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Posts posted by jwest09

  1. Okay debate points made.


    Where is the transition plan and its goals or will National pay an outside consultant firm to produce one in the next 3 months (God help us)?


    You know, you're shutting down a conversation among Scouters with differing views, and replacing it with a question which no one here has the answer to.


    Is there something wrong with exploring why military academies (historically male-only institutions that have fairly recently gone co-ed) do or do not offer pertinent insight as to how the BSA may approach the same kind of problem?

  2. I do not thinking you are being respectful to those who have put a lot of time into the program and do not agree with the change. LatinScout seems like he was a heavily involved scouter at the local level.


    How would you characterize my position as disrespectful?  I'm sure Latin Scout and lots of folks don't agree with the change, but have contributed heavily to the program in the past.  And most continue to do so.  Heck, about half of my Scouting friends and peers could be described this way.  Its certainly not a lack of respect for contribution to the program.


    I am taking issue with the argument that "the program is dead!"  The glib "Ha!" and dismissal of those of us who commit to continue to deliver the highest quality program we can.  I find that attitude to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.  If you've already written off the program as a failure, then, by your own definition, none of us can ever make it successful.  I don't agree, I think that's wrong.  And I don't know what response you'd want from me, other than a commitment to continue to deliver the Scouting program to the best of my ability.


    Is that not respectful?

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  3. The same program! Ha. The program is dying, and all the talk in the world won't change that. You can claim to be delivering the "same amazing program,", but it isn't that now, is it? That program is dead. If only the world could all see that.


    I'm not talking.  I'm actually doing.  I'm doing my part to deliver the program.  If it does die, it will not be because of those of us who remain committed to making the program run.


    I would suggest that if you're seeing things the rest of the world isn't seeing... Maybe the problem isn't the rest of the world.

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  4. Well, good bye Scouting. I doubt the LDS Church will stay in the program much longer.


    This is the most tragic death-knell I have ever imagined possible. To say good bye to the Boy Scout of America, after more than 100 years of success, is truly, truly tragic. I can't even express how heartbroken I am. 


    I will miss this program. I can't even express my grief.


    I'm sorry that you feel so grief stricken.  Please know that, many many of us are still here, toiling away at delivering the same amazing program to all who wish to participate - along with millions of our brothers and sisters across the worldwide Scouting movement.


    I have been in those meetings. Most do not want the expense and the hassle of dealing with it. Some will just opt out. 


    Some may - that is their choice.  Obviously they don't feel very strongly about their position if they fold so easily.  I've seen plenty of cases where frivolous legal threats were dismissed rapidly and without concern - as it should be.  Its a shame that "legal bullying" is viewed by some as an acceptable in our country.

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  5. Does anyone else consider the whole sequence of events suspect, culmlnating in a press release on International Day of the Girl?


    Seems rushed just to try and capitalize on the timing. And likely to backfire in numerous ways. Not to mention possibly igniting a war with GSUSA. 


    More signs that those in charge have no clue.


    The "International Day of the Girl" seems to be a holiday observed mostly on Facebook, and few other places.  I doubt the timing has any practical impact on the business of delivering the Scouting program.

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  6. Seriously? This is really happening? Have they redesigned the program to fit the needs of girls? How will young men and boys not be left behind - much like they are school - they learn differently! So many studies prove this.


    Think of the implications of summer camp or troop camp outs. “They’re peeping in my tent!†Or the parents who quip back with “what do you mean she can’t wear a bikini to waterfront - don’t body shame her!†So you have a co-ed Troop. Just like venturing for 2 Deep Leadership (minimum 1 leader each gender) What happens on the first campout where you have a leader drop out last minute - if you had 3 adults (2M & 1 F or 2F & 1-M). Does that mean that one gender doesn’t get to go? Or do you cancel for everyone?


    Just like the increase in fees - no heads up from council before it’s announced nationally. as to how leaders are to respond to the questions we will all get from parents in the next few weeks/months. I guess it’s weird to think they would get info to the volunteers that essentially run the program - because other than give us some flyers for recruitment and process paperwork we fill out - our council doesn’t do much for us.


    Everything you've mentioned here (including the parts you deleted after editing your post) have been well thought out. There's a lot of folks who'd be happy to offer advice, guidance and suggestions to alleviate your concerns.  This forum has more than a decade's worth of history on the topic.  

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  7. Yes--from how it reads Packs that want to stay boy-only can.


    What I want to know how to handle is this.  We're a one den per grade pack, 4-8 boys per den.  We might get 1-2 girls interested at each grade level.  How are supposed to implement that?


    I don't understand why it would be difficult to implement this.  You offer and deliver the program to those who want to participate.  Same as you always have.

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  8. Joint ownership schemes have too many complications and causes too many problems. They should be avoided like the plague.


    Take a step back from all the legalese and what not.  Wouldn't this lesson be much more powerful if the boys learned this on their own?  Rather than having the adult leadership step in and arbitrarily prohibit it?

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  9. The compromise I've struck is that, once a year, I'll pass along their FOS material to the parents in our unit.  If or how much the parents choose to donate is up to them.  The unit and the CO do not make separate donations.


    I think it is important for strong units to contribute back to the larger Scouting world in some capacity.  FOS is one way to do that, but far from the only way.

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  10. I disagree with some of the prevailing wisdom here.


    A patrol is the basic unit of Boy Scouting - a group of boys participating in the program together.  I see no reason why they shouldn't be permitted to purchase their own gear.  They are, in theory, a group of friends deciding what they wish to spend their own money on.  They wish to spend it on gear which they will use to participate in the Scouting program.  I can't possibly see how the troop can arbitrarily decide that the troop now owns that gear - any more than the troop could claim that they somehow own my own personal tent, hiking boots, water bottle, or other equipment.  The fact that the boys happened to use their gear while camping with the troop does not somehow magically make the troop own that gear.  The fact that the troop allowed them to store their personal gear in the troop's storage isn't relevant to me.  If the troop wanted to require them to donate the gear to the troop as a condition of storing it with the troop's gear, then that should have been discussed before the troop granted permission to store their gear. 


    Have the charter organization send a donation thank you letter to the families who bought the tents and copy the dads in question. My patrol bought gear all the time and when it became “patrol gear†it was understood it was now troop gear. As long as the patrol stayed together we got first choice to use it. After we split up the PLC decided how to use and share the gear. Why can’t the PLC decide? It’s their troop.




    It's their troop, but its not their gear.  You can't just retroactively claim that you own someone else's personal property.  There's zero reason to involve the PLC in this debate.  The PLC's job is troop leadership and program. This is neither a program nor a leadership issue.


    If I were in your shoes, I'd approach this not as a troop issue, but as a personal issue.  I'd offer to act as a mediator between the boys involved in the dispute, if the involved parties wanted my help.  My approach would be as I previously laid out: encourage all of the boys (including those not currently in the troop - it's still their gear!) to reach a consensus on how to proceed.  If a consensus can't be reached, I'd recommend a vote with a simple majority deciding the outcome.  


    If you want a policy prohibiting storing personal gear in the troop storage area, that might be OK, but I don't think it would prevent you from having this situation come up in the future. 

  11. I'd consider the property to be jointly owned by the boys who pitched in to purchase it originally.  I'd ask the boys in question simply what they want to do with it.  Ideally the boys would reach a consensus, and that would be a decision.  If there was disagreement, I'd probably encourage a vote with a simple majority deciding the outcome.  If some of the boys have left the troop, or just don't care, they can abstain from discussion and voting.


    I disagree with presenting this specific case to the PLC - it's not their equipment, they have no say in what gets done with equipment that does not belong to them.


    In terms of having a policy going forward - I wouldn't agree that you need one.  These kinds of situations aren't particularly common, and what tends to happen is, you do end up limiting and punishing a bunch of reasonable people because you had the misfortune of encountering a couple unreasonable people.  I personally think its a fine idea for patrols to have some ownership of patrol equipment, and I wouldn't want to see that get unnecessarily limited just because this one dad made a stink about something.



    In your experience going through what you did, what would you have liked to have seen done, or could anything have been done by a (mostly) neutral third party to help your situation?


    What I would have liked, and what I actually needed, are two different things.  If you asked me at the time - yes, I'd have loved if another more experienced adult Scouters could have explained things on my behalf, told my SM the "right" way to do things, and "run interference" so that I could do it my way.


    But that's not the right thing to do, is it?

  13. So, one question: how did the SPL come to discuss this with you?  Did he seek you out based on your role as UC?  Did you know each other through prior Scouting contact?  I think that's an important to establish which "hat" you're wearing in this situation - a Unit Commissioner, or a Scouter counseling a Scout.  


    If the SPL sought you out as a sounding board, or simply looking for advice from an experienced Scouter, then I think your role should be limited to allowing the SPL to talk through his concerns, and provide some suggestions and guidance.  And, I think your guidance should be in the form of helping the young man learn how to work effectively with his Scoutmaster - not how to work around him.


    If in your role as Unit Commissioner, you think its appropriate to have a discussion with the Scoutmaster, then your point of contact with the troop should be the Scoutmaster.  Not the SPL.  And I'll reiterate previous reminders about your roll being to support the Scoutmaster, and help him be successful.


    Your job is not to be a middle man between the SPL and SM.  It is not to "run interference" or undermine the Scoutmaster.  It is not to give the SPL implicit or explicit permission to run things in a way his Scoutmaster hasn't approved.  No matter which hat you're wearing, your role is to be a mentor, a sounding board, an adviser.  That may mean that you need to explain those boundaries to the SPL if he is hoping for you to go beyond what is appropriate for your position.


    As I'm sure you know, the relationship between an SM and an SPL is very, very important.  And, quite honestly, its not an awful thing for an SM and SPL to disagree on how the troop should be run.  It can be a powerful growth opportunity for an SPL to get some push back from his SM, and need to learn how to effectively present an argument, how to pick his battles and decide what hills are worth dying on, how to be responsible and accountable if his plans don't go well, and even how to loose an argument and support a decision that he does not agree with.  But what's key is developing an honest and effective communication channel between the SPL and SM.  That's how trust is built between the two.  Your job needs to be to strengthen that communication channel between the SPL and SM - not to get in the middle of it, or interfere with it.


    I'll tell you why I feel strongly about this: I was once a 16 year old, very motivated SPL who did not see eye to eye with my Scoutmaster at all.  I wanted more boy led, patrol method practices.  My SM was resistant to a lot of those ideas.  In terms of resolving that conflict, a lot of mistakes were made by all involved parties, and it was one heck of a learning opportunity for me.  But it really reinforced the importance of being open, honest and direct in communication between the SM and SPL.  There should never be any efforts to distract, deceive, "run interference," or any of that.  Its not Trustworthy, and it will harm the relationship between the SM and the SPL, and in term harm the troop.  


    You said you want to "help the SPL to get more breathing room to run the program with less SM control" -- There's no scenario where you, as a UC, have that level of influence into this troop's program.  You need to refine your goal to be more compatible with your position here.

  14. If the SM is the type of person who might benefit by seeing the patrol method in action - maybe arrange for him to "audit" a day of NYLT (assuming, of course, a well-run NYLT program and a willing NYLT Scoutmaster).  I've seen some powerful lightbulb moments from adults at NYLT who see that a youth led, patrol method troop can in fact work.  Its a lot more powerful to see something in action than it is to just talk about it.  


    Woodbadge has been brought up - the difference between WB and NYLT is that NYLT gives you the opportunity to actually observe the youth doing real life, patrol method Scouting in real time.  As valuable as WB is, there's still a mental leap between adults simulating the program, and having youths actually enact the program.  NYLT can be a way to bridge that gap.

  15. @@CalicoPenn -- that is exactly what I did suggest to the SPL. I was just trying to see if there were any out of the box ideas anyone could come up with to help "run interference" for the SPL to put his plan in action.


    You know, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "run interference" - but I'd strongly encourage you to think twice before doing so.  The way I read it, it implies that you're looking to distract and deceive the SM while his SPL does things which he does not approve of, or is unaware of.  That is widely inappropriate.  You paint the picture of an SM who is a good guy, doing his best, and on the verge of having his troop double in size.  He's likely a little intimidated and overwhelmed.  He needs to feel that his UC is looking out for him, and willing to help him learn and improve.  He should not feel deceived or undermined by his UC.


    To put it frankly - the UC's role is to support the Scoutmaster.  The UC should not be getting between the SM and SPL - even if the SPL is "right" and the SM is "wrong," your role as UC is to approach that through the Scoutmaster, not to insert yourself between the SM and SPL.  As an SM, if I learned that a UC were "running interference" between myself and my SPL, I'd be pretty upset, and would be informing the UC and DC that I have no further use for the UC's "assistance" with my unit.  The worst case here is, the SM gets ticked off and refuses to budge on his position, the SPL gets ticked off because now he's up against a brick wall, and you've just destroyed any credibility you might have had, and can no longer improve the situation at all.  


    So don't "run interference."  Be open, direct and honest with the SM.  Present yourself as a resource, a mentor, and someone invested in the SM's success.

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  16. As an aside - if you're anticipating the troop may soon have a membership of between 80 and 90, you may want to consider if your efforts should be directed towards getting a second, or even a third troop chartered?  As a single troop, you'd be talking at least 10 patrols?  Its hard enough to run a troop of that size and just keep your head above water.  I'm assuming the SM sees the writing on the wall as well as you do, and it thinking ahead to how tough his job is going to get over the next couple years.  He may also have a better read on some of the personalities involved - are there some "difficult" people on his radar that he feels the need to tiptoe around?


    What kind of rapport do you have with the SM?  Maybe invite him and the SPL out to lunch as an opportunity to allow them to discuss the achievements and challenges their troop is facing?  Use that as an opportunity to reinforce the SPL's point of view.


    Goes without saying, but anticipate that the SM is going to want to feel he has support, and someone to back him up if things start to go sideways. Make sure that as a UC, you're seen as a mentor who is invested in the SM's success, and not just another dude from "council" who talks the talk without walking the walk.

  17. I have two ASM's, one is a medical doctor, the other a nurse.  They attend all activities in the woods.   I believe that trumps WFA.



    Depends. We have a few doctors and a few nurses. One of our nurses is a ER trauma nurse. He's great! Better than all of the others. The best guy we have is a former Marine medic. He is the best my dad has ever seen. Even the doctors let him step in first.



    Paramedic here.  Back Pack is correct.  There's a lot of different types of doctors and nurses.  Many doctors and nurses practice little, if any, emergency medicine in their day to day life.

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  18. This certainly sounds like one of those situations where there is far more going on than meets the eye.


    Presumably this happened at summer camp - over a month ago?


    There are rare occasions when yelling is appropriate for communication.  There are far more occasions where it is inappropriate - but, as a parent, I'm sure you can appreciate how it can be a gut reaction to being angry, scared or disappointed.  I'm sure you can also appreciate how, after a long week of camping, one can be exhausted and be a little more prone to rude communication.  I can think of several occasions where I've raised my voice inappropriately, and have had to apologize to the youth and adults who I treated poorly.  I can also recall a few rare instances where a message was delivered in high volume, which I feel was appropriate for the situation.


    I wouldn't feel comfortable judging this ASM's actions - we know nothing of the events leading up to the incident.  Its very easy to intentionally or unintentionally paint someone in a negative light by omitting some key facts.  I generally wouldn't consider the act of giving a lecture in a raised voice to be akin to bullying or harassment, so calls for removing the ASM seem premature, at best.


    Its easy to cite the "patrol method," and that the ASM shouldn't have been involved at all.  Of course, we all know that, in practice, a large number of troops aren't operating the patrol method that well.  We also know that there are certainly times when even well-performing troops delegate some supervisor rules to ASMs (they are there, after all, to assist the Scoutmaster).


    I think @@qwazse has some great points - maybe the ASM acting inappropriately.  But, you're going to sometimes have to deal with people raising their voice at you.  Might help to try to get some perspective on just how offensive this incident really was, in the great scheme of things.

  19. My troop has stopped participating in door to door sales.  Instead, we'll do roughly four fundraisers a year.  The first is an annual spaghetti dinner.  A number of parents and "emeritus" parents put that on every year, as their way of giving back and supporting the troop, so I wouldn't count it as an "easy" fund raiser.


    The PLC votes on remaining fund raisers each year, but the three we do pretty consistently are:


    1. Helping with ticket and soft drink sales at the town's big summer festival.  Nets us several hundred dollars, which goes into the general fund.  No work for us other than to show up and follow directions from the event's staff.  Easy.


    2. Dunk tank at end of school / beginning of summer block party.  Nets us a couple hundred dollars, which we use to subsidize summer camp activities. Only prep work is to rent the dunk tank and fill it up ahead of time.  Each patrol takes a time slot and amongst themselves handle deciding who's going to be getting dunked, collecting money, schlepping the tennis balls back and forth.  Doesn't make us a ton of money, but the kids have so much fun with it, we'd do it anyway.


    3. Pie in the face toss at the school halloween carnival.  Traditionally a fund raiser by high adventure participants to subsidize their adventure.  Probably the most amount of work (need to prep an area to catch errant pie filling, purchase pie material, then clean up afterwards) - but its become another tradition that the boys look forward to.  And, since they're in charge of doing all the work, who am I to stop them? ;-)

  20. I can only assume by comments our SM has made in the past, that his biggest fear is being held responsible for something bad happening to a scout.  I think he's a little paranoid but I'm sure most of you veteran scouters have at least one story of something bad happened to a scout and having to tell the parents.  I agree that the scouts need freedom and need trust that they will do the right thing.  How do you balance the need of the scouts with parents that won't be happy when their scout comes home with a broken ankle or worse?  I don't think many parents would be as understanding as I am if they found out no leader was present when their son was injured, no matter the reason why.  I don't think it matters how many times you explain things in a meeting or email, they'll still be upset.  It's not just an angry parent but other headaches that could result from that.


    Undoubtedly, that's what the poor SM is concerned about.  


    I think each troop has its own culture. I'm fortunate that work with a group that resists the "helicoptering" instinct.  When new parents approach the troop, we're pretty upfront about our culture and philosophy - and we're pretty frank that, as their boys journey through Scouting, some lessons may be learned the hard way.  And, you know, some families opt to join a different troop, and I'm totally OK with that.  Each family should join a troop with a culture they feel comfortable with.


    My personal opinion is that we're currently experiencing an overreaction in risk aversion.  Partly because there's been a small number of high-profile cases where courts and/or insurance companies have awarded outlandish judgement for mundane mishaps - and the media plays these up to make them appear much more common than they really are.  There's also the "court of social media," where Facebook will whip people into a frenzy for a few days over inconsequential issues.  Obviously no one wants to experience any of this.


    But, in my experience, the negative effects in reality have been minor and short-lived.  I've been involved in instances where the BSA insurance provided by my council has been invoked on minor injuries requiring hospital care - it was surprisingly painless.  I've had a few instances where a parent or parents will make a scene about something, yell and scream, post something inflammatory on Facebook... and then, a week later, they've moved on.  And, while far from my favorite part of the job, it is a price I'm willing to pay to continue to offer a fun, challenging, exciting and engaging program, that the majority of boys and families appreciate.  Because, even after someone overreacts and throws a loud and dramatic temper tantrum on their way out the door, I still have 40 boys, and a core group of leaders and parents, who faithfully show up and make Scouting happen.  So it works for me.

  21. Back on subject. The idea of one huge council wide district is absurd. Some Adult leader training is best done online. Youth Protection is fine. But without districts, do they really want to get the entire council together for IOLS? That sounds like a nightmare to me. 


    I think you might be jumping to conclusions - why would they need to run IOLS as an entire council?  I'd expect they'd continue to offer multiple courses in different geographic areas throughout the council, and folks could attend whichever is most convenient to them.


    I mean, districts are just am arbitrary administrative division intended to make life more manageable by dividing the council along geographic boundaries. Their impact, quite frankly, is effectively invisible to the overwhelming majority of scouts and scouters in our program.  They're intended to be a useful, helpful way to deliver resources from the council to the units.  I can imagine cases where organizing the council based on geographic boundaries is no longer necessary or effective - so to me it seems like a very interesting idea to try re-organizing things along the lines of program/responsibility, rather than on geography.


    I'd love to see a greater emphasis on a more "organic," grass roots approach to unit cooperation.  For example, the district round table in my area is not particularly valuable (and could and should be replaced by a monthly email newsletter).  My town has 4 troops, with very different cultures.  Most of the scouts have friends and classmates in at least one of the other troops.  Most of the adults and older boys have worked with the leadership of the other troops through the OA, training, etc.  The adult leadership has started getting together for coffee once every couple months.  Boom, we just made our own round table.  Some of the boys have pushed to have joint camping trips.  Boom, we just made our own camporees.


    There's always going to be a need to deliver training locally, and things like EBORs and the like - but I don't think the "district" is essential to do those things.  I'd be more concerned about facilitating collaboration across nearby units - probably a task that a revitalized commissioner corp would be useful for.

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