Leading the BSA: Camper or Administrator
By: Mike Walton (blackeagle)
Posted On: 2019-11-28
BSA image of former CSE Wayne Brock used under Fair Usage guidelines
Bruce from Blacksburg wrote in part over on Scouts-L:
"I found a position description for a district executive from the Northern Illinois Council (http://clulc.org/docs/events/BSA_Dist_Exec_JobSummary.pdf) that said:
"Duties include marketing, management, development, and program administration." Nothing in there about camping, hiking, cooking, or anything else in the Scouting program. It's a sales job. In fact, the qualifications don't even require any type of Scouting or outdoor background."
Absolutely, Bruce. When I and 37 others were hired as Regional Paraprofessionals back in the day (the late 70s/early 80s), the "assumption" that a good majority of them had was that they would be "super Scoutmasters" or some other direct work people -- not just marketers, "salespeople" and recruiters for Scouting. When those folks said "no thanks" - and most did -- we were left with 19 or so dedicated folks who knew that the success of Scouting depended on how well we can tell communities and individuals about our programs; how well we can convince them that their time, talents and treasures are important to Scouting's continued success; and how well we can motivate and encourage volunteers to continue the fight toward keeping Scouting alive in their communities and in our Councils.
For the BSA to lie and say, "oh, you'll be working with kids getting them to camp and cook" would be very dishonest. Our executives (and other volunteers) recruit volunteers like you and me to work with youth; the professional's role is to make sure that people care enough about Scouting to support us.
The professional does the day-to-day role of managing Scouting, representing his or her's District or Council Chair or President and the District or Council's Commissioner.
"So let's move on to Texas. We don't know anything about what goes on in Irving because it is pretty much a secret about who is running the place, who the professionals are who are adding to the Guide to Safe Scouting, or what task forces are coming up with the next set of changes. But we do know a little something about the next guy in charge, Wayne Brock."
(Mike Surbaugh, our current Chief Scout Executive, replaced Chief Brock in 2015. The BSA's National Executive Board is looking for Chief Mike's replacement as Surbaugh has some serious health issues he is working through and steps down (not a resignation) as Chief Scout Executive last month (October 2019)...hence the reasoning for this posting at this time...)
A good Scouter and a very successful professional, Bruce. The right guy at the right time, if you've asked me. But he wasn't *my* first choice. I would rather have had our Scout Executive from Minneapolis/St. Paul, a young man named John Andrews, to get the job. He was one of the candidates for the CSE job. (bias note: I live within the Northern Star Council.)
"Brock began his career in 1972 as a district executive in New Bern, North Carolina, and then served on the staff in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also served as Scout Executive in Athens, Georgia; Area Director; Scout Executive in Orlando, Florida; Southern Region Director; and as Assistant Chief Scout Executive."
That's a lot of time and positions as a Scouting executive, doing things for the BSA. More importantly, for the volunteers and youth in those areas where he served.
"There is no mention of any actual Scouting positions, such as Scoutmaster, though. Perhaps that's not important."
For a professional, no Bruce.
Our professionals are NOT "unit leaders worked up the levels" but rather managers. I can share with you that Wayne was very successful in New Bern, which catapulted him to service as a Field Director and Director of Field Services in Knoxville. Normally, folks spend between five and eight years in the field before being promoted as a Field Director. My information says that he was promoted to Field Director after four years as a District Executive.
Then, he went to Athens, whereby he worked with a group of volunteers in revitalizing their Council's camping operation and found new partners for the camp, which previously its claim to fame was where the Army Rangers would conduct their "swamp portion" of that grueling course at. If there's any "chink" in his armor as a professional, it was when the loss of a Scout Executive in Orlando forced him to move out of the Area Director position back to being a Council Scout Executive again. It worked out for him in Orlando, because his Council went from #27 to #18 in the size of Councils category nationally. That's why he became the Regional Director/Associate Chief Scout Executive, and under his leadership (and don't hate me for saying this -- I'm a Northeast Region volunteer!), the Southern Region became the best Region in the BSA all the way around. That's why he became the Assistant Chief Scout Executive and now the Chief Scout Executive.
Like I said, a good Scouter and a very successful professional. I'll send an email to the External Communications folks and ask them to ask the new Chief about his volunteer Scouting experiences. I'm sure that, like many within the current batch of professionals, that the experiences were few.
If you recall, back in the time that Wayne was hired as a District Executive, the BSA was really "hot" on getting folks in the profession with business and especially financial backgrounds. Not a good time for professional Scouting back then.
"Then it goes on to mention how Brock was selected:
"The Chief Scout Executive Selection Committee was composed of members of the BSA National Executive Board... The committee was chaired by outgoing National President Rex Tillerson (CEO of ExxonMobil, later to become the US Secretary of State for a short period of time) and included nine other influential business executives and business leaders."
"Hmmm. Any volunteers from the trenches there? Any of those business executives actual Scouters? Or is this just businessmen keeping the business going?"
Five of those "influential business executives and business leaders," all National Executive Board members, were at one time Council Executive Board members. I would venture to suggest that yes, at one time many of them served as unit-level volunteers or at least Council volunteers. I think that there was a press release that shared the names of those volunteers.
Would it matter if there were four or five "volunteers at the unit or District level" on that selection committee? What questions would they ask each candidate?
Just curious, because at the national level, I would tend to think that questions would revolve around the "strategies" toward increasing volunteer and youth membership, toward completion of the fourth National Outdoor/High Adventure center, toward bringing in more Hispanic, Black and Asian youth and his personal approach to leadership at the national level.