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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. Though we attend our CO's service, I'm not a big fan of Scout Sunday. Having an event like this where you come out once a year in force seems like a check box item. Feels to me like it would be preferable to have a more regular interaction. Perhaps quarterly service projects or activites where the unit is more tied into the life of the CO. Make engagement with the CO part of what the unit does.
  2. Fully concur. Great points. Not to relieve national of this responsibility, I have to imagine that we would could take some of the ideas out of these recent threads and bring them together into a series of guidelines for councils. A blueprint for success for councils in the 2020's and beyond.
  3. 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.
  4. It would be desirable in my.scouting.org to see your registration status and items needed for re-registration. Imagine if... you could go in, see that you needed to re-do YPT and it has a needs to be done by date. if you needed MBC training, it had the link to the training. If there were other forms needed - such as a local council MBC form - it would be available there online, you could fill it in live, and then hit submit. The form would go to the correct district/council person who would receive it and hit accept. A district person could see the list of people online and see current status A unit key three member could see the list of MBC for the district. If only we possessed the technology in our society to do things like that. Ahh, but even if we did I'm sure it would be more cost effective for us to do this all by paper and having people chase forms.
  5. I was thinking about protection for the future, not so much protection from the abuse lawsuits. Let's assume for a moment that the lawsuits do get to some conclusion that results in your camp continuing to exist. Now, imagine that you knew the funding was there so that the camp would exist for 100 years. You could make improvements knowing the council executive board wouldn't sell the camp because summer camp enrollment was down. You could donate the "David CO" nature building and know it would be used forever. In my mind, the camp is more like college. The council board is more like caretakers of an institution that will be there for 100 years. Today we our councils are acting more like non-profits advancing a cause. In my mind the whole council should be thought of with that permanence too - but this is a discussion for another day.
  6. @dkurtenbach - thanks for bringing up back to the original topic. I believe that in looking at what Councils do, we need to weigh an important factor. What are our members willing to pay for the Scouting program? To start, we need to recognize three important points about councils: Most services a council spends money to provide are not visible to Scouts and families. Most programming the Scouts receive from councils is done at a fee to Scouts. Unit support from a professional is usually the least cost effective way to provide that service In addition to my minor prior comments about focusing on building district volunteer teams, my approach to councils in essence would be: 1. Re-examine the efficacy of spending money on tasks not measurable by Scouts. Fundraising, membership, finance, & marketing. Is the overhead incurred by a council to provide these services worth it? Proposal: reduce expenses here by 75%. If it doesn't directly impact local Scouting, cut it. 2. Re-focus on councils organizing and promoting programming by volunteers. Proposal: limit professional involvement in programming to special, highly visible activities such as Summer Camp. 3. Unit support from professionals. What is it that professionals really do for units? We see our DE once a quarter? Is that support really so important? Proposal: Clarify just what it is that professionals do for unit support. council camps - Why is it that council camps are running a deficit? The land for most council camps is paid for. What costs money is stuff like salaries for staff, expenses for buildings, maintenance. Yet, every year councils raise all kinds of money to cover council operations. Imagine if donations to Scouting really paid for improvements to council camps. Similar to @RememberSchiff, I'm of the belief that councils camps ought to have established trusts or endowments. Universities do this, why not Scouting? Imagine if your council camp was protected by an endowment and didn't need to charge fees to stay open. Proposal: Council camps should be fully funded through self-perpetuating endowment funds. focus on volunteerism - Imagine if councils cut almost all the red tape. Imagine if district volunteers felt supported and encouraged. Imagine if district volunteers were focused on programming and activity at the local level. Imagine if district volunteers built strong relationships with units and those relationships were rewarding. I expect we'd see a lot more volunteerism in Scouting. Today most unit volunteers avoid district & council with a 10 foot pole because of all the overhead, red tape, and nonsense. Imagine if it was easy and fun to be a volunteer outside the unit. Proposal: reduce the council generated rules. Build strong volunteer district teams.
  7. I've said it before, but I still believe that one of the big council issues is an ill defined DE role. A DE has too many things he/she is responsible for, too many expectations on their time, too many demands from volunteers, too many demands from their management. They basically have to be super volunteer, fundraiser, membership driver, product sales expert, program specialist, face of the council, go to unit meetings, district meetings, council meetings, etc. They work in an organization that is notoriously autocratic and demanding. They work ridiculous hours for mediocre pay. They have be deal with a volunteer community that thinks that they are all shady and after their money. Many of those same volunteers have no compunction about calling them up at 8:30am on a Saturday morning and chewing them out. If you can find the fun in that - great. Those folks go on to make a career out of it. Most folks - it's not worth it for them.
  8. @Cburkhardt - good point. I'm happy if we want to move this tangent over to that thread. Perhaps a moderator can help us here. @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.
  9. I do remember reading that one. My thought wasn't even as radical as what you're suggesting. As a name - I don't love the idea of a district committee. I think it's too heavy handed a name. But, I do think there is a role for some kind of "Scouting Community" at what approximates a district level. I've been involved in a couple of districts in my time. What I generally see in the functioning ones is that there is a core community of Scouters who form the backbone of what happens in that area. Most have some sort of district role - but others might be in roles like a long time Scoutmaster or ASM. What I can easily see is something like a district committee existing. A group of volunteers who get together to do a little city/county wide volunteering - perhaps setting up a camporee or regular trainings. These people are not necessarily tied to a specific unit anymore - but are there to volunteer at this broader level. Yes, Scouting is about the Scouts - but there are some people who like to organize camporees and other larger events. This community of folks isn't all that worried about JTE scores or FOS presentations or fundraising numbers. But, they do care about regional programming and they do care about seeing healthy units. Call it what you will, but it seems a lot like the programming, commissioner, and membership functions of what we currently call the district committee. But, noticeably absent is the district executive. There's no paid person who's chasing FOS presentations, popcorn sales, membership numbers, budgets, whatever. It's just volunteers helping volunteers. To your point @MattR - they could hire a paid person to do some of that. I do worry that as soon as that happens, now you've got to have money to pay for them. At the council level, there's a few paid folks who hold down the fort. Someone to process membership stuff - though it's pretty easy because 99% is online now. Someone to man the small Scout store to sell uniforms, patches, books, etc. The Scout Store isn't trying to sell camping gear or other add ons in order to drive up sales. Maybe a few people who do fundraising from big donors. It's a goal now to have a Camp with an endowment that keeps it solvent and pays for upgrades forever. No more chasing people for money to keep camp open - you don't have to because Camp is already paid for.
  10. This is a big part of the problem. No-one publicly wants to describe the situation in these terms - to do so puts one in the position of being against the victims of abuse. No one wants that label.
  11. 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.
  12. I'm skeptical. In my 10 years of recruiting kids, never once have I heard - are you a member of WOSM? You hear lots of "I couldn't wait for my son to be a Scout like I was." "I remember when I earned my Eagle", "I was on Summer Camp staff and loved it.", "I was very active in the OA."
  13. BPSA It was started in the US in 2006 and in 2016 had 1,600 members. This is exactly my point.
  14. Let's not conflate our personal frustrations with the organization that is the BSA with the public policy issue here. The United States Congress chartered the BSA as the organization tasked with bringing Scouting to boys in this country. If the BSA dissolves, something will take it's place - but it will be with vastly diminished membership and resources. 15%-20% of kids at best in the new organization. Summer camps gone. High adventure bases gone. Historical good will gone. We'll be set back 80 years in terms of infrastructure for the program. Today buying large camp properties is prohibitively expensive. With no historical connection with the program how many large donors do you expect will fund those camps? Today there are vastly more youth programs to compete with. Getting volunteers is vastly harder. It would be like the Baden Powell Scout Association trying to start up a major Scouting program today. From a public policy perspective, this is a poor choice for the youth of America. It would be far better for Congress to assert it's ownership here and clean house.
  15. Right. But, from a public policy perspective, do we as a country, really want to dismantle Congressionally chartered non-profit organizations where the entire staff and leadership is different today than when the offenses happened? We're not talking firing the Executive Board and replacing the professionals. Those pursuing these cases are talking about ending the BSA. We all think our packs and troops are safe and our councils will be fine. I don't buy it. I expect that those pursuing these cases will find a way to argue that all councils are really part of the same master organization. This will result in all kinds of catastrophic impacts on the local councils. This case is very different from the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is a sovereign institution based in Rome. The BSA is a non-profit organization based in Dallas. This would be more like dismantling the US Olympic Committee and decideding the United States should not particpate in Olympics anymore because of the abuse of athletes in the 60's to 90's. In the case of the USOC, we'd fire the entire board and employees, replace them with a new administration, and prepare for the next Olympics. In the case of Scouting, we're prepared to end the BSA.
  16. I fully agree. I would propose that either the BSA or a friend of the BSA do: Identify 3-5 people on the national board with the ability to talk with Members of Congress. If that expertise does not exist on that national board, identify people of sufficient experience nationally with a Scouting background. Have that team meet with all Senators and Representatives with a Scouting background - either as a participant or a parent. Enlist champions within those ranks Meet with all remaining Members of Congress. Due to the fact that the BSA is a Congressionally chartered organization, propose federal legislation that would: Place the BSA into federal receivership for a period of 3 years. During that time, the government will have the ability to scrutinize spending of the national organization and it's local councils. review the governance structure of the BSA to ensure transparency and ensure the primary purpose of the charter is being fulfilled. Create an Inspector General to oversee the BSA's youth protection programs for a period of 20 years. Cease all lawsuits against the BSA and it's local councils for abuse that happened prior to 2000
  17. I could absolutely see a different district/council/area structure emerging here. Say that some of the more dire theories about bankruptcy are true and that some council assets are sold in this. I could entirely envision a restructuring around fewer, larger councils and fewer, more regional camps. I could see councils the size of states or at least very large metropolitan areas. I could imagine a one or two camps for a state like Virginia, Illinois, etc. You'd have to drive 2-3 hours to get there, but it's where there would be. Or perhaps fewer big developed camps and more less developed camps. What is a small council camp today might stay as a primitive camp, but the big metropolitan camp stays as the primary summer camp. Similarly, I could see a change in professional responsibilities. Much of what DEs do is focused on membership, FOS, and unit service. What if we just didn't focus on that. Forget growth goals from councils and fundraising numbers. Charge $20 per kid per year and have one professional for every 5,000 scouts. They could handle paperwork, major issues, etc. Most everything else is simply unit or volunteer driven. Imagine districts with no DEs.
  18. Do you know if this was local to the Southern Region or did similar changes happen in other regions?
  19. My suspicion is that they thought about it from a fairness perspective. Do we want abuse victims to have the ability to seek restitution in perpetuity? It is certainly the compassionate case to say yes. Similarly, I believe the BSA leadership looked at it similarly. "Are we compassionate people? Yes - so let's support victims claims forever." So, we have a whole lot of compassionate people wanting to be support victims without recognizing the policy impact of that - money is finite, abusers are long gone, and the people paying the bill are kids. Do you see another solution to the who pays question? Abusers are gone and those remaining have insufficient funds. BSA funds come from selling assets and from new members. Who else? My proposal has been that we nationalize this problem. We recognize that non-profit, nationally chartered organizations like the BSA are quasi-governmental groups. It's in the best interest of the country to create a national fund to compensate victims. In return, the federal government appoints an inspector general to monitor the youth protection program of the BSA and to make sure it is taking appropriate measures such that this never happens again.
  20. I can understand the sentiment though it's really just looking at the problem through rose-colored glasses. Here's how I understand it: The BSA hasn't been compensating victims - insurance companies have. The BSA & lawyers are involved in lawsuits, but eventually it's the insurance companies that pay. The insurance companies turn around and charge the BSA premiums for this coverage. That coverage is becoming prohibitively expensive now. It's wonderful to think that the BSA is sitting on a large pot of money which can be used to compensate victims - but it's not the case. What happens is that the lawsuits result in insurance increases that are then passed along to new members through increased fees to the kids of today. Today's bankruptcy filing is the BSA saying that this system is no longer supportable. To me the real moral question is: Should the youth of today pay higher fees to Scouting to compensate victims of abuse that happened many years ago?
  21. This is the jist of my thinking too. Unless this has already been negotiated and all parties has agreed, then all this is likely to be argued in bankruptcy court. As such, the creditors are going to argue to include as many assets as possible. The BSA on the other hand is going to argue to include as few as possible. It's without doubt that there are technically legal structures in place that we hope will be enough to isolate different entities - councils and Philmont most specifically. However, once this gets into the hands of of the courts I expect things will be interpreted. I would not be surprised to see one decision in bankruptcy court which will then be appealed and appealed. I could honestly see this go to the Supreme court as we discussing the intersection point of multiple issues. Yes, councils are legally separate, but they were established for the purpose of Scouting and the national organization has significant control over them. So, are they really independent? Myself I would argue yes, but I have to expect creditors to at least try. How cut and dry this is I'm not so sure.
  22. I think Philmont will be interesting. I believe it could very likely be a casualty here. Let's face it - it's not essential to what we do. Yes, it enriches the program for many, but it's not essential. We, American citizens, had an opportunity to fight this politically and did not. As a result, we now roll the dice. I will not be surprised if Philmont and many local camps get sold.
  23. Our council has one too. @carebear3895 is 100% correct - we have it to make ends meet. Our council does not have fancy buildings or nice office chairs. It's a pretty frugal non-profit. We can certainly have a discussion about whether to pay the salaries of professionals - but that's about the level it's at for us.
  24. Sadly I agree. This will get a lot messier before it's done. I am not a lawyer, but understanding the issues well enough here I expect the lawyers for the victims will turn their attention to local councils. Either lawyers will: go after councils for specific cases argue that council assets should be included alongside national assets in the bankruptcy. On this fund - I can't imagine how our council today will afford to pay into such a fund. Year after year the council goes around hat in hand and asks for donations just to pay the bills. How will they take 30, 40, 50% of that and divert it to a fund. I can't imagine more fundraising will be available to pay for it.
  25. Indeed a sad day, but one that was unavoidable. Being a non-profit the BSA had limited funds to draw upon. Revenue in the BSA is largely dues and fees which in turn enable the programming to happen. Other revenue is used to offset losses in other areas or to fund programming to try to address membership losses. Similarly, most assets are program supporting items - Philmont, Sea Base, etc. - yes, they have value, but they are also key to providing the program. Yes, there were insurance policies, but those are merely a buffer. Of course we want to see every victim compensated. But, at some point money was bound to run out. You can only belt tighten and leverage insurance for so long. I can fully appreciate that many victims would like to see even program assets sold to make amends. But, at some point choices like that degrade the very mission that the organization was chartered by the federal government to provide. In an effort to remain financially solvent and to preserve the ability for the organization to provide our basic service, the BSA really had little choice. It would have been preferable for federal law to provide another legal mechanism to better handle this case - perhaps a mechanism to establish legal funds to pay out in cases like this where the offense happened well before the time of the current leadership. But no such mechanism exists like that and so here we are. Here's hoping for the best.
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