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AvidSM

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About AvidSM

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    New Jersey
  1. It's not easy explaining how a district functions to a unit volunteer. A district is not run the same as a pack or troop. It's main functions are advancement, membership, finance, activities and direct unit service (via the commissioners staff). A district is organized around those functions and exists to serve it's units, directly or indirectly. Whether a unit leader understands this or not is due to many reasons. As with units, no two districts are alike, with differing manpower, experience and dedication. Units can function without any help from their district and some do by choice. Still, a district is supposed to "help a unit succeed", regardless of their differneces. But, it cannot help a unit leader if they do not wish to be helped. A good district should be promoting roundtable every month to get these unit leaders to attend and at least have some way of asking for help. Unit commissioners are supposed to care about all their units: pack, troops, teams, crews, ships, etc. A typical district commissioner is always looking to recruit more UC's; it is a challenge to keep a full staff. If a unit leader really needs help and has no unit commissioner, then they should contact their DC.
  2. I can see why the BSA is considering this and that it is 100% politically driven. This moral battle is no longer winnable at the corporate level. The BSA has wisely decided to vacate the battlefield and focus its political resources elsewhere. If it is to work on polishing its image, via a new television show or jamboree venue, reducing the number of political tomatoes being thrown at it will help. National is not looking at letting homosexuals in the BSA, because they have been members all along. It has been their own personal choice whether to be open about it. It has also been the choice of their fellow leaders to have them removed, some may say unfairly, via the BSAs policy on homosexuals. This is the way it is in each unit because this is the way it is in our society - some tolerate it while others do not. What National is doing is accepting this fact: that toleration towards homosexuals varies in our society and that as a nation we are growing more tolerant of this behavior. Obamas second inaugural speech and other changes in the US Military is an indication of this trend. From a units perspective, nothing will change the Chartering Organization will still have the final say in accepting or removing its scouting leaders. What will change is that a homosexual leader cannot be removed permanently as a scouter. He or she is free to find another unit to belong to - perhaps one that is more tolerant. By changing this policy, the BSA will no longer interpret what it means in the Scout Oath by morally straight, as it applies to sexuality. As the BSA attempts to shape scoutings future, it can no longer afford to offer specifics regarding morality. After all, its not The Church of the Boy Scouts of America. Hearing this news, some scouters I know are threatening to resign, on principle. They dont want to be associated with the BSA anymore. I see a lot of passion over this issue either way - these leaders love scouting and feel abandoned by their church. The BSA must know that it will lose membership, in the short term. Whether it will grow in the long term, only time will tell.
  3. AvidSM

    Unit Commissioner?

    I agree with SSScout. Get some experience before volunteering for a Unit Commissioner position. The most effective UC's have the experience that comes with going through the program with their son. They are also more focused on their UC job, since their son is out of scouting. A UC can still help out at the unit level, just not as much as they used to.
  4. "Cub Scouts, in particular, dropped from 2,166,289 in 1999 to 1,583,166 in 2011. That's an average annual decline of 2.58%, for a total decline of 27%. Boy Scouts have done relatively better, and in fact, have increased in the past two years. The overall drop is 1,023,691 to 909,576, for an average annual loss of 0.98%." This data tells me that it's the parents. Older boys are more in charge of their own lives. They can influence their parents decisions and get them to drive them to the meetings. They are hooked into the various social networks and can find out on their own what the true value of scouting is. The traditional media no longer controls what they think and do. Say what you want about the internet, but its a whole new world where the truth can always be found for those who seek it. Scouting allows them to be in control, which is what they really want more than anything else. The parents are in more control of their boys during their "cub years" and are not making cub scouting a priority in the lives of their sons. They do not see enough value in it - so they don't encourage their sons to join or to stay in the program long if they do join. Why don't parents see value in the scouting program? Perhaps they were not scouts as a youth (boy or girl). Maybe its that other activities are seen as having more value, either to the youth or the adult. For example, the night that the scouts meet is the same night as some other (youth or adult) club or sporting team. So either the parent is not available to drive the boy to the meeting, or the boy is doing something else instead of scouting. I have seen first hand how busy modern parents are: showing up to a unit meeting 20 to 30 minutes late; not being organized or focused on the task at hand; distracted by their smart phones or tablets. They say "I can't make it to you Roundtable meeting, can I Skype into it?" No matter how much we improve the image of scouting, we cannot change the behavior of the modern parent.
  5. AvidSM

    The Troop Committee

    Training is important, but practical experience and a desire to do the job right also helps. Most of the units in my district do not have trained committee members. This has been an outstanding issue and it may come to a head if training becomes manditory for all adults in my Council. This is the case already for some Councils in our area. I will also add that a unit committee must meet monthly and all parents must be invited to attend and observe these meetings. This allows the parents to see how a unit operates and gives them a way to bring up any issues or concerns that they may have. You would think that a unit cannot operate with out monthly committee meetings, but they can and do.
  6. AvidSM

    Developing a Good SPL

    Step 1 - Tell him up front what his job is and what is expected of him. This does not mean handing him the official BSA position description. Really tell him what his job is in his troop. What he is supposed to do at each troop meeting and campout. How he should be delegating his authority to the other youth leaders. Get him trainined also, but don't skip this step in place of it. Step 2 - Let him do his job. When he does it well let him know immediately. When he fails, talk to him about it (but not in front of the whole group). Ask him why he failed and how he might do differently next time. Do not step in and do his job for him, but try to steer him away from the big failures that will spoil the fun and have a big negative impact on the program. Do not run the troop through him - calling him over when you want the group to do something. You and he must form a partnership. That's it. Do this and he will learn to trust you and delevelop into a good SPL. Also, these steps will not work if you as SM do not know what your job is and/or are not allowed to do it in your troop.
  7. AvidSM

    What makes a Scoutmaster Weak?

    "Scoutmasters deal with the individual boy rather than with the mass. I belive this quote from B-P is key to being a strong SM. Do this and everything else will fall into place. If a SM is not dealing with the mass, then he cannot lead them and the boys must do it. If a SM is being a role model, teaching, mentoring and advising each scout individulally, then he is allowing each boy to practice leadership. Weakness comes from not knowing what your job is and not knowing how to do that job. A sure sign of a weak SM is that he is constantly addressing the troop as a whole.
  8. Contact the Scoutmaster of the course and ask for the equipment list. You should recieve one in time to pack. If you course is given over two separate weekends, you will need far less equipment for the first weekend, since you won't be cooking any meals. Be prepared to sleep in a tent outdoors. I would pack an extra uniform. You will wear the one that matches the position that you are taking the course for. For example, if you signed up for the course as a Scoutmaster, you will wear an adult troop uniform with the "scoutmaster" position patch.
  9. Once you get the form submitted, go camping with the troop! There is no better way to get to know everyone involved. You need to see if and how you fit in to the big picture. You will get into a lot of good discussions while sitting around a campfire.
  10. AvidSM

    Sore subjects

    All of them.
  11. I would limit announcements to five minutes. Just let the people know that there are flyers for it on the table and on a web site. The rest of the meeting should be a mixture of training, presentations and a "roundtable" discussion. Pick an interesting topic and give a quick overview of it. Then let the people discuss the topic openly. The commissioner only serves as a moderator to keep the conversation on track. Letting everyone have a say at a roundtable serves many purposes. It allows the more experienced scouters to pass on their knowledge. Newer leaders pick up some good tips on how to get things done. Think of it as a support group for scouters. Instead of a twelve step process, we have the Oath and Law.
  12. AvidSM

    And so it begins!

    If I am sitting on a EBOR, one of the questions I want answered is: did the candidate do the project that he proposed? If there were changes, what were they? If the candidate successfully completed the project with only minor changes and the unit leader and project beneficiary approved it, then my responsibility is to VERIFY that requirement 5 has been met. At this point, I am not looking to approve or disapprove the scope of the project as being "eagle worthy" - someone else has done that already. I believe going back on that decision would be a disservice to the candidate. I want to see if he planned and developed the project himself and how much leadership he demonstrated. Most importantly I want to know what he learned from the experience. What I get from reading paragraph 9.0.2.13 in the new GTA is that if the candidate changes the project from what he proposed, the Unit Leader or the project beneficiary may choose not to approve it - upon completion. The candidate can ignore this and ask for an EBOR anyway. The EBOR may agree with the unit leader or the project beneficiary and also disapprove of the changes. Their reasoning would be: the project you did was not what you proposed and you changed it to the point where it no longer gives enough leadership to others or is not helpful enough to your community. Or the EBOR may determine that even with the changes, the project still satisfies requirement 5 and the candidate would pass. As I see it, there is a distinction made between the proposal and the subsequent effort. The EBOR should not be looking to un-approve the proposal. If someone of authority approved a bad proposal, then it is not the candidates fault. If its that bad, someone should have caught it way before the EBOR.
  13. AvidSM

    And so it begins!

    I agree with most of the posters here (althouth the termonology some of you are using is confusing). The EBOR is not the place to be accepting or rejecting a eagle candidates proposal. That job should be done by the Chair of the District Advancement Committee or a Member of that committee as designated by the Chair. In my district, these people do not sit as a "board" when approving the proposals. Also, there is no Council invovlement with this appoval unless the candidate or his parents appeal the decision. The troop should be doing it's job vetting the proposal as best it can. Some do not and it makes the district's job harder. It varies from troop to troop in my district. And, as far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the changes to the Workbook.
  14. Imagine a restaurant that fires its kitchen staff every night - including the head chief. Then it rehires some, but not all of them the next day not including the head chief. The menu is the same, but the recipes might vary somewhat. That's pretty much what a Council does with a Wood Badge staff. It is desired that it is made up of one-third new staff members. It has to be diverse, with people from different scouting backgrounds and positions. A different Course Director runs it every time. The best staff members are good teachers and have excellent people skills. They must also have some experience with the scouting program, especially the Troop Guides. I am on staff for a third time this year and I can say from experience that some people who get on staff are real idiots. But this was balanced with the attitude that the participants were our customers, and that they were always right. Please, dont let the turkeys get you down! Go into the course with a positive attitude there is nothing wrong with that. But if you find that you are having an issue or a problem during the course, say something to somebody!
  15. AvidSM

    FOS targets?

    It's not that something is wrong with FOS; it's just misunderstood and sometimes misleading. On the books, the district does not finance themselves. They have individual activity budgets that are closed at the end of each event, such as camporees, training sessions, etc. They are not custodial accounts, like for the OA, which you get to keep your surplus and carry it over year to year. Each district activity must be self-funded - it should not lose money. They are in fact in my council strongly encouraged to make money. What revenue the district collects and what material and services it purchases are absorbed into the Council's overall yearly finance budget. This makes it hard to analyze where some of the money came from and where it went to and why. If the districts are wasting money, only the people who ran each event would know. If the council is wasting money, it is difficult to separate out the district's share order to find that out. Neither council nor the district people that are aware of it are going to admit that they are wasting money. Skeptics will always assume they are - and good luck getting an FOS donation from those people. Some councils assume they are the best thing since sliced bread, and think that families would be glad to give their FOS dollars to them. The reality is that most Mom's and Dad's don't even know what their district is, much less their council. They will give their money to their unit; because they know the people they are giving it to and know what it is being spent on. The opposite is true for FOS and this is its inherent flaw.
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