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!
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.