Our Continued Commitment To Scouting
The week of 20 May is a turning point in the Scouting movement as the assembled whole of the National Council delegates at the BSA National Annual Meeting will consider the monumental decision on the proposal to change membership standards for our youth. NCAC Scout Executive Les Baron, NCAC President Hugh Redd and I are very grateful for all the passionate, eloquent, and well-considered thoughts no matter what your opinion was about the issue. We are also indebted to our NCAC Vice President of Mission Impact Jim Smith for the comprehensive NCAC survey process that was conducted to guide our inputs to BSA National preceding the decision. In the end, even though all decisions must be made for the good of the entire organization, every decision in Scouting is one of a very personal nature, including the one each and every one of us now faces: no matter which way the decision was made, do you as an adult leader continue your association with Scouting with your time, your skills and abilities, and your financial resources? As your Council Commissioner, I for one will continue an active and vigorous role in Scouting to help assure our youth continue to get a great program that builds character, fitness, citizenship, and outdoor skills in ways that no other American youth movement does or can ever do. So therefore, I ask all of you - my colleagues and friends across every role in Scouting’s adult leadership (not just commissioners) – to stand with me and continue as leaders, united in the new future of Scouting, whatever direction it will proceed, with God’s blessings on our work, and on all of those who are in it. May we all continue in our commitment to NCAC’s vast number of youth and families, and may we always remain committed to being “Helpful”, “Courteous”, and “Kind” to all of them and to each other.
---Ed Yarbrough, Eagle Scout and volunteer Scouter
At the end of the summer ahead, NCAC will be providing volunteer assistance at a premier national Scouting event at the Gaylord Resort at the National Harbor called the Top Hands Conference. This conference will bring the top volunteer and professional leadership of the BSA from across the nation to the Nation’s Capital to recognize the achievements of the top performing Councils in the USA. The NCAC Commissioner staff has been called on to help provide local volunteer help to assist the activities of the event, and is inviting every registered leader in NCAC, especially all our commissioners, to consider serving in some small way at the event. Sign-ups to become volunteers will be through the Council web site. We are looking for folks who would like to help with registrations, giving directions, taking tickets, staffing displays, being monitors in presentation sessions, ticket collection, helping with audio-visual requirements, and distributing Scouting materials to the conference participants. We will also need youth volunteers and adult supervision for color guards for the various meetings and sessions of the meeting. As a special opportunity, the NCAC commissioner staff will host a special reception for our National Commissioner Tico Perez and his senior staff at the conference, giving our commissioners a chance to network with commissioner leadership. Please consider a special opportunity to help a major national meeting to be a great success by volunteering some time during the course of the week.
SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER – BUT SCOUTING IS NOT!
As the schools let out for the summer almost everywhere, that opens the door for your units to stay active in the summer. Troops, Teams, Crews, and Ships generally begin a very active summer with summer camp and high adventures. Commissioners in their normal contacts with units can make sure that those units don’t go on hiatus, and do have a great program set for their youth. We especially want to assure our Cub Packs don’t ‘go to sleep’ for the summer. It’s such a great time for young boys to get introduced to the outdoors, and it is not too late for a unit to get in contact with the Program Department to plan an outdoor adventure. Even if a pack has a simple local event for its membership each month of the summer, a pack can earn the Summertime Award for it and its members. And provide a much better chance that its Scouts will stay in Scouting – and the unit will continue to thrive - if there is a good strong program year round. Even more important for us as commissioners, is to continue to visit and follow up on our units as they progress through the summer. Perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to go on a visit to your units while they are at camp!
WRAP UP RECHARTER
While we’ve been focused on unit and District recharters and membership registration and retention, we still have more dropped units out there than we should. Please stay focused on bringing back dropped units due to administrative or paperwork errors or delays – simple things like signatures, or social security numbers, or youth protection. Dropped units prevent youth from being safely active and or earn awards, don’t provide protection for charter organizations, youth, or parents in case of accidents, or have properly registered and tenure leaders. All our youth deserve a good chance to be or remain Scouts, and build character and fitness. Let’s keep NCAC’s retention record the best in the country by keeping the ‘main thing’ for commissioners ‘the main thing.’
A MEMBERSHIP ARMY
Commissioners have been called upon at national level, and especially within NCAC, to continue our strong natural alliance with Bob Wood, NCAC VP of Membership Impact and his volunteer staff of membership volunteers across the DC metro area. While NCAC is among the leaders in the nation with respect to membership growth, and the #1 leader in membership retention nationally, Commissioners can specifically help by making membership a routine part of our monthly conversations with the units we serve. We should include this summer as we make our visits that Cub Scout that Packs schedule their Join Scouting Nights for the fall right now, and take the highly useful training provided by Districts and Council throughout the summer to learn the best practices on how to conduct an exciting and successful Join Scouting Night. We should also advise our Packs to know how to use BeAScout.org as an important recruiting tool for new members. Our most important role we can provide to is to tech units to keep their BeAScout.org points of contact always up to date, especially if there has been a recent change in leadership. Even more important is that they make sure that any contacts from prospective new members are followed up immediately, so youth can find a Scouting home. No one who wants to join Scouting wants to be disappointed by being interested in Scouting, but then not being contacted and welcomed into Scouting enthusiastically. It doesn’t end with new Cub Scouts though, it continues with the transition from Cubs to Boy Scouts through Troops having Open Houses and an active Webelos to Scout transition program, that should be administered by District Membership Committees, but commissioners can encourage and be sure are happening for active and vibrant troops. Transition for older Scouts 14 and above into Teams and Crews, and active recruiting of young women into Crews is also an important function of a District Membership Committee, and commissioners have a role in monitoring and encouraging those processes too. And finally, we can encourage units with older Scouts and Venturers to get those young people as registered leaders in the units they grew up in! Join the Membership Army as we link hands across NCAC in helping successful recruiting and transitions at all levels of Scouting
VOICE OF SCOUT
The results of the winter surveys for the national Voice of Scouting (VOS) initiative will soon be published, and commissioners have three important roles in VOS in our alliance with NCAC Vice President of Marketing Jim Wilson whose organization oversees the process. First, we need to make sure we investigate and follow up on any specific comments made from unit Scouting families and leaders. Second, as the next survey approaches in the fall, we can as a part of our regular visits to units that make sure we let our units’ leaders know to continuously update their unit rosters, using the new on-line tools, with accurate emails for the membership. Finally, we can make sure NCAC provides many opportunities for our Scouting families to make their voices heard by advertising that VOS is available for units’ families to participate in this coming fall, especially if they have never taken the survey before.
NEW ASSISTANT COUNCIL COMMISSIONER FOR VIRGINIA SOUTH!
We are pleased to see a long time veteran Scott Minke take on a new senior level role in leadership of the commissioners as the new Assistant Council Commissioner for the Virginia South Area. He’ll have responsibility for Bull Run, Mattaponi, Piedmont, Occoquan, and Aquia Districts. Scott brings a wealth of experience from his days as a District Commissioner and many other roles. Thanks for giving to a new role in commissioner service, Scott!
A traditional important role for commissioners is to advise and counsel our units to have a year-round plan, and to work on it during the late spring and summer. It’s time to be doing that with your unit, and to take advantage of the Program Launch tools and materials being handed out at the May and June Roundtables and conveniently now provided on line at www.boyscouts-ncac.org/programlaunch. New materials which will be added to as are available, in our commissioner alliance with Program Impact and Outdoor Adventure organizations within the Council. Teach your units to learn how to plan if they are new, or keep strong planning in their ‘tool kits’ for success by being good long range planners.
OUR FIRST RECIPIENTS OF COMMISSIONER AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
Two years ago, National Commissioner Tico Perez and the National Commissioner staff establish a new award to recognize on-going outstanding service to being a commissioner. It adds to the other commissioner service awards for every District Commissioner to reward great service by their staff. This award has an important difference than the others, in that it can only be earned by direct unit-serving commissioners. It rewards all the skills needed by 21st century commissioners – Journey to Excellence and Unit Visitation Tracking System skills, as well as continuous service in the traditional roles of coaching, mentoring, guiding, and being a friend to units. Randy Young of Sully District and Mary Pat Donals of Prince Georges District are the first of many recipients we hope will earn this award in service to their units.