Wood Badge

Wood Badge Dates Set

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Wood Badge Training for advanced adult leadership has been scheduled for 2017.

The Spring Session will be April 20-22, 2017 and May 11-13, 2017.

The Fall Session will be September 17-19 and the following weekend September 22-24, 2017.

Start recruiting your Pack, Troop, and Crew adult leaders now. The more notice they have on their calendar, the better the chances of their participating.

Units with more Wood Badge trained adults tend to be healthier and more successful.

Remember you must be Trained in your current position to be eligible.

What’s your critter?

Back to Gilwell, happy land . . .

Thanksgiving Lessons for Scouting

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As Thanksgiving arrives this year, we begin considering more time with extended family and friends. Scouting tends to be put on the backshelf. Even so, Thanksgiving is a great time to think about the philosophy and lessons of scouting. (While this article is focused on boy scout troops, the same lessons of unit cohesion apply to Cub Scout Dens and Venturing Crews, too.)

The history of Thanksgiving is not often as it is represented in the media. To truly learn the lessons of Thanksgiving, we need to return to the the true story of Thanksgiving.

When the Plymouth colonists arrived and were moored alongside shore, they entered into the famed Mayflower Compact, effectively the first constitution written in North America. The Romans had previously had their Twelve Tables, the Swiss their agreement of confederation, and the Jamestown colony their royal charter. All of these were written agreement of government organization, but were all written in Europe. The Compact did not emphasize powers and duties like the US Constitution. It emphasized that all the colonists agreed to be subject to a common government as it was constituted from “time to time.” (That phrase is lawyer-speak for changes that occur every once in a while.) So they agreed to stick to the colony as the rules changed.

This agreeing to be part of the group and be subject to its changing rules is the first similarity between the Compact and a boy scout troop. While the rules for troop organization and management are far more detailed in the Senior Patrol Leader’s Handbook, the new Troop Leaders’ Guide Book (which replaced the Scoutmaster’s Handbook this year), and the Scout Handbook than the Mayflower Compact, neither these scouting handbooks nor the Compact define the daily rules of performance. Neither tells who cooks food, cleans, or organizes the day’s activities. Those are left for future decisions. Consequently, both systems leave lots of room for future lessons to be built into the future activities and organization of the band of people participating.

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News from Council Operations Meeting

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Last night, Tuesday, October 20th, Council held their semi-annual Operations Meeting. North Star was represented by Mark Pishon as District Advancement Chair, Brian Crow as District Camping Chair, District Commissioner Jeff Heck, and District Executive Con Sullivan. We were not able to cover the break out sessions for Programming, Family Friends of Scouting, Activities, or Communications due to lack of representation.

Vice President for District Operations Stroh Brann opened the meeting. As a past Wood Badge Course Director, he recognized our most recent past Wood Badge Director Jason Creighton of currently of Del-Mi District, formerly of our own Pack 358.

Carolyn Small recognized one of our recent White Stag Course Directors (whose name I did not catch).

They then had a short introduction of the STEM Scout program which is currently rolling out in beta testing in the Crossroads IMG_1852of America Council. One of its District Executives Zach White announced that the Council took delivery of the new Vortex truck the previous day. I had an opportunity to walk through it. The tools’ delivery is expected in the near future. IMG_1851The STEM DE told us a little bit more about the program. The unit in STEM Scouts is a called a “Lab.” The first “Lab Manager” position specific training is November 2nd from 1 pm to 5 pm at the Scout Center. This a great opportunity to learn the program from the inside.

Break-out Session Reports

Membership. The Council Commissioner and the Membership Committee held a joint break out to discuss recruitment and retention. Field Services Director Rob Hemmelgarn provided data on recent trends in the Council for the past 5 years. In that period of time, the retention rate has improved from 66.6% year-over-year in 2010 to 69.2% in 2014. Current projections for 2015 are 70.9%. We are doing an increasingly better job of retaining scouts once we recruit them.

The bad news is that our recruiting and market penetration is down markedly in that same period of time. In 2010, we had 903 traditional scout units. In 2014, we had 757: a loss of 146 units across the council. In 2015, we are projected to loss another 50. This unit loss has had a direct impact on scout recruitment. In 2010, we recruited 9,307 new scouts. In 2014, we recruited 6,779. In 2015, we hope to stay level, but we have only recruited 5,104 as of September 30, 2015.

Many ideas were thrown around about the cause of problems, but the numbers seem to indicate that poor Tiger Cub and other Cub recruiting is hurting all programs. Since 95% of Boy Scouts come from Cub Scouts, this Cub Scout recruiting problem is having a cascading effect on all scouting programs as the years pass.

Rob reported that nearly all youth programs from scouts to athletics are reporting similar declines. Questions were raised about financial explanations. Rob reports that the professional literature is pushing the notion that it is attributable to video games. This writer wonders whether the video game explanation is just a symptom of financial issues. Video games have a larger up-front fixed cost and smaller costs to continually upgrade or add games. It requires no additional time away from home. It allows parents who are busy at work to make sure their kids are occupied with a significant investment of time from the parent. This works well in financially struggling households to allow more work time without additional child care costs or investments in time and effort.

The question in recruitment has a marketing component, a sales component, a training component, and a first-60 days retention component. These components were all alluded to but not answered.

Upcoming Council Events

The next Council meeting is the Cub Scout Promotional Team Kickoff on October 29th at Camp Belzer. November 2, 2015 is the first day of Cub Scout Camp registration for summer 2016.

Council has meetings on November 15th and December 15th for the Activities and Training Committees and the Commissioners at the Scout Center. Start time is 7:00 pm.

The Governor’s Luncheon is December 14th at the JW Marriott hotel.