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Showing content with the highest reputation on 11/28/19 in all areas

  1. 6 points
    As for PR, I know many of the people on this board has seen it, but perhaps many of you haven't. This is from Scout South Africa, and this is that kind of advertising that the BSA needs.
  2. 3 points
    Hiding history doesn't change history. It just makes you ignorant. And political correctness hasn't done Scouting much good so far.
  3. 3 points
    While there is less community it certainly isn't less relevant (look at suicide rates over the past 50 years), and I think that's the key to your last question: what image should the BSA project? There may be fewer parents interested in developing responsibility and self sufficiency in their kids, but the BSA isn't even close to getting the attention of those that are left. But I do agree that the image problem is a wreck. Part of the problem is the need for some better PR. Maybe we can get our UK friends to ask the Duchess of Cambridge if she'd pop on over and visit some scout troops around here. Unfortunately, the bigger issue is we're stuck in the middle of the culture war. Fifteen years ago all the liberals I knew viewed the BSA as a youth military development organization, Jr Jr ROTC, if you will. And while they still do, now the conservatives see us as morally bankrupt. Who wants to put their kids in that mess? And before anyone says "that's not my troop!" it's the image we have. And yes, this image is compounded by the fiscal incompetence of national. People with little or no experience with scouts are who the message needs to be focused on. So, the culture war, which led to the enormous split in this country, is getting worse and the BSA is a lightning rod for it. In the meantime there are parents looking for healthy activities for their kids. Talk about needing leadership at the highest level. Kool-aid drinkers need not apply. Here's a message: Not only a message but a way to focus a program that has gotten bloated. The simplest way I can describe the bloat in the current program is to consider a very old idea that I'm paraphrasing: Nobody cares what you know or think, they only care about what you do. Put another way, the methods don't support the aims as well as they could. In a nutshell, every method needs to be gone over to see what is supporting the aims and what is getting in the way. Since the BSA doesn't even describe how the methods lead to the aims, I'm fairly sure they don't do this. Here's an off the top of my head view. First, advancement: Other than safety related issues, all of the describe and discuss requirements are nothing but a drag on having fun. They do not promote fun, leadership, independence, or responsibility so chuck them. Everyone knows that most of the requirements to get eagle are just a slog of check boxes. That's what's killing the program. Next, add requirements that develop creative problem solving, both individually and as a patrol. By creative problem solving I mean find a problem and fix it. The eagle project should be the last in a series of problem solving projects and not just the only one. Give the scouts more freedom and encourage them to pick their own projects. A first class requirement could be to organize an outdoor activity for your patrol and lead your patrol in that activity. I know, this is close to a very old requirement but I like it. Along with the above, to encourage community, teamwork, and just plain getting along with each other, make a few rank requirements be for the entire patrol. Advancement is completely personal and yet we're trying to develop people skills. To support this, make some MB's that are patrol based. So, as a patrol, learn a skill and then go do it. That's a simple way to encourage patrol method, do something different, and do something other than cook as a patrol. It could be as simple as making some requirements that encourage a patrol to do a MB together and follow through with an activity based on it. The MB program is a hidden gem that has been sidelined and obfuscated by boring requirements and MB mills. Use them to be part of the program. Next, quit trying to teach everything a kid should know with advancement. Cyber security, nutrition, Citizenship in the Nation, etc are things that are either taught in school or are so far from having fun learning to be responsible that they're just a drag. We can't be everything for everyone. Figure out where the line is. As for the adult method, the adults don't understand the program. The program is how the methods lead to the aims and we know how well that's taught. So teach it. Next, it's easy for a troop to get in a rut. I have never seen any training from the BSA that describes typical problems and how to solve them. They only teach skills that you have to do. So there are no case studies in how to fix a failing troop. Many people here say there are plenty of good units and I agree, but there are a lot more mediocre units. JTE was supposed to help those units. It hasn't and it won't. Giving people metrics won't teach them how to solve their problems. It's like telling an alcoholic to just drink less. Outdoor method: I think kids still like it. Wilderness survival skills are always a hit. However, there are issues. First, IOLS is way too short and fewer adults know the skills they need to teach. Take half of woodbadge and put it back to teaching outdoor skills and making fun activities using them. And if scouts are tired of the same campouts, how about a hike somewhere fun? Or star gazing from inside your sleeping bag? It doesn't need to only be a campout. The biggest challenge and biggest reward is getting scouts to learn how to solve their own problems and come up with their own events. That should be a big focus of all the methods starting at the first rank. Uniform: Just simplify it so the scouts can own it and afford them. I would much rather see a $10 shirt that a scout can raise his own money to pay for, and 1/10th the patches, so the scouts can put them on themselves (how about POR and rank pins?), then the high tech bling boards we have now. Quit thinking of it as a dress uniform and more of a field uniform and scouts will start wearing them in the field, and maybe even to school. There is nothing inherently wrong with scouts, the aims, or the methods, but there is a huge need for real leadership that is willing to ask some hard questions and get away from the mindset that we have to do something because that's how we always have done it. I completely agree with the comments about changing the hiring practices, controlling costs, and giving volunteers more room to innovate. It won't be a simple fix, but it's doable with the right people.
  4. 2 points
    THis has been an interesting discussion. There are some well-articulated thoughts on the challenges and ideas on how to overcome them. What dkurtenbach suggests is a very local approach - brainstorming with district folks, surveying unit leaders, working with training chairs. I would take the idea and make it more crowdsourced....Part of creating a movement is gathering like-minded people and creating momentum. I suggest that we already have like-minded people and the start of momentum. We, in this forum, are already thinking about these things. We have already identified challenges that are quite universal. And we certainly have the depth and breadth of experience to tackle the issues as well as any district team. So - my proposal is that we brainstorm to pick an issue or two, and create some training or an awareness presentation or whatever, that we can all take home and use. We wont need to recruit local folks to help us make progress - no matter how important the issue is nobody wants to take on another project. Instead, if we approach them with a solution - or better yet with a success (because you already gave the presentation and it was well received) it doesnt cost them any time/effort to support us. There are many venues where a short session on a scouting-relevant topic can be presented. Our roundtable commissioners are always looking for "other people" to present at the break out sessions. We have several annual Merit Badge Workshops in my area that offer sessions for adults - they are always looking for people to present. As council training chair, I work with our summer camp director to offer adult training sessions during resident camp. Lets actually do something rather than just talk about it....
  5. 2 points
    So a number of random thoughts, most of them pessimistic..... One might argue that the BSA was most relevant when communities were most relevant. By community I mean small groups of people living, working, and serving together (and actually knowing each others names) within a geographic region. Could be a small town, neighborhoods in larger towns, etc. It made sense for the local parish, church, Legion, Moose, Rotary Club to sponsor a youth program for the boys in their town or neighborhood. It helped keep the boys out of trouble, and, provided guidance for the next generation of leaders in that community. As community has become less relevant to American life, the organizations that were tied to community (all of those mentioned above and more) have become more and more irrelevant. Not because their mission isn't right and good, but, because there is no target beneficiary. I'd hold out 4H and FFA as organizations that have figured out how to keep connected to communities, particularly rural communities, and those programs continued success, but, they are more close tied to community and government (i.e. extension services and schools). At the same time as the decline of communities, we have the irrational rise in bubble-wrapped children. Whether that's due to people having fewer children, sensationalized TV news coverage, or whatever else doesn't matter. The program the BSA offered for decades (with @qwazse permission, boys hiking and camping independently with their mates) became totally out-of-date and dangerously irresponsible. Kids simply don't spend time outside like they used to, further making the program irrelevant. We live in a society today that at least some folks consider adolescence extending until 24 years of age (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/01/19/adulthood-now-begins-24-say-scientists-young-people-delay-work/). A program designed to breed personal leadership, independence, and responsibility in teenagers is hopelessly out-of-date. I think the BSA has also forgotten a simple truth about large organizations, that is, Simple Rules for Complex Societies. By attempting to nationalize everything, they've create a bureaucracy that nobody can love. The G2SS is seen as laughably restrictive in some places in America (squirt gun fights, really? How's that playing in Peoria?) and way too permissive in other corners of society. Advancement has been turned into paperwork drudgery that serves nobody but the bureaucrats. So to the question, how do you make the program relevant without changing it more? The short answer is you can't. The foundations that used to make the program relevant are gone or disintegrating, and new structures are growing up in their places. The program skills, well many, are viewed as irrelevant. We've heard people say society has changed and the BSA has to keep up. That may be true. But, it also means the BSA has to change, and it will be far beyond just membership changes. The departure of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints will be the vanguard of the migration of the BSA into a suburban/urban program, more so that it is already today. I've mentioned in other posts that beyond the remaining membership fights there will be battles about the BSA's relationship with the NRA, and guns in general, and the terror of boys carrying pen knives in open society, etc. The BSA will continue, but, it will be different, I suspect very different. Whether that's good or bad will depend on your perspective. I think for the OP the better question is, "what image do we want to project in 10 years?"
  6. 1 point
    The council was named after Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson in the late 1920s. The new name, Virginia Headwaters Council, represents the fact that the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac Rivers all begin in the area covered by the council. Pete Fenlon, president of the executive council, said the connection to nature is fundamental to the scouting organization. https://www.whsv.com/content/news/Local-scouting-council-changes-name-from-Stonewall-Jackson-Area-Council-to-Virginia-Headwaters-Council-565449041.html
  7. 1 point
    My sister is sponsoring an international high school student from Germany and he is excited to experience the American Thanks Giving holiday. In fact, his family back in Germany have expressed that they are also excited for him as well and can't wait to get a report. Another family in her neighborhood is also sponsoring an international high school student from Norway. Since the two students have become close, my sister has enjoyed getting close to both of them. Turns out the parents of the student from Norway are here visiting their daughter, and had no plans for Thanks Giving. When my sister learned they had no plans, she invited them to join our family as well and they are also very overjoyed to experience the American holiday. It's refreshing to meet families that want to experience a tradition that many American families seem to take for granted. Barry
  8. 1 point
    Seriously? No Neil Armstrong? No Eisenhower? Really? Things may be a bit over sensitive today, but it's not even close to that. I am fine with renaming a council that was named after a traitor to our republic that was fighting to preserve slavery. (That should get things rolling... ).
  9. 1 point
    With today's BSA, it seems the following historical references are to be avoided? - Native Americans - historical figures and events after War of 1812 with exception of Lincoln No Alvin York Council, No Eisenhower Council, No Neil Armstrong Council, ... dullsville only please. My $0..02,
  10. 1 point
    Not me. All railroads are assumed to be active. I stop every time. I cross at one of these unregulated crossings on my way to and from work every morning. There's a sign, but no lights or crossing arm. I come to a complete and total dead stop and look both ways TWICE before proceeding. I do occasionally see people blow through it and it freaks me out every time. I've only ever seen a train go down those tracks once. But once is enough. Plus, since I happen to be a railfan, I know that trains pass that way several times a day; just not usually during my commute times. I spent months working with an entire Troop of Boy Scouts to help them earn their Railroading Merit Badge, at the end of which time we took Amtrak from Portland to Sacramento and had a great trip utilizing both Amtrak and Lightrail systems. I required all the boys to demonstrate proficiency in understanding railroad safety before I'd let them sign up for the trip. They could have earned the merit badge without going on the trip, but they weren't going on the trip without me feeling confident that they would be safe. I didn't want the liability. I showed them videos from Operation Lifesaver as well as a video of a guy getting hit by a lightrail train because he ran in front of a stopped train which blocked the view of another train coming down the second track. I am also that person who calls out my friends when they post photos of themselves or their family members on or near railroad tracks. I have been working with Safe Kids USA for 8 years now, not specifically with railroad stuff but generally in injury prevention. I don't screw around with this stuff. I know too much about what can go wrong. I can't guess what went wrong that caused this grandmother to cross the tracks when it wasn't clear. Maybe she was distracted. Maybe she had a medical event. Maybe she just had terrible driving habits. But we can't get these kids back. And no, I never EVER blast over tracks assuming they will be clear. EVER.
  11. 1 point
    The sale of camps seems to always involve controversy, merited or not. One of our council camps - 1700 acres on a lake - was sold for about $200/acre to a company run by a former council middle manager. The sale was announced months after the fact, an hour into a raucous meeting about "the future" of the camp. The plan was to turn the property into a land fill. The locals raised some serious cane with the state government and stopped that plan cold. It seems doubtful that the feds would have approved due to the drainage of the property into "navigable waterways" of the United States. The council had been running in the red for several years., with a paid staff disproportionately large compared to membership that had been plunging for over twenty years. In due course, the auditors arrived, the SE was "retired," paid staff sharply reduced, and two more camps sold - all to return fiscal equilibrium.
  12. 1 point
    What I find saddest is that an organization like GSUSA actually thinks it is okay for them to intrude into family dynamics. They clearly don't think mom and dad are responsible enough to raise kids in a way that protects them and that also strengthens their family bonds. Sad.
  13. 1 point
    Soon to be a Sea Scout ship... The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 8-11, District 5 Southern Region, is sponsoring the creation of a new Sea Scout unit in Smith Mountain Lake (VA). The Flotilla will serve as the chartering organization and in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). More at source: http://www.smithmountaineagle.com/boating_fishing_and_outdoors/article_5feed788-107d-11ea-83af-1bbd7c515077.html
  14. 1 point
    I like this idea. IMO, it should not require a SM give up more free time . Just as public school teachers allocate school days to professional training maybe so should scouters with their troop meetings and activities... No troop meeting this week, I'm at training. Service project instead of campout this month as I will be patrol camping with other SM's (patrol camping? ).
  15. 1 point
    I think this is getting closer to the crux of the problem. There is training and there is coaching mentoring and encouragement. The troops use both. In fact, it's heavily weighted towards the latter. The councils barely use training. For other than safety related training, the model is one and done. So, how to run a scout troop? It's based on the lowest common denominator and one and done. Outdoor skills? One and done. Everyone here says one needs to seek further on one's own to improve. This doesn't match the problem of having fewer parents with outdoor skills. They don't know what they don't know, just like the scouts. Everyone here knows that when working with scouts and developing their leadership skills it is anything but one and done. So why does anyone expect treating the volunteers the way we would never treat the scouts expect this to work? Also, maybe this is why one and done is considered acceptable in the guide to advancement. Can't retest. Say that to the wilderness first aid people. And when you look at this issue in the larger context of how national works with councils and councils work with units, it's worse. The definition of a good unit is based on JTE. JTE is based on SMART goals from the one and done woodbadge training (simple, measurable goals). And yet, when we work with youth it's much more of a relationship than a form to fill out. What are their goals? What would they like to accomplish? What do they think should be done? How can we help facilitate that? We push for a mixture of bottom up with a humble, wise use of top down. Look at how that matches with the top down approach that defines the BSA. No wonder people say it has to be more than training. In a way, it does. Someone needs to grow the volunteers the same way we try to grow the youth leaders. What a novel concept, the council will work with the volunteers the way they want the volunteers to work with the scouts. Wouldn't that be a great way to learn the program? The usual explanation is that's what round table and commissioners are for. But that doesn't work, because it's not central to the program. You can run a troop without ever going to round table. In fact, most SM's don't because they're too busy as it is. And that round table is usually just a bunch of announcements. As for a lack of volunteers, at least in my council we have lost a good 75% of the best, bleed green, will continue long past their sons, volunteers over the past 10 years because of the idiocy of the CE. Consequently, all we ever hear from our DE's are sell more popcorn, make a bigger donation, and get your numbers up (and this is coming from the CE). Just imagine that approach between the SM and the PLC. Would you call it servant leadership or adult led? So, I'm not saying I know the answer. I just see a problem. Some leadership would be greatly appreciated. I don't think the BSA needs to do much with the methods or aims. However, they should focus on how the methods achieve the aims and, particularly, they should hold up everything they do against that metric and do a massive start, stop, continue, with a lot of input from the volunteers. Just one idea: within a district, make patrols out of the SM's. 6-8 in a patrol (all from different troops or packs) with a patrol leader. They're in it together to help each other out. Round table is the "troop" meeting and it includes plenty of time for patrol meetings. They talk about what they want to do and accomplish. If they want to do their own camporee then great! They trade ideas. Offer help. It helps the units. It also teaches patrol method. Another idea: Make ranks for scouters, or at least ways to recognize and develop scouters based on their interests. In depth outdoor skills? In depth patrol method? Well, in depth anything that the usual training covers. Just two ideas that came from looking at how the methods lead to the aims and applying that to district unit interactions.
  16. 1 point
    The cause of what is going on in the BSA is complex. But make no mistake, much of this is because of volunteer and program issues. My district has 15 packs. The largest 5 account for 70% of all the Cub Scouts in the District. The smallest 5 account for 10%. The largest pack is bigger than the smallest 5 put together. Each of these small packs recruits 2 or 3 kids a year. Do they do school talks - no. Do they put of flyers - no. Do they recruit at their CO - no. Do they spread the word through social media - no. All of those things our local council trains on, encourages, and provides DE support for. They all complain about not having enough Scouts or volunteers - but what are they doing to fix the issue? On the other hand, the larger packs are doing great. They are growing, thriving, and have absolutely no issues with recruiting. Do I blame the small unit volunteers - no. They're volunteers and I'm thrilled that they care enough to be here. But, if they wanted to grow it's within their power to do so. Energize the program and get the word out. But, it's got to start with the desire to do so. Scouting in my area is getting smaller because 1) you've got to be willing to try, 2) pack/troop size matters, and 3) stuff happens. I could spend hours talking about this. National and councils are culpable in this because they've never figured out how to address this. I believe that the single best thing we could do to reverse the trend is to invest in functioning district teams led by volunteers. Small to mid size packs & troops need support and encouragement. If the unit is struggling they need a helping hand. They need a network of people they can lean on for moral support and training. They need ideas and encouragement. Yet, what has national & council done. They've replaced live training with online training. In struggling districts they've replaced volunteers with professionals instead of fixing the volunteer issue. As volunteers we all complain about the heavy handedness of national and councils. The mindset of national and councils is all wrong. National is here to build functioning councils. Councils are here to build functioning districts. Districts are here to support and enable strong unit programs. Yes - I understand it seems like I'm arguing two different things - but I am not. For packs & troops to thrive, they have to want to. But, national and councils need to do what they can to create a supportive environment where people want to, are equipped to, and are supported to thrive.
  17. 1 point
    A very sad situation. While this article does a lot of finger-pointing at the RR and the government for not having gates, lights, etc., it should be noted that cars don't end up in the path of trains without the driver having abdicated their part of the responsibility equation: Stop, Look, Listen are still the basics that every driver needs to remember ALWAYS when approaching any railroad crossing. Just because there aren't gates or bells or whatever doesn't mean that a train might not be approaching, and in ANY contest between a car and a train, whoever in the car loses: even when it breaks our hearts to lose 2 young cub scouts.
  18. 1 point
    Something has to fill the vacuum since Risk Management removed dodgeball from the program! By the way, the next time someone tosses out "OK, Boomer", just reply "That'll be Civil Rights Generation to you, post-modern nomad."
  19. 0 points
    A grandmother driving her two Cub grandsons to a state conservation area, a railroad crossing without gates or flashing lights or stop sign... https://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/20191124/amtrak-crash-boy-scout-trip-ends-in-tragedy-at-gate-less-rail-crossing Scout salute and farewell,
  20. 0 points
    You tube is full of such "accidents". I use quotes because they can almost ALWAYS be prevented. Most unfortunate here. I teach bus drivers. I make my students "repeat after me: If it looks like a Rail Road Crossing, I will treat it like a Rail Road Crossing." To wit, any vehicle classified as passenger bus, whether it carries passengers or no, on approaching a Rail Road /Road crossing, must first put on the four way flashers, or the School Bus Flashers, STOP (FULL stop, NOT "rolling stop") within 20 feet of the closest track,( but not where the crossing gate can close on the bus), shift into First Gear, OPEN THE DOOR and LEFT WINDOW, listen, look, and when CLEAR and SAFE TO DO SO,,,, proceed in First Gear across the tracks without hesitation or other stopping , LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN. When clear of the tracks, CLOSE THE DOOR, turn off the four ways or School Bus lights, and proceed as usual. In every case, when the student driver takes the state license exam, there will be either a REAL grade crossing or painted stripes on the driveway with a crossbuck sign. In one case , it was Washington DC, the testee was directed down a street that had THREE separate industrial rail crossings. He told me since the third one LOOKED like it was "abandoned", he ignored it. Guess what happened? We had to come back two weeks later to try again. Different examiner, same route, he passed this time. Tracks do not forgive mistakes. They require one to NOT make them.