We’ve compiled a list of answers to common questions from our members and charter partners. We will continue to add to this list as new questions are posed during the town hall meetings.
Q: What will happen to our camps?
A: Camp Wanocksett, Camp Split Rock, and Treasure Valley Scout Reservation, will continue to operate. We expect to realize some economies of scale in terms of ordering and shared resources. Each camp offers unique outdoor experiences and will continue to serve our Scouts throughout the year.
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 guiding the Executive Committees of the two Lodges in celebrating their heritage and working out a combined operation.
Q: What types of new programs could my Scouts and unit benefit from with the consolidation that are not offered now?
A: Our comprehensive program offering will be decided by the new council’s Program Committees. With focused efforts from our volunteer teams supported by a program professional, we anticipate being able to offer not only the popular programs both councils currently offer, such as camporees, polar bear and Klondike derbies, and merit badge universities, 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: Are any camps being placed into a trust?
A: No. At its February 2018 meeting, the Nashua Valley council Board of Directors instructed the Scout Executive and the legal counsel to take steps to place language in the deed for Camp Wanocksett to require a 2/3 majority vote of the Executive Board to sell or transfer any piece of real property. The plan of merger stipulates that the 2/3 super majority vote of the board will be placed in the deeds for all the real property owned by the combined council, and the TVSR trust will be dissolved. A committee will be formed in the new council to investigate the necessity of creating a new trust for council property in the future.
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.
General Consolidation Questions
Q: What are the risks of consolidation?
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.
Q: What is the total number of active members, and what is the quorum requirement? What type of vote is required?
A:Under the BSA-approved by-laws, a quorum for meetings of the Nashua Valley Council is 10%, and a quorum for meetings of the Mohegan Council is 5%. The by-laws provide for a simple majority of vote of those attending a meeting.
However, because both Nashua Valley and Mohegan are Massachusetts charitable corporations, the merger of the councils is governed by Chapter 180 Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws, which specifies a 2/3 vote by all members entitled to vote. Under our by-laws, members entitled to vote include all registered Chartered Organization Representatives and registered council Members at Large. Nashua Valley has 107 voting members so we need 72 votes. Mohegan has 96 members so we need 65 votes. These numbers are considerably higher than the usual attendance of council meetings. Voting by proxy is specifically prohibited in the by-laws. As a result, we need a major effort to have as many people as possible attend the meetings.
If our attendance falls short of these numbers, there is a procedure to petition the Secretary of the Commonwealth for approval of a merger under Chapter 180 Section 7A of the Massachusetts General Laws. This procedure recognizes that charitable corporations face challenges when it comes to attendance at meetings. Knox Trail and Old Colony successfully followed this procedure in their merger when the attendance at their meetings was less than 2/3 of the members entitled to vote. We will do the same if the meetings of Nashua Valley and Mohegan support the merger, but fall short of the attendance provided by Chapter 180 Section 10.
Q: How are the total number of voting members on the national council affected with a consolidation?
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 consolidation 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 name 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: Would there be problems with funding being redirected from Camp Wanocksett to Treasure Valley or vice-versa?
A: Camp Wanocksett and Treasure Valley are both 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 both camps. Those projects will continue to move forward. All resources will be pooled. The consolidated council will review each camp’s needs and provide the funding to meet those needs. 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 consolidation?
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 development professional or additional field staff. It is primarily the elimination of one of two Scout executive positions and the overhead associated by consolidating 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 five years, developing a pro-forma budget for a new council, and assessing the feasibility of the proposed staffing plan. The objective of this consolidation is not to necessarily save money, but rather to better allocate our existing financial resources to better support our units and grow Scouting.
Q: If both councils are stable, why should we consolidate now? Shouldn’t we wait to consolidate until we need to?
A: Both Nashua Valley and Mohegan councils are financially self-sustaining; each could continue to operate as-is independently. However, neither council will have the resources, manpower, or opportunity to sustain themselves indefinitely. The operational inefficiencies as two small councils would eventually deplete the resources we need to provide a quality Scouting program.
Q: What types of legal fees are being incurred with this process?
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 consolidation, and some projects in process at Camp Wanocksett, the budget for legal fees was increased in the 2018 budget.
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: Where will the council headquarters be?
A: Within six months of a consolidation, 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 and renovate, or lease/purchase something new. As part of this study, both council office facilities will be appraised and one or both readied for market and sold. 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: The goal consolidating is to better serve our Scouts and recruit new members. Why isn’t that being done now?
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, and volunteer committees require staff support. The number of tasks does not change just because we have a small staff. The Scout Executive is constantly evaluating the immediate priorities and allocating staff time. A consolidation will enable us, by reallocating resources, to add critical positions like a development professional and field staff to our staff, which will to remove some of those responsibilities from our District Executives.
Q: How can a larger council better serve Scouts and units?
A: Scouting is local. Direct unit support should come from the District Committee, District Commissioners and Unit Commissioners. By giving District Executives the ability to spend more time focusing on District support we will strengthen the District structure and its ability to support our units through programs, training, and problem solving.
Q: How will a new Executive Board be selected?
A: The initial executive board will be comprised of the current officers of both councils. A nominating committee of representatives from both councils will be established to select a slate of new officers and board members with the goal of balanced 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 consolidated 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 Plan of Merger calls for Rochelle Ray, the current president of Mohegan Council to serve as the new council president, and Frank Ardinger, the current commissioner of Nashua Valley Council to serve as the new council commissioner. Other officers will be selected as the new board is formed. In the beginning we will have many co-chairs.
Q: Will the District boundaries change?
A: To maintain consistent support for our units, the existing District boundaries and District Committees will remain intact through the merger implementation.