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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I suspect that the 90% is those over 30 years. Theres a big gap of 30 years following that which could be part of the reason. Would be interesting for the BSA to publicize annually how many cases were in the last 5 or 10 years.
  5. Yes. I think we all have to consider what kind of image we want to reflect - be it online, in Scouting, with friends, at work, etc... If you want to keep a more professional vibe as a Cubmaster, that's certainly fine. Of course, I know lots of leaders - be it unit, district, council, professional, etc... who share all kinds of things. So, I don't think it's absolutely necessary to limit what you share - but it is up to you. There's certainly no downside to presenting a more polished image as a leader.
  6. Hi @Beccachap, Welcome! I know I've already replied to a topic of yours, but was going back through posts from the weekend and saw your intro. I love the honesty in your intro!!!! Welcome I welcome your perspective on Scouting. I've always believe that we need to set high expectations in Scouting and it sounds like you're doing exactly that. Thank you for what you're doing and thank you for challenging those you Scout with.
  7. I'm not normally a Facebook user, but I do have one for Scouting use. I'm still fairly disciplined about who I friend. I figure I need to actually know you through Scouting to friend you. There's a few Scouters I've seen on Facebook who friend very liberally.
  8. How much of this is District Commissioner vision & leadership? Yes - some people are simply not right for the role and should never be UCs. But, for the bulk of us, I think how the DC approaches their role is a big part. Does the DC challenge, encourage the UCs on their team grow? Or, is it simply - "Hey Bob, did you file your unit visitation reports? What's the status on recharter?
  9. @yknot's, @desertrat77's, and @MattR's comments hit upon a common theme. This theme permeates about 50% of the posts on this forum. Today, the organization that is the BSA - whether through volunteers or professionals is one that is largely focused on operations, rules, and safety. We spend so much time and effort on how. We have structures in place that when they work are great - G2SS, commissioners, professionals, Districts & Councils, Wood Badge, etc. But, when they are done poorly probably end up doing more harm than good. Bans on water guns, the wheelbarrow rule, bad commissioners, professionals who take over, the preachiness of LNT, well known Wood Badge cliques, uniform police, bad roundtables, etc... How many topics have we had which end up in a discussion of "how they are supposed to work" vs. "bad examples we've all seen". If I look at the most successful packs & troops I know, they do so by knowing how to smartly leverage the resources provided by the BSA. We all know which professionals and volunteers are worth working with. We all know how to work with the system. The BSA provides them the resources to be successful, but the BSA doesn't make them successful. Those units make themselves successful. If I read through some of the good ideas on this page: Volunteers to have more national access points Recruit more from the outside Remove the national silos Focus on the fun silo To me, these all point to a national structure that has the wrong focus. Volunteers feel controlled by the BSA, volunteers feel like the structure is more of a burden than a help. We have to be "the" go-to activity for outdoor youth fun. We have to be "the" go-to activity for youth development. We have to be focused on doing, on saying yes, on pursuing fun. An example Permit me a side example. Sears, Roebuck and Co. vs. Amazon. Sears and Amazon started essentially the same way. Sears had a catalog that people bought the products they needed. The catalog was large, broad, and it made it easy to buy what you wanted. The goods were shipped to you. People all of a sudden had easy access to all kinds of goods. Amazon has a website where people bought the products they needed. The website was large, broad, and it made it easy to buy what you wanted. The goods were shipped to you. People all of a sudden had easy access to all kinds of goods. Along the way Sears got encumbered with all kind of infrastructure that supported a certain way of doing business. They built stores, they built a supply infrastructure, they hired staff, etc... They even made their own credit card business. Eventually that infrastructure became too out of date and unwieldy. Sears became bloated and slow. Later, Amazon came along and provided the exact same service that Sears originally did. Last year Sears had revenue of $14 billion, Amazon $280 billion. Sears currently has about 90,000 employees. Amazon currently has about 750,000 employees. What's the connection? It feels to me a lot like there is a similarity here. It's not that we have to change our program. The program is largely fine - kids want to get outdoors, kids want to have adventures, kids want to have fun, kids enjoy being with other kids. We don't have to replace all that with video games merit badges and sedentary activities. The challenge for the BSA is to have a positive, results oriented focus. We need to be looking for innovative ways to say yes. Let's look at the issues keeping units from being successful and let's go address them. Recommendations Structurally how do we do this? My take is that we start by listening to unit/district leaders. Help them provide solutions instead of forcing a one size fits all approach. At what seems like every turn now, nationals response to challenges is to impose more and more central control. It's as if the national mindset is "we know the right way, if only everyone listened to us we'd be fine". I do not doubt that there are utterly brilliant people in national, but that's not a positive, results oriented focus. We've got to be focused on delivering the core idea here. We've got to look at where the infrastructure has added on a life of it's own and be willing to remove it. If that means shifting or roles and responsibilities so be it. If it means changing hiring practices, so be it. Some specific proposals: First, focus more on success stories and help build vision. Proposal: Create a marketing team that is really out there talking about what we do. There have been some bright spots lately in marketing, review those and do more of that. Second, increase hands on training for unit leaders. A perfunctory online intro class is not enough. If you have to partner with REI to give canoeing lessons - do it. More content, more training. Make those trainings 21st century absorbable - short evening classes, short Saturday morning classes. Less weekend trips to camp. Proposal: Create a national, subject focused expert training development team. Have them generate content and materials that can be absorbed and delivered locally. Make that content about doing, not rules and structure. In that content allow for local innovation. WHen innovation occurs that results in success, learn about it, absorb it, and utilize it. Thirds, focus the professional staff on enabling and day to day problem solving. Proposal: Align the national professional goals and structure such that they drive ground level problem solving and action. National HR needs to be supporting this. National hiring practices need to support this. National staff development needs to support this.
  10. We have a very large, strong troop, pack, and crew. We have leaders whose experience spans 10 to 20 years or more. We have a wonderful UC who is a gem of a resource for us. He helps us problem solve, keeps us aware of new issues and ideas, and helps us interpret council and national rules. He's very well connected outside the unit, so he's a wonderful resource as we look at accomplish ambitious goals. The troop needs a resource at Camp, he can help us make the connection. The pack needs to solve a registration issue, he helps us to accomplish it. It would be harder for us if we did not have such a resource. My .02 - a UC is a resource. Like any resource, the value you get from it is up to you. The UC can be an asset to the troop if you embrace them. If the UC you have doesn't match your troop's personality, talk to the DC - see if they have someone who is more in tune with your troop.
  11. Hi @Beccachap, Yes - certainly. Call or email your district commissioner, explain the situation, and ask if he/she can assign someone else. The district commissioner may ask you some questions about why - most likely in the interest in understanding if there is an issue that he/she needs to be aware of. But, the district commissioner should work it out for you.
  12. It's an anecdote - but... Our church had a situation a few years ago where the minister had to leave abruptly for a once in a lifetime opportunity. The local bishop didn't have a successor in the wings and we were a big church. So, they asked a retired minister to jump in and help out. Day one they showed him to his office and said they'd get it setup for him. He turned and said - I don't need an office. I never plan to sit down. I will be spending every day out working with people in the church. The next 6 months were a time of innovation, growth, and transformation. Rather than promoting through the system, I think we're out looking for these people. Instead of worrying about whether they are a commissioned professional, let's go out and hire people with the ability to make a change.
  13. For this I would lean more heavily on the volunteer side and would draw them from locations demonstrating success. For example - look at your experience with your troop for girls. You've been successful in starting that troop and know what it takes. You understand the program needs, the volunteer needs, the focus needs - you are now clearly a subject matter expert on troops for girls. Let's say a district is struggling to start troops for girls. That district could contact someone at national and say - we need help getting a program of starting troops for girls going. The BSA would then engage you and other similarly successful leaders and say "let's build a focus team that can help districts start troops for girls". You'd meet as a team ahead of time and develop a plan for a visit to that district. You'd go onsite, hold some meetings, visit with different leaders, develop a strategy, and define a series of next steps. You'd then regularly talk, review progress, and work through issues. If need be, you'd make another visit onsite and regroup. The problem in essence that we're trying to solve is knowledge propagation. How to take the best ideas and leverage them to help others succeed. I thought of the consulting team notion because it's a repeatable, organized way to transcend the limitations imposed by our current structure. This lets us preserve a structure which is efficient for organization, but not efficient for innovation. The consulting team become the innovation factory.
  14. FWIW - I would similarly concur. I'd think that all mainline programs should be offered by a council, but optional to a unit. I would think the LFL stuff could be optional.
  15. @Cburkhardt - you've captured that point well. Lets capture metrics on the things we most struggle with at a unit level and then measure people at the national level on their ability to impact them. I believe we'd see changes that would have a positive impact on these local issues.
  16. The volunteer organizational structure of the BSA today is one that is largely based on a promotion model seen in large organizations. You start as a volunteer in a unit, a few years later you get involved in a district, a few years later the council, later the area, etc. Problem solving works much the same way. A unit is an entity that works in isolation and receives coaching from a unit commissioner or district volunteer. A district receives some coaching from a professional or council volunteer. The net effect of this system is that it engenders consistency. In an era where we have seen a consistent decline in membership of 40+ years I think national needs to look at new opportunities for how it interacts with councils. One idea I would propose is that national champion the development of a team of consulting subject matter experts. This would be a group of individuals specifically focused on helping some other group strengthen in a specific area. The team would consist of individuals with a knack for problem solving, coaching others, and driving to deliver results. This consulting team could be pulled from anywhere in Scouting - professionals and volunteers alike. Let's use council membership as an example. Say that a council has been struggling to grow membership. At the request of the council, this consulting team would come in, sit with a few key council membership people, and jointly develop a plan for membership success. The consulting team would consist of subject matter experts and also those who know how to develop a plan. Together the combined group would define the problem, identify solutions, and then together develop a specific plan for success. Following the plan development, the local team would execute. The consulting team would train, guide, coach, mentor - in some cases even project manage. The consulting team would have access to national resources and could leverage those as well. Plans would be ambitious - so setbacks should be anticipated. But, the group would work together and stay engaged for the duration. Once the project was over, the consulting team would then go work on something else. If you go back to our example of membership. Say that you're a council membership team. Your council covers an area of 3 million people. Something like 2% ot TAY are engaged in your programming. You've got a shoestring budget, minimal marketing, an overworked DE staff, and units that run the gamut from troops of 100 scouts to troops of 5 scouts. You've been declining in membership 2% a year. What do you do? Today, the team looks inward and tries to figure it out. Periodically, some new volunteer or staff member joins the mix and you try something new. With this idea, the BSA would have a team of people who could help. So, instead of that council membership team trying to figure out a plan on their own, they've got a team of 6 people who have specific experience that can help get them started. We see similar things done in business all the time. There are numerous management and specialized technical consulting companies. Those companies exist because often a local company simply doesn't have the local knowledge to solve a particular challenge. In the BSA we often describe the solution to that as "more training". But, very often more training needs to be accompanied with some subject matter experts to get you going in the right direction. In the non-Scouting professional world these consulting companies come in an assist people who already working in that area all day, every day. This works in large part because consulting companies see lots of examples and are able to extract best practices. They become experts at problem solving and know how to select ideas that work and ideas that do not. To me, this is a natural extension of what we are doing in Polaris. Polaris today is giving people the tools to solve their own problems. Step 2 is to now recognize that some problems benefit from working with subject matter experts. Polaris would let that council membership team say "we are free to innovate". This would give that council membership team an increased chance of success by then partnering them with expert resources.
  17. Pardon if I'm in the wrong topic for these. I'm gathering that at a national level, the definition of program is broader than what we define it to be at a unit level. A few ideas to start off: The national programming team needs to spend significant energy defining what it means to support units. Every presentation talks about how unit scouting is the most important thing we do. Yet, the definition of what it means to support a unit is remarkably vague. As a result, council, district, and professional support for units is vague and poorly understood. Expectations are not clear. The team needs to take a more active role in championing unit size & structure. To that end, I would create and track metrics that track 1) the number of filled essential and important unit positions, 2) the size of units, & 3) program quality. These metrics need to be tracked and the national committees and staff measured upon them. This would drive national volunteers and staff to make decisions that either a) increase volunteerism or b) decrease the requirement for adult volunteer roles. Program is an important component in this mix because quality program has a dominating effect on unit size and quality. Per the district and council thread, the national programming team needs to champion the development of world class district and council teams. It is fairly clear that today the national programming team defined the structure, put together some on-line training with minimal staff. The national organization has otherwise neglected this important component of Scouting. Similar to my above point, the national team needs to be actively measuring and taking proactive steps to develop and strengthen the implementation of the structure they defined.
  18. @Cburkhardt - I'm someone who has always been interested in understanding the structure of the organization at the national level. I've asked around with local experts, looked online nationally, read reports, etc... This is hands down the single best explanation and picture into the national structure I've ever seen. Thank you.
  19. Four very specific things I'd do: Make the primary task of the DE to build and support the district team. Not FOS, popcorn, program, and not even unit service. It's like the oxygen mask in an airplane - you cannot help others until your team settled. National needs to define specialized training for district volunteers. This training needs to be delivered live. National needs to define a regional training for district key three members. Camp School for district key three. National needs to create a problem solving team to help troubled districts
  20. Sure - if there was a way to accomplish the same with 2-3 people 2 hours a week, then that's fine with me. I know you've mentioned several times that the Scouting program could be simplified. I do largely agree with that. That said - I don't think simplifying the program would have helped us a lot. The troop is well run and manages to find enough volunteers - so that would solve a problem we don't have. Now, how can districts solve the problem of units with fewer leaders. These units need mentors - A solid UC is important here They need specialized training. This training needs to be results oriented - not some pie in the sky theory stuff. How to strengthen program with a few leaders How to actually go recruit new leaders How to actually go recruit new scouts
  21. Because we're volunteers. Take roundtable for example. Roundtable is really nothing more than a monthly meeting of volunteers - they swap knowledge, socialize, tell stories, build relationships, etc... One person could organize roundtable in 2-3 hours a month. But, since we want to have breakouts by program, pull together some announcements, and do this in an hour or two a week, you want 3-5 people. Now scale that up to include training, coaching for leaders (Commissioners), camporees, summer activities, pinewood derbies, OA, eagle boards, support for membership, solicitation of donations, etc. you end up with 30+ people pretty quickly. A troop is much the same way. Our troop was a pretty well functioning team and we had 20+ volunteers for 60 Scouts. A SM, a few ASMs to support trips, some board of review people, some merit badge counselors, treasurer, advancement person, a membership person, etc.. You could run our troop with 2 or 3 people working 10-20 hours a week or 20+ each putting in 2 hours a week.
  22. This is the crux of the issue. I've been a district volunteer for several years now - most of the time in more senior roles. In that time we've gotten no support from either national or our council in building our district team. The only training available is the online training. Our DE will brainstorm with us on names and even ask people at times if we need him to. But, I see no effort expended by the BSA at all to foster the development of district teams. We've neglected district committees for 20 years (at least) and now it's catching up with us. Help for unit leaders - missing. Training for unit leaders - missing. Community support for starting new units - missing. One or two paid DEs can not substitute for a district team.
  23. Mostly agree - but not 100%. In life most of us benefit from coaches, mentors, and advisors. Most of us benefit from having someone who has traveled the road before us that we can ask questions of. I do it in Scouting, I do it at work. The UC role is Scouting's attempt to provide that. Let's gather together that experience and build a program to get that experience shared. This forum has had conversations about how UCs should have the authority to overrule unit leaders - I've never agreed with that idea myself. Yes, when that starts to happen, it's an example of top down leadership. Similarly, when professionals do that, it's wrong too. I'm starting to come to the realization that just as we have "youth led" vs "adult led" for troops, so too do we need "volunteer led" vs. "professional led" for districts and councils. Professional led districts tend to exhibit top down control. They focus more on fundraising and membership. These are metrics upon which professionals are measured. Volunteer led districts tend to exhibit community driven control. They focus more on unit quality and local programming.
  24. These are not the point of a UC. The whole purpose of a UC is to be a coach, mentor, and adviser to the unit leaders. That's where the value is in the role. You've got to focus on where your role brings value. A UC should be a pretty senior Scouter and comfortable putting paperwork, popcorn, and FOS into it's proper perspective. That said - as a UC you do have to have a broader view than just outdoor program. For example, you can have the most adventurous troop - but not doing any recruiting. You could have a great program, but have Scouts that cannot afford it. You can have a great troop that cannot meet or go camping because they didn't turn in their recharter paperwork. As a UC, you've got to keep those aspects in mind. The UC after all is an adviser to the CC as well as the SM. If you see the troop is struggling financially, you can suggest selling popcorn. If you're three weeks out from re-charter date and the paperwork isn't in, you probably ought to ask. Does that mean you need to be the shill for the Council on these - nope.
  25. Thanks @yknot Some follow up questions/comments. Can you share what you see here? Are COs ceasing to sponsor units? Thanks - this is the kind of info I was hoping to learn. Maybe it's just me - but I get the sense that there are two issues here: having enough volunteers having outdoor knowledgeable volunteers I believe both require focus from the BSA. In our district, those units who have weak programs and put out the "help wanted" sign seem to struggle. Strong units who recruit individuals do just fine. Similarly, I see strong programs with a track record do fine in introducing parents to the outdoors. Yet, even in those programs there are relatively few people who instantly show up with the confidence, knowledge, and experience to instantly lead outdoor activities. The successful units seem to have a knack for growing parents into leaders. I do think a District could help here. I can see a role for increased training at a district level on how to build a unit program, recruit leaders, and to take Scouts outdoors. I think this is what Roundtable was supposed to be. But, it got too caught up in process and procedure and many leaders simply bailed.
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