Anniversary of a Scary Meeting

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This past week North Star District marked the anniversary of a scary meeting. It is worth taking a moment to consider what has happened since that meeting.

For the sake of clarity, allow me to begin with a definition. In scouting, we use the phrase “Key 3” often without defining it as a term. Since 2008, every level of scouting has identified three people who are important for assuring that scouting functions as designed. At the unit level, the Key 3 consists of the Chartered Organization Representative, the unit committee chair, and the unit leader (e.g., the Cubmaster, the Scoutmaster, the Venturing Advisor, the Varsity Team Coach).*

On March 1, 2015, the North Star District’s unit Key 3’s and regular volunteers at the district level received an email from Crossroads of America Council Vice President for District Operations Stroh Brann. He said, in part,

You are receiving this [email] because you are a key scouter in North Star District. You are probably aware that for the past months the district has been without anyone in a number of important district committee positions, including District Chair and District Commissioner.

The role of a district in scouting includes primarily three areas. District committee members serve as the voice of the district’s units (the scouts and scouters we serve) in helping formulate the Council policies. Districts deliver the scouting program to the units in the district. And third, the districts provide ongoing support to the scouts, scouters and their units. Without the key leadership, a solid committee and a strong Commissioner staff, none of these goals can be accomplished.
The role of Council’s District Operations is to support the districts, to assist them in finding the resources needed, and to help them achieve the goal of delivering on the promise. The current state of the North Star district organization has me concerned. Over the past few weeks I have been talking with a few North Star scouters to gain a better understanding of where you are as a district. Their feedback has been helpful and encouraging. This concern has also been a topic of conversation in my regular meetings with Rob Hemmelgarn, Director of Field Service and Staff Advisor to District Operations. Rob shares my concern regarding the future direction of North Star and has been very supportive in the efforts to help the district find the best solution to the leadership issue.
We have arranged for a meeting of key North Star scouters to be held on March 11, 2015 . . . .

The purpose for this meeting is to layout the process required to fill the leadership void in the district; to solicit your input and your support for this process; and to take the first steps toward solving the problem.

At that meeting, Stroh introduced several council representatives. These representatives were the Council Commissioner Rick Tardy (whose role many attendees, including myself, wondered about), Director of Field Service Rob Hemmelgarn, and others (whom I apologize for forgetting a year later). spoke plainly about the problems in the North Star District, its loss of membership, and its flat disfunction. We had about 20 registered district volunteers (excluding Merit Badge Counselors) of whom most were inactive. We had no functioning Commissioner’s Service.

Stroh then dropped the hammer. He told us in no uncertain terms that we had to either get our act together or else Council was going to dissolve North Star District. That got some energetic responses.

Stroh then told us that the path to avoiding dissolution required that we hold a Nominating Committee meeting as soon as possible and fill the vacancies for District Chair and District Commissioner immediately. Rob told us that we were without a district executive and none would be hired for us until we demonstrated that we were serious about reorganizing. We had until late June 2015 when Council would start making final decisions about the District’s fate.

As we look back on that fateful day with the advantage of a year’s experience, we now have a District Commissioner’s Staff at 45% of capacity, a District Committee that is nearly 60% staffed, and a veteran District Executive. All of our units rechartered last year. We had one of the most efficient rechartering systems in the Council. We had nearly 90% of our units earn Journey to Excellence recognition with the District receiving JTE Gold. Our membership losses were cut in half based on year-over-year comparisons. We had a wonderful fall recruitment campaign with many Boy Scout Troops contributing staffing for Cub Scout Packs.

We have had a great year!

Thank you to the volunteers in North Star District for demonstrating what a wonderful district we have.

* At the district level, the Key 3 consists of the District Chair, the District Commissioner, and the District Executive (or Professional). At the local council level, the Key 3 is the Council President, the Council Commissioner, and the Council Scout Executive. At the national level, the Key 3 is the National Council President, the National Commissioner, and the Chief Scout Executive.


2 thoughts on “Anniversary of a Scary Meeting

    […] noted in another post today, Council’s Director Field Service Rob Hemmelgarn played an instrumental role in the past year […]


    […] years later, I sat in the room hearing Stroh Brann tell us that North Star District might be dissolved. Council Commissioner Rick Tardy was present and offering his services. I had never met Rick. I had […]


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