National Council

Does your Unit know if it has new-members-in-waiting?

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The BSA has a recruiting website called 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 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?

National Jamboree Preparations

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How many of your scouts or venturers are participating in the quadrennial National Jamboree at the Summit, Bechtel Scout Reservation, West Virginia?

One item to add to the scout’s toolkit is the Jamboree App. The Summit is a Wi-Fi friendly zone. Scouts are encouraged to use the system for many purposes.

BSAJamboree_May2015_headerMake sure you download the app before you go, so you can use it at arrival!

Wifi at Camp and Unit Tech Policies

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As I have noted in the past, technology is changing the experience of scouting.

A constant debate among scouters is how to manage this change. This is decided at the unit level.

Some of troops forbid technology on outings. Some allow technology.

Which is the correct answer?

Only your PLC and troop committee can answer that question.

My recommendation is that this question should be reviewed annually by the PLC.

More and more troops are looking at technology as a good way to teach the Scout Law in practice.

One unit only allows technology to be used at camp for scouting related purposes.

Another allows it if it obeys the Scout Law: helpful, kind, etc.

Other units outright prohibit it. What do you think? Come comment on Facebook @CACNorthStarCommissioner.

My.scouting Tools in iOS

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Did you know that you can access through an iOS app?

There is a YouTube video to give you a preview.

You can. How good is it? Well, it is BSA tech.

Give it a whirl, and let’s know your thoughts in the comments below.

The functions available vary based on how you are registered with BSA.

Online Registration Roll Out Continues

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Previously, we posted about a training video for online registration.

Now BSA National has rolled out a dedicated webpage for training on the new online registration system. Take a look. Make sure your unit’s ready for the new system.

This will be extremely handy in preparing for rechartering.

Remember all new application that have completed processing prior to October 1, 2016 will be automatically entered into the Internet Rechartering system. That cuts down on a lot of risks of error in the rechartering process. The electronic registration means that the October 1, 2016 deadline is easier to meet with less paper-flow management.

Adapting to Scouts’ Needs

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Many of our units have now completed summer camp. The leaders have learned more about their scouts in that short week than they will the rest of the year. Some scouts are easy to manage and guide. Others require more skill to manage and guide.

Now is a great time to discuss with the other leaders of your unit the lessons learned about each of your scouts and to strategize on how to better serve them in their individual needs.

I grew up in scouts with some physical impairments. We never discussed these impairments with my scoutmaster. My family took the attitude that these were my hurdles to overcome. In retrospect, my scoutmaster had to learn my needs independently without much guidance. It gave him a tougher task. In the ’70’s and ’80’s, those things weren’t discussed as freely as today.

Over the past couple of years I have learned about the BSA’s standard practices for learning about and implementing individualized plans for scouts. This effort started from the efforts of Rebecca Zirnheld and Jody Winter to teach our troop about these standard practices. Over the intervening months I have come to see the value of these standard practices.

I highly recommend that all scout leaders read the the 8-page Guide to Working with Scouts with Special Needs and DisAbilities, No. 510-071 from the website on special needs. If you have specific issues to address, more detail is available in the Scouting for Youth with Disabilities, No. 34059 (2007).

The key take away for me from these pieces of literature:

  • Students with special needs have a Individual Education Plan (“IEP”) designed at school.
  • 18% or so of students have an IEP.
  • An IEP can be a useful tool to help a scouter better understand his scout, if the parents wish to share the highly confidential IEP.
  • If the parents do not wish to share the IEP, a scouter who knows an IEP basic outline can ask more informed questions.
  • The scouting literature is very helpful to guide a scouter deal with known problems and foster open communication with the parents.

Sometimes we can best avoid future confusion and conflict by learning more about what resources are available to us before they are needed.

I could imagine a situation where a scouter finds his newest scout has ADHD, which is a new to the scouter. The scouter could ask the parents to meet with him for 20 minutes and have the guides at the meeting. The scouter could say to the parents, “I don’t know ADHD except what I read here. Let me show you what it says. What else do I need to know about your son that this guide does not tell me?”

Invariably, the parents will tell a great deal that the guide does not. But that is the point. The parents know their son the best, so asking is key.

Other useful websites:

  1. Sam Houston Council on special needs
  2. Facebook on Autism

New for Fall Recruitment: Online Registration

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The BSA has established a new Online Registration for adults and youth. You can see an overview video of how the system works below. The video describes it as “Coming Soon.” It is already activated in Crossroads of America Council.


This system has many advantages:

  1. You never run out of paper forms.
  2. Your applicant will be immediately notified whether data on one of the screens is incomplete, avoiding the need to circulate the form around twice to fill in missing information or signatures.
  3. There is no physical application that needs to be delivered or sent.
  4. Necessary signators traveling out of town can fulfill their obligations from anywhere in the world.
  5. Your applicant can pay their BSA membership dues online with a credit card.

The current weaknesses in the system are being able to find where to access the website to start.

  1. You must access this from the
  2. From the main page, the applicant needs to navigate to your unit.
  3. On the unit page, the applicant needs to correctly choose “Cub,” “Scout,” “Venturing,” or “Volunteering.” Picking a program puts the applicant in “Youth” status. Adults must pick the “Volunteering” choice, then select a unit.
  4. You can pick the links for your unit and save them for placement on your webpage or emails. This means that you can circumvent some of the problems above.
  5. The system does not collect your unit’s dues or added costs (like local council insurance). It merely establishes the applicant as a member of the BSA through your unit. I have even used it to promote an existing volunteer to a new position without having to pay dues again.

I have used this system successfully twice. I have not dealt with Youth Protection Training in either case because they were existing volunteers. I cannot offer much feedback on that issue yet.

Online Volunteer application
Sample of Volunteer Application

Please begin using this system immediately, especially before recruiting season and rechartering. The more information that is properly registered in the system before October 1st, the smoother your rechartering will proceed.

Prototype Unit Handbook: Request for pack and troop forms

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I am beginning a project that I want to complete by May 30th. I am looking to design a prototype of a new parent handbook.

I am asking for your help.

First I am asking each unit to email me a copy of their current handbook, annual calendar and handout on costs of membership by May 5th. We will use these as sources of best practices. Documents in a word processing file are preferred.

Second, I am looking for a panel of editors to assist in assessing the result and focusing on simplification and clarity.

Some of the concepts I will be building come from Scouting Magazine’s article last spring. They had to be more generic nationally. Ideally we as a district can put in more specifics in a prototype.

Confused about STEM and Scouting?

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As the Boy Scouts of America has put increasing stress on the buzz-phrase “STEM” or “Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics,” more scouts and scouters are confused.

STEM in Scouting Logo
STEM in Scouting/Nova Logo

There is the old-line merit badges, belt loops, and activity pins that have been science-focused since the founding of BSA in 1910. There have been additions and subtractions throughout. Now that category of interests has been labeled as “STEM.” The relatively new STEM program in this category is the Nova and Supernova Program. So we have STEM in Scouting.

Just last year BSA and our Council launched a new program called “STEM Scouts.” These

STEM Scout Logo
STEM Scouts Logo

new units are organized into “Labs” instead of Packs, Troops, Crews, Teams, Ships, or Posts. They are mentored by scouters called “Lab Managers,” instead of Cubmasters, Scoutmaster, Advisors, etc. Some have lovingly referred to it as “Indoor Scouts.”

The differences between the two programs sometimes needs explaining. This month Scouting Magazine gives it a shot.

This confusion will increase as more of our youth discuss their interests in STEM. Learn the differences so that you can be a better mentor when the topic arises.

New Facebook Page

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In an effort to make the District current in its social media, posts from this website will now post to a Facebook page, too.

We realize that many individuals and units rely on Facebook as their primary communication method. For those units, families, and scouts, distributing valuable information easily through Facebook is highly desirable.

If you find an article timely or interesting, please “Like” the post. This will increase the number of people who can receive the same value.

As we enter the Fall Recruiting season, we will be using social media to push information to prospective families and scouts to learn more about what we offer. Sharing good posts for those audiences will allow us as a district to leverage information shared to persons who would not normally see our posts.

For example, a mother may have a new Tiger Cub in Pike Township also on a new soccer team. She joins a Facebook group for the soccer team. As a result, the new friends on Facebook may see a link to a photo of her son in a scout uniform. The next week, the new friends may see that the Tiger Cub mom liked an article about an upcoming hayride for scouts. The next month, they see an article about how scouting improves a boy’s cheerfulness and trustworthiness.

All of these examples are useful marketing for us. Very few took more than a few “Like” clicks for the young mom.

So, please have your unit’s Facebook page “Like” our new page. We would love it!