Scouting is the great equalizer.
That’s true in a Scout unit, where every young person wears the same uniform and has an equal opportunity to advance as far as they want to go.
That’s also true on council and national committees, where the opinion of a 30-something relative newcomer carries as much significance as that of a Fortune 500 CEO.
At age 30, Amanda Vogt often is the youngest member of the many BSA committees of which she is a member.
But as is typical in an organization devoted to welcoming everyone to the table, labels like age are irrelevant.
It’s about passion
“There is only one organization I have ever found where your background doesn’t matter,” Vogt says. “It doesn’t matter your age, gender, career — it matters what passion you can bring to the table. I have always been treated as an equal on the committees I work with at the national level.”
In recognition of her selfless service to Scouting, Vogt earned the Silver Antelope Award last month. After serving as National Venturing President in her youth, Vogt didn’t stop giving back to Scouting as an adult. She helped reinvent Powder Horn Training (a high-adventure skills resource course), brought a youthful perspective to the National Religious Relationships Committee and served on a Millennial Task Force with dozens of her peers.
At just 30 when she received the award, the volunteer from the Greater St. Louis Area Council could be the youngest Silver Antelope Award recipient in BSA history.
In 2014, I reported that Andrew Miller, then 32, was likely one of the youngest Silver Antelope recipients ever. That’s Miller (right) pictured above with Vogt and Kris Zahrobsky, who received the Silver Antelope Award in 2014 at age 33.
So how do we recruit more Vogts, Millers and Zahrobskys? I talked with Vogt to find out.
Making the connections
It’s not an issue of supply or demand. It’s about connecting the two.
Vogt says there are countless millennial adults who want an additional outlet, beyond the unit level, where they can share their skills, knowledge and passion.
“They simply don’t know how to get involved,” she says. “And on the other side of the coin, we have lots of national committees that want to get younger adults involved but don’t know who to reach out to for help.”
Enter Vogt and the members of the Millennial Task Force.
They’re designing a mentorship structure that will connect younger committee members with more experienced ones. The younger members can learn from their elder peers while adding their own fresh perspective. Everybody wins.
But you don’t have to wait to start recruiting younger volunteers to your committees. Start by adopting the approach used at this summer’s World Scout Jamboree.
Each World Scout Jamboree leadership role actually has two people sharing responsibilities: one older and one younger.
Recruiting more women
Diversifying BSA committees means recruiting more women, too.
Again, Vogt says the solution is simple: Ask.
“There are lots of women, some mothers and others youth who never left the program, that are all willing to serve,” she says. “They just don’t know who to contact.”
Council committees looking to recruit members can contact standout packs and troops. National committees can recruit at the council level. This pipeline works, and it benefits everyone.
What is the Silver Antelope Award?
The Silver Antelope Award, presented for distinguished service within a region, is part of the so-called “Silver family” of BSA awards.
It’s joined by the Silver Beaver Award for distinguished service within a council and the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service on the national level. (Meet the 2019 Silver Buffalo Award recipients.)