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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. ParkMan

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    We as Scout leaders hold ourselves to a very high standard. Just because some people are postualting that it is impossible to completly eliminate child abuse doesn't mean that they condone it or accept it. @yknot - The goal is very clearly no cases of youth abuse ever. End of discussion. No one is suggesting otherwise. There was a movie many years ago about the Secret Service - "In the Line of FIre". One of the primary themes of that movie was that is a person is willing to sacrifice his life to commit a crime, the crime can happen. Another example is school shootings by youth. Billions of dollars has been spent to protect schools. Yet, school shootings still occur. A really evil person who wants to abuse youth will keep trying and trying until they are able to do so. Does that mean we shut down all youth activities - no Scouts, youth sports, youth group, band, school, sunday school, youth volunteering, etc...? No, it means we do the absolute best we can and then try a harder. But, it most certainly does not mean anyone condones it. If most certainly does not mean anyone thinks some amount of cases each year is OK.
  2. ParkMan

    Flat Council Support fee coming to your unit?

    It feels like the BSA is missing the key problem - the world has changed and district/pack/troop/crew leaders just don't know how to adjust to the new challenges. Packs & troops that know how to recruit do just fine. They run traditional programs and have plenty of members. Yet, we have plenty of units that have no clue how to recruit and so don't bother. The complain when they don't have enough scouts or volunteers - but yet do little to fix it. Districts have a very similar problem. They are running a program that was appropriate 20 years ago. Training - BSA sends us the slides and we present them. Program - we'll get together a few times, come up with some events, and call it a day. Membership - does everyone has a roundup night planned? Time and time I see the same thing. The quality of what we do matters. Focus on program quality matters. Focus on building up volunteers and units matters. Unit and district quality matters. In short, the BSA doesn't have a program content problem, it has a program delivery program. This will never be fixed by tinkering with the program. Charging more only makes things worse. They need to fix the problems that are leading to weak packs/troops/crews and districts. But, they are not doing this. As a result, we continue to see a slow, steady decline.
  3. ParkMan

    Cell Phones at Summer Camp

    And you and I agreed on the best path here to just let the Scout keep the phone in the first place. I know it's a popular approach to conflscate things, but I really think A Scouter serves the bigger purpose of Scouting better by working towards responsible use of the phone. But - as I was reading it again, this image kept poping in my head. That's all
  4. ParkMan

    Cell Phones at Summer Camp

    I'd be kind of amused to confiscate a Scout's cell phone and then have him call the police on me. I can only imagine how this goes... operattor: "911. How can I help you?" scout: "I'd like to report a theft" operator: "Please tell me what what was stolen and your location." scout: "I'm at the Scout Camp. My Scoutmaster just stole my cell phone." operator: "OK, please tell me what happened" scout: "My Scoutmaster told me to stop using my phone. He then told me I had to give him my phone. I did that. I'd like you to send police to the camp." operator: "Understood, I've got SWAT in route to your location now."
  5. ParkMan

    My Way Or The Highway

    I'm with @qwazse on this. By your own acknowledgement, you've done everything you can think of. You're at decision time. Figure out some concrete steps that will result in either you becoming Scoutmaster or leaving.
  6. ParkMan

    Cell Phones at Summer Camp

    You and I agree that it's just a better idea to let the Scouts have the phone. I'm interested though in this point as it has broader implications. Forever, parents have relied upon each other to provide supervision on youth. That happens when I send my son to his friends house. This happens when my son goes to school. This happens when my son goes on a Scout camping trip. In those instances, adults are acting on the behalf of the parents. They are not a substitue for the parents and do not assume all rights. But, they assume a level of reasonable oversight of them. If a Scout brought a handgun to a camping trip, no one would think twice if a leader confiscated it. In fact, the leader would be culpable if he/she didn't confiscate it. Similarly, if a Scout brought inappropriate items to camp (adult oriented materials or alcohol) no one would question if a leader confiscates them. A cell phone isn't a lethal weapon nor it is something appropriate for a Scout to posses. But, depending on the expectations of that troop or camp, it certainly could be inappropriate for it to be at camp. Confiscating an item is typically an act where the Scout is told to hand it over to the adult. The adult then possess it for the duration of the event. It's not theft where the leader goes in and takes it from the Scout. It's the leader saying "give me your phone.' It's no different than my child's teacher doing it. Now, if the Scout refuses, then yes - the leader is probably powerless to physically remove it. But, that's true of any situation. If the leader say - you need to go cool down - go sit in your tent for 30 minutes. That's OK. But, if the Scout says no, I won't do it then the leader cannot make him do it. That's when the leader picks up his phone and calls the parent. i.e. - your son is here and refuses to take my direction. You've agreed to let me provide direction to you child and so please come pick him up. Same is true with the cell phone. If the scout voluntarily surrenders it, then fine. But, if hte scout will not surrender it voluntarily, the leader picks up the phone and tells the parent to come get the child. This, BTW, is all very different businesses interacting with youth. In the case of a business not selling to youth it's because you are not allowed to enter into contracts. The sale of an item or delivery of services is a contract. Youth can't make contracts and so businesses should not sell to them online or they risk dealing with what happens if thre child refuses to pay. This of course is different from a local merchant who requires payment up front. If a child goes to the store and buys a drink that's fine because the money is handed over prior to the business providing the goods.
  7. ParkMan

    Cell Phones at Summer Camp

    I'm pretty sure that when a minor Scout is attending a Scouting event, he and his parents have effectively enetered into an agreement to allow the Scout Leader to provide reasonsable oversight for the duration of the event. If the leader or camp had a published policy, then this is easy. By publishing the policy ahead of time and sharing it was families, the act of the parents sending the child to the camp allows the Scout camp or leader to enforce the policy. If the leader or camp does not have a published policy, then it's probably a little murkier. But, to have a leader who is providing supervision to the youth confiscate the phone and then turn it over to the Scout or parent at the end of the event seems a reasonable "good faith" activity. I'm sure there's some legal text that justifies this, but the theory seems sound. Now, if you do something like take away the phone and prevent the Scout from contacting his parents, then I think that's an issue. All that said - I think you let the Scouts have their phones. In 2019 they are a fact of life and young adults need to learn to use them at appropriate times.
  8. Thanks - this helps to understand. I fully understand his perspective here. I'd like to think that were I a leader in that pack, I'd be looking for activities that transcend some of this. Pinewood Derby - make it less about the competition and more about building a car Camping - the camping program has to be more than family camping with Scouts. We'd attend Camporees, had a freezing weather camping trip once, would sleep on a Battleship, sleep at the acquarium, would hold Webelos camping events focused on sklls development (called "Camping Like a Boy Scout"), would hold fishing weekends, would attend shooting events, etc. Crafts - Younger kids liked it, but it was never a big part of our program. We seemed to spend time pushing the edge - looking for new ideas, things to try. If stuff got stale, we tried something else. I guess that's my point on this. It seems all to easy in Scouting to just say "that's too hard" or "it's too much work" or "we're too overloaded". But, the real fun in Cub Scouting is doing cool stuff with your kids. Folks gotta find a way to make that happen.
  9. That seems a very reaonsable analysis to me. An 80-85% retention rate seems pretty normal. A pack would see on average 1-2 scouts leave each year per den of 8 (or so) scouts. Up through Bears we'd generally replace those Scouts through recruiting. Dens in the wolf year tended to get bigger. Dens in the bear year were stable in size. The Webelos dens tended to drop by 1 or 2. Typically Scouts didn't start as Webelos but seemed to wait another year and start as Boy Scouts. Again, we saw a similar 80-85% continue on to Boy Scouts. Two thoughts: 60-85 cubs seems like a lot, but it really isn't. I found the best way to get there is to focus on adding one full den each year. Finding 8-10 new Lions or Tigers isn't really that hard. If you can recruit a fell den of Lions or Tigers, the rest will sort itself out. You need a healthy team to run a pack of 60-85. Fortuantley with that many scouts it's not that hard to find volunteers. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Create plenty of opportunities for parents to help out and get used to being around Scouting. My advice - find a CC and let them focus on nothing more than building the volunteer team.
  10. ParkMan

    My Way Or The Highway

    Hi @BlueTrails_Vet, Pardon in advnace the long winded reply... Working with the Scoutmaster When I've been in similar situations, I find I have the most success by recognizing that the current SCoutmaster is going to do what he/she is going to do. I've been able to make the most change by figuring out what the Scoutmaster cares about and what he/she doesn't. I'm generally able to get most of what I want accomplished done by letting him/her do his thing but getting his blessing for me to work on things he/sje doesn't care about. An example. In our troop, I often felt that the Scoutmaster was focused on seeing that we had good monthly trips. He wasn't terribly focused on getting Scouts to plan trips or getting trips planned well enough ahead to get decent turnout. I was the CC and so had a decent amount of authority to push things. I tried a variety of things to force him to change - nothing worked. I was frustrated, he was frustrated. After a while I realized that he didn't care about planning trips and wasn't spending a lot of time thinking about turnout. He just wanted to go camping with the Scouts. So, I went out and found a volunteer who would support the Scoutmaster on organizing trips. The Scoutmaster still got to do what he cared about - inspire the locations and go camping with the Scouts. This ASM could fill in the gaps. He worked with the SPL to have an annual planning meeting, he worked with the SPL to capture the calendar. He worked with the SPL to get things planned. SM was happy, Scouts were more involved, and a volunteer had a great role. A win win. Back when I was an Asst. Cubmaster, we had a Cubmaster who loved to be in control. He & I didn't quite see eye to eye on what we thought should happen. After a while, I happened to be drinking a beer with him and realized that he & I had different visions for the pack. I was about quality of program. He just wanted to see Scouts have fun and do cool things. So, I found it worked great if I let him focus on big picture "fun". I took care of signups, I took care of plans. Along the way, I had HUGE influence on what we did in the pack. I was able to take the the pack from being a pretty laid back pack to a pretty disciplined group. We had calendars, plans, programs, etc. But, the Cubmaster still got to focus on what he though was important - seeing the boys have fun. Along the way the Cubmaster & I became great friends and talked constantly. After a couple of years he decided to pass the torch and he wanted me to take over. We had a very calm, orderly transition. It was great. So, I have two recommendations on working with the Scoutmaster. 1) Focus less on changing the troop. Instead, focus more on getting the troop to be better at doing what it's doing. Fill in those gaps that the Scoutmaster isn't doing. Find his care abouts and figure out what you can do around those to impact the change you want. In the process make the Scoutmaster successful so that he recognizes you as a partner, not a competitor. 2) Drink some beer with the Scoutmaster. Become friends, get to know him. Best of luck!!!
  11. ParkMan

    Why are Cub Scout uniforms and universal clothing items?

    This is essentially what we do. Every year each den make some sort of neckerchief slide. BSA ones get lost on the first wearing and are a waste of money. Belt buckle - I don't think anyone really cares what is one the Scout wears. Hat - completly up to the Scout. We don't encourage them. Socks - the BSA sells Cub Scout socks? I don't think I've ever seen a pair Pants - Unless the BSA is now selling Levi's, I don't think I've seen any BSA Cub Scout pants. So, in our pack, the only update items are the neckerchief & handbook. In our system the pack provides the neckerchief, the parents the handbook. We don't get many compaints. Please BSA tough - let's not get rid of the level neckerchiefs. This is about as classic Scouting as you get.
  12. What could your pack have done differently that woudl have piqued his interest during those years?
  13. Very well made point and I follow what you're saying here. The question that this begs to me is what kind of pack should the BSA anticipate - the small pack struggling for leaders or the larger pack with structure. According to my math, the ideal pack size is at least 30-48 Scouts. That's a den of 5-8 scouts per age range. Our disrict has 15 packs. 7 (46%) of those packs are over 30 scouts. Those 7 packs account for 78% of the Cub Scouts in the district. If I round a little, about half of our packs account for about 80% of our Cub Scouts. So, if you are the BSA who do you tailor your program to - the small packs or the large packs? My sense is that the BSA is focusing on a program appropriate for the 30-40 Scout pack. One full den per age level, a Cubmaster, an ACM or two, an committee of 3-5 people - etc. At a pack that size you don't focus 25% of your leaders on Lions - you focus 3 adults there (Lion DL, Lion Asst. DL, and one support person to help them get going). In a pack that size you've got 9-12 front line leaders (DL/Asst. DL), a CM, 1 or 2 ACMs, and a Committee of 3-5. That's a total of 15-20 people - 3 who are focused on Lions. That doesn't seem so crazy. What do you get for this? Less stressed leaders, better adult continuty, and stronger programs. Another option is that the BSA could just scale back to three years or four years and focus on the small 15-25 person packs. But, I don't think that really helps us as a larger program. You end up with simpler programs, overloaded leaders, faster turnover amongst leaders. I'd even argue that in a smaller pack you then have to spend more emphasis on recruiting adults because you have to replace them more often. Put another way. In my district larger packs account for 80% of the Scouts, but ony 50% of the units. Wouldn't it be better for us to encoruage the smaller packs to become more like the bigger packs?
  14. This line of thought has always intreguied me. If this was the GSUSA, where a troop is a collection of 8-10 girls and that's it, I can see this happening. A couple of leaders start, get a few years in, get tired of it and get burned out. In a Cub Scout pack you've got 30, 40 scouts? Is there no support organziation for the den leaders? Is there no prospect for replacement leaders so that those original Lion leaders can pass the reigns? Our pack saw leader turnover in about 50% of the dens - it seemed to usually happen around the bear year. Further, den leadership was typically a team effort - two or three parents worked together. Further, the pack had other adults around - ACMs, Committee Members, who could lessen the load. I'm sure we had some burnout, but not to the level the get described here. It was rare for us to have less than 80% of Webelos at least join a troop. Many of those den leaders went on to take small rolls in the troop. A few came back and willingly volunteered for another round of being a den leader. I'm not suggesting you're wrong - not at all. But, I'm just wondering how many packs where this happens are simply suffering from being a pack that's too small and doesn't have adequate size fo have enough leaders.
  15. Always seems to me like the program should go: Cub Scouts: Lion through Wolf ranks Webelos: Bear through earning AOL "Early" Scouts: 5th grade through middle school "Older" Scouts: High school At each "level", the program needs to shift a bit and introduce new challenges. Cub Scouts need not be 6 years of the same thing. Lions and Webelos age kids are vastly different and the program can adjust accordingly. For my son, Tigers & Wolves was about crafts and fun. Bears to Webelos was about learning rudimentary outdoor skils. My son was fortunate that we had a leader change when he got to the bear level and so the program was very different. As the Scouts BSA age ranges the troop experience is different for younger scouts & older scouts. Younger scouts is about developing stronger outdoor skills and patrol life. Older scouts is about leadership. Same goes for adults. We, as volunteers, need a change after 2-3 years too. Seems like the right life span for any level in the program is about 3 years. We could do this radically in the BSA and split the pack experience into two programs - or packs can just do that through what they do. Change leaders in the Bear year, provide Bear-Webelos activities, etc. If we let it, it tends to happen naturally in a troop. It's just important for troop adults to recognize it and support it.
  16. ParkMan

    Working With Others

    Hi @5thGenTexan, That sounds great. These topics it's often tough to know the other person, so I wasn't familair with your experience here. Really glad to hear you put program first - not everyone does! My main point is really the second one. As Cubmaster, you have ownership for the success or failure of the pack's program. The CC may have overall responsibilty for the pack, but you, as Cubmaster, have responsibilty for the pack's program. The Cubmaster is the heart and soul of the pack. You most certainly have the right to establish standards for leaders. In fact, you have the responsibilty to set high standards. Be nice, friendly, and cheerful - but challenge people. If they're slacking - ask why. If someone is vaping in front of Scouts, you call them on it. If you think people need to be in uniform - by golly tell them that. A side note about your comment on recruiting - I've learned that different councils do things differently with regards to recruiting. Our council is there in a support capacity. Each unit organizes their own recruiting. For what it's worth, our pack and troop do not in any way rely on the district or council to do anything or have any role in recruiting. Our recruiting plan is our recruiting plan - we make our own success in this regards. Of course, that sense of independence may be why year over year we recruit more Scouts that any other unit in our district. I mention this not to congraluate ourselves, but simply to point out that we have a clear philosophy of ownership of our recruiting process and I tihnk it has helped up a lot. We set our own JSN nights, organize our own events, and do our own outreach to prospective families. The top of the BSA hierarchy is the unit. The district, council, and even national - they are there to support you. If you think a late September JSN is wrong, do your own. Sounds like you are off to a great start!
  17. You could make the BSA training one hour of jam packed info and you'd get about the same attendance. The simple reality is that the basic mechanics of Scouting are pretty straight forward and can easily be learned on the job. A significant percentage of Scouters realize this and don't bother to get trained. Most packs and troops don't bother to push the issue. In the process, we have whole generations of leaders who's training amounts to whatever they saw the leaders before them do. The sad reality is that we as Scouters bear much more responsibilty for the lack of trained leaders than any BSA content. As experienced Scouters, it's within all our power to encourage new leaders to get trained. If experienced leaders insisted on trained leaders, it would happen. But, we don't, and so it doesn't happen.
  18. In both my Cub Scout & Boy Scout volunteer experiences, I joined troops with established leadership groups. We had leaders who had been around for a while. The leadership team in the pack is about 10 people. In the troop about 20. There is a defined pack/troop culture that was established by the "senior" leaders. New leaders certainly take on positions of responsibilty, but there is always someone who can point them in the right direction. Someone new shows up and starts making waves, someone pulls them aside and points them in the right direction. It's all very positive as everyone is pulling in the same direction trying to have the best troop possible. In my humble opinion, I think this kind of culture would be useful in more packs and troops.
  19. In our troop we seem to have a paradox new leaders expect to get their guidance from more experienced leaders. They don't got to training because they know the experienced adults will show them the ropes once untrained leaders get some experience they decide that they know the basics already and it's pointless to go spend a day taking training. So, after a while you see a whole bunch on untrained, experienced leaders.
  20. That's what I meant. Same age patrols can have growth through shared comraderie. A group of mates working together to solve challenges that they run into. I'm not arguing that same age patrols are better. Most point is really just - if leaders understand the purpose and goals of patrol method then could they accomplish the same with mixed age patrols? Could you develop a strong program for older youth by leveraging roles like Troop Guide? I could envision a model where Scouts work together in their same age patrol. They grow together as they mature and their patrol strengthens. As their learning opportunities begin to run out at the patrol level, they then take on roles like Troop Guide, SPL, ASPL, Quarter Master, etc. The Scouts grow in responsibilty and challenge as they mature. I think you make a very compelling argument that an older youth program is the key to a strong troop. MIxed age patrols are one path to providing meaning for older Scouts. But, I wonder if it's the only path. Couldn't you accomplish much the same by utilzing same age patrols as I decribe above?
  21. Isn't it the job of the Scoutmaster to lead the program? Presumably he/she has a pretty good understanding of what patrol method is and how to utilize it in a program. Other leaders should look to the SM for guidance. If the Scoutmaster doesn't understand patrol method, that's a bigger issue. Presumably you've chosen the Scoutmaster based on their understanding of the program and their demonstrated desire to run a good program. I wonder if this has something to do with how people learn today. I get the sense that many people are ignoring the training. Trained leader percentages are well below 50%. The BSA materials are fully of information on patrol method, but people tend to ignore it. So, I wonder if the BSA materials are trying counter that by focusing more on the theory thinking "if we explain it, then people will find more value in the training materials and attempt to learn them."
  22. This was my struggle as a Cubmaster. I had every book and went to every class. I knew the the "what" really well. Yet, the BSA materials and training don't cover the "how". Later I saw the same thing in the troop. I knew we wanted the eigth methods, but "how" was not terribly well defiend. As they said in school - the "how" was an exercise left to the reader. So, as a result, we spent countless amounts of energy trying to figure it out. Yet, there's a part of me that wonders if the BSA should really try to define patrols to this level of detail. What matters more - exactly how patrols are structured, or that patrol method is being leveraged in a way that maximizes it's benefits. For example, there are various ways to accomplish @Eagledad's recommendation of developing a strong program by focusing on the quality of the older Scout program. If we leverage that fact that there is shared comraderie in solving problems together, there is value in putting Scouts in patrols of the same age. Scouts grow together and develop bonds together. It can lead to a model where a patrol is strong buddy group - perhaps even one where Scouts become life long friends.
  23. ParkMan

    Working With Others

    You could write it down, but I think it would be more effective to discuss it face to face at a leader's meeting. Once you communicate your expectations, then continue to live them. If someone is chronically disgegarding them, then ask them to move on. But, reading the earlier replies, three things I've picked up in my Scouting travels as a unit leader (CM & CC) Put program first. Scouts, parents, other volunteers respond when it's about making sure the Scouts are active and having fun. Raise the bar. As Cubmaster, you need to challenege the other leaders to deliver the best program in your district. That you had a Tiger den leader who did nothing is inexcusable. Half hearted uniforming - same thing. Vaping in front of Scouts - same thing. Everyone needs to be looking for ways to make this the absolute best program they can. Grow your pack. The phrase "solo TIger Scout" is a red flag. You should have 8+ TIger Scouts. When you start to have a small group, you are stuck with whatever leaders show up. WHen you have a big group, stronger leaders emerge. Focus on program and actively look to grow. Active, fun, well run packs turn into big, active, fun, well run packs. Best of luck!!!
  24. ParkMan

    Adult led and youth led

    I'm sure that both nature & nurture play a role. However, I tihnk that in even more cases it simply comes seeing countless examples of leadership by their parents. That's why often the children of good leaders themselves become good leaders. Kids see their parents doing it an just do the same.
  25. ParkMan

    Flat Council Support fee coming to your unit?

    I really like our local DE - but have come to the realization that we don't really need as many of them as we have. In our area, our DEs largely offset the fact that our district volunteer teams have dwindled. Our district and councils could opreate at about a third the staff. So, rather than drive down membership by increasing costs to Scouts, I think it's time for councils to revisit the DE model. Let districts either shrink or deal with finding volunteers to make them successful.