Understanding the Churchill Plan and What It Means for Scouting

In 2019, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the BSA asked six teams of volunteers and professionals from the local, area, regional and national level – including current or recent youth members and subject-matter experts – to develop plans on how to optimize the BSA for success in key areas based on input provided by more than 1,100 local, area, region and national volunteers and professionals, including:

  • Youth Safety: How do we keep young people safe?
  • Program: Are the BSA programs aligned with today’s young people?
  • Communications and Marketing: How can National Council improve communication with stakeholders?
  • Organizational Structure: Do we have the most effective organizational structure?
  • National Council Effectiveness: Are there changes that would make the National Council more effective?
  • Financial Health: How do we build a solid financial path forward?

Since the fall of last year, these six groups convened to assess their designated areas and determine opportunities for growth and improvement in the future as we look to bring Scouting to youth of all backgrounds – regardless of race, faith, nationality, gender or economic circumstances. While the groups were encouraged to think broadly and considered various inputs from interviews and ongoing research, all efforts were anchored in ensuring the delivery of our proven programs in a safe manner grounded in the Scout Oath and Law.

In June 2020, the six groups presented the National Executive Committee (NEC) with proposed recommendations they believed would be needed to strengthen Scouting so that our next century is even stronger than our legacy.

What are the Next Steps for the Churchill Proposed Recommendations?

In the next phase of this effort, the National Executive Committee has asked the National Management Team to facilitate the evaluation of the proposed recommendations (noted below) and, as appropriate, develop corresponding action plans that would be executed should the NEC decide to move forward with the respective recommendations. It is important to underscore that the proposals of the six Churchill study groups remain recommendations, are now under review by the National Management Team and appropriate committees, and have not yet been approved by the NEC.

Members of the Scouting family are welcome to provide input to aid in the assessment. Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

After their deliberation, the Management Team and the appropriate committees will recommend to the NEC whether the individual proposed recommendations should be adopted, amended, delayed, or declined given interests of the organization.

In the fall of 2020, the NEC will review and weigh these recommendations with the corresponding proposed action plans to decide how to move forward, including deciding whether to accept the recommendation, how to implement, and against what timeframe.

The Importance of Embracing Change

Meaningful change is rarely easy. However, it is a process that is necessary to grow and succeed, which is a shared goal we all have for Scouting, whether you are a Scout, a volunteer, a professional, a parent, or a donor. Our commitment to the mission of Scouting will continue to guide this effort, and that commitment will also be crucial in guiding the bold steps needed to ensure future generations can benefit from Scouting even more than those that trekked before them.

The 26 Proposed RECOMMENDATIONS Being Considered:

  • Reinvigorate the on-boarding program for new Scout families and members, with a continuing key focus on “Safe Scouting” and “Keeping Young People Safe.”
  • Streamline all Safe Scouting Resources and consolidate in one location.
  • Instill a culture of timely reporting, sharing, enforcement and transparency of safety incidents.
  • Provide tools/resources for councils to deliver Youth Protection/Safety Seminars.
  • Hire a youth adolescence expert on the national level to guide program development.
  • Combine Sea Scouting into Exploring as an aquatic focused career path.
  • Sunset Learning for Life in-school program/curriculum.
  • Evaluate program methods and age parameters to provide an engaging option that enables youth members to transition to adult leadership roles and remain active in Scouting with an ongoing commitment to safety.
  • Establish a volunteer corps for young adults ages 18-29.
  • Streamline the unit rechartering process.
  • Prioritize National BSA strategic communications and marketing and make additional investments in related efforts.
  • Establish a national Chief Communications and Marketing Officer.
  • Update and enforce BSA’s national brand standards.
  • Consolidate local and national websites into a single unified web platform.
  • Leverage High Adventure bases in overall marketing communications strategy.
  • Combine National Annual Business and the Top Hands meetings.
  • Establish minimum standards to be considered a council.
  • National should focus on providing councils with support pertaining to program standards, legal, insurance, IT, brand/PR management, HR, and asset management.
  • Replace Areas and Regions with one streamlined organization support structure that is focused on council sustainability and effectiveness.
  • Establish a fee-based structure for councils in place of BSA National collecting membership fees.
  • Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance.
  • Greater council flexibility in operating within brand standards.
  • Create a membership category for youth and families with no advancement programs.
  • Greater reliance on volunteers to offset national staff reductions.
  • Rotate national volunteers back to local councils or new intermediate organization.
  • Transition to digital merit badge resources.

Click here to provide feedback about any of the proposed recommendations.

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  1. J. Walton on July 19, 2020 at 6:12 PM

    After 30+ years in Scouting at all levels from the 80’s through the 2000’s, I left the program. After a 5 year stint as a District Commissioner and member of a couple Council committees. It became painfully obvious that all of the efforts at the Council office were evaluated and graded on fundraising and inflating numbers. We cycled through DE’s that worked really hard but were evaluated on the wrong criteria. I watched units struggle with council and national driven bureaucracy that just irritated and burned out volunteers that tried so hard to make their units relevant and self sustaining. It’s like social media – kids talk and share their experiences. It drives membership or kills it. It has to be fun, educational and a place to feel safe. While the words said that this was the focus, the professional staff was being pushed in other directions. Yes, numbers and finances are important but not at the expense of the program.

    I attended Key 3 training at Philmont and heard the same things from the professionals: train your volunteers to help raise money at the family and community level – the program will take care of itself.

    Council Executives that lose touch with the program and survive only for the dollars. Like any business, the bottom line is important, but the product (program) has to drive it and not the other way around.

    I loved Scouting and my experience as a youth, camp counselor and as a Cubmaster and Troop leader were great. I didn’t want to drag the program down by allowing my displeasure with the Council leadership to color my exposure to the units. But until internal adjustments are made, Scouting will continue to dwindle in membership and volunteers. Just ignoring the people that work so hard as volunteers doesn’t mean that the issues don’t exist.

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