Program Chair's Corner: Make Every Minute Count!

Posted on Sep 21 2012 - 12:42am

Hey Button Gwinnett Scouters! I hope all of you are doing well. It was great to see many of you Tuesday night at Roundtable. It was a pleasure to see my friend Richard Atkin, one of the many outstanding leaders from Pack 420. He was there promoting the Scouting event Jamboree Over The Air (JOTA) that is going to be happening this year on Saturday, October 20th (http://gwinnettbsa.org/node/1870). The members of the Gwinnett Amateur Radio Society have been gracious to bring their equipment out on this day so our youth can participate in a global event that last year had 750,000 participants from 9,000 radio stations! I was fortunate last year to see this event in action as Richard coordinated with the LaGrange Amateur Radio Club to host an event during a joint camping trip with Packs 420 and 846. The event was so successful that Richard was determined to see how the entire district could enjoy this event. Thank you Richard! I'm excited that many more youth will be exposed to a truly unique event.

Can you believe September is almost gone??? By now, I'm sure your unit program calendars are in full gear. You've welcomed new youth and parents into your packs, troops, and crews, and the chaos (albeit organized) has ensued, right? Trying to get those youth and adult applications processed, while at the same time trying to answer questions from new parents can be extremely time absorbing.

Before you know it, December will arrive, the holiday season will be in full swing, and the kids will be chomping at the bit to be on winter break! In the hectic holiday season, one other thing will arrive: Unit Re-chartering! In the midst of focusing on our youth, it seems like it sneaks up, and we're scrambling to finish the paperwork before the deadline.

Our most awesome District Commissioner, Jim Kilpatrick, was at District Roundtable this week, bearing gifts: Unit Re-charter Packets! He and his commissioner staff do a fantastic job of proactively reaching out to all of us to ensure that we are prepared for this annual administrative rite of passage (if you weren't at roundtable to collect your packet, your unit commissioner will be contacting you to deliver it to you). Once again, the  Commissioner Staff is going to be hosting Re-charter Saturday on December 1st, where you can bring your paperwork and the commissioner staff will help walk you through the process (http://www.gwinnettbsa.org/node/1857 ).

Many of you may be wondering, what does Re-chartering have to do with Program? Two key program areas that I'd like to discuss with you that have a lot to do with the success of your re-charter is the completion of Adult Training and the documentation of your Community Service.


You've welcomed all these new adults into your units. They're excited! They've purchased their new uniform, badges, and books. They're excited to get out and start working with they youth, but have they completed their training? Three key words come to mind when discussing  training: Convenient, Empowering, and Necessary.


The training today is a lot more convenient than in years past. Many of the required basic courses can be completed online, or in person, based on your preference or schedule.

If you look at the training page of our Button Gwinnett website, http://www.gwinnettbsa.org/node/1008 , you'll find information on which training courses you need specific to your primary position. Our district training coordinator, Cheryl Fitzgerald, has done a fantastic job of laying out very detailed information to inform you on what training you need and how you can complete it. You can also find training courses on the BG calendar, the Atlanta Area Council Calendar, and this page will inform you of how to complete training online through myscouting.org


By completing the training now, they're really empowering themselves to deliver the quality program to the youth as it's designed by the BSA. Nothing is more frightening than a new mom or dad untrained, and "winging it". It does the youth a disservice, and it sets your unit up for potential issues.


Before your recharter packet can be accepted, you have to be able to show evidence that all leaders have completed Youth Protection Training at a minimum. There are other requirements in place for your unit to be eligible for the Journey to Excellence Award.

Some tips for success:

  1. Invest a few minutes now to really emphasize to your new fellow leaders the importance of getting their training completed now.
  1. Make sure that you provide your new leaders their BSA ID (once they are registered) and show them how to link their BSA ID to their MyScouting online profile . Spending a few minutes now to do this will save you HOURS of follow-up time, trying to get this completed before re-charter.
  1. Take a few minutes now and look at the Journey to Excellence website: (http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/Home/Awards/JourneyToExcellence.aspx ) and download the scorecard related to your program. Review the training standards required to be awarded Bronze, Silver, or Gold. I've always heard the adage, you manage based on how your measured… The Journey to Excellence scorecard gives you a great set of benchmarks to help you set your unit up for success. Spend a few minutes planning out how you want to meet or exceed some of these standards.

Community Service: 

Over the past year, I'm sure that you have incorporated all types of service projects into your unit's program calendar, whether it was an outdoor service project, Scouting for Food effort, a small project for your chartered organization, or maybe an Eagle Scout  project or two…

Have you logged these service hours to the Journey to Excellence Service Hours Website? One of the key differences from the old Quality Unit Award and today's Journey to Excellence Award, is that to receive credit for the service hours your unit has completed, they have to be documented online.

Follow the link:  http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/Home/Awards/JourneyToExcellence.aspx and review the service hour standards required for Bronze, Silver and Gold. You'll find a specific section entitled, Service Projects, that has a wealth of information and tips. In addition, make sure that your unit is registered online and that you're taking the time to record those valuable service hours that your youth are completing: https://servicehours.scouting.org/UI/Security/Login.aspx

Investing a few minutes of Program planning and execution  now will save you a lot of administrative time in December when you're trying to complete your re-charter packet and Journey to Excellence worksheet, whether it's the valuable training we all receive or the fantastic service hours our youth complete in serving our community: Make every minute count!

If you have questions or you'd like to provide feedback, I can be reached at program@gwinnettbsa.org. I'd love to hear from you!


Yours in Scouting,

Terry Walls - Program Chair