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Everything posted by Cburkhardt

  1. Cburkhardt

    Scouter needs advise

    Owls Are Cool: At some point in these kinds of dispute-prone circumstances a Scouter has to ask whether the potential task is worthy of what the Scouter brings to the table. You have energy, Scouting experience and a great heart. I cannot know if you are at the point where you need to ask and answer that question, but surely you have some local confidant you can download with. I think in your case the question is: "Is it better for me to exert the next 3 years of my volunteer time building a great new Troop at a different location without meddlesome interference, or is it important enough for me to spend the same amount of time salvaging an existing Troop through a series of managed disputes?" Said differently: "Why not start fresh somewhere else where I can immediately begin to implement great Scouting instead of delaying that time to a point when a series of disputes are mostly-resolved and troublemakers are mostly-gone?" I spend a good amount of time in my career circumstances dealing with unavoidable disputes and I am pretty good at it. However, I do not resolution of disputes to dominate my volunteer life. Earlier in my Scouting activity I did not ask that question as often as I should have. You have nothing you need to prove other than that you are a fine father who wants to assure a great Scouting experience for his son. If you determine to form a new Troop, do is with a fine spirit, providing compliments to everyone at the old Troop. It never, ever, helps to share what will be regarded as negative comments by those left behind. People on this post are never going to understand more than 20% of the relevant facts here, but I'm sensing that you might be holding on too-tightly.
  2. Cburkhardt

    Scouter needs advise

    Every Scoutmaster should develop and maintain a strong key-three relationship through regular communication and the full sharing of all disputed issues. In our case the CC and COR are officers in our CO. And we regularly consult the CO CEO on key decisions, who also stayed 2 nights with us during summer camp. Such a relationship makes very clear to parents where the adult authority lies in a unit and prevents the rise of abusive “parent clubs” that attempt to micromanage. I wish you luck in your further efforts to reformulate authority lines within your troop, but believe you need to have the relationships described above if you and the new SM are going to be able to steer in a new direction. These are the legally-correct authority structures as well, which should ward-off litigation-threatening circumstances. I sense that your COR will likely face a confrontation with one of the trouble-making adults. When the first significant incident occurs, the COR will avoid years of continued trouble by firmly dealing with the person.
  3. Cburkhardt

    New unit - what to consider first

    You are far better off to start fresh instead of trying to overcome that kind of resistance. I endorse Barry’s essential approach, which is basically what we are currently doing as a new troop. You can check out our advance-planned yeast calendar, which our scouts will truly “take over” this fall (we started in February). Www.scoutsbsadcgirls.org. Putting out your calendar for the coming year becomes a big thing for parents and potential scouts to consider.
  4. Cburkhardt

    When to step away

    I have over 30 years of engagement as a Scouter. I take on things for three years, find my successor during the fourth year, then take on a new three year challenge. This has worked well for me above the unit level, where there is often a need to get a specific task figured-out and achieved. My current “gig” is forming and optimizing an all-girl troop. The change has always been refreshing.
  5. Cburkhardt

    New Round of Abuse Lawsuits...

    I did a quick Google search, and there are hundreds of media accounts on this that will be present over the next several days. Most seem to be written in a manner to lead the reader into thinking that there is a current problem (couched as an "epidemic") with sexual abuse in the BSA, when the suits are related to events from the 60's, 70's and apparently some from the 80's. We have had our YPT act together for a long time and those who read this blog know it. Individual reporters on the far right or far left can be motivated to allow such a misunderstanding for reasons previously and fully discussed. These suits will continue to be fled in the hundreds over the coming months. The point of importance to me is that this makes very clear why we need to support a financial reorganization bankruptcy to deal fairly with the situation and prevent the BSA from being forced into liquidation over the next couple of years. I have confidence that the national organization is appropriately considering the matter and will act in the best interests of children.
  6. Our 25-girl Troop had an enjoyable Saturday hiking in Rock Creek Park in DC. The three patrols split up and practiced their map reading and compass skills, at trail lunches together and finished their fire building advancement requirements is a patrol competition. Our advancement co-chairs are enjoying our unusual “all-beginner” Scout membership by assuring our meeting and events are getting the girls through Scout and Tenderfoot requirements before summer camp. Please share simple things working with girl units you are aware of.
  7. Cburkhardt

    Medical Forms

    I would like examples of an annual health/consent form. This is obviously about making sure the parent/guardian has notice and has given specific consent for activities and events a Scout engages in. There would be precise ways to do this in a document. Some might list every pre-planned date and activity for the year. Others might reference categories of activities. In any case, please post some links to documents or web sites.
  8. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    We just did not experience that. We were at a high-quality camp run by a best practices council. We are a racially diverse Troop and there were other racially diverse Troops as well at the camp. Nothing will ever be perfect on those topics, but I am glad to wee everyone maintaining an awareness of not wanting those matters to get out-of-hand.
  9. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    We are a 30-girl, non-linked troop. We had 21 in summer camp -- mostly 11-13. We had strong leadership from co-SPL's aged 15. Many of these girls have been together since we formed an early adopter Webelos group in January '18. We prepped our kids for camp, had three camping trips this past spring and almost all were Scout or Tenderfoot. Maybe our girls just had more comfort and confidence because of the rigor of our start-up. Hard to say -- but my view is that the program works very well as-is for our girls.
  10. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    Different girls in different groups in different camps. Sorry to hear you had such concerns. Our group turned out to be quite "boy like" on these issues, including the spiders and competitive matters (our girls beat several all-boy Troops in soccer). It was fair play all around. Your points #1 and 2 were largely absent in our experience last week. Our 21 girls were a pretty tight team that hung together. We had several female leaders with us to ease the way, which I believe helped prevent those problems in our case.
  11. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    All-Girl Troop Report from Summer Camp Our all-girl, non-linked Troop just returned from a week of summer camp. We had 21 of our 30 Scouts go with a total of 7 leaders. There were 17 Troops and 350 Scouts in camp. In addition to our all-girl Troop there was another 6-girl group. Every Scout earned at least 2 merit badges, with a couple of superstars earning 6. At this particular camp there was an objective point-based system to determine a few "honor troops", and our unit was one of three that qualified. The co-SPLs figured out the point system on their own without adults running that show. The camp had traditional wall-tent/wooden platform/army cot accommodations and a dining hall. The experience overall was -- ordinary. The youth members of all-boy troops treated our Scouts well and took almost no notice that something had changed. Several unit Scouters approached our leaders starting mid-week to remark that, while they had early questions about the addition of girls, they were really glad to see us at camp. Young people can be silly, and early in the week there were the limited instances of teasing which the Scouters and Staff easily curtailed. I frequently circulated through the program areas and found our Scouts welcomed, including instances where one of them was the only female in a merit badge class. At the closing campfire the 2 all-girl troops combined to sing a song for the camp and were applauded heartily without cat-calls or other disagreeable behavior. The true impact of our membership policy changes over these past few years is best assessed by observing how our young people have reacted. I sensed no change in how Scouting is experienced by young people at this summer camp. When pressed, the only thing I could come up with was to suggest that the camp's new swimsuit rule be made more clear and universally applied -- pretty minor stuff in my view. Our youngest Scouts had no more or less difficulty getting used to "summer camp things" like insects and simple accommodations than those from other troops I have camped with in the past. There was no "hover parent" difficulty and just a few early-week expected instances of home sickness that were handled. So, to any Scouters who are concerned about our summer camp experience being changed, there was nothing of concern I could discern this past week. WE were welcomed and -- hardly noticed.
  12. These are month-to-month statistics and are only the Scouts BSA program numbers. What they show is that there continues to be slight incremental net growth of Scouts BSA youth members and Troops on a national basis since adding girls. My interpretation is that -- for the moment -- Scouts BSA program statistics are holding steady as incoming female membership and all-girl troops join and partly offset other membership losses. We need to be cautious in our optimism, because there might be significant "bulk" LDS membership and unit losses in Scouts BSA as we approach the end of the year. The degree to which all-girl unit formation and member recruitment succeed this fall (during the first "standard" recruitment cycle for female program operations) can help maintain our membership, but we should redouble our recruitment efforts for our all-boy units at the same time. These next few recruitment cycles will be critical to maintain vitality.
  13. Numbers released today show Scouts BSA still expanding. Youth membership up net 1.4% and units up net 5.6%.
  14. Cburkhardt

    Council Annual Report - Interesting Numbers

    Sorry, Eagle. That just does not add-up. I think there has to be more than that at stake in your council. Either that or they had a good number of “paper units”. Sounds like they are in a tough spot.
  15. Cburkhardt

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    Statutes of limitations have an important function. They prevent the abuse of lawsuits being filed decades after an alleged event -- when so much time has passed that the party sued cannot provide a reasonable defense. State policymakers are eliminating those statutes of limitations, which will consequently allow the BSA to be sued by anyone in relation to events alleged to have taken place many decades ago. If the BSA lobbied to explain what the impact would be of such a change, that is entirely reasonable.
  16. Cburkhardt

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    In addition to YPT, I personally spend at least an hour over a cup of coffee with every potential member of our committee. I get into why they want to be involved and talk about YPT quite a bit. I want to use my own personal common sense on these folks as well.
  17. Cburkhardt

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    This is not a matter of hate on the part of the litigators. They are simply pursing a commercial opportunity that is being enabled and encouraged by the political policymakers in our state capitols. I don't like it, but this is the tort system we have in the US. Our political leaders are going to openly allow victims of alleged misconduct form the 1950s through 1970s to apply today's legal and behavioral standards at the expense of today's children in order to recover damages. The policymakers pursuing this change are generally and happily engaging in a process they think will enrich their political allies and lead to our demise. I hope all who read this now more-fully understand the absolute necessity of filing for financial reorganization bankruptcy at the earliest reasonable moment. Otherwise our ability to continue providing our program to the children of today wit our tremendous YPT program will be significantly and negatively impacted.
  18. Cburkhardt

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    To Barry's issue: I think it depends on the audience that is receiving information on the BSA's YPT and the issues related to Dale. The parents in our new all-girl Troop have little concern about the Dale issue. One reason is that they are a full generation removed from those who paid close attention to Dale. They also understand that large, credible employers, NFPs and other entities have changed their policies on the issues of sexual preference only in the last decade. Even the Episcopal Church refused to recognize gay marriages as recently as 6 years ago. So, the fact that the BSA repealed its unenforced "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy four years ago is not really an issue to them. We have been an "everybody is welcome" Troop from the start and that is all they have experienced. For those who are older than about 35 years old, the whipsawing effect of pursuing and then backing-away from Dale continues to have a significant impact on views of the BSA. I agree that it negatively and significantly impacted our credibility with the pro-Dale right and anti-Dale left age 35 and older. Our parents of current Scouts in our Troop are similarly not as concerned about YPT issues as you would think -- but that is simply because they are observing a Troop that just started and is very-openly following best YPT practices. Our CO and the parents regularly marvel at how well we implement the practices and how far ahead we are in comparison to schools and churches. WE do it directly and openly -- the only way, in my view. For the press and over-35s who are either quite conservative or liberal , the BSA has probably permanently lost its once-pristine reputation. The result is that we should be able to appeal to the current and future generations of parents (and their children) who, for the most part, overwhelmingly approve of the membership standards changes and can evaluate the BSA for how it is following YPT now. Our membership can grow significantly (or at least replace LDS departures) a result. But the current 35-to-65 year-old leaders of press, government, NFP and business America formed views of the BSA during the BSA's 25 years as a cultural punching bag -- and seemingly refuse to credit the BSA for getting its act together on youth protection. They are continually arguing pro- or anti-BSA views based on political and cultural viewpoints and sometimes an overly-rosy view about what the BSA might have been at an earlier time. That age group is now "in charge" of the levers of power and has become so divided by cultural and political views that the stability of our country has been impacted. This includes people who write intemperate things in all-capitol letters on blogs about our adding girls, Dale and and the lawsuits. The BSA is big and familiar enough that our future prospects are a rough proxy for American society. That people argue vigorously about us means what we are doing is important. If we concentrate on appealing to our user-families and distance ourselves from the culture wars we will be better off.
  19. Cburkhardt

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    I suggest we stop arguing the "100% Issue". The argument is what it is. We do not want to unwittingly provide litigators evidence that can be misrepresented in court. We have all agreed that 100% compliance is the unquestioned goal we are striving for now and in the future. Why don't we leave this sub-issue at that?
  20. Cburkhardt

    New Sex Abuse Charges

    The very unfortunate reality is that states, with the urging of the trial attorney bar (and victims/potential claimant groups), are already well into the process of repealing the applicable statutes of limitations and are going to allow file of suits against the BSA going back decades. Much of the press seems on-board with that process and the manner in which news articles are being written is forming the minds of future juries who will determine those cases. We are a wonderful, well-run organization and absolutely have had our act together on these issues for a long time. But unless we file a reorganization bankruptcy fairly soon, the mere process of having to respond to the coming tsunami of lawsuits can itself can deform the continued operation of our programs. Financial reorganization bankruptcy will allow us to cut-off the financial liability through establishing a trust fund of insurance proceeds and yes, probably some sales of things we do not need to provide our program. We will be able to keep what we need to operate prospectively. The Bankruptcy Trustee can establish uniform national evidentiary and damages standards to evaluate claims that are filed. Victims will be paid if they satisfy the Bankruptcy Trustee that something bad indeed occurred. The trial attorney bar will oppose this because they will have to deal with a Bankruptcy Trustee who will bring less-emotional judgement to the task than a jury. When this inevitably is announced, I will be a supporter of the move. It will be a truly awful number of months to go through as volunteers -- as we explain all of this to parents and friends. But at least we will deal with it in a concentrated one-time manner. It is either that or an eventual unwinding of the ability for us to provide a program to the current and upcoming generations of Scouts. My personal take is that this will finally give us a broad and clean horizon as we look forward.
  21. The news conferences this week again raised the issue of the future of BSA finances and properties in light of abuse incidents and the ongoing repeal of "statutes of limitations" by states. This topic will narrowly focus on what financial reorganization bankruptcy is, the high likelihood that the BSA will file one this year and the likely organizational and operational impacts such a process will cause. I am doing this to allow Scouters to be informed in an organized manner in advance of a filing so we can help others understand the circumstances when they occur. The filing will provide an opportunity for significant misunderstanding by our own people and a massive "pile on" by BSA competitors and advisories. Please do not argue BSA membership policy changes, alleged linkage of homosexuality to abuse, adding girls to Cubs and Scouts BSA and similar matters on this posting. There are other postings where those issues have been well-discussed. Please use lay terms rather than legal terms to describe the proceedings in order to make the discussion welcoming and understandable to all. The Basics Bankruptcy is established in federal law. The reason for its existence is to allow individuals and organizations to get a "fresh start" after extreme financial difficulties. The most common form of bankruptcy occurs when the entity has run out of cash and piled up so many bills that the financial circumstance just cannot be favorably resolved. This is typically called a "Chapter 7". The Bankruptcy Judge and the Bankruptcy Trustees that work for the Judge total up the remaining assets and debts, and the creditors get a proportionate share. Often the creditors get nothing because there are no remaining assets. If an organization files a "Chapter 7", it generally ceases to exist after the process is complete, because it is "going out of business". The other principal type of bankruptcy is a financial reorganization bankruptcy, often called a "Chapter 11". The essence is that a financial reorganization bankruptcy recognizes an extreme financial circumstance -- but also an ongoing viability of the organization. The entity gets to keep assets and properties necessary to continue its existence, settle its debts with creditors as of a particular date, and continues future operations with its previous debts discharged. This is the type of bankruptcy proceeding the BSA would file -- because it has cash, property and insurance accessible to pay abuse claims and continue program operations. Should the BSA File for Financial Reorganization? The BSA is generally well-run from a business standpoint. It pays its bills on-time. It's principal financial problem is that lawsuits claiming abuse have become a huge drain on finances. The BSA has settled most cases over the years, but more-recent cases have gone to trial and have resulted in eye-popping judgements against the BSA. A huge driver of new suits is that states are now repealing applicable "statute of limitation" laws that normally require a person to file a case within a stated number of years from an alleged incident. So, the BSA will now be sued for alleged abuse violations that took place at any point of history -- regardless of whether the alleged perpetrators or witness are even alive. It really does not matter how you feel about the substantive issues regarding the abuse allegations -- this is going to result in a cascade of lawsuits that will simply overwhelm the BSA's ability to defend or settle these cases and continue to serve youth into the future. My personal view based on public information, is that the BSA can and should file for financial reorganization bankruptcy at a time when it fully understands the basic financial circumstances. It has retained preeminent attorneys to provide advice on this. If the BSA does not file for financial reorganization, it would then face the significant risk that its insurance and assets and the insurance and assets of councils (that might additionally found liable in an abuse event) would be overwhelmed by the lawsuits. Financial reorganization bankruptcy is also the just and Scout-like thing to do. It will cause a Bankruptcy Judge and the Bankruptcy Trustees to evaluate what the BSA needs to retain and thereafter marshal a fund of insurance proceeds and some BSA resources to pay victim claims which must be submitted to the Bankruptcy Court by a specific date. The Judge/Trustees would then pay claims that they believe are credible from that fund. There would be no more state court trials. Afterward, those who did not file a claim with the Court would not be able to sue the BSA. In my personal view, this pays more claimants and prevents a huge windfall for trial attorneys. It also allows for a single nationwide standard to determine the credibility of claims. The choice is this: Shall the BSA be substantially dissolved as an organization and its services be unavailable to future generations in order to pay abuse claims largely from the early 80s and before? Or, should the BSA establish a set amount of funds available through a financial reorganization bankruptcy for the Bankruptcy Trustees to assess and pay those claims -- and keep needed assets to continue our programs (under our current Youth Protection program)? I prefer the latter, because I know through personal engagement and observation that Scouting is as relevant today as ever and is quite safe for out youth under its YPT program. A Chapter 11 financial reorganization bankruptcy for the BSA will be extraordinarily complex, time-consuming and expensive. A key issue will be determining how council assets will be treated and assure that councils are protected from future lawsuits. But, this is the best way for abuse victims, future beneficiaries of BSA programming and the BSA itself (including councils) to go. Only My Personal Opinions Everything I have written here is my own personal opinion and is informed only by available public information. I am not an insider on this potential legal proceeding. However, we have a duty to educate our fellow Scouters in advance of what will probably be a sudden announcement followed by a whirlwind of media attention. The BSA is a strong and safe organization and it programs are popular and safe for children. We argue about its program because we care about our children. This is good. I invite you to share thoughts, questions and opinions on what you believe is best.
  22. The girl and her parents pressing a public relations campaign for "immediate" Eagle Scout recognition are trying to pressure the BSA into retroactively recognizing activities apparently engaged in during years prior to the official admission of females into Scouting. This is most inappropriate, in that such a practice would result in a rush of others desiring retroactive application of activities and events prior to their admission into Scouting. To allow this would invite litigation over the matter as others come forward to force claims of apparent retroactive activities as satisfying advancement claims. Retroactive recognition of activities in advancement has long been prohibited in Scouting and should not be allowed in this case. To do so would violate the across-the-board opportunity being offered and invite sham evaluations of retroactive activity. This is absolutely, not going to happen. The pursuit of this and the act of wearing a Life Scout badge confuses the efforts of youth who are working within the opportunity extended -- which this young woman can do if she chooses.
  23. When a new Troop starts from scratch and the Scouts are all inexperienced 11-13 year olds, I think it is best to delay election of an SPL and for the Scoutmaster Staff to temporarily provide a bit more of the “leadership”. The goal would be to transition to a SPL leadership model as soon as possible, but not so soon as to implode the experience of youth during the earliest months. There is a lot of this fact circumstance currently in the formation off all-Girl troops.
  24. As a Scoutmaster of a larger, best practices Troop for girls in a council that now has over 40 girl troops, I cannot agree with much that has been written in this posting. There are no known instances of easy rank sign-off for girls in our council — and I would know. There are the expected instances of rapid advancement of a few older girls who are on the edge to earn Eagle in 2 years, and that is to be expected for many of the reasons stated here and on the other posting on hints for new youth trying to earn Eagle in short time periods. As in the earlier camporee posting, there is a tendency for some to take isolated instances and generalize them into a broad conclusion When there is no evidence of an actual trend. There is, absolutely, no evidence of a trend rank inflation or camporee fixing favoring girls. Making broadside and unsupported allegations based on one or two unsubstantiated or unexplained circumstances is inaccurate and plain wrong. And, those instances might be absolutely fine if we had the details. There are complacent scoutmasters and SPLs out there happy with smallish and not-so-well-run Troops that have been used to griping and explaining-away the successes of well-run boy Troops for years. Now they have an assortment of some pretty sharp girl troops and girl members coming on line to think about. Complaining like this did not happen at our district camporee 2 weeks ago. Our girls were truly welcomed and treated just like the established troops when they competed. When they won one of the events that weekend, there was no sour grape in the crowd. They earned it fair and square.
  25. Three girls in our 27-member Troop will need to earn Eagle in 2 or 3 years. These young women came our way because they heard about our Troop and have different but compelling reasons to want to become Eagle Scouts within a compressed time frame. Let's start commenting about how this can be done in a quality way. First, the three circumstances: Girl A is the daughter of a Scoutmaster of another established all-boy Troop. She has been a "tag-along" for many years. She has been on camp staff for 4 years. She turns 18 in a month and wants to earn her Eagle in 2 years. She joined our all-girl Troop last month and will be going to college away from our area. She will get a lot of merit badges this and next summer on staff and will probably affiliate with another all-girl Troop where she goes to College to do her leadership. Girl B just contacted us. She is 17 and moving into our area to attend college. She has been a Venturer for 3 years and has attended summer camp for 3 years with her Crew. She wants to join our Troop, and can probably be one of our older girl leaders this fall. Girl C is about to turn 16, is from our area, and knows a lot of the younger girls who have joined. She has wisdom beyond her years. She has no previous Scouting background and will be "starting from scratch". All of these girls perfectly exemplify great opportunities for us to extend BSA advantages to deserving young people. All of them have said they want to do the full program the right way. All of them will be able to progress rapidly through the early ranks because those ranks are designed for young scouts. Please consider taking one or more of these examples and suggest helpful approaches that come to mind. We are not going to re-argue whether girls should be in Scouts BSA or whether the temporary 2-year Eagle extension is appropriate.