Article contributed by Jim Bollback, District Executive of the Northern Star Council and Central Region Top New Unit Executive
Recently a colleague asked me, “Jim, how did you start so many new units?” I gave my response little thought and blurted out, “start early and work hard.”
But since that brief conversation, I have given the question a good deal of thought. My initial response was accurate but incomplete.
It was about this same time that I also downloaded the Central Region New Unit App and began to plug in the information for my new units. And as I did, my colleague’s question kept reverberating in my mind. As we all know, starting new units – even under the best of circumstances (like the opportunity to start new Scouts BSA troops for girls) – is not easy.
Here are the four things that I put into practice to start Scouts BSA troops for girls:
1.Start Early. My first contact with a troop committee to discuss the future possibility of a troop for girls was in March 2018 – after girls were first welcomed into Cub Scouts. With few exceptions, discussions started with chartered organizations and troop committees months in advance of the official launch date in 2019. In most cases, multiple meetings and conversations were required to work with the volunteers to put all the pieces together. In the end, I was glad I started early.
2.Invest in People. This is our modus operandi in Scouting, but it is easily forgotten. I was able to recruit an “ambassador” for girl troops and got the enthusiastic buy-in of my district chair and district membership chair. That would not have been possible, however, if I had not first spent time investing in them, getting to know them, and listening to their perspectives. Their participation, and that of many other volunteers, along with the synergy that was created was essential to the successful formation of new units.
3.Don’t Rush. It takes time to cultivate chartered organizations, potential new leaders, and to recruit new Scouts. Last minute rarely works, nudging is better than pushing, and working slowly and steadily toward the goal wins the confidence and support of all the players necessary. It also assures that all the details are covered.
4.Work Hard. It takes a lot of hard work to start new units! There are no shortcuts. It means repeating the same answers or making the same suggestions over and over again. It means flexing my work schedule so that I can be available to meet with the key players. It means research and study to select locations and growing knowledge of what constitutes a healthy unit and a source of youth to recruit.
I can only speak from my personal experience, but I know these tips can help you, too: Start Early, Invest in People, Don’t Rush, and Work Hard!
Scouting Wire would like to thank Jim for contributing this article.