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Everything posted by MattR

  1. NotNot sure this was discussed and it covers a couple of these threads, but there's an important question that needs addressing. If the BSA membership drops to between .5M and1M, what will the program and structure look like? I'm not saying it will go that way but it could get ugly. And even if it doesn't get that bad it would certainly help make the BSA stronger if it could deliver a good program with fewer resources and fewer people. Random thought spewage: Fewer DE's covering the same territory. Fewer units will be near each other. All those units in rural areas will be typical. Neighborhood patrols? Roundtables stretched even thinner. How do you make training work? At the council level, there will be a lot fewer paid staff. How about several DE's and one Senior DE? Everyone works with units. I've already mentioned my feelings about scout stores. It always gets back to spend less money so you can focus on your true purpose.
  2. Just to add another way of what @Eagledad and @yknot seem to be saying, scout led doesn't mean adult ignored. Ask questions. Keep them out of ruts. Keep them about the law and oath. One size of adult participation does not fit all, it really depends on the maturity of the scouts.
  3. MattR

    Chapter 11 announced

    True, but when the BSA tried to cover things up, can we blame that on society wide ills? If, instead, the BSA had brought it out and explained what it was doing to solve the problem they would have a lot more credibility now. The mindset should have always been that a proven abuse results in a ton of very visible repair going on: Helping the abused youth, prosecuting the abuser, and understanding how it happened to improve the unit, the council, and the BSA. Anyone hiding an event should have harsh consequences as well. I just wish there were some concrete numbers put on when these abuses and coverups happened. My impression is it dropped in the 90s when better protections were put in. But how much? Honestly, they need to convince me as well. If there were still coverups going on after my son started in 2001 then I'll be angry. After going through the training I assumed the process of training and reacting to abuse was all cleaned up. Was it? If so, the idea of don't throw out the baby with the bath water holds. If not, I'm assuming there are going to be a lot of properties sold.
  4. An idea for a great service project: help a girls den, or two, run fun meetings. Make them all den chiefs of a AOL den and invite them to scout events. Point is create a relationship between the den and the troop. Whenever we do that we get lots of recruits. When we stop, things dry up. If it's appearance that counts then there's no relationship.
  5. MattR

    Chapter 11 announced

    Is there a precedent? Is there another financial web that is this tightly dependent on each node and yet claim independence? Mary Kay? Franchises? If a couple of franchises of a restaurant sell burgers with mouse feet in them and the main company covers it up what happens? Especially where, if a franchise looses it's licence, all the assets go to the parent company.
  6. It sounds like you're going with B) Be Prepared for when the phoenix flies. I hope you're right. And you're not the first person that has told me this.
  7. MattR

    Chapter 11 announced

    @David CO, that's a rather broad brush, and given that we have scout executives on this forum, let's think courteous. You may see this as a great opportunity to fix things, but for the people working for the BSA, through no fault of most of them, this is a kick in the teeth. Well, that just stuck a pin in my friend's argument.
  8. MattR

    Chapter 11 announced

    Because of the mortgage on Philmont the creditors can't go after it. The bank owns it.
  9. MattR

    Sleeping Bag and Pad

    Ahhh, a scouty question There are quite comfortable backpacking pads. Get an insulated one. That and a down quilt and you should be quite comfortable with little weight. And, when you finally get your troop backpacking, you'll have the right gear.
  10. I have some positive questions for you. You've started a few thought provoking threads about restructuring. I've gone along with it because it's cathartic. However, it seems to me that any restructuring that happens will be entirely about the lawsuits. I don't see how any restructuring can encompass the issues we've discussed in these threads. All I can see is that the BSA, and maybe some (or all?) councils, will just have less money. There will be less staff and less properties but the fundamental organization, and certainly the program, isn't going to change. Even if the court appoints a new CEO, who is to say this person will have the required vision? I really don't know much about how bankruptcy can effect change and so this is all just my guess. However, you've apparently done quite a bit in the BSA at many levels. Is there something you know that I don't? How can any restructuring of the BSA include the ideas in these threads? Or are you just assuming things will get really bad, a phoenix will rise from the ashes and we should be ready? Or is this just cathartic to you as well? I'm not interested in the machinations of bankruptcy, just how the new ideas we've been talking about can, well, get beyond the people writing on these pages and to those that can effect national.
  11. We tell the scouts their book is the record. When they tell us it's in the computer we tell them to ask one of the many adults that have access to the database to help the scout update their book. It doesn't take more than a few minutes. Often, someone in the BOR can do it right there.
  12. MattR

    Commissioner role

    We need a way to measure or gauge scout-led, older scout enthusiasm, and things closer to the fundamentals. Not sure how but it would make a lot of things easier for everyone to see issues. Scouts, Scouters, Parents, District. Who is doing the cooking (and buying the food)? Who is deciding on the events and how well are they attended? I don't even know how to do that so I'm afraid metrics can get out of hand, kind of like uniform inspections. If it were part of the regular program, say start, stop, continue, and the troop regularly did this then it would be easier to find. We talked about this once before and I had said it's too subjective. I think a few people came up with good rebuttals. Rather than giving units a canned script, have the units work with the district to write one? The reason I don't want to be a UC is tracking things like advancement is just not interesting to me as I don't see the benefit. Figure out how to make it useful and I'd consider helping out.
  13. MattR

    Facebook Use

    Many people have personal and professional accounts. Not a problem for me.
  14. MattR

    Commissioner role

    Curious about commissioner best practices: is there supposed to be a big feedback loop between units and the district staff? For example, there are 4 packs that can't get anyone to step up, let's have a barbeque and talk about how easy it is to run a pack. My district doesn't have the power to do that but I'm just wondering if that's the idea. As best I can tell the focus is mostly on fixing i's and it's. The issues most units have are people related - get more that know what they're doing.
  15. 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.
  16. MattR

    Commissioner role

    We've had a couple of commissioners over many years. One was totally useless, but we got him because our troop was very strong. Our troop is still good and we have a commissioner that shows up at all of our committee meetings. He is a good source of information about the district. He hasn't been asked to solve any of our problems and does not attempt to. @Beccachap, there might be other reasons for a quick change in cognition, such as something to do with meds. As for kids that want to join but the parents don't speak English, you can ask the kids to translate for you. Or ask them to ask the parents if there's someone else that can help, such as an older sibling. Or use google translate.
  17. It could be, in general. But I suspect that neither the council or area people know how to run a business. Just a few examples. The 2018 financial numbers changed between reporting the 2018 numbers and the 2019 numbers such that in both cases things looked great. That's a huge no-no. Although our membership has dropped markedly in the past 5 years there has been no attempt to lower staffing, especially the staff that do nothing, or reduce capital expenses. Currently, my council has less than the equivalent of a month's salary in the bank and there is no money expected for a couple of months. They have not hired someone to run summer camp so there is nobody working on staffing camp. Hence, they have already missed the opportunity to hire good staff. My guess is they will not hire staff until after fos comes in in May, or they will dip into money raised for capital improvement of camps, another no-no, with no idea how to return that money. However, their JTE numbers are probably silver, so things are pretty good. BTW, the reason I know all of this is because I was on the district staff. I quit because I got tired of fighting off the council, which was only interested in raising event prices to increase their income. Because they're mismanaging their money I was asked to raise camporee costs to $40.
  18. I also told scouts they need a way to take notes. 5 points!
  19. 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.
  20. Well said. Isn't this what servant leadership encompasses?
  21. 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.
  22. MattR

    One rocking, one struggling

    I won't flame you, but I do have a slightly different experience. We had two different scouts that were on the spectrum. One might have been co-morbid with ADHD. Anyway, one scout had a parent that was heavily involved, knew the issues, and taught us how to work with his son. Everything worked great. Another parent didn't want to admit their son had challenges. They did volunteer for a while but eventually their son got in so many fights that they took him out. So, it depends on the parents. I will add that kids with hyperactive ADHD likely will not sit still for advancement. They should have been taken out and run around. That's how they're wired. For inspiration look up famous people that have/had ADHD.
  23. True, but a program that only needed 2-3 people working 2 hours a week would eliminate the issue of not having enough volunteers, or those volunteers would be having a lot more fun. And, as @yknot said, scouting would be more competitive with other youth activities. Since this thread is about helping districts help units, the question is how do districts help units run a program with fewer volunteers? Off hand, I'd say units need a lot more training that isn't even close to what districts and councils currently give. JTE certainly needs to be rewritten.
  24. MattR

    BSA's business model

    Absolutely, the gear can be done on the cheap. I still have a Tyvek tent we made. But what about the other costs? $100 for unit dues, $400 for summer camp, $200 for weekend campouts, $200 for FOS (that is the "recommended" amount per scout in my council) and $60 to national. So, without gear or uniform or high adventure it's over $900/year. Oh, and parents that volunteer also get charged. Of those costs, the money used at the unit level are $300. If we did our own summer camp that would cut costs by about $150. If we skipped camporees and did our own that would save about $50. I'd rather see scouts working a job and getting paid than working on eagle. Better yet, working as a patrol. Wouldn't the program be more meaningful if there were half the campouts and the scouts worked together to pay for their trips by raking leaves, shoveling sidewalks, walking dogs, or cutting lawns - rather than selling popcorn for the council? Talk about life skills. Forget personal management MB, just pay for summer camp. I bet a lot of scouts would be a lot more critical of summer camp if they had to pay for it. I know some parents that did this but I wish more had done it. How much money can a scout comfortably make? I think that should drive their expenses, and what the council and national charges.
  25. MattR

    BSA's business model

    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.