If you are able to send flyers in the traditional way, stay on top of the distribution. Familiarize yourself with the process for getting flyers out to the students. Is there a day that flyers go home with students? Does the school have a digital flyer service or other online ways of getting out information?
  • Distribute sufficient marketing materials to your units. Display yard signs, posters, door hangers, Facebook posts well before the sign-up night.
  • Reach out to charter sponsors. Make sure they are aware of any upcoming sign-up nights for their pack. Ask to put information in the Church bulletin and on their marquee.
  • Work with your training chair to set up new leader training. Don’t let your newly recruited leaders feel lost and alone. Have several training opportunities throughout the fall to help strengthen their skills and confidence.
  • Work with your commissioner core. Engage your commissioners to support your membership efforts. Having a strong commissioner team is a key to keep your units active and in good health.

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

Article submitted by Carl Hanke, Field Director, Last Frontier Council, Oklahoma City

Fall Recruiting has never been more important to the success of our units, districts and councils as it is now. While states are starting to open back up on a limited basis through phases, it becomes vital that we honor our motto of “Be Prepared.” Planning and executing membership efforts this fall is no exception.

The first step is to set a goal that is meaningful, will get volunteers engaged in making a significant impact, and is attainable if normal membership operations are not able to occur. Next, through meeting with key volunteers and fellow professionals, brainstorm steps needed to achieve the goal. Finally, an action list is developed, and actions are assigned to the key stakeholders (Professionals, District Membership Committee, Unit Leaders) to execute these new strategies. 

One of the many things that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped us realize is the need to be innovative and agile in our daily operations. Additionally, these projects may be continued in future membership efforts. Here are some of the additional efforts we are running with in Oklahoma City:

  • Hosting Drive-Thru Sign-Up Events. If schools do not allow us to use the cafeteria due to cleaning policies, have a drive-thru sign-up in the parking lot.
  • Ensuring That Every Den Is At Full Strength. Every Cub Scout Den should have at least 10 youth and 2 adult leaders.
  • Making Videos To Use as Digital School Talks/Sign-Ups. If we are not allowed to visit students in classrooms or assemblies, videos can be used to reach them.
  • Setting Up New Cub Scout Dens in Underserved Communities. Partner with neighborhood associations to start new dens in areas where we don’t already have units.
  • Partnering with Online Schools.
  • Running a “Digital Blitz Week” for New Units.
  • Partnering With Other Digital Events to Promote Scouting. Use other youth activities that hold online meetings to promote Scouting.

The possibilities are limitless in our unique area of service. Hopefully, these help our units, districts, and councils become wildly successful, but there might be a few that don’t pan out the way that we think. We are all challenged to find new ways of recruiting youth, and it is our responsibility to make everything come together to result in membership growth.

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

Article submitted by Sean Fogle, Field Director, Connecticut Rivers Council

In our current turbulent times, certain catchphrases are ever present. We constantly hear about the “new normal,” “due diligence,” “social distancing,” and “out of abundance of caution.” One phrase for us in our movement that has not changed is “if you build it, he will come!” The corny catchphrase from the well known 1989 film Field of Dreams still rings true today.

As we all plan out our strategies over the next four months and retrofit our programs to our current situation, we will have wins and losses. In the Connecticut Rivers Council, we have run no less than a dozen virtual program initiatives over the past two months. Some of them weren’t as successful as we’d hoped, but many of them have received a high level of engagement from our families. The common denominators from our more successful programs can be summed up in a Letterman-style Top Seven list.

  1. Be Genuine: A lot of other organizations are also pivoting to compete for a family’s time. It is important to stay genuine to Scouting’s programs. Our Virtual Camporee that took place in late April had more than 24,000 views and a reach of more than 72,000, just on our council’s Facebook page. How did we do it? We kept the program as close to the real thing as possible and supplemented family programs with our content. We had an event guide, camp staff raising flags, opening prayer, songs at meal times, unit-provided video demonstrations, cooking contests, a popcorn craft competition, interviews with subject matter experts like family medical practitioners, an entomologist (bug expert), special guests, and more. See all of our videos from the Virtual Camporee here.
  2.  Stay Active: From fundraisers to NOVA classes, it is important to keep producing content, despite the risk of a big swing and a miss. We should not be afraid to make mistakes in coming up with something that may not work. With the costs mitigated, even a failed program idea is not bad a thing. Potential new program elements could come out of all our virtual programming now, and that is very exciting. 
  3. Collaborate: Our Director of Support Service, Mike Brown, first initiated a specialized think tank we affectionately call the “stink tank.” A virtual meeting of the minds. Every idea that we have had came from this meeting. We make a point to meet once a week to discuss future strategies and activities. It is a low-pressure water cooler type discussion that has paid off with big dividends. We have now started to cherry pick other professionals from the national office and other councils who we see doing great things, and we share ideas.
  4. Communicate: With everything on high alert, it is an essential business practice to communicate early and often about anything you are doing. It is important to communicate across all levels with a consistent message on all your platforms to your stakeholders. Emails, Facebook, online meetings, and wherever you can get in front of people. Know what programs you are offering and distribute that material early and often. This has been very beneficial for external audiences to see all the good we are doing through Scouting, as well. We send out specific messaging in press releases. through our media list, and those press releases have gotten picked up every time by a media outlet. You can see examples of our press releases here and here
  5. Make Content Relevant: Our families at home are suffering in unseen ways. Providing relevant content into their homes and at their own pace is key. Everything we have done has been designed around healthy living tips or ways to make life at home more enjoyable. For instance, we interviewed a professional board game designer on his favorite games to play, and we encouraged a family game night to get away from the electronics. It is important to also make it fun through the whole process. Our virtual summer camp introduced in early May is called Camp Kinda-Like-A. We have a nice theme song and all marketing for it has been light and fun. We have a couple hundred kids signed up for it already. You can watch our Spirit Week videos here
  6. Be Prepared: In Connecticut, due to concerns about the pandemic, the state government has prohibited overnight camping and has placed restrictions around day camp. While we were prepared well ahead of time for our camping season, when we were forced to cancel our original plans, we had already developed a solid alternative plan as a contingency. I give a lot of credit to our camp team that had to close all our operations but also simultaneously opened up another another option for our Scouting families to provide complete programs, partner with other councils, and even stand up a virtual trading post. Check out the website for Camp Kinda-Like-A here
  7. Use your Resources: For all our programs, we really tried to involve as many people as we could. I have personally asked college friends who are now doctors, my former den mates who have interesting careers, and other local institutions to partner on creating virtual content. A huge success for us has come from local sports teams, museums, and organizations that have not partnered with us in a long time but who are now willing to partner. It’s been great residual marketing for us locally because museums have gone live on their pages to run program for our Scouts. On top of that, our normal avenue for program delivery is still available. Our volunteers are doing amazing things out there still, sharing program content on platforms like Zoom and Facebook Live. They bring virtual den meetings, NOVA programs, merit badges, trainings, and more to our audiences. We have also been the beneficiary of specialized videos from the national high adventure bases that have gone live exclusively for us. We are constantly on the lookout to see what other councils and other organizations are doing. Quoting Pablo Picasso, “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.” I personally follow 75 councils’ social media accounts, and I make a point to look at all of them weekly. I really admire a lot of their virtual programs, and I encourage them to “steal” ideas from us, as well!

Our roadmap for virtual programs is being forged now. We are constantly tinkering and coming up with a variety of initiatives for all of our youth and adults. On behalf of the Connecticut Rivers Council “Stink Tank,” thanks for doing all sorts of great virtual programming out there, and I hope that these suggestions help.

We must build it, and they will come, but we have to build it so they stay, as well.

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

Terrence Hamilton, Scout Executive, Gulf Stream Council

Scouting Wire regularly takes a look at how Scouting families across the country observe a variety of different holidays and support fellow unit members in their own holiday observances. Join us as Terrence Hamilton, Scout Executive of the Gulf Stream Council, shares his unique perspective on the importance of Juneteenth. 

Scouting Wire: For those who may not be familiar with Juneteenth, can you please tell us a little about the holiday?

Terrence Hamilton: Juneteenth has traditionally been celebrated by most Black families and Black communities that have deep family roots in the state of Texas. It is historical because, on this day in 1865, enslaved Blacks in Texas received news that the war was over, and they were now free people. It is important to note that this occurred two-and-a-half years after the signing of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. As the newly freed Blacks left Texas, they annually chose to celebrate their freedom in their new state of residence.

This day in Black history was not mentioned in most history books but has gained in popularity since the onset of the Internet. Nationally, and now globally, this day symbolizes and commemorates the true end of slavery.

Initially, celebratory events were confined to Black communities. They included BBQ, soul food dishes, games, rodeos, and prayer. Today, the focus of Juneteenth has shifted somewhat. While celebrations in the traditional sense still happen, they are now paired with events that seek to develop a deeper knowledge of Black history and culture. There is also an additional focus on self-development and self-improvement.

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

TH: No, but I am sure some exists. As Scouts, we seek to understand different cultures. In doing so, we gain respect and appreciation for others who may not look like us or share the same beliefs.

SW: For Scout units that may have members who celebrate Juneteenth, what are some considerations and ways these Scout units can show support for their fellow Scouts who observe this holiday?

TH: Learn more by visiting a Juneteenth community event near you, or search for a virtual celebration. There are many great virtual options online.

Special thanks to Terrence Hamilton, Scout Executive of the Gulf Stream Council, for sharing this with Scouting Wire. 

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