The latest in a series designed to help Scout families, Scouts and those new to Scouting better understand what Scouting is, how it works, and how to get the most out of the experience. For past articles, see back issues of The Guide.

Membership Matters!

Each Pack, Troop, Crew, Ship and Post should be ready to hold their membership recruiting activities, focusing on the start of a new school year. Your District Executive, the paid professional field staff person who serves units within your particular District, is ready to provide materials, help you with training, and join you in sharing the good news about Scouting and the character building, leadership developing and most of all fun activities that lie in store. If your unit is not quite ready, it is not too late, but this is no time to wait! Each family in Scouting can and should play a role in our success. No role is too small or insignificant and each effort, gift of time or expertise matters! Reach out to your Unit Commissioner, new member coordinator and other adult leadership and ask how you can help. A few things to remember . . . perhaps something to add to your family “elevator speech”.

  1. Scouting is FUN! Our youth make friends, engage in fun activities while learning skills, learn to socialize without the aid of hand-held electronic devices, your get the picture.
  2. Scouting is SAFE! You are all familiar with our Youth Protection training and protocols, and we all play a role in keeping Scouting a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment in which our youth can grow and learn.
  3. Scouting is intentionally designed to present age-appropriate material geared to the developmental stages through which our Scouts are going. Experts in educational development have worked hard to craft Den and Troop activities, advancement requirements, recognition and rewards that will foster character and leadership development and help to cultivate engaged, ethical and responsible citizens. Adult leaders have the training resources needed to be successful and the Council is ready to provide support where needed.
  4. Scouting includes both GIRLS and BOYS. Don’t let the name fool you, girls are fully integrated into our programming and are learning along side their brothers and other boys. Our Council was among the first nation-wide to recognize girls with the Eagle Scout award.
  5. Scouting is a good value, providing families with ways to share time together, learn about the communities in which they live, connect with other families interested in the positive values we teach. We work to make it affordable and do not turn away families with need; Scouting should be available to every deserving young person.

I said at the outset that Scouting Matters. On Tuesday evening, I was fortunate to attend the Milwaukee Brewer’s game against Tampa Bay. It was Scout night and there were many Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA youth in attendance with their families. Bernie brandished a sign welcoming the Scouts as the camera panned the crowd of Scouts in the stands and people cheered – all kinds of people cheered! One young Scout was drafted to introduce the players as they came up to bat and again, cheers for his bravery and good work. A week ago, more than sixty Cub Scouts and their friends and family built cardboard race cars at Wisconsin International Raceway and raced around the oval, stopping for fun activities along the way. The smiles on their faces were worth every volunteer hour that went into planning and holding the event, and it really didn’t matter who came in first each heat – they were all winners. Scouts were present at Appleton’s Mile of Music to take care of recycling and trash removal during the festival, and hundreds of people approached them to thank them for their service. And of course, the memory of Scouts from our Council rescuing and providing aid to those involved in the train derailment earlier this summer also comes to mind. Does Scouting matter? You bet it does, and the lessons and skills, and the qualities of character gained by youth last a lifetime!

So we come to a new season of Scouting and we need your help. Pitch in and offer help to your unit. Ask your Scout if he or she has friends, neighbors, or relatives who might benefit from Scouting and do a good turn by inviting them to join you at a fun activity with other Scouts, a fall recruiting event or outing. Ask for help if you are lost or overwhelmed or just need support.

As I’ve said all too often, we can offer support to Scouting by lending our time and talent, volunteering to help lead an event, Den or unit, providing support and encouragement to our Scouts and their friends. In all that we do, don’t forget that it is really for our youth, for their life-shaping, life-changing Scouting experience. Scouting matters! For all you do to help make Scouting a reality in the lives of so many young people, thank you.

Paul Shrode