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Communicating With Unit Leaders

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In another thread we are discussing how to communicate important changes such as the change from Tour Permits to the new Tour Planning Worksheet.


Communicating how the new Journey to Excellence award that is replacing the Centennial Quality Unit Award is another example of something that needs to be communicated to unit leader effectively.


And there are many other examples.


What methods does your district use to communicate with unit leaders, and how effective are they?


How could those methods be improved?


There are always units that never get the word or don't understand it when they do. How can you improve on that?


What methods are particularly ineffective?

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Well Jhankins, I hope he is responsive to the mass return emails with questions attached..


We will have emails on occasion.. The Council just sent out their Council newsletter, at least it had on top first billing about the new Tour Plan.. We have had information passed at RT before, (but I guess it is up to the DC if he thinks it is worth the time)..


Problem with emails is that we do not have email contacts for all units, or we have it for volunteers that have left the unit, and it hasn't been updated in ages..


Problem with newsletter, is there really isn't a "Contact if you have questions" it is just an accumulation of everyones info, so no one to ask questions of..


Problem with RT is not all the units send represenatives.. But those who are there are there for because they want to get information..

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Hmmmm. We seem to be doing better than some...



Our council has a newsy e-mail newsletter which is a reasonable start. Of course it is going to have outdated email addreses and such.


The council has a quarterly "Council Coordinated Meeting" which is kind of a council roundtable. All district volunteers and commissioners are invited to attend ---- probably 200-250 show up. After a general session for everyone there are numerous breakout sessions for district Key 3, Roundtable Commissioners, District Membership Chairs and numerous other groups.


Of course there is a good council website and district websites of varying quality and utility.


Our monthly district meetings are adequately attended. Anyone is welcome of course, but mostly it's district committee volunteers plus the DE.


We have a Cub Scout and Boy Scout Roundtable plus Order of the Arrow Chapter meetings the second Thursday. The Boy Scout Roundtable attracts more people than my Cub Scout Roundtable, including quite a few district volunteers.


The district does an annual planning meeting that takes a morning in January to set goals and review what happened the previous year --- attended by the usual district volunteers.


There is a table for flyers at Roundtable.


The usual e-mail blasts. I'd say we have a good list of e-mail addresses anyway.


Personally I figure I'm as well informed of what's happening of anyone save perhaps the DE. I attend all the meetings, and even if sometimes things go in one ear and out another, I usually get enough repetition so that things stick after a while.


But there are units we rarely hear from -- weak units. I have two Cub Packs I know well and make a point of shooting useful stuff on to unit leaders. Other weak units I call from time to time --- but they really need not only Commissioners, but GOOD Commissioners, and we are short on those.


I would conclude that the person who is interested CAN stay well informed. The person who doesn't make an effort runs a significant risk of being poorly informed.


More GOOD Commissioners would probably be the biggest help, but they don't grow on trees.

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We got a quick briefing on them at RT last week. I'm in the same council as SeattlePioneer (I assume, Chief Seattle), and our DE mentioned both the new Tour Plans and Journey to Excellence (frankly I applaud the changes but cringe at that name - makes me think I'm back in the corporate world with some overpriced mar-comm consultant trying to gussie up a pig, but I digress).


Moosetracker's post is a good reminder though that one method of communcation just won't cut it. Multiple channels, mutliple times, if you want the word to get out.



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JMHawkins - I like the name change. Tour Permit, made it sound like you needed approval before you could go on the outing.. It also added to the belief that the Permit was needed in order for insurance to kick it.. Tour Plan makes it sound less like a legal issue is involved..

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I've seen both ends of this from the District/council end and the unit end.

Why is it the district councils responsibility to spoon feed information to people.

I think Unit leaders need to be a bit more plugged in and seek out information

(ex through forums like these) Rather than depending on a beauracracy that is often

10 years behind the curve on technology.


I think alot of unit leaders just tend to stick their heads in the sand, do not

Participate in discourse Untill it directly impacts them then complain about the change before

It's fully understood what it's about.

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"Multiple channels, multiple times if you want the word to get out."



That sums it up VERY well!



It occurs to me that we should encourage unit leaders to have strategies to pass on information to other unit leaders and parents as well. Unfortunately, I think it's common for information to get to unit leaders and no farther. I'm guilty of that myself.



I'm currently thinking about strategies to encourage my pack registered leaders to take more on line training.


On the one hand, I know that everyone has registered on MYScouting.Org and completed Youth Protection Training. I'm thinking my next step would be to encourage them to take Fast Start, Leader Specific or other on line training, and to keep following that up by e-mails and in person.


Of course you run the risk of being the Pack Nag.

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My district is a bit different in how it does things. The more I read, the more I realize how lucky we are.


Our RT's are great! Sure, there is some boring info sometimes, but other than that, they are great, up to date and done in a timely manner. Meaning we discuss stuff before it happens instead of during or after it happens.


We discusses medical forms, recharter, and Journey to Excellence back in December.


One thing that may be different at our roundtables is this: We don't have a RT commissioner per se. Rather,our DE heads up the RT. But let me tell you, he's great!

He leads the opening Pledge, trades invocation duty with different members, and will bring up anything pertinant to our operation. And by "our operation" I mean the units, not necessarily the council. He;'s been at it a long time though.


When we discussed recharyter, he brought in the council registrar. When we talked about medical, he brought in the council staff member who handled that. When it was time for J2E , he brought in somebody who knew what was instore..not somebody who was "pretty sure" what was going to hapen.


The first thing he does is discuss important issuse. then he will open it up for anybody to bring up or ask about anything that pertains to how we function as a whole.


Once that is handled, we break away as necessary or needed.


He usually goes with us to the Cub Scout breakaway which is coll because you figure most Boy Scout leaders have been there before and the Cub Scout leaders don't have as much tenure/ experience .


We discus what is important to Cub Scouting and again, he opens it up to anything and everything related to our operations and functiong as needed.


Yeah, he has a set of subjects and issues that he already planned to bring up, but also recognizes our need to learn other stuff too.


So, to the OP:


"What methods does your district use to communicate with unit leaders, and how effective are they? "


Our DE will personally call us, will e-mail us individually or by mass e-mail, will post on the district website, will at RT"s as well as show up at our CO's on den night or pack night if requested.



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How does our Council/District communicate things to its units?


We have email blasts from District volunteers.


Our Council Web site does a pretty good job of easily directing people to the info they need.


The Weekly Council Newsletter which is emailed to volunteers and also on the Council Website.


Fliers available at Council Service Center.


Fliers available at District Roundtables.


Even, rarely now, snail mail.


As has been stated, you can do everything right, and still not reach every unit. It is up to the unit Scouters to utilize the resources that are there for them. I know one Scouter who always complained that he never got any information from his District, or Council. Yet, he refused to give them his email address, never attended Kickoff, never attended Roundtables, and never looked at the Council Web site. I guess he was waiting for a psychic link!

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Moosetracker - I'm sorry, I miscommunicated! Tour Plan is fine with me, I agree it's an improvmeent over Tour Permit. Its "Journey to Excellence" that grates on me. I think "Quality Unit" is a fine title. "Journey to Excellence" sounds like it cost $100k in consultant fees and is meant to avoid offending units, shall we say, taking a few too many rest breaks on their journey. Plus, since we're talking about communication, changing the name and the criteria is more likely to confuse people. If you said "Okay folks, there are some changes to the Quality Unit criteria for next year..." people immediately understsand what's going on. But when you start talking about a new thing, with different criteria, it doubles the chance for confusion.


But I do like the idea of setting objective criteria for the award, whatever it's called.

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After reading some of these, I feel fortunate to have the District RT staff we do.


Last year we combined all RT to one night, CS,BS,OA. Everybody meets for district annoucements, awards, etc. Everybody then breaks out to program specific. With CS we usually go through a simulated pack meeting..games,song, activities, pack doodle for next RT, unless district has brought in a guest speaker. This thursday was a volunteer from the train museum, a sales rep for the local minor league hockey team.


We usually have 3 or 4 tables set up for event coordinators to hang around and give out more info to people in lieu of making long presentations to the group. They make a short ,sweet presentation during announcements and then point to the table their going to be at for further questions.


Our district uses Googlegroups, for CS,BS,and OA, to send out email as needed. It's easy to sign up for and get more than enough info flowing through it.


A big problem,I've seen is on the district website for contact info for units. This hasn't been updated in quite some time. I don't understand why they don't cross check the unit info when recharter comes up and correct as necessary. ( better be quiet, or I'll be doing that job too :) )


Another problem I've seen is getting correct and timely information from the council. Our RTC gave us the info for the Tour plan and the JTE this past Thursday, she couldn't give much info about it. As she said, "If I hadn't called the council to bug them about this, they wouldn't have seen this change", so now they're spinning their wheels trying to get everything sorted out.


Sometimes it is information overload, at least I'm getting the information.

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The Council has a newspaper which comes out bi-monthly. It used to be snail mailed to everyone. This was very expensive and the cut off date to get things in the newspaper was sometimes so early that some things didn't make it. Now it is emailed and people have the option of paying $20.00 a year to have copies mailed to them.

Organizers of events can opt to have the Council mail a letter to the unit leader.

I tend to use post cards with the details printed on my home computer and address labels. We are a very small District with only 42 units so it isn't that expensive.

Each unit has a mail box, which is at every R/T.

The idea was /is that anyone can put whatever in a units mail box and it can be picked up by who ever attends the R/T. If no one from that unit is there the U/C was to deliver the mail.

Sadly attendance at R/T's is very poor and the Commissioner staff are very few.

The DE tried setting up something on Twitter, but it never really got off the ground.

There is a Council web site. I'm not sure why? But even after all these years the Council seems to be afraid of it and has never given anyone the responsibility to take care of it.

I did notice in the last Council newspaper that another District is setting up a Face-book page. Be interested to see how that works for them.

Our DE has a way where he records a message on his phone and the message is sent out to everyone at the same time.


I never really had a problem getting the word out to the unit leaders. In fact a good many of our guys seem to like the idea of being the first to know and enjoy being the person who is "In the know" and able to tell others.

The big problem was getting the word out to the adults who were not the unit leader. Very often a CM would know what was going on but just didn't bother to tell the Den Leaders or Pack Committee members.

A few years back we had a problem with a District Commissioner who loved sending out emails. I think he forwarded every joke and every prayer he received. Sometimes I'd receive as many as 20 or more a day.

Many of these were very close to the mark, they also tended to be very right wing making fun of the Democrats and anything seen to be in any way liberal. A lot of them had that thing at the end stating that if you didn't forward it to 107 other people something bad would happen.

In the end me and a lot of others got fed up and just blocked him.


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