How to get more adults to serve in your Pack

As Pack leaders are starting to think about the next school year, many often lament or hope for an influx of new adult volunteers to help the Pack run.  So, how do you do that?

Register them

That isn’t meant to be trite or over-simplistic, but the process starts on the first night of School Night for Scouting (SNfS) or whatever you call your Fall recruiting event. When the new families come to sit down, every seat should have stacks of:

  1. Information about Scouting
  2. Information about your Pack, including calendars for the first 60 days, new uniform details, and key contact information
  3. A Youth Application
  4. An Adult Application

Most folks, when they get a stack of papers and they are “ready” (most are or they wouldn’t be giving up an evening at home) to join will start filling out whatever paper is in front of them because they haven’t figured out that it is optional. This isn’t trying to trick them; just start with the assumption that every adult will join, until proven otherwise. If you only expect a new Den Leader and Assistant, and maybe a Committee Member, per table, than you will be lucky to get that and not much else.

 

But it costs an extra $20 dollars?

Yes, it does. It also emphasizes from the very first interaction that they are expected to be involved, and it helps with a little more commitment on the whole family to participate in Scouting. By the way, it also protects them with BSA insurance on any Pack or Den event that they go on, since many will be bringing their kids – and that insurance can be a life saver (see earlier blog).

 

Some of our families can’t afford even the minimum

I respect that, but many Councils and Packs have extra scholarship dollars. If your Pack is in an area that consistently needs that, consider adding $2 to all annual dues. But dropping the adult fees (and the adult’s service to the Pack) is not a good way to reduce the investment, since the Pack will be growing to serve the boy either way.

One of the key tenants of character building is self‑reliance, so if a parent will likely have financial needs throughout the year, it is even more important that they help contribute to the Pack by serving as a leader. Maybe something as simple as a helper for Blue & Gold, or selling snacks at the Pinewood Derby, or as an assistant Den Leader.

Start with some assumptions:

  • Most parents will fill out paperwork, if it is put in front of them
  • Most of those parents will help out if specifically asked (start with small jobs)
  • Most parents in financial-need will “pay in service” until you tell them that they don’t have to
  • Push the scholarships – don’t reduce the price

Some readers might be defensive by now, but I would offer that Scouting has value that far exceeds the cost. Similar to sales businesses, don’t drop the price — because that diminishes the perceived value and it reduces your customers’/participants’ commitment to the program. Instead, make that same effort to over-articulate the value of Scouting – all that the boys will get out of it, all that the families will get from it, and how cheap it is compared to alternative youth programs.

 

Suggested Do’s and Don’t

Don’t just enroll the kids at SNfS – or you will perpetuate your lack of adult-involvement problem. It is inordinantly harder to recruit them later, and you’ll never get as many as there were at SNfS.

Don’t take the adult applications at SNfS without processing them. Some Packs take the applications and file them until the adult is slotted to a role – DON’T. First, the adult application has SSN’s and other personal information, so Pack leaders should process them and get them out of their hands and into Council, as quickly as possible. Secondly, everyone can be Committee Members until proven otherwise. You can always turn them into Asst. Den Leaders later, but get them into the system and then figure out in what way(s) that they can help.

Don’t let them leave with their applications to “think about it” – as described in my earlier SNfS blogs, have a sign-up sheet as they first enter, with phone numbers and email addresses, so that you can later reconcile they applications to those that attended. Even if they appear hesitant, try to “sit” on the applications (youth & adult) and then help them finish them when they return.

 

Most Importantly – BELIEVE that Every Parent Can Serve

There are 40+ Cub Belt Loops covering almost every hobby and sport that an elementary-aged kid would likely have any interest in, along with twenty in-depth Webelos pins and a nearly infinite amount of supporting activities that support the Tiger go-see-it’s and the Wolf/Bear modules.

It is hard to imagine a case where every single parent doesn’t have a little something that can be applied to helping somewhere in the Pack – and if all that fails, there are lots of small (and large) roles on the committee for functions throughout the year. The problem isn’t that the parent can’t help, but that no one has helped them discover where they can. But you, as the current Pack Leaders have to believe that.

 

Closing Thought

Processing a bunch of new adult applications, explaining the process of Scouting and adult involvement repetitively, and then digging to find the right role for them … it is a lot of work, but it is far less work than carrying the Pack on the shoulders of just a few overworked volunteers.

A Week-Long Wood Badge is Hard!

I am excited to be heading to the Wood Badge course held annually at Philmont in August – hosted by Circle Ten Council but available to Scouters nationwide!!

But in seeking out folks to come with me, everyone seems to say the same thing:

  • I want to do Wood Badge, because I know it will benefit me
  • Doing it at Philmont sounds awesome!
  • But taking a week off is hard…

And I admit that it can be hard – but admittedly, I chose the week-long version instead of two weekends strictly because it would be easier logistically.  Here is my reasoning:

Wood Badge is designed around a six day experience, which can be divided into two three-day weekends – but the reality is that it ends up being a 23-day deal – here’s why:

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The first work week — you’ll likely have your regular day-job Monday-Thursday (and squeeze in those Friday commitments early) … and then you’ll drive Thursday evening to your camp, or kick off extremely early Friday morning.

Either way, you’ll spend three great days doing Wood Badge part I on Friday, Saturday, Sunday (they are full days) – and then drive home Sunday night.

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The second week, you will have a full week of work, but without the restful weekend in-between.

Most Councils then have an off weekend, but there is some project work to do with your patrol … so plan for a half-day of collaboration during that weekend with your patrol.  Throw in some honey-do’s, maybe church and two weekends’ worth of errands and those 48 hours will fly by.

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For the third week, you are back to work for Monday-Thursday … before driving back out to the campsite.

You’ll finish the second amazing part of the Wood Badge experience over Friday, Saturday and Sunday … drive home that night.

And then have another regular five-day work week…. all of which has been consecutive.

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NET NET:

In all, you’ll likely have taken four vacation days = two Friday’s off and hopefully two Monday’s afterwards to rest up.  Your heart will be full … your mind will be spinning … but your body will be tired.

OR … take a fifth vacation day … go to someplace where you’ll need a light jacket in August … and do the entire experience uninterrupted.

 

To be clear, regardless of the location or format, Wood Badge is an amazing experience that will make you a better employee, a better Scouter and likely a better teammate in all of life’s journeys.  The hard part is simply deciding when to go – and some folks can’t take that many days in a row. 

But as for those vacation days, while most folks take personal days for the Fridays & Mondays, you’d be surprised by the number of employers that will support you going for a week as “Personal Leadership Development” instead of as vacation.  Here is a leadership overview which may help in your conversations at work.

I hope that this was helpful – and maybe I’ll see you at Philmont in August,

Emmaus for Scouters – Wood Badge for Christians

Are you ready to take the next steps on your journey in either Christian Discipleship or Servant Leadership?

If so, there are two remarkably similar volunteer/lay-led retreat programs that I hope that you will consider.

Wood Badge is advanced leadership training for adults in the Boy Scouts of America. It truly is “leadership” training that is simply delivered in a Scouting setting, because the foundational principles that help Scouts grow as leaders can help adults, as well (http://www.woodbadge.org).

The Walk to Emmaus is a non-denominational Christian experience, intended to truly fan the flames of the Holy Spirit in ways that many people describe as being almost as powerful a catalyst in their walk as their initial surrendering to Christ (http://emmaus.upperroom.org).

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To be clear, Wood Badge is not Christian-centric, nor are there any other direct connections between the programs. My hope is that by sharing some parallels, those that may have realized the blessings of one might consider the other. Download this flyer to see more about how the programs compare.

Both are a retreat, in order to help you truly focus on your own growth – you will come back changed!

  • Wood Badge is six days, or two 3-day weekends
  • Emmaus is one 3-day weekend

Both use small groups to help you build life-long bonds as you experience new ideas together.

  • Wood Badge uses Patrols — “I was in the Beaver Patrol of Circle Ten Wood Badge 94.”
  • Emmaus uses Table families — “I sat at the Table of Paul on Dallas Emmaus Walk 113.”

clip_image004Both are structured curriculums that are delivered in your local area by volunteers who have been where you are.

  • Wood Badge curriculum is from the Boy Scouts of America, but then taught by a volunteer staff.  Each lesson has key points that are consistent but then adapted by the personal experiences of the speaker.
  • Emmaus curriculum comes from the Upper Room and is then taught by a lay-led staff, with a handful of clergy. Each lesson has key scripture and core ideas that are then adapted by the personal experiences of the speaker.

Both have opportunities to re-experience and refine your learnings while serving in future events.

  • Recent Wood Badge graduates can serve as Troop Guides for new participants or behind the scenes as Scribes or Quartermasters; and in later courses as SPL, ASM’s or Scoutmaster in future courses.
  • Recent Emmaus pilgrims can serve as Table Leaders for new pilgrims or behind the scenes in the “Outside” or “4th day” teams; and in later weekends as ALD’s or Lay Director in future courses.

Both foster communities for fellowship, but are intended to better equip you to serve those in your normal world.

  • Wood Badge graduates are recognizable by the wooden beads on their uniform, but it is not a clique. The purpose of WB is to grow leaders that can then go serve their Scouts, their families, their churches and their workplaces.
  • Emmaus has reunion groups and other fellowship events, but the purpose of the Emmaus experience is to help you grow as a Disciple of Christ and leader in service to God, your family, church, and the world.

CALL TO ACTION: If you are a Christian Scouter who has experienced the blessings of either of these programs, then you know how powerful they can be. Please consider taking the other journey as well. Search the web for “Emmaus” and your local major city … or ask about Wood Badge from your BSA Council representative.

And if you want a truly remarkable Wood Badge experience – consider taking Wood Badge at Philmont!!  Each year, Circle Ten Council hosts a course that is available to all Scouters.  Check out www.WB110.org for details about the August 2014 course.

Survey: How can Commissioners Better Serve Units?

A research project was recently launched to assess the effectiveness and contribution areas of Commissioners, in support of helping Scout Units thrive.

The research survey is part of a Commissioner’s Doctorate project (see thesis description here) focused on the Circle Ten Council’s units and commissioners. However, because of the great outpouring of feedback from various Facebook/LinkedIn groups during the survey’s beta — the survey is now opened up for national usage.  Your response to this survey will enable the researcher to quantify how units want/need service from their Commissioners, as well as what are the effects of good/poor commissioner service, at a national level. But to do that, we need your help.

The survey takes between 5-10 minutes, depending on your role:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BSAjte1

Important Note: If enough folks from your Council (we ask in the survey) respond, so that the data is definitive, then we can make a cut of the data available to the Council leadership and commissioner staff.

So, please feel free to distribute this link within your council.

Thanks for your service and support!

[Cross-posted across a few facebook/linked-in groups]

A Devotional for Wood Badge Staff

WoodBadge-LogoColorSome might have heard the phrase “A Church should not be a Warehouse for saints; it is a Distribution Center for servants.”

It’s a cute way of reminding folks that the miracles, parables, historical accounts and even the dialogs written in our scriptures are not there purely for information. While the books and the classes can help the reader make key decisions in their faith, the primary purpose is not merely to educate, but also to energize and enable the believer for the mission that they are called to. If reading the written words or attending church were simply to inform or entertain, then they would mostly be a waste of time, albeit an enjoyable one.

Wood Badge is the same way. Our own Wood Badge experiences would have been a waste of time, albeit an enjoyable one, if they had only served to inform or entertain us for the six days that we were there. Similarly, the upcoming course is not really even to inform or entertain those participants whom we will be serving. As leaders, we should be mindful that our primary audience to impact with this event are those whom we will likely never meet — those that will be affected by the new leaders that we are energizing and enabling during our course.

PLEASE PRAY — To our Creator, we humble ourselves. We ask that you would help us to settle our hearts and clear our minds, so that we might be better instruments to educate, to energize, to enable, as well as to entertain those who are preparing to take this journey with us. We lift up those that are being left behind while we take this journey together and ask for an extra measure of patience, protection and blessings for those who must endure our absence. And we lift up not just those who will be participating, but even more those who are destined to be impacted down the road by what we humbly deliver together. Thank you for those that came on the trail before us, thank you for those on the trail ahead that we are here to serve, and thank you for your provision along the way. Amen.

Originally written for BSA C10 WB 110 Staff Development kickoff

Personal blog of the Holy Spirit on the Hill

When we are blessed, we are obligated to share not only the blessing but how the blessing occured, as well

Whether a miracle is visible for miles and observed by hundreds or is seen and felt in the heart of just one, it seems impossible to deny that a supernatural force of provisioning and care isn’t at work every day. But it is important that when divinity bestows an act of grace, intercession or prophetic wisdom; that the benefactor must become a witness, so that others’ faith can be bolstered, so that others’ prayers can be validated as answered, and so that all of us can be affirmed with each other that our God continues to be amongst us. In other words, Grace fell upon my shoulders last weekend, and so I am obliged to share that moment.

Setting the Stage

It was supposed to be just another Scouting weekend, with all of our local troops camping together. All day, I knew that I was supposed to preach the next day for our camp’s worship service, and just couldn’t find my normal passion or excitement to even peruse my sermon file for what I would speak on. All afternoon, I had been heartbroken over a Scout parents’ story of struggle that their son was going through. They were going through an unimaginable parental crisis as their Scout realigned his lifestyle, and I felt so helpless other than to assure them that God was in it. The words felt so empty, and yet I knew it was all I could say.

The Holy Spirit was in the Wind

On Saturday night, I was sitting in the dark on a hill that was overlooking a Scouting campfire. A persistent wind was blowing in from the lake, as we were on a peninsula, when all of the sudden, I found myself listening inward instead of watching outward. I truly felt “quiet” – not as in what my ears could not hear, but in my shoulders relaxing, and my mind that wasn’t multitasking, and my heart that wasn’t racing – I felt “quiet.” And then I heard the echoes of several explanations of “The Prodigal Son” as it had been expounded to me in numerous settings. And then I realized that while I was hearing the words that had been used over years past, it was in my voice. The words kept coming and I understood that I was hearing what I needed to say. It was all that I could do to take care of a few minor obligations so that I could run to my laptop and feverishly type into the night.

 

CLICK HERE to read the sermon on The Prodigal Son, which I cannot claim to have come from me.

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Who else was in the story?

It was easy to see the struggling Scout who was recently redeemed (and his parents) in the story of the Prodigal Son, but after I finished typing it, I saw others:

  • I saw a Scout who had been astray and confronted with it; and truly turned around. He is just winding up from being his Troop’s leader, as his journey “back” is complete – and I wonder if that isn’t how the prodigal son might have been in the months after returning to his father.
  • Another Scout had finally been elected to the OA, after having been passed over – and I saw in him the older brother in the parable who believed himself faithful in everything he did, and yet not rewarded for it. There were other Scouts whom I could foresee as still serving without reward.
  • And then I saw myself: As the father, who is looking on the horizon in hopes for his family; As the older brother faithfully toiling away (or at least I hope so); and as the prodigal son, perpetually on my redemption journey but nowhere near “arrived” where I feel worthy for anyone celebrating my return as being complete.

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I do hope that each of those that folks listed above, including me, and the other 400 folks that heard the sermon that morning, each found themselves somewhere in that story – perhaps with some experiencing a gentle nudging back into their Father’s Grace.

Thanks for reading.

sermon – Are you a Prodigal Son?

Our district’s annual Camporee has many journeys taking place:

  • One of the first campouts for those new Boy Scouts who recently crossed over from Cub Scouts
  • New Leaders in place, since most troops just recently finished their elections
  • New OA Brotherhood members who are reaffirming their call to Cheerful Service
  • New OA Candidates being tapped out

 

We are all on journeys – some that need a little course correction, and others that need a 180 reversal.  This sermon starts with reading the Christian Parable from Luke 15:11-32 on “The Prodigal Son”.  When delivered to a multi-faith audience, as ours was, we explained that while the story being read comes from the Christian Bible, listen to the story as it relates to each of us.

 

CLICK HERE for the sermon of the Lost Son (or Scout)

 

Note: The inspiration for this sermon came through a breeze that I can only describe as the Holy Spirit in action — click here to read more about that experience.

How to deliver God & Church in Three Lock-Ins

God & Church is the third phase of the PrayPub discipleship program that is recognized for Christian Protestant Scouts in the 6th thru 8th grade (including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc.) and is the next phase of growth beyond God & Me (1st thru 3rd grades) and God & Family (4th & 5th grades).

Last year, I developed a guide for delivering God & Family as an overnight lock-in, instead of six meetings.

This year, we’d like to try delivering God & Church in three lock-ins.


The typical schedule for God & Church is eleven (11) meetings, including the introductory session, seven lesson meetings and three “Mile Marker” unit wrap-ups. Instead, OUR schedule will be three (3) single, overnight lock-ins and a closing party/event, spread over a three month period. Each lock-in will include multiple lessons from the program guide, small group time for discussion and project work, and free time.

Here is the first draft of the God & Church three lock-in format – God n Church Lock-In Guide 2014-01

“Feedback is a Gift” and “A Scout is Helpful” … so am hoping that you will take a look and let me know what you think, especially if you have experience with the God & Church curriculum.

Thank you for your time.

JTE Commissioner Impact Survey – now in Beta

I am working on a research project to quantify Commissioner Service impact on overall unit health and JTE attainment.

To accomplish this, I am using an online survey that is intended to understand and quantify the role of BSA Commissioners in service to units, including their impact on JTE recognition, their areas of contribution to the units, and the frequency and methods that are most effective. Within the Council, three different groups of individuals are being asked to participate, including:

  • Administrative Commissioners (e.g. District Commissioner or ADC)
  • Unit-serving Commissioners (including UC’s, RTC’s, ADC’s and DC’s)
  • Unit leaders, such as Scoutmaster, Cubmaster or Committee Chairpersons

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The online survey can be completed in less than 10 minutes — with 7 demographic questions which will then branch you to a series of between 8 and 24 additional questions, based on your role and unit activities.  Your honest and thorough participation is gratefully appreciated, as it will help all of our Commissioners serve all of our Scouts better. Thank you for your time.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JTEbeta1

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Feedback is a Gift” and “A Scout is Helpful” = Your Participation is Requested (please try it out)

The online survey will be released to a broad range of Circle Ten Council respondents in April, but the survey is live now in order to gain feedback.  Please consider spending a few minutes going through the survey from the mindset of either a unit commissioner or a unit leader.  Feedback can be left in the final survey question or emailed via this website.  Thank you for participating in this Scouting research project.

DDCC – District Den Chief Coordinator (idea)

Here is an idea that I would like feedback on: a district (or sub-district) den chief coordinator (DDCC).

As a former Cubmaster/ASM and current Commissioner, I am a huge fan of Den Chief’ing, when it is done right:

  • The Cub Scouts see an ideal example of what staying in the program looks like
  • The Cub Leader gets an extra set of hands and ideas
  • The Troop gets an ambassador to the Packs that may join them
  • The Boy Scout learns leadership

But there are challenges that have to be managed:

  • Ensuring that the Boy Scout acts as a “leader” and not just “a big cub to be handled”
  • Ensuring that the Boy Scout participates and is able to receive coaching, just as they would if they were serving within the Troop
  • Ensuring that every Den gets a Den Chief (that wants one) and that every suitable Boy Scout gets an opportunity to serve/lead/learn.

As an Asst. District Commissioner, I serve 5 troops and 9 packs. At a minimum that would be 36 Dens (Wolf, Bear, Web1 and Web2 times 9 packs) that need Den Chiefs, but there are likely more like 45 dens in my service area. While I have helped many boy scouts find packs and vice versa, and am sure there are lots of other 1:1 matchups going on, I’d like to try something new:

Read more

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