Informal Minutes of June 2015 Committee Meeting

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I was not appointed as the Committee’s secretary, so I did not take notes with an eye to that thoroughness. Nor was I a participant in each break-out session. With those warnings, I will highlight some of the discussions from the Committee Meeting.

Steve James, the District Chair, opened the meeting and emphasized that District needs to be focused on membership recruiting for August 27, 2015. He said, “We are in All-Hands-On-Deck mode. We need all Packs, Troops, and Crews to be part of the process.”  Steve introduced our new District Executive Cornellius “Con” Sullivan. Con rapidly covered the points about our Council-wide Back to School Night that Darin Stendl, Con’s supervisor, had covered at the May Roundtable. Jump to the link for a detailed report. The most important part of the presentation for this report is that the marketing campaign’s call to action for the general public is “Sign up at your local elementary school.” This means that we need personnel at all of our District’s elementary schools.

During his presentation, Con emphasized that we have nearly 43 elementary schools to cover at sign-up night, while we only have 35 chartered units and 18 Cub Scout Packs. There is no way that the Packs can man all of the elementary schools. Con also underlined that there is a Recruiting Rally at Victory Field in downtown Indianapolis on the evening of July 16, 2015. (Literature about the campaign is available on the Council website, too.)

In Darin’s earlier presentation he had emphasized that the call to action does not emphasize Cub Scouts. It is a general call to join Scouting. This means that Troops and Crews could receive new members, too.

Con reported that North Star District’s Cub Packs are encouraged to participate in a District-wide Pack Overnight Campout on October 17-18, 2015 (I will need to review my notes to double check dates) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Other weekends and campsites are available if Packs have fewer conflicts, but IMS is being pushed for North Star. IMS is close to home and exciting. Race cars and another race themed aspects will be emphasized through the weekend.

After Con’s presentation, there was a general open discussion of some of the logistics. One issue brought up is that customarily Packs collect the initial dues from new families on sign up night. Council then asks for a check from the Pack to Council to cover the new recruits’ BSA dues. This lead to some surprise and frustration. In addition, there was confusion about how much BSA dues the Pack should collect the first night to be considered a completely “registered scout.” Con did not have the answer at that time. These topics would be addressed in more depth later. For the duration of the meeting, the Committee agreed to take the issue under advisement and focus on the immediate mission of recruiting. At the meeting Con promised to clarify a few of these issues as quickly as possible.

This morning, he emailed me some clarifications. Read the rest of this entry »


Cub Pack Committee

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One of the first signs of trouble in the health of a Cub Scout Pack is that Cubmaster is heavily involved with the parents.

The Cubmaster, like his Scoutmaster equivalent, has the primary responsibility for taking care of the boys and coordinating the efforts of the Assistant Cubmasters and Den Leaders. He is the head of the Operations Department of a Cub Scout Pack.

So who takes care of the parents? The Pack Committee Chair. He or she is crucial to allowing the Cubmaster to provide a good program to keep the boys interested. If the Cubmaster is handling most of the phone calls and emails from the parents, the Cubmaster is going to waste his volunteer time that should be spent on the boys.

Read the rest of this entry »

Difficulties of Webelos to Scouts . . . for Adults

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Frank Maynard is a long-time Troop Committee Chair. He hosts a blog at Frank focuses on running the troop and the issues that scout leaders have in working with the parents.

One of the major issues at any campout is the new scout leader who just came from Cub Scouts. He tells a story about the common experiences that happen.

In his Soul to Work blog, leadership author Scott Mabry explains this very well. He tells us that the more we hold on to our old expectations, the more anxiety results and the more frustration ensues. It’s because, as leaders, we have become accustomed to being responsible for our portion of the Scouting experience, and we feel that we have failed if things go wrong. Now certainly we can’t just stand back and let a patrol or the troop flail about aimlessly, but neither is it our responsibility to do it for them. Our job goes from providing the program for the Scouts to providing them with the tools to spin their own program. It’s helping them discover for themselves which way to go, not pointing them in the direction we think is right. We have to let go of the way we did things before, as well as the idea that our reputation is staked on whether we have a snappy troop.

What Cub Scout leaders need to know is that, as leaders of Cubs, they are responsible for putting boys in tents, in the outdoors, and in other experiences that are hands-on experiences.  Their job is to assist the Cubs with discovering themselves and their world. Cubs need to know themselves and some basics about the world before they can learn the next step. The Cub leader is the teacher, babysitter, and cat-herder.

Read the rest of this entry »

Successful Packs Will Be Affected by Council’s Marketing

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As has been explained in an earlier post, this year’s marketing for fall recruitment will be very different than the past.  These changes will affect all packs, regardless of what their past recruiting history has been.

North Star district has been blessed with many Cub Scout packs that have done a very good job of recruiting new Cub Scouts for years.  They have been self-reliant.  They have grown.  They have followed these practices with the blessing of Council and District for years. Adventure

Unfortunately, scouting at all levels has suffered severe losses in the number of Cub Scouts participating.  As Council Executive Vice President for District Operations Stroh Bronn explained at our District Committee Workshop on June 11, 2015, National, Council, and District have seen significant losses in just the last 3 to 4 years.

In response to these losses, Council has adopted several best practices used in other councils. One of those has been to return to a 25-year-old practice and recruiting. It is to have all Cub Scout packs have a sign-up night on one unified night. This year August 27, 2015 from 7 PM to 8:30 PM has been selected. New Cubs will receive model rockets and district will hold a launch day on September 12, 2015. Your pack needs to know how the rockets fit into recruitment and how to get the rockets.

This means all Packs need to be part of one coordinated effort, regardless of past practices and successes.

This plan needs a lot of manpower, so we need troops and crews to invest effort, too.

For this plan to work, all Packs, Troops, and Crews need to send representatives to the District Committee Meeting Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 7:00 pm in St Luke’s United Methodist Church, Room W-125 (enter through Entry #4).

REMINDER: June Committee Meeting

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Just a quick reminder that June’s Committee Meeting will be Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.


We will be meeting in the main building at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Room W-125 at 100 West 86th Street,  Indianapolis, IN 46260. Enter through the most westerly door this time (Entry #4). The room will be immediately on your right.

Who Should Attend?

All members of the Committee are asked to attend. Attendance is a key responsibility for committee members. If you cannot, please talk to other people on your committee in advance. We have a lot to do and little time to get it all done.

All District Commissioners’ Staff are encouraged but not required to attend. This is the perfect opportunity to discuss problems found in the field with Committee members, allowing them to better design their plans.

Remember Chartered Organization Representatives and District Members-at-Large are automatically members of the Committee. Their attendance is highly valued. The purpose of the chartered organization representative attending is to be sure information gets shared to all units and all chartered organizations have their voices heard. Given the need for all units to be involved in this year ‘s recruitment drive, we are asking all chartered org reps to participate or ask a unit member to attend this meeting.

Interested Unit Leaders, Unit Chairs, and other interested are welcome.


District Chair Steve James will announce a formal agenda later on this blog or by email.

In the meantime, the Committee should expect to discuss the Committee’s broad goals including

  • Lose no units from June 1, 2015 forward.
  • Meet our goal for Scout Recruiting for the fall campaign
  • Design and implement resources that fit units’ needs.

Eventbrite - North Star District Committee Monthly Meeting

Questions Grow Leaders

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I have sat through troop youth leadership training. The scout has delivered. A scouter has delivered the training. There have been PowerPoint presentations. There have been no computers or projectors in sight. I have seen discussions on the back of a napkin. I have heard lectures. I have seen leaders say nothing.

All of these have one thing in common. They all have had little impact on improving the quality of the scouts’ leadership skills.

I have seen miraculous improvements in a scout’s leadership skills in the flash of a moment. I have seen steady improvement of leadership over a period of time. These have some things in common. They have engaged the scout’s own thinking.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sox Report Week 3

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This week Sox is reporting 34 Firecrafter candidates for the week. As of yesterday 28 had popped sparks.


July Roundtable Postponed a Week for Holiday

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Please note that July’s Roundtable will be on July 9th at the same time and place, not the usual date.

We will hold a general session for all attendees at 6:30 pm. At the close of general session, Cub and Scout Roundtables will be held.

Training for Chartered Organization Representatives and Representatives-Elect will be held at the same time.  (RSVP’s requested for training.) This training is mandatory for a COR to be “Trained.” Our goal in North Star is 100% Trained-COR’s by the completion of this year’s Rechartering Process.

trained patch

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?

Read the rest of this entry »

Sea Base Opportunity in July

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I have spoken to several Scoutmasters who scheduled High Adventure trips this summer, then had trouble completing their contingents.
One of the Troops with this problem still remaining is Troop 803 from Zionsville’s American Legion Post. They still have one berth left for the Out Island Adventure, departing Indy on July 11th for the car trip (another part of the contingent is flying out on or about July 13th).  The scout must meet Sea Base’s eligibility requirements (e.g., either (a) completed 8th grade and age 13, or (b) age 14) and is recommended by their Scoutmaster. describes this adventure as

“You think Survivor is tough? Check out Big Munson. The Out Island Adventure combines camping on a remote 100+ acre island, snorkeling on pristine coral reefs, trolling for sportfish, kayaking through red mangroves, and exploring the flora and fauna of Big Munson Island. You will wade ashore on Big Munson Island carrying all the food, water and equipment used during your adventure in a rugged camping setting. Powerboats will take you snorkeling and fish on selected days. A program mate will remain with you for the duration of your trip to assist you in appreciating this unique environment. This is a true high-adventure program, one that combines physical challenge with excitement and adventure. If your crew has strong camping skills and enjoys rugged camping, then the Out Island program is for you. This is a seven day event.

The website describes Big Munson this way:

In December of 1982, a gift was received by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America which was destined to change the very nature of some of the exciting programs offered by the Florida Sea Base. The gift was an untouched, uninhabited island over 100 acres in size, surrounded by the crystal clear water off Big Pine Key in the lower Keys.

On the entire string of islands called the Florida Keys, there are but a few that remain as they were when the pirates first rowed ashore in search of fresh water and game to provision their galleons. This island shows up on old nautical charts as Newfound Harbor Key, and on newer charts as Big Munson Key.

It is located three miles offshore from US 1, and a mere four miles inshore from Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary, known for some of the most fabulous reef formations found in the Keys. Sea Base has committed to retain this island in its natural state. Lightweight screened tents, cooking gear and other necessary equipment is provided by Sea Base, but all personal gear, food, and water must be waded ashore for your stay.

Troop 803 has already paid $815.00 for the berth and already has a contingent driving to Sea Base.  Sea Base offers a “Campership Program” that traditionally requires that a scout’s berth be prepaid by the troop. Once the scout who qualifies arrives at Sea Base to accept his berth, the Troop’s account is credited with a refund of the tuition, room, and board allowed by the Campership.
This berth would be eligible for the Campership Program, so families that could not traditionally afford to send a scout to High Adventure could do Troop 803 the favor of sending a scout just as much as a family who could pay the fee in full with a check.