Recommendation of the Mohegan/Nashua Valley Council Executive Boards
After a careful review of the program, properties, finances, and organizational structure of Nashua Valley and Mohegan Councils, and with the objective of better serving more youth in central Massachusetts, the boards of directors of both councils recommend a merger of Mohegan and Nashua Valley Councils to be implemented during the 2015 calendar year.
Table of Contents
- 1 What are the objectives of a merger:
- 2 What’s happened in the last decade?
- 3 What immediate impact would a merger have?
- 4 How would a merger help us get better?
- 5 How does a merger help us grow membership, manpower & resources?
- 6 How will units be impacted, should the merger be approved?
- 7 What will success look like in five years?
- 8 What are the next steps in this process?
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
What are the objectives of a merger:
Imagine a council where:
- A greater number of youth in Central Massachusetts have access to, and benefit from, the Scouting program.
- District Executives (Unit Serving Executives) spend the majority of their time making new unit calls, visiting chartering organizations, engaging community leaders, and coaching district volunteers while staffing only two or three Council committees, rather than six or ten.
- A Scout Executive or Finance Director is out every week with a Board member making a call on a prospective donor or volunteer.
- A person with energy and vision is supporting our staff & volunteers to provide the best camp program; and working full-time with our program committees to provide the best in activities, advancement, camp promotion and training.
- District Executives, with their volunteer teams, recruit a full team of School Night Chairs, family FOS presenters, community FOS workers, popcorn kernels, and camp promotion teams.
- Strong districts provide the opportunity for more local community involvement and ownership of Scouting.
- Outstanding district operations that help struggling units get better, good units become great, new units get started, and that shine a light on our best units that we can all learn from.
- Good district operations help identify talented people who should be asked to be on Council Committees.
- Membership, Manpower and Resources are growing
What’s happened in the last decade?
- Combined our two councils have lost membership at more than twice the decline in our available youth.
- Both councils have had more operational deficits than surpluses.
- Both councils have had small professional staffs that are forced to make tradeoffs between recruiting, fundraising, committee support, and district operations. Our DE’s estimate they spend 60% of their time working on council assignments (developing FOS, membership, summer camp plans, programs & campaigns; plus each helping 6 to 10 council volunteer committees function), 30% on district, 7% directly with unit service, and 3% in community manpower development. A DE should spend the majority of their time growing membership, manpower and resources in their district.
- Office facilities have become dated, and there is always a backlog of maintenance at the camps.
- Our district volunteer structure and operations are struggling. We tend to focus primarily on program and events. Training numbers are down. We have little to no involvement in our membership teams, community FOS teams, and district nominating committees. No district has a full volunteer team, and hasn’t had one for a long time.
- With fewer professional and volunteer resources we tend to have campaigns and events planned and executed at the last minute, which limits our success.
- With lack of attention and resources (volunteers) we struggle to effectively implement District operations, manpower development, revenue generation, and membership growth.
What immediate impact would a merger have?
- Eliminating redundancy and reallocating resources will allow more specialized and unit-serving staff.
- The combined Council would have access to a larger volunteer pool to spread the workload in many areas (membership campaigns, FOS campaigns, staffing various district committees, etc.) It would reduce the number of hats specific individuals wear with both Council & District positions.
- Better professional support in district operations would grow the number of volunteers available.
Immediately become one of the bigger youth serving organizations in Worcester, Middlesex and Franklin counties.
- Immediately have a larger pool of volunteers and a larger staff to fulfill the mission without adding a cent to the budget.
How would a merger help us get better?
1. Reallocating existing resources:
A merger would free $120-150k of the current budget that can be reallocated to allow us to put more staff in the field without increasing revenue. This could enable us to: :
- Add at least one other strong District Executive to one of our larger districts providing another set of hands to help us become proactive instead of reactive in responding to unit needs.
- Add a Development Director who spends their full time developing the council’s fundraising plan, cultivating the community and then helping the volunteers & DE’s execute the plan. Improved community fundraising will alleviate some of the financial burden we place on our units and families.
- Add a Program Director who would manage the Ranger staff, support camp operations and seasonal camp directors, and help give support to all of the program committees.
- DEs would be able to focus on their primary responsibilities of district operations, volunteer development, and unit support.
2. Reduction in redundant staff and building expenses:
- Eliminate one Scout Executive, a registrar, an accountant, and two part time Scout Shop Clerks. These reductions would realize a cost savings that will enable a staffing model that will better support the needs of the council.
- Eliminate one council office, and related expenses. Both buildings are owned free-and-clear. Within six months of a merger the new Council should organize a study committee to assess Council office operations. A thorough review of the existing facilities and their ability to support our volunteers and staff, would drive a decision to stay & renovate, or lease/ purchase something new. As a part of the study both council office facilities will be appraised, and one or both (most likely the Worcester location) readied for market and sold. Proceeds from any sale would be restricted for future office improvements or purchase.
3. Leveraging the strengths of both councils:
- Neither Treasure Valley Scout Reservation nor Camp Wannocksett can absorb the other camp into its Boy Scout resident summer camp program. In addition, each camp has its own unique offerings and programs that the other camp cannot fully emulate. A merger will provide expanded camping and program opportunities for Scouts at both camps, and provide some economy of scale for purchases and shared resources. Both camps offer significant and unique opportunities that would best serve the scouts of a combined council. Divesting either camp would significantly impact our ability to realize the greater benefit of program and facilities that a combined council would provide.
- Each Council has its strengths. Both boards have talented people. A central Massachusetts Boy Scout council would be more attractive to business leaders to support, both financially, and as a Board member. When you claim the middle part of the state and add the combined budget & membership we would become one of the leading youth serving non-profits in the area.
- Each Council has a strong Order of the Arrow Lodge with important traditions and history. Both play vital roles in camp. In a merger we would follow national OA policy and have each Lodge Executive Committee work toward a consolidation within our first year of operation.
- In order to maintain continuity of service, and identity for our units, all of our Scouting districts would remain the same, with no change in boundaries.
How does a merger help us grow membership, manpower & resources?
- More emphasis on district operations. With an extra District Executive, plus some now serving in Senior District Executive roles (they would have more experience & tenure) and the Council specialists (Development & Program) doing the planning of major campaigns & events, District Executives would be spending the majority of their time engaging community leaders, recruiting and coaching district volunteers, helping form new units, visiting charter organizations, and supporting two or three Council committees, rather than six or ten.
- A merger will create a business model that would allow our sales force (DE’s) to have more time to provide improved unit support, work with their key volunteers on the prospecting, cultivating, recruiting, training and motivating of new people.
- More time spent in district operations and community outreach would give us more avenues to tell our successful scouting stories.
How will units be impacted, should the merger be approved?
- A merger will result in improved unit support.
- District boundaries will remain unchanged. District committees, District Executives, and commissioners will continue to support your unit.
- Stronger district committees will be better able to address unit needs in a timely manner.
- Summer camp programs at Treasure Valley Scout Reservation, Camp Wanocksett, and Camp Split Rock will continue to operate.
What will success look like in five years?
This study committee established the following goals for the next five years:
- Manpower – a full complement of staff and volunteers
- Objective is to have a fully staffed District Committee structure, a Commissioner staff with a 1 to 3 ratio, add 10% new Board members yearly, add 10% (single position) volunteers in year one, 15% in year two, 20% in year three.
- Membership Growth – current density of the combined council is 9%
- Objective is to grow by one percentage point per year to 15%, with an increased focus on Cub Scouting (we know 90% of our Boy Scouts come from Cubbing), Venturing & Exploring.
- Balanced Operations Budget – reallocate resources to cut overhead and increase program growth spending.
- Objective is to grow revenue by 4 to 5% annually
- Journey to Excellence – increase scores annually
- Achieve Gold level by year 3
- Camp/Program – create dynamic, self-sustaining, growing year round camp program at both camps.
- Objective is to increase Boy Scout camping participation, create and grow effective Cub Day Camp programs, and partner with outside groups to increase our camp usage.
What are the next steps in this process?
- A special meeting of the Council, including Executive Board members, Council Members at Large, and our Charter Organization Representatives has been scheduled for January 22, 2015. At this meeting our members will vote on the boards’ recommendation. Nashua Valley Council’s members will hold their own meeting. If both Council meetings vote “yes”, then we will move ahead. If they vote “no”, we will go our separate ways having learned a great deal from this process.
- Throughout January we will be hosting town hall meetings in each district to get your input on how a new council can better support our units. If you are unable to attend any of these meetings, you may submit your questions to our Scout Executive, Jeff Hotchkiss at and one of us will provide an answer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Q: What is the timeline from now through the full operation of a new council?
|January 2015||Council vote to approve merger|
|February – March 2015||Nominating Committee recommends new board of directors and officers
Implementation committee develops new bylaws
Selection committee interviews and hires new Scout Executive
Recommendations accepted for new council name
|Early April 2015||Council members approve new name, bylaws, board of directors and officers|
|April – August 2015||Committee chairs appointed and committee integration work begins|
|September 1, 2015||New council formally launched|
Q: What risks were identified by the study committee?
A: The possibility exists that we could disenfranchise unit level leadership and parents. To avoid this we are striving to provide clear explanations and a transparency throughout this process. While units can expect some changes our objective is to have the least impact possible to the youth experience in Scouting.
Q: What is the total number of active members, and what is the quorum requirement? What type of vote is required?
A: The total number of active members as of January 9, 2015 is 118. The council bylaws specify that a quorum for all special meetings of the council shall be 10% so the quorum for the meeting on the 28th will be 12 people. A simple majority is required for all votes at meetings of the council.
Q: How are the total number of voting members on the national council affected with a merger?
A: The council president and council commissioner are automatically voting members of the National Council. In addition, each council is entitled to elect one voting member for every 5,000 members. Currently Nashua Valley Council and Mohegan Council each have 3 National Council representatives. A merged council would start with a total of 4 National Council representatives.
Although this is two fewer votes than the two councils have currently, after a merger the total number of voting members at the national meeting would be reduced by two as well. Those two votes do not get reallocated somewhere else..
Q: What would be the process to name a new council?
A: We want to engage our general membership in helping name the council. Our plan would be to solicit recommendations for a new council identity from our membership. The new council’s board of directors would then choose the name of the council based on a combination of general membership popularity and relevance to our history, tradition, and culture..
Q: Why didn’t we merge back in the 1990s when National BSA made a big push to consolidate councils?
A: From time to time councils have the opportunity to decide whether or not exploring a merger is in the best interest of the council and our Scouts. Nashua Valley and Mohegan Councils have had several conversations to this effect over the last twenty years. There have sometimes involving other councils as well. Each time this conversation has taken place the council leadership has weighed the unique circumstances and timing in determining whether or not to seriously consider a merger. The current proposal was born out of the same type of conversation. In this case the council boards felt that circumstances and timing were aligned so that a merger would advantageous to Scouts in both councils.
Q: Would there be problems with funding being redirected from Camp Wanocksett to Treasure Valley or vice-versa?
A:Camp Wanocksett is, financially, very successful. That will continue as long as we continue to offer quality programs and an outstanding staff. We have several large scale improvement projects in the works at Camp Wanocksett, and those projects will continue to move forward. Treasure Valley also runs a successful, albeit smaller, camping operation. Mohegan Council has recently entered a contract with National Grid to operate the state’s largest solar farm on Treasure Valley property. Most of the revenue from the solar farm is earmarked for maintenance and upkeep at Treasure Valley, providing long-term financial stability to that camp. We are committed to ensuring that both camps remain an integral part of the success of our council.
Q: Could some of the economies of scale be generated without an actual merger?
A:The study committee looked at this and determined that there are certainly opportunities for time-sharing or group purchasing arrangements. However, doing so would only realize limited savings, and would not free enough financial resources to enable either council to add critical staff positions like a finance director or additional district executives. It is the elimination of one of two scout executive positions and the overhead associated with one of two council offices that will allow us to re-allocate enough resources to add these positions.
Q: Saving resources with a few positions doesn’t seem like it would be a net wash for financials with more staff being hired in a new council.
A:The finance study group spent a great deal of time analyzing budgets and annual audits for the last ten years, developing a pro-forma budget for a new council, and assessing the feasibility of the proposed staffing plan. The objective of this merger is not to necessarily save money, but rather to better allocate our existing financial resources to better support our units and grow Scouting. The finance group’s review is available here.
Q: If both councils are stable, why should we merge now? Shouldn’t we wait to merge until we need to merge?
A:Both Nashua Valley and Mohegan councils are stable; each could continue to operate as-is for several years to come. However, neither council will have the resources, manpower, or opportunity to significantly grow Scouting in our territory. The operational efficiencies we can gain through a merger should allow us to make better use of our resources to grow fundraising, membership, and programs.
Q: What types of legal fees are being incurred with this process? Are any assets being liquidated?
A:The council’s annual budget includes costs of legal fees that are regularly incurred as part of doing business. In anticipation of the fees that would incurred to facilitate a merger, and some projects in process at Camp Wanocksett, the budget for legal fees was increased in the 2015 budget.
The plan calls for the liquidation of one of the two council offices.
Q: How did the council get to such a small staffing situation?
A: Like any business our councils must make pragmatic decisions of spending and budgeting to make the best use of our resources in delivering Scouting to the youth of our communities. Declining membership, limited fundraising, and external factors have all contributed to a decline in revenue that necessitated a downsizing of our staff over the years.
Q: How will the merger help us recruit and retain more volunteers?
A: Both Nashua Valley and Mohegan recruit volunteers to serve in roles within the council. Ideally volunteers would serve in one or two roles; currently many volunteers serve in several leadership roles. In a combined council, redundancies in council-level committee leadership, including the executive board, will result in a pool of volunteers who can commit to serving in new roles. Removing the burden of fundraising and program support from the district executives will also allow them to recruit community leaders and unit members for district and council level volunteering opportunities.
Q: What is the population in each of our councils now? What is our market density?
A: Council membership is measured against the “total available youth” (TAY). TAY is determined annually by school registration data. As of December 31, 2014 Nashua Valley Council has 3,030 youth members. Mohegan Council has 3,651. Nashua Valley’s market density (membership vs. TAY) is 9.6% with a 75.6% retention rate. Mohegan Council’s density is 8.2% with a 77.1% retention rate.
Q: Where do our existing councils, and a new merged council fall as compared to other councils?
A: Councils Area 1 (Largest Membership to smallest)
Daniel Webster (New Hampshire)
Narragansett (Rhode Island)
Yankee Clipper Council (Haverhill, MA)
Old Colony (Canton MA)
Merged Council (NVC-Mohegan)
Boston Minuteman (Milton, MA)
Pine Tree (Portland, ME)
Knox Trail (Framingham, MA)
Mohegan (Worcester, MA)
Nashua Valley (Lancaster, MA)
Katahdin Area (Bangor, ME)
Annawon (Taunton, MA)
Cape and Islands (Yarmouth, MA)
Councils Area 1 (Largest Territory to smallest)
Katahdin Area (Bangor, ME)
Daniel Webster (New Hampshire)
Pine Tree (Portland, ME)
Yankee Clipper (Haverhill, MA)
Narragansett (Rhode Island)
Merged Council (NVC-MC)
Boston Minuteman (Milton, MA)
Knox Trail (Framingham, MA)
Old Colony (Canton, MA)
Taunton/Cape & Islands (Yarmouth, MA)
Q: How does a merger help grow membership when we can’t affect external forces?
A: There are factors outside of our control that have negatively impacted our membership in the recent years. However, we cannot use those factors as an excuse to accept that declines in membership are irreversible. Relieving our district executives of some of their current responsibilities will allow them to to spend more of their time focussing on developing new units, conducting school visits, helping struggling units, and recruiting new district volunteers to develop and execute annual membership campaigns.
Q: Where will the council headquarters be?
A: Within six months of a merger the new Council will organize a study committee to assess Council office operations. A thorough review of both existing offices and their ability to support our volunteers and staff, would drive a decision to stay & renovate, or lease/ purchase something new. As part of this study both council office facilities will be appraised, and one or both (most likely the Worcester location) readied for market and sold. Proceeds from a sale would be restricted for future office improvements or purchase. This review will take into account access to the Scout Shop, and the use of new technologies to provide support to our staff volunteers and units.
The office staff and your District Executive will always be available by phone or email to assist you.
Q: If the merger’s goal is to better serve our Scouts and recruit new members, and the job of a district executive is to do those already, why isn’t the job getting done?
A: In any Scout council, as in any business, there are a number of jobs that must be done each year. Volunteers have to be recruited, fundraising campaigns and special events have to managed, volunteer committees require staff support. The number of tasks does not change just because we have a small staff. Therefore the executive board, through the scout executive, is constantly evaluating the immediate priorities and allocating staff time. A merger will enable us, by reallocating resources, to add critical positions like a finance director to our staff to alleviate some of those tasks from our district executives.
Q: How can a larger geographic council better serve Scouts and units?
A: Scouting is local. Direct unit support should come from the district committee, district commissioners and unit commissioners. As part of minimizing the impact of a merger on units, the plan calls for district boundaries, and district organizations to remain intact. By giving district executives the ability to spend more time focussing on district support we will strengthen the district structure and it’s ability to support our units through programs, training, and problem solving.
Q: How will a new board of directors be selected?
A: A nominating committee of representatives from both councils will be established to select a slate of new officers and board members with equal representation from both Nashua Valley and Mohegan councils. The new board and officers will be approved by the council membership in accordance with the bylaws.
Q: How many people will be on the executive board in a merged council?
A: Our target executive board size will be approximately 45-50 executive board members with representation from across our council’s communities.
Q: Who will lead the executive board?
A: The same nominating committee will be responsible for determining the new officers of the new council. In making these selections, the committee will look at the current responsibility holders in each council, as well as any outside participants who wish to be considered for the roles.
Q: Will the district boundaries change?
A: No. In order to maintain consistent support for our units, the existing district boundaries and district committees will remain intact through the merger implementation.
Q: What will happen to Camp Wanocksett and Camp Split Rock?
A: Camp Wanocksett, Camp Split Rock, and Mohegan Council’s camp, Treasure Valley Scout Reservation, will continue to operate. We expect to realize some economies of scale in terms of ordering and shared resources. Each council’s camp offer unique outdoor experiences and will continue to serve our Scouts during the summer and year-round.
Q: What will happen with the Order of the Arrow Lodges?
A: Both Councils have strong lodges with important traditions and history and both play vital roles in camp. We’d follow National OA policy and give the Executive Committees of the two Lodges a year to celebrate their heritage and work out a combined operation.
Q: What types of new programs could my Scouts and unit benefit from with the merger that are not offered now?
A: Our comprehensive program offering will be decided by the new council’s program committees, but with focused efforts from our volunteer teams supported by our new program professional, we anticipate being able to offer not only the popular programs both councils currently offer (camporees, polar bear derbies, merit badge universities, etc.) but new programs including enhanced winter programs (e.g. skiing and snowshoeing programs, advanced winter camping), specialty program weekends (e.g. aquatics, shooting sports), additional climbing and COPE programs, and new STEM programs.
Q: I’ve heard Camp Wanocksett is being placed into a trust. What does the trust do to protect the property and has the trust been completed already? If not, will it be ready before the 28th?
A: At our November 2014 meeting the Nashua Valley Council Board of Directors instructed the scout executive and the legal counsel to take steps to transfer Camp Wanocksett into a land trust. That process is in the works. It will not be completed before January 28, but will be completed before the incorporation of the new council.
Q: Do other councils operate multiple summer camps?
A: Yes. We have identified at least 42 councils nationwide that operate more than one Boy Scout summer camp. Six councils in New England are currently operating more than one Scout summer camp.