Communication and leadership training are top priorities for Paul Penttila, recently named Scout Executive/CEO for the Nevada area council Boy Scouts of America. He brings a wealth of experience with him to Northern Nevada as he and the council serve youth across the Silver State as well as Eastern California to the north and to the Southern Sierra Nevada.
Penttila has first-hand knowledge of the Scouting way-of-life as he started young as a Cub Scout in his hometown of Lake Worth, Florida, and that journey has brought him to his latest home in Northern Nevada.
Communication, training for the many volunteers and the summer camp programs are his focus. “I’d like to see that we bring something new and different to Camp Fleischmann,” Penttila said of the BSA camp located in California’s eastern Sierra Nevada as he talked about the Council’s strategic plan, a roadmap to the future. He’s interested in projects with pizzazz that will bring older youths to Scouting. One could be an ATV program – it’s High Adventure and it’s been approved by the national organization.
Working on merit badges, Scouts having a good time, good food and a great staff already are in place with Penttila. Camp Fleischmann was fully accredited for this summer’s activities.
Collaboration with other local youth-oriented organizations also is on the Scout Exec’s plate. “They all have their piece of the pie, and they’re all offering different services. I want all of us to come together and do some things together that we’re all interested in.” As part of a “Good Scout Week” that is coming in late October, Penttila talks about having an all-night activity at a UNR football game and says, “Why couldn’t Girl Scouts be a part of that? Why couldn’t the Boys & Girls Club be a part of that and Big Brothers-Big Sisters?”
He knows this will be a 3-to-5 year process to examine all of the potential pieces, make the contacts and then more forward together.
Nevada Area Council has 6,700 youth participants and 3,300 adult volunteers. There are 448 Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, Varsity Teams, Venturing Crews and Explorer Posts in the 23 counties served by this Council. More than 573,203 volunteer hours have been given as these leaders serve as mentors.
Just in 2015, there were 171 young men attained Eagle Scout status.
There also is a new program, ScoutReach, which gives more than 900 at-risk youths the opportunity to participate in Scouting.
Penttila is not alone providing leadership to the Council. He is teamed with President Jeff Whitaker, Council Commissioner Ron Thornton and a staff of 16 devoted to guiding youth into adulthood. They are joined by Past President Jim Rogers and Future President Col. Dan Waters.
It has been a life-long journey from his native Florida to Nevada. After Cub and Boy Scouts, Penttila was in the Fire Explorer program, an Eagle Scout, Order of the Arrow and worked Summer Camps, earned his Wood Badge. He also has been on site at National Scout Jamborees, Philmont and has attended camps and conferences in the U.S. and Europe.
After graduation from Appalachian State University in North Carolina, Penttila served as a District Director, Field Director and Director of Field Service in Florida. Next he served as Director of Development for the Denver Area Council of the BSA. That position brought him wide-ranging experience in dealing with the community, fund-raising, and putting on large special events.
In bringing so many skills with him, Penttila said he and his board are looking at all areas of the organization: where they are, if changes are needed and communication. That includes an updated website. He wants donors to know they are appreciated and he wants increased training of the volunteers.
“Training affects everything else in our program. That includes whether or not a Scout advances to the next level. With training, leaders will understand the importance of why we do what we do. Looking at a book may not bring the understanding of why they’re doing it. It’s a top priority for me.”