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Posts posted by MattR

  1. 59 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

    Many scouts roll their eyes at the MB program.  Scouts see it as an overlapping and a shallow dive into topics already deeply covered at school and covered better.   


    2 hours ago, Mrjeff said:

    Scouting is not a classroom and is not done is a classroom setting. 

    The underlying issue seems, to me at least, that "learning a skill" is ithe end goal. Rather than that, "using the skill" would encourage more participation, less school, and fix all the other things we don't like about merit badges. I suppose this applies to all advancement. Anyway, taking a merit badge should be the first step in doing something scoutish and not a goal in itself. I'd much rather see a patrol say "let's make a giant 8 person bike - let's take welding MB" then the usual "I gotta sign up for something at mbu and cit nation is required so I'll do that one." Making learning skills a tool to help patrols have fun would be much better. Again, there's confusion about what the goal of scouting is, especially among the scouts.

    • Upvote 1

  2. 10 hours ago, TMSM said:

    I have taken the advice to just keep these changes to myself.

    Well, that didn't last very long. I just got email announcing the changes.

    11 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

    It's tied to the flexibility I need to have to keep an urban troop of 37 ambitious young people together and "moving" for six months -- during which time we will not actually be in physical proximity to each other.  Our Mayor is not going to open things up until late June at the earliest, so there is no real hope of face-to-face programming until September.

    That does suck. However, so does strong wind on a campout. Good scouts can still figure out how to have fun in bad weather. There are two other methods not really mentioned (well, I think they're methods): fun and service. How to make scouting fun or how to give service in a zoom world is a big challenge and, I think, a goal that will create much more growth than simplifying requirements. A bunch of families in my neighborhood put together a game for the kids to play the day before Easter rather than an egg hunt (it snowed on Easter, hence a day earlier). They were never near each other. There were clues all over the neighborhood. The kids had fun. Two weeks before that, after our troop announced merit badges the scouts could work on, I suggested we look into fun types of activities the scouts could do separately but at the same time talking to each other on their cell phones. Nobody was much interested so I let it go. I watched the kids in my neighborhood having fun and thought to myself the BSA's emphasis is just wrong. If a couple of parents can figure out how to make hunkering in place fun while my troop is just going with stripped down advancement then maybe it's a case of the king having no clothes.

    @TMSM, I'd suggest figure out some fun activities, push for that, and ask the scouts what they want to do. They will likely give you good ideas. Good luck.

  3. If we could use hunting style tents with heaters in them during the winter and had some way to poop in the woods without having to dig cat holes, especially when the ground is frozen, then we would not need any council camps and would have a much stronger program. While we do have campouts in below zero weather in normal tents, it gets old after four months in a row.

    I can see how to solve the pooping problem. Getting a warm shelter is impossible with the tent restrictions.

  4. 10 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

    Question is, why would we need National at all in this scenario? 

    Someone needs to keep diluting the fun in the requirements? Prevent us from abusing squirt guns?

    I think the idea of competition would be good. That would require some flexibility in the program. I'm just not sure the 20 super councils is the way to do that. The only reason some councils are doing well is because they're in large metro areas with plenty of companies that can still donate lots of money. That's a model that doesn't work past the town those companies are in.

    20 super councils corresponds to roughly 14 current councils per super council. The biggest cost of councils is property. So, the super council model would just sell off lots of properties. From each unit's perspective this doesn't seem to be much better support. It just makes the BSA more solvent. We'd have to drive 3 1/2 hours to get to the likely super council's surviving camp. And we live close. There are other councils that would be 7-8 hours away.

    The thing that's needed to make that work would be answering a simple question. How does each unit prosper without any council or areas and minimal national staff? I suppose there can be districts. Scouter.com will, naturally, have to be the central idea source 😀. Honestly, multiple online sources of ideas, how-to's, visions, etc can be how units can find what works for them. Scouter.com can be the Bill Hillcourt/Patrol Method model. There can also be the Stem model, the advancement model, and I'm sure we can think of a few more. If the BSA is to be broken up then make it digitally as opposed to geographically. Maybe councils just take care of their camps and ensure YPT, they no longer oversee units, advancement, and all that stuff that can be done online. The only issue is who handles drunk SM's and that type of thing. The national high adventure camps are made into individual corporations and sink or swim on their own. (Adios, Summit.)


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  5. I seriously doubt if summer camps, high adventure or just any scouting are happening this summer. It's just my opinion but here's my reasoning. All of the models, if correct, are only talking about getting things under control. None of them are talking about eradicating the disease. Herd immunity doesn't kick in until something well past 50% of a population becomes immune. Right now, immunity means getting the virus. Assuming that 10 times the number of people have it than have been identified with a test, we're still only at 10x330k, or roughly 3 million out of the 320 million that live in the US. That's 1%. Getting to 50% (and it's probably much higher that's required) would mean 160 million people get the disease and something like 2 million die. Without a herd immunity we'll be right back where we are now as soon as everyone assumes its over and we can get back to the old normal. The old normal will not exist for at least a year. Note that no other countries have gotten their cases to zero and kept them there.

    The models assume we stay away from each other. The only way that changes by September is if we have a vaccine, we have a medical way to help the body deal with the virus or we have a system in place to identify everyone in an outbreak and test them very quickly (or some combination of these). Just a guess, but that last one would require the ability to do millions of tests a day across the country. It would also mean tracking everyone's movement, just as South Korea is currently doing. I can see something like that happening but not by September. I barely see anyone talking about what happens after we get things under control.

    The big question is how does everyone get back to enough "normal" such that they can live; jobs, going to school, buying food, the basic necessities of life. I don't think scouts is on that list. I'd rather see all of the little businesses in my town get up and running before scouting. This whole thing makes me think year pins, patch placement and rank advancement just don't matter anymore. Broke councils, inbred leaderships, bankruptcy - it's all beyond a perfect storm.

    That all said, there's an opportunity here. At it's core scouting is about helping young people grow, become responsible, caring and helpful. It's about using the outdoors as a fun place to learn those skills but what we really want is scouts using those skills wherever they are - in the woods or near home. If we could focus on that, and scouts started helping our communities, everything else would take care of itself. What I don't see is who is going to lead that.

  6. 5 hours ago, HashTagScouts said:

    Trying to setup video conferencing with many folks in nursing homes or rehab hospitals would probably be difficult- big question if the residents have the technology.  Less from an individual "service hours" perspective, but from a group service project, nursing homes and rehab hospitals might be able to setup a smart-TV in a central location (i.e. dining room) that the residents may be able to gather, and you do a group conference with your unit over Zoom, and have the kids take turns sharing pictures they have drawn about what they most are looking forward to doing once the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, and they can voice-over why they chose that.  Sharing messages of hope right now are valuable, and it so often the interaction that individuals in these places like and need to hear.   

    Right now, retirement housing in my town won't allow any gathering. If the virus gets into the building then a lot of people die.

  7. @Mitch586, to me this sounds like an opportunity. This is what I'd do. Call the scout along with the parents. Compliment him on his drive. Explain that right now we can't have campouts. Talk about how a scout is courteous, helpful and obedient, especially during a pandemic, and that there will be plenty of time in the future for campouts. Now is the time to adapt one's goals. All the adults are doing this so I'm sure he can as well. Then throw out some ideas. MB's. Planning campout ideas. Figuring out how to play card games online with his patrol, or checkers or chess, ...

  8. 21 minutes ago, RememberSchiff said:

    Those efforts include modeling new revenue projections and exploring various cost-reduction levers.

    That is lipstick on a pig.

    Question: in the stimulus just passed, who decides whether a company on the ropes is worth saving?

    • Upvote 1

  9. 19 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

    Lets take my home state of Ohio for example: This is the latest model from University of Washington: https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections 

    I've been watching those models and they have been swinging all over the place because we're so early in the epidemic (!). I found another model that shows both okay cases (people stick with the recommendations) and bad (people get lazy, angry, whatever). Here it is for Ohio: https://covidactnow.org/state/OH.

    The bad cases tend to peak mid April and tail off early to mid May and the okay cases peak mid May and don't fall below the point where there are enough beds in hospitals until June. They're all really bad for the hospitals.

  10. 2 hours ago, swilliams said:

    With 800 scouts participating

    And there you have it, the reason I'm starting to look elsewhere to give my time. It's becoming too much. The idea that a massive online MB class is scouting is just telling of deeper problems we've already discussed.

    On 3/16/2020 at 3:27 PM, qwazse said:

    More importantly, can anyone move us from "how to" to "how to make it fun?"

    I tried bringing this up a week or so ago and the response was that kids already know how to have fun on the internet.

    23 minutes ago, qwazse said:

    I was thinking about that for my orienteering club. Instead of punching in. Take a selfie of yourself with the control.

    That would work. I think you could even take a hike "together" assuming there is cell service. Split the patrol into buddy pairs. Everyone brings a map to the trail head but can't get out of the car until they're called by the pair before them. There are checkpoints along the trail. Once you get to one check point you have to wait until the pair ahead of you leaves the next check point before you leave yours and also signal the pair behind you to leave theirs.

    I had scouts that once made a hilarious story around a camp fire by taking turns adding another sentence or two to the story. That would work great over zoom.

  11. My wife is making masks. I found plans and ordered some N95 equivalent fabric. We'll see how the filter fabric works.

    One thing that seemed good to me was a vimeo video from a doctor in NYC (below). I have been sent this link from 2 different people. A couple of important points: if you're not in a hospital then the most important thing a mask will do is keep your hands off your face. The primary mechanism of transfer is people touching a contaminated surface and then touching their face. That's it. Wash/disinfect your hands. Keep your hands away from your face. If you're in a hospital with lots of infected people around or especially intubating people that's a very different story.

    Anyway, being cheerful and helpful is probably one of the best services a scout could do right now. Figure out how to play checkers via zoom with people locked in and hunkered down. Does anyone know of online card games that can be played remotely and then share a zoom connection to see the other people?



    I know we're all in COVID-19 news overload right now, but this is the most practical, down-to-earth discussion about protecting ourselves and families I've heard.  It's from an ICU doctor in one of NYC's major hospitals.  It's long (60 minutes), but I found it worth setting aside the time to watch it in two chunks: the first half is his general thoughts and advice; the second half are questions from the audience, who were family members of healthcare providers.

    Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center, March 22, 2020:




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  12. 7 hours ago, Eagledad said:

    I wasn't thinking right or wrong, I was thinking that scouting is way way down on a families priority list. They can call a meeting, but even in the best conditions, who would come.


    I agree that a meeting is not high on anyone's list. But social interaction is going to become more and more important. Extended solitude is hard on the spirit. This could go all the way through summer. I'd love to be proven wrong but, we all know the motto.

    I was wondering about different ways to have social interaction for kids without the contact. Make a pioneering project out of pencils, string and rubber bands. Patrol chess or checkers via zoom with side channels to strategize. Make a treasure map using google earth or maps. If one can set up multiple meetings, one for each room in a puzzle, that might be fun as the scouts skip from room to room. Have each scout make a campfire in their backyard and then connect with zoom to sing, tell stories, or the usual games like cross sticks. If you can't make a fire go into your closet with a flashlight. Other ideas?

  13. I hate to be the grinch, but most likely all high adventure and summer camps will be cancelled or limited to August. Cancelling the entire summer would actually mean good news with respect to number of hospitalizations because the curve will be stretched out. Italy thought China was an outlier and now everyone thinks Italy is an outlier.  And yet the US is not slowing things down as well as Italy is now. The US population density is much lower than Italy and we are younger, so that's good news, but it's still going to be rough.

    My county went from 7 to 19 cases in a day (that's likely due to better testing) but even at 33% increase per day we'll be at 88k cases in a month. However, if the number of cases is a tenth of actual cases then our peak will be before that as there are only 360k people in our county. That's the worst scenario. The better scenario is the infection rate is slowed and it drags out a lot longer. One model I saw said an early (and bad) ending was mid July and a late (good) ending was some time in August.

    I think the discussion might be more useful if it were: How can the scouts help after the carnage is over?

    • Upvote 1

  14. 2 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

    So, in a no-money situation, the question is:  What parts of the recharter process can we drop because we already have a simpler or easier way to do them?

    Not just rechartering but all the data. For some reason the BSA has very important information that must be guarded by humans. That is the reason that this whole thing can't be just a simple web interface that every parent can use. I understand the need to ensure adults have YPT but nothing else needs to get above the unit. What other youth organization cares about all the data we require? Advancement, training, knots. When my son was on a soccer team all they cared about was his address, that a parent signed a consent form and that he paid. Each year they just started over. In software that's called stateless and it's much simpler to write software for. How important is it to keep records of all this? Changing the mindset of the BSA to leave advancement at the unit level would be an enormous challenge.


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  15. All good ideas.  But this is more than rechartering and even more than software. Making robust software that scales to a million users is expensive and there is no money. My guess is there needs to be a simpler goal rather than an easier process. What is all this data used for? Part of it is doing background checks. Part of it is collecting money. Tracking training and advancement and membership. There are also security issues that add a lot of complexity.

    Rechartering is a big pain for us mostly because of tracking down parents that don't respond. So if this process were pushed down to the families it would become a pain for a different reason.

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