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About Penta

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  1. I'm not allowed to have my views shifted by the thread?
  2. Random nitpick: Mods, is there a way to have new post links in email take you directly to the new post, not the first page of the thread? Other than that: Am I the only one thinking we're having separate convos here? Kudu's beating the drum about the evils of the EDGE method and such, and the replies thereto, as one conversation, and the separate conversation about the achievability of becoming trained in necessary skills by an untrained adult. Seems to me it'd be less confusing were the former to be spun off into another thread, but eh. Moving on from that: The more I think about the issue, the more I'm struck by a few points. I'm going to list them and number them to keep them organized. To wit: 1. There seems to be little coherence in what BSA training aims to teach adults. Is it trying to teach outdoor skills? Is it a crash course in all things leadership? Is it simply "policies and procedures"? IMHO, the prime failing of BSA training, from what I've learned about it online, is that it isn't clear on what the hell it wants to do. It'd probably be quite good, if only it focused and quit being like a kid with ADD chasing the shiny. 2. BSA could indeed teach everything mentioned. But it seems insane to do it all in one course, to try to do leadership *and* outdoor skills. If I were on a committee revising BSA training from the ground up, here's how I'd do it: A. Multiple training tracks. CS training and BS training and Venture training might have common courses, but at some point they lead in different directions. B. I step back from my previous thoughts of training 'expiring'. I'd only consider that for things that can potentially change rapidly like YP issues (where annual retraining seems like a good thing), or other areas where it's important to have everybody on the exact same page. C. Skills stuff is not meant to teach advanced stuff - Councils should be encouraged to offer training in advanced topics where it seems wanted, but as a rule, courses should teach the basics. More advanced stuff can be filtered out through less-common advanced training or through roundtables and the like. If you have prior knowledge, you don't need the course - but if you don't know things or its been a while, take the course. How I'd design training: A. Basic training, required for all positions - YP, for example. How BSA works regardless of program. Fundamental stuff that everybody needs to know whether they're working with Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture people, or whatever. Most of this is "Take once and you're done", except for stuff where regular reviews are essential like YP. B. Program specific training: One track for each program, with the basic stuff as a prereq. These can focus in more and more depth on issues related to that program. I would encourage everybody to at least take the basic program course for each program they're covering, if I were designing it. If training were to have program-specific elements, I'd be split on whether it should need to be retaken; If we mean for Scouting to be as scientifically-based now as it was when Baden-Powell designed the Scout Method 100 years ago, it might help to keep everybody current on what we know about youth issues and youth development - to the point of trying to "unteach" common myths (and, let's be honest, outright lies) held/believed by most non-specialists. (Factor I squirm at thinking about, but bring up as an example of how the science appears to be leaps ahead of common knowledge: Contrary to common belief that it's stable, the age of puberty (in boys as well as girls) is, clinical evidence is beginning to accumulate showing, going *down*. Sooner or later that's going to slam into Cub Scouts with the force of a tsunami, and may require adaptations to account for it. Less controversially, just think of how Scouting could use new advancements in knowledge of child&adolescent psychology to build a better program.) On the other hand, it might be better to have courses taken once, then have people in each track get regular updates somehow. I'd have separate tracks for ACMs/CMs, ASMs/SMs, and their Venturing counterparts, and probably other tracks for those who are on Troop/Pack Committees, and still another track for CORs. Separate capstone courses for each program, focusing specifically on issues relative to that program, giving the Boy Scout capstone the Wood Badge name. C. Advanced training and skills training: Here would go stuff on leadership, advanced outdoor stuff, etc. The more I bat things around in my head, the more I'm of the belief that leadership, in particular, as it relates to Scouting, is something you can only teach the very basics of - the rest is so individual that it can only be learned by the CM/SM being in the arena. Outdoor stuff is a different thing. Every (A)SM needs to know how to camp safely, right? (A)CMs not so much. And after the basics, is every SM going to need to know how to camp in winter (how the heck do you *define* winter, even, in Hawaii or Arizona?) or how to camp in extreme weather? Basic theme of how I'd design training: Scouting adult training needs to make the adults involved knowledgable about kids, or about the skills they're supposed to help the kids learn. How to lead adults? Can be learned in so many other places. How to do advanced camping stuff? Again, without thinking very hard, can likely be learned through other groups. In short, let BSA focus, in training adults, on training them about kids - everything else can best be taught by other organizations, but if BSA is (as National's strategic plan for 2010-2015 seems to aim towards) "an expert on youth", and that's the image they want to project...Then, naturally, it would seem to become incumbent on everybody to make sure that the folks on the pointy end (the adults actually doing stuff at unit level) *are* in fact taught about the latest in what's known about youth. 3. A final point: I'm not really sure it helps people to bang the drum and preach about "Parlor Scouting" or worse. To be totally honest, Kudu and others...If I were the ordinary person reading these threads, I'd be insulted, both by the implications of there being Holy Writ or heresy on a subject like this, and by the fact that none of that deals with the reality. Work with what exists, not what you might wish to have, IMHO.
  3. Penta

    Strange things re Scouting

    Huh, much more achievable.
  4. Penta

    Strange things re Scouting

    Gentlemen, may I beg you to leave the spitballs for another thread? Beavah: If I were a bastard ACLU lawyer, I'd use a SE as a test case one day. It'd make for a fascinating trial...And I expect the court look at the current arrangements very curiously. The conflicts of interest would seem to make it practically impossible for SEs to fulfill their agency relationship with the councils. Excellent overview, my dam-building friend.
  5. Penta

    Strange things re Scouting

    Holy. You guys rock. I post incoherently and sleep-deprived* and you guys still give me great info. *To explain: Most nights, I go to bed about midnight and get up at 6-7 AM. Except Sunday nights, lately...Because I have class at 8 AM and have had to get the paratransit bus at 5:30-6 AM, getting into school at 6-6:30 AM, I tend to just forget about sleeping on Sunday nights, opting more for lights-off laying-in-bed and keeping myself awake, so I don't oversleep. So by the time I've written these Monday morning posts, I'm on 24 hours between sleep. Re the Corporate stuff, Charter, etc: This answers most of my questions...It raises new ones, but the ones it raises are very nitpicky and lawyerly. Thanks folks! Re the issue of Scouting's Int'l emphasis: I find myself in deep agreement with VigilEagle's view, from my perch on the outside. It feels really weird that Scouts from other countries know more about BSA stuff than any of us could really claim Scouts from the US know about Scouting around the world. Insofar as my opinion matters, my thought is this: While there is a Scouting Heritage MB, from the Requirements I can find, it seems simultaneously like either a "gimme" or impossible. A gimme if you can get to Philmont or another HA base; impossible otherwise. Which is...strange to me, because Philmont and the like are not cheap. That MB ought really be revised to be achievable without a plane ticket. A "World Scouting" MB could be designed along the same lines, though. Later: Points well taken, ScoutNut. The only time I remember thinking about adminitrivia like that when I was a kid in Scouts was disability stuff - which often required keeping an ear to the ground generally, hence why I initially was surprised to realize I didn't know things from that point in time. Bart: More good points. Re the Vatican - That's how many people are attached to the Roman Curia....As of 1996, granted. 300 is wrong, checking my sources reveals, but the number is not large - checking my sources says 1500 or so at the most expansive definition. Which for 1.2 billion people is tiny. But that's way, way off-topic.
  6. Penta

    Strange things re Scouting

    Hit send too early. Re the international bit - I think I spoke poorly there...In fact, I'm certain I did. I wasn't speaking specifically, I was speaking generally. Scouting tends to lean somewhat conservative (around here, anyway), whereas support for international organizations tends to be a more politically liberal view...Which makes for something of an odd juxtaposition, or at least it did at 6 AM when I was thinking about this.
  7. Penta

    Strange things re Scouting

    Ah, that answers the form and similar questions...I was wondering exactly that, which bit of the tax code it lives under. Hm.
  8. Maybe this doesn't belong in Open Discussion - Program; I'll let the mods decide, but for lack of a more general forum, I'm putting it here. --- Like I promised in the other thread, I'm keeping each week's musings to a separate thread. These Monday mornings where I need to kill time look likely to happen all semester, so I figured I'd warn everybody up front. (No, I can't really study, before you ask. There's no good place to curl up with a textbook.) It's been a weird weekend for me, IRL. Participating in this forum brings back a lot of memories of my days as a Cub Scout, and ever so briefly as a Boy Scout. It's also dredged up a lot of sometimes only tenuously related things. I've had everything floating through my head from the "Philmont Grace" (which is weird, because I never went to Philmont, and can't place where I'd have heard it) to "a script for a commercial I'd run if I could decide the BSA's advertising strategy". Plus some random musings. This is my thread to tap out some of it. It'll probably be weird, but that's life. --- First up: Y'know, it's something that strikes me. You'd never know it from looking at Scouting from the outside, and I don't know how many people in Scouting (especially in the US) really appreciate it, but Scouting is almost curiously international. Scouting's main constituency in the US is what? Fairly conservative types, among parents and adults, no? Not exactly the type to support much that's international, generally speaking? You could probably get a good helping of anti-UN types in the adult populations of most councils, for example? Except for Scouting. Which, while BSA may not advertise the fact, is incredibly international - and something where, while BSA may do things differently, there's still enough of an international consciousness and connection to be a strange juxtaposition when you think about it. I can never figure out why the BSA doesn't bring it up more when advertising, push the international angle a bit. The fact that when a boy joins Scouting, he's not just joining something quaintly American, but something so international as to make the average person's head spin. Something not merely with local reach, but global, with a century's worth of history and tradition to boot. It goes for programming just as much - people who aren't involved (and probably a good many who are involved) likely don't realize, for example, that US Scouts *have* camps in Europe. (They don't realize, too, that the BSA offers awards for being able to speak, read, and translate languages...And actually, now that I look at the requirements for an interpreter strip, I wouldn't be surprised if those are actually *harder* than the requirements to be deemed fluent in a language as used by, say, government. Why the heck doesn't BSA advertise that, that Scouting can teach your kid languages?) Or even think large-scale. National Jamborees get a decent bit of coverage - albeit sometimes for the wrong reasons - but when was the last time the news covered a World Jamboree? So count me confused. Except for the World Crest on the uniform, what clue would most people in the US have that Scouting is as global as it is? Scouting has the history, it has the global reach...Why is it not used more often, leveraged somehow? (For those from overseas: I grant that the global nature of Scouting is probably more apparent, for example, in Europe or Asia. I don't know enough about that to say. I'm speaking about Scouting in the US.) --- I've always been interested in the "Where it's come from" aspect of Scouting...On the large scale yes, but also the small scale. Miscellaneous history and related questions I have, maybe people can answer: 1. When did Youth Protection Training debut? I don't remember things like the 2-deep rule from when I was a kid, which wasn't that long ago. (The fact that I have to say that, "wasn't that long ago"...Scares me.) 2. Similarly...Okay, I know the girls part of the "God, Gays, and Girls" issue triumvirate has always been a nagging issue with Scouting since the Movement began, because boys often as not have sisters. But I do not recall (and I was pretty politically/news-aware, or at least conscious of politics and the news) the other two issues when I was a Scout. Which was, hey, 15-16 years ago? Did they only become issues with Dale v BSA and similar, which seemed to come out of the blue when it was decided in 2000? 3. Does the Scouting movement have any sort of archives? I know there's the museum in Texas for BSA...But are there any sort of research archives, either for the BSA or for WOSM? --- This isn't really historically related, but it's semi-related...OK, can someone explain to me the legal structure of the BSA? More specifically: I get that the Boy Scouts of America is a C corporation in form, legally a DC Corporation by the Congressional Charter - the same type of corporation legally as the Red Cross (in terms of non-profits) or Coca-Cola (in terms of for-profit companies). Is it for-profit or non-profit? I've always presumed non-profit (they file a form 990, after all), but sometimes I've wondered, especially when I saw that they had a subsidiary (Arrow WV) buy up the land for Summit (which seems strange for a non-profit). The local councils - Okay, so...Legally, are they owned by BSA National as subisidiaries? Are they even incorporated separately from the BSA? Are they owned by others and then licensed by the BSA? About that Charter - Yeah...Other than the Report to the Nation PR thing every year, what impact does it have? I know, politically, the chances of Congress holding hearings on the Boy Scouts are slim-to-nonexistent without BSA kicking up a fight, but setting aside the politics: Is it even legally possible, say, for Congress to go "Ooh. Yes. That Congressional Charter that gives you existence? Gives us oversight ability too, so open up to the GAO, and send your top people to the Hill for hearings." Furthermore - Let's be insane. If the BSA's charter was ever revoked by Congress for some crazy (or not-so-crazy) reason...What happens? Does the BSA cease to exist? Or is there an existence separate from the Congressional Charter? Obviously it'd be a PR black eye, but would it have any practical impact? Kind of related - Til the 50s or so, BSA was headquartered in New York, if I remember right. Then they moved to New Brunswick, NJ, not too far from me actually (45 min away). Then, in 1979, they picked up and moved to Irving, Texas. Why? Related to that: I've heard of BSA National Headquarters described of as everything from "a tiny suite in an office park - you'd never know it was the headquarters of the Boy Scouts if you didn't know to look" to a corporate campus of multiple acres like owned by Microsoft or Google. At the same time, I've heard of Scouting described organizationally in various, contradictory terms: As being weirdly like the Vatican (which has 300 people running a 1.2 billion member Church from Rome) with local councils being autonomous like bishops in their dioceses, or as centralized as any major corporation with everything being run from National. What's the reality on either of those scores? Just how many people work out of National, or for National, anyway?
  9. Am I the only one thinking the whole "What Wood Badge is"/"What modern Scouting is" discussion probably deserves its own thread by this point? Actually, on that latter point... I think sometimes that's what we see here but that nobody totally likes to admit. Scouting, in the United States in 2010, is in many ways a different animal from the Scouting of 50 or 75 or 100 years previous. Really, Scouting after the 1960s and Scouting during and before the 1960s seem like very different things. Simply by the fact that Scouting is a more diverse movement in many ways, it's a different animal than from when it was founded in the US a century ago, or during its 1960s heyday. Now, I'm not going to extend beyond that. I don't know enough to say whether what's resulted is good, bad, indifferent, or what. But I get a sneaking feeling like we're never going to resolve these arguments, because I get the feeling they're as much about Scouting as they are about the wider world. Anyhow, it's a new Monday and I'm at school bright and early...Came in at 6:20 AM for an 8 AM class, curse the paratransit schedule. It gives me time to think. Those thoughts will be seen on a new thread.
  10. Penta

    National Summer Camp

    Bart: As UCEagle says, Summit was gifted property, like Philmont was (technically, BSA bought it - but every cost of purchase, all $50 million, was covered by the Bechtel family). That's the prime reason it was taken up, I bet - they were getting it for free. Additionally, former military bases are a very bad idea these days for a few reasons: 1. Environmental remediation: It's a big problem these days - there isn't a base that's been closed that would not require major measures taken to clean it up. Yes, this would ordinarily be done by the service that's closing the base, but it happens on their timeline with no real reason for them to worry about delays. There are plenty of cases where remediation has taken 10-20 years. BSA may take ages to start operations at Summit, for example, but they can't wait 10-20 years for a property to become usable. 2. Population encroachment: Put simply, the military isn't often closing bases in the middle of nowhere. They're keeping those for the most part - they're as desperate for training land as Scouts are for camping land. If a base is being closed, it's because it often is surrounded by population - which tends to rule it out for Scouting purposes, too. 3. Land value: I could be wrong, but I suspect BSA pays property taxes. Most military bases are in what is now prime real estate. Sure, you might be able to buy the property (for which BSA would be forced to pay fair market value, and no lower - the days of BSA as an organization getting deals from the government are long gone), but how would you pay the property taxes, mortgage, etc.? This all adds up to: If BSA has any sense, they'll take gifted land - land that's either unspoiled (rare), or cleaned up before it's even offered (what we got in this case, I think). Military bases would not be gifted - they'd be sold, and to get enough land to do anything with it would, in most cases, cost billions of dollars.
  11. We've gotten a bit more philosophical and such than I think is necessarily a good thing. (Yes, I'm also trying to take the heat out of the budding flamewars.) Allow me to nudge the conversation slightly by bringing up stuff you'd think people would learn in Scouting, but never seem to. My list of Skills I Wish Scouting Teaches Or Had Taught, linked directly to their usability in Scouting. If I use military terminology, it's because in writing fiction lately I've had to immerse myself in that, and it's what's familiar to me. These are skills that might already *be* taught by Scouting, but don't appear integrated into the core program last I checked (by scanning the rank requirements at scouting.org) - they should not, IMHO, be limited to a certain MB or those who've gone someplace like Philmont. 1. How to give a briefing - This is something that should be learned by a Scout from day 1, IMHO; the fact that it'd deal with the reality that most kids don't know how to communicate with people to pass on information (and that college is probably too late to learn the skill) is a bonus. A "briefing" could be made more complex as the kid climbs in responsibility - At first the kid could have to brief the patrol on their part of the patrol's tasks on a campout. A patrol leader could have to brief the SM or PLC on the patrol's plan to execute tasks during a campout. The SPL could have to brief the SM on the troop's plan for an entire campout. 2. How to conduct an after-action review: Or a Roses and Thorns session, or whatever you want to call it, it goes by a lot of different names. IMHO, kids do not know how to do that, to evaluate a situation for what went wrong and what went right, how to give and take fair, honest criticism. If it were me writing the requirements, this would be an integral part of any troop activity.
  12. Totally agreed, NJCS. It wasn't til I came to this site that it struck me how much adults pour into Scouting, just to make a basic program work. I think, frankly, the controversy is a good thing - Questioning the volunteer aspect of Scouting is questioning a pretty fundamental aspect of adult participation in the movement. The fact that I was not immediately run off with pitchforks and torches for doing so says many good things, particularly about the posters here.
  13. Penta

    So about 300 yards...

    Thank you for correcting my art attempt, Kudu. Thanks for the reference on the tents. Hm.
  14. Penta


    Scoutfish, how did you get into my mind and express my thoughts better than I'm expressing them? Seriously. While I brought up precedent earlier, and I still believe that to be enough to say "No, don't bring it up at the EBOR"...Scoutfish is right. I'm the outsider here, and conscious enough of that to be cautious in my words...But something about this, oldsm, triggers alarm bells. Yes, 17/18 year olds can lie. I don't believe that being legally a minor grants the boy any special claim to truth. Yes, the kid wasn't removed. But you said it yourself: "My back-channel sources are firm in their belief that something was going on, and said that DCF had previous dealings with the family." You also said: "Through back channels, I learned later about the incident that triggered the scout's confession. Sources told me that he was not going home on weekends and was looking for alternate places to live after camp. To make a long story short (well, less long), DCF said "no", that he wasn't in imminent danger, that he was being provided for, etc., so he is living at home." Non-removal means *nothing*, in most places. Non-removal means there wasn't enough to get a court order - and the bar to be passed in a court order is *imminent* danger. Non-removal does not mean there is nothing there. I note you didn't mention whether DCF was able to substantiate the allegations or not. I'd look to those previous dealings with DCF if possible - especially if there are any other kids in the home. Previous dealings mean previous accusations of at least some credibility - I don't know of any CPS agency, anywhere, that has the resources or authority to go in absent accusations. Most are too overloaded to do followup on all of the *credible accusations* they get. Like I said before...This case sets off a bunch of alarm bells. I know you want to believe the parents, oldsm...But I would not.
  15. Penta


    When you lay it out like that, I see where the situation is way more confusing than I first thought. Hm. I also missed that he was 17/18. My fear is precedent - I don't really think a BOR, particularly an EBOR, is at all the place to bring up something so personal, particularly not to "ambush" the Scout. It also sets a bad precedent in other regards, too. Yes, any abuse situation is pretty much a he said-she said situation almost by definition. But what if the Scout was younger than 17/18? What if he was 12, 13, 14? My fear is that once you set the precedent, it'll be used against younger Scouts, too. In the chance they're *not* lying, what happens? How does the Scout defend themselves, and *their* reputation? Do they? *Can* they, even? Will kids who've been abused now have to worry their bringing accusations against their parents that the parents dispute will be held against them? Those concerns would apply with any BOR. With an EBOR, because you're bringing in "outsiders", my concerns in that area double. My instinct now (with some reflection) is to point this out to step-dad, whom you originally mentioned as wanting it brought up at the EBOR. I wouldn't bring it up at EBOR at all - and I would explain clearly to the Scout's parents why it won't be brought up. Even if they're right and nothing happened, what about the next kid, who may well be telling the truth, but the parents are good enough at fending off DCF?