The Nevada Area Council considers training critical for all adult leaders. Left to right
are Lorrie Pompei, Medina Manuel, Jeff Berger, Council President Larry Tuntland, and Council Commissioner Paul Curtis.
In its recently adopted 2002-2006 long-range strategic plan, the Nevada Area Council of Reno, Nevada, recognizes leadership as the central component. This focus, which includes dedication to identifying top leadership and providing extensive training opportunities, has helped the council make remarkable leadership achievements.
As council President Larry Tuntland points out, "The time-proven Scouting structure provides the basic framework for a strong organization; our responsibility is to build the processes and leadership to make our particular council work." On all levels of leadership, the Nevada Area Council ensures that there is adequate representation from its diverse population. To achieve this goal at the executive board level, the council has established the nominating committee process as an ongoing activity, rather than an annual event. Through board profile assessment, the committee establishes goals in leadership categories such as ethnicity, industry representation, and location, which is an important consideration for the council's 139,000-square-mile service area. After narrowing down the candidates according to current and future needs, committee members determine whether the prospects have the sense of commitment necessary for board positions. As Tuntland comments, "The committee doesn't just 'grab titles.' It's important that as leaders we're good Scouts and 'walk the talk.'"
In its 92-year history, Troop 1 of the Middle Tennessee Council has been led by only two Scoutmasters; B. J. Vaughn is its second. The very embodiment of dedicated leadership, Vaughn has been involved in Scouting for 76 years, with
68 as Scoutmaster. His time-proven leadership philosophy hinges on "studying the program. The kids and the programs differ every year, so you have to really know them." Vaughn also believes in accommodating volunteers' different
leadership styles and finding where each works best in the range of responsibilities. Leading a 100-member troop in 2002, Vaughn had 42 adults on staff, all of whom were Wood Badge-trained. Such commitment is the result of Vaughn's determination to involve leaders who "really want to be a part of Scouting. When you do that, you get wonderful results." As to his own longevity in the organization, Vaughn remarks, "The right time to quit has just never come along."
For the executive board and district committees, the council has developed a self-assessment tool for members to evaluate their own effectiveness. They measure themselves on attendance, fund-raising support, committee participation, and net contribution to the organization. According to Tuntland, the tool "provides a participatory and rewarding experience, and helps members pinpoint what they want themselves to further accomplish."
The council views training as critical for all levels of leadership. The executive board undergoes extensive orientation, and annual district workshops are held for goal setting, defining expectations, and sharing vision. For unit leaders, the council conducts monthly Fast Start training sessions, as well as quarterly basic training opportunities in each district. Commissioner training stresses that "commissioner service really is service. It's there for support, and commissioners should exercise points three and four of the Scout Law to be 'helpful and friendly,'" states Council Commissioner Paul Curtis.
In 2002, the council united its leadership strengths to enhance training with its first councilwide University of Scouting. The one-day event provided training across all Scouting and leadership levels. With over 250 participants, the event was what district committee member Mike Taylor describes as "the best thing I've ever seen happen in our council. One advantage of the event was that it impressed on new leaders that there are all kinds of people across the council who can help them achieve their goals."
According to Cubmaster Jim Ferrigan, the council's overall leadership success comes from "a united vision and a motivated cadre of volunteer leaders backed up by Scouting professionals who motivate and guide them." Curtis speaks for all the Nevada Area Council leaders when he says, "I'm enthusiastic about Scouting, which is fundamental to leadership. A leader must believe in what he's doing and be able to convey this belief to others."
Conveying belief and enthusiasm is also key to the leadership success of the Middle Tennessee Council of Nashville, Tennessee. As executive board member Clayton McWhorter remarks, "Success breeds off success; good begets good. Dedicated volunteers involved in Scouting are able to attract others." Once those leaders are attracted, the council ensures they are trained and motivated to remain in the organization.
Scouting depends on trained Scouters like Cubmaster Charles S. Woodland, seen here chatting with boys of the Nevada Area Council.
Serving over 45,000 youth in a 37-county area, the council has centered efforts on leadership identification and development. The nominating committee meets
twice in the fall to select high-caliber individuals to guide the district and council committees. According to Scout Executive Joe Long, the executive board consistently "turns out 80 of the right kind of people at their regular meetings."
Once selected, the council leadership attends special training events, including a goal-setting dinner and position orientation for the Key 3 and district operating chairs. Other leadership training and motivation events include commissioners' and roundtable conferences, which are all-day participatory sessions promoting input and information exchange.
With training as an ongoing priority, the council maintains momentum in its leadership through collaboration and enthusiasm. "The professional staff/volunteer synergy is an important part of the council's success," observes Council Commissioner George Yowell. "The staff sets the environment for success, and the volunteers feed off of this. Also, the volunteer leaders are not pawns; they are actively involved and know their jobs. It's truly a teamwork process."
As a result, McWhorter comments, "the council is the envy of other local civic organizations in the way that it goes about its business."
Enthusiasm is key to the leadership success of the Middle Tennessee Council, according to Council Commissioner George Yowell, board member Clayton McWhorter, and Scout Executive Joe Long, left to right
The council also places emphasis on leadership training for the younger generation. In 2002, two weeklong youth leadership camps were held, one for Venturing members and one for Boy Scout leaders. The Scout camp is organized and operated by the youth, who follow an extensive syllabus for teaching skills in areas such as counseling, communication with adults, effective planning, and public speaking. Campers, who apply after being nominated by their Scoutmasters, are chosen according to age and rank. Staff members are campers from previous years who have been recommended by the staff at the camp they attended. The staff is trained through extensive development weekends leading up to camp time. "The leadership camp taught me that with everything you do, you should have a plan," reports Scout Jared Irvine.
The Middle Tennessee Council has most definitely acted on a plan for its leadership development. Long says, "Anyway you look at it, leadership is important. Our council has discovered that if you target the right people in the right numbers, then train them well and keep them actively involved, quality things happen at all levels and success filters down throughout the whole organization." Regarding council leadership enthusiasm, volunteers can't say enough. "A typical board meeting or luncheon is like a big tent revival. The people involved in Scouting have developed a passion," McWhorter remarks. "I couldn't sleep at night knowing I hadn't supported the Scouts."