Mr. Schaeffer grew up in Southeast Wisconsin Council (now Three Harbors Council) and served 3 terms as lodge chief in Mascoutens Lodge and 2 terms as a section chief in the former Section C-3A in 2006-2008. During that time he also spent many summers on camp staff at Robert S. Lyle Scout Reservation in Elcho, WI serving in several roles ranging from waterfront staff to camp director. He has a bachelor’s degree in personal finance from the University of Wisconsin, a master’s degree in financial planning, and an MBA from Texas Tech University. He served as an adviser for Section C-7 for several years and became the Takhone Lodge #7 Lodge Adviser when it was formed in 2019.
Professionally, Brian now works as a financial planner at a small independent planning firm where he manages investments and prepares tax returns. Throughout the year, he also meets with the company’s clients to discuss their finances and progress towards their goals. When asked what encouraged Mr. Schaeffer to pursue this career path, he stated that, “Scouting had a huge impact on my life mostly because I discovered my career field through conversations with my adviser when I was a lodge chief. Over the years my lodge adviser continued to support and guide me as I pursued what I love to do.” Every lodge has great mentors to guide us and help us understand our own paths both inside and outside of Scouting. Advisers and adult volunteers can often be our first connection with the professional world, with years of experience and wisdom for any challenge that may come up. The biggest lesson Brian learned in the OA was the importance of personal connections. “Emails, social media posts, and memes can get people interested in an event, but a personal invitation goes a long way. Picking up the phone is still a valuable tool in building lasting friendships too. As a financial planner, conversations can provide context and feeling and there are definitely times when making a phone call to a client becomes necessary.” As a leader in and out of Scouting, Brian has some advice from his career to the current leaders of the OA, “Try to find professional organizations in your career field. Several years ago I got involved in professional organizations and met a lot of other great people who share my interest in financial planning. Some of the more experienced members were supportive and generously shared their wisdom. There are even small groups and events targeted towards younger planners which helped me connect with people who are at a similar stage in their career path.”
Brian discussing Arrowcorp5 to Wag-O-Shag Lodge after his time as section chief (January 9th, 2009)
Brian has years of experience in the OA and Scouting which has brought hundreds of adventures and events along the way. Brian’s fondest memory in scouting was working on the InstructorCorps for ArrowCorps5 back in 2008. This was the national OA’s summer program that implemented 5 week-long service projects at several National Forests. As a section chief, Brian worked on a team that traveled to each of the 5 national parks that received service during ArrowCorps5 to train and supervise volunteers on the various conservation projects. The team also spent the other portion of their time in the backcountry at Philmont working on many trails. While Brian experienced a lot during his time as a youth, there are even some things he regrets missing out on, “If I could do anything differently I would have gone on an OA High Adventure trip. It’s an amazing opportunity I missed out on and will never have the chance to do again.” If you are interested in experiencing an OA High Adventure trip, check out OAHA’s page on the national Order of the Arrow website. Be on the lookout later this year for further articles and podcasts in The Council Fire about OAHA!
With Brian currently serving as lodge adviser, we asked him what prompted him to give back and become an adviser after he aged out. His enthusiastic response is common among most advisers, saying, “I suppose it could be because I was asked and didn’t say “no” enough. But truly, Scouting and the OA were always fun to me and I enjoyed getting to know so many great people. I saw how dedicated my troop leaders and OA advisers were and wanted to make sure that youth today can still have great experiences like I had.” The love that we all have for the program often brings us back as advisers maybe even years before we have scouts in the program ourselves. For Arrowmen who may have just recently aged out and are unsure what to do, he has this advice, “I would encourage them to stay connected to their lodge and unit. There may be fellowship weekends or other events that fit into your schedule, but even if you can’t attend regular in-person activities you can still be a mentor and encourage younger Scouts on their path.”
Brian’s years of experience brings with it a stockpile of lessons and advice. The biggest lesson he “learned in the OA was how to work with many different people. Being the lodge chief meant leading our lodge’s youth executive committee, but I also had to learn to communicate with unit leaders and adults in our council for planning projects and other events.” His biggest piece of advice for Arrowmen who are up-and-coming, as any Arrowmen will tell you, “Get involved in something that interests you because not many organizations give youth a hands-on experience like this. Try a role where you can demonstrate leadership and implement new ideas. Scouting provides a safe learning environment to practice those skills before your career depends on it.” Find areas in Scouting that interest you and can make you grow, and they will surely set you up for great success both in the OA and in your personal life.
Thank you Brian Schaeffer for sharing your insight with many Arrowmen across the United States! Stay tuned for more articles about Arrowmen who have found great success both within and outside of Scouting!