Popcorn Kickoff August 8th

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Popcorn Kickoff training is August 8th at St Alphonsius Catholic Church at 1870 West Oak Street, Zionsville, IN 46077. (Parking is easiest for most meetings at the church if you enter campus from the west entrance off of 950 East/Bentley Rd, because of traffic flow design of the parking lot. (Entering from the south entrance would require you to drive around the north end of the sanctuary to get the closest parking space.)St Al's campus

Your unit should send two adults to training that day. One should be your Popcorn Kernel.St Al's in Zionsville

You can register to attend at at this link.

Back to School Night: 29 Days to Go

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At Back to School Night, new parents will be looking to answer the following questions:

  1. How much does Cub Scouts cost for the year?
  2. How does it fit with the family calendar?
  3. Does the Pack have a vision for its success?

To be able to answer these questions, your Pack Committee needs to be able to deliver 3 key documents to the prospective Cub parents:

  1. A document telling the parent how the program is paid for. This could be a budget for out of pocket expenses in neighborhoods with well-to-do families. This is more likely to be a statement of costs for each Cub and the role popcorn sales is used to defer the costs. This could be a statement describing how financial assistance is offered to families who need it. Your Unit Commissioner should be able to get you guidance for these items.
  2. A year-long calendar of Pack events. The dens should be meeting in early August to discuss with their den leaders what they would like to see the Pack to do. The den leaders should report those results for a mid-August Pack Committee meeting to schedule the year. The results should be listed on one sheet of paper and be specific about arrival times and departure times. For example, the North Star District fall family overnight at Indianapolis Motor Speedway should tell families to arrive at the track at a specific time and expect to leave by a specific time. This allows new families to put the event on their family calendars with specificity. This prevents double booking as easily. Successful packs are good at calendaring by habit because they simply say, “We customarily go to . . . in November so that we can . . . .” Newer or struggling packs can duplicate the clarity of vision by simply stating, “We are scheduled to go to . . . in November so that we can . . . .” Prospective families are looking for programs close to home that can clearly describe the program. They will avoid wishy-washy units that only say, “We are thinking about doing something this fall.”
  3. Having a vision statement for how the Pack will perform is very important. This vision statement is not a formalistic business plan gobbledy-gook. It is simply a some concrete goal that can be understood. To be a strong unit, look at the Journey to Excellence criteria for bronze, silver, and gold. Pick a level that makes sense to your Pack. Then tell prospective families what your goal is, “We plan on being a Gold Award Pack.” Most parent don’t know the criteria, and don’t care. They will be interested in knowing that the Pack has a vision of meeting the highest criteria. The statement could be focused on the boys, too. “We plan on each boy making rank by February’s Blue and Gold Banquet and going family overnight camping in the fall, in the spring, and at summer camp. We plan on attending {insert two Council Circuit of Fun Activities}.” The vision of success is contagious and exciting for prospective families.

Remember that part of your programming is already done for you. The Rocket Launch on September 12th and the Pack Family Overnight with District at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in October.

New Pack Start Ups Need Troop Help Now

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Currently the District is looking at starting or rebooting 3 to 4 packs in the next 30 days. These packs will need help from veteran scouters to make them work.

Each troop should always have an eye on one or two packs that feed Webelos into the troop. These prospective scouts are the lifeblood of our troops.

All too often, the scoutmaster corps and troop committee members are exhausted of their time and energy after giving to their home unit. They don’t have anymore to give.

One of the best ways for a troop to support a Cub scout pack is identify a past den mother who is not currently active with the troop. Through cooperation with District Commissioner Jeff Heck, she can find a role to assist a pack. She would not be asked to join the pack committee, be a cubmistress, or be a den leader. She would simply be an advisor.

We need four past den mothers who can serve in this role. Please contact Commissioner Jeff Heck at jheck@cacnorthstar.org to find out how this can work.

Whoever places the former den mother in a pack has the best chance of recruiting scouts in the future.

District Training for August

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As part of our effort to streamline and improve North Star District, the Commissioners Service and the District Training Committee are offering three trainings in August 2015:

1. Unit Commissioners Training on Monday, August 3rd at St Luke’s UMC.

2. Merit Badge Counselor Training at Roundtable on Thursday, August 6th at Second Presbyterian, 4th Floor.

3. Chartered Organization Representative Training on Monday, August 10th at St. Luke’s UMC.

For more details about times, locations, RSVPs, go to www.cacnorthstar.org/calendar.

The Scouting Game

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In my work as District Commissioner, I am often in a position to ask volunteer scouters to complete training. It is very easy for me to sound as if training makes scouting. The joy and enthusiasm for our activities make scouting.

Clarke Green has a weekly blog post where he posts Lord Baden Powell’s bi-weekly magazine columns about scouting. It is interesting to see many of the problems we face today were the same problems that Lord Baden Powell advised his scouters about.

This week’s post is “Scouting – Game, Not Science.” B-P emphasizes that scouter training serves a purpose, but it is too easily misinterpreted. Scouters then become depressed, and the boys catch the depression. He says,

Scouting, as I have said above, is not a science to be solemnly studied, nor is it a collection of doctrines and texts. Nor again is it a military code for drilling discipline into boys and repressing their individuality and initiative. No — it is a jolly game in the out of doors, where boy-men and boys can go adventuring together as older and younger brother, picking up health and happiness, handicraft and helpfulness.

B-P recommends how to properly view training:

[The Scoutmaster’s] job is to enthuse the boys and to get experts to teach them. The collection of rules is merely to give guiding lines to help them in a difficulty; the training courses are merely to show them the more readily the best ways of applying our methods and of gaining results.

B-P helps enlighten us about the correct point of view for training. It is to teach us the best way of applying the scouting methods to get results. In today’s business language it is the “best practices” of scouting.

Our emphasis at District on training is not for enforcing discipline. It is for giving each pack, troop, or crew the tools to achieve “best practices” as quickly as possible. Skip some of the pain of the School of Hard Knocks. Focus on what works. Shift responsibility for the program’s planning and action to the boys in an age-appropriate manner. We want to train you so that you are more comfortable with scouting.

How much more enjoyable is a sport or a card game if you understand the rules, goals, boundaries, and methods of play? Learn scouting’s “best practices” so that you can focus on the game – not the rules – of scouting.

Council Meeting Schedules

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Banner scheduling datesMost every third Tuesday of the Month, Council has some meetings scheduled. This month there was confusion about what needed to be covered. For those District Members and Commissioners who responded, thank you!

To avoid future confusion for the rest of the year, Con Sullivan provided me with the formal schedule. Click here to download a copy for your own records

Pack Membership Coordinator Recruitment 

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This is the time of year that it is so important for a pack chairman to recruit a pack membership coordinator. 

One of the hardest parts of recruitment is explaining the nature and duties of the position. Units that have had the luxury of having one parent assist in year one and then do the job in year to have the advantage of on the job training.

For most other packs, most of the training has to be done using other resources: classes, literature, or on the job experience.

BSA has put together a wonderful website for all packs, troops, and crews to be able to use for different recruitment purposes. There are even YouTube videos for the membership coordinator to learn their job. This is different than the usual E-learning process because there is no login required.

Take a look at this website to find out what you can do to improve your recruitment this fall. 


How Do I Add or Remove Merit Badges for Counseling

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UPDATE: 11/5/15: District is working at updating its list of MBC’s right now. If you see the draft and find that you are not included on it, please read this article about why and how to proceed.

For all of the blog’s information about Merit Badges, click here.

If you want to add or subtract from the Merit Badges that you counsel, please complete this North Star MBC Drop/Add Form. The form must be on file for all counselors. It is required along with the Adult Application.

Please have your troop’s Merit Badge Counselor Registrar contact the District MBC Registrar Mike Yates with any questions about a counselor’s current registration.

The District records are the authority on who is properly a Merit Badge Counselor. Troop registrars are for the convenience of the troop and its members to have a sole point of contact who is familiar with the system.

When a Merit Badge Counselor turns in his or her Drop-Add Form, please encourage them to offer their services to the District or Council, not just your unit, especially if they offer a rare badge. They will not often receive many calls.

For recent history on the MBC registration process and why changes have occurred, please read this blog article. To see options for bringing counseling into the 21st Century, read about the BSA’s acquisition of Scoutbook.com. Regardless whether your unit uses Scoutbook.com or not, it has some invaluable tools for Merit Badge Counseling that are not available elsewhere. Encourage your MBC’s to enroll. Their list of badges offered will then be added to the District list.

If you are retiring from serving as a MBC for the new year, make sure that the District MBC Registrar Mike Yates is aware. Your Troop and Crew leader, committee chair, and chartered organization representative were emailed his email address in October 2015.

If your troop does not have a person listed on your troop’s roster as the MBC registrar, please contact your Troop Committee Chair for more information.