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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. What kind of things would you suggest here? Generally though - I think the job of any level in Scouting is to make that level successful. A den leader's role is to make a den successful, a Scoutmaster a troop, a district advancement chair the district, etc. Now, it goes without saying, one of the best ways to achieve success in Scouting is to focus on the quality of the program. So, at a district level that does indeed mean that the district needs to have a concerted focus on having strong units. I think that's one of the challenges for a volunteer challenged district - how does a district team of a limited number of volunteers have a meaningful impact on unit quality?
  2. ^ This ^ For all our griping about executive salaries, this is the key point. If the CSE could end the lawsuits, could turn membership around, could grow funding, clean up trouble councils, they'd be worth 1 or 2 million a year.
  3. Ideally yes - the nominating committee would select people of proper experience to fullfill the responsibilities of the board. Taking a step back - we have to come to grips with a governing concept for the councils. Do council board function more like a non-profit board or perhaps something else? I believe that you treat them like a non-profit board. My prior recommendations are in that regard. If I sat on the national governance committee, my recommendation would be: The council board has a clear mandate to fulfill the mission of the council. That mission needs to be clearly articulated. The board can determine it's own structure and self-nominate to fill vacancies. The stakeholders in the council (chartered organizations) should vote on the board nominees. COR cast these votes but can delegate as appropriate. A majority of CO's can demand a recall of board members. A majority of CO's can overrule decisions of the board. Because we are a volunteer driven organization, the board president serves as the "executive" chair of the council. This is a non-paying role. The Scout Executive serves on the board in a non-voting role. The Scout Executive's duties and compensation should be determined and reviewed by the board. The Scout Executive determines structure of the staff. The Scout Executive serves as the executive director of the staff. Some staff are assigned to different volunteer "executives" - Council VPs, District Chairs, etc. Those volunteers provide some duties to the assigned staff members, though they are managed by the Scout Executive. For example - it is clear that the program staff works at the overall direction of the VP of Program though day to day they report to the Scout Executive. A member of the professional staff can be allocated to assist the board. However, for the purposes of that work, the board sets those responsibilities and determines compensation. I don't think this is far off from what we do today - but I think it would clarify things quite a bit.
  4. Touché @Cburkhardt. I think you have several very good ideas there. I very much like the new unit formation team. My belief is that the district structure as defined by the BSA is largely fine. A district is in essence the group that builds Scouting in a community. In a rural area or suburban area this might be several communities. As the group that builds Scouting, I believe the core groups in a district are essentially correct: activities - a district needs a team that puts on community wide Scouting activities - Camporees, fun days, summer events, etc. membership - a team that starts new units and encourages existing units to grow training - a team to help new leaders get going program support (aka advancement, camp promotion, etc.) - the team that helps unit solve difficult challenges they face. unit coaches - aka commissioners. These folks should be engaged month to month helping unit leaders be successful. community building team - I think of Roundtable here. To me Roundtable is very important in building a vibrant Scouting community. I believe in having a district finance team as well. Local scouters are the best people to identify and work with local businesses to raise funds for the program. The problem in the BSA isn't one of structure, it's one of execution. There is no meaningful district training. There is no leader development process. There is minimal help and support for district volunteers. I agree with you - we need to raise the stature of district roles. District teams to be thrive, grow, and be full of energy. A district should be the example that units want to emulate. I would stop the direct management of districts by professionals. Instead of taking over, a DE needs to focus on correcting structural issues in the team. DE success should in large part be measured by the efficacy of the district they serve.
  5. Usually a board has a nominating committee who makes recommendations. In the BSA, I would propose that every COR has a vote. A COR could choose to proxy that vote to someone. That's a slight change from now as I believe that existing board members also get a vote in the current BSA rules.
  6. Fully agree here. I am sure that it is very helpful to have people of this type on the board. I think a lot of this comes back to board credibility. I get the sense that the credibility of council boards is at a low at this point in time. Further, I think the same can be said for Scouting professionals. Reductions in programming, increases in costs, mandates on rules have developed a rift between the unit volunteers and professionals/board. The BSA needs to be paying attention to credibility here. Stacking a board with lots of disconnected, successful, high-net worth people doesn't breed confidence. 50, 75 years ago the world was different. Today, qualifications and experience matter much more.
  7. I largely agree with you here. I generally dislike royalty myself. In clarifying the purpose and goals of the executive board, I think we'd find that there would be board committee that would develop board level knowledge in specific areas. I think those area would largely mirror what we see in district & council committees. You'd have: staff oversight strategy program finance & fundraising membership Generally, I think Scouting experience would be a benefit in these roles. For some it would be essential. For example, the strategy & program committees should consist of those most familiar with the BSA. Staff oversight should probably consist of those people who interact with the staff the most - district & unit key three leaders. Membership would fall somewhere in the middle - people who know why kids join scouting, but also are aware of how to market the organization. The finance & fundraising committee could consist of those people with less experience. But again, we need to let the needs of the roles drive the experience. Just as I dislike royalty, so too do I disagree that this is a tenure system. You don't serve for 20 years and get a seat on the board.
  8. Ok - just curious. Did our National Commissioner say something about this? I looked online, but didn't see anything
  9. It's certainly natural for national to want control over the SEs. National is trying to accomplish certain things and having SEs in councils who largely are in line has it's benefits. But, it's really not good for national. Stronger, independent SEs are ultimately going to deliver better results for national.
  10. An executive board should be the group that understands the purpose of a council, translates the purpose into specific goals, determines high level policies, creates the high level structure, and selects key leaders. My understanding is that the executive board is analogous to a board of directors in a public company. Membership in the executive board should be dictated by who has the skills to do that work. Stacking it with a bunch of high level potentates who are disconnected from Scouting isn't helpful. You could have the CEO of a fortune 100 company in your council - but if he's just going to come to meetings, approve a few motions, and not otherwise be engaged, we should find someone else. Similarly, stacking it with a bunch of folks who understand Scouting, but can't translate it into board level activity isn't helpful either. So, we need to be on the lookout for people with the right combination of specific skills to make a council board successful. In terms on composition and size - you want a board big enough to get the work done, yet not too big so that it bogs down. Of course, big boards can work with proper structure. But in a council setting, it's not necessary. .From a governance perspective, we need to follow the trend in business. Employees (SEs & National) should not have significant influence on board membership. It makes sense that the exec board be chosen by the CORs or their designee. I would be fine if a COR were to designate a CC to vote on their behalf.
  11. Our council camp is 90 minutes from here and in the middle of nowhere. Our council service center is 5 minutes off the highway and within a 30 minute drive of over a million people. I don't go that often - maybe once a quarter. But, it's nice that it's not at camp. I rarely talk to the office staff - doubt they even would know who I am if I was there anyways. But, I do like to stop by the Scout Shop when I need something. I'd hate if I had to do it all online. I hate online shopping.
  12. So, when I was thinking about this, that was my first thought too. No-one really cares where you attend programming. But, the more I thought about it I realized that this is really just the case because of our monopoly system. Say that Atlanta charges the $60 a year per scout national allows. Denver charges $5. Atlanta may be using some of those funds to really fund program. Is it then really equitable to partake in Atlanta's programming? Today, joining that other council isn't a choice and so the odd unit out of council the attends is just a bonus for headcount. But, if that became the norm - I think people would start looking at it differently.
  13. Hah! Yeah, count me in for that one. That's one way to drive up COR involvement!
  14. Free market competition for units. I'm trying to understand how this would work. A unit based in Atlanta could join a council based in Denver because they preferred the service and the camps. It's an absurd distance - but it makes the what if clearer to me. What that would mean: CSP for the Atlanta troop would be from Denver Awards & uniforms could still be bought from the local Atlanta scout shop. It's just money to the store. Advancement reports have to be done through Denver Camporees would be in Denver Roundtables would be in Denver adult training would be in Denver Scouters would volunteer in Denver to assist with District/Council work There would be no Atlanta support for membership activities for the Denver aligned unit. In fact, the Atlanta based district would probably try to steer new scouts away from the unit aligned with Denver. Eagle board would be held in Denver Eagle banquets attended in Denver OA lodge membership & activities in Denver Sure - I suppose this would work. What I'd do if I were a council board in some small council is fire most of my staff and create an online only, minimal service council with tiny fees. We'll process apps, advancement reports, do Eagle Boards online. No camporees, OA, no districts, no training, no summer camp, etc... Drive for a youth membership of 100,000 Scouts with a staff of 10 people - in essence a national council.
  15. @Eagle94-A1 In the spirits of @Cburkhardt's topic. Some comments in regards to your last post. I think you may be in the worst council in the country. For councils to survive the upcoming re-org, they are going to have to rely even more on volunteers. Between district and council volunteers, we probably have 200 people volunteering in significant ways in our council. Add in key units and the number is probably 500 volunteers in major roles. I believe there are just over 20 professionals. No way those 20 people could run an entire council. SImilarly, in our key units and district roles, you have decades of Scouting experience and serious non-Scouting professional experience. A DE has 10-15 years experience. That's not to knock DEs - not at all. But to walk away from all of those skills and knowledge is absurd. Smart councils already recognize this. Coming out of the re-org, smart councils will not wholly cut back on programming. In turn, there should be a renewed focus on engaging volunteers in these roles. If I were the council president or district chair in your council I'd be organizing a volunteer engagement summit. Maybe districts have to combine, maybe you have to work in teams - I'm not sure. But, you'd build functional teams to go tackle these problems.
  16. This topic is a good example of the problems that councils have to come to grips with. It is not clear who a councils "customers" are and who they need to demonstrate value to. A councils customers are different from it's governance structure. National, Council boards, CORs they provide the guidance in how services as delivered, but they are not the customers. For a long time, a council's customers were donors. The council needed to demonstrate they were doing work to make Scouting prosper in the community so that more donations could be collected and fund the council for another year. They were selling the promise and delivery of Scouting in the community. They delivered the program in the way they beat thought possible to make Scouting thrive. Usually this aligned with focusing on units - but not always. Now, councils are starting to look to parents for funding. This makes parents the customers. This is a new dynamic- one that requires a different value proposition - one that is most probably focused on program delivery to Scouts and units. The problem is that today we are often now compelling people to pay, but not delivering and articulating the value. This leads to terms like freeloader and unit tax. I believe that successful councils will adjust by: - communicating better so that everyone knows what they are doing - increasing programming options - increased focus on utilizing council facilities by units - renewed focus on membership so that there are more scouta to collect fees from. - improvements in efficiency to reduce the cost of business - examination of the personnel costs to the council and a push to extract more value from their expenses. I think councils that start cutting back will im turn be the ones that struggle.
  17. I think you treat this at face value. We are here to serve the Scouts. If a Scout calls you up and says he'd like to visit your troop and even join, you tell him the time and place and welcome him. While I understand the feeling that you should tell the other Scoutmaster, I would suggest that you do not. This is not a situation where you actively pursued the Scout. As such, a change of troop is hard enough. If you tell the Scoutmaster, that may result in added pressure on the Scout. This is the Scout's journey and it's the Scouts choice who to tell and when. Now, after the Scout joins your troop there is nothing wrong with a courtesy call to the Scoutmaster to let them know. At that time, if you learn something as a Scouter you can certainly pass it along - that is assuming it was not shared in confidence or you were asked not to share it. Discretion is important here. I'm reminded in this discussion that retention does not lead to a healthy troop. Strong program and recruiting lead to a healthy troop. Retention is a byproduct of a strong program. But, even the best troops lose Scouts. Troops are all different just as Scouts are all different. Better for the Scout to stay in Scouting in a troop they love.
  18. I suspect that FOS days are numbered. National set a rule that a council can charge for a service fee at $60 per scout. Coming out of the re-org, I am sure many councils will assess this. For councils it will be critically important that they can justify this fee to families. For the sake of discussion, let's agree that a council exists to support the units and the scouts. What value & services do you see that your council brings for this money? What value & services do you think that your council should bring for this money? Coming out of the re-org it seems very appropriate for councils to be thinking about the value they bring to Scouting. In the spirit of @Cburkhardt's topic - let keep this discussion dispassionate.
  19. But honestly - the pros shouldn't do the work. "We" pay for professionals to help us develop the Scouting program at the district/council level. The most economical way to leverage that money is not for them to turn into paid "volunteers". That's a very cost inefficient way to do things. Say the average DE makes $36,000 a year (that's a guess). That then results in approx. $18 a hour for their time. Is it worth $18 an hour for DEs to run around doing volunteer work? No, it is not. It is however worth $18 an hour for them to be doing "force multiplier" work - recruiting new volunteers, strengthening teams, providing guidance on planning, etc. Helping unit leaders to grow their units, etc...
  20. Sorry to jump in on another comment here - but I find this one another good example of the council/unit volunteer interaction. For years, FOS donations were described as optional. There was a clear understanding that individuals and units did not have to contribute to pay the council bills. Family FOS contributions were just that - contributions they you felt so inclined to make. Council fundraising people would love for everyone to give - but it was never the expectation. So, if a unit chose not to participate, that was their prerogative. Again - would the council prefer it - yes, most certainly. As a unit/district volunteer, what I found was that unit participation in FOS was an indicator of how involved that unit was in the district. Those units who had no relationship with the district often didn't participate. Those units with a good relationship did participate. When I was CC, I decided we needed to better support FOS. I made a few public statements encouraging FOS and we easily doubled contributions. My recommendation to the FOS team was to meet with those units who did not participate and simply start a dialog. Don't push them for money, but start building connections. Connections build involvement, involvement builds ownership, ownership grows donations. Somewhere along the way the FOS narrative has changed. More and I've started hearing the term free loader for units who don't participate. Parents who don't contribute and not paying their share to fund the council. But, this was never the expectation. I think this is where councils need to take a step back and really think about what they are saying here. If councils really want units to pay more FOS, and especially if they go to a subscription model, councils have to start focusing on demonstrating value to the units. Simply having some council camps, a central office, and a local DE is not enough to charge a family $60 a year. Is 10-20 hours of DE time focused on the unit worth that fee? Is a council camp that the local unit doesn't even use worth that fee? Most local programming - camporees, training, district activities are organized by volunteers. If you fired all the DEs they'd still happen and so it's difficult to argue that people need to pay a fee to cover volunteer organized programming. Councils need to focus on articulating and showing value for those fees. That said - I'm a supporter of a council program fee. I believe that it will force the council/district/unit value conversation. That conversation is a good thing.
  21. Yeah - I think this stuff is strange. What are they trying to prevent a flood of JTE gold district patches on the black market.
  22. I assume that if you go to the local Scout Shop and ask them to order it, they could. If you then have an issue, you could walk over to the office and get them to vouch for it.
  23. Hi @Cburkhardt, Thanks for the kind words. I very much appreciate that you initiated this conversation and other thought provoking discussions like this one on the forum. While there are other places online to discuss Scouting, the format of the forum provides us all the ability to have some deeper conversations and weigh topics like this. My apologies if I seemed to pounce a bit on this topic - it was not my intent. One of the things I worry about is the trend towards minimizing the role of volunteers. As a result, I grow concerned when I hear discussions of increased professional involvement, mergers, and the like. I am concerned that Scouting is mis-reading the symptoms and concluding that the right result is to transfer more and more responsibility to professionals. I worry that as professionals take on more, it reduces the sense of ownership that Scouters have over Scouting in their community. If you, as a volunteer, feel you have some ownership over it, you are going to work harder to make it successful. So, in an era where we need Scouting communities to achieve at an even higher level, it seems that now is the time to invest in district leadership. I would make three proposals: 1) that national develop a team of "consultants" who can work with individual districts to strengthen their operations. These consultants should themselves be accomplished district volunteers who understand how to craft a district vision, who understand how to recruit quality volunteers, who understand how to put together an annual district plan, who understand how to grow membership, etc. This team would be available to district chairs who request their assistance. The would meet, the consultants would understand the particular needs of the district, would then work with the district key three to craft a plan, and would then coach and mentor the key three through deployment of the plan. 2) that areas/regions develop, under the leadership of national, a district key three training program. Key three from around the area would meet jointly for an annual training and there would be a program of continuing guidance and support. This would be similar to what we see for events like a Wood Badge Course Directors conference. It seems strange to me that training requirements for a Cub Scout Day Camp or Wood Badge course director are more stringent than that of a district chair or district commissioner. 3) that councils or areas develop an annual district volunteer training program. Regardless of your role, having a face to face training from experienced district volunteers is important. If we all agree that the key to growing Scouting is an increase in unit leader support and a focus on Scouting in communities, why is it that volunteer preparation at the district level is all but non-existent?
  24. Hopefully no other councils suffer the same fate. What a numbskull.
  25. I understand the point. But, I would go back to my earlier point. Before we start talking about changes, we really need to focus on why we'd make those changes. Simply doing more re-orgs, changing the program, etc. is not going to address the reality that we live in a more competitive world today in the youth activity space. We've got to raise our game in Scouting in order to "compete". Our Scouting program is excellent - but you can't surround that with lackluster execution. Packs that repeat the same activities year after year. Troops that don't camp and having a boring program. Districts who had stopped trying because they don't recruit new leaders. Councils who focus on simply keeping the lights on. These things all matter. I augment my earlier comments to add: Understand there are three types of councils Nationally, councils are going to fall into three groups: High performing councils - growing in membership, growing in fundraising, strong program Typical councils - they are checking all the boxes, membership declines in-line with national trends low performing councils - these are the train wreck councils. We've all heard the stories High performing councils - you stay out of their way and provide whatever logistical support they need. You support their initiatives, you help encourage them to do more. This is where innovation happens. You watch these councils and try to replicate what they do. Typical councils - these councils have potential, but need some guidance. Low performing councils - You reorganize these. It's like any team. Focus on and support your superstars. Apply training to improve the prospects of those in the middle. Reorganize those at the bottom of the list.
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