Go Start a Cub Scout Pack!

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

group-2.png

Scott Sorrels,
National Commissioner
scottsorrels@comcast.net

Go Start a Cub Scout Pack!

What is the most important thing you can do for Scouting? That’s easy. Go start a Cub Scout pack!

We know from our personal journey how the lockdown has affected our lives. Our Scouts have similarly been affected. Our older Scouts often found ways to stay engaged, and even thrive. Nearly 50,000 Eagle Scouts in 2020 — including our inaugural female Eagle Scout class — show the magic of the movement. It has been harder for our youngest Scouts. For the first time, our Cub membership currently lags Scouts BSA membership. Rebuilding our Scouting base after the pandemic can most benefit from rebuilding our Cub Scout base. Cub Scouts are the future foundation of our program, thus the mantra: Go Start a Cub Scout Pack!

Reflecting on this past year, I am struck by the realization that Scouting is ideally positioned to help and support American families in the post-pandemic environment. Think about it: Our program provides a structured, goal-oriented comprehensive program that is ready made for the American family. We can demonstrably prove how Scouting improves lives through character development, outdoor adventure, and education. That is the message we need to take to the American family.

Ongoing research about how we can best support our younger generation shows that there is much work to be done. A current Harvard University study suggests that two-thirds of their 7 to 15 age sample has clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and depression, with corresponding increases in hyperactivity and inattention. According to Dr. Ronald E. Dahl,[1] the good news is that “troubling trajectories can be relatively easily reversed with positive experiences and by supporting kids through challenges.” The Harvard study has found that those who had structured routines, exercised, and had less screen time fared better. Is that starting to sound like Scouting? Other psychologists recommend that parents help their children find activities that give them a sense of purpose and help them set related goals. That sounds like a recipe for Scouting to me!

The re-emergence of Scouting is already happening. Summer camp attendance promises fun and adventure for tens of thousands of Scouts this summer. Our high-adventure bases are ready for a strong year. We, as a nation, are rediscovering the great outdoors. We are indeed ready to “Escape the Great Indoors,” as our new campaign will suggest. Units are meeting. Courts of honor are being held. Scouting is happening in America.

As commissioners, we should focus on retaining youth in a quality Scouting program. That has always been our calling. We urge you to reach out to lapsed units and see what we can do to reinvigorate delivery of the Scouting promise. We are already starting to see positive results from supporting and re-engaging units that just need a little extra attention. Finally, go start a Cub Scout pack! Call your local Scout professional or membership team and ask how you can help start a Cub Scout pack. Together, we can make a difference as we move forward to deliver our mission.

Thanks for all you do for Scouting,

Scott

[1] “Loneliness, Anxiety and Loss: the Covid Pandemic’s Terrible Toll on Kids,” Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2021.

Related Articles

Welcoming New Team Members

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
National Commissioner Service Chair 
lhc@chasehome.net

Welcoming New Team Members

Five new members are joining your National Commissioner Service team. Three are replacing current chairs who are completing their terms of service (see a related article nearby); two are assuming new roles on the team as council support chair, opportunities created to enable support of our new national service team commissioners and commissioners elect.

Linda Baker, Council Support Chair (National Commissioner Service Territories 9-16)

A former council commissioner, regional commissioner, Northeast Region vice president — program, area vice president — membership, and current council executive committee member and Scouts BSA linked troops committee chair, Linda brings a wealth of Scouting experience to the team. Her recent work in helping design and implement our new national service territories adds to the broad perspective she brings to the

“You’ll watch kids become amazing leaders right before your eyes” and “You’ll work with wonderful people” were among the motivating messages Linda heard decades ago when she was recruited to be a Scouting volunteer, and they have stood the test of time. A focus on welcoming millennial parents has guided much of Linda’s work in the past 10 years, especially her leadership of the new member coordinator development team. She’s also served on a variety of national committees and task forces, as Wood Badge staff member and course director and course director conference staff member, and faculty for numerous Colleges of Commissioner Science and national commissioner conferences. Linda is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Linda’s participation in the design of our new national service territories provides her with a unique perspective that prepares her for this new role on your national service team.

Sean Byrne, Resources Chair

Sean brings a unique and valuable perspective to your national service team. Active in Scouting since joining as a Tiger, he has been continuously registered for nearly 22 years and is an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. The National Capital Area Council has been his primary Scouting home. There he serves as a unit commissioner and deputy chair of marketing, as well as program director for Camp Catoctin BSA, one of the organization’s few all-volunteer, nationally accredited Scouts BSA resident camps. In 2019, he staffed the 24th World Jamboree with the Rover Brigade and later joined your national commissioner service team as a subject matter expert for young adult recruiting. In response to the pandemic, he produced NCAC’s Capital Camp-In and kept nearly 1,000 Scouts from across the globe Scouting On at home.

His personal, Scouting, and professional experience have well prepared him to help continue to strengthen resources available to all commissioners.

 

Karen Bengtson, Recruiting & Retention Chair

Karen fondly remembers the day her oldest son came home from 1st grade clutching a Cub Scout flyer. She signed him up because she thought it would be a great thing for him to do with his father. Seventeen years later, Karen is still volunteering. She currently serves as council commissioner for the Middle Tennessee Council.

Experience in a variety of Scouting unit, district, and council positions prepared her to be an excellent candidate for council commissioner, where she has continued to apply her passion for serving youth through Scouting. She continues to serve as a merit badge counselor, believing it enables her to maintain a direct connection with the youth we all serve that leaves her better equipped to provide leadership at the council and now the national level.

Karen understands the need for every commissioner to be engaged in recruiting more commissioners and will continue to provide new solutions to ensure our ability to serve every unit.

Jim Libbin, Council Support Chair (National Commissioner Service Territories 1-8)

A Cub Scout and Boy Scout as a youth, Jim returned to Scouting when his son joined Tiger Cubs. Since then, he has served unit, district, council, area, and regional levels. A former council commissioner, he served most recently as the Western Region’s regional commissioner. He has remained engaged at the unit level, volunteering to serve as committee chair for a new Cub Scout pack and also for a Scouts BSA girl troop.

Jim’s Scouting experience is truly diverse, including terms as a council executive board member, area president, area commissioner, regional training chair, and regional commissioner. A former Wood Badge course director, he has also served as chancellor of a tri-council College of Commissioner Science. Jim is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow.

Jim was a member of the team that designed our new national service territories. That adds to his already broad experience and better prepares him for his next assignment, which is a new role on your national service team.

Mike Weber, Technology Chair

Mike has been active in Scouting for over 40 years, starting as a Wolf Scout, earning Eagle Scout, and continuing as an adult where he has served at the unit, district, council, area, and regional levels. In addition to experience in Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA, he has also served as an Exploring post Advisor. A former Wood Badge course director, Mike is a Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow. Most recently, he served as the Central Region’s regional commissioner, where he implemented a region-wide initiative to increase the recruiting of commissioners. He remains active at the unit level as a chartered organization representative for both a pack and a troop and as a merit badge counselor.

Mike’s personal and professional experience have well prepared him to continue our efforts to provide commissioners with technology applications that will enable them to support units more effectively and efficiently.

His recent work in helping design and implement our new national service territories adds to his broad perspective and will enable your national service team to better support our new national service territories.

Larry Chase Articles

Related Articles

Using Commissioner Resources to Help in Adapting to Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Darlene Sprague
Resources Chair 
darsprague@roadrunner.com

Using Commissioner Resources to Help in Adapting to Change

As commissioners, we should always be attuned to changes in the Boy Scouts of America. We owe it to the units we serve to be informed so we can help them adapt to the changes. So how do we stay informed? By using the plethora of resources at our disposal. Here are some of the resources you should be following so you have the latest information to pass on to the units you serve:

And as for adapting to change, I will be making some changes as well. This will be the last article I write for The Commissioner, as I leave the role I’ve had as the resources chair for the past 10 years. It has been my distinct pleasure to bring you the latest information through The Commissioner newsletter, the commissioner website, and the commissioner manuals. I know my successor will bring new and innovative ideas to these resources for you to enjoy and share with your units. I will still have my hand in commissioner service as a national service territory commissioner in Territory 10. And you can be sure I will be using all these resources as I work with councils!

Related Articles

Adapting to Change – “The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change”

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Sue Simmon
NCS Starting and Sustaining Units Chair
susan.simmons1@comcast.net

Adapting to Change – “The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change”

We have all experienced an abundance of change in our lives recently; most would say more than we would normally expect. In Scouting, we’ve changed our meetings and events, programs, membership, and more. But our mission remains the same:

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

Change will always occur; the challenge we face is how we adapt. How can commissioners support our units during this time of great change?

Whether we are starting a new unit or sustaining and growing a current unit, as commissioners we can help our units assess – plan – act to address areas of need.

We need to view change as an opportunity to build relationships with our community partners, units, districts, and council. Commissioners need to seek out more volunteers with a servant heart and a desire to help. Building welcoming and friendly relationships within our communities will benefit everyone.

Commissioners need to have a positive mindset when they communicate with their units. We need to bring resources, information, and alternatives that enable our units to thrive. Let us remember that Scouting is about having fun, and commissioners should be a part of the excitement.

It is important that commissioners regularly attend monthly roundtable and district commissioner meetings to ensure they have the most up-to-date information to share. In addition, commissioners have many opportunities to attend virtual supplemental training to cultivate their expertise. The tools we have as commissioners allow us to move our units in a positive direction.

Commissioners need to accept the challenge and adapt to the changes in Scouting. Now more than ever, every unit needs a caring and friendly commissioner to help them. Without this positive attitude toward change, our mission as commissioners could not be fulfilled.

Related Articles

Adapting to and Growing Through Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Winter 2021

group-2.png

Gail Plucker
Southern Regional Commissioner 
 tenniseemom@comcast.net

Adapting to and Growing Through Change

I can’t think of a single year in my 23 years as a volunteer that was completely quiet, devoid of change, or “boulder free.” But I have come to accept that a program with the sole purpose of serving hundreds of thousands of kids is bound to be eventful and sometimes, on the outside, appear difficult to contain — much like my two Eagle sons and the laundry or unmade beds they left in their wake.

My sons loved backpacking growing up, as did I when I was younger. It was in this activity that they began to understand the importance of planning, space for reflection, and a need for endurance.

There are long trails that attract people from all walks of life — the Appalachian Trail is one of them. Stretching some 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine, people tackle this trail as thru hikers every year. Whether they head north or south makes no difference, it is a long hike. Only one in four finish the entire trail, and many take five months or more to do so.

I ask you to consider the parallels between where we find ourselves now and what it must feel like to hike a long trail:

  • While the shortest distance between two points might appear to be a straight line, you’re going to want to know what a switchback looks like, what their purpose is, and why they’re necessary.
  • You’re going to want to revel in slowing down and realize what reflection can yield. This one simple practice can remind you of your focus and purpose.
  • You’re going to want to know where your water sources and resupplies are. What will sustain you in your journey? Sometimes it’s simply knowing that sustenance doesn’t always come from tangible elements — it can come from within and from your team.
  • You’ll need to know your location — a way of assessing what the next day will bring and a way of communicating during every step.
  • You’ll learn lessons from the ridges and valleys. Although appearing to be pointless, they are truly journeys of great purpose, with spectacular views, where the whole of the team begins to feel as one.

While we might understand a trail to be innately difficult, we also need to consider the development of our perspectives and expectations as part of that trail.

Growth isn’t always in the numbers or who can carry the most weight or who has the latest and greatest in gear. It comes from developing our abilities to work more effectively within our teams and to feel assured that allowing others to lead, contribute, and shine is always in the best interest of the whole.

Related Articles

Adapting to Change – Marketing and Communication

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Mike Moegenburg
Marketing and Communication Chair
mikemoegenburg@yahoo.com

Adapting to Change – Marketing and Communication

We are seeing change in many aspects of our lives. We need to adapt to change when it occurs, and as commissioners, we need to communicate that change to others.

To adapt to change, you need to be aware of the change. Do you follow Commissioner News on scouting.org/commissioners? Have you joined the Commissioner Development Facebook group or the Roundtable News and Discussion group? Do you read the monthly newsletter in your email inbox? Are you using other communication channels to learn of changes?

When you learn of change, you should start by asking yourself what’s changing, and then ask whether or not you understand the change and its impact. Once you understand the change, you need to create your message. You might need more than one message if it impacts Scouters in multiple ways. Your message should address:

  • What’s happening
  • Why it’s happening
  • How it will affect your audience
  • How your audience can help facilitate the change

When you communicate, you want it to be effective. Here are my 5 C’s of Effective Communication:

  • Captivate — If you can’t get the audience’s attention in 50 words, you will not get them to read the rest of what you share.
  • Clear — Avoid jargon and abbreviations. Would a non-Scouter understand what you want understood?
  • Concise — Communication is a bridge that’s long enough to get the job done, but no longer.
  • Consistent — The more you say the same thing using the same wording, the more memorable it will become to those who listen.
  • Call to Action — Does your message need an action or is it just for awareness? If an action is needed, be sure to call for it.

Adapting to change can present challenges for many people. Good communication can smooth out the bumps along the way.

Related Articles

Exploring and Adapting to Change in an Uncertain Time

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Craig Martin
Exploring Chair
 bruin1967@aol.com

Exploring and Adapting to Change in an Uncertain Time

It is probably an understatement to say that COVID-19, along with the ongoing BSA restructuring, has turned our Scouting and Exploring world upside down.

At the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic, the Exploring program had 4,450 units, 95,400 youth, and 19,800 adult volunteers. As of February 2021, we now have 2,885 units, 44,373 youth and 13,278 adult volunteers. As these numbers seem to indicate, it doesn’t look like our Exploring post Advisors and club sponsors have been able to adapt effectively to the changes caused by the pandemic, especially when it comes to holding meetings and continuing career-emphasis activities. Many of these Exploring units have allowed their memorandums of understanding, the Exploring equivalent to a unit charter, to expire and not be renewed.

Here is where it’s crucial that our council and district commissioners, along with their staff and Exploring service team commissioners, re-engage with their Exploring clubs and posts to offer unit service assistance. In partnership with their council and district membership teams, they need to resuscitate their inactive/expired Exploring units. On the Scouting side, our commissioners have learned how to use virtual and social-distancing tools to continue their programs, and many of these lessons learned could be used by our Exploring units too. This is a great opportunity for our commissioners to help our Exploring units to adapt to the current COVID-19 environment and still continue their career-emphasis activities. With the ongoing nationwide administration of the vaccine, the ability for in-person meetings and activities will also become more and more a reality for both our Scouting and Exploring units. This will help all our commissioners and membership teams in resurrecting Exploring units that have gone dormant. Remember, Exploring membership also counts for your council’s membership goals. Helping our active Exploring units adapt to the current and post COVID-19 landscape, as well as resuscitating our “expired” Exploring units, will pay dividends for your council’s membership numbers.

Related Articles

Adapting to Change -Program Support

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Steven Lee
Program Support Chair
stevel0923@gmail.com

Adapting to Change -Program Support

Choose an achievement this year you consider memorable, momentous or a milestone. Maybe the unit you serve achieved an improved JTE. Maybe you set a new record of roundtable attendees. Or on a personal level, maybe your child or grandchild achieved their next rank, went camping, or just continued Scouting

Whatever achievement you’ve chosen, consider how much more special it was during the pandemic. This was a tough year for Scouts who made the commitment to continue with their goal-oriented achievements. It took a tremendous amount of support from parents, adult volunteers, and the local council to carry on. But the program was still able to celebrate these achievements because it adapted to change.

Looking forward, we have a number of challenges on the horizon. Membership is the top priority as units slowly start meeting in person and plan outdoor activities. Recruitment is important to bringing in the next generation of Scouts and addressing attrition. And forming new units is essential to providing Scouting opportunities in more areas of our communities.

In program support, how do we adapt to change this coming year? It’s no longer adapting the program for Scouting at Home but instead reactivating program activities in a new environment. For example, many packs had difficulty with fundraising or popcorn sales this year; maybe this is a good time to let parents financially choose which activities they would like to support and skip the rest. On the other hand, families might be struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. Seek council help for uniform drives, team up with another pack to share resources, or contact the chartered organization for scholarship funds.

We also need to share the Scouting spirit with new families as we get the “outing” back in “Scouting.” We need to let them know we are returning to outdoor activities and civic duties as COVID restrictions relax. Encourage fellow Scouters to share their Scouting experiences on social media, at roundtable, or by word of mouth to get the momentum started. And work with adult volunteers to apply SAFE Scouting practices so they can hold more outdoor activities.

In summary, adapting to change for program support is re-evaluating everything we do and looking for new ways to improve program implementation. Adaptation requires creativity, boldness and help. For the past 100 years, the BSA has successfully served youth because, in an ever-changing world, our program remains ready to adapt to change.

Related Articles

Adapting to Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

NatlCommServTeam_4k

Larry Chase
Service Chair lhc@chasehome.net

Adapting to Change

You may have noticed one constant in recent communications to commissioners: change. The reason is simple: There’s been a lot of it recently in Scouting and there will be more. Acknowledging change is one thing; adapting to it is something entirely different. It requires that we change — and that we help those we support do the same.

The units we serve have faced significant challenges over the past year and losses — in units, youth and adult membership, and professional staff — have resulted. There have also been successes: units that kept on Scouting and youth and adult volunteers who remained engaged. Where we saw success, we inevitably saw three characteristics:

  • Patience — a quiet confidence that Scouting will continue its mission
  • Persistence — a commitment that failure is not an option
  • Resilience — a capacity to recover quickly through collaboration to create and implement new solutions

Resilient organizations share certain traits:

  • Prepared — planning for short- and long-term outcomes
  • Adaptable — recognizing the importance of having members who can adjust and adapt
  • Collaborative — knowing that collaboration enables quick decisions, reduces risk, and builds trust
  • Communicative — communicating frequently and transparently
  • Responsible — taking responsibility for both their mission and their performance

As commissioners, we need to adopt and share these characteristics and traits.

And we must change our focus. Today, there are six things that must be the center of our attention:

  • Supporting units to ensure their leaders are inspired, engaged, committed, and optimistic
  • Recruiting commissioners to enable us to serve every unit
  • Communicating information to increase awareness of resources and access to them
  • Developing commissioners to enable them to serve units effectively
  • Growing Scouting by helping create, retain, and grow units for all programs
  • Adapting to change to ensure Scouting can be delivered effectively and sustainably

It’s more important than ever to remember our role as Scouting’s morale officers: There is good news to share today, and there will be more to share in the future. Scouting will survive its challenges; it will be a different organization in the future (implementation of our new national service territories alone is ample evidence of that), but it also will be a stronger one better prepared to fulfill its mission.

Throughout this issue, you’ll find articles about how your service team is adapting to change while helping you prepare to do the same and be better prepared to help the unit leaders you serve.

On the uptrail…

Larry Chase Articles

Related Articles

Technology IS Change

The

Commissioner

a publication for commissioners and professionals

Spring 2021

group-2.png

Rick Hillenbrand
Commissioner Technology Chair
rick_hillenbrand@alum.mit.edu

Technology IS Change

I checked: The thesaurus does not list “technology” as a synonym for “change,” but it could.

My first introduction to a “true” computer was as a high school senior in 1974. The computer used Fortran II and it occupied a small room. At the time, I thought I would never see a computer again. How quickly that changed when, less than six months later, my core curricula as a college freshman included a class on computers.

Decades after my introduction to computers, barely a day goes by when I don’t use my laptop, smart phone, and tablet. And nearly as often, my technology is updating itself — often without my even being aware of it. There are ways to resist change, but realistically how do you not eventually yield to the change? (For those who know me: Yes, I am still using my Blackberry Q10 phone.) In my opinion, at some point you either adapt or get left behind. Can you imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t adapt to technological change? In 1995, Star Trek: Voyager featured an Emergency Medical Hologram Mark I (or EMH for short) — a virtual doctor. It took less than 20 years to go from sci-fi to the world’s first holographic doctor launched in Australia in 2017.

As commissioners, we can better serve the Scouts and Scouters in our units if we exhibit the good grace and flexibility to embrace change. Which leads me back to technology. The dedicated professionals and volunteers who work with BSA’s technology are working as fast as they can to implement as many advances as possible. It can be hard as a user to see how the changes in technology might be an enhancement, but generally the changes in technology are an improvement. Consequentially, technological change sometimes seems to be constant.

So how can we make the adoption of change easier? We can become a “change agent”: a person who acts as a catalyst for change. When I joined the National Commissioner Service team in 2014, my self-appointed mission was to move the commissioner corps from the Unit Visit Tracking system to a better technological tool — which we now know as Commissioner Tools. Seven years later, it is time for me to be a part of the change as I pass the role as the National Commissioner Service team technology chair over to Mike Weber. It has been my privilege to work with some of the very best volunteers and professionals while serving the commissioner corps these past seven years. Mike and I have been working on this transition for several months, and I can confidently state that he is ready. I wish him, the entire technology team, and those they serve the best future success.

Related Articles