A Report from the 2015 National Annual
Key Take Aways For Every Unit Leader and Adult Volunteer
By Danny Van Horn, Council Commissioner
recently had the privilege of attending the 2015 National Annual Meeting
(“NAM”) of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America which took place
May 20-22 in Atlanta. The NAM is part
annual business meeting, part continuing training and part tent revival. I for one left that meeting completely
energized and reassured that we have the best program for youth development the
world has ever seen. There could be a
dozen or more things that I could write about from this meeting not the least
of which was the roll out of the new membership campaign “Build an Adventure”
or the roll out of the new Cub Scout program.
Putting those two very important developments aside, there were three
things from this meeting that I think every unit leader will or should want to
Scout Book, www.scoutbook.com, is coming. Your unit will want this tool. Scout Book was originally developed by a
third party software developer who happens to be a scout parent. It’s a tool designed to help scouts, their
parents, unit leaders and ultimately all district and council level support
personnel promote, track and communicate about advancement. It just so happens that the National Support
Center had been in development of their own tool to do just the same thing. When they looked at Scout Book, they realized
the privately developed tool was much better, scrapped their own efforts and
bough Scout Book from the developer.
Over the course of the next year, Scout Book will be fully integrated
with a variety of advancement and membership databases. It works with Troop Master and other similar
software. It has tools that will make
text and e-mail communication much easier within units and eventually on a
district and higher level. This is a
tool that is optional but it is expected that most units will want to subscribe
to Scout Book. There is no cost right
now for Scout Book. There will be and we
don’t yet know what that price will be but the promise is that the cost will be
minimal. A number of units are already
on Scout Book and the response has been overwhelming positive. Your unit should go to www.scoutbook.com and
check out this promising new application that should make tracking and
promoting advancement much easier.
Digital Media. The consistent message at NAM across a
variety of sessions stressed the need to build a new culture within scouting
that promotes social media and digital media sharing including channels such as
Instagram. Many units still have
official or unwritten rules the prohibit today’s scouts from bringing
electronic devices with them on scout trips.
The research shows that today’s generation and their 20 and 30 something
parents resoundingly reject such an approach.
This generation experiences everything through social media and through
picture sharing. The old belief that they
need to unplug and experience nature sounds great but for a fast growing
segment of our market, they will never experience nature unless you let them
experience in the same manner they experience everything else – through their
smartphone cameras. Of course, the use of such devices should be monitored and
should be consistent with the Scout Law and the Scout Oath. If we want to recruit the next generation and
perpetuate scouting, we’ve got to change and accept and understand that smart
phones and picture sharing are an essential part of scouting today. We need to move from a culture that bans
electronic devices to one that promotes them and their positive use to
reinforce the timeless values of scouting.
We need to encourage our scouts to take pictures of fun scouting events
and share them. Such a peer sharing,
grass roots campaign is simply essential to any successful membership campaign
today. By the way, the research also
shows that the 20 something and 30 something moms will first check out scouting
on social media. If we have no presence,
as is often the case today, then their likelihood to enroll their sons in
scouting significantly lessens. The need
to promote social media, digital picture sharing and an online presence is as
critical to recruiting the next generation of scouts as it to recruiting their
So what should your unit do?
- Have a discussion on
your own social media policies and whether you ban or encourage the use of
- Understand the risks and rewards of whatever your position is;
- If you follow the national recommendation and not only permit but encourage
the use of smart phones and social media, conduct training of the scouts and
their parents as to the appropriate use of those devices;
- Identify a scout within your unit (if age
appropriate) to serve as the social media chair (this could be your webmaster)
and task them with collecting and posting photographs from your unit events;
- Encourage parents to get involved by sharing their photos from events; and
- Create appropriate unit level hash tags, Instagram pages and Facebook pages to
help promote scouting and your unit;
- Go to www.scoutingwire.org and check out the many resources there to
help your unit craft its social media presence; and
- Actively monitor the
accounts and channels your scouts are using to promote your unit.
Standards Debate. By now many of you
will have heard something about Dr. Gates address at the 2015 NAM. Our Council leadership will have more to say
about this shortly. In the meantime, I’d
really encourage you to go watch the entire speech for yourself. You can find it at: http://scoutingnewsroom.org/blog/watch-and-read-bsa-president-dr-robert-m-gates-addresses-boy-scouts-of-america-national-annual-meeting/ I’d also encourage you to exercise leadership
and live the Scout Law. A scout is among
other things cheerful. Undoubtedly there
will be some who immediately proclaim the end is near. It’s just not. We can and should have a discussion about
this issue. We can and should be
respectful to others who may not agree with us.
We can and should be positive about the future of scouting. Nothing as good as scouting exists and
prospers as long as we have without God’s hand at the wheel. No matter what happens, we’ll get through
this and we’ll prosper. Let’s focus on
the people who really matter – the kids we serve. Let’s focus on building better units, better
districts and a better council. There
are so many opportunities to make a difference in the lives of the kids we
serve and in our communities. Let’s keep
our focus where it should be and serve more deeply. Everything else will ultimately take care of
itself. Scouting will be here for years
to come and many of us will be right there all along the way. Be positive.
Be educated and stop those who you hear spreading doom and gloom. There’s just too much to be positive about.
is great to be a Scouter and a privilege to serve the kids and adult volunteers
of our council.
A Message from the
2015 President-Elect and Commissioner-Elect
Re-Introducing a Very
Important Scouter: the Commissioner
As Scouters, we are all here to
make a difference in the lives of the kids we serve. We all have a pretty good idea what roles a
Scoutmaster and a Cubmaster play in our movement. Allow us to re-introduce to you a very
important Scouter who makes a difference in the lives of Scouts in multiple
units: the Commissioner.
The role of a Commissioner dates
back to the founding of our movement.
Lord Baden Powell understood that in order for Scouting to grow and yet
remain consistent, a corps of committed Scouters had to be charged with going
out and supporting units. They were
there to serve as a resource to help the unit leaders deliver a quality program
to the kids they served. They were also
there to make sure that the program was consistent from one unit to
another. W.F. deBois MacLaren (who
donated Gilwell Park to Lord Baden Powell) and Rudyard Kipling were some
notable early Commissioners.
When Scouting came to America,
the Commissioner position came with it and played much the same role as it had
in England. Daniel Carter Beard (one of
the men who founded Scouting in America) served as one of its very first
Commissioners and was the first National Commissioner. In that role as a National Commissioner,
Beard designed our uniform and helped shape the program we know today.
Over the years, there have been
changes to the Commissioner Corps but their purpose has remained the same:
service to units to help units serve kids even better. A Commissioner is a committed Scouter who
agrees to work with and coach several units (usually three or less) to help
them grow, develop and get even better.
They do that with a monthly visit to the unit or meaningful contact with
the unit leadership between in person visits.
Commissioners make a difference in the lives of our kids every day.
As a Council, we need your help
in two very important ways. First, if
you think you might be interested in serving as a commissioner (or want more
information about it) please contact your District Commissioner or our Council
Commissioner, Danny Van Horn firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not interested in serving in this
important role but you know of another adult (in your unit or otherwise) who
you think would be great in this role, please let us know who they are. The role of a Commissioner is essential to
insuring a quality program, retention and recruitment. With your help, we will select, recruit and
train women and men who are committed to service.
Second, whether you have a
Commissioner assigned to your unit or get one assigned sometime soon, please
welcome and work with them. The Unit
Commissioner is there to act as a resource and a coach for your unit. Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning and
Aaron Rodgers all have coaches. Michael
Jordan and Magic Johnson both worked with shot coaches. The best golfers in the world work with swing
coaches. Many executives in Fortune 500
companies work with professional coaches.
No matter how good we are, we can all be better. No matter how well we are serving our kids,
we can do better. Please accept the
Commissioner assigned to your unit and allow them to help you. They aren’t there to act as a “spy” or to
come in and mandate how you run your unit (unless there are violations of
national policy). They are there to
help, to serve as a resource and to make suggestions. If you aren’t willing to be coached, it will
be difficult to help you grow and get even better.
Thank you for all you do for our
kids. Please help us recruit more
Commissioners and allow the Commissioner staff to work with your unit to help
you get even better than you already are.
Yours in Scouting,
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
The Chickasaw Council serves youth in the Mid-South, covering 17 counties, including, Shelby County in Tennesseee, Crittenden County in Arkansas and these Mississippi counties; Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Grenada, Humphries, LeFlore, Montgomery, Panola, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, and Washington.
For over 100 years, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.
As we celebrate over 100 years of Scouting, we're gearing up for the next 100 years with strategic plans in motion to improve upon all that we do here locally. Please review our 2013 Annual Report as well as our 2013-2015 Scouting's Journey to Excellence.
To be involved and/or support Scouting in the Mid-South, contact The Chickasaw Council.
The Chickasaw Council Board and Officers
The Executive Board is the governing body of the Chickasaw Council. Below is a list of the 2015 Elected Officers.
- Council President - L. Hunt Campbell
- Council Commissioner - Danny Van Horn
- Treasurer - Raymond Berglund
- Assistant Treasurers - Tom Sullivan
- Vice President of Endowment - Brent Westbrook
- Vice President of Administration - TBD
- Friends of Scouting Chairman - David Pickler
- Vice President of District Operations - Duane Klink
- Vice President of Program - Dr. Randy Nelson
- Vice President of Finance - Russell Williamson
- Vice President of Capital Fund Development - Mike P. Sturdivant Jr, Johnny Pitts
- Vice President of Properties - Josh Bell
- Vice President of Public Relations - TBD
- Vice President of Emerging Markets - Rob Liddon
- Vice President of Membership - John Kimbrough
- Vice President of Technology - TBD
- National Council of Representatives - Hunt Campbell, Duane Klink, Phil Gilmer, Jason P. Hood, and Jimmy Lackie