Re: Pro Scouter degree fields?
settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET)
Wed, 3 Dec 1997 20:16:18 -0600
Randy Storms asked a question that's frequently asked of me:
I'm glad he phrased it this way, too:
>It is my understanding that all professional scouters must have at least
>a four-year college degree in *something*, be it business or education
>or underwater basketweaving. My question is this: What type of degree
>would be the most useful to someone pursuing a career as a pro scouter?
Commissioned professional members of the Boy Scouts of America must have
obtained a bachelor's (normally a four-year) degree from an accredited
college or university due to their status as a administrator to a district
or division within a local Council setting.
While the BSA's four Regional Directors of Membership (whom double as
regional personnel directors) will take a candidate with just about any
valid college or university background, there are some which are most useful
to assisting that person with the development of a career as a BSA professional:
*business, marketing, management, or finance. The BSA tends to think of
themselves today as a multi-billion dollar national nonprofit BUSINESS, and
those professionals that bring to the profession of Scouting a business
background and/or prior experience in a corporate setting are going to do well
Natually, many of these professionals will become Associate Council
Executives, Developmental/Finance Directors, Marketing Directors, or Field
Directors with expertise in marketing or finance
*communication, speech communications, human relations, public relations,
journalism, visual communications, public affairs. The BSA is an
organization with a high degree of visability. Say the word "Boy Scout" or
"Scout" and people instantly have pre-conceptions of what Scouting is and
what Scouting does. This was developed over time and those professionals
that bring to the profession experience or training in working with people
and with "shaping the Scouting story" electronically, visually, publically,
or among small or large groups are going to go far. Many of the BSA's
senior Area Directors, as well as many Council Scout Executives and lots of
Field Directors, Program Directors, Communications Directors, and District
Directors have backgrounds or degrees in this field.
*recreation, forestry, landscape architechture, miltary or naval science,
advertising, education (elementary and secondary), agriculture. The BSA is
an outdoor program, the leader in outdoor education and recreation for many
years. Those with backgrounds and/or experience in these areas, will find
themselves outdoors as directors of the BSA's national Outdoor Adventure
("high adventure") Bases, as Area Directors with expertise in camping,
conservation and education, as Council Scout Executives, as Directors of
Camping, Program Directors, District Directors and as Field Directors
supervising camping and outdoor programming. In some Councils, they still
have a speciality called "Education Executive" which supported the in-school
Scouting programs as well as the current Learning for Life programs.
*religion, ethics, english, humanities, foreign language, history, as well
as those that graduated from divinity schools or bible colleges. The BSA is
a program of inclusion, no matter what anyone else will tell you. Each
local Council serves as a microcosm of America, and within each Council are
those with various religious, ethic, racial and gender differences and
groupings. The more successful a professional is in working with a
cross-section of America and a cross-section of everythat that America has
to offer, the more successful and profitable he or she will be for that
local Council and the Boy Scouts of America. In the past four years, the
BSA has "beefed up" it's national staff of relationship executives and have
encouraged local Councils to develop among its staffing a group of
executives to deal with "relationship issues" whether those issues are of
race, rural/urban, ethnic "inner groups" or inner cities, cultural,
nationality, or those dealing with working parents and their employers.
Many of the BSA's senior executives have degrees in programs and majors that
seem "unconnected" to Scouting, like English...but when you understand that
English majors have to carefully examine every little line and every dotted
"i", you realize that such attention-to-detail can easily find its way
toward examining all aspects of a new program or looking at ways that
Scouting can move forward in an area "fed up" with constant Scouting in-roads.
Lots of Field Directors, Area Executives, Council Scout Executives, as well
as lots of National and Regional staffers have degree programs in one of
>What would be the most attractive to a council or district when
Depends on what that Council is looking for when they are selecting a
candidate, Randy. In many cases, when a local Council receives a listing of
professional candidates, they are looking for someone to "fill a hole" and
later to develop that hole around their unique combinations of skills,
experiences, and personality. For instance, they may be looking for a
urban professional, someone that would relate to all segments of that
community as well as to corporate partners within that District that have
supported the Council. They may also be looking for someone with Exploring
or camping experience, so that they can develop that person as a future
Camping or Exploring director or executive. Finally, they are looking
perhaps for a person that can work independently, because that District has
traditionally had little supervision from the Field Director due to the
Field Director's dual-hat as both "second in command" and "supervisor of the
three District Executives" in his Council.
Therefore, I can't give you a cut-and-dried listing of majors that Councils
(Districts don't hire their executives....it is all done through the
Council) would find most attractive. But I *can* give you some "desirable
traits" that lots of Councils have found to be "ideal candidates" for
*a background in ALL ASPECTS of the Scouting program, preferably as a youth
member. Those that have never served as BSA members find that reading and
understanding the BSA's materials got them an interview and understanding
and being able to relate the aims and methods of the BSA to what they would
be doing made the best hirees..
*a understanding that you will be SPENDING MORE TIME WITH ADULTS and not too
much time with youth in this position. Professionals today, I'm sorry to
say, spend more time adminstering the program and less time programming the
program. Therefore, they are more likely to spend their days in the company
of adults and not with youth members...and many professionals truly treasure
the few chances they get to actually work *with youth*, which explains why
once folks become OA or Exploring or NESA "staff members", they don't want
to give it up...it's not for the power that youth leaders bring, but it's
because they are working with youth members a greater deal of the time....
*a willingness to use what you've learn from college in those "general ed"
courses...speech and computer literacy and marketing and management and
accounting and stats....and not so much what your "major" taught you. Most
of what BSA professionals use can be found or categorized as "general
education" stuff....those 50 to 70 or more hours that ALL college students
take. The specific stuff you get to use later on as your career develops
and you take a "shine" to Camping or Operations or Finance.
*and a willingness to "go with the flow" of things as they exist NOW. Like
I mentioned above, Randy, many Councils find themselves "filling pegs on
their boards" with some attention to the college background but a lot more
attention to how the "peg" is going to fit within the overall mosiac of the
"board", the Council. They don't have time to develop a "brand new program"
for you or anyone else...and if you're being hired to develop a brand new
program for that Council, count on them leaning on YOU to develop it with
very little guidance and a lot of eyes on you as you go about it. "Going
with the flow" doesn't mean "letting everyone step all in and over
you"....it means that your Council's got to keep going and doesn't have time
to stop, bring you on board, and do a lot of hand-holding. They've got to
raise monies, they've got to get increases in youth and units, and they've
got to have programs IN PLACE to support that money that they ask for and
the numbers of youth and units that they are working hard to provide.
You're a valued part of it, or else they won't even consider you. Words
that work are "quality", "dedication", "teamwork", "cooperation",
"innovative", "using all of your resources".
That's what's going to bring those eyes and ears open.....and that's what's
going to get you hired once you interview.
Don't be too concerned with the degree program....take a course which will
do you well AFTER YOU DECIDE TO RETIRE OR LEAVE THE PROFESSION. Don't be
too caught up in getting a degree "just to make it in the BSA"...I
originally had that idea, but I abandoned it after talking with my mentor,
Joe Woodall....he had an English degree, but he could tell you how a camp
should be set up, how much of a ratio between youth and units a typical
Council should have, and can use a variety of calucations to discover how
much a professional has "beat over last year".
Concentrate on what *you are bringing to the profession* and the experiences
that you've had as a youth, an adult volunteer and as a participant in
American society....that's what they want to know about and that's how many
Councils fill their vacancies.
Hope this helps!
(c) 1997 Mike Walton ("no such thing as strong coffee,...") (502) 827-9201
(settummanque, the blackeagle) http://dynasty.net/users/blkeagle
241 Fairview Dr., Henderson, KY 42420-4339 firstname.lastname@example.org
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
---- FORWARD in service to youth ----
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City