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  • Rules, shmules...

    Johnponz in another post feels that the rules should be followed. Others disagreed. So I offer this little discourse.

    Rules, shmules. Why do we need them? What purpose do they serve?

    Why is there an 18 year old requirement to be a merit badge counselor? Why cant kids be merit badge counselors?

    Why do we have to have an election to seat our district committee? Why cant the district director simply appoint the district chairman?

    Rules I tell ya, do we need them? Should we break them out of convenience?

    Let's hire 16 year olds at summer camp. Pay them a tiny stipend and let them council merit badges. Let's break the rules. Then the youthful MB counselor decides to circumvent the hard MB requirements resulting in cheap merit badges where the Scouts did not have to do the requirements no more and no less. But 16 year olds are cheap. 18 year old merit badge counselors cost the council too much. Let's break the rules. (And I hear the rebuttals now its how its done at other summer camps or its hard to hire an adequate summer camp staff or it would cost the council too much.)

    Ah, justification for breaking the rules it costs too much; its too hard; other councils do it.

    Rules, shmules.

    Maybe the policy of not being a commissioner while being SM has to do with the quality of the program the boys receive. If you are spread too thin, then who loses out? The boy perhaps? Maybe the boys lost out on a camp experience because their SM / Commissioner had other obligations to other troops. Sorry boys, but we can't do it all, see all these hats I am wearing? There is more to do in Scouting than just being a Scoutmaster.

    Rules, rules, rules. Lets get rid of some of them. Why write them if they will be systematically disregarded out of convenience?

    Nah, rules are needed. We wouldnt write them if they werent necessary would we?

    But some rules are more important than others. The BSA does stand behind some of its rules. These rules will be enforced. The BSA will dismiss members who break these rules. Why? Because the BSA is a private organization and feels it has a moral obligation to enforce these rules. Yes, there are some very important rules. But hey, in the meantime, our membership numbers are falling. Lets create another organization to boost membership. We will quietly disregard our important moral rules. Well keep this program in the dark.

    Ooops, we got caught. Time to clean up our act. Gotta sweep stuff under the carpet. First, lets dismiss some meddling volunteers or any other volunteer who notices that the emperor has no clothes. They caught us breaking our big rules. Cant have that now can we. This isnt Scooby-Doo where old man Smithers gets caught. And I would have gotten away with it if it werent for those meddling kids. Nope, so far Smitthers has gotten away with it.

    Rules, policies, procedures. Some we will adhere to, others will be disregarded. It all depends on who is in charge.

  • #2

    Yes, exactly. Rules are for the guidance of a commander in carrying out his command and orders. But they may need to be set aside from time to time in order to carry out your orders and goals.

    It requires good judgement, something pretty generally emphasized when appointing leaders in Scouting. If it merely required the ability to read and follow rules, judgement wouldn't be necessary.


    • #3
      commander, command, orders? Those are military terms.

      Hey SP, I left you some questions on the LFL post.

      And here FYI,the 2010 annual report for your records. Hope to see the 2011 report soon.


      • #4

        14 year old CITs are effectively Merit Badge Counselors in many Scout Camps. And I'm talking about CITs that don't know the skills they are teaching.


        Election? What election? In my experience district elections (if they are held at all) are ritual exercises that merely ratify the decisions of existing leaders.


        • #5
          So it's ok to cherry pick and call it leadership.


          • #6
            ...Every Scouting position has a lengthy list of responsibilities, more than anyone can do. For myself I've decided that I will pick and choose from among that list the things I am either good at doing, that particularly need to be done or that I would like to do...

            I guess I should have read your post on the other thread first. You have answered my question.


            • #7

              14 year old CITs are effectively Merit Badge Counselors in many Scout Camps. And I'm talking about CITs that don't know the skills they are teaching

              SP, you failed to answer the question on why there is an 18 year old requirement to be a merit badge counselor? Do you know? If you do, I would love to hear the answer. If not will you attempt to find out why this rule was adopted or will you simply pick and choose yourself how the rules will be adhered to or not?

              Do you realize that according to BSA advancement policy that no council, district, unit or individual has the authority to add to or subtract from these rules?

              I would love to know your rules concerning Eagle service projects.


              Election? What election? In my experience district elections (if they are held at all) are ritual exercises that merely ratify the decisions of existing leaders

              Do you feel that it is ok to continue to have these ritual exercises? Have you done anything to get the rules back on track? I have found that it is these ritual exercises that have led to having a good old boy club in charge(or in my case manipulated by a pro who picks and chooses his volunteer cronies) instead of every units COR being represented in the decisions of who the DC will be or the next Executive board. But I have found it tough to take on the good old boys and my district continues to suffer.

              You see, more times than not, when the rules arent followed they are abused. Others then inject their own rules. It leads to Scouts having to do more than the requirements when all that is required by the rules is no more and no less.

              And in the end it is the youth we are supposed to serve who truly lose out.
              (This message has been edited by abel magwitch)


              • #8

                Generally speaking, BSA doesn't attempt to explain or justify it's rules in my experience. I would presume most of them are there because it's deemed good policy and wise decision making in a general sense.

                But perhaps it makes good sense to have CITs or those under 18 years of age teaching Merit Badge classes at Scout Camp. I would suppose that can be done well or poorly.


                • #9
                  For me this is a true big picture philosophical issue. It comes down to does the ends justify the means. My answer is no. For me it is the process that "builds character" not the results. This is particularly important when working with youth whose characters are still developing. By picking and choosing which rules to follow, you are saying that you as an individual know more than the BSA as a group. This is often manifested by comments such as "they" do not know what "they" are doing. Guess what by choosing to belong to the organization, "they" are "us" if BSA is to have any meaning. "They" have been duly chosen by the organization to set the rules and standards that tell the rest of us what to do. One Council, one council, or one Scouter or Scout should not purposely supplant the rules for their own good. Process matters. For example, is it ok for a football coach to break the rules and commit a foul to get a tactical advantage? I say no, this is not ok, breaking the rules to get a favorable outcome is not a desirable outcome.

                  All of this being said, SP, I believe it is perfectly ok for someone in a position to help out by being involved in a "special project" that may be outside the scope of their usual position. I believe a lot of what you describe is really these sorts of ad hoc projects which are ok. For example, supporting one troop as a UC is way different than juggling 3 or 4 as my UCs do.

                  As I said before I have 4 units, and I attend a multitude of District Meeting. This is hard and I am sure I could not be a Unit Leader and do this. I do not know how to be a good Unit Leader without performing all of the jobs listed on the JD. It is a hard job, and should not be shared with another hard job. Then there are conflict of interest issues. As a Unit Leader you are beholden to the chartering organization. As a Commissioner, you are beholden to the Council and BSA. Even in dealing with other units, I can see where there might be a conflict. For example, maybe you would gently guide the unit leader of a Cub pack to send the best of his pack to your unit rather than a Troop's sister Pack (same chartering org.). This would be in your unit's best interest but not the Council or BSA. There are real life examples of such things, but as a Commissioner I do not share my units dirty laundry.

                  To sum up if you believe results are more important than process, and if you believe that you as an individual know more than the collective wisdom of the organization than go ahead and pick and choose which rules you think you should follow. For me, I will try to always take what I perceive to be the high road even if it is a little bit rockier and longer.


                  • #10
                    The ends do not justify the means, but the inverse is true as well, the means do not justify the ends either. Bad results from well-intentioned rules are still bad results.

                    By picking and choosing which rules to follow, you are saying that you as an individual know more than the BSA as a group.

                    Actually this is backwards. The rules aren't made by "BSA as a group," they're made by specific individuals who claim to represent BSA as a group. How effectively they represent the group of volunteers that make BSA function is a question for the governance policies of BSA. Regardless, by making a rule, the centralized policymakers in Irving are saying they as individuals know more than the volunteers of BSA do as a group.

                    Some rules are necesary, they give structure to things. But every rule made by a centralized authoirty negates the local knowledge of the people at the periphery actually doing the work. It's usually justified by some version of "the local yokels don't know as much as the experts" but the truth is, the local yokels usually know a whole lot more than the experts, at least when you factor in all the things that matter for making the actual on-the-spot decision. The best rules defer to that local knoledge, such as SSD requiring the folks actually supervising the swimming area to determine if it's safe by responsibly using their judgment rather than by referring to a detailed definiton from someone in Irving who's never even seen the swimming hole in question.

                    The worst rules impose centralized idiocy, like the ban on 1,2 and 4 wheeled carts.

                    The farther away from the action a group is, the fewer rules it should make.


                    • #11
                      I explained this in a previous thread but will do it here again. The National Executive Board really does not represent the interests of the volunteers. Their job is to represent the interests of the Chartered Organizations. Think of the Chartered Organizations as stockholders and the Executive Board as the Board of Directors in a for profit corporation, the more units that a chartered organization charters the greater their influence.

                      This is why CORs get votes at the Council Executive Board level. They are the group that really controls things within BSA, and the Executive Board represents their interests. The CSE works for the Executive Board so through the Board he works for the chartered organizations as well. The misconception Scouters make is that the BSA is somehow a quasi-government organization. It is not. It is a non-profit organization and functions as such.

                      If you volunteer as a Commissioner part of your "job" is to support the decisions of the BSA Corporation and your council so in as way you represent the chartered organizations as well. Volunteers of a non-profit are employees that do not get paid. I am sorry to break it to you, but no one at National represents you or should they.

                      The ultimate customers (consumers in BSA language) are the parents and the Scouts. They get a "vote" only in the sense that they can choose to participate or not. They do not get a vote and no one at National represents them. Again think of a corporation. If you do not own stock, you do not get a vote even if you shop at a corporation's store every day and are their best customer. No stock, no vote, same as our National organization.


                      • #12
                        I am sorry to break it to you, but no one at National represents you or should they.

                        When you rely on volunteers to deliver the program you make your salary from, perhaps you ought to figure out a way to represent the volunteers.

                        Else they may eventually volunteer for someone else.


                        • #13
                          In regards to CITs teaching MBs all I will say is this: if they have the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) to teach a MB, I have no problem with it. BUT they cannot sign off on it.

                          Best example is a 14 y.o. CIT who was teaching Indian Lore MB this summer I know of. I'd say that not only does he have the KSAs to teach the MB, I'm willing to be a Dutch oven pizza that he is as good or better than 95% of the Indian Lore MBCs I've met over the years.

                          It is my understanding that the actual registered MBC that was working camp and was suppose to be teaching Indian Lore, ended up being the director of the area. That MBC knows the CIT very well, and had no problems handing off the hard stuff to him to do.

                          As for me, I actually encouraged one Scout to at least start the MB, if not finish it, with the CIT. This was finding out via the dad that the son wanted to work with me with Indian Lore when the scout was at camp. Told dad if possible, let the son take it with the CIT, but when the son calls I'll set things up. And I knew the CIT can do the job since he was my den chief for a spell.

                          Both the MBC staffer and the CIT went to NOAC this summer and placed in AIA events. Yep my lodge is Croatan Lodge and we're #1... in Northern Singing


                          • #14
                            The Executive Board are volunteers too, not paid.


                            • #15
                              Abel, I could be wrong but I don't think that I have ever seen you post anything positive about the Boy Scouts of America.