I cannot independently verify these yet, but Bobwhite Blather is a reputable site about scouting. He reports that in addition to the fee increase one change that is moot to the Crossroads of America Council (i.e., YPT before initial registration, a long-standing CAC practice) two other changes are coming in 2018:
All adults at summer camp must be registered. In the past, a parent of a Scout could camp with the troop, subject to local requirements such as completing YPT or being cleared by the state’s human services central registry. Beginning in 2018, however, any adult who accompanies a troop to a long-term (over 72 hours) resident camp or other activity (such as high adventure) must be registered with the BSA, even if they are the parent of a Scout on the trip. This is to allow the BSA to conduct the criminal background check and for the chartered organization to explicitly approve of the adult. They can be registered with the unit in any of the positions available, including Assistant Scoutmaster, committee member or Unit Scouter Reserve. The latter is preferred if the adult has no other responsibilities with the troop – but if you have vacancies on your committee, this might be a good way to bolster it.
Internet Rechartering is improved. I haven’t seen too many specifics, but the new rechartering process is more in line with the tools available at my.scouting.org. Most of us have suffered with the previous Internet rechartering system, including its reliance on a specific browser to complete some of the steps. If the new system is like the other current tools, it’ll work with a variety of modern browsers including Chrome, Firefox and Safari. It’ll also include many convenience improvements such as allowing electronic authorization and online payment.
Any time the BSA says that they are “improving technology,” I start having heart palpatations. If past experience is any indication of future performance (since this is not an SEC compliant website), we could be in for a bumpy rechartering year.
This article is a bit more personal commentary than a normal article.
As I posted over the weekend, and Council Commissioner Ron Penczek confirmed on Tuesday, the BSA membership national dues are going up to $33.00 per person (scout and scouter). Each new application or recharter also includes a $1.00 per person insurance premium for local council. Consequently, the cost of membership in Crossroads of America Council is $34.00 annually, effective December 1, 2017.
I have received or been copied by several scouters in North Star District expressing frustration at the amount and timing of this announcement. Their complaints range from frustration with the tardiness of the notice for the 2018 rechartering cycle to the lack of complying with the expectations for annual planning and budgeting that National Council sets for units.
Each of these critiques is valid and worthy of rebuke to National Council.
If a scouter reads over the FAQ, the reasoning for the sudden change is less than edifying or clarifying. Essentially, their argument is that they attempted to be thrifty and have reached the end of what they cut, so with escalating costs, they now must pass the costs along.
Neither of these points answer the critiques that I have seen.
Regardless what got us to this point, I am recommending that all units begin budgeting for dues increases of approximately $1.50 every year. If this year is $33.00, 2019 would be $34.50, 2020 would be $36.00. If each unit had a 36-month budget plan with this type of escalation built in, these sudden changes will be less shocking. This process would also take into account National Council knows that dues increases are not well-loved, so they are avoided even when likely necessary. Unfortunately, that creates the effect of making increases far larger when they do occur. It has been 40+ months since the last dues increase. This jump is $9.00. If we round the number of months to 45, that is a dollar for nearly every five months. Even my escalation factor of $1.50 every falls short of that. For true accuracy, a unit should build in nearly $2.25 increase every year.
All of the BSA budgeting templates are based on 12 month projections based on known data. Unfortunately, no stable and long-lived business works this way. Budgeting has to be done on a longer time horizon than 12 months.
Consider that a troop that wants to do a high adventure trip through Sea Base must enter a raffle nearly 18 months in advance and build the budget accordingly. Consider that annual events may have increasing costs. A unit that budgets to break even at the end of 12 months will almost certain be “in the red,” that is overspend against its budget.
In business, the budgeting rule is “budget for more than what you expect to spend, then double it.” Luckily, most activities in scouts do not have as much costs due to wages and salaries, lodging for unforeseeable periods of time, or multiple month projects with related expenses. All of these run budgets through the roof.
Still, the sense of building a margin of error into the budget is one we should consider. Rather than doubling, we might be well served if we budget for most line-items at 115% to 125% of projected cost.
What’s the worst thing that happens by meeting this goal? Your unit has excess funds on hand. If excess funds become a regular pattern, your unit will be able to plan further into the future for more creative activities. Notice I did not say more expensive. If your troop wants to do a canoe trip down the White River, the troop will be financially situated to invest in capital equipment for canoeing like Duluth bags, dry bags, or aluminum cookware. This makes future trips cheaper because new equipment purchases will be less necessary. Even trips to the Boundary Waters become cheaper, because less equipment needs to be rented on site.
So I suggest that we take a lesson from the Personal Management Merit Badge and plan for the future and the unforeseeable.
Is this jump just reflective of inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index? No. $24.00 in 2012 is about the same as $25.59 in 2017 dollars (“real dollar value”). This is a large increase. This leaves me with a question that I cannot answer: what is the financial condition of National Council that this increase is trying to correct by an increase of nearly $7.40 in real dollar value?
As I have watched the news this past weekend, I have seen families flooded by storms. I have seen individuals bring themselves to action with their own fishing boats saving lives, individuals delivering clothes and material to the Houston Convention Center, and first responders from all over the country arriving in Houston to support the local Houston first responders.
Moments later, I watched a news report about Antifa supporters attacking Neo-Nazis and similar protesters, using disturbing techniques from decades ago.
What contrasts these two sets of stories present about our modern American experience!
Scouting represents one of the most powerful sources of good in America today. We teach morality and citizenship through 12 simple points. The Scout Law is a powerful tool for teaching good citizenship and good choices.
Yet in modern scouting I see some well-intentioned persons in the national office pushing the latest buzz phrases of “anti-bullying.” This is a profound mistake and flaw in the scouting program. It is a mistake that unintentionally contributes to conflicts rather than calms conflicts. (I must admit the BSA’s approach is less egregious than other similar campaigns that I have seen. There are fewer “don’t” phrases and more “here are things to watch out for”.)
Have you ever watched your son run around a pool deck, right next to a lifeguard? What does the college-aged lifeguard usually do? The lifeguard yells, “Don’t run!” What happens? Your son may slow down to a jog or to a walk or to a skip. Very quickly though, the lifeguard’s admonition is forgotten. Almost certainly in the next 5 minutes, the lifeguard will again be yelling, “Don’t run!” again. Is this a lesson that boys just don’t listen?
What happens if the lifeguard changes her admonition? What if she yells, “Walk!”? In my personal experience, the lifeguard won’t have to contend with jogging or skipping. She will have to contend with running 5 minutes later. With a second admonition of “Walk!” she will likely have to intercede less often. Overall the pool deck will have more kids walking. Read the rest of this entry »
The BSA has a recruiting website called http://www.BeAScout.org. Prospective new members are driven there to express interest in your unit.
Right now we have had nearly 200 prospects grow through the system throughout the district. We currently have 32 invitations hanging out there. If you have already reviewed the Inviation Manager as the Chartered Org Rep, Committee Chair, or Cubmaster/Scoutmaster, you know your status. If you have not, log in to my.scouting.org. If a red number appears in the upper right-hand corner, you have invitations to send.
If you have one done on paper, then you can mark it complete. This purges it.
If you have sent the invitation, you can then move to the Application Manager to watch to see if the family has done the paperwork. We have two applications that are awaiting approval right now.
Please make sure that you have reviewed your settings. This allows you to set your dues, decide who can approve the application, and communicate stock information to new members such as website and calendar information.
If you use it, you may find problems, but your prospects are already using it. Are you closing the deal for low-hanging fruit?
At the Boy Scout Roundtable on Thursday, August 10, 2017 we discussed Boy Scout Recruiting. If you are sitting in the Roundtable now, you can watch the slide presentation live here.
I promised to put the links shown on the presentation up on the blog. Here are the links.
- National website on year round recruiting: http://www.scouting.org/Home/BoyScouts/YearRoundGuide/recruiting.aspx.
- New Member Coordinator: http://scoutingwire.org/marketing-and-membership-hub/councils/new-member-coordinator/
- Scouting Wire’s Membership Hub (recruiting ideas)
- Scouting Wire’s BSA Brand Center (customizable flyers and web logos)
From Bill Buchalter for the Cub Scout Roundtable: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/CubScouts/Leaders/DenLeaderResources.aspx.
This summer, Ransburg had a troop from Shanghai stay for a week. I got to talk to them and take pictures with them.
Their English was very impressive. They were all very friendly.
I asked each one their names. They gave me very American names. One boy bashfully introduced himself as “Samantha.” I think he had taken a lot of ribbing for his choice of names. I told him that it was very “creative.” His leaders liked this description.
Then I had them introduce themselves with their Mandarin names. I am ashamed to say that I could not begin to repeat them back.
Scouting lives up to being a Messenger of Peace.
Now is the time to put an “Open House” or “Joining Night” on your calendar for your Troop or Crew.
When you do put it on your calendar, please send me an email with a copy of your flyer and other meeting information. We will put it on the district website. Tell us when you want your article to post (e.g., a week before the event, a month before, etc.).
This can be especially useful in letting Webelos Dens know how to join your troop or troop members about your Venturing Crew.
We are now in the midst of Cub Scout Recruiting. Some quick reminders to all Packs and Troops.
(1) Make sure to send your list of names to Con Sullivan from any list of prospects. This list will allow Con to get those prospects on the Council email and text reminder system. The goal is to make sure your prospects show up at your recruitment nights. Photograph your list and email to Con before you leave the ice cream social or other recruitment activity. They may be blurry and need follow up. Sometimes they don’t. To improve success, use an app like CamScanner to change photos into PDFs. They remove background noise and darken written words. You can see the preview before you send it.
(2) Take something to give to kids. You can get a large bag of candy from Sam’s Club or Costco. You will have flocks of kids around your table. Cub Scout pencils and the frisbies from Council are good, too.
(3) Make sure that your prospect has the date, time, and location of your joining night.
(4) Have prospects sign Membership Applications wherever you can. If they want to sign up at an Ice Cream Social, give them the application. Have a credit card reader (like Square.com) on hand to allow immediate dues payment.
(5) Have as many adults in uniform at your recruitment night as possible. If you don’t have many adult leaders in your pack, ask your most supportive troop to send leaders. Troop leaders want to help, but they don’t want to step on pack leaders’ toes. If you ask, troop leaders will be there. Uniforms help re-assure prospective parents that your pack has solid leadership and support.
(6) If you don’t have enough pack parents to cover a school, make sure to ask troop leaders to fill gaps. Make sure they know your program’s basic’s well: cost of dues, annual calendar, recruitment night logistics, proposed den and pack meeting times. Remember most Troop leaders have never dealt with Lion Cub or the current Cub Scout Advancement program, since the programs are so new. Bring the leaders up to speed.
Council has called a meeting of District representatives for next week. The topic will be about “Making Scouting Accessible to Families.”
As I noted in a previous post, this really is a questions of whether we should go co-ed throughout our programs.
If you have an opinion on the subject that you would like me to share, please me your thoughts by Sunday, August 13, 2017. I will make sure to include these in the conversation with council officers.