This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
by chri s tucker IN DEPTH


The Swerve: Michigan Charts A New Course


STEPHEN KING, Central Region president, knew there was no way to sugarcoat the harsh facts about Scouting’s problems in Michigan. The numbers in Area 2 were clear: From 2005 to 2009, Cub Scout and Boy Scout numbers declined by 20 percent. The number of volunteers dropped by 9 percent. Council camps lost $3 million. Meanwhile, 900,000 youth were not being served by Scouting. Those critical losses were made worse


by the staggering Michigan economy. “I call it a depression, not a recession, that


hit Michigan,” King says. As the economy tanked, the Big Three automakers closed down plants and laid off thousands of workers, leading to what King calls “a very significant outmigration of working-age men and women age 25 to 40”—in other words, the people most likely to have Scout-age children. Given all those woes, King and Alan


Lambert, Central Region director, were not surprised to hear Michigan Scout leaders ask, “Is Scouting sustainable here? Are we going to do something about this, or wait for the national organization to come in and tell us what to do?” King and Lambert were heartened when local officials took on the challenge. “They wanted to form a task force to find answers to these problems,” King says. “We said, ‘Go for it.’”


Over the next 18 months, volunteers


from Area 2 spent more than 11,000 man-hours rethinking the program. “It was transparent and innovative,” Lambert says. “They looked at everything.” Volunteers filled more than 50 “chalk-


boards” with ideas about how Scouting should be reorganized in Area 2. Along the way, two councils—Toledo and the Upper Michigan Peninsula—opted out, largely for geographic reasons. Still, the end product of all that dreaming and rethinking, known as the Crossroads Recommendation, was revolutionary. Area 2’s individual councils will be


dissolved and virtually all administrative functions and governance will be consoli- dated into one areawide “Coordinating Council.” The recommendation also created four Field Service Councils that will serve as the primary face of Scouting in Area 2 communities. That’s a lot of change. Area 2 was


ready for it, and when it was time to vote, 92 percent of members voted yes. “I spent a third of my career in


Washington, D.C., and I don’t use the word ‘mandate’ lightly,” Lambert says. “But 92 percent is a strong mandate.” King and Lambert stress that cost


savings was not the primary driver behind these changes. The key, King says, is putting more people where it counts. “We’re going to more than double the number of unit-serving executives,” King says. “They’ll be out interfacing with the community, talking to those prospective chartered organizations.” King and Lambert say they’ll know the


success of this transformation in a year or two. “We believe we can have as many as 10,000 more kids in the program by the end of next year,” Lambert says. “It’s not a matter of spending years reorganizing. It’s giving them the resources, putting the boots on the ground, and getting the kids into the program.”


6 S COUTING ¿ MARCH•APRIL 2012


BRIAN PAYNE


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56