Headquarters Retreat, Changing of the Guard

OSG 2024 HQR

Hello, Outdoor Service Guides siblings. I’m Rover Shane Heroux of the 72nd Aspens in Colorado. Most of you know me in person or in passing through interactions in my roles as Registrar or Secretary, as Southwest Commissioner, or as a trainer at various Brownsea Training Camp events. I’m grateful for the opportunity to scout with you.

Over the last week, national leadership met at Camp Currie in Camas, WA to discuss our challenges and aspirations for the future. I want to take this opportunity to share some of the highlights coming out of this past week’s Headquarters Retreat.

To start, I’d like to sincerely thank our new Emeritus Chief, Richard Sowdon, for his service throughout his tenure. During this time, his calm and steady leadership has helped our organization pick up and dust itself off in the wake of the turmoil wrought by the pandemic.

Chief Sowdon set in motion training initiatives, including online Quick Start (the evolution of VOLT) and our new Advanced Leadership Training which was piloted this weekend. He followed through with our name change and presided over drafting new bylaws that emphasize organizational discipline and continuity. All of this while traveling the breadth of the country to scout with many groups, including completion of the longest single day paddle distance in OSG history… during a heat wave!

We owe much of our continued progress to Chief Sowdon. It is with great honor and humility that, following his decision to step back, I accepted the post of Chief Guide through election by the Board of Directors on Monday, February 26th, 2024. With your support, I hope we will continue the best of the service rendered by so many scouts and guides preceding us in building a principled and valued pillar within the worldwide scouting movement to which we belong.

Taking my place as Secretary is Michelle Windey, known to many of you as the well-traveled Midwest Training Commissioner. Jillian Tate, having resigned her Board seat expiring in 2025 to focus on continued excellence through her leadership of the Northeast region and NYC, is being replaced by Richard Sowdon for the remainder of her term. Richard will serve as Chairperson. Donathan Dedolph remains on the Board as Treasurer, as does Carrie Davis, our National Training Commissioner, and Ethan Jewett, our new Provost Commissioner.

It should not go without mentioning that the Board deeply appreciates the advisory support of two additional Rovers. Our General Counsel Nick Provenzo, also serving as South Commissioner and GSM of the 107th Dogwood, brushes aside many thorns along our path. Also our dear friend, long-time Quartermaster, railway rambler and steadfast Lone Scout, Rover Scott Hudson out of Arlington, TX. He considers our each and every need, brings invaluable mentorship to our table, and would give you the shirt off his back. Or mail you one.

Notice will soon be sent by the election committee with a call for nominations to fill Richard’s original Board seat vacancy as of the end of this month, and also to interview at least one – and as many as two – Pathfinders to join the Board as youth members.

Other noteworthy organizational changes include the following new posts:

  • Appointment of Provost Commissioner, Ethan Jewett, also serving as West Commissioner and GSM of the 55th Cascadia. Ethan will lead our Regional teams’ administrative and onboarding activities, curate GSM collateral, and generally help steer the ship.
  • Appointment of Adventure Commissioner, Doug Taylor, also serving as interim Southwest Commissioner and GSM of the 100th Sun Mountain. Doug will lead a new effort to organize, publicize and realize camping and adventure opportunities for Guides across the nation.
  • Appointment of a Racial Equity Initiative Team Lead, Chun-Yin Chong, also serving as Midwest Commissioner and GSM of the 6th Woodrunners. Chun-Yin will work closely with our DEI committee, as well as on parallel efforts to enhance the resonance of Outdoor Service Guides within the BIPOC community.
  • Establishment of the Emeritus Chief position, a respected, honorary advisor role bestowed at their own request by any former Chief Guide remaining in good standing with the organization. This is to support continued service and historical continuity for as long as those individuals remain willing and able.

We have also committed to the establishment of the OSG Foundation, a separate nonprofit entity dedicated to fellowship and fundraising to support the activities of Outdoor Service Guides. Details of this entity are still being worked out. If you have a background in grant writing, fundraising, endowments, partnerships or outreach with organizations that share ideals compatible with our own, please reach out to me directly.

Several other initiatives are in the incubation phase, including:

  • Implementation of internal tools to facilitate communication between groups and leadership nationally
  • Availability of resources, from section leadership guides to ready-made meeting outlines to marketing materials directly from our intranet
  • Revitalization of the Lone Scout program
  • Expanded effort to bring Outdoor Service Guides to population centers throughout the nation
  • Renewed commitment to equity, inclusion and representation of all genders, LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities through demonstrable action
  • Refreshed offerings through the Quartermaster Store

As you can see, we have a wildly ambitious agenda with relatively few volunteer resources wearing several hats. If you want to dip your oar into national waters, now would be an excellent time to raise a hand!

As Rover Doug routinely reminds me, scouting together – being together in the outdoors – is probably the first and most important thing we can be doing with this movement. I believe that we can always improve our outreach, in particular to members of communities who aren’t truly aware that scouting and guiding are options for them. OSG national, our upcoming Foundation, the DEI committee and Chun-Yin with the Racial Equity Initiative specifically are looking eagerly for Rovers with passion and motivation for taking action to bring inclusive scouting into these communities through service, partnership and spreading awareness on the ground.

This is not just rhetoric. We are committed not only to putting our resources into action but also actively seeking funding to support these vital endeavors. We are ready to invest in the right projects and initiatives that align with our mission.

More details about organizational changes and initiatives will be shared by their respective commissioners and project owners over the coming days, and I’m certain that our national training committee will be excited to share the success stories we have and future plans coming out of Advanced Leadership Training.

At this point, Akela may accuse me of using ink as if purchased “by the barrel,” so I will wrap it up with this sentiment: thank you for the opportunity to serve, and also for everything you do in whatever capacity you are able.

Yours in Scouting and Guiding,
Rover Shane Heroux

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