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Posts posted by ParkMan

  1. 1 hour ago, elitts said:

    Let's be clear though, the COR does not officially (as in, per BSA policies) have the "authority" to a veto right over any and all troop activities at his or her whim.  If that were supposed to be a part of the official process for determining the annual schedule, then it would be a part of the trainings on the Scouting website.  The fact that the CO "owns the unit" doesn't mean they have the authority to do whatever they want, it just means they have the power to.  There are still proper and improper ways to do things.

    But there's no arguing that if the CO insists that the troop give the COR that power, there's not really anything anyone can do about it.  The local district exec might agree to have a chat with the COR about "the right way to do things", but the only method the district has to stop a CO from doing this would be to pull their charter, and that's not going to happen over a tin god COR.  They'll just tell you to find another troop.

    The idea of "breaking rules" really isn't very relevant since BSA doesn't actually issue "rules", they just offer "guidelines" and "best practices".

    Sort of.  The COR is not typically part of the approval process for unit activities.  But, should the COR feel a need to act and make a decision, the COR has that right.  The COR has whatever authority the COR feels he/she needs to have.  They supervise the unit on behalf of the CO.  If the COR feels that they need to micromanage the unit, then that is their decision and well within their authority.

    I think these arguments often confuse intent with authority.  It is not the intent of the BSA system that the COR overule the unit. Similarly, it is not the intent of the BSA system that the CC overrule the Scoutmaster and/or SPL.  The defined Troop structure creates a framework where a group of responsible volunteers can work together to implement a well balanced system.  In that Troop structure, decision making ability is delegated to the right people in the organization to make good decisions.  But that same system provides for a clearly defined oversight structure so that if bad decisions are made, reasonable people can correct those mistakes.

    Of course, this all assumes that everyone involved is working with the best of intentions in a professional way.  This forum sees lots of cases where the structure breaks down.

    • Like 1
    • Upvote 2

  2. We've hashed this out before.

    This is largely a theoretical argument - but a CO does indeed own the unit.  The resources of the unit belongs to the CO.  The CO enters into an agreement with the BSA to utilize the program of the BSA for the operation of that unit.

    The CO can set whatever rules it wants.  At somepoint, the members of the unit may decide - "hey, this isn't for me" and leave.  The members may even balk and tell the CO "no, I'm not doing thiat".  Similarly, the CO can set rules that change or superceed the rules of the BSA.  In that case, the recourse of the BSA is to revoke the charter.

    Again - this is all thoretical - feels kinda like I'm in a civics class.

  3. 3 hours ago, karunamom3 said:

    Ok. Good to know. 

    I was under the impression that the boys planned with guidance from the SM. Then committee secured what was needed to make it happen or to decline the event if resources couldn't be secured. 

    I didn't realize the CC had final say before any committee discussion. I thought the SM dealt with program.

    You're correct on that the SM & Scouts plan the calendar.  The Committee's role to do just what you describe and make sure that resources are available (people, equipment, money).  The Committee should be looking to say Yes to activities - not to say no.

    One of the roles of the CC is to see that all functions are delegated and completed.  Program is critical part of the troop, but it's still a function that needs to be delegated and completed.

    The important thing in all this is it isn't about power - it's about keeping things organized.  So, if your CC is running around telling everyone what to do because "the CC is in charge", they are missing the point.  Myself, I'd use the term conductor.  Every adult in the troop plays an important role.  When they all work together the troop sounds (I mean runs) great.  It's the role of the CC (conductor) to make sure tasks are organized so that the right person is doing them.  Every so often the CC provides some guidance to help people keep going in the right direction.

    • Upvote 3

  4. 1 hour ago, David CO said:

    In my experience, when the Chartered Organization intervenes during the early stages of planning an activity, it is usually because it sees a conflict with another activity. This can be avoided by checking the master schedule in advance.

    If this is not the case, and the Chartered Organization actually objects to the activity, this is a failure of leadership. The unit leadership, both youth and adult, should already be aware of the CO's policies and practices, and should be doing their level best to conform to them. The Chartered Organization owns the unit.

    I'd concur here.  @David CO and I come from units with different levels of CO engagement.  In @David CO's I've gotten the impression the CO is more hands on and directive.  In mine, the CO has a very active COR who is an involved unit leader.  So, we see few corrections from the CO and more collaboration.

    But, regardless of CO style, the unit leaders should have a very good handle on the priorities, policies, and concerns of the CO and should work with those as best possible.

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  5. I can imagine this is tough.  I was really thinking that you could change the unit with new blood.  But, now reading about the mess with the COR/CC I agree that it's just time to go.

    My thinking on a schedule would be

    • Hold a meeting of your key volunteers next week.  Make a plan
    • Tell your current COR your plans by the end of June or after Summer Camp - whatever is later.
    • Have your new CO ready to go for August 15

    Since your COR is wrapped up in this, I'd plan on moving packs too.  Better to start fresh with a top notch team of volunteers who will run a class act.

    • Upvote 1

  6. 31 minutes ago, karunamom3 said:

    So many good replies giving me quite a bit to ponder. Thank you all.

    So, what prompted this post was this...

    I am a MC for the Troop. At Mondays leaders meeting, discussion of an event came up. The CC who is also the COR became quite angry because he did not know about the last minute event. He was adamant that ALL events have to come before him via email for his approval. 'I have final say on all events. I decide if they will happen or not'.

    I was quite surprised by this. It's not right to my mind.

    Let me add some background...

    -he has been on a medical leave of absence & quite a few of us, myself included, didn't realize he was active again. His wife, the treasurer, has been filling his shoes.

    -he & his wife have been around for 40+ years and want to do things the same way they always have.

    -Troop is completely adult led, no patrols. At the meeting new leadership pushed for patrols/boy led & we got a resounding no... 'patrol method doesn't work for us. We tried it in the past. It's no good'

    Needless to say, new leadership is wavering on staying (not likely), finding a different unit to go to, or starting a new unit in town. 

    Hi @karunamom3

    I think it's time to go start a unit down the steet.

    The CC is completely within his perogative to do just what he's doing.  The committee has the responsibilty to approve events so that it can determine if there is adequate adult support and resources for the event to be successful.  As chair, he can decide if an event is brought to the committee.  A good CC woudl certainly delegate some of that to the Scoutmaster and try to be flexible as much as is appropriate.  After all, it's our goal as Scouters to say "yes" to events.

    If the CC is starting to act like in a fashion that it not appropriate, you'd go talk to the COR.  But, since in this case hte COR is the CC you prospects are restricted.  You could certainly go talk to the Insitutional Head of your chartering organization.  Maybe that would work.

    So, from what we know of your troop:

    • - tyrant CC/COR
    • - weak program
    • - oldest scout is 13

    If I recall correctly, you're Cubmaster of the pack.  Me - I'd think seriously about getting together with the other adults and starting a new pack & troop with some more forward thinking leadership elsewhere in town.

  7. I've learned in Scouting that leaders have a certain style of leading. 

    As a new parent, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get the SM & ASMs to change and to start adopting the patrol method.  This is because they don't believe it.  If they did, they'd be doing patrol method now.  My recommendation - find a way to help make what they are currently doing better by taking on some volunteer role.  Then, at some point when the opportunitiy arises, take on an ASM or SM role and be the change you want to see.

    • Upvote 2

  8. 7 hours ago, fred8033 said:

    I agree Eagle is out of balance.  Earning Eagle without having the deep scouting adventures is like getting a college degree without growing your knowledge and capabilities.  

    This is an area where the GSUSA structure is better than the BSA structure.

    There are three premier awards in the GSUSA world - bronze award, silver award, gold award.

    • bronze award - targeted at the 4th/5th grade age range
    • silver award - targeted at the middle school age range
    • gold award - targetd at hte high school age range

    This problem in the BSA would be diminished if the approach was:

    • AOL - 5th grade
    • First Class - middle schoold
    • Eagle - high school

    Just a thought

  9. Thanks @Eagledad

    My gut tells me that these are some a key lines:

    2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

    Where I think OA is failing is the adults advisers don't have good vision for the program. Tehy don't encourage activities that develop above average skills. They don't understand the comradery of working together, so the work camps don't have enough personal social activities. There isn't enough of outdoors development mixed with the service.


    As I said, the problem I saw with OA lately is the lack of vision from the adults. No real expectations for honor campers and servants. They were just repeating what they always did.

    Between what I see locally and what I read here, this is I suspect the root of the problem.

    I'd love to find a way to capture your ideas and turn them into some specific recommendations for chapter advisors.  One could certainly just print out your post and share it.  I'd love for the community to create something that we could share with advisors.  A sort of "Guidelines to OA Chapter success".

  10. 10 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

    Had the start of a conversation during our annual planning meeting (adults only, but SPL and a few other senior scouts were invited).   Overall it went well, but I can see this could take several years to get a really strong patrol method Troop.  The issues go back years where a previous adult intentionally broke up groups of friends between patrols. 

    This came up when I asked if patrols go on their own outings.  One of the other leaders said his son would hate that as none of his friends are in his patrol.  I asked about camping arrangements and they never tent with Patrol members.  I asked why and once again... the current patrols are not groups of friends.  There was really no reason behind that.... other than a leader from years ago.

    So, one of the first tasks is to relook at how we divide up our scouts into patrols... then build from there.  We talked about other changes and overall received support from the adults to increase usage of the patrol method.

    ... now I need to talk with the SPL to get his thoughts.

    My favorite approach is:

    Year 1 - At crossover time, form a partol of new scouts who have all joined together.  Assign them a troop guide.  This lets scouts go through "new scout" stuff as a group and learn together.

    Year 2+ - After a year, let the scouts shift patrols to their liking.  Try to keep patrols no more than 8-10.  This lets scouts for patrols of their friends and work in groups where they are comfortable.


    • Like 1

  11. 2 hours ago, FireStone said:

    I really dislike the notion that our 3-digits say anything about how we stack up to single-digit units. It's just a number, and Packs/Troops come by their numbers in a variety of ways. It's not just a "roots" thing.

    The strongest units by us are all 3 digits units (our Council doesn't use 4 digits).  The few two digit units we have are all struggling.

    The strong packs & troops around here are ones that have focused on building a strong organization, great program, and solid recruiting.  Mostly that happens because a few adults in that unit's history raised expectations and challenged them to grow and becomea a strong unit.  Sadly in our neck of the woods those are not our oldest units.

  12. 2 hours ago, HashTagScouts said:

    We just had Conclave this weekend, so this policy change was a topic that everyone was aware of and talked about, but consensus is that changing from 10 months to 6 months does little of encouraging more involvement/participation.  Most feel if we are losing the youth after they complete Ordeal today, this doesn't solve that problem.  One observation that I took from the weekend, compiling various comments, was that we've had a much higher number of youth under the age of 14 going through Ordeal for the past decade+ than we did 20-30 years ago, and that may not have been a great thing in retrospect.  Many just may not have been needing "something additional" or spent enough time in troops yet to appreciate that OA was something special.  Also a lot of expressions that troops have fewer fully engaged older scouts than they would desire, and so they are concerned when they "lose" one of those scouts to the OA.    

    I see two things here:

    1. many OA members in recent years have been younger Scouts.  Once those Scouts complete Ordeal, they tend to leave
    2. there are fewer older Scouts in troops and so troops are working hard to keep them active in the troop

    I've heard several older scouts comment that they like the OA because it gives them something to do once they get tired of troop life.  It strikes me that this is a place where the OA can really help Scouting to grow.  Provide programming and a place for older Scouts.  Give them new experiences, new opportunities for leadership, and a new circle of Scouting friends.

    My question would be - what does a great OA program look like that older Scouts want to particiapte in and can keep them engaged in Scouting.  What would an "elite" program look like?


  13. 13 hours ago, karunamom3 said:

    Our pack & troop have the same CO & meet on the same night. They have rarely interacted together over the 40+ years they existed. As I became involved with pack leadership I was shocked to learn that AOL Cubs are supposed to camp with & go to a troop meeting.  Never happened before I stepped into CM role & pushed the envelope. Our troop relies solely on this feeder pack for membership! We have been working hard to change this odd dynamic and have forced the troop into having the AOL's attend a meeting. The troop is not very active & we thought this would be fun for all to help build a relationship between the 2 units. 

    Your comment that the troop is not very active jumped out at me.  I'm going to guess that this is part of the issue here.  I've found that often Scouters get discouraged in their volunteer roles.  That discouragement leads to volunteers scaling back, not being as on top of activities and requests we'd hope they'd be.

    I think you are in a unique position here.  As Cubmaster, your Scouts will become the driving force that makes this troop go.  Your parents will become the volunters in this troop in the future.  I'd encourage you to keep raising expectations.  Keep building a great pack program.  If the troop doesn't help out now - keep putting the opportunities out there.  Your pack could help generate the momentum that leads to this troop getting more active.

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  14. 3 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

    Sadly National changed the election protocols a number of years ago. There use to be a quota on the number you CV ould vote for. Instead of the best scouts getting elected, people view OA more of a gimme than an honor camper society as it was originally. People predicted the lowering of standards would slowly kill the OA. 

    Everytime national tinkers with the OA, folks say "it will kill the OA".  I'm sure the OA is caught up in the trend that exists everywhere in Scouting - declining membership.  I see many of these changes as National's way of trying to deal with declining membership in the OA.  Do I personally agree with them?  No, I don't.  But, I understand them.  

    The best way we impact declining membership is through quality program.  Give the Scouts a reason to come and to spread the word that the OA is the place to be.  Make it elite because elite Scouts want to be there.  The more shining examples we have of great OA chapters and lodges the better.  They will become the examples we all learn from in building great programs of our own.

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  15. 41 minutes ago, TAHAWK said:

    Just the problem. It's not "elite." Not  much of an "honor."



    That's a delivery problem.  It's supposed to be an elite group.  If we want it to be elite, we need a program that attracts elite Scouts.  As mentioned above, the OA national leadership needs to strengthen the core program. At a local level we need to have strong lodges and chapters that deliver strong programs.

    • Upvote 1

  16. Isn't the core problem here one of the program delivery not keeping up with the expectations of today's kids?  Fewer and fewer scouts are seeing any value in joining the OA and so they don't join.

    So, if Scouts are not seeing value in joining the OA, isn't the remedy to improve the program of lodges & chapters?

    • With all the changes around the Native American tie-in, feels like the national OA leadership needs to put some serious thought into what the OA is going forward.  
    • In parallel, there needs to be a concerted push on chapter & lodge quality.  What are their annual programs?  Are they well planned?  Well executed?  Engaging to their members?

    An elite group of honor campers in Scouting is a really cool thing - but the OA needs to own making that happen.  


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  17. 2 hours ago, karunamom3 said:

    I am fairly new to Scouts BSA so dont know what are the 'rules' vs troop culture.

    I am CM of our pack. So, our pack invited our troop to go fossil hunting today. The invite was given to the SM & a committee  member. I asked them to please let the scouts know about it at the last meeting.

    Well, today I asked who was going & come to find out that they never relayed the invite.

    Today they are telling the parents/scouts that going was not approved by troop leadership and that if any scouts go they are not covered by troop insurance.

    So, are they covered by pack insurance? Can the pack leaders, many of whome are also troop leaders myself included, have permission slips ready to be filled out if scouts any want to go?

    My understanding is that Scouts are covered because they are members of the BSA, not members of a specific pack or troop.  If some other Scouts come to your event, they are covered.

    As Cubmaster I'd encourage you to attend their next Troop Committee Meeting and discuss what happened.  Why didn't they respond to your invite?  If they decided not to participate - fine, but why didn't they even tell you?  Further, when this was problem was uncovered, why didn't they try to encourage Scouts to attend?  We're all volunteers and volunteers can make mistakes in moments of stress.  i.e. - oops, we didn't tell the troop about this pack event and now what do we do?  We don't have two deep leadership arranged and so who will supervise the Scouts?  If we don't think insurance covers it and if Scouts go and get hurt then we could all be in trouble. 

    One of my biggest frustrations as a Troop CC was the line that existed between "the pack" and "the troop".  Pack leaders would often discuss on their own and come to some conclusion about "the troop".  Most often, the pack leaders had some sort of misperception about what we, as troop leaders, were doing.  I would encourage a quarterly "Key 7" meeting.  Pack CC & CM, Troop CC & SM, Crew CC & CA, and COR.  It's a great way to help keep the unit working together.

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  18. I believe some, if not all, of this is local council practice.  We've always had a 3 digit system.  Nowhere in any document or report that I've ever seen has there been a fourth digit attached.  Our pack and troop have exactly the same number everywhere that I have ever seen - and I get lots of council reports.  We're a pretty large council and so it's not because we're too small a council.

    Our council does try it use the third digit to denote district.

    One the original question - I'd just ask a few people locally in positions at the district and council level - council registrar, district exec, district commissioner, some long time distinguished Scouters, etc...

  19. I've got three uniforms and the pockets are all different and I still call them uniforms.  We live in a world where people tweak things all the time.  Most scouts I know would say - cool - your pocket is a little different than mine.

    Our troop avoids cares about uniform costs by encouraging every scout to participate in our uniform closet.  Hey, when your uniform is too small stick it in the closet.  Oh, you're a new Scout, we've got a bunch of uniforms in the closet - go find one that fits.

    To the topic at hand - I suspect that the perception that Scouts are sititng around a church basement obsessing over differences in each others uniforms is something the BSA would would to avoid.


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  20. I think the point isn't whether the uniform is valued by current members or not.  It's whether the uniform is a selling point on joining Scouting.

    I take @FireStone's point that at the Cub Scout level it is.

    But, at the Scouts BSA level, I don't think a lot of youth join because they are excited about the uniform.  Sure, it's part of the gig, but I can certainly see why those responsible for driving interest in youth becoming members may focus more on the "fun" than the process.

    Again - I do think it takes on meaning to current members which is why I do not believe the BSA would move away from it.  If they do, they might acutally be my breaking point.

  21. 2 hours ago, FireStone said:

    It seems odd to me, though. Especially the photos of girls, after all we've seen and heard about girls being so proud to join and wear the uniform, wouldn't that be an angle the BSA would want to emphasize? I'm not sure there's a better image of the BSA being fully open to girls than a photo of a girl in a BSA uniform.

    I know marketing materials aren't policy, and neither is the examples set by various folks from National and around the national organization, it just seems to me like another point of conflict between what local folks say and what National shows us by example. I've even heard from a parent in our unit that they are upset that we don't enforce uniform policy more. They force their kid to wear the uniform at every activity and event, and they say we should require all scouts to do the same. That's a tough sell already, when our Pack just spent a bunch of money on nice Class B t-shirts. Now we've got fliers going out to all the schools showing kids in t-shirts, but I'm supposed to enforce stricter uniform standards? If I go by what National is giving us, I would think it should be the opposite, de-emphasizing the uniform.

    It's possible I'm wrong.

    I sense that today people are more interested in the experience than the organization.  People join the BSA because they want the Scouting experience.  So, it would stand to follow that in the marketing material we play up the experience.  A bunch of people in pictures with uniforms detracts from the basic message - join us & do fun stuff. 

    Put differently, you join to do fun stuff, not wear a uniform.  So, why remind all the prospective members about the uniform when it's not a big sales point and may even detract.

    Now, once you're in the BSA the uniform takes on a special meaning.  There's history, there's connections, there's personal pride in what yo've accomplished.  So, alums, parents, and even maybe some Scouts see the uniform as an important part of what we do.  So, for many in the organization there's a connection to the uniform.

    This is why I think the marketing materials will look different from what we see inside the unit.

  22. Yea - this is the part of Scouting that no amount of BSA training prepares you for.  How to deal with people and resolve signficnant conflicts like this.  

    I'm reminded of something my mother told me a whlie back - "sometimes you just have to break things".  Meaning - sometimes a bit of conflict and pressure is what is needed.