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.


We see the impact of this reset in Scouting where it is increasingly challenging to engage adults in our programming. Indeed, over time we have seen a shift from volunteer adult leadership and participation guiding our programs and activities to increasing professional staff involvement in order to offer the programs and services we make available in the Bay Lakes Council. The right-sizing of our professional staff to better serve our current Council membership makes it more difficult to organize and deliver programming. The time has come for all of us to focus on recruiting volunteer adults to strengthen our program and deliver a high-quality Scouting experience to our youth. Scouting has been and should be volunteer coordinated. Our families are our stakeholders and each of us is essential to its success. The good news is that for any and every role someone might want to take on, there is training and support available, there are resources at the unit, District, Council and even National BSA level to draw upon for success. I’m asking for your help!

It all starts at the unit level. Every Pack, Troop, Crew, Ship and Post needs help, no mater how many dedicated adults are currently involved. We all recognize the leadership roles, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Committee Chair, treasurer and the like. Adults can help lead the Cub Scout adventures, serve as Merit Badge counselors in a field related to their vocation or interests, or manage unit equipment and supplies – a role we call Quartermaster. Committee members are essential to the success of our units and are responsible for the advanced planning required to offer a meaningful program to our Scouts, but not everyone needs to be on the committee in order to be of help. Contributions of time and talent can be large or small, coordinating a Pinewood Derby or just picking up supplies, planning an outing or just picking up some food or going along, being a popcorn Kernel or helping at a common sales event. We need to identify tasks, be clear about the expectations for accomplishing them, and then ask for help.

It is especially important now to engage the parents of our newer Scouts. They should have had sufficient time to get the lay of the land and understand what Scouting is about by now. Online training resources, program resources, guidance from your Unit Commissioner, gathering input from other unit leaders in similar roles at monthly Roundtables, checking out resources online can all help to support new adult volunteers. As the year continues and we prepare for Arrow of Light Scouts to cross over into a Scouts BSA unit, we know we shall lose some of our seasoned adult volunteers as they move with their Scouts. Succession planning is essential and if we do not engage our newer adults, we simply will not have the experience and willing volunteers to fill in. Every unit should have a succession plan and identify someone who cultivates volunteer involvement. Consider what is needed to put on the program week after week, month by month, and assess the interests and skills of the parents, yes and even the grandparents of our youth. Good at social media, consider helping with the unit’s online presence or internal communication. Like to cook, consider organizing the next pot luck, meals for an outing or treats for after a meeting. Good with money, maybe you could help out with the budgeting process, fundraising activities, handling money for an outing. Enjoy a sport or recreational activity, then help plan games at a meeting or an outing for fun. The point is that everyone has something to offer and we need to ask for their help.

Each District has a District Committee and needs help as well. Some roles are smaller and very manageable, requiring little time each month. Program roles might be limited to planning and producing a single event or even a part of an event or service. There is room for everyone and a particular need for each talent or interest a potential volunteer might have. Order of the Arrow Chapters need adult advisors and support. This is the time of year when each Committee is recruiting leadership for the coming year and every Committee has need of sub-committee members in such areas as programming, training, membership recruiting, awards and recognition, marketing and fundraising. Committees generally meet once a month during the school year, often in conjunction with the District Roundtables.

Contact your District Chair or District Executive at the Center for Scouting for more information.

Our camp properties depend upon volunteer help and needs range from simple maintenance to more significant projects. Have a skill or trade related to facilities management, building and construction, landscape maintenance, program planning, marketing, retail operations, small engine or automotive maintenance? We need your help. We also need help with projects ranging from painting interior and exterior surfaces to remodeling space for camp use, trail and campsite maintenance, equipment upkeep, and a variety of other projects. Dan Skrypczak at the Center for Scouting is the contact for anyone interested in helping with our camp facilities or our summer camp program.

We are currently recruiting folks to help with our Trading Post program, determining products to offer, clothing and other merchandise. We could use your input and help. If interested, contact Jason Splinter at the Center for Scouting.

We are looking for a few dedicated volunteers to serve as Camp Master supervising operations at a camp for a weekend. We need help to provide on-site supervision, checking in and out units coming to camp when the summer program is not in operation. Training would of course be provided. Each of our camps can benefit from Camp Engineers, people who are willing to get to know the ins and outs of a particular camp property and help direct the work onsite to maintain and upgrade our camps. Interested folks should reach out to Dan Skrypczak at the Center for Scouting.

As we celebrate the founding of Scouting in America this month, I am reminded that Scouting is a family-serving organization, not a drop-off program, that we bring families together to build and strengthen community as we develop the next generation of leaders and engaged citizens. There is no question that we want your help, we really do need your help to provide a meaningful and engaging program for our youth. Thank you once again for entrusting your youth to Scouting and sharing your time, talent and treasure.

Paul Shrode