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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. ParkMan

    Standing up to adults

    Strikes me that this is part of the natural process of development for kids/young adults. When you're very young, you tend to have few places where you serve as a leader or an owner of a task. At 6, you're mostly playing, having fun, doing a few chores. By 10, you start to take on tasks - some of them with responsibility. By 15 the tasks are more complex, and you're starting to own projects where you have to interact with adults. By 18, you're taking on adult roles. As you progress, you're going to hit this natural conflict of "youth do as adults direct" vs. "people who own and are responsible for tasks have to interact professionally with adults" I think most 13/14 year olds would have a hard time with this. But, I do see that generally as Scouts grow older the become more confident in owning the task and interacting with adults. Some of the best Scout youth leaders I've seen have no problems respectfully telling an adult no.
  2. Thanks a lot for the comments @fred8033. I very much see what you're saying. I'm sorry if my own comments came off as "too bad, so sad - you should have joined a big troop." It was not my intent to make this a big vs. small discussion. At the core of what I've seen in our larger troop experience is a sense of "let's make sure the Scouts we serve are provided opportunities to enjoy and learn from Scouting." It's been my experience that our ASMs, Troop Committee Members, and Merit Badge Counselors work to make sure they do their job - provide the infrastructure so that Scouts can run their own program. So, as you run down the list of needed infrastructure, what you see in our larger troop is effort is expended to make sure the support is there. MBC is a good example of that. It's not that we're trying to keep our MBC to ourselves - not at all. In fact, we proposed to the district that we establish a network of MB coordinators in larger troops to help build up the list of MBC. (That offer was declined.) It's that we looked at what our Scouts were requesting and said - hey, we've got 100 parents, let's see if we can put something together to support what our scouts are asking for. In our trips and activities, we routinely have friends from other troops join us. We routinely lend out gear and supplies. We routinely hold joint trips with other units. We don't try to cut corners on advancement. Not at all. No-one is making our MBC soft sell requirements. Scouts earn their merit badges with us. We just don't believe in having a ton of hoops to go line up a MBC. We have someone who will make sure you don't have to go find a guy four towns over who will counsel you on First Aid. There's nothing we do that a smaller troop cannot do - nothing. Further, we'd bend over backwards to help smaller troops. But, the small troops rarely ask. In fact, most of the support we lend outside the troop is to other big troops.
  3. ParkMan

    Recruiting in Scouts BSA Units

    Units really do need to have a plan to replace 20% of their membership every year. Cub Scouts cross over, Scouts BSA & Venture Scouts age out. Further, if you're less than 30 Scouts, you need a plan to get to 30. From reading the article, it sounds like the new SM is getting focused on that. From looking online, is appears that the troop's CO has a pack as well. If so, and those Scouts don't cross over to that troop, is there a reason? A program problem perhaps? In addition to @mrkstvns great list, I'd enocurage the SM to have an honest sitdown with the families, the remaining leaders, and the COR. This troops #1 focus needs to be program, but #2 needs to be growth. They need a defined plan to grow again.
  4. Please elaborate - why? *EDIT* Sorry, I advanced pages and see now. Would it be correct to say that you don't agree with bigger troops and how they do things?
  5. I agree with @Navybone On this topic, I would only try to bring it back to the initial line of discussion in the thread to say that I believe it's important for Councils to remember that our roles here are to deliver the Scouting program to Scouts. For most of us, we got involved with a specific unit to help there. Sure, most of us are willing to help another unit from time to time when asked. But, there are practical limits to that. I believe councils need to tread very lightly in how they conscript unit level volunteers into council level programs.
  6. Gotcha. Actually, I think we are mostly in agreement here then. I do understand the YPT concerns. But, other than that, I think we can trust that merit badge counselling can be done without a ton of process. District/Council lists, registration, mandatory training is more than we really need. I do agree that training is most often a good thing. But, making it mandatory is a bit much in my book. Create a decent 3 page flyer that explains the process for those that need the highlights and put the full training out there for those that want it. Make training optional. If you've not taken YPT and are not registered, then you need another registered adult present +mom/dad. If you are registered & have YPT, then you can fill that roll. Scoutmaster,ASM, or advancement chair is responsible for making sure the process is followed. This seems like a pretty reasonable plan to me.
  7. Ahh- gotcha! My area must be in the middle. We've got a successful troop for girls, but maybe because it's a lager area. Myself - I've got two daughters who are girl scouts and don't see that changing. I'll be selling cookies with her Saturday.
  8. I would most certainly not look at it as an either/or situation. A troop can certainly build up a MBC list from within their parents and also have outside counselors. In a different topic @Cburkhardt mentioned the value he sees in a larger troop. I'd echo the same thing here. In our troop of 75 Scouts, we've got enough adults that we've invested in things like having an adult to co-ordinate our MBC list. In our case we don't go out and solicit other local volunteers - but we could. If were were a smaller town troop and we had a bunch of Scouts who'd been asking about the automotive maintenance MB, I'm sure our MB coordinator would be thinking about where he could find such a person. Now, there's nothing that says a smaller troop cannot do the same thing - but I do recognize that there are less likely to be adults around who you could enlist to take that on. It would make perfect sense for a district volunteer to do this kind of thing. But frankly - I think the problem is too big there. A volunteer or two trying to line up enough MBC for 500-1000 Scouts would be doing this all the time. So there, I think the district MB coordinator really should be building a network with troop MB coordinators and working with them to get the list populated. This another reason why I think retrenching this to the council level doesn't make much sense. If it were too hard for a district MB coordinator to build a program for 500-1000 scouts, how will the council MB coordinator do it for 3,000 to 10,000 scouts?
  9. I'm a simple person - but gotta admit that I'm not following you here.. My daughters as GS/USA members - so if you perceive a slight in my comments, it's not intentional. What I have come to realize is that the GS/USA programs and structure are largely different from the BSA program. The GS/USA system is probably more flexible than the BSA model - but many of the GS/USA troops out there are focused differently than BSA troops. I've also witnessed first hand successful community troops for girls. It has convinced me that the best way to build up troops for girls is to start focused, community based troops. As they become successful and reach saturation point, then we can start more. But, I'd rather see 1 troop of 25-30 girls than 5 troops of 5 girls.
  10. I'm with @Cburkhardt on this. The best way to expand Scouting - whether it's for boys or girls - is to provide them solid units with great programs. Two paid members can be a stepping stone to 30 members, but it should just be that. If your community doesn't have a troop for girls yet, why not reach out to the other local packs & troops and do something at a community level?
  11. It's a whole lot easier to walk up to a parent with a kid in the troop, ask them their interests, and then get them to be a merit badge counselor. Hey, Mr. Smith I hear you are an arborist. Would you be willing to be a forestry merit badge counselor? I see that your son has been working on several merit badges already. It's free of charge and the rewards are huge. Since it is a role where you'll interact with kids directly we'll need you to fill out this application and take the online YPT class.
  12. Ok - to that point then. If a Scout wants to earn a MB, he/she goes to the SM and inquires. The Scoutmaster has a list of names and points the Scout to a name and tells the Scout to initiate contact. You believe that it subverts the program if the Scoutmaster looks at the list and says to the Scout: "You wanted to work on the forestry merit badge. On my list here I see that Mr. Smith, Tommy's dad, is a forestry MBC. Please go contact him and see what you can arrange." Yes, it's a good skill in life to be able to call someone up cold and talk to them. But, I don't see that it subverts the whole idea of merit badges if you develop a group of merit badge counselors with a connection to your local troop. The Scout still has to initiate a conversation with an adult that they probably don't really know all that well. They still have to be self directed to do the work. They still have to have youth/adult conversations about their progress. We've decreased that adult association part of the merit badge process by a pretty small amount. On the flip side - I see lots of good from a troop developing a cadre of merit badge counselors. In addition to what I wrote before, you generate more parent involvement and you make the merit badge program more visible to families as well. This further prompts parents to encourage and reinforce their Scout's efforts. It also helps that with some more visibility of the merit badge program you get more quality control. You know these counselors and these counselors know how things generally work in the troop. In addition, because you have a more active merit badge program, Scouts are inclined to earn more merit badges. As a result of more merit badge activity, Scouts actually increase their adult interaction. These all seem like good things. No?
  13. I think we may be talking about troops of different size. Our troop, for example, has 75 scouts. That's a hundred troop parents and other adults who almost never camp with the troop or serve as a leader in another capacity. Some benefits: Provides for a healthy supply of merit badge counselors. Having those parents engaged in the merit badge program is a great way for a parent who doesn't otherwise help out to contribute. Serving as a MBC can often be the first step towards a larger role in Scouting. Just my .02. Rather than seeing councils scaling back, I'd rather see councils out looking at what units like ours are doing and them attempting to build off that. Our merit badge program has been pretty successful for us. It's also very easy to replicate in other, smaller troops. Then those smaller troops could work together to build up a larger, district merit badge program. This would be a great way to see volunteerism grow and a stronger merit badge program in a district.
  14. If you've got a small council with just a few districts, fine. In those councils the district/council distinction is artificial. But, if you're in a larger council - I don't buy it. Say you've got a district with 15-20 troops. Those local troops ought to be working together, under the leadership of the Camporee staff to put on a local, district camporee. Now, that function moves to a council staff with what 100-200 troops they organize? The expectations for involvement are now very different. What, all 100-200 troops are now going to be expected to be involved in those council organized camporees? Currently our council holds a council camporee and a dozen district camporees every year, I do not expect that this new, unified council camporee staff is now going to put on 13 camporees every year. Instead, they will hold fewer camporees - maybe even just one a year. This process will in turn create fewer opportunities for units to work together to deliver camporees. That healthy process of pushing unit volunteers to get involved with their district will further dry up. Yes, that one Council camporee will probably be better than it is now because a few of the district volunteers will move to the council staff. But, by and large, I anticipate that most district camporee volunteers will simply stop helping because they will no longer feel needed.
  15. There's also a strong sense of community in many troops. We have many merit badge counselors that work with just Scouts in our troop. These adults have been long standing members of the troop community and want to help. They're not volunteering for Scouting in general, they are volunteering to help strengthen options for boys and girls they know. Becoming volunteers for Scouting in general isn't what they signed up for.
  16. I think roundtable is a good example to consider. Roundtable serves a few purposes: provides ongoing training and problem solving for unit volunteers. It helps improve volunteer readiness serves as a networking and social gathering point for volunteers. It helps to build a stronger Scouting community provides an opportunity to distribute information to unit volunteers. We tried discontinuing roundtable and saw: 1) fewer and less trained leaders, 2) increasingly disconnected local units, and 3) less engagement by local units in district activities. My take away - having a meeting called "Roundtable" isn't that important. Having a poorly planned and organized monthly meeting because the Council Commissioner said you have to do it isn't productive. Having some sort of vehicle where unit leaders can network, get ongoing training, and get the latest news is very helpful in building Scouting in a local community. This is why I dislike these kind of changes. We're getting rid of the very structures that help build Scouting in a community. First it was local training and in many places roundtables. Now you've got people getting rid of district camporees and local merit badge counselors. Yet, in all this time I've never seen anything of real substance from anyone in the BSA - whether it national or council level that is really focused on strengthening local teams.
  17. Ugh! These are awful changes. Unless you had some sort of tiny council, what can be gained by removing local, hands on support for unit leaders. Whether it's training, advancement, camping, or something else, centralizing things is only going to lead to further distance between units & councils. Units that need support will be less likely to get it. The reason we have districts is to provide local Scouting contacts to units to strengthen their programs. If districts are becoming too weak to function, then that's what we need to solve - not get rid of districts. No organization manages their way out of a problem by cutting support resources.
  18. The LDS departure is a blip in the history of Scouting. It created a false narrative that Scouting was bigger than it really was. Yes, it's painful that we have to adjust budgets to the loss of that revenue, but that is an adjustment we have to make. There isn't another group out there like the LDS church for us to loose. So, by definition we can't really have that happen again. The lawsuits the BSA is facing is the bigger deal. This needs to be problem #1 for the BSA to deal with. Problem #2 is coming up with a path to grow traditional Scouting again. Local councils need to see packs & troops grow and need to see new packs and troops started. Any plan created by the BSA that doesn't deal with that is not worth the paper it's printed on. I frankly will be unimpressed with any plan that doesn't address both of these. Reorgs, shifting of resources, etc are all just window dressing if we don't deal with these.
  19. I guess I've never seen the issue with the knots. To me, they're really just a way for you to personalize your uniform. Most of us who volunteer started because of our kids. But, once your kids age out we tend to stick around because we enjoy Scouting. That enjoyment can be lots of things - working with kids, the fellowship of other like minded adults, perhaps a sense of accomplishment in building a great pack or troop. If adding a little color to your uniform adds some fun for you, I don't see the harm. Sometimes I believe we have a tendency to overthink things. They are after all simply some colored patches one sews on a uniform.
  20. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. It's always just seemed rather ridiculous. You know that putting the training award on your uniform puts you in that category too. So you start with AOL & Eagle. Then it's a den leader award, then a Webelos leader award, then a Scouter training award, then a Scoutmaster key. All of a sudden it's 6 knots. Then it's a district award of merit. Then your kid ages out and you decide to become a roundtable commissioner and get another one. Then it's a silver beaver. Next thing you've got 9, 10 knots. Of course "next thing" took 20 years to get - but that's no reason to have ever put that first one on your uniform. Nah - I just find it all rather silly. We're all just people helping to bring Scouting to kids. Take Wood Badge, wear 15 knots, serve a council VP of knick-knacks for all I care . If you can find a place to help strengthen the program for kids I'm glad you're here.
  21. When I started volunteering, I was quickly introduced to the anti-professional culture in the volunteer ranks. Within a certain segment of the volunteer community, it is considered a requirement to be anti-professional. It always felt to me a little like those 80's movies where the kids in the fraternity have to be automatically oppose the school dean. The list went something like: professionals the council the district commissioners people from Wood Badge people who would wear knots This seems to have died down a bit, but I still see it from time to time.
  22. It's a good job for the right kind of person. We often assume that people who are involved with Scouting find the most enjoyment in working with you. I think that's a false conclusion. I'm not a professional and have no intention of being one. My own career is a better fit for me personally. However, as a volunteer I made the shift a while back to become a district volunteer. I recognized that in order for our Scouts to have a great program, we needed to have strong units. I felt that it would help our units to be more successful if we had a strong district support structure - so I got involved there. Today I enjoy working with other volunteers to make district activities happen. Yes, you could look at what I do in Scouting as meetings, planning, and paper pushing. But, most of it is working with other volunteers to help them be successful. If I'm successful, we'll have stronger district program which can then result in better support for units. It can also help result in better membership programs in our units - meaning more Scouts in the program. So, while the mechanics are a lot of meetings and paperwork, I see benefit from it and value in it and so I keep doing it. I think a DE is the same way. The DE role can have a big impact on Scouting in a community. Is it working with Scouts and doing traditional Scouting activities - no. But, if you enjoy the program it can be rewarding work. But, make no mistake - if you want to be a paid professional who is still doing unit Scouting activities - be prepared to volunteer on the side in a unit. It's a different role.
  23. ParkMan

    Rumblings of Time Ahead

    Well said. The job is fine, the management of those in the job is wrong. Yes - I see your point and fully agree.
  24. ParkMan

    Rumblings of Time Ahead

    Gotcha. That's too bad. I think it would be smart for the BSA to look at the job responsibilities of the DE role and ask - how much of this do we really think adds value? How much can we reasonably expect someone to do in 40 hours a week?
  25. ParkMan

    Rumblings of Time Ahead

    So, I have to wonder why we feed into this as volunteers. I've made it a personal rule to never call our DE at night or on the weekends. I would almost never ask a DE to come to a unit meeting in the evening. I'm fine with the DE coming to a camporee or other event for a portion of the weekend. No way would I ask a DE to camp at camporee. I would never ask a DE to pick something up at the council store or make me photocopies at the office. I ask my DE for advice on how to get something done, I don't ask them to do it for me. A good DE is an amazing resource and they do a lot to help us. It's of almost no consequence to me to do these things myself.