Sandra’s Office Hours & Appointments

I am still available to help!

With the closure of the Montana Council offices, I will be working from home. I know you are still Scouting and I want to help! Use this calendar to schedule office time with me.

I am available in the District’s Discord Server for questions or discussions, or if you have a great idea that might help all of us! Thank you to Digital Communications Chair Steve D for keeping us connected during these trying times.

Boy Scouts of America, Montana Council

Montana Council Response to COVID-19

Hello, this email was sent by the Montana Council Key 4 this morning, March 15th. Cancelled District events include IOLS/BALOO training, Trail to First Class, and Scouting for Food.

The Lewis & Clark District Key 3 are working on a plan to hold the April District meeting digitally. It will be announced here on the blog as soon as it is ready.

While not the message we would have enjoyed sending on “Montana Council Day” (3.15) as always, your safety and the safety of all members, volunteers, and employees is our top priority. We know there are questions and concerns about how COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, could affect planned activities and events related to local Scouting programs in Montana. Please know that we are monitoring developments regarding COVID-19 both locally and through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The following information regarding local events and prevention measures is based on the latest available guidance. As this is an evolving situation, this information is subject to change. We will continue to update you on relevant developments, and we appreciate your understanding of any necessary adjustments in the interest of health and safety.

Status of Council Events

After much discussion and consideration, it has been decided that all in-person Council & District events, activities, and meetings of 50 people or more from March 14 to April 30, 2020 will be postponed or cancelled. This decision has been made out of an abundance of caution and concern for the health of our Scouts, Scouters, and their families.

This includes Merit Badge Universities, Camps, Fundraisers, District events, Meetings and Activities.  At this time, Council Convention in Missoula is still a go on May 1, but will be evaluated as the date approaches.

Status of Unit Activities & Events

We strongly encourage that districts, units, and council committees consider using technology to continue with as many of their normally scheduled meetings and events as possible. Free or low-cost options include Free Conference Call, Skype, and Google Hangouts.

The final decision on continued unit activities will be the responsibility of the unit committee in consultation with their chartered organization and, in some cases, their meeting facilities until such time as new guidance is issued by the CDC. Decisions can currently be based on your needs and circumstances. You may reference the following resources to make a decision regarding attending any public or Scouting activity:

Montana Department of Health and Human Services

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guidance for Businesses and Employers – CDC

Risk Assessment Guidance – CDC

Event Refunds

For events that are cancelled outright, we are in the process of reviewing our council refund policy. Given the number of events, and that many events have already incurred substantial costs for supplies and reservation fees, it may be difficult to issue full refunds. Our team is working to determine what is possible.

If you are able to do so, please consider not requesting a refund and allowing your registration fee to support Scouting. This will help us offset the costs and lost income from cancelled events.

We strongly encourage that districts, units, and council committees consider using technology to continue with as many of their normally scheduled meetings and events as possible.

Status of Summer Programs

Currently, all summer programming – day camps, summer camps, etc. – will continue as planned.

Status of Council Facilities

At this time, all offices and Scout Shops are open for business. If you are coming to visit a staff member, please consider calling instead.  All gatherings at these locations are suspended until further notice.

We will continue to update you on relevant developments, and we appreciate your understanding of any necessary adjustments in the interest of health and safety.

Yours in Scouting,

  • Chuck Eubank – Council President
  • Gary Ely – Council Commissioner
  • Dirk Smith – Scout Executive/CEO
  • Jory Dellinger – Deputy Scout Executive/COO

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:
Vote

District Elections

Thursday, March 5 the Lewis & Clark District will be holding District Elections.

Please join us at 6:45 p.m. at the Montana Council Scout Service Center, 820 17th Ave S, Great Falls.

Those eligible to vote are Charter Organization Representatives, registered District Members at-large, and registered Council Members at-large residing within the District.

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.

Scouts, Scouters, and parents are invited to Scout Sunday

All Cub Scouts, Scouts BSA, their leaders, and parents are invited to attend Mass at Holy Spirit Parish on Sunday, February 9. Attendees will meet at 10:45 am by the baptismal font. The Mass normally takes about an hour. Please wear your uniform.

Units who participate in a Scout Sunday service are halfway to earning the purple Honor Unit ribbon for their flag! A Scout Sunday patch is also available at the Scout Service Center.

For more information about the Anniversary Month Contest please visit the link below. https://www.montanabsa.org/anniversary-month-contest-feb-2020/

Register Now: Intro to Animal Tracking & Outdoor Awareness

Have you ever seen a series of animal tracks in the snow or mud and wondered what that animal was and what it was doing? If so, here is a great opportunity to learn how to solve these riddles!

Join us Saturday February 8 and Sunday February 9th for an Introduction to Animal Tracking and Outdoor Awareness! This course will be taught by Bill McConnell of Past Skills Wilderness School and will cover the basics of animal species identification, habitat use and discuss animal behavior and interactions. Expect to see various types of animal tracks and also other types of sign animals leave behind. You will learn how to begin to read these tracks like words in a book and have a whole lot of fun while doing it! FREE to all students ages 10-14 or above.

There is limited classroom space of 30 so please pre-register by calling or texting Bonnie Griffis at 406-451-4665 This event will begin at the Scout Hall in Choteau,MT at 10am on Saturday February 8th.

The coursework for this day will involve a couple hours of classroom work covering basic methodology, followed by a walk down Spring Creek at the Choteau City Park until 4pm to practice your new skills. Please bring a notebook and a lunch!

Sunday February 9th we will meet at the Scout Hall at 10am and then head to Freezeout for the day to really start to implement our new skills! Any out of town participants can meet us at the main buildings at Freezeout before we head to the field trip location. The class will end around 4pm. Transportation will not be provided but carpooling logistics can be discussed. Please bring a lunch and water!

For more information about Bill McConnell and his school please visit Past Skills Wilderness School.