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The Bureaucracy of Scouting

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  • #31
    Pretty simple here folks.

    Keep scouting local. My boys are making soda can stoves....They camp without adults directly in the campsite with them....They go on Patrol hikes while I relax at the Parking area with a good book.

    Most of the rules are because someone is bein stupid.


    I thank national for all that nice online training....sure beats the church basement on a Saturday morning.


    Kudu love the analogy......But I think it is more like starwars and spaceballs...... National is Spaceballs and replaced the force with the schwartz. Dark Helmet "Your schwarz is almost as big as mine". to funny thx for the laugh. Bunch of idiots running around the ship after someone activated the self destruct......(This message has been edited by Basementdweller)

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    • #32
      Richard,
      Does your boss know that you vanity search your name on scouter forums and then come here to poke the volunteers?

      I really think you are like some of the hover parents we regularly lament in troop and pack meetings, and someone stupidly gave you an important job where being a hover parent is rewarded with a paycheck.

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      • #33
        5year, Yes my volunteer & paid bosses know I've chosen to participate in several non-sanctioned scouting forums. Are you suprised? The H&S Support Committee has folks on most of the larger yahoo groups as well.

        Why, because in doing the "job" in a relationship based organizationI've found listening can produce 1) some good ideas that might otherwise be lost. 2) an appreciation of how communication channels need to be reviewed to prevent misinformation. 3) situational awareness.

        Yes, I have google searches of my name set up but not here, don't you? Also various safety and scouting related searches.....This forum however is hit and miss at best. Please let me know if you want me engaged, some have, I'll be happy to jump in.

        As to poking, well, I'm still working on kind........but got to have thick skin if you have an opinion on this forum.

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        • #34
          > Blue cards only? Unnecessary change and bureaucratic.

          It wasn't a change. Blue cards were always the only recognized merit badge application for merit badges. And it really is necessary to have one official form that can be completed and copies retained by the interested parties that a unit in New York can use and when the Scout moves to Arizona, the units and council in AZ will accept.

          It is always easier to make up your own in house unit form for tracking and then do it your own way, but there is no guarantee any other unit would accept it. That is the reason for standardized forms.

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          • #35
            Richard B

            Your arrogant replies and overly simplistic ideas just verifies how out of touch National really is to the program they are supposed to be building and strengthening, instead of tearing it down and taking it further away from its roots centered in the outdoors. I was a professional scouting executive for five years and personally witnessed two SE's bankrupt the council I was working in, selling off ALL its assets until finally National closed it up after 80 years of serving the youth.

            So here is my suggestion: National Office is overloaded with deadwood staff being overpaid for doing practically nothing except trying to get themselves promoted to CSE. So cut National staff by 75%, the remainder could easily handle the duties National is SUPPOSED to be doing from I witnessed firsthand years ago. National does not need these large committees of paid scouters to determine changes to the program, those should ONLY come from the field from those delivering the program to the youth and who really know what is needed. Since the 1970's EVERY change to the program from National has been a total disaster, resulting in ever declining numbers of scouts and units. National office should consist of a CSE, a Cub program Director, a Boy Scout Director, a Venturing/Sea scout Director,an Outdoor/Camping Director, and a small National Supply staff, each with one or two assistants. If you eliminate all those overly padded salaries there and in the council office the BSA would not be in the financial mess they are currently in.

            It is highly questionable in my mind after 25+ years in scouting why we even need council offices with SE's making between $250,000 to $700,000 a year and mid management making over $150,000. Let the local district and unit volunteers administer the program, as was done in the beginning instead of bureaucrats who really could care less about the council and the people it serves, and instead look at their job as nothing more than a stepping stone to National.

            If you truly want the BSA to survive give the power back to the people delivering the program who really only have the welfare of the youth they serve in mind.

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            • #36
              Don't "we" want to discuss the role of the National Council as it exists today to move ahead?

              Does anyone disagree that the role of the national council is developing program? A program that is delivered locally via local councils and community organizations.

              If that is the case and the program is not being delivered as desired, designed or in the best interest of youth wouldn't adjustments or changes be made?

              As to simplistic don't "we" also suggest a KISMIF approach? Keep it Simple, Make it Fun or KISS, Keep is Super Simple as a best practice? Isn't simple the way to fix Bureaucracy?

              Please, what am I missing here if this is not the topic at hand.

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              • #37
                Richard,

                Yes national is suppose to create and support the program. Problem is, national has made some mistakes IMHO.

                I am glad that national now allows packs to go camping, but some of the CS program needs more outdoor emphasis and less arts and crafts. I have lost one family b/c "you don't camp enough," and my pack is camping 4-6 times a year with the district and council events included.

                On the Boy Scout to many traditional skills and activities are either not covered in materials or are severely restricted. Best example I can give is trying to do IOLS last year. I could not, repeat NOT, use the current BSHB as a reference for packing lists, how to do skills, etc. I had to pull stuff out of my old BSHB and fieldbooks to get a good equipment list. And don't ask about Wood Tools.

                And as mentioned, traditional activities are no more or curtailed. No more 30 foot pioneering towers that scouts build b/c you need to have a brain bucket, harness, and belay lines if you go over 5 feet. And don't get me started with the asinine rules on service projects that came out. You already know my opinions and arguments.

                Training needs some serious improvement. I mention the outdoor skills stuff already. But to make matters worse, the concept of scouts mastering skills for sign off is gone, and having the scouts do it one time for sign off is in if you read some of the training literature like the IOLS syllabus. Also I really believe the "One Size Fits All" approach to training is a problem, as evidenced by the national training committee looking over the NYLT materials as there are reports of problems with Boy Scouts and Venturers being in the courses.

                And while I haven't been to WB21C yet, I do think it's funny that a 3 beader can be considered "untrained." Although I understand why: the 3 beader earned his beads as a CM and has sinced moved on. It use to be that WB showed that you have completed all basic training, and it was the "mountaintop expereince."

                As for Venturing, I understand that National rushed out the program before it was ready, heck I and others in my PDL-1 class called out the then national Venturing director on some things prior to it coming out in 1998. But the program doesn't even have a chance to grow and prove itself before it changes. Time is needed for somethings.

                And don't get me started on the One Oath Initiative.

                My personal opinion is that too many folks who got their start in Improved Scouting era are still around and trying to reintroduce that failed program of taking the OUTING out of ScOUTING (caps for emphasis, not shouting). Heck when the current BSHB can not even get the Green Bar Bill quote that "OUTING is three-fourths of ScOUTING" (caps to make it easier to count the letters and do the math: 6/8 simplified is 3/4) correct, you know there is a deemphasis on traditional scouting. Sad thing is, Green Bar Bill is no longer here to save Scouting like he did before. And I cannot think of ANYONE who could fill his hiking boots today.

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                • #38
                  The one where you take Luke's laser away, and replace it with leadership skills and ethical choices?

                  Kudu, you mean like the famous line from the movie, "Use the paradigm shift, Luke."?

                  Or was it "mission statement"?

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                  • #39
                    Richard, I'm a bit mystified by your premise of national doing a swell job of developing programs, but then councils and local folks mess up the delivery of said outstanding programs.

                    Here's how I see it: national guts old school scouting, then implements anemic, homework oriented stuff. Over-emphasis on red tape/CYA/what-the-house-lawyers want.

                    Councils then sells it all, just what national wants, in earnest, without missing a beat. After all, DEs want to be council execs, and council execs eventually want the phone call inviting them to join the cubical farm at Irving.

                    The units? Ah, a mixed bag. They are volunteers and have autonomy, to a large extent. There are some rules that must be followed. But they are free to use old handbooks, come up with their own programming (stuff that actually works and keep the scouts interested--shocking!), and otherwise pursue the spirit of scouting in their "own particular idiom."

                    The units don't dream up the stuff that stifles adventure, or initiative, or the tried/true/tested activities that have stood the test of time.

                    Nope, that falls strictly on the shoulders of paid pros.

                    PS I think BadenP and Eagle92 summed matters up quite well.(This message has been edited by desertrat77)

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                    • #40
                      To amend my previous: there are volunteers that are in lock step with the red tape machine...I can't blame paid pros solely. After all, they don't award those Silver Beavers to just anybody.

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                      • #41


                        Looks like Richard B. hightailed it back to National to find some support and answers since he didn't really offer any here. From his responses I really think it is true that National is totally oblivious to the way the volunteers think they are doing their jobs. Enlightenment is truly a wonderful thing.

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                        • #42
                          BP, your namesake would be so proud. And yes folks this thread gives great examples of where the challenge lies. Assumptions can be risky.....

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                          • #43
                            Richard B.

                            You know what my friend Baden Powell would be PROUD that there still are scout leaders out there who are still trying to preserve his vision of what true scouting is supposed to be in spite of the pressure by National to have all scouting programs adopt the watered down, pablum, sedentary, clasroom oriented programs coming out all those "great minds"(sarcasm intended) at your office. I challenge you and National to actually get your fannies out of your chairs and get out in the field for at least 3 months to see how scouting is truly being done in the field, actually talk to the leaders and the youth and ask them what they want and need to deliver or have a fun quality program.

                            Whether all of you at National realize it or not scouting is rapidly declining, not growing, due in large part to the kind of changes coming out of National for decades, from a group of self absorbed bureaucrats. The facts and statistics, and scandals are all there for anyone to see, from ghost units created, grossly inflated membership numbers, systematic dismantling of councils, failed new programs, absurd restrictions, losing United Way support as well as more and more corporate sponsors, and on and on. It is not the scouters and scouts in the field at fault, like you claim hurting scouting it is the ever increasing mindless bureaucracy of National that is the TRUE cause of the problem.

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                            • #44
                              If a unit does not have an interesting and exciting program and boy are drifting away, I'd respectfully suggest that the unit leader examine what it is they are doing and not doing that result in a boring program. There are a ton of units that do exciting adventures week after month all year long and pull it off just fine. It is quite disingenuous to blame one's failure on distant "bureaucrats" and the evil empire in Texas. Just go camping!

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                              • #45
                                Yah, RichardB, I get where you're comin' from.

                                Folks 'round these forums yell at me too when I suggest that da primary mission of da National organization is to develop and publish program materials. Some seem particularly fond of McDonald's hamburgers (a truly awful culinary experience, IMHO).

                                I'd say 90% of that is da fault of yellow-tab and grey-tab volunteers. Da pros get blamed for it, and merit some blame, but there is a truly odd thing that happens in da volunteer ranks because of da structure of da BSA.

                                Yeh see, the best youth workers want to spend time with da youth. Our strongest folks are the long-term unit leaders of successful programs.

                                Our weakest folks are typically da ones who move up into district and council positions. Plus, we both know that at da Council Exec board level, we're mostly driven by "at-large" members brought in for their community and financial contacts, not their knowledge of youth program. Those are da folks who typically are sent off to the national meeting and such. It gets pretty remote from da fellow in da field, eh?

                                What's worse is that those mediocre district and council volunteers (and the execs, for that matter), don't have a service mentality, eh? Far too often we have a "we're in charge" mentality and approach. G2SS is written half in that way; da Advancement materials are written half in that way, and the mediocre folks bluster and sometimes just make stuff up to tell the units what they should be doin'.

                                What's the way forward?

                                It's easy. In da modern world, there's no reason to have layers and layers of middle management in a volunteer association. That stuff's got to go.

                                Second, if you want to convey da message that National is a program materials and service provider, which I think is both honest and the correct message to really garner support from the field, then you need to put in place a bit more professionalism at the Irving office in terms of materials editing. Yeh have to take out all the top-down stuff that creeps in. G2SS would be enormously more effective rewritten as a true safety guide instead of a pseudo-regulatory document. Separate out no more than 2 pages of genuine do-or-die regulation, and turn the rest into somethin' useful. Da Advancement materials would be enormously more effective if rewritten as program support materials, with an accreditation model rather than an appeals-court approach. Dump most of your forms, in favor of optional checklists to be helpful.

                                Third, if yeh want to build service-minded local support, the current BSA council structure and performance expectations have to be jettisoned. Close as I can tell every council in da country just follows da national structure and has lots of people doin' truly meaningless work in committees, which they think is more important than bein' in touch with units and providin' service. This is where most units feel da most mindless bureaucracy. Da places where da Commissioner Corps is actually functioning are rare, and happen only because renegade Beavahs ignore da structure and just make it work. Most places instead are just goin' through da motions of filling positions with untrained warm bodies. Folks who do focus on paperwork, eh? Because they're not good at much else.

                                So that's my Rx. Improve da focus of your materials by eliminatin' all of the top-down regulatory stuff from da language because it gets all confused and muddled by da middle management. Then eliminate most of da middle management and its structure, volunteer and pro. Where yeh keep any, make all evaluations and metrics based strictly, solely, and entirely on service, and accountable to those in the field.

                                Beavah

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