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Everything posted by Hunt

  1. I was a Webelos, and then a Scout for about a year and a half. My story is similar to Gern's--it stopped being fun, when the leaders became much more obsessed with uniforms and drilling. I was also a pretty unathletic kid, and found hiking pretty difficult. I've gotten involved as an adult because my son really likes it--he's much more outdoorsy than I was. (I still do mostly indoor stuff as a Scouter--Advancement, etc.) I have to add, though, that even my brief time in Scouts had a lasting impact on my attitudes--I still remember the Scout Law, for example.
  2. I think an interesting question would be what percentage of boys who are still registered Scouts at age 18 are Eagles. I'll bet that would be a high percentage--and always has been. A higher percentage of Eagles now may just mean that boys who become Scouts are more likely to stay in for the longer term than before.
  3. Arguments are always weakened by overstatement. Claims that BSA is "under siege" are pretty overstated, in my opinion, as is the argument that BSA is "hatemongering" by declining to allow gays to join. Of course, most people who make arguments aren't really trying to persuade undecided people--they are trying to stir up people who already agree with them.
  4. I think the reason women aren't mentioned is that they do not remove their "headdress." This has been discussed at length before...I take comfort in the fact that there doesn't appear to be anybody who really objects to scouts give the Scout Salute and reciting the Pledge aloud. As to the flag, I'm not persuaded by any of the rhetoric about how the flag should "stream." To me, a flag patch with the stars on the right looks "backwards" and weird.
  5. Note that the first post in this thread is from 2005. But... "Service can only be counted for one thing or another, not both." I don't see anything in writing from BSA that requires this interpretation, although I think it is a reasonable one for the MBC to apply. I would probably allow certain types of double-dipping though: for example, if the school system requires a certain number of community service hours for graduation, I would allow those same hours to count for advancement or MB requirements.
  6. We, too, had several open houses that yielded no recruits. A few Webelos showed up, but the parents confessed that they were already committed to the troop fed by their pack. We have also done advertising that didn't even result in any phone calls. The only thing that has worked has been individual recruiting, both by boys and parents. This can lead to a very nice chain reaction. Recently, one of our adult leaders asked a mom if her son might be interested. He came, and a year later his younger brother joined, the younger brother brought a friend, and that friend has now brought another friend. Make sure you have Recruiter strips to give out.
  7. My advice depends on whether these ranks have already been entered on the internet or not. If they haven't, I would suggest holding a Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review on a fast track before entering them. Tell the boys that in this case, it's just a formality, but you want to do everything properly to set a good example for the younger boys. If the ranks have already been entered, I would suggest holding a non-rank Scoutmaster Conference and Board of Review for these boys. At the Conference and Board, talk with them about the new direction for the troop, including the need to follow the book for advancement in the future.
  8. "The greatest immorality of all is judging other people to be inferior to oneself in any way, shape or form." But don't we all believe in judging people--surely, in determining whether someone would be allowed to be a leader and role model for your children, you would judge against them if they were drug addicts, pedophiles, convicted kidnapers, maybe even reckless drivers. The problem here is that there is less of a consensus on what the correct judgment is.
  9. I think it's fine for an organization that disagrees with BSA's membership policies to decline to be a chartered organization. As the article shows, some people think the disagreement is too central to justify participation, and others who disagree with the policy neverthless think that the overall benefits of participation justify joining and seeking change from within.
  10. "I don't agree that the BSA was always a private organization; not with public schools running them. And the NJ supreme court had no problem judging the BSA to be a public accommodation. And from what I understand, the BSA built the building and deeded it to the city as part of the original agreement that allowed them to build it on public land. From that point on it was the city's property, so $1/year is a subsidy." I seem to remember that the NJ decision you refer to was appealed to the Supreme Court, where it was reversed. Also, you have a bit of pronoun trouble in your first sentence quoted above; I think you know that BSA was always a private organization, although some units were chartered to public entities. Interestingly, the troop for which Dale was an ASM was sponsored by a United Methodist Church--which may explain why he apparently didn't try to sue the chartered organization, since it would be a bit tough to argue that a church was a public accomodation. Perhaps a better plaintiff could have been found--one who was dumped from a troop chartered to a public school. But since the Dale case went the way it did, and since BSA has moved out of the public chartered organizations, the chances that BSA will ever be held to be a public accomodation is exactly zilch. On your second point, would you say that the city was "subsidizing" a charity hospital under the same circumstances? It seems to me that it's only a subsidy situation if you think that the city is not benefiting from the arrangement. If you feel that overall BSA is not a benefit to the youth of the city, I suppose you might think there is a "subsidy." Perhaps some people might feel the same way, if, for example, the hospital I mentioned above was a Catholic hospital that declined to perform abortions. It's a narrow view, but not unusual among people who obsess about specific issues without considering the big picture.
  11. "The city found itself suddenly subsidising a private, religious organization that discriminated." Suddenly? I don't think so. BSA has always been a private organization. It was the novel theory promoted in the Dale case that it was a public accomodation--a theory which failed in the Supreme Court. Rather, what happened in Philly was that the political winds changed, and it became politically more advantageous to terminate the lease than to continue it. As I haven't seen the lease, I can only speculate, but it seems that the city probably has the power to do this. However, I feel quite certain that the city leaders who negotiated the lease in the first place would be stupefied and outraged by the present turn of events. You're right that this issue has been percolating for several years...perhaps there have been behind the scenes efforts to slow it down to give BSA time to find other space or to come up with the rent. I'd also like to comment on the idea that the city was "subsidizing" BSA by charging $1 rent. Note that BSA built the building and paid for all upkeep. It seems to me that the question of who is subsidizing who depends on how the overall benefits are flowing. If this were a hospital run by a charity that was treating poor people for free, but paying only a dollar in rent, it would be nonsensical to say that the city was "subsidizing" it. It's my belief that the city leaders who entered into the original lease with BSA thought the city was getting more than it was giving. Perhaps the new leaders see the benefits to the city differently.
  12. I think it's important to talk to the parents. It's not so easy to determine if pickiness is "choice-based" or not. There is a boy in my son's troop who will eat only a few foods. He is perfectly willing to cook and clean for the other boys, but he simply won't eat many normal foods. Often he simply won't eat much at all. When he does eat, it's something very bland, like a cheese sandwich or a plain pancake. Based on his general behavior, I don't think he's deliberately trying to be difficult. Personally, I despise the taste of liver. If I got hungry enough, of course I would eat it. Imagine that many, many foods tasted that bad to you--it would be tough, and it might not be possible to "just get over it." So I'm with those who think that if the boy is doing his share of the work, paying his share of the food costs, and not overtly endangering his health in the short term, we should let him eat what he wants (after conferring with his parents, of course).
  13. To try to get this back to the topic of Philly, I agree with the person who asked if anybody has seen the lease terms. I looked for an article that had it with no success. However, what I have read suggests that the lease contains BOTH of the following: that the property was to be used "in perpetuity" for Scouting purposes AND that the lease could be terminated by either party. I would sure like to see the rest of it, but obviously it was the city that decided to change the arrangement. It may have been within its rights under the terms of the lease to do so, but it's obviously contrary to the idea of the lease. Since BSA doesn't seem to be threatening to sue the city, probably the lease does give the city that power. But it takes a very narrow viewpoint to think that BSA suddenly went from being a beneficial service organization that helped the city so much that it deserved a no-rent lease to being no different from any commercial entity that might want to lease city property. This is why a compromise or phased rent increase should have been worked out.
  14. I indicated that I would council outside the troop--but I have never received a single call. I think it just doesn't happen much. Between troop-associated counselors, summer camp, and organized merit badge days, there just aren't many people looking at the council list. For another twist on the availability of the list: here we do it by district, and I was recently told that the district doesn't send the list out to troops at all; rather, you contact them if a boy wants to do a MB, and they will let you know if there is somebody who counsels it.
  15. I think perhaps we should approach all questions as hypothetical questions...even if they are posed as real situations. Prefacing reactions with things like, "If that's all there is to the story..." or "Assuming there's not some explanation we haven't heard..." or "While we haven't heard the other side of the story, it nevertheless seems..." might help a bit.
  16. I know it must be hard for moderators to decide what constitutes a personal attack that must be removed. It seems to me that it may make a difference who is being attacked, i.e., there is a difference between "don't poke that defenseless hamster with a stick," and "if you poke that pit bull with a stick, I can't be responsible for the consequences."
  17. I'm sure somebody (maybe me) made this point in an earlier thread, but what's troubling about the Philly situation is really that the city changed the rules--the Scouts didn't change. The concept of the $1 per year lease was that the facility would be used in perpetuity for Scouting--obviously, the city thought that such an arrangement would benefit the people of the city. However, the city initiated a new discrimination policy, and changed the terms of the deal it offered. That just seems cheesy, since BSA built and maintained the building, and the obvious intention of the parties at the inception of the deal was that this would continue in perpetuity. This is why I thought a compromise should have been worked out (such as increasing rent payments over a period of years.) Also, I have yet to learn whether Philly has similar rental agreements with other non-profits with similar membership rules--for example, the Roman Catholic Church. If there really aren't any, I can't say that Philly's action is unfair, exactly. I would still say that it was handled in a cheesy manner, however. (I blame both the city and the Council for pretending that some kind of non-discrimination statement by the Council could solve the problem--they must have known better.)
  18. I can't understand why someone who doesn't like whining would return to this thread. I suppose it's another of the mysteries of human behavior.
  19. "There's no court ruling because no public school will even begin to defend the practice." Oh, I suspect one could be found. But BSA chose not to take that path. The result has been a move to private CORs with little effect on actual scouts and units. As for what would happen if BSA allowed CORs to decide whether to permit gay or atheist members: I don't think the United Methodist Church would stop chartering units. Rather, the controversy within the church would be whether to allow individual congregations to allow gay leaders. As for LDS, obviously they wouldn't allow gay leaders, but would they really sever all ties just because other units would be allowed to make this change? The key to bringing this about, if BSA ever decides to do so, is to market it as a new "option" plan--in fact, the best thing would probably be headlines that say, "Gays and Atheists Still Barred from Many BSA Units." By the way, what does membership growth or decline have to do with any of this? Shouldn't BSA do what's right whatever the effect on membership might be, whichever side of this issue you might be on?
  20. With all the crime, violence, hatred, etc., in the world, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by bad behavior in more mundane situations, but I still am. Not too long ago, an elderly driver bumped the rear of my car in an intersection. I followed him into a supermarket parking lot, and although my car wasn't damaged, I did point out to him that he had bumped me. He proceed to curse me, and to accuse me of backing up. I confess that I was really surprised. Isn't it interesting how much of this kind of bad behavior involves automobiles?
  21. "And why would a change in national policy affect your troop? Each troop would still be able to exclude anyone they wanted for any reason." To follow up on this, this is the current situation with respect to female leaders in units--Chartering organizations are free to decide to exclude female leaders if they wish. Presumably, this would be the likely policy change with respect to gay leaders if that were to occur. As a result, I have never been convinced that such a change would have the cataclysmic effect that some fear. But didn't I read in another thread that in Britain, units are no longer free to remain single sex?
  22. This topic has been discussed here before at some length. It seems to me that the problem is that the language quoted is suggestive, but not really clear, about what the SM's role is in selecting counselors. It says nothing about how the SM is to pick a name--whether he can or should consider quality or anything else. The language describes the process, but it really doesn't say anything about who has authority to make decisions in that process. It's clear that the SM has an obligation to help the scout identify a counselor--but that's all that's really clear.
  23. I think there is some problem here with who said what when. If it is the case that a boy went to summer camp with his troop, and was allowed or encouraged to pursue merit badges, and was allowed to believe he had earned merit badges, only to learn (for the first time) at the COH that he hadn't earned them, that is a real problem. This really should have been explained. If this failure of communication happened, I think I would have to blame the troop leaders for it; while one should ask lots of questions when joining a new troop, it certainly wouldn't occur to me to ask whether MBs earned at camp would be recognized. Also, to me a lot depends on what the troop counselors require to "prove" that the work has been done. If it's a matter of sitting down with the counselor to go through the requirements and simply explain how they were done at camp, that would be different, in my mind, from actually making them redo all the work. Bad experiences with camp MBs could lead to a level of quality control--but if actual work is being rejected because boys have no proof other than their word and the approval of the camp counselor, that is too much control.
  24. Imagine that there's a large troop with a really poor program, adult-led, lots of deviation from BSA practices, extra advancement requirement, their own deviant uniform, etc., etc. Now imagine that new leaders come in, galvanize boy leadership, develop a really good outdoor program, etc. Now imagine that people who preferred the old way quit. The troop is now half its old size, but now all leaders are trained, advancement is being done right, uniforming is good, etc. Do you think the "people in Texas" and at the Council will view this as a success story?
  25. Does anyone really think the DE (or anybody else in authority) will interfere with the policies of a troop with 60 Scouts and a waiting list? I agree with those who say your only options are to find another unit or to work for gradual change.
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