Spark Sessions


You have an important role in Scouting—leading and developing the volunteers and staff in your council. Be prepared to do it well.

By participating in Spark Sessions, you will gain the knowledge, skills, strategies, and solutions you are seeking as you grow Scouting in your council.

All Thursday and Friday Spark Sessions are designed in tracks around the BSA Game Plan (Membership, Finance, People, IT Infrastructure, Culture, and High Adventure Bases). The BSA Game Plan is a tactical course of action that has been developed to align and focus our efforts to support meaningful organization growth within the Boy Scouts of America.

The Spark Sessions will be offered as panel discussions with diverse perspectives from subject matter experts. Each elective promises to be dynamic and dialogue driven. Facilitators have been listed to help you select the most valuable presentation for your Scouting position. The electives are designed to be “for the field” and “by the field” with great learning and discussion to be enjoyed by everyone.

BSA Game Plan: Changing the Game of Scouting in Your Council

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 to 4:45 pm

Track: Membership, People

Ready to create unparalleled success in a few BIG goals?
We know you have a council strategic plan, but this is the BSA Game Plan. It’s the key to not just modest success, but something truly awesome!
Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • • The skills of execution (discover the lessons learned from the rollout of the Lion Pilot program).
  • • How getting staff and volunteers aligned and energized can change the game of Scouting in your council.

Facilitators: Tom Jansen, Team Leader, Strategy, Jim Kornegay, Strategic Plan Coach, Janice Downey, Strategic Innovation, Pilots and Program Development

Build An Adventure: Success Stories in Cub Scout Recruiting

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Membership

The Build an Adventure model of recruiting has shown success in numerous councils across the nation.
This session will inspire you to:

  • • Go beyond the playbooks and look at three case studies of councils that have used Build an Adventure.
  • • To create your own Build an Adventure strategy with what you learn in this hands-on elective.
  • • Learn more about how to better reach today’s moms, and using digital media to reach them.
  • • Learn about the features and benefits of using Build an Adventure and develop your own effective membership recruitment strategy using real life examples.

Facilitators: Michael Ramsey, Director of Marketing/Brand, Darin Kinn, Team Lead, Younger Youth Programs

Camp Property Management: Strategic Trends

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Finance

In this session you’ll learn how:

  • • Changing demographics and trends affect our traditional business model.
  • • Your strategic response to the “new realities” makes you successful in our mission.
  • • Complaining about change or succumbing to “nothing I can do about it” thinking is not an option.

Facilitators: John Stewart, Engineering Project Consultant, Outdoor Programs/Properties, Frank Reigelman, Team Leader, Outdoor Programs/Properties

Countdown to the National Scout Jamboree

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: High Adventure, Culture

Learn more about the 2017 National Scout Jamboree. Includes answers to FAQs (frequently asked questions) that your council or volunteers might have.

Facilitators: Matt Myers, National Scout Jamboree Director

Endowment Investments Management

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Finance

Ready to invest your council’s endowment for competitive returns, while staying within fiduciary standards?
In this session the BSA Asset Management team will show you how to:

  • • Utilize the BSA Commingled Endowment Fund, LP, with an extensive overview and how your council can participate in it.
  • • Learn strong governance and sound investment management of your council’s endowment.
  • • Gain practical knowledge about endowment investment costs, investment structure, and institutional investment process (a model for local councils).
  • • Become more aware of BSA Asset Management, what it is, and what it does.
  • • The Fund is the investment vehicle designed to allow local councils to take advantage of the economics of scale enjoyed by over $2 billion in BSA investment assets managed by BSAAM.

Facilitators: Faisal Rajani, Chief Investment Officer, Ken King, Director, Client Services & Operations

Expanding Scouting: Serving The Nation’s Youth

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Membership

This session will:

  • • Teach you about all of the tools and resources available to help serve more youth in your communities.
  • • Explore all of the most up-to-date initiatives and materials you need to succeed.
  • • Leave you empowered to put these tools and resources into action.

Facilitators: Steve Weekes, Vice President, Membership

Exploring and Learning for Life: Our Secret Weapon for Membership Growth, and Commissioner Tools for Unit Service

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Membership

Get inspired to:

  • • Learn how councils are using new super-magnetic programs to attract new members, schools, volunteers, and revenue.
  • • Expand your mind and explore a fresh approach in how to engage new youth.
  • • Discover tools and resources for commissioner/service team support.

Facilitators: Tim Anderson, Senior Director of Exploring, Angela Sanchez, Director of Curriculum Programs, Learning for Life and Exploring, Steve Sawyer, National Commissioner Support, Giovanni Livera, Chief WonderMaker

Facilitating Cultural Transformation within the BSA through the Culture Team and our new BSA-branded business process improvement method

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Culture

The BSA's National Leadership (Board, Staff, and Volunteers) have established the strategy for the BSA - referred to as the "Game Plan."  The Game Plan includes 6 strategic pillars - Membership Growth, People and Diversity, Culture, IT Infrastructure, Financial Stability and High-Adventure Bases.

The BSA culture has been one that preserves what has been done and what has worked (a culture of preservation). The current culture does not always gauge and prepare to respond to the current and future needs of youth and families, or "the marketplace."

Culture change in the BSA entails shifting from a culture of preservation to one of preparation (strategic design).  A culture of strategic design is described as one that underwrites and pulls toward a strategy created from the marketplace of the future.

In this culture of design, people’s actions naturally express and build what is necessary to implement the company’s future.  BSA’s Culture Team will initiate a BSA-branded business process improvement method as a mechanism for empowering and supporting employees to do so while facilitating the creation of a culture of strategic design.

This Spark Session will share the BSA-branded business process improvement method, the Culture Team, and how the Culture team plans to implement it with the BSA, in the years ahead.

Facilitators: Lyle Knight, National Board Member and Culture Team Chair, John Andrews, Scout Executive, Northern Star Council and Culture Team Member, Larry Abbott, Scout Executive, Grand Canyon Council and Culture Team Member, Jeff Herrmann, Scout Executive, Orange County Council and Culture Team Member, Bill Goebel, Past Council President and Area 7 Southern Region Vice President of Membership, Culture Team Member, Lisa Gravel, Director of BSA Organizational Development and Culture Team Member

Introducing Trek Programming: Summit Bechtel Reserve

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: High Adventure Bases

Discover the next step in Summit Bechtel Reserve (SBR) programming. You’ll learn how:

  • • SBR will leverage the New River, New River Gorge, and the nine SBR-owned properties to deliver high quality trek adventures beginning in 2017.
  • • To acquire the information necessary to advocate for SBR treks in your local council.
  • • Treks fit in the context of the overall SBR program menu.
  • • The trek reservation process and timeline creation work.

Facilitators: Todd McGregor, Director, Summit Bechtel Reserve, Matt Monroe, Program Director, Summit Bechtel Reserve

Lean Forward: Harnessing the Power of Diversity and Assimilation

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: Membership, People

Go beyond fitting in–be a catalyst. In this session you’ll learn:

  • • How YOU can be the voice and how you can help drive the change. Discover how you help accelerate the momentum and where you can reach.
  • • About an ERG (Employee Resource Group). How diversity and inclusion will help you understand and overcome cultural and compositional challenges.
  • • Why ERG’s are business imperatives for membership growth. And what you can expect to get back.
  • • How to scale your council to changing environments and trends. Why diversity increases productivity and innovation.
  • • That everyone counts–and you can be a part of it.

Facilitators: Dinaz Kachhi-Jiwani, Senior Research Analyst, Carol Whitebook, Chair of the Women’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) and Assessment and Planning Specialist, Michael De Los Santos, Chair of the Hispanic Employee Resource Group (ERG) and Scout Executive, Alamo Area Council, Richard Fisher, Chair of the African American Brotherhood of Scouting Employee Resource Group (ERG) and Scout Executive, Chickasaw Council, Maria Dahl, National Diversity Director

The Amazing Secret to Retaining Youth Members: Life-Changing Experiences

Thursday, May 25, 3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Track: High Adventure Bases

Be ready to have an open mind–we’ll show you how to:

  • • Create innovative programing with other councils, non-Scout groups, and businesses.
  • • Electrify your camping team and deliver outstanding and adventurous camping programs in your council.
  • • Retain youth members through life-changing experiences and stimulate financial sustainability.
  • • Strengthen your abilities to know the ins and outs of the seasonal employee onboarding process.
  • • Vitalize and fortify customer service to internal and external camping customers while incorporating feedback for future seasons.

Facilitators: John Green, Group Director, General Services, John Van Dreese, General Manager, Northern Tier High Adventure, Michael Johnson, General Manager, Florida Sea Base, Kevin Dowling, General Manager, Philmont Scout Ranch, Mark Anderson, Director of Programs, Philmont Scout Ranch

Applying Scoutreach Results

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: Membership

Learn about the findings of the BSA Scoutreach Task Force and:

  • • Discover best practices and metrics of a Scoutreach assisted program.
  • • Participate in an open discussion on how this can benefit your council.

Facilitators: William Bryant, Standards and Performance Coach

Development Director Services, BSA Affinity Groups, and E-Funding

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: Finance

This session will:

  • • Explore the Development Director Services that minimize costs and maximize returns.
  • • Showcase how you can harness the energy of internal and external BSA affinity groups within your council.
  • • Teach you about e-funding strategies designed to maximize online donations.

Facilitators: Ian Lilien, Department Manager, Fund Development

Fiix – Managing Your Council Property Assets

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: Finance

You’ll be able to:

  • • Discover how Fiix can save time, money, and resources.
  • • Learn how to get started with and maximize the tools and features in the product.
  • • Deliver expected outcomes for your local councils and the BSA.

Facilitators: Dave Cornell, Architect, Outdoor Programs/Properties, Matt Gilvey, Fiix product representative

Highlights of Council Governance

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: People, Culture

It takes a diverse group of volunteers to understand and adequately carry out the business of operating a council. This session is a “must attend” for councils and volunteers who serve on the executive board and council committees, and for professional Scouters who have the responsibility of conducting meetings and interpreting bylaws.
Jump into this session for:

  • • A better understanding of bylaws, conducting the council annual meeting and meetings of the executive board, and empowering council officers and committees.
  • • An exploration of the role of the council executive board in approving resolutions to meet corporate requirements and to enact policies.

Facilitators: Jeff Rand, Team Leader, Performance Management Operations, Anthony Gibbs, Performance Management Specialist

Our 20th Anniversary: How Venturing Can Strengthen Your Council

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: Membership, Finance

In 2018, Venturing will be celebrating 20 years.
Let us help you prepare to:

  • • Capitalize on the year of the green shirts.
  • • Discover how to strengthen Venturing in your council.
  • • Understand why Venturing is the program to join for older youth.
  • • Learn about Venturing Officers’ Associations, benefits of the program for the council, and how Venturing is a value added program.
  • • Understand how Venturing can bring in more membership, can help with fundraising in the council, and can bring in more manpower to run the program.

The World Jamboree and Your Council

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: High Adventure, Culture

Learn how to get your council ready for the World Scout Jamboree in 2019.

Facilitators: Matt Myers, National Scout Jamboree Director, Chris Sawyer, Senior Program Development Specialist, Marty Walsh, World Scout Jamboree Director

When Norovirus Comes to Camp: A Guide

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: Finance, Culture, High Adventure Bases

Are you doing everything you can to be prepared to prevent a camp shutdown and loss of reputation?
You’ll discover how:

  • • To be prepared to prevent and if necessary respond to a crisis in your camp.
  • • To prevent an epidemic from coming to camp which can save funds and lower the risk of brand and reputation impact due to disease.
  • • To respond, clean up, and deal with regulators and the media to minimize risk.

Facilitators: Richard Bourlon, Team Leader, Environmental, Health & Safety, Frank Reigelman, Team Leader, Outdoor Programs/Properties, Andrea Watson, Director of Outdoor Adventure, Orange County Council, Effie Delimarkos, Department Manager, Communications

Why Developing Your Staff and Volunteers Matters

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: Membership, Culture

This session will explore:

  • • The importance of developing people with ScoutingU and other training resources.
  • • How ScoutingU trainings can help your council achieve your desired business outcomes.
  • • The training continuum for staff and volunteers.
  • • The use of tools on how to build development plans for staff and volunteers.

Facilitators: Mark Nelson, Team Lead, Leadership Development, De Nguyen, Team Lead, Learning Delivery

Your Council and Youth Protection, and Governance and the Law

Friday, May 26, 9:30 am to 10:45 am

Track: People

Get the latest updates from BSA on Legal, Youth Protection, Scouts First Helpline, and Governance Guidelines.
You’ll learn about:

  • • The new Youth Protection Training. (YPT-2)
  • • The Scouts First Helpline – a new 24-7 hotline for councils to report and get assistance with Youth Protection incidents.
  • • The revised governance guidelines for BSA committees.

Facilitators: Steve McGowan, General Counsel, Michael V. Johnson, Youth Protection Director, Erin Eisner, Legal Counsel, Heidi Steppe, Team Leader, Membership Standards, Mark Logemann, Group Director, Membership Growth

Building Your District and Council Membership Teams

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Membership, People, Culture

Learn how to leverage the 2017 Growth Plan by:

  • • Building and growing dynamic and innovative membership teams.
  • • Identifying what your successful and optimized membership team looks like, and how to get there.
  • • Understanding the tools and techniques available to build and grow your membership teams.

Facilitators: Robert Smith, National Executive Board and former President, Northeast Region, Lee Marconi, Team Leader, Membership Growth Coaches

Coaching for Success

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Membership, Finance, Culture

This session explores the importance of coaching every day. You’ll get:

  • • A brief overview of the new Coach mindset.
  • • Experience in activities that highlight the new Coach mindset.
  • • Information on the rollout of this training.

Facilitators: Mark Nelson, Team Lead, Leadership Development

Continuing the Journey Along the Technology Road Map

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: IT Infrastructure

This session will:

  • • Introduce the latest advancements and new functionality we are rolling out in 2017 and how it impacts your council.
  • • Give you answers about online registration and Scoutbook enhancements, including plans for 2017 rechartering.
  • • Demo the enhanced mobile application that now runs on Android devices and can access your rosters and Scouting contacts from your tablet or phone.
  • • Share the latest progress update on retiring ScoutNET.

Facilitators: Debra Kendrew, Team Leader, Member Applications

Effective Committees: Camping and Outdoor Programming

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15

Track: Culture, Membership

In this session you’ll learn about:

  • • Committee responsibilities and camp promotions.
  • • How to build programs that will attract and retain new youth and their families.
  • • New tools available to unit leaders to plan and conduct great outdoor programs.

Facilitators: Jim Blair, Camping Task Force Chairman, Rob Kolb, Senior Program Administration Specialist, Outdoor Programs/Properties

Five Incidents In Scouting to Avoid Repeating

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Finance, Culture

While rare, serious and even fatal incidents have impacted the Scouting family. Learn all about the benefits of reporting incidents, so they can be used to help prevent similar occurrences.
We’ll show you how:

  • • To focus on five incidents from the past and how to handle them.
  • • To acquire useful tools to help you prevent other incidents.
  • • To begin instilling a culture of safety in your council.
  • • To know the value of incident reporting.
  • • To find what resources are available in the event of an incident.
  • • To get tools (incident reviews) to use in education and planning.
  • • To understand how preventing incidents impacts our Scouting family.

Facilitators: Richard Bourlon, Team Leader, Environmental, Health & Safety, Sven Rundman, Health & Safety Support Committee Member, Jason Baldridge, Director of Support Service, Atlanta Area Council

How General Liability Insurance Program (GLIP) Benefits Your Council

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Finance

Learn how GLIP works and how councils can help lower the costs.
You’ll be able to:

  • • Discover the mechanics of the GLIP billing.
  • • Get an overview of resources and programs.
  • • Learn the ins and outs of the Guide to Safe Scouting, Enterprise Risk Management Committee involvement and incident reporting.
  • • Utilize other resources that can assist with the handling of claims and cost reduction.
  • • Understand the mechanics of how the general liability insurance premium is calculated.
  • • Develop a plan to reduce those costs/charges to local councils through the use of BSA resources.

Facilitators: Mark Dama, Team Leader, Insurance and Risk Management, Nathan Cash, Associate General Counsel – Litigation

Spur Membership Growth and Drive Fundraising Using National Awards

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Membership, Finance

You’ll learn about:

  • • All the national awards a council can present to individuals and organizations.
  • • Best practices for presentations and awards.
  • • How these awards help with your fundraising efforts and gain membership growth.
  • • Suitable for units from traditional to Explorer posts.

Facilitators: William Bryant, Standards and Performance Coach, Angela Sanchez, Director of Curriculum Programs, Learning for Life and Exploring

Strengthening STEM Relationships

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Membership

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) is the buzzword that can open doors across the community for councils.
You’ll get the chance to:

  • • Come and talk with STEM council professionals on how to open the relationships in your community through your traditional programs.
  • • Learn how to use your traditional Scouting activities to open STEM community relationships.

The Recipe for the Secret Sauce

Friday, May 26, 2:00 pm to 3:15 pm

Track: Membership

Any good recipe should be simple to follow, thoroughly tested, and delicious.
Here’s what you get in this session:

  • • A recipe for the secret sauce of Scouting.
  • • A demo on how research from the most prominent youth development academics and practitioners in the world, combined with internal findings that have been generated by the BSA Research Team, and common sense are the key ingredients for creating strong, healthy, and happy units.

Facilitators: Dan Warren, Team Leader, Research