Meeting the Candidates

The quest for a Scout Executive, a task that seems to have passed with blissful ease for all but the handful of people who’ve dealt with nothing but for several months, is nearing its end and tonight was the antepenultimate event in the  process coming before the final interviews and announcement which will occur tomorrow.  I had been invited to a largely social gathering of the candidates, their spouses, the selection committee and a few others in Newtown and had a chance to talk to the applicants, each of whom had been drawn from across the eastern seaboard.  The banter was light most of the time and the common thread of the Scout experience came out in all cases as no one in the room didn’t have a summer camp story and I felt woefully underarmed with FOS (Friends of Scouting, a Boy Scout fundraising structure) gaffes, which I plan on being slow to accumulate.  After about an hour of chat I realized I had experienced something new in my Scouting time, meeting a nervous professional.  Most professionals I’ve dealt with were either entirely polish or were oblivious to harms but in most cases the excitement of “I want to do this job” was almost palpable and a welcome change from previous leadership.

All of the candidates were delightfully human, using their spouses as memory aids when someone asked a question or politely dodging the worst-of-both-worlds meteorology that marks the Mid-Atlantic.  All but one was was flummoxed when I asked what merit badge should be added to Scouting, the last said “pigeon racing” without missing a beat.  Any failing to dodge my conversational caltrops were made up for with my much easier question on the Anna Karenina question of Councils in “how does Bucks County suck in its own unique way and how will you fix it?”  Here, everyone rightly pointed out our inability to interface with the community, our marketing efforts which had made barely a ripple in the collective consciousness and the observation that our previous executive simply didn’t stay very long at events.  Two seemed to eschew modern communication tools in favor of the perpetual phone call and two were advocates of hyper-connectivity; I think either could work.

Tomorrow will be an interesting day.