Archive for Jason

Overview of Commissioner Recognitions

The best reason for Commissioner Recognitions isn’t for the bling or vanity — it’s to model and measure what good Commissioner service looks like.  BSA has done a great job of refreshing and clarifying each of the many recognitions that can be used to incentivize and recognize great Commissioner service to our units and our youth.

In Circle Ten Council, we are starting up a very intentional focus to explain and enhance our use of recognitions, as part of bolstering our Commissioner Corps and their service.  Here’s a short video explaining all of the progressions.

Also, if you want to use the PPT for your own recognitions discussion, perhaps at a monthly Commissioners’ meeting or a Commissioner College course, here it is as well.  All we ask is that you don’t re-post the PPT elsewhere — just link to this post, so that we can update it as needed.

Thanks for all you do in Scouting.

A Must Have Book for Reverent Scouts – Scouting Our Way

Every Scout and Scouter promises to do their Duty to God, but very little is written to help them accomplish that since the BSA recognizes many different faith traditions.

My favorite single resource related to this subject has been In Our Own Way: Living a Scouting Life Through Faith, by Dr. Robert Lee Edmonds. Between mentoring Chaplains Aides and serving on Wood Badge courses, I’ve given away over 100 copies and it’s the only paper book in my camping gear, other than the Boy Scout Handbook. Click here to check out my previous blog on In Our Own Way.

Dr. Edmonds and his wife Linda just published a new book, Scouting Our Way: A Guide to Faith, Duty, and Fellowship.

According to the publisher:

Scouting Our Way includes an extraordinary selection of traditional and favorite Scout prayers and devotions arranged by program and activity suitable for personal reflection and group gatherings. There is also a prayer journal inside the book for Scouts to record their personal and favorite prayers.

At the end of each chapter are Set My Compass interactive, theme-based adventures where the reader can engage with unique chapter topics through faith-building activities. Each Set My Compass exercise is an enlightening, personal, and sharing experience for Scouts to appreciate the blessings and value of reverence, duty, and fellowship. These chapter tasks are readily adaptable for age and program and are an ideal complement to earning advancement, service or religious honors requiring an understanding and the role of a Scout’s duty to God.

Dr. Edmonds was kind enough to let me read it before it became generally available, and provide me the opportunity to contribute some ideas during the book’s production – so it will absolutely find a place on my book shelf and another copy in my camping gear. Every reverent scout should consider having one! It includes:

  • Prayers from over 30 faiths each on various Scout topics such as Reverence, Character, Being Prepared
  • Prayers and wisdom from past presidents and leaders
  • A variety of Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Leader, Wood Badge and other Scouting benedictions and prayers
  • And some introspective guides and a prayer journal for each readers’ journey in their understanding of their Creator

If you are a reverent Scout or Scouter (or have someone in your family who is), this is a great resource – especially for Chaplains Aides and those who help Scouts with their Duty to God.

For more information, click here for Scouting Our Way on Amazon (yes, it is available on Kindle). And also check out the write-up on Dr. and Mrs. Edmonds from BSA’s ScoutWire.

How active is your Council in Religious Awards?

Each year, PrayPub (the outside agency that develops most of the religious education materials and awards) publishes the lists of BSA councils and awards presented:


For those in Circle Ten, my council, with 57,000 youth … here are our numbers for the protestant programs:

  • 122 God & Me – 1st thru 3rd grade
  • 116 God & Family – 4th & 5th
  • 20 God & Church – 6th thru 8th
  • 10 God & Life – 9th thru 12th
  • 3 Four Star (all of the above)
  • 17 Adult Awards


Of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story.  These numbers are only of the Christian-Protestant awards, not the Catholic, Jewish or other recognized faiths.  Still, there are a lot of protestants in Texas and only 288 recognitions for Scouts and Scouters.

Here are a few other observations:

  • It is gratifying to see relatively flat numbers in the first two programs, implying perhaps folks continuing in the program as their Cub Scout progresses.
  • It is equally disappointing to see the fall-off for Boy Scouts with the latter two programs.
  • Only three Scouts received the “Four Star,” meaning all four awards, presumably three of the ten God & Life recipients.
  • Only 17 Adults were recognized, which begs the question … who is teaching the Scouts? Teaching a course certainly doesn’t merit the award, but one would presume that there are far more than seventeen Christian-minded and actively-serving adults. But the adult award is only by nomination and the requirements are relatively steep in most of the faith traditions, usually 5+ years of active service in both the BSA and their home church or ministry.  Still, seventeen seems low.


What do you think?  Please leave your comments below.

Connect with Today’s Scouting Movement

Today’s Scouting Movement isn’t just monthly campouts from yesteryear – sure, our Boy Scout Troops camp almost every month, but they do it to help young leaders learn to lead: planning meals, organizing tasks, encouraging teamwork, and teaching new skills (to each other).

Scouting today also has full programs around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). And Scouting is co-ed starting at 14 through its Venturing program. Some of the methods have adapted with the times, but the goal remains the same: character development of youth.

  • If you regularly read this blog, thanks!
  • If you found this blog through one of my reach outs via email / twitter, thanks!

Here are some ways that you can help:

If you have any skill, hobby or vocational aptitude, there is likely a merit badge that you could teach in your local area for a half-day, even once per year. With over 130 merit badges, its almost guaranteed that you know a good bit about at least one. Tomorrow’s leaders need mentors today, so please help.

Or maybe you work at a venue that Scouts would want to come and visit – or your organization would consider to hosting a Pack, Troop, Crew, or Explorer Post?  Please let us know.

Additionally, Scouting is a volunteer-led movement … with many parents being supplemented by local volunteers (for merit badges, but also activities or venues). Every Pack/Troop/Crew needs a helper, called a Commissioner, as well as just other adults to help with background tasks, so that the youth can have a great experience. Every city or “district” needs extra volunteers to help on even a small committee or activity team. These are just a few ways that you might plug in.

Easy ways that you can plug-in:

  • Many schools and churches host a Scouting program – as your youth minister or PTO/PTA representative.
  • Or put in your zip code at to find a unit near you.
  • Or Bing/Google search for “Boy Scouts of America council” and the name of the large city closest to you, to find out how Scouting is serving your local community. Look for a webpage talking about your local “Council” and they can help you plug in.

If none of those work for you, leave me a comment (private) on this post, and I’ll personally help you figure out how you can connect/reconnect with Scouting.  And hey, if you don’t have any time but perhaps you can help financially, that’d be great too. Most Councils have a way to receive one-time or recurring donations. Here is a link where I serve.

No More YPT Hassles

Like most other things in adult life, paperwork always seems to be what ‘gets in the way’ – and when it comes to recharter or wring-out, encouraging well-intentioned and actively serving adults to renew their YPT training used to be arduous.

But in 2015, YPT management is much easier due to the new Scouting Tools:

1) REPORTING: Unit Leaders (Key-3 and their Commissioner) can now run a report that shows when everyone’s YPT will expire. Check out my earlier blog on exactly how to run the report.

But there are two other big advancements (pun intended) worth noting:

2) NOTIFICATIONS: Any adult whose account has their email address registered will be notified when their YPT is about to expire. So the easiest thing that a leader can do is print out the email roster for their unit from and ensure that everyone has an email address registered in the system.

So, now both the unit leaders and the adults have multiple ways to find out if their YPT is ready to expire. And if the adult takes the online YPT training, it will automatically update in the system. But what about those who take YPT in-person? You folks get good news too!

3) TRAINING UPDATES can now be done by your unit key 3 – they can add training to any of their adults’ records, if the adults bring proof of participation.

How to Update Someone’s Training Record

– Log in in as one of the Unit Key-3 or as a Unit Commissioner

– Go to Training Manager on the upper-left corner’s pull down list of Scouting Tools

– Look on the top of the right-pane of the screen and click on the small certificate with a green add symbol (the leftist most icon of the three).

– On the Add Training screen are three pull-down options:

  • Program – Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Venturing and Other (e.g. YPT)
  • Course – pull down and search for the course that the adult showed proof of attending
  • Date – what was the completion date of the course

– With the class information entered, you can add one or more adults.

  • For YPT, you’ll likely only have one adult to enter
  • If you are an instructor, you can enter several participants at one time

– And click [SUBMIT]

You’re done!!  Note, even as a Key-3 leader or Commissioner, you cannot enter information about your own training. A Scout is trustworthy, but … 🙂

Hope this was helpful,

November is time for Wring-Out !!

It used to be that “R&R” used to mean rest and relaxation … but if you are a Committee Chairperson or Advancement Coordinator, then R & R stands for Recruitment and Recharter. For many units, your main recruiting efforts are complete and rechartering is “months away” — so you can take a break, right?

In reality, like the old academic adage, there are really three R’s:

  • Recruiting
  • wRing-out
  • Recharter

November is Wring-out and if done right, wring-out is the single most important thing that you can do to ensure an easy recharter in a few months.


Wring-out is to ensure that everyone in your Pack/Troop (Crew/Team) is registered with the BSA (and vice versa) — it’s a simple comparison between your list and BSAs.

And it really is simple; just take whatever list you use — a DOC, an XLS, a Packmaster/Troopmaster export, etc. — and send it to Council via your Commissioner. They will compare it with what is on the BSA system and then follow-up with any discrepencies. Important hint — while this may be obvious, the only list/roster that you should not use is any kind of export from a BSA system (e.g. … because that is the same database that the Council will use.

RECHARTER PREP that could not be any easier

That being said, this is a great time to try out the new tools. You are certainly welcome to compare the lists and do your own wring-out comparison, but more importantly — look at the YPT report. One of the best new features in the BSA My Scouting site is a YPT aging report that tells you when every adult member’s YPT will expire. This is huge because the single hardest part of recharter is chasing adults to re-certify.

To gain access to the awesomely helpful YPT feature:

  1. Log in to as a Unit Key-3 member
  2. From the upper-left corner, pull down the list and select the “Training Manager.” Note: if you are also registered as a District or Council team member, you may have extra options, but under the banner of your unit, there is a “Training Manager” link.
  3. The pie-chart on the right is the YPT aging report, showing:
    1. Green – % of adults whose YPT is valid for at least 90 more days
    2. Dark Red – % of adults whose YPT will expire in less than 30 days
    3. Bright Red – % of adults who have never taken YPT


There are two blue buttons on the top of this window:

The right button changes the view from a pie-chart to a more detailed aging report

MyScouting-YPT-aging-listThe left button is where all of this gets HUGELY HELPFUL

You can now generate a report of whose YPT will expire.

KEY POINT – Recharter will happen sooner than you think, and only thing less pleasant than chasing down volunteers’ YPT renewals during the holidays to be the volunteer being badgered to recertify. So, do them and you a big favor — pull your report and give then November to recertify before the holidays get busy.

If you do the hardest part now (while it isn’t that hard), then recharter is a few signatures and cutting a check (give or take).

Commissioner Thesis: Impact of Commissioner Service on BSA Unit Health and JTE Attainment

First and foremost, thank you to the over 1,200 BSA volunteers who participated in the survey, including over 700 in Circle Ten Council and another 500 from the rest of BSA.

CLICK HERE to download the Research Report

This report was intended to quantitatively measure the impact of Commissioners on BSA Units and JTE Attainment, from the perspectives of both Commissioners and Unit Leaders.  Commissioner-DoctorateThe major research sections include:

  • Commissioner Engagement Statistics
  • Presumptions and Realities Regarding What Commissioners Do
  • Journey-To-Excellence (JTE) Enablement
  • The Relevance of Commissioner Service

The report includes 30 quantitative data charts, along with comparative tables, to try to truly quantify the impact of Commissioners in the BSA.  The original project description can be found here for those that are interested.

Six Day Wood Badge Devotional

Each day at Gilwell Field, the Scoutmaster or Staff Chaplain will have the opportunity to deliver a daily devotional, as part of the assembly. This guide was originally developed for the six-day format, with the expectation that it might be modified to fit future Wood Badge Courses.

WoodBadge Devotional (click here to download)

For each devotional entry, there are four elements:

Chaplain’s notes – listing which Wood Badge curriculum is being presented later that day, in order to give context for the daily devotional. This is intended for the speaker, but not to be shared with the participants until after the course.

Introduction – an opening thought or scenario to set the tone, which reflects elements of the upcoming day and shows where prayer or growth might be coveted.

Prayer – an ecumenical prayer, suitable for all faiths, to further focus the hearts and minds of the participants and staff, and then allow them a moment of silent meditation for their own communing with their understanding of their Creator.

Space – where a supplemental scripture or additional prayers might be written, depending on the format at faith basis of the course.

I hope that you find this useful. Feedback is a gift, so please consider leaving comments below regarding how this might be improved or better utilized.


Interfaith Sermon: Marksmanship in Faith

Originally written for and delivered on Circle Ten Council’s Wood Badge Course WB 110 (S2-571-14-3), using a common Scouting experience (shooting sports) to describe one’s faith and the pursuit of proficiency in reverence:

  • Lesson One – Sight Alignment – you adjust, God doesn’t
  • Lesson Two – Sight Picture – focus not on the target, but on God
  • Lesson Three – Marksmanship & Discipleship – be consistent and slow down
  • Lesson Four – Affecting the Bullet – rely on the divine power/powder behind you

For the Wood Badge course, there was an initial 25m instructional on Interfaith in Scouting, followed by a 25m Worship Service.  Attached are the instructional notes, the worship service program and the sermon (10m):

WB 110 Interfaith Instructional Info

WB 110 Worship Service Program

WB 110 Worship Service Sermon

Serving Him, and you, through Scouting.

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.

%d bloggers like this: