Do you know how Scouting works?
I mean, really works?
The pattern starts at our national organization, which is managed by, what we call, the National Key 3. At each level of Scouting, except for one, the Key 3 is always a ratio of 2:1; two volunteers to every one paid professional. Imagine a triangle with the left angle being the National President, the right angle being the National Commissioner, and the peak of the triangle being the Chief Scout Executive.
Each member of this Key 3 has a specific and defined role; the National President works the Administrative side of Scouting, the National Commissioner is the head of the program side of Scouting, and the Chief Scout Executive runs the day-to-day operations of the Boy Scouts of America.
This pattern then cascades down through Scouting all the way to the local unit. We take the national BSA council and divide it into 4 regions (Northeast, Central, Southern, and Western), each of which have a Regional Key 3 made up of a Regional President managing the Administrative side, the Regional Commissioner checking the health of the Program Side of the region, and the Regional Director manning the day-to-day operations of the region.
Regions are then broken down into Areas, each of which have an Area Key 3 with a two volunteer to one paid professional, a volunteer Area President on the Administrative side of the triangle, a volunteer Area Commissioner on the Program side, and an Area Director heading up the professional side of the diagram.
Areas are made up of a group of local councils, which is where most volunteers begin to recognize the BSA organization and structure. Our council has a Council Key 3 made up of our volunteer Council President who heads up our all volunteer governing board, or Administrative half of the council. Our Council Commissioner is the head of the volunteer commissioner corp, which is charged with measuring the health and effectiveness of our programs. Our Scout Executive heads up the day-to-day operations and ensures that volunteers have a place to have questions answered and concerns listened too.
We break down the council into districts, again with a Key 3, one volunteer heading up the Administrative team, or District Committee, a volunteer leading the District’s Commissioner Corp who are charged with strengthening the health of every Pack, Troop, Team, and Crew in the district, and a District Executive helping run the day-to-day operations.
Finally, we get to the unit level. The unit Key 3 is the only exception to the 2:1 ratio; because at this level, everyone is a volunteer. The unit Key 3 is made up of the Charter Organization Representative (COR), who sits at the top of the triangle, the Unit Committee Chair, on the left side of the triangle, and the Unit Leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Varsity Team Coach, and Venturing Crew Advisor) on the right hand side of the triangle. Each member of the Unit Key 3 fills a role, similar to their district, council, area, region and national counter parts. The COR deals with relationships between the unit and the chartering organization. The Unit Committee Chair handles the Administrative side of the unit; and the Unit Leader handles the program side of the house.
Now, for the last 107 years, we have done an excellent job at the program of Scouting. To help make this point, who was your Scoutmaster?
Do you remember?
To this day I could tell you what he looked like, what his mannerisms were, some of his hobbies, and what his profession was. I think about him often because the Eagle Scout plaque he made for me hangs in my office. He was there for every campout, hike, canoeing trip, and adventure we went on. He was there at every troop meeting, teaching us the basics of knot tying, first aid, and how to treat others. He was there in the storms of our growing pains and in the calm of our progress to self sufficency. He attended every week of summer camp, applauded our success and let us learn from our failures. He was the person I looked up to, when I was a young scout.
Our Scoutmasters are an unforgettable part of our Scouting experience, and they own the program side of the Scouting equation. They are the frontline volunteers who are down in the mud with the boys. It is there leadership and assistance that can help a young person develop their own leadership skills, that can insire a scout to do great things, and set an example of adulthood. They are the icon that all Scouts should look to emmulate.
One of the secrets of Scouting, is that the program side should actually be called the “FUN” side of Scouting, or the “Outing” in Scouting. That is where the rubber of youth meets the road of leadership development. It is what every young person thinks of when they hear the word Scouting; and what comes to memory when you ask an old Scouter to recall their memories of Scouting. They don’t regale us with stories of a great committee meeting they attended, all the time spent logging advancements, or the stress of planning and executing a unit fundraiser. They don’t tell these stories because they don’t remember anything about the administrative side of their unit.
Now, ask me who my Unit Committee Chair was.
I have no earthly idea, and that is the way it is suppose to be.
If you ever look into what makes a “super” troop so super, or what makes the Cub Scout Pack down the street run consistently at 80 to 100 youth. I will tell you this, it isn’t only because of the program side of the unit. Super status comes from a unit which has an amazing administrative team.
What we haven’t done so well, in the last 107 years, is the administrative side of Scouting. That is where we may not have done our best to help units be high functioning.
Taking on the Administrative side of Scouting will have to be the topic of a future blog post, because it is so large and massive that it will have to be broken down to its individual parts for us to gain the entire picture. But I will just mention here that we have developed a plan that isnt really revolutionary; but it will break down the committee into smaller, digestible, pieces, and will help units be highly functional. At the same time it will help make everyone’s volunteer job just a little easier.
The point of this entire post is that every unit has a Unit Key 3. Scouting hasn’t openly talked about our units in this way, but the pattern exists at every level of Scouting and it is time we started talking about, and using the term, Unit Key 3. For a unit to be highly functioning, a Gold level unit in JTE, and provide the best possible experience to the youth we serve, each member of the Unit Key 3 needs to know and understand their role.
The Charter Organization Representative (COR) heads up the relationship between the Chartering Organization (Church, Service Club, Parent Teacher Organization, Fraternal Organization, etc.) and the local unit.
The Unit Committee Chair ownes the Administrative side of Scouting.
The Unit Leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Varsity Team Coach, Venturing Crew Adviser) own the program (or FUN) side of the Scouting unit.
Each person needs to pull their own weight, within their own sphear or responsibility, and not look to interfere with any other piece of the Scouting unit.
Till next time-