As we move into a new year, I reflect on the accomplishments of 2016. Most significantly, just at the end of the year, our council ended 2016 with more registered youth members than at the end of 2015. That is a huge accomplishment given that we started 2016 with a 500 youth deficit, so to overcome the deficit and grow is very significant. Because of the efforts of many volunteers and your staff, we have more families enjoying the program of Scouting that is delivered by 157 Scout units across our council territory. This growth tells me that there is a strong interest in the Scouting program and the opportunity to join, we just have to continue to spread the message that our program is open for new members.
In addition to membership growth, our council's Scouts and leaders through the units provided over 28,000 documented hours of community service and I am sure that there are many more that were not reported. We had 147 Boy Scouts earn the rank of Eagle Scout. The program offered by Scout units in our council is strong, and for that I am grateful. We are delivering the promise of the adventure of Scouting and the growth opportunities that come with it to our youth in the community who need the lifetime of impact it will have in their lives.
This past fall the Area and Regional leadership team also gave our council a stamp of confidence and approval as they removed our transitional charter status we were placed on in July 2015 and moved us up to a conditional charter. This is a step in the right direction for our council and the journey continues to get a regular charter granted to our council. I really feel that we get one chance to continue our journey of improvement. I am unsure that if the council faults again, that we will be given a second chance again. That said, it is imperative that we must ensure our success at all levels: unit, district and council.
The council's leadership is transitioning as we have moved to a new Council President, Jim Hughes, to serve in 2017 and are recruiting new board members with capacity in the community to be active with our council. District level efforts are continuing to improve and the transition to volunteer led fundraising is beginning to take place. The strongest of councils, the same kind I desire our council to become, have strength at the council and district level and also support from the unit level as well. While we have several units that are actively supporting the council, most recently in our 2016 popcorn sale and we did grow the sale slightly compared to 2015, still only 56 of 150 units participated. Thankfully, those 56 units through their efforts have provided your council with critical financial resources to continue operations into the beginning of 2017.
So, in order to continue to move forward in our growth and stabilization, we need your unit's help; just like other councils across the country need their unit's help as well. We have two upcoming opportunities. First, we are replacing our spring fundraiser with a peanut product sale. Information will be given out at February roundtables and I encourage you to attend to get all the details, but here are the highlights: 70% overall return to Scouting and a 40% return to the Scout unit, the council will use the 60% collected to pay the product bill (approximately 30%) and the council should end with about 30%. Units can order in individual containers throughout the sale and can reorder product weekly. No Scout prize program, maximizes dollar return to units. Products retail at either $12 or $18 and there is a high value perception by customers towards peanut sales. Unit participation commitments will be taken through February 17 with sales beginning after materials distribution at March roundtables. This is your first opportunity to help out.
Second, is Family Friends of Scouting. I have stated in previous blogs about the importance of FFOS. Simply put, we need EVERY unit in the council to do a unit FFOS presentation. Give your families the chance to make a tax deductible gift to Scouting if they choose to do so. When contacted by your district, schedule a presentation date. What a statement we can make to the area and regional leadership demonstrating the commitment to support its council if we can say that 100% of the units in the council are doing a presentation.
I hope you'll join me in committing to support your council. Your support will show others that we are committed to strengthening our council and the results will be shown in support back to your unit. Scout Shop inventory will continue to be strong and improve, staff will be more available to help your unit and support program instead of fundraising all the time to make up gaps in funding. We need your help to have the resources to support a growing Scouting program, are you in??? Call your District Executive and tell him that your unit will participate in the no risk peanut sale and that a FFOS unit presentation can be done in your unit on _____ date.
Many thanks for all you have done and will continue to do to support your local council and the Scouting program.