Mike Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, asked Scout Executives throughout the nation to set aside the past and begin exploring how we can serve the entire family. He asked us to consider a few things:
First, an organization like Scouting can neither sustain all new ideas equally, nor can we continue to add layers of complicated programs for our constituents. He reminded us that as we look back over the past 106 years, we have done both of these things. As we have, we have stopped growing. After nearly 40 years of membership decline, we simply don’t have the resources to continue down this pathway.
Then he asked us each to search for the “secret sauce” in our super-achieving units. An example he shared is three small areas in the BSA serving Vietnamese Scouts. These groups have sustained themselves with new leaders for more that two decades and delivered vibrant programs for boys and girls and their families through a partnership with GSUSA. These programs serve the community effectively by serving the entire family, not just boys. He didn’t say this kind of partnership should be implemented everywhere, but asked that we, too, find ways to serve the entire family.
The Chief also pointed to the fact that we have delivered character education and trained the nation’s leaders for decades, without complicated programs like pistol shooting and ATVs, both of which may be great program enhancements, but may not add to character development and leadership growth in the lives of our youth members.
Then he asked that as we look to the future, we should do six things:
- Define our market for the “whole family,” not just boys
- Study our character outcomes from program, as we recently did in the Tufts Study, but for all programs, not just Cub Scouting
- Build on our current progress in Exploring and STEM Scouts, along with Lions as an interim growth strategy
- Define our long-term market for the next 100 years
- Develop a full understanding of our program outcomes
- Design infrastructure to support outcomes in the simplest manner
The Chief said that he did not have the answers yet, but he knows that the “secret sauce” is out there. He invited all of BSA to share their ideas with him based on the six things listed above.
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