The paradigm shift involving ScoutBook shifts the council's role from simply administration to empowerment.
This step forward regarding program will provide a similar shift from intermittent program delivery to primary program support - making the council a true partner for every unit.
Program support leaders need
Our Scouts want to learn and do Scout Skills. The skills are found in the Scout handbooks and delivered through the parents who volunteer as leaders. It sounds great on paper, but the program delivery is limited by the parents ability to provide the program.
Each year less and less parents have ability or resources to teach rock climbing, how to pitch a tent, make rope, archery, outdoor cooking and on and on. The Scout council encourages parents to take leadership and skill training to help them deliver the program. However out of 5,000 registered adult leaders we consider it a success if 50 attend Wood Badge - Scouting's top training course. That's 1% of our leaders.
The feedback we get from parents willing to serve as leaders is the training courses eat into their limited volunteer time and they'd rather learn from the books or online tutorials to improve their program delivery skills. Therefore a smaller and smaller percentage of registered leaders can confidently provide the quality outdoor programs that our Scouts crave.
What are these skills specifically?
Everything from archery to fire by friction, aquatic activities like canoeing or lifesaving, pioneering and ecology, new programs like STEM activities, or old school wilderness survival skills. It also includes high adventure activities like rock climbing, ice climbing, using a ropes course, mountain biking, etc. All these skills are required for basic advancement, yet only a small percentage of troops and packs can easily deliver these programs.
A program area is a summer camp term used to describe a geographic location with resources and staff who deliver similar activities.
- Aquatics is a program area that provides swimming, canoeing, row boating, sailing, life saving and other activities centered around the pool or lake.
- The activities are a series of short typically fun activities (a canoe slalom the teaches the J Stroke, or swamping the canoe and learning a T rescue)
- The activities often teach requirements and add up to full merit badges or Cub Scout Adventures.
How can the council provide this level of support year round?
"The council" is actually already good at providing this level of program support. Summer camp, Merit Badge University, the programs at New England Base Camp and other activities like the Scout Strong hike, SOAR or Pumpkinfest all provide this level of support. However, those programs are few and far between, leaving busy families to figure out how to teach fire by friction to Webelos in the church parking lot or wait until next year at summer camp.
To provide this level of support that's convenient for leaders, and available all year round we will establish program areas throughout the council footprint. Scouting has relationships with local town and independent scout facilities throughout our 76 communities. Each one will provide a program area or two and all the activities that go along with the program area.
This will enable den leaders and scout troops, crews to provide top rate program every weekend. In the Northern portion of the council, the base of operations is Lone Tree which serves as a "do it yourself" program camp. The Southern portion of the council is supported by the "Full Service" program camp. Throughout the communities between the north and south camps we are establishing program areas / centers.
Proposed Programs and Areas
- Native American, wilderness survival and canoeing programs in Concord
- Archery and orienteering in Boxford
- Rock climbing in Needham
- Oceanography, sea navigation, paddle boarding and fishing at Manchester by the Sea
- Camping and pioneering skills in Chelmsford
- Outdoor cooking in Andover
At this point these small program areas are in the concept development stage. Shortly, if all goes well, we will release a schedule of launch dates.
Each program site will have a detailed list of activities and advancement opportunities for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Ventures (and ideally Girl Scouts). All these program locations Will be linked through the ScoutBook initiative.