Online Youth Registration is Here!

Families can now sign up to join your Pack and troop Online! BeAScout.org now has a youth application for Packs and Troops.

Units can accept applications by going to My.Scouting.org. In the Menu, under your unit, i.e. Troop 1051 click “Application Manager.”

That will take you to the page with all your applications to approve:

Also on that page you will find an Invitation tab which allows your unit to invite youth and their families to join Scouts.

You can upload leads that you collect at signup events, download a QR code for flyers, and see the status of all the youth interested in your unit!

This video will help you get started.

4th of July Parades Information

Great Falls Parade

All Scouts are invited to march in the Great Falls 4th of July parade and help carry the huge US Flag that is near the start of the parade. Younger scouts walk under the flag to keep it off the ground while the older scouts and adults are around the outside.
This year’s parade will be about 2 miles (twice as long) as usual due to requirements to keep crowds spaced out due to COVID-19. Face masks are strongly recommended. Please dress in full Scout uniform and prepare accordingly for the weather (sunscreen, water, etc.)

WHO: All Scouts BSA & Cub Scouts.
WHEN: 10:30am-12:30pm, Saturday 7/4/20
WHERE: Whittier Park adjacent to the civic center (on the south side). Either park or drop off scouts in the city parking lot accessible from River Drive next to Pacific Steel & Recycling’s headquarters since the streets will be closed.

Each unit is responsible for its members and collecting required Activity Consent Forms. We need all the hands we can get and it DOES count for service hours! Due to the longer route if there are people interested in doing only the first half or second half we can make substitutions when we pass the half-way point at the Civic Center.

Please RSVP to Keith King via email kaking20@yahoo.com or message @Troop4GF on Facebook if your unit is going to help.
The parade committee also needs volunteers to set up the parade route. Contact Lola Sheldon-Galloway (406) 750-4721 by Thursday if you are interested and able to help Friday night and/or early Saturday morning.

Black Eagle Parade

Contact Ruth Fischer at the Council Offices for details: 406-761-6000.

Choteau Parade

If you are interested in participating in the Choteau Parade, contact Steve Dogiakos 406-203-4679 before Thursday.

Parade line up starts at 9am at the Breen Oil bulk plant on the south side of Choteau. the parade begins promptly at 10 am. The rules are a little different this year to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions:

  • No walkers this year – all participants must be in a vehicle, on a horse, or riding a bike.
  • No candy throwing.
  • The route is very different.

For more details and rule changes, see the Choteau Chamber of Commerce website.

Trail to First Class 2020

There are new and exciting changes to this years Trail to First Class!

We will still be camping at Holter Lake April 17-19, but we will be using a new campground.

We have also revamped our Call-out ceremony to comply with changes within the Order of the Arrow and we are excited to share it with you. It will truly be an exciting event for all , especially those that are selected by their peers to join our Order.

Please read the attached Leaders Guide in its entirety as there are many changes from previous years.

We have assigned camping spots based on unit size.

Please address all questions or comments to OA Chapter Adviser, Tom Lynch at BSAGreatFalls@gmail.com.

Download the 2020 Trail to First Class Leader’s Guide or view it below:

Steve’s 2020 Growth Conference Recap

Sandra was invited to the 2020 Growth Conference, and I got to tag along (go see her recap, first)! I did a video recap over on my Scout blog, Boy Scouts Tech and I wanted to share the highlights of the conference with you:

Scouting’s best kept secret is the advances the national team have made with technology AND how they are going to manage program changes in the future – that is, how they are going to keep Scouting relevant in the 21st century. They have committed to using the Agile method of development, which will turnout great results for improving our technology and program materials.

They are also committed to reducing the amount of “regalia” we, as volunteers, need to buy for ourselves and our Scouts. For example, they are eliminating Tiger Scout socks, den-specific Den Leader patches (all Den Leaders will wear the Cub Scout Den Leader patch going forward) and there will only be one Cub Scout Belt, instead of den-specific belts.

Here are some of the resources that they passed along, please check them out!

  • Scoutbook Help Desk – tons of new and great resources with video how-tos!
  • Den Leader Tips & Tricks Videos – everything new and veteran Den Leaders need to roll into a productive Scouting year!
  • Scout Book Den Leader (BETA) sandbox – schedule an entire Scouting year for your den in a few clicks!
    • National IT is expecting to roll out a similar thing for Scouts BSA troops for youth leaders to plan out their Troops’ program
  • Explorer Career Interest Survey – now available online!
  • Scouting’s Bug Reporting system – having trouble with a BSA IT system? Lots of questions & answers available here, and the ability to open a trouble ticket with the National BSA IT team.
  • BSA Brand Center – are you building flyers or other materials online or printed? Please use the BSA brand center! The BSA’s marketing team has tons of pre-made content that has been market tested and complies with all our brand guidelines!

2020 Leadership Growth Conference Report

This year, because Lewis & Clark District grew by 6%, I was eligible to attend the 2020 Leadership Growth Conference, which was organized by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Unit serving executives, like me, were gathered from all across the world – where ever the Boy Scouts of America has a Council! The top 60 executives were selected from each of the four Scouting regions.

It was a quick trip down Dallas, Texas, but the Montana Council was well represented. In addition to me, Dave Snyder, DE for Central District, Scott Jourdonnais, DE for Mullan Trail District, and Dustin Shoemake acting DE/Field Director for Nu Oh Ska District, attended the conference!

From left to right: Michael Ramsey, BSA Director of Marketing, me, Dave Snyder Central District DE, Scott Jourdonnais, Mullan Trail District DE

Thursday evening we gathered for an awards dinner. It was a great evening of fellowship and BBQ. Each attendee was recognized individually by name and was congratulated by National leaders including the directors of Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA, the Director of Membership Growth, and others.

Friday morning we had breakfast bright and early. The first order of business was for everyone to move to a table with people they did not know. That was a fun opportunity to network and talk to people from other Councils and regions.

Over the morning, we heard from Anthony Berger, National Director of Cub Scouting, Garfield Murden, National Director of Scouts BSA, Tim Anderson National Director of Exploring, Pat Wellen, Research and Strategy, and Michael Ramsey, National Director of Marketing and Brand Management. They were all amazing speakers and had awesome things to share.

The future of Cub Scouting is “streamline and simplify”. The goal is to make it easier for new parents to become a part of the Scouting family and for den leaders to do their job without having to learn about the entire Scouting infrastructure – just provide den level programming. There are new videos and den plans to make getting started simpler. Scoutbook for Den leaders is being updated all the time. Advancement is simpler and the calendar has been improved, and my favorite; Scoutbook can now email parents when their Scouts complete a belt loop! If you want to poke around in the new Den Leader Scoutbook system there is an online demo here. If you are looking for ScoutBook help please look at the videos and resources National is producing and updating constantly.

With all the new and exciting digital updates for Cub Scouts, it is no surprise that Scouts BSA should expect some exciting new things soon. Like in Cub Scouts, the new tools will be built for the people planning and planning and executing the program. For Scouts BSA, of course, the tools will be built with youth leaders in mind. It is very exciting to see National leading the charge in making the programs youth lead by empowering Patrol Leader Councils.

The theme for Exploring is “Character to Careers”. The BSA is known for shaping the character of youth, and Exploring extends that to a youth’s future. Career Interest Surveys are available in print and online. Those and Explorer Post “Open Houses” are the focus to grow Exploring.

Pat Wellen was one of the most interesting speakers of the event. She broke down for us how the Voice of a Scout program works. (You, as a registered Scouter, should be getting an email about once a year asking for your feedback – please respond to those, it helps us have a voice with National BSA team!) She talked about the reasons Cub Scouts leave the program, the challenges volunteers face on all levels, and the resources available to help solve those problems and answer questions.

The Marketing and Branding presentation was my favorite part of the event. The big takeaways were: more parents than ever are finding out about Scouts through their mobile devices and social media, potential Scout parents are more likely to join if they have a meaningful conversation with unit leaders, and each units’ digital footprint needs to be managed. The action item, for all of us, is to claim and manage the Google for Business listing for units. Right now, in a new tab, do a Google search for “Cub Scout Pack near me”. What comes up? The sad answer is probably “nothing” or outdated info. The District Communications Team and I are putting together a plan to solve that.

The conference was a great opportunity for me and I hope to bring more of what I learned home. There are statistics, ideas, and resource that can benefit all of us and I am excited as ever to share more with all of you over the use over the coming months.

Recommendation: Cancel Scouts Tonight, 2/10/2020

Good morning, I received a phone call from the office of the GFPS superintendent recommending that all Scout meetings be canceled tonight.

I have called around to all the Pack and Troop leaders that I thought might be meeting tonight, but I wanted to pass this information around publicly as well.

Again, the recommendation is that no Scouts meet tonight in Great Falls.

NOVA Counselor Training

Mark Your Calendar: NOVA Counselor Cub Leader Training

When: January 9, 2020, 7:30 pm, immediately following the District Meeting
Where: Montana Council Offices 820 17th Ave S
What: NOVA Counselor Training for Cub Scout Leaders

John Parker is a NOVA Counselor, and as a part of his Wood Badge ticket, he is offering a NOVA Counselor training. Come join us, or send someone from your Pack to learn about the NOVA STEM Award!

Background Check logo

Background Check Disclosures & Authorization Form

This week Scouting volunteers received an email asking them to submit a background check authorization form. This new form required for every adult volunteer in the BSA. A signature is required for this document.

In the Lewis & Clark District, we are asking units to submit these Authorization Forms with their Unit Recharter paperwork. A form is needed for every registered leader including: Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, Committee Members, Cubmasters, Assistant Cubmasters, and Den Leaders. (Lion and Tiger Adult Partners do not need an Authorization.)

District Volunteers (District Committee members, Commissioners, etc.) please submit your Authorization to me (Sandra) or the Council Registrar, Lucy.

Here are some answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about this new Disclosure form:

Is the BSA doing credit checks on volunteers?

No. The BSA will only use these signed authorization forms for approval to obtain a criminal background check. State and federal laws regulating background checks and consumer credit checks require that both items be mentioned on the form since a full background check includes both parts. Again, the BSA is only using this form for authorization to obtain a criminal background check.

Why is this being done now?

Starting in 2020, rechecks will be performed every five years, but it will take several years to recheck all leaders. Unfortunately, technical limitations and changes in the law over the last five years prevent us from using existing authorizations from older applications. As such, new disclosure had to be sent and new signed authorization forms obtained. Rechartering provides the best window to collect and verify they have been received before the council processes the recharter application.

What about volunteers that are not registered with units?

All currently registered adults and employees who have not had a criminal background check in the last five years will be rechecked. Council registrars will individually track district and council registered employees and leaders. (That should also include merit badge counselors). Those registered only at the National Council level will receive instructions on where to submit their authorization forms.

What about those who did not get the forms by e-mail?

Scout executives were provided with advance instructions on how to ensure every volunteer receives this information. They have the forms, which should be printed and passed out at roundtables or other meetings. It is important that each volunteer receives both the disclosure form as well as the authorization form. However, only the authorization must be turned in with the charter renewal form for units. District and council volunteers should submit the authorization to the council service center unless the council issues other instructions.

What about those with multiple registrations?

Only one authorization form per person needs to be collected and retained by the council .

What happens if a unit leader does not provide an authorization?

Leaders who do not provide new authorization will not be able to renew their registration. Council registrars should be instructed not to renew any adult without first confirming that a new signed authorization form is on file at the council service center.

Why can’t the volunteer just reply to the original e-mail and attach their signed authorization form?

The best way for us to ensure compliance is to require that the council registrar verify that a signed authorization form is physically in hand before processing a unit?s recharter. This removes much of the potential error and associated penalties that could result from other methods. We recommend that the registrar retains background check authorizations forms in a separate straight alphabetical file separate from your current background authorization file. This will facilitate the process of ensuring that a current form is on file at the council service center before posting their registration.

Are there different forms for different states?

Federal and state laws prescribe what must be in the disclosures and how they are to be provided. A form compliant with federal and various state laws was sent to all volunteer leaders except those in California. Leaders with a California home address or whose council territory includes California received California-specific forms due to the specific requirements of California law.

Can the council accept a faxed copy or scanned copy sent via email of the signed authorization?

Yes, so long as it is legible and is sent by the individual who signed it. It must be printed and saved the same as an original.

Can the council accept an electronic signature?

Digital signatures from third-party providers are acceptable. They must be printed and stored the same as the original. E-mail confirmations, permissions or typed names on the form are not acceptable substitutes for wet signatures.

Can the council accept an electronic signature?

Digital signatures from third-party providers are acceptable. They must be printed and stored the same as the original. E-mail confirmations, permissions or typed names on the form are not acceptable substitutes for wet signatures.

What about unit renewals that have already been processed or will not recharter until after January 1?

For unit renewals that have already been posted because the unit renewal date was prior to the email notification or the unit renewal date is after January 1, authorization forms still need to be collected as soon as possible. All new authorization forms should be received by December 31, 2019.

Can the council require the forms be collected at the unit level and not sent to the council service center?

Yes. The council can require the forms be collected at the unit level or by a designated unit representative.

Communication During Recruitment Season

Over the next several weeks, the District will be doing Cub Scout Recruitment in every elementary school in Great Falls and the surrounding communities.

I would like to ask for your patience: At last week’s District Meeting I announced that I am suspending my office hours, and asked for patience over the coming weeks, but I am still available by phone, text, or email. I will not be able to respond as quickly as I normally do, but I will respond. Thank you all for your support!

If you have any interest in the recruitment process, the District would love to have your help! Scout Fun Day will be October 19 and will new a few helping hands. Shoot me an email if you are interested and available to help!