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Oak Tree

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Everything posted by Oak Tree

  1. Oak Tree

    You Are The District.

    From my days as a youth, I have the best memories of the Klondike Derbies that we participated in. Those were something that had to be done at the district level. Nowadays I live down south and we don't have Klondike Derbies. We do have a district camporee, and it's fine, but the youth tends to rate it fairly low on their list of preferred annual activities. We could skip it and no one would care. The district roundtables are fine...but there just isn't a lot there that needs to be done in person. We are a pretty strong unit and we don't have a lot of need for help from the district. But there are a few things that the district does that we find pretty helpful. The most valuable things I've been to have been some of the training sessions...and those not so much because of the training itself, which could easily be done on line, but because of the opportunity to talk with other leaders about how they are doing things. I've been to district training, council training, and national training, and I've found all of them valuable, but I certainly found the initial district trainings to be a good way to get drawn in to the program. We had one year where there were some very energetic people going out and doing recruiting. Our pack doubled in size that year because so many people showed up on Join Scouting night. Our district coordinates one very effective fund-raising program at the troop level - most all of the troops in the district participate - the fundraiser is great for us. The district has an OA chapter. Our youth make some small usage of that. We make pretty regular usage of the district Eagle boards. I think it would be hard to replace all of that. Things should continue to evolve, and the district should focus on the things that are most useful to the units.
  2. Oak Tree

    Why did we fail ?

    There are always issues, but there are also things that work. >> The 100th anniversary of the National Park Service is next year but park visitation is declining every year Might depend on what you are counting, but certainly this is not a clear trend http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/17/travel/feat-most-visited-national-parks-sites-2014/ >> state parks are seeing declining visitation as well. Not here in NC: http://ncparks.gov/News/newsletter/stewards/February_2015.pdf State parks report record attendance of 15.6 million in 2014 In fact, the whole issue of "where did we fail" is going to have very local answers in addition to some national answers. Around here it's not at all clear to me that BSA is failing. There are lots more groups of all types around so we generally have tremendous fragmentation of all types of organizations. STEM is not going to be the answer. It's not BSA's core mission. If you want STEM, there are groups that focus specifically on that. Scouting cannot be everything to everyone. It can do some of these things and they can augment the BSA's core brand image, which is around the outdoors. Maybe we have some advantages here in the southeast as compared to the northeast. We have growing populations, year-round camping weather, younger populations. Maybe in some places the BSA model doesn't work very well. I suspect there are lots of places where it still continues to work. My experience is certainly very different from Eamonn's.
  3. Oak Tree

    Status Of Direct Service Council

    I have no actual information on this at all, but this seems like a strange speculation. The Direct Service Council has 100 units, according to Scouting.org, which does not make it one of the smallest council. Do any of the rumors provide any suggestion on what is supposed to be happening to these patches? Are these troops just not going to wear CSPs? Or is it going to merge with one of the other two overseas councils? I suppose a merger would always be a possibility, but I'm not sure how exactly that would affect the value of the patches. From scouting.org, it doesn't look like anything has changed recently: http://www.scouting.org/About/FactSheets/DirectService.aspx
  4. Oak Tree

    Path To Save Bsa?

    Actually, I wasn't responding directly to your point at all. I was just commenting on the general topic and I meant to suggest that people are welcome to go look at the actual decisions themselves and see how they'd like to craft their own legal policies on this topic, and I was stating what we have done in our unit. Edited because new posts were put up while I was creating my post: But since I am now responding directly to you, I'll take a quick look at your specifics. I am not a lawyer, nor a former auditor, but based on my reading of the decisions, I'd say that your legal counsel has done a fine job if all of the Scout accounts are given equal funding and not in direct proportion to the participation. In the link I posted, the IRS lists what that particular organization is doing wrong. "You do not jointly fundraise for the organization and then allocate to all equally or based on need or merit. The benefit from the fundraising activity is allocated in direct proportion to the participation". It also gives an example of a case where the judge stated "even though the club did not distribute cash to member parents, the arrangement resulted in inurement to them". If your system has none of these problematic issues, then you should be okay. I think that the "direct proportion to the participation" is the big issue.
  5. Oak Tree

    Vatican Scouts?

    I'm glad that the troop found a new home, and I'm glad it was reported as well. Still, couldn't we somehow do a little bit better on the grammar here? "The outpouring of community support that we have received in the last few weeks since we have been going through this adventure," said [...] Troop 54 leader. "Growing into responsible adults is part of people and that is why they are so happy to have them on board with us," said [...], manager of the Mandan Eagles Club. I'm reassured by the fact that there was an outpouring of community support in western North Dakota.
  6. Oak Tree

    Path To Save Bsa?

    I think the IRS is fairly clear in its decisions - it does not think that fundraising which provides benefit directly to people based on how much fund-raising they do is acceptable behavior for a tax-exempt organization. Essentially at that point, the Scouts are just working for hire and they may as well pay tax on it. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/201507023.pdf Some of these cases are pretty much directly on point. I think it's true the most of this flies under the radar of the IRS and it is unlikely people will care, but we stopped offering Scout accounts because it sure looks like it is not in keeping with IRS rulings on the topic. YMMV.
  7. Oak Tree

    Path To Save Bsa?

    The question assumes that something needs to happen to save the BSA. This is not at all apparent. There are many organizations that are much much smaller than BSA and survive just fine. Besides, given the societal trends towards acceptance of gays, it seems to me that the BSA was in much more danger if they did not adapt. Younger people are much more accepting than older people, and all groups have been growing more accepting over time. http://www.pewforum.org/2015/07/29/graphics-slideshow-changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/ The BSA was going to have to do one of two things: either accept gay leaders, or else declare themselves a fully Christian organization along the lines of Royal Rangers or Trail Life. There was no way they were going to choose the purely Christian route, so this decision was inevitable. Change is sweeping over the country on this topic - from the liberal states to the more conservative states, from liberal civic groups to more conservative civic groups, finally reaching the U.S. military and the Boy Scouts, and it is going to move through the religious organizations as well, from the more liberal groups through at least some of the more conservative ones. Adapt and surf the wave of change, or build sand castles against the rising tide. BSA is adapting and any other decision would have been doomed.
  8. Oak Tree

    Update On Adult Leadership Standards

    Actually, the BSA policy is that people must sign the membership application, and the membership application clearly states the excerpt from the Declaration of Religious Principle. The Scout Oath and Scout Law are also clearly stated there. If a person is willing to sign this application, I don't believe that we have any further obligation to inquire into their faith. And the actual statement quoted was pretty much exactly BSA policy.
  9. I've seen one version of the list from a few years ago. While the size of this council initially sounds small, it's actually very much in keeping with typical councils. In the northeast, where the councils formed early and small, they still tend to be that way. In the U.S. as a whole, the average council size is right around 10,000 youth (2.6 million youth, 273 councils) but there are a small number that are a lot bigger than that, and a large number that are a little bit smaller than that.
  10. Can you elaborate on what recent actions were taken by the National Committee in this regard? I thought that the council had to sign off on leader applications. Is that no longer the case? Also, do they guarantee that they will not pull your charter, regardless of whom you allow in as leaders and youth? Because I can pretty easily imagine situations where the BSA would be well within their rights to say "You need to get that guy off your roster or we're going to cancel your charter." You're saying that they can't do this?
  11. Oak Tree

    Decorum And Acting Scoutlike

    I found Terry's post a bit unexpected, given the tendency here to have pretty wide-open speech. But having seen his editorial regarding the admission of gay youth, I am not at all surprised that he is very much in favor of equal treatment of gays in Scouting. This reminds me of how Reddit decided to ban global warming deniers from their science forums. It's done, it's decided, move on. Huffington Post is not covering Donald Trump on their politics page, but on the entertainment page. He's a political troll and we don't want to give trolls serious attention (although it's not clear that keeping him on the entertainment page is actually accomplishing this). In the end, if you own a forum, you can occasionally say that there are some things you don't want to see discussed there. No posts saying that you wish your troop was racially pure. None that you don't want Jewish kids in your troop. And no posts about how being gay is wrong and you don't want gays in your troop. In our own ways, we all find some method to avoid those who keep beating dead horses. But when you see someone beating a dead horse in a way that is hurting others, I can see how you might decide to go a little bit further than just ignoring them. Terry has that power here. Personally, I'm fine with that. I support Terry's position on equality, and I think his position on speech on this forum is a reasonable one. You have the right to say whatever you want about gay people. But you don't have any particular right to be able to say anything on this particular forum. Do you really want to leave this forum because you're not allowed to say negative things about a group of people that Scouting has decided to welcome into the organization? I'll add my thanks to the moderators, and I would like to thank Terry for operating the forum at all, and I'll particularly thank him for his compassion.
  12. Oak Tree

    Update On Adult Leadership Standards

    This thought occurred to me as well. And presumably if the group is already sponsoring a troop under some other name, they would already have access to the meeting space. Getting an EIN (and yes, this is the same for all organizations) is trivial. But at some level, I start to think, if a group is willing to go to all this effort to pre-emptively exclude gay leaders, maybe they should just go join Trail Life, which seems to be set pretty much exactly for this purpose. In terms of actual logistics, I'm not sure if the BSA would be so eager to charter troops to random unaffiliated pseudo-religious groups. They will not, for example, provide charters to Wiccan groups (so I've been told), and I'm sure there are other religious organizations that they would not want to be associated with. I would guess that they also would not want to set themselves up for lawsuits regarding whether or not a group was a bona fide religious organization. I did a quick search to see what the courts have said about whether a group is in fact a bona fide religious organization. There appear to be various state and federal laws and courts that have ruled on this. Some of the requirements can be fairly significant. The EEOC says that courts have determined that for compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act - Under established case law, this Title VII exception applies only to those institutions whose “purpose and character are primarily religious.â€That determination is to be based on “[a]ll significant religious and secular characteristics.â€Although no one factor is dispositive, significant factors that courts have considered to determine whether an employer is a religious organization for purposes of Title VII include: whether the entity is not for profit, whether its day-to-day operations are religious (e.g., are the services the entity performs, the product it produces, or the educational curriculum it provides directed toward propagation of the religion?); whether the entity's articles of incorporation or other pertinent documents state a religious purpose; whether it is owned, affiliated with or financially supported by a formally religious entity such as a church or other religious organization; whether a formally religious entity participates in the management, for instance by having representatives on the board of trustees; whether the entity holds itself out to the public as secular or sectarian; whether the entity regularly includes prayer or other forms of worship in its activities; whether it includes religious instruction in its curriculum, to the extent it is an educational institution; and whether its membership is made up of coreligionists. If you are already worried about a gay person suing to become a leader in your organization, then I suspect that holding up a fig leaf of some hastily thrown together religious organization is not going to be all that protective. You would be better off to go find an actual church to sponsor you.
  13. Oak Tree

    Update On Adult Leadership Standards

    Page 3, Lines 14-16 at http://scoutingnewsroom.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Religious-Organization-Protections-Memo-062915.pdf That is, unless the web site is detecting who is logging in and providing a different document to different users...which would be overly clever and bizarrely confusing. I agree with you that the text of the actual resolution is ambiguous at best. But the FAQ and the legal analysis both state that units chartered to non-religious COs may not discriminate.
  14. Oak Tree

    Update On Adult Leadership Standards

    The clearest statement on this is in the Effect of Changes in Adult Leadership Standards on Religious Chartered Organizations that is linked to from the initial post in this thread: http://scoutingnewsroom.org/blog/update-on-adult-leadership-standards/ There it says that under the proposed change, "Units not chartered by religious organizations could not exclude homosexuals who otherwise meet the BSA’s high adult leader standards and the chartered organization’s standards."
  15. Oak Tree

    Is your troop/pack in danger?

    North Carolina is far from homogeneous on this issue. County votes on the gay marriage amendment ("Amendment 1") ranged from roughly 80% in favor to 80% opposed. The bigger cities all voted against banning gay marriage and the rural counties voted in favor. The map looks overwhelmingly against gay marriage, but the large urban areas and biggest college campuses were all against the amendment (Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Asheville, Boone). See the island phenomenon here: http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2012/05/nc-results-map.html
  16. Oak Tree

    Is your troop/pack in danger?

    > how then do the local units differentiate? How do local units differentiate now? Some focus on full uniforms, some focus on merit badges, some focus on boy-led. Some go to Philmont regularly, some have never gone. Some only go backpacking, and others only go car camping. Some are more boy-led, some are chaotic, some are adult-led, some are small, some are large. Some place more emphasis on religion (awards, services, etc). Some have young leaders, some have old leaders. Some have women leaders, some don't. Some earn JTE Gold, some don't. How do people find out? They show up, they observe, they ask questions. They look at websites. If they care about something, they ask. Why would gay leaders be any different?
  17. I would count it only as 3g. I'd count hauling a sled as backpacking for the part where you haul your entire camp with you on the sled. He only did 12 miles of that. Similarly, if he had done this trip with an actual backpack, carrying the backpack only 12 miles total, and carrying a daypack for the rest of the hiking, I would not count that as 20 miles of backpacking either.
  18. Oak Tree

    Is your troop/pack in danger?

    I don't think that we are in any danger. Our troop is sponsored by a theologically conservative church, but we are in an upscale professional area and more understanding of shades of gray, I suspect. I've started a conversation with the church leadership on the topic and my sense is that the local option is satisfactory. The church still gets to pick the leaders, they should not be any more vulnerable to lawsuits than they are right now over who they pick for Sunday School teachers, and the values of the Scout Law have not changed. In all these respects, really, nothing has changed. Between the church leaders, the Scout leaders, and all the parents, there are well over one hundred adults - and thus far not one has yet expressed any concern to me. I do not expect any change, and the absolute farthest I'd imagine they could possibly go would be to ask the troop to be sponsored by a "Friends of" organization (or other organization) but would still be able to meet at the church. There are quite a few church members involved in the troop, and the church tends to be responsive to its members.
  19. Oak Tree

    MB day and insurance

    1. I cannot imagine this is true. You can invite people over to your place to do whatever you want. Scouts are automatically covered by Scout insurance when they are on Scout activities. 2. Don't worry about it. Let them follow whatever rules apply to them. 3. Tour permits are not about insurance. Scouts are covered whether or not you file the newly named "Tour and Activity Plan".
  20. Oak Tree

    Decision delayed

    HELLO!?!?! Anyone capable home up there? I'm doubting it because it seems like national decisions are being made by the least competent people you could imagine running a corporation. Either that, or else by a group of monkeys with a keyboard. Is there any professional out there anywhere who thinks that this was handled well? First the surprise announcement that they were changing the policy, and then the surprise backpedal. At this point I am completely in awe of the BSA's ability to do this so incredibly, stunningly, badly. I think Homer Simpson could do a better job. I am normally bemused by the BSA's lack of corporate polish - but this level of sheer unadulterated stupidity goes way beyond head-scratching. There are ways to handle this. Survey the troops. Hold meetings with various groups, some publicly - hint that your position is evolving. Prepare people that change is coming. And then when it does come, actually DO IT! I'm with Dean - I am truly disgusted.
  21. Oak Tree

    Changing horses midstream

    Holy Complicated User Interface, Batman! The old interface has one button that showed me what I wanted. Now I can't even figure out how to do that at all, despite a myriad of options.
  22. Oak Tree

    AHG and Gays

    a group that only allows only Christians into it. Technically, the AHG Creed only applies to adults, not to the girls. Any girl can join as long as she can promise to "love God". In this sense, the youth membership requirement is very similar to the BSA policy.
  23. Oak Tree

    BSA defending a CO that bans Gays

    The recharter agreement that we just signed says that the BSA will "Provide primary general liability insurance to cover the chartered organization, its board, officers, chartered organization representative, employees and volunteers currently registered with Boy Scouts of America. Coverage is provided with respect to the claims arising out of an official Scouting activity" and it says that the CO will "Conduct the Scouting program according to its own policies and guidelines" The insurance that the BSA provides is a major reason why groups are willing to offer the Boy Scout program. That's not going to go away.
  24. Oak Tree

    BSA defending a CO that bans Gays

    Well, that's pretty alarmist, AZMike. Can you point to any cases where women's groups have sued because some troops don't allow women to be Scoutmasters? Are there any cases where religious freedom groups have sued because some troops restrict their leadership on the basis of religion? For that matter, I'd be curious to know of any lawsuits against a volunteer organization for how they choose their leaders. What standard is the government using that would make a troop not be considered part of a church? Hospitals are employers who provide health care plans for their employees. Boy Scout units are not. The IRS clearly describes church-sponsored troops as "integrated auxiliary of a church." The test includes having a 501c(3) purpose (which Scouts does), and being "affiliated" with the church. The test for affiliation includes a variety of possible indicators, including - the organization shares principles with the church. [This is clearly stated in the charter that the church signs and says it will "Conduct the Scouting program according to its own policies and guidelines"] - the church can appoint or remove the organizations directors [clearly yes] - the church affirms an institutional relationship [they do this every year, when they sign the charter]
  25. I've been thinking about being prepared, too - but I don't have nearly the concerns that you do. So if I understand the immediate primary concern, it would be to determine whether or not your troop should have a policy that allows for gay leaders. That particular topic could be a divisive issue, and it's one that some parents might push for. I understand that your CO only provides space, but they do approve your leaders, and they can decide what the policy is. You definitely want to talk with them. In my case, the CO is a church that will not have a policy of approving openly gay leaders (I know without asking) - so that's not an issue. I think you want to have a discussion among a few of the key leaders - the ones who generally recruit all the other leaders - and see how you want to handle it. If the CO says "no gay leaders", are you fine? Or would you want to move? If the CO says they don't care and it's up to you, what do you want to do? As for keeping things civil, I don't think you want to have any big group meeting where everyone can voice their opinions. I would sound people out privately, figure out what your policy is, and make a simple straightforward policy statement. Eventually we need to ask, don't we? No. I don't think so. I'm not planning to. I'm not sure whether any statement at all will be necessary in our troop. If I were to suggest a statement, it's that it will be business as usual. All Scouting is local. The leaders of our troop are going to be chosen primarily from amongst the parents of the boys, just as they've always been. They'll be chosen based on our general impression that they are suitable leaders for the group. People are welcome to suggest changes and improvements, just as they've always been able to. People who are unhappy with the troop are always welcome to try to find other troops that are a better fit. Anyone with concerns is encouraged to find a leader to have a discussion. There are many possible hypothetical situations, but look around at the people in the troop and judge what is really likely to happen. Things will be dealt with as they actually arise.