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Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. I've watched this issue for years and had countless discussions with countless Scouters and even a few professionals on the topic. After all this, my understanding matches that of @T2Eagle. Where the IRS was initially pushing back was on booster organizations that existed for the purpose of sending individual kids on trips - i.e., that the express purpose of the organization was to raise funds so that a kid could go on a trip. Scouting is the same, yet different. I've interpreted these letters and statues every which was and then some. In the years of doing it, I've seen exactly zero IRS action on the topic against Scouting groups. Why? Because helping Johnny to fundraise a bit more to go to Scout camp is not an inherently had thing and no-one is joining Scouting so that their kid gets a bunch of paid for trips. My sense is that the kinds of accommodations we've all reached are in the best practices of the concepts - don't but equipment for him, don't cut him a check, keep the money with the troop. But I certainly wouldn't hesitate at this point to find a way to help him pay for camp through a Scout account. One caveat though - my troop was very much like one of the ones mentioned where the idea of Scout accounts destroyed the concept of unit level fundraising. When every fundraiser is looked at as a way to pay for a trip, the idea of raising money together for the betterment of the troop can get lost. That's regrettable.
  2. While this may be technically the way it works, it's the wrong model and it sets expectations that inherently unsustainable today. Successful packs and troops build themselves. They encourage parents to volunteer. They create camaraderie amongst volunteers so that they stay engaged. They focus on youth membership and quality of program. It's too easy in the BSA to say "I focus on program" to the detriment of adult volunteers and youth membership. In my district, the strongest units are those that focus on these aspects. The weakest are those that do not.
  3. I don't see what eliminating the CO model will do to address any of the issues in the BSA today. To me, it's kinda putting another band-aid on a big wound. Same with popcorn, the OA, merit badge colleges. The big problems in the BSA are: attracting and retaining you members and adult volunteers national lawsuits are fundamentally destroying the image of Scouting and enthusiasm of members the cost of the organization designed to support the youth programming is too high for the value it brings Seems to me that all these sacred cows need to be looked at in this light. For example, the OA isn't a problem. The OA is almost irrelevant to the issues above. Me, I'd go down the list of sacred cows and measure each against these three.
  4. If this has been presented in an open session, I assume the presentation source materials will start making their way out soon. Any ideas on when we'll start seeing this more info?
  5. Be interesting to see if something like a national edict happens here. The basis of our federal system states it should be up to the states. Every person I know in the US right now us home and their kids off school - so I'm not sure how much more there is for the Feds to do here.
  6. I'm sure you're right. Guess I'm just getting tired of all the drama in Scouting these days. More and more I just think of calling it a day.
  7. I respect very much your point here. I am not looking to start a debate on the subject nor nitpick others. Some group at national has generated the document I quoted (the 03.5.18 version of the FAQ) where the BSA began to spell out guidance on the linked troop model. This group is who I'm referring to when I say "intended." In that document the BSA starts to outline a structure for how a linked troop could work - common unit committee, common opening, common closing, some joint activities. The bulk of that meeting - instruction, games, patrol time - is done by individual troop. As @MikeS72 writes - this was done in part to deal with creating unit committees - I think this is true. But, this also reflects a reality that many of the COs starting troops for girls will already have strong troops for boys. At those COs, there will be a lot of opportunity for the troops to interact, collaborate. That troop for boys is running a quality program and it makes sense for the troop for girls to grow and benefit from that. It sounds like this is exactly what happened here to great success. The structure defined in the 03.5.18 FAQ is bound to lead to questions of organization within the Scouts. If your two troops are regularly going on joint activities, have joint openings, etc. how do the Scouts within the troop troops interact? Do we enact a wall between the two groups of Scouts or do we let them Scout alongside each other for that activity? If they are Scouting alongside each other, then how do the Scouts deal with leadership and organization? Which troop organizes the event? Do we jointly organize the event? Who conducts the opening? Do the adults make that decision or the scouts? If the Scouts make that decision then how? The most probable model in this kind of scenario is that there are two SPLs - one for each unit. Those SPLs work as equals to organize all this. But, that model is going to invite frequent questions of who is in charge - what if the boys want a detail one way, but the girls another? It makes sense to denote one of the two SPLs as lead for that event - sure. But what if this is happening monthly or even weekly? Is every event now a negotiation to see who is in charge? To see which SPL has the stronger ability to assume control? Here the troop tried something different - they elected a joint SPL. That is an entirely reasonable idea to try based on the structure and documentation available at the time. If you read the material closely most people would certainly infer that this wasn't intended. But this group arrived at a different decision - and it's been working. Call it a mistake or accident - but it's working and succeeding. Yeah - maybe it's not the perfect Scouting structure for how the BSA views the structure working - but I don't see the need to tell them this needs to stop. Sometimes the need of the unit outweigh the rules and regulations.
  8. I'm not at all convinced that this isn't exactly how the linked troop program was intended to run. In the 03.5.18 FAQ they clearly say that a combined meeting space is OK, a combined opening and closing is OK, and the joint activities are OK. So, someone, somewhere clearly was thinking there would be some overlap. But again, even if I'm wrong - so what? I think we're taking this all too rigidly. I think we need to lighten up on this one. I don't see a grave harm to these kids because the share an SPL across the two linked troops. Much of the rest of the world has co-ed Scouting. I'm all for American exceptionalism, but I'm willing to concede that other countries probably know how to run a Troop too. So again, there is ambiguity on this topic in the source materials and this works in much of the world today. I think we do more harm to the future successes of program by trying to prevent innovation like this.
  9. Thanks. Upon further reading of the doc "UPDATED-Family-Scouting-FAQ-2-11-191.pdf", I do detect a theme of separation between the boy troop and girl troop. I believe the third doc (FAQ 3-5-18) is an earlier version of the second doc (FAQ 2-11-19). None of these first two docs either directly or indirectly even mention how youth in the girl troops and boy troops should interact. I do think it's reasonable to infer that the BSA really does intend for these to be seperate troops. Yet, I find it odd that the earlier version of the FAQ was trying to start addressing how the two troops interact, but the newer version does not. Generally that only happens if an organization wants to remain purposefully vague on the subject. I have no idea here what their motivation was - but do think it's entirely possible that the BSA was trying to leave room for troops make independent decisions like this one. I'd pose one last question. Does all this really matter? At what point does all the rules and debate and structure get in the way of good programming and growing Scouting? For the sake of argument let's stipulate that this is not technically allowed. If this unit is active, successful, and growing, where do we take a step back and say - nice innovation?
  10. Someone needs to show me some documentation that says a linked troop cannot operate in this manner. I sure have not seen any yet. From everything I've seen this troop is acting within the rules. Who says that two troops cannot work together and share a common SPL? This is especially true of liked troops where there are very likely to be a number of joint activities. Linked troops are a new invention of the BSA in light of situations just like this. I find it remarkably telling that the BSA struck all such language restricting how linked troops operate from their latest FAQ. Given that they removed the content limiting linked troop operations, it sends a clear message that linked troops are increasingly free to operate as they best see fit for their particular scenario. If they wanted to continue to restrict how this works, the language would still be there. The language is not - which shows the BSA is not stopping cases like this.
  11. Never in the past have we had linked troops. This is new territory. I understand the arguments - boys mature differently than girls. Girls as SPL will discourage boys from running. We need to have single gender troops to make it fair and to support the development of the scouts. Personally I think this is coddling youth too much. Most Scouts who reach the SPL are impressive young adults. Some challenges like this are healthy. As a male I'm not ready to count my gender out here But, beyond that - what's the harm in a little innovation here. On top of that, this is not prohibited in the rules. We've been declining in youth for 40 years. The BSA is in bankruptcy. I'm open to a little thought out innovation.
  12. Our troop has never been a big fan of them. I proposed them a few times - but the Scouts and adults would shrug and say - no way. Despite initially proposing them to my troop - I've come around to their thinking. Truthfully, I almost never see them around even in other troops. Gotta admit - I deep down I never really got the whole necker thing. I think I thought it was a bit of an American take on Scouting that we focused less on the necker. Interesting to me now to see that we're now being influenced by what happened at the World Jamboree. That said - I'm all for a Scout wearing the necker or not. If they wear it - tie it however they want to.
  13. The only place I've ever seen rules about how linked troops operate was in the various FAQs provided by national. The current version is at: https://www.scouting.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/UPDATED-Family-Scouting-FAQ-2-11-191.pdf In an earlier version of this document there were the guidelines: However, the newer version has removed all of that. My take - you are free to define linked troop how you want. If the two troops want to meet alongside each other - great. If the two troops want to share an SPL - great. If the two troops want to never meet each other - great. Your call. Given how this stuff seems to work. You'll put in a request to the national support hotline. National will refer you to the FAQ above. The FAQ above no longer has any rules in this regard that I can see. If you pursue further with national, you'll get referred to your council SE. Who knows what the SE will say... My guess is that they'll pass it to a commissioner or to a DE. My recommendation: Sounds like you've got a winning strategy for you that meets the letter of the rules. Continue to have a single SPL across both troops - regardless of gender. Have fun.
  14. Thanks for the feedback here. Much appreciated. In our case, we do collect reports ahead of time and similarly distribute those ahead of time. We then try to use the meeting to discuss issues of importance to the group. But, I struggle with what those are. Usually they end up being specific problems that the one or two people need to focus on. Those problems also could be handled outside the meeting. It's not uncommon for us to have a 60 minute or less meeting. In terms of making it useful, what kinds of district business do you discuss?
  15. Not gonna nitpick you here. I know it's frustrating when you ask one question, but get advice on something different. You approach here seems like a fair one to me. But just some food for thought... 1. Regardless the reason for circumventing the PLC - by doing so you dis-empower the PLC. What I would encourage in a similar situation is for the SM to sit with the SPL and discuss how best to make a decision in a situation like this. Then, let the SPL go off and work with the PLC to have that decision made. It's is most probably that it would end up with the PLC deciding that a whole troop meeting organized by them is the way to go. As a result you've now empowered the PLC to own this and in the process helped the PLC learn how to navigate a situation like this - an important skill. 2. Constraints are part of life. There's no reason that the PLC cannot function as intended and simply be presented with constraints. PLC - you need to pick a trip - here's the weekends that are available and the adults who can help. You decide what we do. Or, maybe they find it too limiting and decide to recruit some friends. Either way seems like a win-win to me. In this case the decision is done, so I think you move on. I just plant the suggestions for next time something like this comes up.
  16. I've been helping out a bit on our district committee. Our meetings are efficient enough - just not much happens there. We have some status updates, discuss an item or two. We resolve communication issues or discuss chronic problems. I was hoping this group might have some suggestions for making these meetings more impactful.
  17. I agree with most of this. In this instance, it is good to be level headed, calm, but prepared. If you, as a unit leader, have a question - then yes, ask the camp or program staff what the policy is. Understand your ability as a leader to obtain refunds and when you have to do that by. I do think it's very important to not assume anything here. Don't assume council insurance covers this. Never assume.
  18. Today the DE role ends up being catch-all for all kinds of tasks that are performed by a district. A DE is an advisor to the District Committee, a fundraiser, a membership organizer, a new unit organizer, a CO interface, unit service person, unit problem solver, etc... What tends to happen is that a SE or director of field service looks to a DE to "fix" all the issues in the district. In practice, this leads to expectations that a DE will do tasks not being done by or not being done well enough by volunteers. To further complicate things, there is a continuing struggle between volunteers and professionals for "who is in charge." Is the DE or the District Chair in charge of the District? Is the SE or the Council President in charge of the council? This matters for three reasons: it discourages district volunteerism - if at many turns, a professional is ready to take a task over for a volunteer, it reduces the need for volunteers to deliver. If I pro will just do it, then why does it matter if I do it? If a pro is there to constantly tell volunteers what to do, it disempowers the volunteer - why bother? confuses unit volunteers - If you're a unit volunteer with an issue - who do you turn to? A DE or a unit commissioner? If a DE is always ready to swoop in, then why even bother volunteering to be a UC or join the district committee? it's not cost effective - Paid professionals are expensive. In a modern council, you have a professional for about every 500-1000 scouts. That means the council spends $25-$50 a year per scout to fund that role. Do you really want a DE doing volunteer tasks for that? That's the crux of the problem. Having a DE run around and do tasks that should be done by volunteers doesn't let the council show value for the money families pay.
  19. Of all my complaints with the professional organization - I've got to admit that SE salary isn't one. Sure, we want to have people paid fairly. Yes, we are a non-profit. I'd just be happy with more clarity around the roles and responsibilities of professionals so we can end all the confusion about professionals trying to do volunteer roles.
  20. I would encourage you to get a more deliberate in planning with your parents. My suggestion: aim for a pack camping trip with 20+ scouts attending set the location to be a nice group campground within a 45 minute drive. set the location 6 months ahead of time. start planning 6 months ahead of time. Have dedicated meetings on the camping trip 5 months out, 3 months out, and then 1 month out. These are parents meetings - involve an adult beverage or two Define roles. Be obnoxious about filling them. Stand up at pack meetings and ask parents to sign up. If someone isn't signed up ask if they can help in the kitchen. At the event... camp for two nights. Have an informal campfire Friday night - roast marshmallows. all meals are joint meals among the pack. FInd a main chef. Always have 2-3 other people helping the chef - always Don't worry about Friday dinner, but do have Saturday breakfast, lunch, dinner. Have Sunday breakfast. Have a combination of events and downtime during the day Saturday Have a pack campfire Saturday night. Do some skits, songs. Do marshmallows again Bed time is 9pm for Scouts. Don't enforce it till 10pm. Adults stay up and shoot the bull. As Cubmaster be enthusiastic. "Hey guys, what did you think of the game today? What should we do next time?"
  21. I'm not really beating up on professionals. I do believe that volunteers can run a great program and provide resources far beyond what a professional staff could ever do economically. Yet - I see a role for some professional support in Scouting. Where I think this gets messed up is that the volunteer/professional relationship is confused.
  22. In a nationwide program how do you define that beyond it's most general application? How do you build a program around that? To me this is a good example of the BSA's problem with programming. We have defined what it is - but not the point. Lots of steps and hoops - but why? There's substance without context or purpose.
  23. Yes - I get your point. I don't mind a simple log of camping trips out of council, in certain high risk situations, etc. But, a TP for a change of meeting venue is ridiculous. The BSA is known to be very autocratic. Do what your boss says or else. It does lead to some of the problems we have. This is yet another reason why it's important to have strong volunteers. As a district volunteer I have no problem interacting with the professionals as colleagues - including the SE. I love hearing their ideas and welcome their contributions. They have a ton of wisdom to share. But, I don't work for the SE or the BSA - so I can make an independent decision without fear of my job. That's a good thing for an organization that is 99% volunteer driven. I'd love to hope that the BSA in this re-org process will rethink it's HR practices.
  24. I love the vision! I do believe that what we lack is description of what successful venturing is and then a path to that. It could be said this is true of much of Scouting. By execs I presume you mean professionals... I groan thinking about how much we care what they think. I love my professional colleagues and value them immensely, but they are here to support the volunteer efforts. That we defer to them is fundamentally wrong. We volunteers are dropping the ball.
  25. I was involved in a crew for a little while. I found that the issue with the crew was that no-one really understood what the point was. The only value proposition I could find was that it was co-ed. 1. Venturing for the 18-21 age range was pointless. Everything changes when you go to college. 2. With very limited exceptions, everything that a crew could do a troop could do. 3. Crews are too small. Units less than 30 people struggle to exist because it's really hard for them to provide enough adults to carry out an active older Scout program. When you've got a crew of 12 Scouts - it's hard for the adults to provide enough stuff to do. It's hard to field a decent Crew committee. 4. Both Troops & Crews really struggle with older Scout retention. Our accepted trainings do not really teach how to keep older Scouts involved. This is the least understood age range for us to retain.
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