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Everything posted by Cburkhardt

  1. A few days ago I stopped checking this thread because of what I sensed was irrational negativity. I was going to post something back then but had one of those "write the letter but don't send it" moments. In the end we need to be optimistic in the most challenging of times and generally have an openness to seeing how we can move forward to another, better day. Relitigating policy decisions already made and making sweeping generalizations is just not going to be helpful to anyone. I wish everyone well who comments here and hope they can find ways to continue serving young people, whether it is going forward with us or elsewhere. It will be tough, but we will live through this and come out on the other side a Scouting organization that uplifts the lives of our young people.
  2. The issue is whether the concept of having a chartered organization ("CO") for each unit is a "sacred cow" that is no longer an effective membership structure for Scouting. A number of comments made above show that the well-intended CO concept needs to be re-evaluated. One alternative suggested would be to have a "unitary" organization nationally or within a council where all units are directly owned and operated by the BSA. This is how the GSUSA operates. Their volunteers sign a contract-like document making clear the unit belongs to GSUSA and that continuing adult leader participation is subject to the approval of GSUSA personnel. They directly oversee the program and finances of individual GSUSA units. The BSA system places that oversight and authority in the hands of the CO, which legally-speaking owns and operates the unit with a license (charter) to use the BSA program materials, etc. A BSA unit is supposed to seek approval from the CO Representative on major decisions. The choice is simply whether you would rather have the legal authority to oversee your unit and your personal unit leadership role in the hands of the pastor of the church or in the hands of the person the BSA would identify (maybe a District Executive or District Chair). Some commenters are apparently comfortable with a DE having direct authority to approve/disapprove the program and finance decisions of their units and their selection as a unit leader -- because they think weak units should improve or go away and a BSA employee would be qualified to make those decisions. Others are hesitant to become directly subjected to BSA employee/senior leader authority based on experiences with people who might have been overbearing or arbitrary. GSUSA blogs include sometimes-bitter commentary relating instances where a volunteer claims to have been dismissed by a paid employee for non-compliance with some regulation. I am not talking about things like drinking or YPT, but things like refusal to follow administrative procedures. Others grouse about administrative requirements that appear to closely regulate their unit income sources and expenditures. Whether those postings are overstated or not, it highlights that there are volunteers in other organizations that do not wish to have an employer-employee style relationship with program professionals in their volunteer activities. [I am not very familiar with the GSUSA and surely have not used the precise language they would use to describe their operations. My general points are correct though.] I think what this really comes down to is that BSA unit leaders are the kind of folks who will not want to subject their units or themselves personally to the direct authority of a BSA employee -- with the notable exception of violations of YPT and similarly-serious health and safety matters. If the CO system is modified or replaced, I think unit leaders will insist on a reasonable alternative "supervisory" structure.
  3. "Don't Ask-Don't Tell" was adopted by National in the 1990's at the insistence of certain subgroups active in the BSA. This caused internal conflict, because faith groups had different positions on the matter. So, we had certain faith groups insisting on adoption and enforcement of membership standards that were not agreeable to other faith groups. Certain external advocacy organizations that had positive or neutral views of the BSA instantaneously despise us. This catastrophic policy change is among the major causes of our big problems today. Those of us at the grassroots level can never allow Scouting to officially recognize religious dogma of particular faiths in our membership standards again.
  4. I read the Bankruptcy documents just posted, and there is a script that has been agreed-to. It is a pretty simple narrator announcement format that includes just the basics and not emotional content.
  5. By posting my rather "cheeky" sacred cow suggestion, I of course do not question the benefits of a week of residential summer camp provides to a Scout and the value of tradition upheld by these places. However, over the next two years we will see most of the marginal operations closed and sold to finance the bankruptcy workout and to fund council contributions to the Victims Trust Fund in order to secure council-specific discharges from future YPT liability. These will be tough times for many, but it seems pretty unavoidable. Perhaps in some territories there can be some cooperation to help choose the best properties to continue. That might help us all through those disappointing developments.
  6. As to COs, I agree that the relationship should be up for evaluation. Things start out nicely when the unit is new, but the relationship becomes distanced as the parties who agreed to certain operating procedures at the start are replaced by successors. I wonder about the accuracy of the dire claims I've read on some GSUSA blogs about unit leaders being dismissed for non-compliance with some pretty petty-sounding rules -- but we should be careful how the supervisory authority is structured to protect against arbitrary decisions by some of the personalities regularly discussed on this site.
  7. The ultimate sacred cow is … drumroll please … a residential summer camp that has been operated by a council for at least 50 years (because multiple generations in families might have attended). Special "sacredness" attaches to one that is run-down and under-utilized, because its continued existence requires ongoing and vocal "worship".
  8. The reality is that if we drop the CO concept I would no longer have the church review and approve our budget and annual calendar, which I do as a matter of enhancing the relationship. These kind of things would become a part of the JTE, which might become a more compliance-oriented system. I know our Troop could make a change like that pretty easily -- which is why I don't see it as a sacred cow. We would just try to do other things to keep a positive relationship with the church leaders. After all, they give us the meeting space, storage room for our equipment, bulletin boards in their facility and all the other typical things.
  9. I agree. That is the typical situation. I readily admit that we have a great CO situation because we are new (a girl Troop) and carefully sought-out a great CO. It's almost ridiculous how great they are -- the head church volunteer leader is the Troop Chair, the COR is the past head church leader and the pastor is our chaplain and has visited us on campouts (stayed a couple of nights at summer camp). The whole church loves the our Scouts and even held a church wide fund-raising reception for us. The question is whether you would prefer the situation you have that allows unit independence or a structure where a contract-designated supervisor is your district and council leadership. Do you want them to be able to instruct you as to what you shall do? As to the "sacred cow" status of COs, I never really thought this structure had that status.
  10. Eliminating the CO relationship would have the BSA moving toward the system used by the GSUSA, where every unit leader would be directly under the authority of the BSA. The GSUSA blogs are packed with bitter complaints about how volunteers, who are required to sign some kind of contract-style document, are subjected to being dismissed from that organization by the local GSUSA executives and senior volunteers for "noncompliance". I don't know much about GSUSA and am certain I have misstated the details -- but the essence is correct. Scoutmasters and everyone else would be subject to removal from their positions. Our CO loves the idea that we meet on Saturday mornings and do not sell popcorn (we use dues and fundraising receptions to raise our budget), but I don't know what my new BSA supervisors would think. The CO system protects the independence of each unit's operating style because decisions are reviewed by our CO. Be careful for what you wish for.
  11. This posting will include known upcoming changes to the national structure (area, region and national levels). Some will be announced over the next 24 hours. For this posting, please focus on sharing and commenting on actual announcements and facts. National Executive Board. The membership of this large entity will be re-elected today as-is, with no new members. This is because bankruptcy is not the right time to bring in new people. Deal with the difficulty, get through bankruptcy and then make changes. Further, some of the best people will not want to join until after the crisis is over – at least “formally” over. One change will be to “streamline” the descriptions of national volunteer and national professional responsibilities. I believe this is a good move. It implies downsizing and making clear what is and is not a professional or volunteer job or authority. The governance committee of the Executive Board will recommend substantial changes the Board to be put into effect as the BSA emerges from bankruptcy. I believe this will include a dramatic downsizing to a much smaller Board that will meet and decide things on a very regular basis. Fast decision-making will be necessary as we come out of the bankruptcy. National Program Council. Many of us have predicted the emerging national structure will focus on program. This week these predictions have largely been confirmed. There will be a new “National Program Council” that will focus on maintaining our program templates and materials. I believe it may largely replace the network of national committees, national standing committees, ad hoc committees and professional structures that comprise the bulk of program personnel at the national level. This new group will probably have the task to re-size national-operated activities above the council level. As an example, our above-council youth leadership structures for OA and Venturing would probably be evaluated. High adventure bases and the jamborees will be a significant topic, especially if we are not able to retain some or all of the bases. National Shared Services. Many others of us have predicted the emerging structure’s other focus will be shared services to councils that need to be done on a national scale. We have largely had this confirmed through statements made during the General Session that the national council in the future will make this it’s focus. We know this includes a new electronic IT platform to replace the crazy-quilt legacy systems that are currently in place. Bankruptcy allows the national structure to terminate any or all of its current contracts, so all services to councils can be evaluated, enhanced or discontinued. Replacing Regions and Areas. The current region/area structure will be replaced by a different means through which the national structure will relate to councils in the field. No details are out, but it is reasonable to believe that much of the current volunteer and professional structure will not be replaced at this intermediary level. There will be plenty of volunteer jobs in the movement, but the best opportunities will be at the District and Council levels – where I hope former national structure volunteers will return. What are your views on these and other changes to the national structure that are occurring?
  12. Yes, it is normal. I've attended these many times. The real action takes place at the General Session, which this year provided much for us to discuss. For instance, the General Session was the event where all of the membership policy changes during recent years have been announced. The region luncheons/business meetings are just like the council counterparts -- brief formal "reports" and recognition. The only change this year is that the Silver Buffalos were presented as well. Normally there is a closing dinner on Friday when those are presented. The last opportunity for something interesting to occur will be at 3-4 (central) today (Friday). This will be the annual national business meeting when the new executive board is elected. This would present an opportunity for additional announcements. I do not expect much, because all of the things that surfaced earlier during the week are technically-speaking "recommendations" of the Executive Committee to the incoming Executive Board. The new Executive Board will meet in early June to make formal decisions on things, so we can anticipate some kind of written announcement on things after that meeting..
  13. I am an optimist and view things quite directly and simply. There are very lengthy and detailed discussions about the addition of female members and the concept of "Family Scouting" that anyone on this site can go back and read. I carefully followed the debate and read the surveys that were widely distributed back then and was convinced that admitting siblings who were girls into separate Troops was the right way to go. I'm not going to go back and re-discuss that content, other than to say it was very convincing and made common sense. The Family Scouting policy did not change one word in either the Scout Handbook or the Scoutmaster's Handbook. They just changed pictures to include girls. So, I am just following the identical program we always did with 32 girls, a 9-member Scoutmaster staff, a 10-member Troop Committee and an amazingly supportive CO. The Family Scouting policy did not change human nature though. The hovering parents we have always had have simply continued their same behaviors. The only difference I have experienced is that girl members are a lot better at telling their parents to not become over-involved. I'm happy to accept that you have experienced an excessive number of hovering parents in your Troops, because those personalities have always existed around Troops and must always be dealt with by Scoutmaster Staffs -- or they will over-run the sensible operation and program experience of our youth members. What I do not accept is that there is some explosion of additional numbers of hover parents because we now have multiple siblings of different sexes in separate Scouts BSA Troops. That is not my experience or the experience of the of the leaders of other Troops in our districts that are Family Scouting. Scout leaders who don't address the situation will experience negative results. It is that simple. It is not a problem in our Troop because in the four instances that arose, we dealt with it effectively. Policies that allow parents of Scouts to camp at the same location as their Scout is really a different issue. This is not Family Scouting, it is the Family Camping policy of the BSA we are speaking of. In our Troop, we do not allow it. It is easy to enforce because everyone must be a registered member to attend a campout. We also make it very clear that we don't want parents to come on weekend campouts in order to allow the girls to gain confidence. A Scoutmaster who allows excessive numbers of parents to camp on weekend campouts is asking for the trouble you relate. What we do allow if for any parent who wants to camp with us to do so in September. We do that under the Family Camping rules. But that is it. I would be happy to have families of our scouts camp elsewhere on our camp properties as long as they do not show up at our camp until Sunday pick-up time. This has been successfully engaged in at the Owasippe Scout Reservation since 1957. Here is a link to the family camp, which also operates in the summer and has a special program offered directly to the families: https://www.owasippeadventure.com/blackhawk-1-1 The Owasippe family camp has been so successful through the years that it was the model followed by Philmont when they designed the family camp there. In fact, if we hold on to the bases, there will be family camps at the other bases in the future. If you have a different view of Family Scouting or the Family Camping policies and wish to see them handled differently or even repealed in the post-bankruptcy phase, I invite you to directly address that issue in a posting.
  14. Intellectual property in a reorganization bankruptcy is "essential" property. It is only at risk for sale in a liquidation. Nobody is going to be able to buy our trademarks.
  15. This business of parents being encouraged to hang around and interfere during Troop meetings and on weekend campouts is just not in my past or current experience. I can tell you right now this does not go on in our district. And don't get the idea that this would happen more frequently with girl Troops. It is entirely the opposite. The girls want to be independent from the parents more than the boys. Again, my 1.5 year experience with a 32-girl Troop. I can hardly believe this is what you folks are personally experiencing, so you must be sharing information from others. Interference like what you describe is not part of "family scouting" as envisioned or promoted by the BSA, and anyone who is promoting that it is doing a disservice to the youth members and should be stopped. "Family Scouting" is nothing other than encouraging multiple youth in a family to participate in Scouting units so the whole family is involved in BSA programs. It has nothing to do with Mom and Dad hanging around unless they are also trained Scoutmasters. The Family Camping aspect of this is entirely different. In the Chicago Area Council (now Pathway to Adventure Council) we have had a dedicated family camping area since the 50's called Camp Reneker. My experience is that the families come along and do not want to spend time with the Scout during the week or weekend. They hang with the other families and their own smaller children. During summer camp, they generally show to the opening and closing campfires, but the families sit by themselves off to the side and not with the Scouts. And, families can go there by themselves if they want. Family scouting is here to stay and will indeed improve the BSA. Don't cut it off simply because there are some weak-willed Scoutmasters out there that allow their unit program to get messed-around with like that. This is what the next generation of Scouters want.
  16. Family Camping. Our traditional programs will continue to be our traditional programs. Mom, Dad, little Ken and the dog will not attend Scouts BSA and Venturing campouts. However, the camps that we end up retaining through bankruptcy will fully welcome family camping in the designated family camping areas. And yes, we'll get family camping fees when these wonderful Scouting-supporters use our best facilities (because we will only keep the very best after the downsizing). And yes, we'll finally get better utilization of our facilities as a result. Some of our best camps, like Owasippe, have been doing this for 50 years. If Mom and Dad happen to be there the same weekend (or week of summer camp) as their kids in the separate Boy and Girl Troops camping on the other side of the property, then great. They can go pick them up at the end of the event instead of having to make two 3-hour round trips. Folks, this is what the next generation of Scout parents want, and it was bourn out in the surveys that supported opening up to girls -- and it also is my direct experience with our Troop.
  17. I just got off the Central Region business meeting (via Zoom). There is nothing new to share. The Region elected another slate of Regional and Area officers, but the Region President (volunteer) stated that this would be adjusted when a new structure is announced. Most of the time was taken by awarding the Silver Antelopes and Silver Buffalos for our Region, but there were plenty of references to the information shared yesterday during the general session. I encourage everyone to watch the National Council business meeting at 4-5 (eastern) on Friday.
  18. I will want my council to contribute to the Victim’s fund and benefit from a discharge from liability. Giving up some assets will give us a fresh start without fear of pre-petition claims haunting us in the future. The folks from Ohio would be forced overnight into a council bankruptcy if at some point In the future the Ohio legislature were to repeal the statute of limitations.
  19. Eagledad: On more than one occasion you have mischaracterized our 32-member girl Troop as overly-oriented toward generating Eagles, presumably at the expense of not having an evenly-balanced program. We certainly have our go-getters like we had in the Troop of my youth, but their presence is normal and expected. Most members are enjoying the program and progressing at their chosen pace. You have no basis upon which to make those slams. As for the Venturing program, because it will now terminate at age 18 the differences between it and Scouts BSA are not as pronounced. The advantage of being affiliated with the mainline Scouts BSA program and being able to use its well-known advancement program are far more appealing to younger girls than Venturing. If Venturing started at age 11, no girls would join it at that point. I think Venturing is nice to have because age 14+ youth who want to have an experience that is exclusively high school aged.
  20. No press coverage today. Apparently the media was either not aware of or not able to access the online meeting yesterday, because there seems to be no mention in the media today of yesterday's revelations. Most articles are simply focused on generally covering the recent ramping-up of lawsuit filings against councils and the expectation that councils will be required to contribute to the Victims Trust Fund.
  21. Yes we do. The re-branding as we come out of bankruptcy will either get the job done or we will just slowly fade into a small highly-specialized group.
  22. Fred 8033: I agree with all you have stated. Plaintiff lawyers figured out that there would be support at the state level to eliminate the statutes of limitations for youth abuse. The big urban states passed those laws at their urging and that enabled all of this. The lawyers just pursued their economic interests, plain and simple. They will personally gain billions in the process. Events also drive outcomes and the corona virus has done that in this circumstance. It has put a choke hold on councils, National and unit operations at precisely the worst moment. The ceasing of cash flow greatly increases the risk that the BSA will not have the cash flow to effectively defend itself or arise after the case. The lawsuits will now expand geometrically against the councils and then the chartered organizations of the involved individual churches. Whew! Can’t believe how much all of this is cutting against Scouting. To keep positive, I suggest focusing on how units can come out of this unharmed. The key tools will be to maintain or rebuild a great relationship with the chartered organizations so that when the tough times come, the units of today are not turned out as a matter of liability reduction. I plan a posting some time in a few weeks that will center on what units should begin to do in order to emerge from all of this in reasonable shape.
  23. What this means is that the volunteer in charge will ignore you and not get back to you and then you can figure it our on your own! Looks like it is the same thing.
  24. I think the commenters who have urged this approach are going to get their wish. We are going to be a smaller, simplified organization after this with a dramatically slimmed-down cost structure. Few properties to fund, not many executives and on-line materials. Probably simple, inexpensive uniforms. Volunteers running most things. My Troop won't notice much change.
  25. 5th Gen: The Bankruptcy court will appoint a Trustee, who will be charged with marshalling and selling the assets that have been agreed by the parties to be liquidated to contribute to the Victims Trust Fund. If there is no agreement, the parties will litigate what is "essential" to continue the program, and the Judge will decide what can be kept. In that case the Trustee will sell everything else and deposit the cash in the Victims Trust Fund. The BSA does not own the Corps property, so it is not an asset. If there is personal property of the BSA on that land (vehicles, canoes, basketry kits), it is subject to being sold by the trustee. After the personal property sale, the camp can be restored by new contributions afterwards (as long as the Corps agrees).
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