Policies and Procedures

Recruiting Boys by Camping

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One of my regular refrains about recruiting is borrowed. “Get ’em in a tent, and you got ’em.” Boys of all ages want to camp.

When I was a Cubmaster, the most common questions the Cubs asked me was “When is the next campout?!” This was not really a question, so much as a barely contained exclamation on bouncing toes. They were fairly ready to explode.  When the answer was anything other than “tomorrow” they nearly burst like a balloon, looking completely deflated.

The same excitement exists at 11 years old. By the time they get to 15 or 16, they still love tents and campfires. Now the emphasis is less on being outside where they can run and now about time spent together around the campfire. Stories, gossip, favored games, personal challenges, and complaints of the day become a greater bonding experience.

Knowing that boys want to camp at all ages, even if the reasons for enjoyment change, what can we do to improve our recruitment?

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District Training Status

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One of the key duties of District is to encourage units to improve their programs in order to make the scouting more inviting to boys. BSA offers training for each position in order that adults can better understand the duties that they have accepted. Training is required for Rechartering.

Council records training records to be able to find out where training needs to be encouraged.

Among our units district wide, our training rate looks like this (if you are registered for more than one position, you can be trained and untrained simultaneously, appearing on this chart for each): 

The pattern is clear. Units in Zionsville and northern Pike Township tend to have adult leader ship rates well over 50%. Moving toward the south and east, training rates plummet to the point where some units have no properly trained leaders.

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New Guide to Safe Scouting (2015) Announced

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BSA has announced the latest revision to the Guide to Safe Scouting (2015). This important document should be included with your scouts’ medical forms on every outing. It is available in PDF format for easy upload to mobile device (particularly when out of cellular range) or on the web, where it is updated quarterly.

Guide-to-Safe-ScoutingThis Guide is more than just the policies and procedures of the BSA. All scouters pay a small fee to BSA every year to contribute to the BSA insurance program. As I understand it, BSA is “self-insured.” This means that the BSA keeps its own pool of funds to pay on insurance claims made by Scouters and Scouts over the course of a year. The Guide to Safe Scouting not only serves to educate Scouters on how to run a safe program, but provides an outline of practices that the insurance will cover. In other words, by outlining “best practices” for scouting activities, the Guide reduces the risk that harm will come to our youth, but if harm does come while using best practices, the insurance covers the claim.

Each year, BSA studies incident reports from units, scout camps, and other sources. BSA identifies activities that have unusually high rates of incidents. The types of incidents are then considered for a re-write in the Guide.

Consequently, scouters who are familiar with each year’s revisions to the Guide to Safe Scouting are more likely to avoid problems areas. Often the issues revised in the Guide do not filter down to revised training as quickly as we would like. The Guide’s revisions then help scouters be current even before they have sat through a class.

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How do I Register as a District Scouter?

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With the influx of new Adult Applications for District, many people have questions about what a checklist of task are to be properly enrolled for District.  Here is as complete a checklist as I can determine, based on my experience in the past 45 days.

  • Adult application with all questions answered (according to recently cherry-picked Council Director of Field Services Rob Hemmelgarn, this is a Spring 2015 new point of emphasis for BSA) and both Applicant signature lines executed (i.e., (1) criminal background check authorization and (2) promise to abide by BSA policies and procedures).Adult Application graphic
    • District Position Description. In the blanks on the form, all district positions will need to be written out in longhand. No unit codes apply, so you can ignore the key in the instructions.
      • For District Committee positions, the title used should be “District Member-at-Large.” The actual district position is assigned by the District Chairman and not through this application.
      • For District Commissioner Service positions, the title should be “District Unit Commissioner” or the specific title accepted. Later adjustments will be handled in a different manner by the District Commissioner.
    • Signature of supervising District Officer.
      • In the case of applicants for all District Committee positions, the application must be signed by John Wiebke, as 2016 chairman of the District Committee.  John will be at the District Committee Meetings on first Thursday of each month and will be signing applications at that time. At other times, you contact John directly to arrange Committee applications processing.
      • In the case of all applicants for the District Commissioner Service, Jeff Heck must countersign the application. All Commissioner Service applications should be sent to Jeff directly for him to process.

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New Adult Application

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Effective March 1, 2015, BSA has issued a new Adult Application. It is now required for all Venturers age 18-21, too.

There are also need background questions.

Adult Application graphicYou can download the form here and use it instead of the triplicate version.

The form you submit to the Council Registrar must have an original ink signature. No electronic transmissions or signatures are accepted.

A new application submission must be made for each new position an adult undertakes. Multiple registrations in units and district are accepted. So a scouter can be registered in a Cub Pack, a Scout Troop, and North Star District simultaneously.

Why did I receive a Self-Assessment email?

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As any veteran scouter can attest, the BSA has had a program encouraging unit health and growth for years. Until 2009, the program was called the Unit Excellence Award. From 2010 to 2013, the program was called the Centennial Award. Since 2014, the award is now called the Journey to Excellence Award. All of these have used different measurements to assess the health of pack, troops, and crews, while maintaining similar goals.

For the first two years of the Journey to Excellence, the program has been completely voluntary and incentivized by discounts on various products, such as pinewood derby cars, when specific goals were met.

For 2016 rechartering, this will change. Now the Journey to Excellence Award Report will be a required part of the rechartering packet. That does not mean that units are required to pursue the award. It just means that the units must disclose their statistics at the end of this charter period.

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Council’s 2015 Popcorn Sales & Marketing Plan

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UPDATE (6/24/15): Post moved to top  of page in preparation for June district committee meeting.

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On April 21, 2015, the Council held its semi-annual council operations meeting. This meeting is a chance for Council to outline its business plan for the next six (6) months and outline the responsibilities for the districts in carrying out those plans. The intended audience is the District’s Committee Chair, Vice-Chairs for Programming (with break outs for advancement, camping and activities), Communications, Membership, and Development, and the Commissioner.

Council has made some changes to the Popcorn Sales and Marketing plan. They highlighted a few key dates for us last night.

In August, training for popcorn sales will be held at the district level, so we will be responsible for training our units.

On September 1, 2015, Scouts will begin taking written orders for popcorn. This includes door-to-door Read the rest of this entry »