With the funds raised by effective volunteers and community leaders, local councils can offer their Scouts the highest quality program and a wide array of activities.
Keeping up with the incredible population growth in Las Vegas is a top priority for volunteers and professionals at the Boulder Dam Area Council. Once known only for its bright lights and nightlife, Las Vegas is now recognized as one of the most rapidly growing residential areas in the nation. Schools are being opened at a pace of one per month, and more than 13,000 new students are enrolled each fall.
For years, the council had been experiencing membership growth simply because of the booming population, but the ratio of available youth to youth served was slipping. Council leaders agreed hiring more unit-serving executives would help the program reach more of the young people moving in.
"I started out in Scouting by running a district," explains Dan Van Epp, council president, "and it was very clear to me that our ability to grow rapidly is directly related to the amount of time our unit-serving executive has. I watched my own district executive work 80 hours a week to set up new units and just not have enough time to do more. When we hired an assistant for him, you could track the growth rate against the extra time the assistant was able to provide him."
The council has added five new unit-serving executives in the past five years to bring the total to 16 and plans on creating another position soon. A successful Friends of Scouting fund-raising campaign, along with special events and positive publicity among local business leaders, has allowed the council to support the new professional positions.
"Our FOS campaign is three times larger than it was a decade ago," says Judge Robert J. Johnston, council commissioner, "and our volunteers have really gotten behind the effort. When the board says, 'We need more unit-serving executives,' people always step up and say, 'We'll help raise the money.'"
The Boulder Dam Area Council's aggressive use of unit-serving executives is in line with the 1998-2002 National Strategic Plan of the Boy Scouts of America, which calls for the addition of professional unit-serving executives nationwide.
The National Strategic Plan also calls for the selection of effective volunteer leaders who share Scouting's values and have influence, vision, and commitment to Scouting's goals. The Ouachita Valley Council in Monroe, Louisiana, has been especially successful with this leadership goal.
"We have a legacy of leadership here," notes John Schween, recent council president and current camp development committee chairman. "Business and community leaders are very willing to give of their time and talents to the Boy Scout council."
According to Council President Guy Barr, the excellent reputation of the council in the community makes recruitment fairly easy.
"We attract great volunteers and great Scouting professionals," he says, "and the result is we are one of the top growth councils in the country every year."
When council leaders created their council strategic plan for 1999-2004, titled "Dream No Small Dreams," they approached the plan as though money was no object and created a wish list of things to do and improve in the area. Quality leadership is now helping them raise $2.5 million in capital funds to proceed with their dreams.
"We are 10 or 11 months into the campaign and have about $1.5 million raised or committed," says Malcolm Maddox, former council president. The funds will allow the Ouachita Valley Council to make camp improvements, reach more lower income Scouts, and provide the best program possible to its youth, "which is what it's all about," Maddox states.
Having top volunteer leadership makes the process of raising funds and improving programs and facilities much easier, Schween notes. "And not only from an executive level, but throughout," he says. "Every volunteer is as important as the next."