Magic of 5% Improvement

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At the recent Unit Key 3 Conference, I spoke about the need to work with your Unit Commissioner and your Unit Key 3 (i.e., Chartered Org. Rep., Chair, and Unit Leader) to do a Unit Service Plan.

A Unit Service Plan is a six-month “business plan” for your unit. It examines your annual planning & budgeting, your programming (like camping and meetings), your leadership succession plan, your adult leader training status, and your recruitment and retention status.

If your unit is not examining these departments on a regular basis, it is easy to allow one part or another to slide. The worst case scenario is you ignore the slide until the slide is a death-spiral do you stop and try to fix it.

The goal of doing regular Unit Service Plans is to prevent this scenario from occurring.

If your Unit Key 3 meets with your Unit Commissioner in the next 90 days, we would help you define ways to succeed in a predictable and healthy manner.

One trick is building your unit is to set goals of 5% across the board improvement. Five percent does not sound like much. But it is.

If your unit has 30 boys and it grows 5%, it means that you have replaced boys who have aged out or dropped out, keeping your retention at 100%, then adding an additional 2 boys (it is hard to have 1.5 boys, so I rounded up).

In programming it means moving from 10 monthly events to 11 events (rounding again). If you have 20 events, you move to 21. More opportunities for more scouting leads to more opportunities to find the one event that sparks the passion of one more scout. With the spark ignited, he is easier to retain, even when his parents are offering different extracurricular activities.

A five percent increase in fundraising, for example by adding camp cards to your existing practices, means that you have more money to use in programming that one more event mentioned above.

A five percent increase in trained adults means one more volunteer to staff events.

A five percent increase in advancement means you are less likely to lose scouts because they are progressing and are actively engaged in the program.

Now has your unit improved by 5%? I would argue not. You have add more financing, more capacity for adult leadership, more boys, more events. You are a much healthier unit.

When your next recruitment cycle hits, you will likely gain more than just 2 boys, because you have that much better of a program to pitch.

Schedule to sit down with your Unit Commissioner and see where you can plan a 5% improvement plan. Your Unit Commissioner’s job is to help you find the resources to make your plan work. You will be amazed at how quickly your unit will grow in a short period of time.


Camp Card Program

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From Camp Card Chair Andrew Himebaugh:

Popcorn selling season is over, so now it’s Camp Card time

Now in its 4th year, most Scouts and Scouters are aware of the Camp Card program.  In summary, the Camp Card program supplements the popcorn sales, not replaces it.  Scouts and their families sell cards with various discount offers for $5.  Half the selling price benefits the Scouts and Scouting unit, the other half benefits Crossroads Council.  Because the cards are sold on commission, there is no financial risk, assuming the unit returns unsold cards and pays for the cards sold by the due date.

The Camp Card Program is so named as a means for Scouts to pay for summer camp.  The money raised can be used for other unit activities, such as monthly outings, camporees, buying merchandise at the Scout Shop, or for high adventure trips, such as Philmont or Sea Base.  It could also be used to pay a Scout’s dues.  It all depends on how your unit leadership want to promote the program to your Scouts.

This year’s card program runs March 1st thru April 14th.  Units were contacted last month and to place their initial order by February 10th to ensure cards were available for sale at the start.

HOWEVER, IT IS NOT too late for your unit to get started.  The Council will accept orders (and reorders) at any time up to the last day of the sales period.  Go to to get more detailed information and the link to order cards.

This year’s Camp Card features 8 discount offers – 5 snap-offs (one-time use discounts, expire 8/31/17) and 3 unlimited, repeat-use offers (expire 12/31/17).

In past years I have noted that Camp Cards take up less room in the garage of your Camp Card chair than does popcorn.  However, this year I have to confess it will take up twice the space of previous years due to the increased number of snap-off offers.

As previously noted, the cards sell for $5 each.  The unit keeps 50% of the sale per card and credits it to the Scout’s Troop account, or into the camping fund.

Unsold cards after the end of the sale, and $2.50/card sold, are due to the Council Service Center by May 1st.  No unsold cards will be accepted for return after this date.  They become the financial responsibility of the unit.  In addition, balances owed AFTER May 1st will be charged at $3.75 per card (75% of the selling price) instead of $2.50 per card (50% of the selling price).

Our longtime supporter, Marsh Supermarkets, has once again agreed to allow units to schedule storefront sales directly with each store’s manager.  However, unlike last year, we are only allowed to do these sales March 20 to April 14.  We cannot sell at the same time another Scouting group sells cookies.  The other card sponsors have asked that we NOT sell cards in front of their store.  There is, however, no restrictions on selling cards at other locations, such as banks.

This was a no-brainer program.  No tracking multiple products.  No up-front payments.  Simple.  Cards out, money in, pay the Council on time.  Marsh customers with a Fresh Idea card get 100% value of the card right back (and Marsh will supply the Fresh Idea cards for anyone not having one).  Then the purchaser still has other money saving discounts available to them.  College students can save weekly with the Papa John’s reusable 40% off discount.

Scouting families can benefit another way.  They pay $5 for a Camp Card, minus the single use $5 Marsh coupon to use with their weekly grocery shopping, equals $0 cost.  Benefit:  $2.50 per card credited towards summer camp; that much less to pay next summer.  Total outlay:  negative $2.50.  Forward thinking – buy 20 cards, one for each week of shopping, outlay $100, minus $100 in Marsh coupons, PLUS a $50 credit towards summer camp!  And don’t forget the $50 going to the Council to support Scouting!  PLUS all the other discounts.

As I said, a no brainer!


How do you get started?  Select a unit coordinator (maybe even your popcorn kernel) and place an initial order for Camp Cards at .

How many should you order?  A scout, on average, will sell 10 to 20 cards average.  Ambitious or motivating Scouts will sell more once they see the personal benefit.  My unit usually average 20 per youth with 2/3 selling.  Keep in mind there is the opportunity to place supplemental orders, so do not over-order.

And now, WHY to sell Camp Cards?  As for any businessman, it comes down to numbers.  Although Crossroads of America Council is entering its fourth year of the program, nationally, BSA Camp Cards have been sold since 2007.  According to a BSA National meeting presentation on Camp Cards, success stories include:

  • 26,500 Youth in Orlando, Florida, in their 4th year of sales, sold $1,100,000 in Camp Cards.
  • In a smaller market, 7,100 youth in Griffin, Georgia sold $280,000 in Camp Cards.
  • Closer to home, 16,100 Scouts in Louisville, KY sold $450,000 in their 3rd year of sales.
  • In our council, in the first year of sales, 185 units sold 27,119 cards generating $135,593 in retail sales, or 67,797.50 for the units and an equal amount for the Council.  The second year, 258 units sold 34,336 cards for $171,680, split equally for $85,840 for units and for the Council.  Last year, sales continued to grow, with 287 units selling 43,620 for $218,100, earning $109,050 for units and for the Council.
  • Even closer to home, in the first year of card sales, one Troop in North Star sold $2,490 in cards, with the top seller earning about $125 towards summer camp.  One North Star Pack sold $2,175, or $1,087.50 added to their summer camp budget.

So sales continue to climb.  Can we hit $300,000 this year?


What can Camp Cards do for your members?  Camp Cards allow more youth to experience the great outdoors.  They help to eliminate the financial barriers that may keep your members from attending camp, while the Scout learns the value of their efforts.  They can teach Scouts personal responsibility and self-reliance.  The Scouts learn money management, gain experience in sales, planning, and goal setting.


What do they do for your unit?  They increase the community awareness of Scouting and of your unit.  The increase Scout participation in unit activities.  More Scouts having fun means more Scouts talking up Scouting to their schoolmates, increasing membership.

The program can also address important aspects of JTE.  Financially, Camp Cards are a new source of income to build a stronger foundation for your unit.  Membership wise, Camp Cards help to minimize financial barriers that may keep your members from participating, or even renewing their membership, thereby increasing member retention.  And as a final example, for programming, Camp Cards provides the funds needed to increase summer camp participation and summer camping programs.


What do Camp Cards do for the Council?  Camp Cards support Council programming, recruit new members, provides resources for at-risk youth programs, leader training, direct program support to Charter Organizations, and maintain the outstanding camping facilities your Scouts enjoy.

A Win for Scouting all around.

Questions?  Email me at

District’s Friends of Scouting Report

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North Star District is ahead of last year’s donations to the Annual Friends of Scouting Campaign! In 2016, District fell just short of meeting its goal. With the District ahead of last year, we have a great chance of meeting the goal.

Through much work, we have made sure that the District was set the same as last year to avoid an arbitrary target. As a result of this, your District Key 3 are hopeful that the District will beat this year’s target.

We still have many units that have not held their Friends of Scouting presentation. All but three units have scheduled their presentations with District Executive Con Sullivan.

So if you are the unit chair and you do not know when your presentation is scheudled, contact Con to make sure all is in order.

The sooner we meet this goal, the sooner Con’s time will be able to focus on other tasks in supporting your unit.

Remember this program is designed for the District to pay for its own costs of operations at Council, so your gifts help support our units.

Popcorn Wrap up

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Just a few quick thoughts with popcorn ending:

  1. Make sure all your scouts turned in the forms for sales. Marilyn Lopez, Field Director for Western Section of CAC, reports that every year 50-60 scouts fail to turn theirs in.
  2. After all product return, we are $17,000 in hole. This means that we have inventory yet to sell.
  3. If your unit still has product orders that are not covered, there will be product Cash n’ Carry sales at Belzer on the following dates:
November 11 Last Day to Transfer Popcorn
November 16-19 Sort/Distribute at Warehouses
November 29 Cash ‘n Carry at Camp Belzer
December 2 Final Payment Due
December 6 Cash ‘n Carry at Camp Belzer
December 13 Cash ‘n Carry at Camp Belzer
December 20 Cash ‘n Carry at Camp Belzer

So please help us sell this excess inventory by participating in these Cash ‘n Carry dates.

For more information see


Popcorn Sales Troubleshooting

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In the next couple days, we will post an article on foreseeable problems in popcorn sales. I do not have the full information available at this moment. Watch this website for the article. It will be posted as soon as I get the information. I apologize for the tease now, but I thought you would want to know.

One example that I have heard is that the new popcorn app will add an order for popcorn to be delivered later if the scout does not mark the popcorn sale as already fulfilled. This will require the Popcorn Kernel to need to verify all future deliveries are correct before submitting the final order to avoid excessive fulfillment.

Popcorn 2016 Update #2

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From District Popcorn Kernel Tom Petersen:

2016 Popcorn Sale

Below are some highlights of the 2016 Popcorn Sale!


Important Dates:

August 1st- Online Sales Begin

White Chocolatey Pretzels

Chocolatey Caramel Crunch

August 28th- Initial Orders Due

September 17th- Popcorn Sale Begins

September 17th-25th – Blitz Week

October 23rd- Popcorn Sale Ends

November 1st- Final Order and Prize Order Due

December 2nd- Final Payment Due

*A more detailed calendar will be provided at a later date


What’s New in 2016!


The 2016 Popcorn sale will have a Space/Star Wars theme. This is something that the Scouts can get excited about and will keep them engaged in the sale. This theme should be used at your Kickoff Party to get the boys excited about the sale.


Two Week Blitz:

There will be a two week blitz from September 17th to September 25th to kick off the sale. A Scout that sells $350 in that two weeks will receive a pop-up lantern. If they sell $450 in those two weeks they will also receive a Foamstrike Switchblade Boomerang. Sales for this blitz DO NOT have to be take order but can be any type of sale. You will have product in hand during the Blitz!


Product line:

The product for the 2016 sale will be very similar to last year. The only new product this year will be Chocolatey Caramel Crunch. Two products will be offered in Tins this year. Both White Chocolatey Pretzels and Chocolatey Caramel Crunch will be offered in tins.


Things to Focus On

Here are things that you should be focusing on now to prepare for the Popcorn Sale:


· Fill out the online commitment form on the council website (

· Recruit Unit popcorn Kernels if needed

· Complete Unit Individual Sales Plan with District Kernel or District Executive (


Complete details can be found on the Council popcorn page (


Selling popcorn is a simple and efficient way to fund your Unit’s activities. 


If you have questions, please contact me.


Tom Petersen

North Star District Popcorn Kernel

2016 Popcorn Preview

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From Tom Petersen the District Popcorn Kernel:

2016 Popcorn Sale – Save the Dates!

The school year is almost over and summer camp is just around the corner. This is a perfect time to start planning for your Unit’s 2016 Popcorn sale. 

Here are the critical dates to help you mark your calendar.

Important 2016 Popcorn Sale Dates:

  •             August 1st- Online Sales Begin
  •             August 28th- Initial Orders Due
  •             September 17th- Popcorn Sale Begins
  •             September 17th-25th – Blitz Week (Note: This blitz will NOT be limited to take orders only. Any type of sale will count.)
  •             October 23rd- Popcorn Sale Ends
  •             November 1st- Final Order and Prize Order Due
  •             December 2nd- Final Payment Due

Stay tuned, a more detailed calendar will be provided at a later date.

Selling popcorn is a simple and efficient way to fund your Unit’s activities.  

If you have questions, please contact me.


Tom Petersen

North Star District Popcorn Kernel


Camp Card Sales Begin March 1st

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The second fundraiser of the year sponsored by the Council is Camp Card sales.

Many details are available at the Council website.

Returning for another year as our District Camp Card Sales Chair is Andrew Himebaugh of Troop 343, chartered by Pike Township Fire Department.

In order to begin selling promptly on March 1st, you need to make sure that you place your order with Andrew on or before February 12th.

2015 Popcorn sales thank you

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To have a smooth run popcorn sale requires hard work, organization, and a
team effort.

I would like to take a moment to thank our North Star District
Popcorn Kernels (and assistants) for their commitment of time, dedication to
the program, and hard work! From the very start our unit kernels
demonstrated this by making North Star’s Popcorn kickoff/training one of the
best attended in years. We had representation from nearly every unit in

During the sale, our popcorn distributions were near perfect
due to the large number of motivated volunteers that turned out to help sort
and load orders.

Finally, due to the remarkable organizational skills of
our unit kernels, North Star District was the first district in the Council
to have all popcorn funds submitted!

When you encounter your unit’s Popcorn
Kernel (or assistants) please join me in offering them thanks in recognition
of their exceptional efforts during the popcorn sale this year.

North Star Unit Popcorn Kernels and Assistants

Crew 69 Denise Purdie Andrews
Crew 408 Mick Witte
Pack 18 Suzanne Lincoln
Pack 18 Cindy Hallberg
Pack 35 Sarah Hargis
Pack 64 Kit Williams
Pack 84 Marilee Rahn
Pack 84 Marilyn Langston
Pack 84 Jeff Long
Pack 105 Tucker Herbold
Pack 105 Teresa Arens
Pack 174 Ed Spahr
Pack 175 Matt Hibbeln
Pack 179 Devon Harmon
Pack 179 Rachell Laucevicius
Pack 358 Tom Rude
Pack 358 Jenny Beyer
Pack 514 Todd Sanger
Pack 514 David Paul
Pack 625 Jennifer Davis
Pack 625 Tia Bell
Pack 625 Pati Allison
Pack 830 Brian DeaKyne
Pack 830 Ed Stehno
Pack 830 Bill Buchalter
Troop 56 Rebecca Zirnheld
Troop 56 John Blue
Troop 69 Mark Reasoner
Troop 73 Doug Petry
Troop 269 Ann Salima
Troop 343 Andrew Himebaugh
Troop 514 Leah Roggeman
Troop 804 Niki Parker
Troop 804 Jill Williams

Tom Petersen
North Star District Popcorn Kernel

National Guard Thank You for Popcorn 2015

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Brigadier General Ronald Westfall, Chief and Director of the Joint Staff of the Indiana National Guard, visited University of Scouting 2016 to offer his thank you to the Crossroads of America Council’s scouts for their donation of 20 palettes of popcorn worth $85,000. Listen to General Westfall’s comments.