Monday, August 3, 2015

Scouting’s Changing Narrative

The BSA has changed the membership policy. Effective July 27, 2015 gay men and women anywhere in the US can volunteer for their community by becoming a Scout Leader. This change has been an enormous struggle. Over the past 30 years we have found ourselves wrapped up in a cultural shift in country. During that time, Scouting became a smaller program on the periphery (at least compared to our heyday when we enjoyed universal appeal). There are plenty of reasons for that marginalization beyond just the membership issue and this change will, not on its own, reverse the decline. However, the exciting thing about this change is national leadership has realized that sincere action and leadership are required to stay relevant. Locally we’ve always been aware of the divisiveness of the membership policy and provided leadership to stay relevant. With this change we believe we are in a unique position to become a more vibrant force for good, based on the new national narrative.
We are now experiencing some of the most significant changes to the Scouting narrative in the past 50 years. We are pursuing these Scouting changes for the good and health of this generation. Scouting does NOT have a political agenda; it has an agenda of character development. Embedded in this newly evolving story, our character development agenda addresses the needs of girls. It addresses our American underlying racial tension. It addresses the parenting skills of a generation. It addresses a love of learning and fosters a natural curiosity. It addresses compassion, and the skills to improve your personal life. It instills responsibility.
Part of the strength of Scouting comes from the diversity of the community. Each parent brings their best skills to the group, and each child brings their greatest potential. The parents who make Scouting thrive volunteer to help “regular kids” who live in their neighborhood. They are their own children and their children's friends. Kids that generally look, behave and have the same experiences as any other group of kids across America.
For Scouting to remain relevant we need to meet the needs of young people in our community. Today if you sample 150 Scouts:
3 of those Scouts are on the autism spectrum
54 of those Scouts are from a single parent family
16 of those Scouts have attention deficit disorder
3 of those Scouts are gay
29 of those Scouts live below the poverty level
3 of those Scouts will be homeless for a period of their childhood
32 of those Scouts will suffer from depression during teenage years
1 of those Scouts lives in an abusive family situation
Scouting has always been one of the most effective character and community building programs available. Scouts learn to work together in a real world environment, and often meet and work with others from completely different socio-economic, cultural and racially diverse backgrounds. Scouting in Boston has successfully re- invigorated and is making significant efforts to make urban families a thriving part of our Scouting community. The Templeton Foundation, along with Tufts University, is helping us study the long term character and community building impact of Scouting. The study will follow Scouts from urban Boston MA, Philadelphia PA and Phoenix AZ. This three-year study will focus on our performance and ability to engage and retain youth in urban environments.

To better meet the needs of our community, our grand opening for The New England Base Camp and Camp Sayre will occur this fall. This is another unique and long anticipated project that is designed to engage more parents and create a community of families dedicated to raising a generation of young leaders capable of meeting the personal and global challenges they will encounter during their adult life. That ambitious goal begins with a simple fun afternoon in the outdoors for every family. By creating this outdoor family attraction conveniently located in the center of the Greater Boston market we will provide unique quality family time, develop an appreciation for environmental sustainability, health and the outdoors, tell the Scouting story and increase Scouting recruitment and retention.

This is the generation Scouting serves. Scouting gives the parents the additional specific community support and resources to effectively help all youth. The Scouting community works with you to help develop specific programs to help your child can be his or her best, while remaining an integral part of the larger community.
Thanks, Hope to see you at camp.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Council is Incidental

Listed below are just a few articles showcasing the positive opportunities related to the NEW Spirit of Adventure Council.  Please take a moment to read the articles, and share through your social media networks.

This summer the Spirit of Adventure staff will be visiting camps all across New England to listen to the needs of our unit leaders. It’s one thing to pull together a successful merger – it’s another thing to deliver a thriving Scouting environment. This summer is all about building the new council to serve those needs. As the articles below indicate we are proud of the listening we’ve done through the process, but NOW is when the real work (and excitement) begins.

Helping Scouting thrive in every community does NOT happen magically. Like our most successful units it requires lots of hands, and everyone pitching in where they can.

The plan is what allows everyone to most easily pitch in – when a troop has a strong plan new parents can easily find a way to help because the requests are simple and direct. “Can you pitch in next month by …..?” or “Can you stay late next week to help with …..?” It’s the plan that creates the simple opportunity to help. When the requests feel too heavy or without enough clarity folks will shift and not-commit (even if they want to help).

Sometimes it’s the folks who are most committed who inadvertently create an environment that prevents volunteerism. The sentiment is often expressed in phrases like “I could NEVER do what so and so does” meanwhile "so and so" is burnt out, begging for help and wondering why no one will step up.  Also, when we have a clear plan – everyone knows their position. In a well run troop with a strong plan, everyone knows who the Scout Master is and who the committee chair is, and what they do. 

The birth of the Spirit of Adventure Council is actually more like the birth of a plan to revitalize Scouting, the Council is Incidental. 

So, this summer when you are at camp PLEASE don’t hold back. Bring it all. This Summer we start the process of making the detailed plan. Full disclosure:  With the plan will come opportunities to help.  But the whole idea regarding these opportunities to help are just that, simple opportunities. If they are life time commitments that cause people to shrink away then we haven’t heard ANYTHING from all this listening.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Quick March update

PR / Marketing
Camp Sayre has quickly become the center point for Scouting in New England. With over 15,000 campers per year + the home to multiple swim teams and recently featured in the Boston Sunday Globe. Our 100 acres boasts great and exciting programs year round for boys, girls, families, school groups and corporations! Check out last weeks Sunday Globe Feature. (South and West)

Special thanks to some recent very generous donors!
·         Amica Insurance $35,000
·         Yawkey Foundation $25,000 to help support and grow the Urban Youth Scout Reach Program
·         Steve Barnes pledged $100,000 to our overall Camp Sayre initiative which supports capital projects and urban youth.
·         Also, thanks to our new partner NVBots for their Science donation of a 3D printer!

Scouting's Outdoor Adventure on the River (S.O.A.R.) is back and being planned For October 2016! Check out the video from the last Guinness book record breaking S.O.A.R. event!

Merit Badge at Harvard University continues to grow (standing room only!) and provide GREAT program for Scouts across New England!

Merger with Boston Minuteman and Yankee Clipper BSA
As the merger date (June 30, 2015) approaches it becomes clear that our emphasis on transparency and "over communication," as well as the focus on developing a merger that Helps Scouting Thrive in Every Community has made a significant impact. Typically, mergers are filled with fear and failure. Ours certainly had those elements at the beginning but I believe it is being rapidly replaced with optimism and enthusiasm. More details to follow….

Monday, March 2, 2015

Listening Sessions "Complete"

Chapter One: The Listening Sessions 

What can be done to help Scouting thrive in your community? 

If you didn't have a chance to attend one of the 8 listening sessions help over the past 6 weeks - that's OK there is still plenty of time to participate in building a Scouting organization designed to help Scouting thrive in all our communities. During the listening session we gathered thousands of ideas from hundreds of people (about 450). We then asked everyone to categorize and prioritize the ideas. The activity was fun, and helped create lots of vibrant conversations. The categories ranged from marketing, the fundraising, to customer service, technology, and of course camp, and just about everything in between.


Throughout the exercise we encouraged everyone "not to worry" if your idea doesn't seem to resonate with the folks in the room, it's larger exercise and your idea (or priority) will find it's way into "Chapter 2.

Chapter Two: The Committee Work

An example of how this feedback is used and where your idea goes from here

Prior to the listening sessions we took the liberty to create seven primary committees. Those committees are called the joint strategic committees. The categories we came up with in the listening sessions will fall into those seven joint strategic committees. (check out the collaborative web page for additional details) As an example during several sessions the category of "online," or "technology" or "systems" were created. The folks who attended those sessions believed technology and internal communication solutions would "help Scouting thrive in our communities." We have reviewed every single post it note and created a sub category under customer service. It falls under customer service because the majority of the "Technology" post it notes have a customer service component to them. 

The Systems subcommittee will receive all those post-it notes as well as the annual costs from both councils for technology, and any post camp and/or post program evaluations that mention technology. They will also be encouraged to do research into alternative software solutions. 

Online / Technology / Systems envelope with post it notes highlighted

The natural outcome of all this categorizing and prioritizing is discovering an ultimate a "winner." As if by focusing on the ultimate winner we could solve all Scouting's issues. But common sense (and all the dialogue throughout every session) showcases that looking for the one solution, won't really solve anything. Because all these items are so interconnected. If we could wave a magic wand and tomorrow solve all our customer service problems would Scouting then thrive in all our communities? Of course NOT. Without the adequate funding wouldn't those customer service solutions be short lived? How can we say we solve customer service problems if our facilities are falling apart? If we don't solve our governance short comings won't we just make the same mistakes again? 

It's clear that each category is directly connected to each other category. That's why our collective strategy is so critical to this process.

How we build our collective strategy

We'll stay with systems and customer service as our running example. Customer service turned out to be the second highest priority. (a close second to youth experience / program)  Admittedly, it's a pretty broad category and there are a lot of ways to fix and improve our customer service. However, customer service through technology is clearly important one. So, in April the systems committee will propose recommendations in coordination with the joint customer service committee to the merger oversight committee.Those solutions will likely impact other aspects of the plan, cost of technology, expertise, hardware upgrades, marketing etc. The Merger oversight committee will work with all related committees to reconcile proposals and draft the final plan.

In early May those recommendations will come back to the Scouting community through a series of open forum meetings. During that time the proposed answers will be placed in a timeline. The timeline will allow for all or most ideas to be realized, the only variable is when.   

Chapter Three: The Collective Plan to help Scouting thrive. 

Final adjustments may be made at that time, and in June the entire Scouting community will be our collective aware of how we choose to answer the question "What can be done to help Scouting thrive in your community?"   

How you can help Click here and Enter you name, e-mail and choose which committee you interests you. Each co-chair and sub committee will need participants. We are going to keep all committees to about 8 (a patrol and manageable size). The committee chairs will be looking for people with specific skills for certain committee - to stick with our example - a few IT and web based professionals will be needed for the Systems Committee. If your first choice committee is full, you'll be free to contact others and the committees will work together to take you up on your willingness to help. Lastly, this process is designed to give voice to as many volunteers as possible. the Joint Committee Chairs will discourage any one Scouter from serving on multiple committees.