Giving what we need to receive
"I've always believed you had to have programs in order to get money. In this case, we managed to raise enough money to get started. It's our hope that they'll be able to grow and raise more money themselves."
chairman, Sam Houston Area Council
|Bilingual staffers also need to be "bicultural" to understand how to adapt traditional Scouting to meet the needs of a new community.|
When they looked over the demographics of their council and saw the penetration they had made in different geographical areas, leaders in the Sam Houston Area Council saw an enormous opportunity in some of the Houston area's rapidly growing Hispanic-Latino communities.
But it was a largely underserved population, and the council was not equipped with enough qualified personnel to make great inroads.
It was not enough, they knew, to have bilingual staffers. They also needed to be "bicultural," to understand how to adapt traditional Scouting to meet the needs of a new community.
"You have to have bilingual people who understand Hispanic culture," said Wayne Johnson, chairman of the council's outreach committee.
A task force brainstormed and devised a plan to add a field director's position and five district executive positions—to be staffed by Hispanic-Latino employees—to spread out into untapped areas. The council turned to a handful of Hispanic-Latino staffers who were already on board and charged them with recruiting friends who could share Scouting's message.
The result was a field of 70 from which to select their staffers. Funding came from a bridging plan that tapped into foundations and board members for extra gifts to tide the new hires over until their areas became financially viable.
"In this case, we managed to raise enough money to get started. It's our hope that they'll be able to grow and raise more money themselves," Johnson said.
The council also saw membership increase; in four of the five districts with new executives, annual decline was replaced by annual growth.
For some councils, success in staff retention can be measured with an ironic statistic: the number of professional Scouters who are whisked away by other councils to become Scout executives. In the Crossroads of America Council's case, eight staffers in the past 10 years have been promoted to Scout executive in other councils.
Those who are affiliated with the council couldn't be more pleased.
The council encourages cross-training and cooperation across areas of expertise. Perhaps the most important piece of the management strategy, Scout Executive Scott Clabaugh said, is the volunteers' role in the maturation of staffers.
"It proves we're running a good program if other councils want our folks," he said.
"It's good for everybody when people get promoted. Our volunteers take pride in it."
Brian Burke, the council president, agreed: "The involvement and responsibility shown by board members sets a very good example for the professional staff, and vice versa. It's a true collaboration."