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  1. 9 points
    I think you treat this at face value. We are here to serve the Scouts. If a Scout calls you up and says he'd like to visit your troop and even join, you tell him the time and place and welcome him. While I understand the feeling that you should tell the other Scoutmaster, I would suggest that you do not. This is not a situation where you actively pursued the Scout. As such, a change of troop is hard enough. If you tell the Scoutmaster, that may result in added pressure on the Scout. This is the Scout's journey and it's the Scouts choice who to tell and when. Now, after the Scout joins your troop there is nothing wrong with a courtesy call to the Scoutmaster to let them know. At that time, if you learn something as a Scouter you can certainly pass it along - that is assuming it was not shared in confidence or you were asked not to share it. Discretion is important here. I'm reminded in this discussion that retention does not lead to a healthy troop. Strong program and recruiting lead to a healthy troop. Retention is a byproduct of a strong program. But, even the best troops lose Scouts. Troops are all different just as Scouts are all different. Better for the Scout to stay in Scouting in a troop they love.
  2. 6 points
    Rather than hijack @Cburkhardt's thread(s) on restructuring councils I'm starting a new thread. Between those threads and my recent trip to Rwanda visiting a kid my wife and I sponsor, it just seems to me that the BSA has bigger problems than how to deal with scout shops and the annual membership fee to national. Kids in Rwanda don't need scouts so much as they need a full meal every day. The organization that connected my wife and I to the kid we sponsor are focused on these poor kids. They constantly ask: what do we need to do to help these kids? The BSA, on the other hand, is not asking what do the vast majority of kids in the US need? They're asking how do we get more kids in scouts? Essentially, they've got a hammer and they're looking for nails - and communities have shifted to wood screws. The kids that could really use scouts aren't in it. When we compare the cost of scouts to elite sports teams we exclude all those kids that can't afford elite sports teams. In the meantime I saw estimates of 20 million kids that are waiting to enter an after school program. The BSA model is expensive in both money and parental time, neither of which a broad section of our society has. If the aim is to help kids grow then those 20 million kids are low hanging fruit compared to the 2 million currently in the BSA. The problem is those kids don't have money. While there has been some attempts at including these kids, like Scoutreach, they gave up. (Go to scouting.org and search on scoutreach and it's a ghost.) They likely gave up because they wanted to keep the same scout model of parents running programs in the evening. Why the evening and why parents? After school and with retired adults along with high school and college students sounds much more appealing. Rather than the goal be eagle, how about helping run a unit at a local middle school? Certainly money is an issue. Donations have dropped off. Some people blame it on membership rules. Maybe it's also because, being an elite youth organization, donors don't see it as helping the kids that need help. We've all noticed that CO's typically don't participate in units, either monetarily or in decisions. They provide a place to meet and that's about it. If, instead, scouting was directed at the kids that these CO's are more interested in, is it possible donations would start going up and participation would increase? Churches? Schools? United Way? What kids are they interested in helping? I don't know what the answer is, I just see a problem. Or maybe I'm just ready to move on.
  3. 6 points
    I've worked for DCs who were great leaders. They provided the correct sight picture, training, encouragement for UCs. Actively recruited UCs. Yet were constantly stymied because they were always short UCs, or those that were on the rolls fit in one or more of theses categories: - AWOL: performed no duties, never seen - Toxic: performed their duties, but the units disliked their high-handed/clueless approach and attitude. Several cordially dis-invited from any unit activity - Hapless: nice folks, they mean well, but provided nothing of value to the units and/or they rarely show up - Inert: neither toxic or hapless, they showed up to district stuff but wouldn't visit their units for any reason - Selective engagement: bad attitude, refused to do anything unit level, but loved to show up to district stuff, and anything related to WB or council As I've mentioned, I was in six councils during my military career. In five of these, I'd show up to a new duty station, call the local council and volunteer as a UC. This always led to a nice lunch or a cup of coffee the next week with a DE or district commissioner who was delighted and perhaps a little surprised that I volunteered. The real surprises happened when I'd visit units and do my best to convey respect, interest in their unit, and fellowship. Usual comments: "I've been an SM for X years and you are the first commissioner who has walked through our door." "We had a UC several years before but he was a complete jerk and we told him not to come back." "Frankly we loathe the district, they've been nothing but a thorn in our side for years." They were further surprised when I'd go camping with them if they were short an adult, wash dishes and have a cup of coffee with them around the campfire. ("A commissioner who actually camps...well now I've seen it all!") I realize it looks like I'm sounding my own horn but I mention these dynamics because what I did was not profound at all. The only thing that was unusual was that many UCs can't or won't do their job, regardless of training, leadership and motivation.
  4. 6 points
    From my travels (six different councils), units that might be classified as "freeloaders" often have grounds for not supporting their council. Peel back the onion and these units make the following case: - Council pros who continually display a disinterested or antagonistic tone to units - Little/no communication from council; noticeable lack of interest in feedback from volunteers - Poor quality programming - Running substandard summer camps yet charging an arm and leg (cash cow) - Council pros bolstering a good ole boy crowd of volunteers at council and district level who display the same disdain for units - DEs who either can't or won't help units (I realize this is not always their fault) - Councils demanding financial contributions, or insinuating that they (council) deserve funds, despite poor support to units - Instances of conflict between the pros and the units In summary, these units have long memories. Yes, the unit owns 50 percent of the relationship but I have seen many an otherwise cooperative unit turned off by a heavy handed pro, or a distant/non-supportive council. Units vote with their feet and their wallets. That translates to attending out of council camps, not attending round table, declining FOS etc.
  5. 5 points
    Oops, forgot the most important item: Remove the silos. National seems to consist of disparate groups that are so focused on their small fiefdoms that, collectively, they just chip away at the most fundamental aspects of scouting. It seems there are silos for safety, future jobs, lifelong learning, not having fun with toy guns or anything that looks like it, advancement, citizenship, JTE/WB/training/EDGE, and leave no trace. In the meantime we've been wondering what happened to the Patrol Method, Scout Led, and Fun silos. These are really fundamental ideas and they've been crowded out. There needs to be someone very high up that truly understands how important it is for scouts to take ownership, and this person needs the authority to defend that from all the other ideas coming from these silos, that are just boring kids into submission. Every single MB does not need a requirement about safety or future job possibilities. There's nothing wrong with squirt guns. At the same time patrols need to be encouraged to do their own thing. This is not a program change. This is restructuring national so they focus on the fundamentals. There needs to be one super silo, the one that defends the fundamentals of scouting. This should be led by the guy with the vision that has been mentioned elsewhere.
  6. 5 points
    A few things: 1) Entry into scouts at different ages. There seems to be this model that we have to grab youth when they're young because after that we'll never see them again. Hence tigers and lions. Rather, I like the idea of splitting cubs in 2 and encouraging the idea that the older cub and scout programs are a great time to enter scouts. Less burnout for one. Also, a lot of kids are starting to drop out of sports just about the time scouts starts up. That's a big, untapped group of kids. I don't know how to encourage this. I think too many parents, that don't understand scouts, just assume scouts is just more of the same cubs. 2) Move the emphasis from advancement to having fun learning skills. A) Scouts want to do. Rewrite all the requirements so scouts are doing more and talking less. The point is not to perfectly train a scout in any skill, it's to make trying the skill fun. B) Learning skills is more important than advancement. Yes, I keep pushing for simplification and I apologize, but advancement is just a huge resource sink. It drives unit activities, summer camp, and MB fairs. It drives kids away from scouts because they aren't so much interested in check boxes as having fun. It's not that I want to get rid of eagle, I just want to get it back to the point where eagle was nice, not the sole purpose of scouting. There are requirements for MB counselors as to who can be one and what they should do. Just enforce them. Remove MB fairs. Make summer camp more about doing fun things and less about the class block schedule. C) Write the Big Book of Scout Fun. This is a resource for patrols and den leaders. It's a big expansion of the field guide and program features. It includes multiple, specific ways to have fun learning a skill, with your patrol. It can also include ways to make money. Dutch oven cooking, making a knife, starting a lawn mowing business, fun games with orienteering, identifying trees, making your own tent, star gazing with phone apps, cooking the perfect pancake. This could just as well be a wiki. The point is the focus is currently on advancement because it's laid out so well, whereas fun is just an abstract idea. Make fun ideas more concrete. 3) Make a push for after school scouts. After school scouting would take care of marketing and also open up scouting to more kids. Parents picking up their kids would see other kids wearing a neckerchief and they'd start asking questions. Also, make a push to get scouts back into schools. Even if it's the normal evening meetings. It would help make scouting more visible. 4) Combine scouts, sea scouts and venturing. Again, the focus is having fun, not eagle. If a troop wants to focus on sail boats then encourage it. Same for climbing, shooting, skiing, biking, service, running after school programs and anything else that a scout might enjoy and find a purpose in. Maybe, after getting First Class, a scout should decide on his path. Besides, there's no reason for entirely different uniforms for these programs.
  7. 5 points
    Before everyone breaks up the phone company, what services do the councils provide? Or is this just a way to find the council with the lowest fees? As much as I'd like to get away from my council the advantage of having a local council is meeting people face to face. The Atlanta Denver example just doesn't make sense to me. Remote training has already been torn apart. Remote camporees? I don't see it. As much as people talk about working remotely it just doesn't work as well as talking to people in person. I'd rather see each unit have more say in how their council operates. How that happens is up for debate but the idea is make it two way, not just top down. As long as we're changing everything, how about simplifying the program? I look at the BSA program and it's just complicated and expensive. Everyone keeps comparing the cost to an elite sport team. It should be available to everyone - without having to sell $5000 of popcorn every year. Find the poorest neighborhood you know of and make a program the parents of those kids will like without needing lots of donations. A good place to start is tossing out just about everything you can buy at the scout store. The uniform is a t-shirt and a neckerchief. No patches. A POR is an arm band, just like soccer captains. Or maybe a different necker. We need skills to learn, not ranks to do. We need 18-25 year old mentors rather than epaulets, retired old guys for commissioners and knots. We need more freedom in making the program fun rather than announcement laden meetings. So much of the program is wrapped up in defining, supporting, litigating, and promoting advancement that all the fun has been pushed aside. Elite soccer might cost a fortune but all you really need is something that looks kind of like a ball, a dirt field, a bunch of kids, and a few rocks for goals. Anyone can play soccer. What do you really need to enjoy the outdoors? Your friends? A water bottle? A sack? A map? Make it $5 worth of stuff. Put lists of ideas of fun things to do with that stuff on a website and everything else is mostly having fun with your friends. If you really want to go to Philmont and you can pay for it, fine, do it. However, nobody needs camporees that cost $20/scout so the council can raise money. Nobody needs fancy camps, rustic is fine, as is a national forest. We certainly don't need "program development" or "marketing" people at councils. Get rid of advancement and money sucking and councils will get much simpler. So will national. This program, at its core, is about people. Focus on that. Focus on scouts working together to solve their problems and have the fun they want to have. Teach them how to accomplish their dreams.
  8. 5 points
    Let's all take it a step further, and think back to those earliest days of the BSA. The first slate of "Council professional"' were hired by the Council's themselves. National had nothing to do with it. These people had no longstanding experience as a professional in the BSA (some may have been volunteers at first but as the BSA was still so young, everyone was a novice). Why can't we go back to those days? Realistically, most everything can be done online. Some current processes could be modified to make it more effective as online transactions, but the cost is the most likely culprit as to why it isn't changed to do it. I would much rather the Council E Board interview and hire who they see fit to be the best SE, not have to be forced to chose only from amongst the available options National presents them with. Personally, I'd like my SE to have received their degree in finance or business and 10 years experience in the private sector so they can be highly effective at running the business end of things, than be hiring an SE with a degree in music history that has had 10 years experience in the BSA professional ranks as their only work experience.
  9. 5 points
    The doubling of the national fees last year cost my unit membership. If it doubles again this year via a council service fee we may not survive as a unit. I see a council service fee as a tax. And what you tax you get less of. I think it will be no big deal in rich suburbs but rural scouting will take a huge hit. My parents don't give a rat's behind about the distinction between districts, councils, and national. It's all just Boy Scout bureaucrats. Raise the fee from $72 to $132 and they'll walk. Beyond that, if I was forced to pay a service fee my willingness to participate in popcorn, camp cards, OA work weekends, and FOS would be exactly zero. Why should I give up my time to do those things if I'm being taxed to support them?
  10. 5 points
    Once again, you are putting the cart before the horse. You talk as if the units exist to serve the council, rather than the other way around. If a large number of units don't want the services your council wants to provide them, then perhaps it is your council who should change its attitude. Non-participation does not need to become a thing of the past. It is the most effective way to educate the council to the fact that it is not serving the needs and wants of the units. If this attitude continues, the councils should go under. Maybe some better council will rise up from its ashes with a true desire to serve the units.
  11. 5 points
    Allowing the CO to truly fully designate the Committee Chair to serve as the voting member could be one avenue to improve the system. Our CO in general is supportive of us, and wants to have the affiliation for their Legion post to the youth. However, their bylaws call for annual election and the current Post Commander becomes the defacto IH and COR. That person may not be the most connected person to the unit. If they want to designate the CC or even the SM to serve their interests as well as the units, let them do so. Otherwise for us, as i feel it is for many if not most, I have to chase them down to sign the application for the new ASM or Committee Member- who is serving the unit, not the COH really.
  12. 5 points
    Congrats to my mother! After 33 years of Scouting service she's finally received the District Award of Merit for Saddleback District. Way to go Mom!
  13. 4 points
    Restructuring needs to give the grass roots level more prominent, direct, and influential access points. BSA is a very insular, top down organization and it needs to become more nimble, transparent, and accessible. There currently is no way for local units to demand anything from national short of refusing to recharter, which none of us will do because it only hurts the kids. I can't think of a single well regarded business or institution that only promotes from within except for maybe religious orders. That obviously needs to change. In that vein, national needs to reach out and consult and recruit more with and from other successful outside organizations. Examine how other youth organizations like Little League and 4-H are structured, what they know about changing youth demographics and how they are adapting. Customer service has been a problem with National, so do the same with businesses that are known for superior customer service like Amazon and L.L. Bean etc. Why don't we have stronger partnerships with other outdoor oriented organizations, like Audubon, The Sierra Club, etc. Can they partner with us to help with resources for the outdoor program? Where can we find a Bear Grylls? There may already be people from some of these organizations offering token viewpoints on the many boards, but they must not be having much input. The focus of a restructuring should not be, in my opinion, to restructure scouting but to create an organization that can sustain scouting by focusing on the customer -- the units and ultimately the scout and his or her family.
  14. 4 points
    Perfect timing, @Cburkhardt. I just spent last evening talking to a financial guy about how totally screwed up our council is. The SE hires the board, so they will never complain. A capital fundraiser of $6M is in progress and the SE is already siphoning money off of it for other things (he can't explain what, though) The council president is a yes man. And the area leadership is chummy with the SE, so they will never do anything about the issues. The point is, for at least 20 years our council has been run by 2 different SE's that have no expertise in how to run a business. It used to be that we'd get enough donors to cover the mistakes. No more. All of the training in the world can't fix this hot mess. So, the most important change is replace the top down culture with servant leadership. The relationships between areas and councils, councils and districts, and districts and units needs to change. "How can I help" and "tough love" should be the mottoes. Also, have a standard best practices for every council that is transparent so anyone can see financial mismanagement. JTE is not enough. A council is a business so run it that way. This includes oversight to ensure the SE is doing a good job. The CO's should get annual reports that clearly explain the finances. Change the hiring model. Allow councils to hire the best people they can find rather than the current internal dictates from above that we now have. A retired VP at one of our local companies could do more in a day than our SE can do in a month. Once we get real leadership all sorts of possibilities arise. The same thing applies for areas. Make it possible to fire people that don't perform.
  15. 4 points
    My experience is that units, districts and even councils do have some leeway toward a custom structure, but councils motivation depends on what they will get out of it, which often gets in the way at the unit level. I was given the the go-ahead by council to develop a completely new concept of a Council Level Junior Leadership Training Course. The concept and syllabus was completely different from Nationals JLTC/Brownsea courses both in the objectives and the structure of the course. Council was motivated for something completely new because the previous course directors developed such a bad course reputation with the course that Council needed to start over just to get some integrity back in JLT. On the other hand, our District had two Cub Packs that eliminated Tigers from the program because the overhead was to much for the leaders. Council fought (harassed) them hard to keep the Tiger program because they were afraid of loosing membership. I can't say exactly where National draws the line in the sand for letting Council make these kinds of decisions, but their common goals and motivations will certainly drive some limitations that aren't advantageous to units. I believe if National is to give Councils more freedom to customize their structure, they will need guarantees of monetary and membership gains. The struggle has been for some time that National's goals don't fall in line with their Mission and Vision. The saying goes that unit goals of quality don't fit with nationals goals of quantity. Now I know that you don't like this negative talk, but as an innovator, I've learn in my life that maturity and changes come from the fertile soil of humility. If the BSA is to really make changes toward improved program, National needs to display openness to listening and proof of action. Something? Barry
  16. 4 points
    As a start...hire @Sentinel947 to pilot this at a district of his choice AND listen to his advice for growth to other districts. Perhaps establish coop relationships with colleges which offer outdoor related majors . Some juniors and seniors are over 20, though IMHO National should recognize 18yr olds as adults. Right next door to Summit,: https://admissions.wvutech.edu/academics/majors/adventure-recreation-management Maine: https://www.unity.edu/academics/certifications/recreation/ Minnesota: https://cehsp.d.umn.edu/departments-centers/center-environmental-education/undergraduate-degrees/environmental-outdoor-ed Another $0.02,
  17. 4 points
    Sounds right. So how do we get Scoutmasters to influence the Scouts towards exciting program? The answer used to be training, but the training materials seem less oriented towards adventure, less and less time is allocated to training, and little is done to encourage exciting program or to discourage unexciting program. E.g.: a weekend "lock-in" indoors to watch movies is a "weekend campout" for scoring Journey to Mediocrity," a principle tool, we are told, to promote "good program." 😍
  18. 4 points
    I stand by my point. Americans are getting out doors plenty. The people who are interested in getting out in nature and doing fun things are there. The average BSA Troop doesn't execute an exciting or compelling outdoor program most of the time. Some of that is the Guide to Safe Scouting, but I'd say more of it falls on the leaders of those troops. My Troop isn't all that special, but we do plenty of adventurous outdoor stuff: backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, caving, shooting sports. All that stuff does cost money, and even the fairly well off families in my unit can't afford 8-12 expensive weekend outings a year, especially across multiple kids. So we always do a few local, close, low cost activities each year as well.
  19. 4 points
    I'm thinking district roles really need to change. We keep looking at restructuring from a top down perspective. I think we need to start from a CO/unit level up perspective. Everyone is talking about recruiting good volunteers, more volunteers, any volunteers. Well, volunteers are disappearing or at least morphing in the Millennial generation. This may be blasphemy to some but I think more district roles may need to be paid resource positions. I think more district roles will necessarily need to be in direct support of unit volunteers, making their lives easier and providing resources that are becoming scarce at the CO/unit level. Other youth organizations have had to make this transition. Once we figure out what districts need to do to keep the local programs running and expanding, then we can decide what Councils should be doing. That's how I look at it. A lot of these traditional top down roles people are talking about may not be relevant in two years. For example, what is the point of worrying about Council level fundraising and Fortune 100 board influence if our youth numbers continue to decline?
  20. 4 points
    I have calmed down enough to comment on the "Freeloader Unit" title that @Cburkhardt uses to describe units "that attend camp out of council, don’t participate in district or council activities, don’t assist the council or district financially (through FOS, product sales or otherwise) and don’t assist by participating in activities or training events." But @desertrat77 pretty much nails it with why units I've been in that are "freeloaders" are they way they are. Further, @Sentinel947 spot on that adding fees will make it worse. When National increased the registration fee, people dropped, and some decided not to honor the FOS payments to cover the cost of the increase. My district is suffering, and we are getting no support from the council. We have been sharing a DE for 7 to 10 years now. To make matters worse, when volunteers get together to organize stuff and get things done, the council interferes and either says "no" or adds so much stuff that it burns out volunteers. Best example is the district camporee. One volunteer organized a work day for folks in the district to go to camp and get it ready for camporee. Council said "NO." Yes, they turned down free labor. A few year back, the DE, without consulting with the camporee co-chairmen or anyone else in the districts involved, decided to add a Cub Scout event at the same time and place as the joint district camporee. When the chairs try to discuss their concerns with having a 3rd event going on {Camporee and ItOLS were scheduled), we were told it would happen or we could step down. Since camporee was a week or two away, I stepped down Sunday morning of camproee.
  21. 4 points
    Perhaps the Council and Districts need to get feedback from their stakeholders (Scouts, leaders, CO's) and figure out why folks don't participate in council activities. Leveraging a fee on folks who already do not participate is just going to make them mad, it's not going to drive them to participate. It'd just be viewed as a scalping maneuver. Which is exactly what it is. You can attract more flies with honey than you can with vinegar. Pros and District volunteers need to get out and meet the units, particularly the ones that do not participate, and build relationships and help those units solve problems. The participation and money will follow that relationship building.
  22. 4 points
    In Western PA, we got around that by throwing Hail Mary's and catching Immaculate Receptions. 🤣
  23. 4 points
    Ah the old belief that only those who believe in a god can have values. Pray tell, which values are exclusive to theists? And among theists is there universal agreement about these values? That was rhetorical; the answers are None and No.
  24. 4 points
    For me, it is really aesthetic. Not all unofficial flair will make an ugly/cluttered/ridiculous uniform; but UP approved uniform, in full compliance with the guide to awards and insignia, will almost never look too bad. I don't have much artistic or design ability, so I stick to a simpler uniform. I don't even like temporary patches much because they are either a pain to sew on and off or they are dangling things that can get caught on stuff. Same reason I don't like the powderhorn or emergency preparedness insignia- more stuff to catch, clang, remove before washing, and put back on after. Wearing medals is a pain. That's why square knots exist. They are tiny, unobtrusive, lightweight decorations that are harmonious with the uniform shirt design. Heck, I kind of wish they would bring back the old minimalist council strips for the same reason. I try to keep the uniform something that I don't mind wearing in 90 degree heat while doing physical work. It probably started as a youth habit because OA events frequently required a lot of physical work in full uniform. I say, if you look at the uniform and think it looks better with more stuff, no one is going to stop you; but I recommend a backpacking shakedown approach- 'is it worth it to me to carry this extra stuff all day?' For me, more stuff has always been more of a pain than its worth.
  25. 4 points
    RS, excellent point. Here's my hunch. Mr. Mosby graciously declined the CSE title to help assuage the hurt feelings that are no doubt percolating through the "commissioned BSA professional" corps as we speak. Some gold loopers knew it was potentially "their turn" to be in the running for the CSE job. Not only were they passed over, their whole world is about to change.
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