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Protoclete

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About Protoclete

  • Rank
    Junior Member
  • Birthday 03/01/1978

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Rome, Italy
  • Occupation
    Theologian
  • Interests
    Reading; Travel; Music; Outdoors
  • Biography
    Eagle Scout 1993
    St. George Award 2006

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  1. As regards Chartered Organizations, I have had mixed experienced. My units have almost always been chartered by churches (Catholic, Methodist) and there it usually works really well. The Church sees Scouting as part of its youth program, and though some are better than others, clearly understand their role as COs. Usually the youth minister or religious education director or family programs minister is the COR. The pastors are supportive, whether active and directly involved or not. On the other hand, in my district now, we have international schools that either struggle with the statement of religious principle, or can't be bothered to put any effort in at all. Just getting CORs from schools to have a phone call or do 45-min of training/orientation videos is a bit like pulling teeth. Another set are military base units that struggle to find COs, and half the time make up some "Friends of..." org just to fill out the paperwork. Perhaps having a couple of options would be best. Keep the CO model for where it works (like churches) and allow for direct 'ownership' where it doesn't.
  2. First off, I love the way you ordered and categorized your list. Agree with lots of it. Curious about this comment though. Woodbadge, I understand, having just gone through it last year, I see how it could get kind of cult-y in some councils. Its weird enough to show up at a Council event and see a bunch of people singing 'Back to Gilwell' with no context or explanation, especially when you're on the outside. Real off-putting. Though I think I'm lucky in my council that its not much cliquish, and also i think there is an overall recognition of this and efforts to overcome in already being implemented. But commissioner corps? Is that really a problem in some places? They are like the quintessential BSA volunteers' volunteers here. There are never enough of them, but I can't imagine a group more representative of what Scouting is about than our commissioners - not at all cliquish, totally open and available, always ready to respond to questions, server cheerfully, etc. So genuinely curious how it works that they'd be grouped together with WB here.
  3. Spinning off from the Major Changes Announced thread, was hoping we could focus on just one idea to come up. That of the 'sacred cows' , in other words, those things which have been unreasonably held to be off-limits for review or reform. Or as @sentinel947 offered, "an idea, custom, or institution held, especially unreasonably, to be above criticism". Healthy reform requires us to be able to say everything is on the table, so we can really identify what is core and what is not. Which services are really necessary, and which are there simply 'because we have always done them that way'. What long-held practice or idea needs to go? What needs to stay? Not just because of nostalgia, but as essential to what Scouting is? I think one obvious sacred cow is recharter. It makes no sense with the technology we have, to revise our lists of volunteers and scouts once a year, rather than on a real-time rolling basis. Attached to that is the way we register adults - no reason to fill out the application more than once, even when you add positions, and no reason to require it to be on paper/pdf rather than directly online. But I wonder about program - what about something like the Order of the Arrow? Is it a sacred cow or something important and essential? I've seen several posts about the drop in membership alongside the loosening of requirements. Perhaps the question is, does it still make sense in the way it is organized, perceived, and conducted? Could it evolve into this proposed volunteer corps for 18+ young adults, should it be more like the national honor society where it is just a kind of recognition instead of an active group, or should it combine with venturing to become the program for high school youth, or something else entirely? Everything can be discussed. That's the whole point of saying 'no sacred cows'. But just allowing discussion does not mean we are taking them to the chopping block. We have to be able to discuss even Eagle Scout Award, even if we know there's no BSA without it. It can still be discussed. So, what are the sacred cows?
  4. Just saw the general session from wednesday is now posted: https://nam.scouting.org/
  5. This was my first chance to attend any part of an annual meeting, and only sporadically as not all the pieces seemed open to participation, and some were just too late for me to log in from a time zone seven hours later. On that note, does anyone have the zoom link for the national annual business meeting, or is it restricted like the key-3 town hall was? This is the only one that is not showing up for me that seems like it should be open. It would be helpful if the general meeting were recorded and shared, too, is anyone aware of that happening? I found the region meeting a bit odd - turnover of region chair/president, nomination and election of board members, and announcement of Silver ANtelopes and OA Distinguished Service awards.... OK, i get it, as that parallels what we do at council annual meeting, but there was no information, no discussion of anything really substantial. Is that normal?
  6. It's just curiosity, but does anyone know where to see stats on the number of districts? I have found 262 councils and 99,814 units (though both surely have changed and will change since these numbers printed in 2018 and 2017 respectively). Just curious if anyone ever published a total number of districts.
  7. I'm sorry i missed the call, it was just a little too late in the evening over here. Overall, downsizing and streamlining is a good thing. For the size of the organization, we have far to many layers and levels that don't actually seem to contribute to the mission of the organization. Maybe necessary at peak membership levels fifty years ago, but seeming only to exist because they have always existed these days. I'm glad people are taking seriously the pandemic - and even, if unfortunately, the lawsuits - as a real crisis, a turning point, and an opportunity to redesign and come out leaner and more efficient at doing what we do best. The idea that the current volunteer and data management systems - and the whole recharter concept - could be scrapped in favor of something that actually makes sense, and uses the technology we have to limit the amount of 'paperwork' we all have to do is probably the best news in this whole thing. It'll be hard, yes, but better than if we just tried to weather it all by doing nothing.
  8. Thanks, I get that VISA is parallel to groups like the International Catholic Committee on Scouting or the International FOrum of Jewish Scouts, which regulate the religious emblems for Scouts of their faith. It just seemed like LDS would allow the new organization, more in keeping with how other churches handle it, to continue the same awards. After all, they are awards for scouts of that faith, and it would not seem appropriate to change if their faith hasn't changed. But if that isn't the way it's worked out, i will say this: I like the look of the new ones better! (purely aesthetic).
  9. Maybe I missed something, but why would there be a new religious emblem program? The LDS has an established emblems program, that should really just continue, no? Even if the internal organization responsible for scouting has changed.
  10. I have been part of reviews that were held in the conference room of the embassy, in (very nice) private homes, in the school or church where district meetings and roundtable were held, and in the (also very nice) fireside room of a golf club that some district personage belonged to. There should be a certain solemnity to it - not somber, but serious. The mood should be light but not flippant. You are not there to interrogate the kid, more like a job interview - a conversation about the person and their experiences that brought them to this point. They should be comfortable and not intimidated, but it should be a nice enough space that it doesn't look like an afterthought. You want to demonstrate respect for the Eagle candidate, and also signal that this is a big accomplishment, without getting so formal that they freeze. The last board I was on was probably the best I've ever seen. The Scout had finished everything just days before turning 18, was a senior in high school, bright and engaging. We ranged from field studies to Foucault. I think everyone, the candidate and all the board members (who mostly did not know each other) all had a good time. And we learned a lot about the Scout.
  11. It is time to trash the entire Recharter system. Maybe this is already discussed under the hopes for changes as a result of bankruptcy, but it always seems like this is something everyone at the unit, district, and most everyone at the Council level is well aware, and yet it never seems to change, or even be discussed by the people responsible for this wildly outdated and unappealing system. It is no exaggeration to say that we have lost more scouts, volunteers, and units to the cumbersome approach to registration and recharter than to anything else in my tenure. Not bankruptcy, not lawsuits, not admitting girls, not openly accepting homosexual leaders, not losing the LDS - but this. Something so stupidly simple I wonder if we shouldn't just let someone design a better system as an Eagle Scout project. Well, except perhaps cost - but it is related. Annual renewal of membership registration and confirmation of charter for a chartering org should take no more than fifteen minutes and able to be completed entirely online. Payment, transfers, new members, position changes, all of it. It isn't as if we don't have the technology - literally every other membership organization from libraries to churches to business prefered shopper plans make it that easy. The current process is entirely too time-consuming. We have piecemeal approach to Scout and Scouter data, bits and pieces all over the place in Scoutbook, Scoutnet, My.SCouting, plus having to generate separate lists and even printing forms and uploading scans and waiting weeks to find out if information is not processed - all this should be online, in a single system. Payments cannot simply be made online and directly. The cost of participation is already high, and we serve areas where that is prohibitive. Just showing up to events is costly in geographically large areas. Asking volunteers to pay on top of all the costs of their kids, uniforms, program fees, etc. Especially internationally, there is no benefit seen of national fees and often little for council fees. The justification seems to be paying for people to manage an unwieldy process that exists only for its own sake - since it certainly does not help anyone. Timing, granted maybe a council decision, but Packs especially find it hard to follow the calendar year when everyone moves in the summers between school years. And we have high turnover. This also means district/council working with lists that are out of date and useless 75% of the time in terms of who is actually still here, trained, paid, whatever - because nothing updates until March, but then people move in June, so 9 months of the year they are still on the books but not actually here. It could be updated in real time. Then there are the issues of applications being submitted and never processed, sometimes multiple times. (The record in my district is six attempts without success). Having multiple ID numbers, one in each council you serve, and then those disappearing after a certain period. Your training and advancements not tracking in transfers. Position changes should be the click of a button for registered scouters, either the volunteer themselves going online, updating their profile, and that's it, and/or district/council leadership - including appropriate volunteer roles - able to go in and do the same. It should not require a new registration form every time someone adds a new position. It should not wait the better part of a year before those roles are reflected in the system. Our district level staff spend so much time dealing with all this, that they are not spending it training, coaching, supporting - it's all about chasing down the paperwork. Which is too often still paper, or digitalized paper, but using computers to do things the same way as a century ago is missing the point entirely. Have I missed some of the obvious problems with the current system? Has this ever been addressed by the people in a position to change it? Help me out here.
  12. As higher education institutions are moving to online teaching for the rest of the semester because of Coronavirus concerns, it is an opportunity to re-evaluate the availability of some training online that currently is not. I am a college professor. I am fully in support of the value of in-person classes and discussion when possible. As for the overall all debate on in-person vs. online, while I enjoy and prefer in-person when possible - if accredited universities can offer all their classes online, certainly scouting should be able to as well. Especially in geographically large councils, for people who have mobility or financial limitations, or times when public gatherings are prohibited (as, for some of us, right now). I am also aware that some of the online training Scouting provides is duplicated or cumbersome. However, for the most part, it is much easier now to get people trained at least to a basic, position specific level, than it ever has. This has also, I think just as importantly, made it possible to track a person's training to a degree we did not have even a decade ago. Noticeably lacking in this area, however, is the College of Commissioner Science. I know the lessons slides/notes are available online (https://www.scouting.org/commissioners/training/college/), but downloading and reading these usually will not 'count' as having taken the class. I have, over the last 15 years, been to three CCS/UoS events, in three different councils, and almost inevitably, it was just a powerpoint presentation that one could have just as well read on your own time at home. There is value in the conversations and sharing with others between 'classes', but the lessons themselves are no different in person than online. And, none of those three have recorded any of my attendance anywhere trackable. I cannot 'prove' I was at them, other than to find an old patch when available. Three should be enough to complete the "master's level" but I'm still arguing for my "bachelor's". So, shouldn't we be encouraging either or both: These classes be added to the online training available to all scouts. A way to submit attendance at classes to be "certified" in some way, so that in-person training is tracked and recorded along with all the online training? Anything else?
  13. I'm out here in Transatlantic Council, Mediterranean Distict. The World Scout Interreligious Symposium scheduled for this week in Jambville (Paris) France has been indefinitely postponed. We delayed our Annual Conference / University of Scouting event set for this coming weekend in Germany. Several of our troops in Italy have cancelled events, and our District is planning an event over memorial day weekend in Florence that is still on - but we are watching carefully and, perhaps a month from now, will have to decide whether it continues.
  14. Thanks - but, when did that change? Or is it that the charter is with the PTA instead of the public school per se, and they simply use the space? I've been overseas for over a decade, but it seems like most of the packs we had were at public schools.
  15. If you are a large and active troop with well trained and very experienced Scouters, a UC might just be helpful in terms of some of the paperwork and reporting, or acting as an outside resource if you have some internal issues in the unit or within the Chartered org, but that's about it. For smaller units or newer leaders, the UC should be a mentor and resource for how to do things well. If nothing else, I cannot tell you how many times I have had unit leaders complain that they never see anyone "from the district". The whole point of the UC is to be the local representative of the district to the units, just as the COR is the representative of the local units and their chartering org to the District and Council. I'm in a geographically huge district - multiple countries - I would love to have a UC in each locale where we have units, but it is unrealistic, sadly. A lot of their work ends up being done via email - then it is a little hard to see the value when the District Commissioner is the go-to guy for a lot of units directly. It just ends up sharing the workload on his end, but to the units, they just see one more email address and not sure who to copy for what, so they just tend to include the DC, DE, UC, and me all the time in everything. Despite best efforts. Historically, UCs also had something to do with recharter, but now that everything is all online an inaccessible to them, they can't really do much there. It is helpful whenever you need a district representative for something - like an Eagle BOR - to have a commissioner around. Or if you need help navigating BSA resources or awards nominations, and the like. Ideally, they are there to help your leaders succeed. They are not there for the Scouts - you are. The UC is there for you, the adult volunteers, whether on the Committee or SM/CM and assistants.
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