In the midst of all of the various issues swirling within and outside the organization during these interesting times, I worry that it is too easy for both our Scouters and professionals to lose focus about how we serve youth and, perhaps even more dangerously, to forget why.
More than 36 years of volunteer service has taught me that we as an organization have a pretty sound understanding of how we serve youth. Yes, we will continue to tweak and improve our methodology, as we should. The Unit Performance Guide for higher performance units, the role of the new-unit commissioner, and the focus on a unit Key 3 are great examples of field-proven better methods. As we enter the summer months, we will need to push through distractions and refocus on how we deliver an effective program to America’s youth. It is, still and always, about serving and retaining our youth.
Our Scouting family is full of examples of the “why” dynamic. For many of you, it is the direct impact that Scouting had on your life. It never hurts to be reminded, though, of the “why.” Recently a unit leader approached one of our Scout executives and started the conversation with, “I am glad to meet you. You need to understand that I am your target market.” The leader went on to explain how youth were clamoring to join his unit. Why? Youth and their parents recognized the impact that this one unit and one leader were having on Scouts. It is easy to see why. The leader went on to tell a few stories:
A Scout who brought fitness and language challenges to his unit is, two years later, the well-spoken, physically fit senior patrol leader.
A Scout with anger issues who would publicly curse his father was suspended for behavioral issues. The unit leaders stayed in touch, encouraged him, and he rejoined the unit. This Eagle Scout is now attending college.
One of three Scouts in the unit who are dealing with the additional challenges of autism has just completed the requirements for Eagle Scout.
A Scout from a low-income family who came to the unit in search of guidance and a positive environment is now an Eagle Scout and attending an Ivy League College on scholarship.
To sum it up, the leader mentioned that his son achieved the Eagle Scout rank three years ago. He noted, however, that he is not leaving Scouting as long as youth are being brought to him.
That is the how and the why.