Who do we appreciate?

From the very beginning, Scouting has been a volunteer-driven organization. The paid professionals are but a tiny number of people who make our program go. The heavy lifting is done by the parents and friends who step forward in every unit, district and council.

April is Scouter appreciation month. It’s a great time to recognize the work and dedication that your unit’s volunteers put forth so your Scouts can have a fun and enriching program. We can’t give them a pay raise but we can do many things to show them that their efforts are noticed and worthwhile. Continue reading “Who do we appreciate?”

Tour plan requirement discontinued

It’s now official: The requirement to file a Tour Plan for unit activities is no more.

The BSA released word to councils (some time ago) that the procedure would no longer be required. We announced it on Twitter on March 15 when word came down to the Commissioner staff. Now, they’ve publicly announced that the need to complete and file the multi-step questionnaire won’t stand in the way of your next weekend campout or trip to Philmont.

(And yes, like Scouting Magazine’s editor Bryan Wendell remarked, I thought it could be an April Fool’s joke until I checked with our council program director for confirmation.) Continue reading “Tour plan requirement discontinued”

There is only one Scoutmaster

I once had four bosses in the same job, all at the same time.

At one point in my career, I was a department head at a branch location of a company that had a half-dozen locations around the country. Our branch had two divisions, which my department supported, and each division had a manager. The location had a general manager who ran the overall branch operation, and the corporate headquarters had a chief of the department that I headed. I effectively answered to all of them.

Talk about confusion!

There were times when I felt like I was being pulled in four directions. Manager A wanted something done, but it went against what the corporate head’s policies permitted. Meanwhile, Manager B and the general manager were asking me to do different things as well. There was no clear managerial chain of command, and the way things ran in this organization made it difficult to rectify the situation. I left after a couple years, primarily for greener pastures, but also because the conflicting structure made it difficult for me to satisfy everyone.

If this befuddled me, think of how it would affect a Scout-age boy. Continue reading “There is only one Scoutmaster”

For best results, ask better questions

Leadership development is one of Scouting’s most important effects on its members. Ask anyone who was a Scout as a youth and they’ll probably tell you that in addition to learning how to camp, hike and respect the outdoors, one of the most important takeaways is that it helped them become a better leader.

What defines a leader? Reams have been written on the subject, but one of the best definitions comes from an item that surfaced in the early 1930s comparing a boss to a leader. The one we probably hear most often is A boss says “go” – a leader says “let’s go”. 

Among the list of comparisons are two that help to define the relationship between the leader and the led: Continue reading “For best results, ask better questions”

Avoiding planned-in conflicts

One of my jobs as a unit commissioner is to keep the leadership of my troops and packs informed about happenings around our council. Most events are pretty well publicized and advertised in newsletters and at Roundtable, but we often get inside information at commissioner meetings that can help our units when it comes to planning their activities.

However, it frequently happens that a pack plans its winter sleepover on the same date as another council event, or a troop camps the same weekend as the required adult leader training course that their new Scoutmaster needs to take. Some plan their meetings on the same night as Roundtable. Continue reading “Avoiding planned-in conflicts”