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Posts posted by ParkMan

  1. While we can point to other institutions such as schools that require a lower adult presence, the BSA is simply not in a position anymore to do that.  

    We can mourn what once was, but the reality is that even if the BSA had the ability to go back to the way it ran 30+ years ago, it really should not.  Perhaps one day down the road trust will return and processes will improve, but that is unlikely to occur in any of our lifetimes.

    The best thing for Scouts now is to figure out how to best operate in this new reality.

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  2. If I look at the JTE requirements, 5 of 11 are program related.  Pointwise, they contribute 900 points towards the total.  You only need 1,000 points in 2021 to achieve gold and so almost all of the focus of the troop could be program and they'd get gold.

    I am sure there are other measures that would define a troop with a good program.  Should we:

    1. replace some of the existing program items with new program items?
    2. replace some of the non-program items with more program items?
    3. add more program items keeping the scores the same?
    4. add more program items and increasing the scores needed at each level?

    Myself - I'm all for #4 here - adding more program items and increasing the overall score a troop needs to achieve at each level.  I would be fully supportive of some of the kinds of program @TAHAWKmentioned above.  I also very much like @MattR's suggestion including the honor patrol program.  I could see adding an item to JTE that awarded points if the patrols are attempting to achieve honor patrol status.

    I do not believe that I would remove the non-program items though.  Generally they all strike me as good goals for a strong troop to accomplish.


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  3. 1 hour ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    @walk in the woods,

    Awesome reference, thanks...

    Overall about one third females...

    You'd think BSA might use that as a more "realistic" goal.

    I am sure this is the trade off of all such strategic goals.  Do we set an attainable goal or do we set an aspirational goal?

    I believe the BSA went for aspirational, not attainable.  Both approaches have merits.  I think it's just a choice in style.

  4. 6 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

    The Churchill plan calls for Councils to either meet the diversity goal OR show year over year improvement. Is that what you mean by graduated steps?

    I was thinking something more like: By 2030, we want to achieve 30% female youth membership.

    But, you are correct - simply saying that councils should show annual improvement towards the goal does allow for councils to claim success prior to achieving the 50%.

  5. 44 minutes ago, BQZip said:


    RIght - it strikes me that they believe the Scouting membership should mirror general population trends.  We saw something similar with minority recruiting.

    I think one could argue that they could have introduced a series of graduated steps with milestones for councils to achieve.  It looks to me like they just took the overall goal and said - "councils, make this your goal too." 

    We can differ on whether it's the right goal or not, but it does seem to be what is happening.

    • Upvote 1
  6. 50 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    There is a potential huge error in that Churchill plan goal of "try to achieve 50% of your membership male and female"

    It assumes that females want the BSA program in the same numbers that males do.  Or, another way to put it...it assumes that, of all the youth out there who want to do this Scouting program, that half of them are female.

    If empirical market research does not back that up, it is a doomed proposal. Do you think they did that market analysis?

    Here's some reasonably good stuff...


    Read the 12 themes...sound familiar?

    Possibly it's a mistake - but also perhaps not.

    Scouting membership is in the range of 3% of total available youth today.  Female membership is certainly much, much lower.  It would strike me that there is a good probability that increasing the number of female Scouts is an achievable goal.  

  7. On 1/1/2021 at 9:19 PM, Chadamus said:

    Page 15 of the Registration guidebook clearly states:

    "In addition to registered unit positions, the following functional duties or roles can also be assigned to registered adult leaders."

    This quote reads that a functional role (Advancement Chair) can also be held by a registered leader (SM, CC, etc.). There's no misreading that.


    Please don't misunderstand that I'm not trying to convince, but instead seeking clarification. Surely based on the the above one can see how there is clearly room for interpretation.

    Hi @Chadamus,

    Sorry to be a few days late here.  It's probably also worth noting the BSA publication, "Troop Leader Guidebook, Volume 1" describes a role of Assistant Scoutmaster for Advancement


    Assistant Scoutmaster for Advancement (from page 83-84)

    • Promote advancement and other awards
    • Identify merit badge counselors and coach instructors
    • Work with the patrol leaders' council to ensure that planned activities give Scouts the opportunity to advance
    • Coordinates scheduling of Scoutmaster conferences and boards of review
    • Work with the scribe to ensure that advancement records are up to date
    • Support Scouts who are planning courts of honor
    • Oversee Life-to-Eagle counseling efforts


    In the same manual, it also says:


    The Troop Committee (from page 14)

    A typical committee may include but is not limited to these positions:


    • Advancement coordinator - oversees advancement records and boards of review

    My interpretation of the BSA's materials is that a Troop can assign most of the traditional duties of an advancement chair/coordinator to an ASM.  There still should be someone overseeing this on the Troop committee, but the week to week work can indeed be done by an ASM.

    Hope this helps.

    • Thanks 1
    • Upvote 2
  8. Pardon a very off topic post...

    9 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

    BONUS POST SCRIPT: It seems I have now made 1,000 posts on these forums since joining almost 5 years ago. My deepest thanks to all who have made this place such a crucial and delightful source of knowledge and direction throughout my Scouting career!

    And thank you for being such a tremendous member here as well.  Your posts are always well thought out and bring a lot to the discussion.  Thank you for all your contributions over those five years!

    • Thanks 1
  9. 2 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

    GSUSA is claiming that infringing the trademark alone entitled them to damages even if no one made any money off anything.

    GSUSA is also separately claiming in fact BSA and units made money off this.

    Moreover, GSUSA is basically saying that BSA National controls how this was rolled out and controls the units and councils (and in particular use of branding and trademarks), therefore it is National that needs to pay.

    Again - this continues to point to nothing but sour grapes from the GSUSA.  


    1 hour ago, Eagledad said:

    Sorry for my confusion, but what is being debated.


    I don't think anything.  As far as I can tell, everyone here agrees on this topic.  

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  10. 5 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    No, I don't. I think it was an accident across the board.. GSUSA's claim is a) it wasn't an accident and b) even if it was an accident, BSA needs to pay for trademark infringement.


    Thanks!  That mirrors what I've seen too.

    I'm happy to let the lawyers battle out who needs to pay what as a result of these mistakes.  Myself, I'm willing to chalk to up to mistakes were made as long as the BSA does the right thing going forward.  To me, that would seem the Scouting way to handle it.  Somehow I do not expect that the GSUSA sees it the same way.

  11. I have no doubt that when the BSA first started the programs for girls at the Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA levels, some mistakes were made.  It did not take long for us to receive clear instructions that we were in no way supposed to represent that were "Girl Scouts".  Usually instructions like that come because someone made a bad choice and people recognized that more needed to be done.

    Though I am not a Scoutmaster like @Cburkhardt, I've seen enough of what has gone on in the formation of our troop for girls to know that everyone involved knew that this was not the Girl Scouts. 

    Let's recognize this for what it is.  Some units and some paid local professionals made some poor choices in the early days of rolling out the program for girls.  The GSUSA is attempting to leverage those mistakes in an effort to punish the BSA.  I expect that the GSUSA lawsuit is partly a rigorous attempt to protect it's branding and also partly an effort to harm the BSA out of spite.  I have no doubt that within the GSUSA inner circle they are hurt that the BSA made this choice several years ago.

    I would suggest that we not feed into the GSUSA posturing.  There is absolutely no organized misdirection effort by BSA at the national level.  The BSA has been clear that we should not claim or suggest that we are GSUSA units.  The BSA is not attempting to mislead families into joining the BSA. 

    There may still be people out there who make poor choices - both at a volunteer level and a local professional level.  When that happens I've no doubt that the BSA will stop it.    This is one time that the BSA is attempting to do the right thing and I think we should recognize that.

  12. 43 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    A good first step would be eliminating the labels.  For the most part, I endeavor not to use them.  Is is a pernicious system that has taken hold in our society...this labeling.  It is in everything we do, including on our applications for Scouting.

    Fully agree.  I've made it a point to stop using labels myself whenever I can.  If I sense myself about to add a label, I try to catch myself and internally ask - "why am I adding this label to the description?"  I found that after a while, I really don't miss the labels at all.

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  13. 11 hours ago, The Latin Scot said:

    I have struggled all evening over whether or not to post this, but my heart tells me I must, and so, having learned never to doubt my heart when it speaks so clearly, here are my thoughts.

    Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and feelings on the subject.

    I would simply offer that while there is a truth in much of what you write, this day had to come.  There was no way that the BSA would ever be able to indefinitely continue to have a magazine called "Boys Life" in a true co-ed program.

    Youth today benefit from Scouting.  Youth participating in Scouting need outstanding adult leaders to help them benefit from the program.  We can all mourn what once was - but it doesn't help the youth of today to benefit from Scouting.  I would hazard a guess that there is more you like about Scouting than there is that you dislike about Scouting.  I would encourage you to fInd those things in the program that you enjoy and the youth enjoy and focus on it and help develop it. 

  14. 20 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

    Very solid ideas from Parkman.

    One difference between his Troop and ours is that we started from scratch two years ago and needed to build-in some capital acquisitions into our budget for the first three years or so.  We also had some extra start-up money from the church and a individual funding “angel”, but regardless had to pay for things ranging from flags, flag stands, essential program equipment to camping gear.  We are at 45 and are naturally growing approximately 5 Scouts net per semester.

    After we have finished acquiring the basics, we will further build our “rainy day” fund and re-evaluate our dues level then.

    For a newer troop, I would think a model like ours would be more challenging.  Our system relies on the notion that our fixed costs are fairly low.  We don't need to acquire equipment.  We have a healthy stockpile of awards.   I believe to make a model like ours work you'd need to increase the core dues and run pretty lean while you build up supplies.  Angel donors are always a bonus if they exist.

    The downside to our model is that it financially discourages participation in events.  Our low fixed costs make it easier for youth to join, but then backload many of the fees over the course of the year.  So a scout constantly has to ask their parents for money for events.  It makes it trivial to add more events and so it's possible to constantly be doing things in our world.  This is in part is why we have the model we do - it allows us to be exceedingly dynamic.

    The upside to a model like @Cburkhardt has is that it reduces the barrier to event participation.  A scout has already paid for the event, they might as well go.  

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  15. I imagine our troop is somewhat traditional but has evolved to a model that appears to work well.  In short, we have a budget model that attempts to separate fixed costs with those costs incurred from activities.  Fixed expenses are shared by everyone, activities expenses are covered by people participating in activities.  

    Fixed budget - We have a modest fixed budget that covers things like advancement, meeting supplies, adult leader training, new equipment purchases, and some upkeep on major equipment.  The fixed budget comes out to $35 a year per scout.

    Activities budget - Every event has a separate cost that follows a pretty standard formula.  The event fee covers food, gas, and incidentals for the event.  There is also a small fee of a few dollars a scout that is added on to help cover overall budget items which are closely related to usage.  Wear and tear on trailers is a good example of this.  Event fees generally range from $15-$40 per scout per event depending on the size and scale.

    Pass through fees - We collect national dues and council program fees and then pay them to council.  These vary year to year.  I think that they are around $140 right now.

    This all gets very complicated.  To make it simpler, we do allow Scout and families to prepay and have some money in reserve.  That way when an event comes up a Scout doesn't need to pay each time.  This is pretty popular.

    Council Fundraising - We generally avoid council fundraising.  We will organize popcorn sales, but it ends up being more just for fun.  The vast majority of our families would prefer to avoid any fundraising and so we don't build any expectations on fundraising into our budget.  Enough of our scouts enjoy it that we do it as an activity.  We make enough money for council from this that they don't grumble about our approach.  A good portion of the troop's take from this goes into our scholarship program.

    Council FOS - We encourage robust participation in FOS.  Behind closed doors, we have all the normal leader grumbles, but come FOS time and in front of families we enthusiastically support FOS.  Yet, we don't twist arms or pressure people.  The net from this is that we do very well for FOS and those families who contribute are happy to do so.

    Scholarships - We have an active scholarship program administered by the SM, CC, & treasurer.  There are few rules on this and basically if either the SM or CC decide to shift some money to a scout it happens.  There are no forms or anything here.  These leaders have the flexibility to make the right call when it's necessary.

    Net of all of this - money is not an issue for our troop.  We have enough funds to do whatever we want to do.  We have a healthy bank account which enables us to make investments when necessary.  Our families do not feel overcharged because they determine cost by participation.  We are frugal enough and transparent enough with fees that parents don't grumble as they believe we are being fair.

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  16. 14 hours ago, yknot said:

    The biggest problem for youth will be the confusion that results when their adult leaders and COs really aren't that tolerant of aspects of the badge that require tolerance. In this way in many cases it's going to be a very different situation in scouting from what they hear elsewhere from outside the scouting environment. 

    I'm sorry to hear about the impact of this badge on LEO.  In prior discussions on this, I had not recognized that law enforcement officers were feeling offended by the badge itself.  Yes, I can understand that.  

    I would think the challenge to us all now is that we have to find ways to instruct on this merit badge that are productive and thoughtful.  This merit badge needs to not be a platform for the politics of the instructor, but instead a way for youth to think through the underlying issues here.

    Perhaps the BSA national professionals who read this will find some way to incorporate stronger guidance for instructors into the merit badge itself.  Make this about being a leader in a multicultural world.  

  17. 10 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

    I had one of my Scouts ask me about some of the musicians (that they all seem to listen to now) from the late 70's and 80's.  Specifically Bowie, Elton John, and Freddie Mercury.  Did we care they were bi or gay, was that an issue, what did we think of them.

    My answer was that (and this sort of shocked them), they were more defined by their talent and what they actually did than their persona.  Did not recall if they were openly out or swinging at the time, but everyone sort of knew it, but we accepted that they were talented, that is what mattered.

    I see the challenge today is that many are defining people NOT by their talents BUT more by their races, genders, sexual preferences, and gender identities.  It seems more important WHO you are and identify as than WHAT you can actually do.

    We as a society seem to have gone backward to almost the days of who you were being defined by your family (replace family for whatever group(s) people may want to be identified as) and their place in society, not what YOU individually can do and bring to a group.

    Growing up as a kid in the 80's, I understand exactly what you are saying.

    Where I lived in the 80s (metro Atlanta), the kids I grew up with did a pretty good job of respecting each other based on race.  It wasn't until I got to college in New England that I saw my first real examples of people age being racist - something I will never forget.

    In that same time as a kid in the 80s and even in the 90s it was pretty well accepted to make fun of someone for their sexual preference.  Being gay was a slur that got tossed around even if you were not.  Being transgendered wasn't even really a discussed concept back then beyond the occasional talk of a sex change.

    I do fully agree that back then people did earn our respect for who they were and what they accomplished.  Yet, at the same time it was very difficult growing up in many of these groups we talk about today.  People hid their sexual preference lest they be labeled or worse yet, snickered at.  So much of what has happened in the 40 years since then has been to stop making people feel bad or ashamed for who they are.  A person shouldn't feel that these characteristics are something that negatively impacts them. 

    I too wish that we could stop having labels define us.  I suspect it's something natural that if a person has for a long time felt that some label is a sense of shame, once that shame goes away people want to be proud of what they once felt they needed to hide.  If someone, for example, felt their whole life ashamed that they were gay, once that shame goes away they feel a sense of relief and want to embrace it.  I suspect same is true for most any group we list - race, gender, religion, ethnicity, preference. 

    I long for a day these labels no longer matter.  Someday, perhaps when there is a generation or two that never felt marginalized because of a label - I suspect this will go away.

    • Confused 1
  18. 9 hours ago, fred8033 said:

    I've sat on many EBORs.  I've never seen a scout asked that question.  In fact, most boards avoid such potentially self-destructing questions like this.  That issue is between the scout and himself ... and maybe his family.  

    Maybe it's a regional thing. 

    We know to "prepare" those scouts who might struggle with this question.  Of course prepare is a funny word because it's not a test - but still, we want it to be a positive experience and so we've always worked under the assumption that a Scout who has not religious affiliation ought to have some way to answering the question "How do you demonstrate your Duty to God?"

  19. 1 minute ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    Everyone is different from them.

    Which is probably an important evolutionary point for a kid to recognize.  So, as they are conducting themselves in their lives they cannot presume that everyone acts or thinks like they do. 

    If you look at so much of what is discussed nationally, it is really about people saying that they do not feel that people recognize the challenges in their lives or that they get treated differently because of some group that they are a member of.  It's a good skill for all of us to be self-aware enough to recognize how what we say and do impacts others.  This seems to be one of the main learning points in this MB.  I would think this is where the instructor focuses - not that you have to have any particular belief set, but that you have to be intentionally aware of how others perceive your actions and the world around them.


  20. 21 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    You forgot ability, ethnicity, faith and financial background.

    And that is the crux of my point.

    In listing some groups, you are showing bias against others.  Ultimately, the badge is hypocritical.

    The "important" (sic) terms of "diversity", "equity", "inclusion", "bigotry" and "intersectionality" are all based on the controversy whirling around a current social agenda.

    "There are real problems with this agenda, however. The first is that it’s dangerous, in exactly the manner it is hypothetically designed to fight. The argument made by those who are truly prejudiced has always been that the differences between groups are so large that discrimination, isolation, segregation and even open conflict–including war and genocide–are necessary, for the safety of whatever group they are part of and are hypothetically protecting. Why is it any less risky for the argument to be made in the reverse manner? The claim that group-based differences are so important that they must take substantive priority during hiring and promotion merely risks validating the opposite claim."


    This merit badge is a poison that will kill off a large portion of what remains of the Boy Scouts of America.

    Sure - make the list: ethnicity, faith, financial background, races, genders, sexual preferences, and gender identities.

    Doesn't really change anything though.  This MB is about getting kids to think about how they relate to others that are different from them. 

    What is the harm in getting kids to want to think about how they relate to those who are different from them?  That is where the instructor needs to be focusing their skills and abilities.  How to conduct a conversation that gets kids thinking about how they relate to others in the world around them.

  21. 40 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    Every single one of these are between a) the scout and their parent b) the scout and their religious leader c) both. The checkoff/approval is by the parent or the religious leader (OR for the religious awards, a mentor/instructor approved by that faith/denomination).

    This however allows a Lutheran MBC to instruct and sign off on the Catholic scout and his/her's views on inclusive as they relate to gender identity and sexual orientation. And if the Lutheran thinks the Catholic Church's teachings on women priests and and sexual orientation are stupid? No sign off.

    Putting aside that these conversations should be happening parent to scout (or parent to religious leader), many religious denominations provide that only those ordained or under the supervision of someone ordained my offer moral instruction.

    A Scout has say in who the merit badge counselor is.  It's no different.  They could work with their parents to choose a MBC that they want.  There's no difference here at all.  Pick a MBC that is of a like pursuasion.


    44 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    This is BEYOND driving a wedge between the scout and parent, this is now a wedge between the scout and their religion.

    When is enough, enough?

    It's not tough.  No one is telling the Scout what they have to believe - just that they need to think trough how they relate to someone.  In fact it's a very good skill for someone to have to learn how to relate to someone that has a lifestyle the disagree with religiously.

    There's no wedge here at all.

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