Typically, people take time to reflect and rejuvenate twice a year: on New Year’s Eve, and in the spring as the hellebores and crocuses start to bloom.
In our Scouting calendar, we have third turning point for reflection: autumn, as we start recruiting the next generation of youth into Scouting.
This year, as the leaves start to change, the days shorten, the youth in our communities go back to school, and as Lions and Tigers (including girls!) enter Scouting, we have additional reasons to pause for reflection.
First, this fall is an amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us in Scouting to welcome both girls and boys into the program. As we successfully roll out Family Scouting in our communities, even more youth will have access to the character development and values-based leadership that Scouting promises. I ask that all Scouters, and especially commissioners, pause to reflect on how we can support Family Scouting.
- Here are three questions for reflection:
- How can we ensure new youth and adults who join Scouting feel welcome and supported?
- How can we ensure new girl troops are started in a way that they will deliver a quality Scouting program in a sustainable way?
- How can we ensure that a young kindergarten or first grade girl who wants to join Scouting has an opportunity to do so?
Our Roundtable Commissioners are starting a “Five Minutes for Families” initiative that encourages each District Roundtable to be discuss how to roll the Family Scouting effort out, what tools to use (such as New Member Coordinators), and how boys troops will need to work on recruiting.
Second, with our incoming new Scout Executive Craig Poland, we all have the opportunity to think about how we can improve as a council. Craig has a powerful passion for Scouting, and inherits an incredibly strong council from Les Baron. While we have strengths that we should strive to retain, we also have what I consider to be a sacred responsibility to continuously improve on behalf of the youth we serve. I ask all Scouters, and especially commissioners, to start thinking about ways we can improve so that we are prepared to work hand-in-hand with Craig and our professionals.
Here are questions for reflection:
- Is there anything we should stop doing as a council because it just isn’t working?
- What can we start doing to serve more youth, better?
- What are we doing well as a council that we need to continue?
Please share your ideas through your District Commissioners, and then on to me.
Our council is truly great but we can never rest on our laurels because the youth and communities we serve change, the environment changes, and we must always look for ways to be better. As we reflect on this, I believe one powerful source of ideas is learning from other councils and youth organizations.
Third, as a movement we face significant challenges. We are living through a dramatic collapse of the American civic society, which, as the book Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnum documents, started in the 1990s and impacts all facets of civic society (including civic-minded groups like the Boy Scouts of America). Our movement has been one of the heroic survivors in the across-the-board societal collapse that has impacted local houses of worship, service and civic clubs, neighborhoods, hobby clubs, and local political involvement. People simply do not connect with each other in common public spaces the way they used to, and many of us mourn that loss.
During this collapse of American civic society, those of us who have remained committed to Scouting have served as shining lights on the hill by maintaining our civic mindedness.
- Here are questions for reflection:
- How can we remain relevant and teach the next generations of youth the value of civic society?
- How can we involve more people in our communities with our project to improve American civic society?
- How can we strengthen the bonds we share, and help others to understand how powerful personal bonds across groups serve Lord Baden-Powell’s vision for world peace?
We have powerful new technological tools available to us, such as Scoutbook and visual storytelling on YouTube and Instagram. Please think of ways we can leverage these tools to reinvent ourselves (while staying true to our mission), and how we can help restore our civic society in an increasingly diverse yet interconnected world. Our council membership and marketing committees are hard at work exploring these questions and are welcoming of feedback.
We live in a truly exciting season of rejuvenation. Let’s find ways we can improve so we can improve the lives of young boys and girls as individuals, and improve our civic society as a whole!