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Posts posted by MattR

  1. 3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

    I often wonder why our aspirations as a movement as so low.  My council probably covers a metropolitan area of 2 or 3 million people.  How hard can it be to setup a fund to protect camp forever?  That takes what - 5 million dollars?

    Hire a professional endowment company to guide you through the process and make it happen.  I see stuff like this happen regularly in the religious and university communities.  Time for major improvements at church - let's raise $2,000,000 dollars.  Let's grow the university endowment to $250,000,000 dollars.

    One very bad example: my council. Through the wisdom of one staff they had one council property put into a conservancy (they can't add or increase any structures) and were paid around $750k to go into a trust. The council spent all that money. Recently, they did create a $6M endowment. They have already started spending it. To add insult to injury our CE got his job (some 10 years ago) because he was going to clean up the financial aspects of the council. Incompetent or corrupt?

    I understand the sentiment from people that say councils should have a lot less to do.

    This is why I think the purpose of the council has to be figured out. Our council's budget divided by the number of youth served is around $350/youth (and that was before the LDS departure). What do we get for that? Volunteers do the training. We get no marketing. Volunteers put on our own events. Our camps are not being improved nor used. We have a handful of DE's that are stretched to the limit and paid garbage (one is entirely paid from taxes on event fees that the volunteers put on).

    I always wonder what percentage of that cost per youth goes into the overhead vs how much directly impacts each youth. This is kind of an ultralight backpacking thing. The more stuff you carry the more you need to support carrying it the more stuff you carry....  Anyway, my guess is our DE costs less than $50/youth. I don't know what our camp costs are. I have no idea what a reasonable number is, but $350 + $60 to national is too high for each youth to pay.

    I honestly don't know the answer but taking a hard look at the core purpose of the council might enable some needed change.

    • Thanks 1

  2. Abracadabra, and all your posts just moved. Sorry about the confusion.

    8 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

    @MattR - as I look through your list of items, I can't help but feel there's a trend where you see there is benefit to "multi-unit/district" things, but the BSA implementation today is lacking. 

    • Training can help, but the BSA "one size fits all doesn't help you"
    • Multi-unit camping good, but the turn-key expensive camporees not so much.

    If I read that right, your observation matches mine.  Units benefit from activities beyond the unit level.  However, the current implementations are lacking.  Your ideas appear to be around the idea that units can drive this.  I'm optimistic that there is a role for a volunteer group pulling these together.

    In either model, I don't see a strong need for professionals in this kind of work.  I don't see how it's worth the expense for a professional to do this stuff.  Sure, a professional with the right mindset would be nice, but I don't think it's necessary to pay someone for these tasks. 

    You start cutting out the expense of paid staff from these tasks and all of a sudden the dynamics change a lot.  Fees drop, hoops you have to jump through go away, etc.  

    Sure, if it could work without paid help I'd be up for it. I was thinking of our DE's and all but one do not have the same experience as most of the district staff. On the other hand, there should probably be someone that can get things started or can solve bigger issues. It wouldn't need to be a district person, but that topic would have to go back to the other thread. So don't even mention it here. (It took a while to figure out how to move everything. :) )


  3. 23 minutes ago, codger said:

    When did we feel we needed a trailer?????

    When we stopped pushing useful skills?

    BTW, I've fought gear creep, with some success. I did get our chuck boxes reduced to a tote. I tried to get the First Class cooking requirement (make a list of gear needed) part of what we had to do, to no avail.

  4. Concerning DE's and districts altogether how about look at the needs of the unit and let that drive how it's delivered.

    Different units have different needs. A few are really strong and don't need any support. They can do their own training and run their own program. Most are muddling along and some are new (we hope!). They need help maturing. The goal should be to grow the unit's maturity, just like working with a PL. What does that look like? The current model is training, turn-key program (just write a check and show up to a camporee, summer camp, or a high adventure base), and wise guidance (commissioners). That's the model, which sounds fine to me, but doesn't really work. Am I missing anything?

    The training, as it stands, never really helped me. Part of that is my fault but a lot of it is the training was just not applicative to the problems I had. It was a one size fits all approach. I would have much rather have seen stories of how specific units solved problems. I'd rather learn from someone else's experience then read "this is how you must do it."

    Another aspect of training is what round table was probably intended to be ( @David CO's comment about a round table is spot on). If there are only 4 units in a city or group of close by towns, then they could meet for dinner and talk about how their unit's are going and just help each other out. No district needed and certainly not 40 minutes of announcements like our last round table.

    Turnkey programs are a lot of work for districts and councils. Just one example of what our district might do and might be the future: My council wants to raise the price of camporees to something like $40/scout so they can make $25/scout. So, we'd be charging a lot and not be able to deliver anything close to what's charged. I won't have anything to do with that so we were talking about "10 troops in a field." Basically, no camporee, just set the date and let's camp near each other. Units can organize an event and we'll share. So, this will require not much more than email, or that round table idea, to organize. I don't see a need for MB fairs either, but I always liked the idea of getting a bunch of MB counselors together and encouraging scouts to run around and connect with those counselors to do something at another time. Again, really simple to organize. Summer camp is a council thing and I'd leave it there.

    The idea of commissioners, while good, has never worked for me. Just off the top of my head, use the above neighborly round table model and break districts into groups of half a dozen that live close to each other and have a spread of scouting maturity - some new, some with experience, and a couple that really know. Then, round table is just burgers and beer and a discussion of how each unit is doing and how to help them. Announcements is just an email that was sent out. If you don't like your group someone will help you find another.

    So, what is the professional's role in all of this or whatever model you'd rather see? (This assumes the numbers gorilla is no longer sitting on the DE.) What are districts responsible for?

    • Thanks 1

  5. 3 hours ago, ParkMan said:

    What about no DEs to work with units?

    No offense to our DE friends - but just a hypthetical.  What would it look like if just about all unit support was done by volunteers?  Pros were there just for the really unusual or serious issues like YPT.

    Another idea: What would it look like if the DE's could do what they thought was right, what they hired in to do, rather than chase numbers? I've met really great people that were destroyed by the get-money-or-die directives.

    • Upvote 4

  6. 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.

    • Upvote 1

  7. 2 hours ago, fred8033 said:

    I really question the value of penalizing a current non-profit for what effectively were society wide ills.  

    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.

  8. 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.

    • Upvote 3

  9. 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.

  10. 1 hour ago, David CO said:

    A scout is trustworthy, but a scout executive is not.  That is why BSA is in bankruptcy. 

    @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.


    My understanding is that a bankruptcy court can go back and nullify any financial actions, including a mortgage, that was done to protect assets.

    Well, that just stuck a pin in my friend's argument.

    • Thanks 1

  11. 3 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

    Only positive things we can attempt to implement during that process.

    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.

  12. 26 minutes ago, HashTagScouts said:

    If we could get the Scouts to consistently use it, I might concur with their theory,

    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.

    • Upvote 2

  13. 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.

    • Upvote 2

  14. 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. 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.

    • Like 1

  16. 21 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

    MattR:  If the fundamental metrics of a council are not going well, the conversations these days between council and area/region/national volunteers are not “affirming”.  

    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.

    • Upvote 1