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Announcing the 67th Wallabout Bay!

This is it! WE ARE STARTING A SECOND SCOUTING GROUP IN BROOKLYN! The 67th Wallabout Bay will be the second Baden-Powell Service Association group in Brooklyn, accepting new scouts and launching in April, 2017 in Fort Greene.
Here is the letter that went out to all 5th Brooklyn families this morning with the announcement and details. We are so excited to be bringing more opportunities to families in Brooklyn to join us in Scouting!

Dear Families,
As many of you know, 5th Brooklyn is booming! Our program has been extremely successful, and we have grown from a handful of scouts in 2013 to one of the largest groups in the Baden-Powell Service Association. With 90 Scouts across three sections, we have been operating at capacity for some time, and have been forced to start a waiting list, unable to take all the families who want to join.

For the past year, we have been exploring options to increase our capacity. We’ve informally mentioned “6th Brooklyn” on several occasions, and this email (while long) details our plan to get there. We began last year by creating a second Timberwolf Pack, which increased the number of 8-10 year old Scouts we can accommodate thanks to the work of our two Akelas. That worked as a temporary solution, but it isn’t sustainable in the long term, nor does it address our growing numbers in the other sections. We have still been turning Scouts away to avoid degrading the program by having our leaders overworked and our Scouts overwhelmed.

So what’s the plan?
We have decided, after careful consideration, to spin off a second B-PSA Scout Group in Brooklyn. That means two parallel tracks for Scouts to grow from Otter to Timberwolf to Pathfinder and even beyond, each with its own sets of leaders and its own activities.

Here’s what we will be doing, starting in the fall of 2017:

  • We will charter a second Group with the BPSA, to be called 67th Wallabout Bay. (Wallabout Bay is the body of water currently home to the Navy Yard). After four years as a leader (including two as Group Scoutmaster) for 5th Brooklyn, I will leave to serve as the Group Scoutmaster (GSM) for the 67th.
    We will rebrand our existing Group, 5th Brooklyn, as 5th Prospect Park. Chance Michaels, our current Ahmeek, will be taking my role as GSM for this group.
    Our corporate name will be changed from 5th Brooklyn Scouts, Inc. to Brooklyn Scouts, Inc., which will support both Groups under its 501(c)(3), insurance policies and administrative infrastructure. This will allow the new group to focus on building a program and community instead of getting bogged down the administrative details. The current Board of Directors, which includes myself and Chance as well as Mario Baldi and Kristin Axtman, will continue to oversee and support both Groups.
  • Since we will need at least 6 new adult leaders (3 each for Otters and Timberwolves) to even launch the new group, we will recruit and admit families with adults committed to serve as those leaders in early 2017. These leaders and their Scouts will join the existing group for a few months so they can train with our existing Raft and Pack before switching to the new Group in April, 2017. If you’ve ever considered becoming a leader, this is a fantastic opportunity to help shape our program: please ask me or Chance how you can get started.

    This is super exciting! How do my friends join?
    You may refer your friends to the Google signup form here (link: https://goo.gl/forms/9ObKYHc8anqPHBxx1) to be in the first round of families joining the 67th Wallabout Bay. We also encourage everyone to sign up for our MailChimp email list (http://eepurl.com/3yWkj). Mailing list recipients will be the first to receive invitations to the new group, followed by the general Prospect Heights and Fort Greene communities.

    Wait, what’s the difference between “Group” and “Troop” and “Raft”?
    “Group” refers to each individual Scouting organization chartered with the BPSA. Examples: 5th Brooklyn, 91st Sojourners, etc.
    “Section” refers to each level within the Group: Otter Raft, Timberwolf Pack, and Pathfinder Troop. Chipmunks are not yet an officially-recognized Section under the BPSA, although it will continue to serve younger siblings of Scouts in the other Sections.

    How will this work?
    This is how we expect to structure the two Groups:

    5th Prospect Park: GSM Chance Michaels
    – Will remain headquarted at BSEC
    – All current Scout families may stay with this group, unless they wish to move to the 67th. We will allow attrition (principally via graduation into the next level) to lower the numbers to 25 in each Section, no new Scouts will be admitted until the sections reach that more manageable level.
    – In 2018, attrition will allow us to combine the Timberwolves back into one single Pack.
    – Timberwolf and Pathfinder Leadership is unchanged for 2017, Liza Pagano will assume Ahmeek role with the Otters. We will need a new Timberwolf leader for the single combined Pack in 2018.

    67th Wallabout Bay: GSM Jillian Tate
    – Will hold meetings at the Brooklyn Free School in Clinton Hill starting in late April 2017
    – All new Scout families will be routed to this group, including those who are referrals of existing 5th Brooklyn families. Existing Scouts may transfer if they choose; to be closer to home, for example, or if they have new friends join.
    – Current 5th Brooklyn Pathfinder leaders Anthony Francis and Kristen Axtman will lead the Pathfinder Troop. We will recruit new leaders starting immediately, to work and train with existing leadership. Parents volunteering as new leaders will be able to join the existing group with their Scouts effective January 2017, so they may train with the current leaders and get ready to start the new Raft and Pack this spring.

    What will I have to do as a current Scout parent?
    Keep supporting us just as you do now! All existing 5th Brooklyn families will have a spot in 5th Prospect Park. You need only move if 67th Wallabout Bay is a better fit for your family. This may apply if your child has friends joining Brooklyn Scouts, or if the Fort Greene location is more convenient for you.

    What about the rest of this year?
    5th Brooklyn will stay just as it is until June, when we recess for the summer. When we start back up again in the fall, we will do so in our new groups (and yes, this does mean you will have a new group Flash for 5th Prospect Park to sew onto your Scout’s shirt)

    Will the two Rafts/Packs/Troops/Groups work together?
    We expect the two groups to work individually most of the year – it’s simply not feasible to coordinate the activity of so many Scouts – but we don’t want to lose touch with our brothers and sisters in Scouting, and so we are planning one shared camp a year called a “Hullabaloo”. We are already participating in the Moot, which is a shared camp with other BPSA Groups throughout the Northeast, and hope that the Hullabaloo can be just as much fun. We may also participate in community events, including parades, as a unified Brooklyn Scouts presence, and hold training events for our Pathfinders and Rovers (Leaders) as a single group.

    What’s the next step after this?
    There are no firm plans for a third Group, but once 5th Prospect Park and 67th Wallabout Bay are up and running smoothly, we anticipate looking to expand again, this time to a new area in Brooklyn with an eye on expanding our diversity and bringing the BPSA program to kids who could benefit from it.

    We believe this plan gives us the greatest chance of expanding in a successful and stable manner, and look forward to answering any questions you may have. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions. I will be around the BSEC (mostly with the Pathfinder Troop) this evening at the BSEC and can discuss the expansion plans. Chance will be leading the Otters, as always, but will also be available after the meeting.

    We look forward to working with all our Scouting families in this exciting new chapter for our Brooklyn Scouts!

    Yours in traditional Scouting,

    Jillian “Mang, the Bat” Tate
    Group Scoutmaster

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