Policies and Procedures
For the most part, at the unit level, there are few changes. On line 10, the consistent change is from requiring the minimum adult leadership for rechartering plus an assistant unit leader (i.e., assistant Cubmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, or Associate Venturing Advisor). Now the requirement for Bronze on line 10 is simply to have an assistant unit leader. This makes sense, since the others are required to recharter. Even units that do not qualify for bronze need a unit leader and committee members. This is less of a change than a simplification of the scoring method.
I have omitted other wording changes that do not change the underlying scoring mechanism for the criterion.
The significant changes are at the District level. While most unit leaders have little interest in what district qualifies for, it does impact units. The impact is on what commissioners and committee members do to support the units. In their efforts, they need the cooperation of unit leaders to be able to meet BSA JTE requirements.
On line 4, membership growth, the focus is shifting from the district-at-large to Cub Scouts. So lower overall growth is sought but actual growth in Cub Scouts is the minimum level. The logic is that if we grow Cub Scout membership, we will grow overall membership. With co-ed taking effect in 2018 for Cub Scouts, ideally this is an easy requirement to meet.
On line 7, the target percentage of scouts with advancement is reduced between 2-3% on all levels.
On line 9, the target percentage of Cub Scouts camping is increased 2-3 % on all levels.
On line 12, unit retention is increased for bronze but reduced for silver and gold. All now seek 90% retention.
On line 13, unit commissioners are expected to have more detailed and more frequent information about the health of the units in their charge. That means the unit commissioners are expected to ask better questions so that they better understand the units. They are then accountable for summarizing that information in the reporting system.
Line 15 requires one less committee member to qualify for gold.
So for planning purposes, very little is shocking to units. The amount of requests for assistance from district may go up. It seems the goal is to have better overall scouting experiences available to boys and girls without putting more pressure on any one unit to fulfill that goal.
Please look at the scorecards for 2018 and build improving into your monthly unit committee meetingsto insure a great 2018.
Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Patrick Sterrett’s new boss, made these remarks the day after the vote to go co-ed. Surbaugh is a good speaker and worth a listen.
It is too bad these types of posts did not precede the vote.
You may have heard, but all programs will be co-ed by January 1, 2019. Cub Scouts start, as I read it, June 1, 2018.
Here is the announcement from CAC Council Commissioner Ron Penczek:
I wanted to take a moment to forward on to you official communications from our National Council regarding girls in Cub and Boy Scouting. While it is too late for my girls to stand beside their brother in earning Eagle Scout, I am very excited to bring our program of citizenship, leadership and fitness to girls around the country, I hope you are as excited as me. I know for some Scouters, this change will be concerning and their concerns are not without merit, but as a Commissioner Corps, I am sure we can help deliver a positive message. We can be the agent of change that helps everyone to see the benefits of such a change and help implement such change in a positive way.
Please cascade this to your District and Unit Commissioners and begin talking with your units about this change.
I look forward to talking with you next week.
BSA Expands Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts Programs to Welcome Girls
The BSA’s board of directors has unanimously approved welcoming girls into our Cub Scouts program and delivering a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls. The BSA evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders — as well as parents and girls who have never been involved in Scouting — to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.
Linked below (or attached) are a few resources to help you learn more about today’s decision, as well as respond to any inquiries you may receive. As always, please direct all media queries to email@example.com:
Bryan on Scouting has just posted this article on how to help after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
To my view, the most important part of this article is that the councils and units affected have been slow to report their needs. This creates a risk of their needs being forgotten or overlooked by the rest of the BSA.
This slow response to state needs makes a lot of sense. First, the BSA is built on a diffused organizational system. National Council needs information from local councils. Local councils need information from districts. Districts need information from units. Units need information from unit leaders. Unit leaders are busy caring for their families, work or businesses, and places of worship.
Now the information trickle is beginning. The BSA has created several central clearinghouses of information. Units can make direct appeals for help. The BSA has created a central fundraising website. Now we know where to look for what is needed.
So the next question seems to be, “What can our unit do?”
What you can do is still limited by BSA regulations. Let’s take a quick look so that these are all fresh in mind.
From National Council Commissioner Facebook feed:
Just announced at Top Hands at the end of August, BSA will increase registration fees by $9 (to $33 per year) effective 1 December. Please get this information to your units ASAP as it most likely affects many units as they enter their prime membership recruiting season when annual dues/fees are often collected.
This fee increase comes 47 months after the last fee increase, but I personally wish to apologize for what some may find to be a very short fused notification. While it may not make the ‘pill’ any easier to swallow, I do want to let you know that after considerable personal communications on this topic I have been assured that this fee increase and the timing was unavoidable.
From the FAQs included in Thursday’s Scout Executive Council Packet Special Edition communication this fee change will affect Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, Venturing crews, Sea Scout ships, and Exploring posts/clubs. However, it will NOT apply to LDS-sponsored units, nor to those units with council-paid memberships.
If you have additional questions, please contact your Scout Executive.
If this is confirmed by Crossroads of America Council that will make the cost 2018 membership $33.00 dues and $1.00 local insurance = $34.00.
UPDATED 9/6/17: Crossroads of America Council’s Council Commissioner Ron Penczek has confirmed the dues increase with the following email:
I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend.
I understand that over the weekend, there have been some Social Media discussions on BSA membership fee increases. I wanted to take a moment to provide the official guidance that was received over the weekend allowing you to work with your units as questions and concerns arise.
As I know you are aware, the mission of the Boy Scouts of America 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 Scout Law. To do this — while delivering the nation’s foremost youth development program — the BSA must remain vigilant in controlling costs. Although we have been successful in reducing our expenditures in many areas, it has become necessary to evaluate our annual membership fees.
Based on feedback from both volunteers and employees, the BSA membership fee will increase to $33 for all registered youth and adult leaders, effective December 1, 2017.
Services funded by our membership fee include; primary liability coverage for all volunteer leaders and chartered organizations, ongoing advances in technology, fundraising support, new program development, membership recruiting strategies, and support materials.
In 2016, the BSA served approximately 2.3 million youth members through approximately 270 councils. With the help of all our volunteers we will continue toaccomplish the mission of Scouting for young people and the communities we serve.
Attached is a Membership Fee typical question and answer sheet to reference when talking with volunteers. You are welcome to start communicating the fee increase with your district and unit leadership. I will be meeting with our Section Commissioners to ensure any additional tools needed are available for Section meetings in September. Once again thank you for all your leadership and support.
Yours in Scouting,
Ronald W. Penczek
[As sent on his behalf by:]
Karrie Schlegel | Executive Assistant supporting;
Scout Executive: Patrick Sterrett
Director of Field Services: Nathan Young
Marketing & Public Relations
Ron makes reference to an FAQ on the subject. It is available here.
UPDATE 9/29: Interesting price comparison of youth activities.
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 scouting.org 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:
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:
- You never run out of paper forms.
- 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.
- There is no physical application that needs to be delivered or sent.
- Necessary signators traveling out of town can fulfill their obligations from anywhere in the world.
- 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.
- You must access this from the http://www.BeAScout.org.
- From the main page, the applicant needs to navigate to your unit.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Congratulations to the following new Eagle Scouts. There official status is “prospective” because their rank has not yet been confirmed by National Council. When the rank is confirmed their official date of rank will January 13, 2016.
- Matthias Benko, Troop 174
- Rhodes Lacy, Troop 18
- Lars Olson, Troop 343
- Mitchell Thompson, Troop 358.
NOTE: As a part of District's new efforts to confirm the scouts' service hours, Eagle Board Coordinator Jerry Simon will be reporting the man-hours reported by the Eagle reports to District Executive Con Sullivan. This will be used as a means to make sure that each troop is adequately reporting their service hours to national council and local council. This may result in emails to the Troops where underreporting appears to have occur in any given quarter.
Often we have questions about advancement issues. BSA puts out a great deal of information. Often this feels like drinking from a firehose.
One of the ways to avoid this problem is to be sure your unit’s advancement coordinator subscribes to the irregularly published BSA Advancement News. (Irregular because it is sometimes monthly and sometimes bi-monthly.)
For a new advancement coordinator, catching up on old articles in the archive can be daunting. They may just want to look at specific issues of the moment. One of the best ways to do that is to review the Advancement News index of articles on the BSA Advancement website. The article titles are often catchy and artistic, but misleading about the main idea. Have patience with it. It is not intended to be a advancement manual (the Guide to Advancement serves that purpose). Instead it is intended to focus on hot topics.
If an advancement coordinator wants to study the history of advancement changes, he or she can read back issues of Advancement News. There is a lot to be learned to look at how a once “hot topic” was handled and resolved. It helps guide an advancement coordinator to have a better sense about how to handle future problems. The method of resolution will often be similar: the timeframe required to identify the issue then resolve, the groups giving input who have the most persuasive authority on the final result, and the types of issues that are resolved with finality versus lingering effects.
Always start with the Guide to Advancement, the most recent revision for the current year of Boy Scout Requirements, the most recent issue of Advancement News for answers, and the related Merit Badge Counselor’s Compass newsletter. If those prove unsatisfactory, review the News index. You may surprise yourself with the quality of answers that are already published.
If you still do not find your answers, reliable and regular private bloggers can provide insight, such as Clarke Green at www.scoutmastercg.com with a focus on scoutmastership, Frank Maynard at www.blogwhiteblather.com with a focus on committee issues, and the Ask Andy column at www.netcommissioner.com.
To subscribe to the Advancement News, follow these instructions:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put ‘Subscribe’ in the Subject line and in the body of the email put only your: