Jump to content

ParkMan

Members
  • Content Count

    1516
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    22

Everything posted by ParkMan

  1. ParkMan

    Committee meeting ceremonies

    In ten years as a unit volunteer i cannot ever remember a formal opening beyond "let's welcome Bob - who is attending tonight for the first time."
  2. I tend to agree. When I watched the video, it surely didn't look like an accident. It looked like he was thinking "hey, let's goof on this reporter." I agree - apologize in private. In pubic, I would much rather hear him own up to his actions and then accept the consequences that come from it. Make clear his contrition, but don't try to weasel his way out of it by minimizing it.
  3. To be fair though. The LDS loss is not indicative of anything about the program. That we're up 1% in membership is 1000 times more important to the longevity of the BSA than a 10% drop due to their departure. I say this not to demean the LDS church - not at all. They made a strategic decision to part ways and that is their right. That we nationwide are seeing growth exclusive of that loss is very, very promising. Thanks for sharing the news @Cburkhardt!
  4. I live in a bigger community with multiple packs & troops - but we face the same issue. What can a district or council realistically do to help a pack or troop with 5-10 kids? You can't make them recruit, you can't make them have a good program, you can't make them change their leaders. Sure - you can put commissioners on the case, you can setup trainings, etc. But - at some point - what do you really do? This is a real question that we face here in our district too.
  5. I'm going to guess this is part of the problem. The pack at their CO doesn't cross Scouts over to them anymore. I suspect you're right @Jameson76.
  6. ParkMan

    Committee voting

    This is what we do too. Empower smart people to make the right choice and then trust their judgement. The role of the committee is understand the needs of the program and then allocate resources (money, people, etc) to meet those needs. For money this is done by setting a budget or by approving funds for a special purpose. But, once those funds have been allocated, it's up to the responsible people to make the decisions on what to buy. It's not the job of the committee to make specific decisions like this.
  7. ParkMan

    How to ease out a chartered org rep?

    Hi @KeystoneCubmaster, I'm a big believer that forcing a senior leader transition in a pack or troop is fraught with problems. It leads to hurt feelings and politics - never a good thing. I'm also a big believer that you have to look for the good in volunteers - even a COR. I'd try to handle this by developing an open working relationship between the key 3. Do you all meet regularly as a group? In that forum do you all speak honestly with each other? I'd use that forum to work out differences of approach. There, be brutally honest with each other. But, outside that forum - have each other's back. On the specific issues you mentioned: - stickler for rules - embrace this. Yeah, no one likes rules, but they become accustomed to them. - taking over at Pack meetings - in that key 3 meeting, I'd be honest with him. "Hey Joe - showing those presentations at Pack meetings is really boring. We shouldn't do that. Also - you jumping in undermines my leadership as Cubmaster. If you want the floor, let's arrange it ahead of time." - fighting with parents at the PWD - "Hey Joe - Tom is our PWD chair. It's his call on rules. It confuses things that you jump in on decisions. We really need to empower him to be in charge. You shouldn't engage with parents on that. Instead, please refer questions to Tom." As Cubmaster, I had some real difficult conversations with our COR. Because we were honest and direct with each other n private, yet supported each other in public - we left the roles great friends.
  8. ParkMan

    standards for Scouts

    Hi @qwazse, Sorry - my post was confusing in hindsight. I am suggesting that the SM enlist adult volunteer support for uniforming - not necessarily that all the adults uniform. As Scoutmaster you want adult support for transformative decisions. Yes, we'd like to think the adult volunteers will support the Scoutmaster, but it's still important for the SM to get folks behind a big decision. Going to a leaders/committee meeting and having a frank conversation about supporting this decision is helpful. That helps ensure that word gets around. It also helps that leaders encourage their own kids to uniform as well. Since you brought it up, I'm in favor of adults feeling empowered to uniform. Scouts notice ASMs and see what they do. So, if the Scoutmaster is saying "uniforms are important", but the ASMs are out of uniform or poorly uniformed, that's noticed. On the other hand, if the adult treasurer, advancement coordinator, committee chair, etc. are uniformed that sets even more examples. If I were SM, I would ask the ASMs to uniform if possible. I would encourage the committee members to uniform if so inclined. We have many adults who show up to meetings in uniform (and most do not have beads). There are other subtle benefits. Adults seeing other adults in uniforming encourages volunteering. It helps committee members feel a closer connection to the troop. It makes it clear to visiting families who they can approach for questions In an era of needing more registered adult supervision, it helps everyone know who the registered adults are. It's not uncommon to have 10+ adults in uniform our typical troop meetings - more at a COH. BTW - yes, we get good participation from Scouts wearing uniforms. We've never needed to do a uniform inspection to encourage that. We rarely even have to say something to a scout.
  9. ParkMan

    standards for Scouts

    I would encourage you to start with setting expectations about uniforming. When you become Scoutmaster, make it clear that you expect uniforms to be worn to meetings. This is a simple act that as Scoutmaster you can easily push for. When you become Scoutmaster, people will expect some amount of change to occur. New guy, new rules. So, take advantage of that. Of course, start it within the adult team. At a meeting, let the adults know that you want uniforms to be actively encouraged. Explain the reason in a way that is similar to what @qwazse did. You are doing this because taking pride in how they wear the uniform leads to Scouts taking pride in themselves as people. Don't put it in terms of benefit to the troop - that's irrelevant. Don't threaten with Scout Spirit rules and preventing people from ranking up. Once you explain it to the other adults, then go to the Scouts and their parents. Explain that this is new and that you'd ask the parents to support and encourage the Scout on this. After all this - then simply encourage. If a Scout shows up without the uniform, ask them in a pointed way. "Hey Bob, why arn't you wearing your uniform this week? ... You forgot? ... Please remember it next time."
  10. Of course abuse is a serious crime. It's without question that the victims paid a terrible price. The BSA is at its heart a member funded youth development activity. Other than some endowments and camps, the BSA pretty much pays for its operations year to year. I contribute today so that my kids can benefit from Scouting. When this all came to light and the BSA had to pay, I would agree it was a tough, but important lesson for the BSA. But, continuing to damage the organization that is chartered to bring the Scouting program to my kids and then asking current members today to pay restitution to those harmed so many year ago seems like a valid question of public policy. Yes it makes "us" feel good that someone so horribly abused can blame a group. But how does it help kids today that I have to write a bigger and bigger check to pay for this. How does it help that there's a good chance the organization will go bankrupt in a year of two? How does it help that properties for kids of today and tomorrow will be unavailable? Seems to me that we have to stop thinking of the BSA as some sort of entity. It's much more like a service agency than it is a company. There are no stockholders here. We're not punishing some group who got rich because of those bad actions. We're dismantling an agency that is chartered by the government to provide a service. It seems to me that our country will be poorer for it too.
  11. ParkMan

    Kudos to my council - Northern Star

    Where this gets tricky is in how you compare the criteria against other aspects of the program. For example - what's better: a troop with 20 nights of camping at the same local campsite, but all planned and executed by Scouts a troop with 20 nights of camping of varying types and at interesting locations, but where adults are doing some of the planing. Where I struggle with the idea of giving commissioner's the power to enforce change. What makes a commissioner's judgement any better than the unit leaders? A troop decides it wants to be a backpacking troop - the unit commissioner disagrees. Who wins? Again - I'm all for creating a clearer set of expectations for what a successful program looks like. I think this is a wonderful idea. Such expectations can then be used to hold roundtable discussions with unit leaders and can form the basis of more advanced training. i.e., what are effective ways to educate scouts on how to plan and execute camping trips. But, creating a system where we try to institute some sort of top down control of units seems problematic. I'm dubious on the idea for commissioners to have that authority. I sudder at the idea for professionals to have that authority.
  12. ParkMan

    Kudos to my council - Northern Star

    I think something like this is good to incorporate into training. I would shy away from making yet another metric ranking system. The problem I see isn't a lack of documentation on quality. It's a lack of local, hands on people who can help in relaying the concepts and making them understood. It's the lack of enough effective commissioners who understand how to enable and support units. The solution to the problem isn't yet more docs - it's getting people into roles who can make local training and coaching happen. The step needed to make that happen is a more effective district development process. We need to address the core problem.
  13. ParkMan

    Kudos to my council - Northern Star

    Gotta admit - I'm thoroughly not impressed by this change. Two of the weakest functions in districts today are membership teams and unit commissioners. It's utterly unclear what a district membership team really does. Unit Commissioners are really hard to recruit because it's not really clear what value they bring. So, this council is going to get rid of generally popular district roles (camping, activities, and training) and replace them with un-popular ones. Really? Who's going to want to do that? This seems like board/professional nonsense at it's finest. I do not believe that giving a unit commissioner power to impose their will over units is a good thing. The reason that many units struggle is lack of leadership. The unit leaders in place are not providing the leadership to build a strong program. I don't see how bringing in yet another "boss" is a good thing. You really just transplant the problem from the CC to the UC. How does that help? Instead, I would focus the council's energy on building strong districts. Instead of throwing in the towel, let's build real training and mentoring for district leaders. Focus on core responsibilities and skills. Teach districts how to run quality roundtables. Teach district offices how to recruit and build strong teams and programs.
  14. ParkMan

    Advice for a new wood badger

    One of the better pieces of advice I've received was - pick a role you like and do it well. Don't try to do three jobs - you'll just end up doing each poorly. Instead, focus on the one you like the best and make it really successful.
  15. ParkMan

    Stonewall Jackson Area Council Changes Name

    I've seen many of them and I agree that they are well done, impressive works of art. If the Civil War had ended and racism had ended then as well, I doubt we'd be discussing this. But, racism didn't stop at the end of the civil war and it was still going on strongly for at least another hundred years. As a result, these remembrances are intertwined with a very hateful, shameful period in our nation's history. Further, people are recognizing the deep hurt this prolonged period has caused. Out of respect to those our nation has caused so much hurt, there is a desire to remove such symbols. So, I am in no way surprised that any statue, park, or monument commemorating anything about slavery, the confederacy, or racism is now being looked up by disdain and disgust by an ever growing number of people. This is entirely a response to years and years of continued racism. There is no moral equivalence with what happens in Iran. By removing these works we are not attempting to hide history, but are simply saying that we no longer want to glorify that history.
  16. ParkMan

    Stonewall Jackson Area Council Changes Name

    Somewhere along the way in my life, this point hit me: Slavery and the many, many years of racism that followed it caused a great deal of hurt to a great many people in our country. It is a scar on the soul of our country. Enough people have said this kind of thing bothers them that In deference to the wishes of those who have suffered so much because of slavery and racism, I think that yes, we should not name councils in honor of Confederate generals. It really depends on who erected the monuments, parks, or buildings. If we think about it dispassionately, if your community was on the losing end of a war and your soldiers and leaders fought bravely on your behalf then remembering them is not out of line. However, as has already been mentioned today, a great many of the remembrances of the Civil War and the Confederacy were done in protest to and defiance of the civil rights movements. Those works are shameful and should be removed. This council got it's name in 1927 - so I've got no idea of the motivation for choosing the name.
  17. ParkMan

    Stonewall Jackson Area Council Changes Name

    Given how hurtful the memory of slavery is to so many in our country, I have no problem that this council has decided to choose a name that is not associated with the Confederacy. As I read the comments, I realized how little I knew of General Jackson. I did a quick scan of his bio on wikipedia. Looks like he was a West Point graduate who was born and lived in West Virginia. I'm going to infer that his role in the confederacy had more to do with a duty to his home state than to anything else. But, once he joined that army, he did his duty as a soldier and fought for that army. I have a hunch that were he living further north we'd be hearing about him as a well respected Union general.
  18. ParkMan

    Stonewall Jackson Area Council Changes Name

    That was my take too. Sounds like a name chosen by a committee. Bleh.
  19. ParkMan

    No hugs, Aunt Sarah, we're GIRL SCOUTS!

    BTW - When reading this I'm reminded of Verizon's "Inspire Her Mind" commercial. I always thought that commercial had a much more positive message. Be careful not to discourage your daughter's natural inquisitiveness because of traditional gender stereotypes. I think this is much more the tone of the BSA messaging towards girls
  20. ParkMan

    No hugs, Aunt Sarah, we're GIRL SCOUTS!

    If a child hasn't seen a family member in some time it is going to be very natural to be shy and reluctant. Encouraging a gesture like a simple hug to a distant family member helps reinforce that family bonds exist between family members who live at a distance. Decisions like this as full of pros and cons. A big part of parenting is to guide a child through these sorts of pros and cons. I don't mind a group like the GSUSA bring awareness to a parenting question so that we think about it. My only concern with this is that it perpetuates a false conclusion. It is simplistic to conclude that there is a causal relationship between hugs at 8 and repaying gifts with more significant affection later in life. This infers that girls are somehow fragile enough that they are not capable of understanding that difference. Instead, the GSUSA message ought to be one about raising girls who understand the value of themselves. Encouraging a girl to hug her grandmother and then talking about it later one is a way to underscore the difference between that and a person paying for a date later on. Teach your daughter to be strong and value herself.
  21. ParkMan

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    Not to get into too much of a back and forth here. But, I'd just revisit my comment of before: To have a quality program, they have to build a quality program. I get your point that much of our success in the BSA has relied upon those already knowledgeable in the program coming back and becoming volunteers. In an era where that kind of knowledge is less available, we need to adjust. Successful packs and troops today build successful programs with longevity. Volunteers join a unit with an existing program and learn it. They then grow in experience and in a year or two take on a leadership role and start to mentor the new leaders. Then in another year or two they become the senior leaders in the unit. There's no way around it. Now, in the case of new units, that's where the district can come in and help. Commissioners, Roundtables, local training, district programs, networking, etc. They can serve that mentoring role to help newer units get going. FInd that folks are uncomfortable with wood tools - setup a wood tools Roundtable. District volunteers have to be working the problems. Councils can help here by making sure district volunteers understand this. Of course, you know how many trainings my council has for district volunteers - zero. Council meetings seem to be more about reporting status and sharing information. But, really, they need to be about equipping district volunteers to be successful. Just as districts need to emulate the program they want units to follow, so too do councils need to emulate the program they want districts to follow. But, of course as much of this has been replaced by professionals now we have a model where a DE is told to do something by a field director. The DE then goes and pursues it at a unit level. In the process, all this stuff gets lost. This is where national and councils have really dropped the ball.
  22. ParkMan

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    National financial problems - You are correct, these are due to the sexual abuse cases of the 70's, 80's, etc. The SBR was a bet that hasn't worked out too well - so yes, throw that in there too. Though volunteers did the abusing, that's not really the issue. That "the BSA" allowed it to happen for so long and go undealt with is the issue. These problems are not created by volunteers you are correct. Yes. National is here to build functioning councils. Councils are here to build functioning districts. Districts are here to support and enable strong unit programs. Part of enabling strong unit programs requires that district volunteers understand how to effectively talk to unit leaders. We all need to be treated with respect. Simply getting up there in front of the group and yammering on about how unit leaders are doing things wrong is a mistake. Whomever is sitting there waiving their finger at you for not attending the council cub camps needs to sit down. Those cub camps need to be organized by volunteers. Those volunteers should be listening to unit volunteers and building cub camp programs that people want to attend. If they are not then that's an issue.
  23. ParkMan

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    Again - it's a complex issue. We are doing our volunteers a disservice by not being frank with them. To have a quality program, they have to build a quality program. You can't take a couple of BSA courses and have enough knowledge to run a unit. You have to be humble enough to recognize that you have to continue to try, to work hard, to improve the unit. The Scoutmaster of our troop has been at is for 25 years. Yet, he still looks for new ideas and new things to do. He still listens to new voices and grows the program. No amount of training is every going to install the willingness to try. You don't go from someone who hasn't camped before, take a course, and then go camping in January unless you want to do that. Coaching, mentoring, and encouragement can do that. But training - generally it cannot. I know the BSA corporate culture is out of whack. I am fortunate to work with great professionals. But, they are being sold a lie. The success of Scouting does not rely upon them, the success of Scouting relies on volunteers. Professionals need to enable volunteers, not replace them. Councils & districts should be run by volunteers - not professionals. I think the BSA should replace the phase "volunteer led, professionally guided" with "volunteer led, professionally supported." I think that we've all take then "guided" a little too literally.
  24. ParkMan

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    The cause of what is going on in the BSA is complex. But make no mistake, much of this is because of volunteer and program issues. My district has 15 packs. The largest 5 account for 70% of all the Cub Scouts in the District. The smallest 5 account for 10%. The largest pack is bigger than the smallest 5 put together. Each of these small packs recruits 2 or 3 kids a year. Do they do school talks - no. Do they put of flyers - no. Do they recruit at their CO - no. Do they spread the word through social media - no. All of those things our local council trains on, encourages, and provides DE support for. They all complain about not having enough Scouts or volunteers - but what are they doing to fix the issue? On the other hand, the larger packs are doing great. They are growing, thriving, and have absolutely no issues with recruiting. Do I blame the small unit volunteers - no. They're volunteers and I'm thrilled that they care enough to be here. But, if they wanted to grow it's within their power to do so. Energize the program and get the word out. But, it's got to start with the desire to do so. Scouting in my area is getting smaller because 1) you've got to be willing to try, 2) pack/troop size matters, and 3) stuff happens. I could spend hours talking about this. National and councils are culpable in this because they've never figured out how to address this. I believe that the single best thing we could do to reverse the trend is to invest in functioning district teams led by volunteers. Small to mid size packs & troops need support and encouragement. If the unit is struggling they need a helping hand. They need a network of people they can lean on for moral support and training. They need ideas and encouragement. Yet, what has national & council done. They've replaced live training with online training. In struggling districts they've replaced volunteers with professionals instead of fixing the volunteer issue. As volunteers we all complain about the heavy handedness of national and councils. The mindset of national and councils is all wrong. National is here to build functioning councils. Councils are here to build functioning districts. Districts are here to support and enable strong unit programs. Yes - I understand it seems like I'm arguing two different things - but I am not. For packs & troops to thrive, they have to want to. But, national and councils need to do what they can to create a supportive environment where people want to, are equipped to, and are supported to thrive.
  25. ParkMan

    BSA Mortgages Philmont Scout Ranch

    It's easy to point at these cases and blame the lack of youth experience or training as the problem. These are really volunteer leadership and program issues. A Scoutmaster should be cultivating the adults in the program so that they build up to cold weather camping. With your typical Scout in the program for 4-5 years, there should be a bunch of experienced adults who have cold weather camped before - even if they were never Scouts as a youth. When a new parent joins, the Scoutmaster ought to say - "why don't you come on this camping trip in April". Then again in September, then November, then January. Now the parent says "January - wow, that's too cold." So, the Scoutmaster says - "no problem, I got a couple of leaders who's kids started 3 years ago that now like to camp in January & February - maybe you'll be up to it next year." Perhaps around a time in history where many parents had been in the military there would be lots of adults who show up with a lot of outdoor experience. But, in an industrialized country like ours it's going to be the exception to find parents with a strong outdoor background. So, a troop has to build up to it. If I see a trend around here, it's that effort, preparation, and program pay off. The strongest troops I see are often those with some leader who has the drive to make it happen. It has little to do with training and prior Scouting experience.
×