An Update from the Michigan Crossroads Council

Dear Scouting Friends:

The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (the “National Council (BSA)”) has confirmed that a Youth Protection oriented segment that was expected to run on the TODAY Show tomorrow (July 10th) has been postponed and that a new air date has yet to be confirmed.  As the nature of content could change in the interim, the National Council (BSA) will continue to stay in touch with the producers of the segment so that it can provide our Council and other Councils with helpful information before the expected airing of the segment.

Like the National Council (BSA), we will continue to monitor these news reports and endeavor to keep you appraised of further developments.  We also will provide you with information relating to these matters that you can share with business associates, friends or Scouting leaders and families.  [READ MORE]


Where is the best location for a joining event? The data may surprise you.

Article contributed by Michael Ramsey, BSA Director of Marketing and Brand Management

As part of the National Service Center’s 2018 fall Cub Scout digital media buy, we learned just how important it is to hold joining events in locations that are familiar to parents. Those marketing efforts, which included recruiting messages delivered via paid search, paid social, and Facebook geofenced events, also provided a detailed look at the performance of different types of joining event locations.

We’ve discussed the highly successful geofencing efforts previously, and we’ve offered insight on how to use geofencing for Scout recruitment in your community. In addition to driving impressive gains of more than 7 percent in new Cub Scout growth for units that geofenced their joining events, those efforts produced data that confirmed what many may have already suspected: the best place to hold a single-unit joining event is at a school.

Schools are typically familiar locations for parents. Often, their child attends the school, and it is close to home and easy to locate. For families that may be unfamiliar with Scouting or unsure of what to expect, the familiarity of the school location helps ease concerns.

Second to schools, the next most successful recruiting events were those where multiple units collectively held a joining event in a public, non-school location. For instance, these units may have held their collective joining event at a community park. While the data didn’t offer specific details on why these multi-unit, centralized joining events did not perform as well as the single-unit events at schools, it is reasonable to believe that families unfamiliar with a location and/or event format may have been less confident about attending such events.

Similarly, events held at religious institutions also drove lower levels of success for Cub Scout recruiting when compared to schools. In fact, statistics showed that events held at schools performed on average 5 percentage points better than events held at religious institutions when looking at new Cub Scouts recruited versus the prior year. Again, the data doesn’t offer specifics on why, but it is possible that families may have assumed that if the event was at a church, they had to be members of that church to join that Cub Scout pack. Or, they may be unfamiliar with the location.

Of course, that isn’t to say Scouting units shouldn’t have regular meetings or hold other activities at religious organizations. Quite the contrary. We rely on religious organizations as valued partners. But when seeking to reach new families who don’t understand the relationship Scouting has with its chartered partners, holding a recruiting event at a church, synagogue, or mosque could be confusing.

Instead, consider hosting the joining event at a familiar location like a school, a community center near where the youth attend school, a library, or a park near where the pack meets. And, of course, the pack should continue to be chartered to its religious organization and hold its regular meetings there, if that’s the case.

Remember: Families who may not be familiar with Scouting will not necessarily understand the chartered organization concept or how units are organized. Everything is a new experience for them, so it is important to invite families to the adventure of Scouting in ways that are easy, familiar, and welcoming.


Put Your Scout Unit on Google Search

Do you know that the highest Google Search term is “Find ______[BLANK]_____ near me?” If someone was looking for a Cub Scout Pack, Scouts BSA Troop or Venturing Crew near them, would they find you and would your unit appear in the Google Search? Check out this video tutorial to help your unit appear in Google Search so parents can find you easily and join Scouting all year round.


Two essential Scouts BSA resources for new and longtime leaders

Better make room on your bookmarks bar.  The BSA has refreshed and retooled a pair of online resources for Scouts BSA volunteers.

The first is the Program Resources page. Think of it as your quick-start guide to Scouts BSA. Here, you’ll find a collection of links for starting a Scouts BSA troop, helping Scouts earn merit badges, guiding youth leaders toward more effective troop meetings and more.

The second is the Program Updates page. This one’s for both newcomers and veterans, and it’s where the National Scouts BSA Committee posts the latest information on any changes to the program. If there’s a new program initiative, updated requirement or any change to Scouts BSA printed material, you’ll find it there first.

https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/04/11/bookmark-these-two-essential-scouts-bsa-resources-for-new-and-longtime-leaders/


Tips for working with school digital communications platform Peachjar

Many school districts are beginning to use digital communications platforms like Peachjar for delivering items like activity fliers to parents. For Scouting, that means learning how to follow some basic guidelines to optimize communications items for that platform. Here, we explain more about what Peachjar is, how to follow their guidelines, and their expert design tips!

How Does Peachjar Work?

Peachjar streamlines school-to-home communication by distributing fliers, community resources, and vital school updates directly to parents through their digital service.

Over 600 school districts and more than 20,000 community organizations use this tool to deliver communications to school parents. And if a school district is using Peachjar, then they are contractually obligated to send all school communications through the Peachjar digital platform rather than through printed materials.

Every Flier Must Be Approved by the School District and Must Follow Their Individual District Guidelines.

Yes, that’s right. Each district has a set of guidelines that determine what kids of fliers they will approve to be sent out to parents. Peachjar links these guidelines in their program provider accounts under a “District Guidelines” tab. An example may be requiring your flier to have both an English and Spanish version.

Peachjar Fliers are ADA Compliant!

Peachjar fliers adhere to ADA compliance. That means, for example, that parents that have visual impairment can receive information from Peachjar fliers via screen reading devices that detect text, then read it back to them.

For this process to work properly, there is a step in the flier upload process that populates the text from your flier into a box as it will be “read” by Peachjar systems. If the text in that box does not match what is on the flier, you run the risk of the flier being denied by the district, so be sure to check that it is correct.

Over 14,000 schools use the Peachjar system.

That’s close to 20 percent of all schools in the United States who use the Peachjar system. The platform has heavy coverage on the West Coast, East Coast, and throughout the South. To see if your school is a Peachjar school, check this list.

Peachjar Design Tips are Easy to Follow!

Peachjar recommends strong, clear calls to action, simple copy, and large images. This fits our Scout Me In! fliers perfectly! If you’re looking for some great fliers to get you started, check out the options in the BSA Brand Center. You can find fliers for Cub Scoutsfliers for Scouts BSA, and more!

Although the Peachjar system is free to school districts who utilize the platform, there is a fee for organizations, such as the Boy Scouts of America, to distribute their fliers through the platform. Costs can vary by timing and number of schools.

This article is part of an ongoing series that covers digital platforms used to deliver items like our Scout fliers. Please be sure to look for more of our other articles on different platforms.


National Scouts BSA Committee – LIVE OFFICE HOURS

Join the National Scouts BSA committee and Scouters from around the country to learn more about the Scouts BSA program on April 18, 2019 during our live office hours.

Time:  Apr 18, 2019 8:30 PM (Eastern Time)

This Q&A session is great for new Scouts BSA leaders to get answers to any question they have about the program. For example:

  • How to help new Scouts advance in rank
  • How to reinforce the Patrol Method
  • How to prepare for weekend overnight outdoor experiences
  • How to grow your new Scouts BSA troop

Please submit any questions you’d like to have addressed via email to family.scouting@scouting.org by April 15th. All questions will be answered, either during our live presentation or at a later time.

REGISTER


Scoutbook Update

SSO (Single Sign On) Issues – Self Help

The following is from BSA IT Scoutbook Developers:

With some new changes to our SSO linking process, we made a few modifications that will help you manage your profiles a lot more easily. Here are some common scenarios we have seen and solutions for the same!

1) My.Scouting id and my Scoutbook id are different.. what should I do?
Please login with your Scoutbook account. Select Dashboard, Administration, My Account, “Switch SSO profile” and enter your My.Scouting credentials to login. You will not lose your advancements, award, training or log history that is already present in Scoutbook.

If you still have different member IDs and are still having issues with switch SSO they may need to go to My.Scouting.org and do the following:
Make sure you have your current member ID from your current registration in your unit (it sounds like you do, this is the one we need.)

Login to http://my.scouting.org,  In the upper left corner click on menu and then select Legacy tools. And then select manage member ID. Make sure that the member ID you want is there and if it isn’t add it.
Also make sure it is made Primary.

Logout and login to scoutbook
> Go to Dashboard => Administration => My Account => Switch SSO Profile and setup SSO
> Once SSO is setup you will use your my.Scouting login credentials to login to Scoutbook too

2) I don’t see my troop/pack information!
Please make sure your BSA MemberId in your Scoutbook profile page is the correct one that reflects your troop/pack registration. If it doesn’t , please go to your my Account page and select “Switch SSO Profile” and use a My.Scouting account that reflects the correct registration. You could also go to your My.Scouting account at http://my.scouting.org -> login and select Legacy Tools from the Menu -> Manage Member ID and add your current registration to your member id. And make it primary Logout and Log back into Scoutbook. You will see your troop/pack.

3) I am a parent and not a volunteer – do I have to setup SSO?
— If you are a parent without a volunteer position, you don’t have to setup SSO. You can use your current Scoutbook account to login!

4) Ever since I have linked my my.scouting info with my Scoutbook account, I have had troubles with login. Now, neither my Scoutbook nor my my.scouting login works in Scoutbook so I selected “forgot password”. Using that password does not work either. Please help me so I am able to login to Scoutbook again.
Once SSO (single sign on) is activated for you, Scoutbook picks up the same login credentials as my.Scouting.

Begin by trying to reset your password form the Scoutbook login screen by selecting Forgot Password?

If that does not work, go to http://my.scouting.org

Login in to http://my.scouting.org with your normal login, You can recover your password and login name there if needed.
Once logged in: In the upper left corner, click on menu and then select Legacy tools. And then select manage member ID. Make sure that the member ID you are registered under for your unit(s) is there and if it isn’t add it. Also make sure it is made Primary. (you can get your member ID from your committee chairman it is on the unit roster.)

Logout and login to Scoutbook using the same login.

5) Every parent has full control over their Scout and I am unable to remove this. Our Pack leadership has decided to only give the Parents access to view advancement, and update the profile. Can this be changed?

The BSA has decided that all parents have irrevocable full control over their children’s accounts. In that way the parent can make changes to personal information and move the Scout to other units when needed. Bear in mind that parents’ full control in NOT the same as leaders’ full control. Parents that are not leaders cannot approve or award advancement. When an item is marked as “Completed” in Scoutbook, that means that the Scout is ready to be tested. The Scoutmaster (or Scoutmaster’s designee) “signs off” in the Handbook in the columns marked “Leader Initial & Date”. The equivalent step in Scoutbook is when a leader in the unit marks an item as “Approved”. Parents (who are not also leaders in the unit) cannot mark any items in Scoutbook as “Approved”. Leaders in the unit need to be educated that they should not be marking any items as “Approved” in Scoutbook if it is not their role in the unit to do so.

6) Training is not syncing into Scoutbook

There are issues with the training reports in Scoutbook. We are recommending that for now key 3 leaders use the Training Manager reports at http://my.scouting.org. Also everyone can check the status of their own training by going to My Dashboard at http://my.scouting.org Eventually Scoutbook will directly link to those reports.

More sign on assistance can be found here. http://bit.ly/scoutbooklogin
You can receive quick help on the Scoutbook Forums: at:https://www.scoutbook.com/mobile/forums/


A Message from the Council Leadership

Dear Scouting friends,

As we learn more about the financial discussions underway at our national organization, it’s important to note that Scouting in the Michigan Crossroads Council is as strong financially and programmatically today as it’s been in many years. As our council is a separate non-profit 501c3 corporation based in the state of Michigan, the Michigan Crossroads Council should not be impacted by the recent news stories regarding issues that affect the National Council BSA and its operations based in Texas.

Below are a few facts about the Michigan Crossroads Council:

  • The Michigan Crossroads Council is financially strong and membership is growing! More than 60,185 boys and girls participate in Scouting in our Council, despite a declining demographic and more competition than ever.
  • Our Council receives no funding from the National BSA organization. In fact, we pay fees to National BSA as a part of our charter agreement and for specific services. We receive value back from the national organization, but we operate as a financially independent not-for-profit corporation.
  • Dollars given locally to support Scouting in the Michigan Crossroads Council stay at the Michigan Crossroads Council.
  • Our programming and services will go on uninterrupted regardless of what, if any, financial restructuring the National Council BSA pursues.
  • 12,089 youth have joined Scouting in Michigan Crossroads Council this year alone, a growth of 3.8%. The Michigan Crossroads Council’s retention rate of 72.2% is equal to the regional average and is further evidence of our success here, and the benefits of Scouting.
  • Also included among the thousands who already participate in our program are our newest members — over 2,444 girls have enthusiastically joined Cub Scouts in our council for the first time. Excited families are in the process of organizing more than 104 new Scouts BSA female troops in our communities and preparing to launch in February 2019. We are on track to continue our overall membership growth trend at the end of this year.
  • Our Scoutreach program continues to break down barriers to membership for lower-income, under-served families in urban communities. This program has assisted 10,378 youth this year to date.
  • As they have for over a century, our Scouts continue to make a real difference in our Michigan communities. In 2017, a total of 499,110 community service hours were completed by our Scouts and volunteer leaders.
  • Summer camps are a great part of our Scouting adventure. Last summer a total of 15,994 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers and their families attended.
  • Scouting is the finest and most effective youth development program in America instilling character, leadership and service. Youth in our programs gain an advantage in life that prepares them for success. A recent 3-year study by Tufts University finds that youth in Scouting report increased happiness, trustworthiness, hopefulness for the future and kindness as a result of our programming.

Given the achievements of our Scouts and volunteers this year, we have no reason to believe that the future is anything but bright for Scouting and the Michigan Crossroads Council.

It’s more important than ever to make sure that the next generation of Americans learn character, leadership, citizenship – and the importance of being a kind, caring and decent person. For over 100 years the Michigan Crossroads Council has done that, while helping to create memories and friendships that last a lifetime. Thanks to our volunteers, donors, and families, we will continue this vital work for many, many years to come.

It is our hope that the National Council BSA organization can navigate the difficult waters that many organizations face. The Michigan Crossroads Council will continue to focus on bringing high-quality and safe programs to the families we serve throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Thank you for your continued support, help and leadership.


Don Shepard Interview – Michigan Business Network

The Michigan Crossroads Council of the Boy Scouts of America is fortunate to have Don Shepard as their Scout Executive and CEO. The council geographically serves Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and over 70,000 members.

A chance encounter more than three decades ago ultimately led Shepard to his executive role with the Boy Scouts. Scouting has been a part of his life since his youth and in this interview, he discusses the “aim of scouting” Character, Citizenship and Fitness.

Listen now to full interview with Don


New Scouts BSA Brand Guidance Training

As the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) welcomes girls into Cub Scouts and older girls into the Scouts BSA program starting on February 1, it is important that families understand the program or organization they are joining.

There have been some instances where our volunteers may have inadvertently used the name or trademarks of the Girl Scout of the USA (GSUSA) brand in spreading the word that girls are or will soon be part of all BSA programs. GSUSA recently have filed a lawsuit asserting that these instances have caused confusion. While we don’t believe there has been any such confusion, we respect and support the GSUSA and their rights to their brand.

To ensure that we promote our programs in a clear and Scout-like manner, we have developed resources to make sure our leaders are aware of the do’s and don’ts in promoting BSA programs.

The Scouts BSA Brand Guidance Training we are introducing today is one of the efforts underway to be sure Scouters have a clear understanding of what they can do. This builds on the infographic that was shared last month, and the guidance provided to councils in April.

This training should be shared with all staff and volunteers to bring this understanding to all parts of our community.

While our goal is to encourage youth to join our program, we must always be clear in our communications about the program they are joining.

  • We are The Boy Scouts of America.
  • The Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA are different organizations.
  • We support all other youth organizations and do not disparage them.
  • We encourage parents to enroll all youth in a character development program that meets their needs – and the BSA is certainly ready to welcome them.

To aid you in this effort, councils and volunteers are encouraged to use these intro talking points as you host info sessions and launch efforts for Scouts BSA.

Additionally, please use this resource to help address any questions you might get in the community about this matter.

Thanks for all you do for Scouting,

Patrick W. Sterrett
Assistant Chief Scout Executive, National Director of Field Service