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Posts posted by MattR


    2 hours ago, MattR said:

    @TAHAWK, @SSScout, @T2Eagle and @Chadamus, the forum software was being fixed. There was a problem with new users getting set up correctly. It works now.

    Thanks for your patience.

    Well, maybe I'm not so sure. There was a problem with new users completing their signup process. I assumed this was related.

    Could you please tell me what you were doing to get this message, including hardware platform and browser.


  2. I just got back from a campout and the weather was great. A lot of scouts were playing some version of hide and go seek for a long time and having a lot of fun. So, we're thinking of having a bunch of weekly meetings this summer that are just kids games in parks or primary schools, with the scouts wearing their class B's and a necker, and the adults ready to talk to parents. Add some leftover appliance boxes from big box stores for hiding spots if there aren't enough trees and we'll have some fun. We're thinking of how to invite neighbors and one idea is knock on some of the same doors we hand out food bank fliers to, and invite their kids to join us. We're looking for the 9-12 year olds so we'd like to do it along with a pack.

  3. I don't think the problems with venturing is so much external forces (council, red tape,...) as it is internal. There's a lack of leadership development for one. It's assumed the scout program does that but that's becoming more questionable for multiple reasons. There's also a lack of a pipeline for new youth and new adults. Cubs has elementary schools. Scouts has Cubs. Venturing has bored scouts that likely don't have leadership skills. For adults it's worse. Most 14 year old scouts are happy without parents around, so the parents don't get involved. Makes sense until the adult leadership looks in the mirror one day and decides they're getting too old.

    I'd rather see venturing and Sea scouts blended into scouting, but that's another topic.

  4. Committee Chair? Talk to the SM and ask him/her what their thought is about this guy. If they don't like him then it's time to remove him from his leadership position. It is your choice, after all, but you don't want to split the troop over this. If all the ASM's and SM agree with you then someone gets to have a frank talk with this guy. Unfortunately, since the SM hasn't already done something I suspect he/she doesn't want to confront this problem. It's not at all fun and it may fall on you to handle it. Anyway, you need very specific examples of what he's done and how it has hurt the troop.

    Also, since he's such a pain, you have to ask yourself why he's been given any responsibility. If this guy doesn't bother the other ASM's then it might be that this is not worth your energy. That is not the same as the ASM's just don't want to confront him. Is he yelling at scouts? That's a line I wouldn't tolerate. Occasionally we lose our temper but if this is a regular thing then out he goes.

    A third possibility is he might be able to learn. When someone talks to him they have to get a feel for whether this guy realizes that what he's doing is wrong. It's possible. If so, helping him improve would be a better solution.

    Most leadership issues are people problems. Good luck.

    • Thanks 1

  5. Does any other youth organization have discussions like this? This might seem like a silly question but how does having a most official record support our goals? Asking a scout to try and keep track of his records is a learning opportunity. The internet cloud seems to hurt that. Requiring a specific place (card, book, computer) doesn't seem to help. If a scout came up to me in a panic that he had lost his official record I'd chalk it up to being 14 but I'd give credit that the scout knew there was a problem. At that point the lesson is over so I'd help the scout recreate a new record.

    • Upvote 2

  6. 4 hours ago, qwazse said:

    and to forestall death. 

    You're probably not in marketing? ;)

    Look at it from the parents' view. We use fun and adventure in the outdoors to help youth become responsible, active, caring adults.

  7. @qwazse, I had problems editing messages on my cell phone but all is normal on my laptop. The problem seems to be that name tags ( @RememberSchiff, @desertrat77) aren't created correctly from my cell phone. If I try and add a tag in the middle of a line it doesn't get recognized and if I add one on the start of the line it gets recognized but then I can't add anything after the tag. I'm using firefox on my cell phone, for what it's worth.

    If other people are having problems let us know and we'll pass it on to the powers that can tinker.

    And now, back to the OP ....

  8. There will always be people that hate you if you're different. Blaming the culture war on our problems won't help solve them. It's the hand we've been dealt. Making a funner (sorry, that word is most appropriate) program will help. Getting a consistent message about how that fun is used to develop our youth will help. I mean marketing and training.


    • Upvote 2

  9. 49 minutes ago, walk in the woods said:

    This past week's MacGyver episode 

    Did I miss something? I thought that show ended decades ago.

    Either way, I always thought that character was very scoutish. We once had a guy take apart a flooded outboard motor and replaced a gasket with a coffee can lid. Making do with what you have is a great skill, and not something that any  syllabus can cover.

  10. @desertrat77, I did a google search on that image and found that the signature is John Sweet. He also wrote a "scout pioneering" book in 1974, a "patrol meeting blue prints" book in 1961 and a "more patrol activities book" in 1951. There was one copy of the blue prints book so I bought it. Just the idea of that book is intriguing. Anyway, I think John is/was a UK scouter.


    • Upvote 4

  11. One way to make it look less like school: get rid of as much talking as possible and do the activity. Do a lot of it, as a game. Describe, discuss, explain - you've all heard my rant.

    I like the idea of the "teacher" planning an activity that disguises the learning. Better leadership. More fun for all. Now getting the scouts to own that.

  12. What are the property taxes? Could that be driving up the costs? BTW, the $375k is spread over 4 camps.

    If that's not an issue I think it would be better to board up the buildings and invest in composting toilets. Drive the costs towards zero and encourage primitive use. Kids like dirt, trees, lakes and bugs. We had/have a girl scout camp that's up for sale that has lots of cabins and wifi and all sorts of expensive capital, and not enough scouts using it. Apparently nobody wants to buy it. Again, look at dropping the cost of the program. Those camps are important and they don't need to be fancy.

    • Upvote 1

  13. I think it's a good idea, but there are a lot of details missing.

    A 12' x 3' x 4' pile of wood is large and heavy. As in, really heavy. A large stack of logs is rather dangerous (see Texas A&M bonfire). I've had piles a few feet high start rolling on me. The proposal says wooden poles will be used rather than a frame. What does that mean? Will they be pounded into the ground? The proposal says the wooden poles are 4-6" in diameter. These aren't poles so much as fence posts, so pounding won't work. Post hole diggers? Manual or powered? In the photo it looks like there is other stuff in and around the log pile. Grass and dirt and just stuff growing. Where is all that coming from and how much time and effort will it take to get it? How much is needed? Twelve year old scouts typically don't have the strength to dig up much dirt and you can't count on adults doing all this work, so more details on the manpower? The proposal says the tools required are "mallets, shovels and a log splitter" and that the beneficiary will supply all of it. Why use a log splitter? Especially on long logs? And what are mallets going to be used for? How many shovels? And what about the rope? That's listed as a supply. Is it used to tie the logs together? Or is that part of moving the logs (timber hitch!). 

    Okay, I'm done being cruel and likely would have been much gentler if a scout had presented this to me. To me, this project looks like a good idea but this scout hasn't thought it through. That's where the leadership comes in. Right now, if he does exactly what this proposal says to prepare for the project, he's likely going to flail and waste a lot of time before some adults, that are getting tired of waiting, step in and start telling people what to do. That's a disservice to everyone. I think the only thing this scout needs is some guidance. Someone has to start asking all of these questions. As he answers them he will come up with a much better plan and will be much better prepared.

    I know that the submitted plan is not supposed to have all the details but leadership requires being prepared. It's not even that I ever expect a scout to completely follow the plan he or she proposes. However, by forcing the scout to think through all the details they will be better prepared to handle exceptions when they undoubtedly show up.

    • Like 1
    • Upvote 3

  14. As soon as the weather gets nice, start doing meetings outdoors. We've done search and rescue mock ups. I'd think in town map and compass activities would be fun. We did a treasure hunt in our town once. It took a lot to setup but it was fun. Do it at a park, with a simple cookout, with scouts wearing class B's and a necker, at about the same time the little soccer kids are doing their thing. Stick with the buddy system.

    This would be more fun than a typical meeting and it's the best type of advertising.

    • Like 2

  15. Yes, now is not the time to merge. Bigger council: bigger target.

    I'm also not sure bigger is better. Amuse me for a moment:

    The approach of this thread, let's decide which councils to merge, appears to be a bit top down. There doesn't seem to be any input from the units and volunteers that put on the program and not even the councils.

    If there's to be a bottom up, service view of leadership then here's a good place to start. To begin, evaluate each council. This is not JTE as that's crap. Pick an outside entity with no skin in the game and have them do a 360 review. Fiscal health, endowments, donors, usage, membership, camps and history of all that. Talk to council staff and volunteers, district staffs and units. Ask start, stop, continue questions about processes and camp, and hire, fire, encourage questions about people. The big question is whether each council is delivering a quality program and has a bright future. If a small council is doing that then don't muck with it. If a large council is just barely making ends meet then merging it with a failing council likely won't help. There is always a trade off between centralized, large control and distributed, small control, so don't assume bigger is better.

    Categorize each council as great, on the fence or failing. For those doing great find out what they're doing right. For those on the fence ask them how they want to solve their problems. Give them options to think about: it could be a crash course on what good is and how to get there. Another might be asking a neighboring council if it wants to merge. Another is hire a national fire team (which doesn't exist yet but will replace the group that says squirt guns are banned :)) and let them make binding suggestions.  Let the council present their proposal. If it's accepted then help them be successful. If not, they move to the failed category. Note that neighboring councils might not want to merge with them. Last is the failing category. They automatically get the fire team. The first thing the fire team does is clean house (both people and camps) and get good people. By good I mean people with the skills and also with an ability to accept change. This is not everyone in the council. This is limited to the council exec, the council president and the board and doesn't require them to be fired. It depends on the review results. From there, give them guidance on what it will take to get their council in shape. This is a teaching, mentoring job to build them up. Have them develop a plan. The point is not do or get axed. The point is make them successful. They may eventually get to the point of wanting to merge, or splitting, or who knows what. It's going to take time finding people, getting them on the same page, and solving all sorts of issues along the way. However, I think there will be more volunteers if they see a credible plan.

    Now, this may sound really draconian and strange because we've never seen anything like it, but this is right out of the woodbadge course. How much stronger would the BSA be and how much more respected would it be if it only used the tools it's trying to sell?

    • Haha 1
    • Upvote 3

  16. 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
    • Upvote 1

  17. 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. :) )


  18. 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.

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