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Cburkhardt

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Cburkhardt last won the day on May 21

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About Cburkhardt

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    Scoutmaster

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    District of Columbia
  • Biography
    Scoutmaster of Scouts BSA Troop for Girls in District of Columbia. 37 Scouts, 9 Scoutmasters, 19-member Committee. AOL/Eagle/Quartermaster/Vigil as Scout. Past Positions: District Chairman, Area Venturing Advisor (Central), Council VP (Abraham Lincoln, Springfield IL), Region Membership Chair (Central), National Venturing Committee V Chair, National Second Century Society Chair, Area President (Central 8), National Income Development Chair, Council President (Pathway to Adventure, Chicago), National Advisory Council, Assistant Webelos Den Leader.

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  1. My last posting for a while. Some upcoming professional activities on my part will make postings inadvisable for a while. I have learned a lot about the the reorganization effort, and I have come to understand the principal points of view. Best wishes to everyone.
  2. Real Life Numbers. I had specific councils I am familiar with in mind when I constructed the hypothetical for this thread. They are not located in the same geography (as was earlier suggested), but reflect the character and operational circumstances of the fictional councils. I purposefully chose councils without large LDS membership to control for the LDS departure factor. Membership and financial figures I just reviewed show that in a year-to-year comparison at the end of August, my proxy councils performed as follows: "Big City" council (metro sized): Lost 10.4% of its overall membership, including about 12% each for Cubs and Scouts. Finances still strong. Operating surplus. "Rich Folks" council (high-income area, small sized): Lost 28.4% of its overall membership, including 33% of Cubs and 16.5% of Scouts. Finances are good with a good operating surplus. "Sad" council (mid-sized suburban/rural, history of bad management and known for internal disputes): Lost 19.7 overall, including 21.3% Cubs and 15.6% Scouts. Finances now catastrophic, including massive and non-sustainable operating deficit. Huge mortgages on worn-out current facilities. "Merger of Equals council" (rural, can't decide what to do): Lost 27.9% of membership-, including 31.8% Cubs and 18.8% Scouts. Problematic finances with huge operating deficit. Worn out properties. "Happy" council (good management and volunteer corps, no camp, works well with its nearby metro council): Lost 15.5% overall, including 15.5% Cubs, 10% Scouts. This is a very artificial construct and the above results cannot be projected across the BSA generally. However, let's at least look at the real-life performance of the actual councils (which I will not identify). The results for "Big City" council are better than I expected and the results for "Sad" and "Merger of Equals" councils are far worse that what I had expected. Sad council is an example of an unsustainable approach in a geography that can should be able to sustain a program. It will parish in real life because it is, well, imploding. I am not sure there is anything that can be done to save it -- probably liquidation through removal of charter or even bankruptcy. It's financial and property decisions are gong to bring it down and its program results are very troubling. Merger of Equals council would have a chance, but its internally-divided volunteer leadership is not "owning the problem" at this point. Still engaging in the blame game that will probably drive it into bankruptcy. "Happy" council looks pretty good in light of COVID and everything else. It's overall approach is proving to be effective. "Rich Folks" council is performing just as I had expected. They have the endowment and operating expertise to survive their "near-cratering" 28.4% overall membership loss. You can rely on the management-types on that Board to root out the membership problems and at least hold things steady. "Big City" has the staying power, endowment and finances to pull through. In their case, scale and willingness to make difficult decisions has worked so far. Even though this is only a snapshot in time of isolated councils, my take-away is that the historic and crises-management issues well-discussed on this site are playing out at this pre-settlement phase. My interpretation of the comments across the entire site is that there is a rough consensus that a downsized form of National (in terms of size and function) will be able to reorganize. If that is true, National will have a role in funneling what will happen to these example councils. Those who favor an expedited approach might hope that charters are withdrawn and new geographies are negotiated. Those who favor a Darwinistic approach might just let a suffering movement "work it all out" at the micro level through years of bankruptcies, lawsuits and internal disputes. What say you?
  3. You are right. It really needs a new thread that is separate and apart from the national bankruptcy thread. Different issue and different impacts.
  4. Insurance fees and camp maintenance need to be paid, and we need at least a skeletal staff at the council level. In our Troop we raise funds to partially subsidize the Scouts from under-resourced families. The out of pocket cost to participate in a typical unit program runs 500-1,000 a year (depending on localities and how often a unit camps). We nibble that down as much as we can for thee families. National and council fees should be in lieu of expectations that units participate in FOS and product sales. I am more concerned with long term predictability, so we can properly anticipate things.
  5. I tend to agree that National will somehow get through reorganization and continue to own the IP. If there were some legal theory that would force liquidation, I think there are some pro-BSA people who would buy it anyway -- just like some of the bases. However, the center of the movement is going to shift back to the surviving councils. We have not discussed it much, but I think a good number of councils will enter some form of bankruptcy. Principal factors will include the number of credible claims attached to a council's geographic territory and how well the finances are. It will probably speed the process of consolidations. The poorly-run small councils in the hypothetical come to mind.
  6. If National gets through reorganization, it will retain the IP as a core property for future operations. If National is liquidated, the IP will be sold in bankruptcy like all of the other assets. A group of going-forward councils that have survived and received individual third party discharges could bid. Other purchasers could outbid a council group, so there is no guarantee that a Scouting-related group would be in control of it.
  7. The letter the ASM would have seen does not contain any specifics. If the person wants to appeal the decision of the council, he can do so to the Region and later National. Such appeals are quite rare.
  8. Another Outcome: Big City Remains Alone I am trying to present outcomes that are realistic possibilities for different parts of the country. This outcome would be a potential or even likely outcome where the big metropolitan council is reasonably well run and there are reasonable personal relations between most of the predecessor councils in the pretend Area. Big City, Rich Folks and Happy councils get along fairly well. There are good cultural ties among them caused by Happy council having encouraged their Scouts to attend Big City Scout Reservation and the common business and social links among Big City and Rich Folks board members and council volunteers. The three councils realize that they can individually survive the national bankruptcy and the need to contribute to the Victim’s Trust Fund to get discharges. They also realize that the other two councils and their properties are not going to be able to survive the process. After a few meetings involving all councils and involving a representative variety of volunteer leaders from the unit on up, the following become clear: · Big City, Rich Folks and Happy councils want to merge. They all prefer to put Camp Rich into conservancy and use it as a local version of a high adventure base during the summer. They will lease it out for hunting in the off-season, something that will have to be specially arranged with the conservancy group. The conservancy cash, Rich Folks endowment and Happy endowment would be folded into Big City council. For liability avoidance purposes, Big City Scout Reservation will be spun-off into a separate ownership and management corporation not controlled by Big City council. · Merger of Equals council is a generally unhappy group. Consistent with their record of not being able to process key decisions, the group seems hopelessly split about what to do, but really has no net assets other than the one worn camp. Because the group is unable to decide its future, it is no longer able to effectively offer Scouting locally. The group either voluntarily dissolves or BSA national withdraws their charter. The camp is sold and a few other assets, leaving $100,000 after debts are paid. The remainder reverts to national. The local corporation files for Chapter 7 liquidation, so it receives a discharge. After all of this is processed, Big City accepts national’s offer to include the old council territory into Big City council. · Sad council decides to go it alone and without contributing toward the Victim’s Trust fund for the discharge. Two years later the two cases filed against Sad council for abuse in the 1960s go to trial and wipe-out Sad council’s assets and those of the VFW group that had been the CO of the involved Pack. The council files chapter 7 liquidation and is dissolved. Because of the bitter history of Scouting in Sad council, Big City will decide not to take on the old Sad council territory. Units in the former Sad council territory directly contact with “new” national for program licensing. However, COs in the area express reservations about hosting Scout units because of what happened to the VFW. Many of the 30 units remaining in the council wither away. Children interested in Scouting generally drive to a unit located in the Big City council. Comment This is intended to include some of the typical results for different types of councils. The survival of councils will generally depend on the capability and willingness of the local volunteers to understand and address what is happening – and to make decisions that are future-oriented in the best interest of youth. Next, the ability to maintain the confidence of the local families and community (COs, other volunteer organizations, business community) will help or hinder go-forward operations. Where Scouting is divided, the result will probably be to shrink or disband the council. Councils and their volunteers almost have a behavioral DNA that is a good predictor of these outcomes.
  9. The thrust of my concern is that the tort industry will have a roadmap to suit the going-forward BSA organizations at the council level. They will know which ones have accessible properties, how much those properties are worth and what the YPT records of those councils were pre-bankruptcy. When one of these lawyers hears about disgruntled volunteers or employees on just about any civil rights or other issue, the suits will flow against the councils known to have assets. I am nothing other than a Scoutmaster these days, but if I were on a council executive board I would be encouraging an effort to transfer-away almost any hard asset to trustworthy entities and immediatly designate almost any contribution post-bankruptcy. Big City Scout Reservation should indeed become owned by an organization governed by a very strictly-worded trust. Big City council itself should become a nearly-pure cash operation, keeping what it needs for year-to-year financial stability, but urging the big gifts to go to the trust or be otherwise secured from lawsuit attachment. Of course, the Trust will need to position itself in a manner to avoid liability, because the lawyers will name the trust as a co-defendant if any untoward allegations are made about activities on the Reservation premises. Hard to say much about Eagle and Remember Schiff's circumstances. Eagle's council should consider transferring the camp(s) that survive the Victim's Trust Fund contribution activity. If not, it ultimately will be in the position of Sad or Merger of Equals council. Not much cash left, properties that probably need deferred maintenance, no big contributions in sight and a local trial bar praying for a program or membership slip-up. This is not a formula for long-time existance. Maybe that council should find a Big City council to preserve the viability of the property.
  10. The Continuing exposure of the properties to lawsuits is a huge issue as well. Bankruptcy will force us to close and sell some properties. Local councils will do their best to keep our best properties. After the bankruptcy is over the tort lawyers are not going to lose interest in BSA assets. Post-bankruptcy suits will continue. Every time someone has a complaint against the Bsa for just about anything, a suit will be filed in an attempt to liquidate our remaining assets. Smart councils will not wait for those suits to be filed, because it will be too late at that point.
  11. Good point WIW. The councils would have to transfer properties with extensive trust conditions to prioritize Scouting uses. I think of the summer camp programs as being operated by council camping program committees and the land/facility management companies as focused on maintenance and off-season uses to build maintenance-specific endowments. Council executive boards don’t typically have the bandwidth to focus on generating revenues that way. One result is maintenance backlog. Another is allowing the camps to become financial burdens when they could generate revenues.
  12. National Staff Reductions. Great questions. Under both possible outcomes I posted, the national staff reductions are near-total. If there were a liquidation, “national” could essentially be a program research, development, supply and licensing service unit owned and operated by the larger go-forward councils. That might mean 15-20 program development staffers and a similar amount of supply division staff (most of that would be contracted out). Under those outcomes there is no national field staff. The mega councils are on their own to do as they please and for practical reasons don’t report to anyone. I posted these two outcomes to show that even under liquidation, the BSA can very much continue as a healthy, meaningful organization in firm control of our future. I will soon post a non-liquidation outcome that I think is more likely to occur.
  13. How would the national liquidation potential outcome affect rural units in small towns? The unit leaders and youth participants probably would not feel much difference, except their registration fees would plummet. They would have on-line access to all program materials and the licensor would sell recognition items directly to them. These items would also cost less, as the licensor would only seek to break-even on its program research and development efforts. There would be no volunteer or professional structure above the unit level in these geographies. The chartered organization concept would not function outside of council territories, because the BSA would not supervise or service these units in any traditional way. Liability insurance would be arranged locally — probably through the church or other organization where the unit is allowed to meet. These units could attend summer camp at any council property with excess capacity to serve them. They would need to pay an insurance surcharge in order to cover the week of summer camp. Some units would choose to run their own week of camp nearby.
  14. How would ownership of properties be handled? Under any of these potential outcomes, it would seem wise to separate ownership and management of properties from the councils in order to protect the assets from future suits. Under the hypothetical, I might suggest that a separate property organization be formed to own Big City Scout Reservation and the training center. Between the investment bankers from the former Rich Folks council and the members of the former council camping committees of predecessor councils, there would be plenty of talent to get that done. It would be best to establish the new corporation and make the property transfers as soon as the bankruptcy is over. A benefit is that the new entity could probably do a better job of figuring out how to generate some Private sector cash income for off-season property use.
  15. Parkman: Great points, all. My second potential outcome was designed to show how a new BSA organization could fairly easily emerge even if there was a national liquidation (which I don’t predict will occur). The dynamic is that the resource-abundant geographies will be able to move forward. The surviving entities that would lead the movement in those areas would be the ones that have the best financial, property management and volunteer leadership resources. Smaller councils will only survive if they have some unique attribute that allows them to continue. The best will pal in with the larger councils. The remaining geographies will either offer Scouting on a unit basis through a licensing arrangement with one of the continuing councils or directly with he “new” national. As for the areas that might not initially be in a council geography, I think a licensing agreement could probably be arranged fairly easily. The cost would be minimal compared to current fees because the “non-council” troops would obtain their insurance elsewhere. The mega councils will be very picky about what geographies they include in the council, because they will not want to incorporate vast tracts of unsupervised YPT risk in the council insurance pools. The bankruptcy will have made the BSA the most abuse-secure youth program anywhere, because post-Bankruptcy YPT incidents on the part of any youth serving organization will spell the end of those organizations. Someone on this site probably knows the history of how Scouting first spread across the country. I seem to recall reading that groups of individuals could petition the BSA to organize a territory if they met certain standards. Seems to me that the formally-unserved territories could organize where there is sufficient support.
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