Reed Brannon is Scout executive and CEO for the Long’s Peak Council of Boy Scouts of America.

Diversity is key to scouting’s success 2002 Bravo! Entrepreneur — Regional Spirit

Long’s Peak Council covers vast geographic region

GREELEY — Take a look at a map and it’s clear: The Longs Peak Council Inc. Boy Scouts of America, encompassing Northern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and western Nebraska, not only covers the region, it embodies it.

As it draws together thousands of young people, adult volunteers, business and community leaders from across this vast region, promoting regional ties is part of the day-to-day business of the council.

For Reed Brannon, scout executive and CEO for the Longs Peak Council, the region holds at once diverse opportunity and diverse needs.

Covering 27 counties, “It’s big,” he says of his Wyoming-Colorado-Nebraska territory. “It has a great diversity. When you figure Boulder to Laramie, there’s a lot of diversity in that. Diversity in populations … diversity in religions. That’s part of the cool part of this job. It’s very, very diverse.”

Mission is same everywhere

Whether it’s Greeley or Rawlins,Wyo., Alliance, Neb., or Longmont, the mission of the organization doesn’t change, Brannon said.

Regardless of where one travels, Boy Scouts of America seeks to “prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling the values of the Scout oath and law.”

Building character, providing training in responsible citizenship and encouraging personal fitness are tenets of Boy Scouting.

“The basic mission is the same, but we deliver it differently because the customers are different in rural Nebraska than they are in Boulder,” Brannon said.

Brannon sees the nonprofit organization as a business and seeks to run it that way. “We operate this business in a total quality management style.” That means, he said, “It’s a very customer-focused, bottom-up type of an operation.”

That approach helps the organization get the word out about programs to people with diverse backgrounds, cultures and ideas, Brannon said.

For instance, the council employs bilingual, bicultural staff members to help communicate Boy Scouting’s missions, goals and programs to Hispanic families.

Many of the area’s Hispanic families have ties to Mexico, Brannon said. “And in Mexico, the Boy Scouting program is for the very elite. Here in the United States it’s for everyone. Helping families get through that paradigm is an important thing we do.”

One in four is scout

The Longs Peak Council apparently is successfully communicating. It boasts an enviable market saturation, Brannon said. “One in every four kids in this region is in the program. Most businesses would like to have that kind of market share.”

Nationwide, the regional council ranks among the best for market share, Brannon said. “We’re in the top 10 percent.”

He attributes that to a confluence of hard work, regional values that tend to fit well with Boy Scouting and a setting conducive to the kinds of outdoor activities Boy Scouting is known for.

Boy Scouts of America serves young people from first grade through age 18. It offers boys-only programming through age 14, adding girls to the mix in programming for ages 14 to 18.

Major programs include Tiger, Cub and Boy Scouts along with a career-based program called Explorers and an avocation-based outdoor adventure program called Venturing. The latter two are for boys and girls 14 to 18.

The Longs Peak Council serves 18,500 young people and 6,000 adult volunteers with a staff of 36 full-time employees. In addition, the council owns and operates four camping properties in the region — all on an annual budget of approximately $3 million.

Nationwide, Boy Scouting drew 3.3 million youths and 1.2 million adults in 2001.

Despite the vast cultural and economic differences in the broad geographic region he oversees, Brannon said the council doesn’t seem to struggle with regional infighting.

“Except on a University of Colorado/Colorado State University football day,” Brannon said, joking that he has to be careful what he wears at those times.

Reaching out to all colors

One only has to visit one of the council’s scout camps any week in the summer, Brannon said. A visitor will find “there are white kids, black kids, American Indian kids, Hispanic kids and they’re all doing the same stuff together. There are no color boundaries, no religious boundaries. They’re swimming together, cooking together, working together.”

Volunteer leadership through a board of trustees made up of area community and business leaders lends the organization strength. “We have a great diversity of thought and that makes us better everywhere,” Brannon said of the board.

Regional differences tend to fall away in the face of the organization’s bottom line efforts. “We’re the passers-on of America’s values. We are working every day with the next work-force generation, helping them to internalize the values of hard work, duty to community, duty to God.”

There are challenges. Brannon ticks off a few: funding, reaching out to ethnic minorities and low-income families, keeping up with technology and finding volunteers.

But when it comes to solving problems and surmounting obstacles, Brannon said Boy Scouting is flexible, creative and experienced. “We’ve been at this for 92 years.”