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Cburkhardt

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Everything posted by Cburkhardt

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    Girl Webelos Dens in a special pack affiliated with a girl troop. ? Here is an idea some of us at our all-girl troop are considering. Our earlier experience with our all-girls Webelos den (the members of which have crossed into our troop) was so positive that we are giving thought to having Webelos 1 and 2 dens affiliated with our all-girl Troop. We would not operate a full Pack — only the Webelos programming. We would have them meet at the same time and place with us, but they would have a different meeting room. We would have a Cubmaster/den Leader staff in parallel with our Scoutmaster Staff. Of course we would have a built-in supply of den chiefs. This would establish a membership pipeline for us. We are thinking of starting this fall. Any thoughts?
  4. I will stay with my prediction that we will have very significant Scouts BSA girl enrollment increases these next few years. I do not see anything out there that will equal our outdoor program for girls, as the other girl-only organizations seem inalterably focused on social issues, activism, religion or semi-academic topics at the junior high and high school ages. Those organizations will not be able to compete with us on the outdoor opportunities. Just like Venturing, Scouts BSA will dominate that age group for girls on the outdoor opportunites. On the boy side, I am not ready to agree that we have lost what is good about scouting for all-boy troops because any of the recent changes. I do not want to individually pick on my fellow posters, but there is a tendency to select an individual policy change, recent isolated event or personal policy view on a BSA policy and generalize what is more of a specific situation into a global impact. I think Pink's view that the 2020 post-LDS-departure boy numbers will be our base to build from.
  5. Dear Friends, including Moderators: I agree with those who think we should mainstream discussion of Scouts BSA all-girl troops. Pigeon-holing us into a politics chapter continues a negative cast on a decision that, while not supported by all of our members, is actually working out quite well. We should not have to defend against negativism when what we really want to do is discuss how the program is best working in the new units. Please make the change. I've been the senior volunteer at the Unit, District, Council (major metropolitan) and Area levels, and served on national and council committees for over 30 years. I've formed over 20 units in my time. I "retired" from all of that and am now a Scoutmaster of a 25-member all-girl troop in an urban area with a committee of 15. I thought I had seen it all until we added these all-girl Scouts BSA units. In my opinion this is the best enhancement to our ability to serve young people over the last 20 years. I was on camp staff for a few years in my youth, and the kind of cutting and unrelenting negativism from those who do not appear to be on the front lines of this development sound like a Scoutmaster named Igor we saw during first period each year. He could never be satisfied with anything the camp staff did because "national" and the "council" had "ruined" the Scouting program of his 1940/50's youth. We had - gasp - propane in the patrol kitchens, were shifting to "ugly" tan shirts, and somewhere at some other chartered organization there were now girls doing things in Exploring. Yes, even though he had no obligation to involve himself with a female Explorer Post, the knowledge that a BSA group out there included young women had indeed ruined his experience of operating his all-boy Troop. Folks, there are always changes to our program and there will always be people who claim that those changes have ruined what was better or perfect before. In the 50's it was the - gasp - welcoming of African-American Scouts into Troops. Imagine that -- Scouting "ruined" way back then. These people will always be with us and there is nothing we can do about that. But there is one thing I have learned about this through my years as a Scout and my 30 years as a unit/council/national Scouter. It is the optimists and cheerleaders who make Scouting happen and will always be the future and leaders of our movement. I urge the moderators to begin a program thread on Scouts BSA implementation for girl troops and prohibit political discussions on that thread. Let's get on with helping the 1,800 new Scoutmasters, Troop Committee Chairs and Troop Committees out there. When was the last time we actually had 1,800 new Troops in this movement? Yes, it was back in Igor's youth -- in the 40s and 50s. I believe the good times are returning because now everyone is welcome..
  6. Cburkhardt

    Scouts BSA implementation for girl troops

    We are in the midst of a start-up of a major nationwide roll-out of a new youth organization. Fortunately we do not need to master a new program or operating techniques. What we do need to do is use our wits and negotiating skills with fellow volunteers on these basic implementation matters. Our discussion regarding equipment is a great illustration and is easier to deal with than some of the other issues because it deals with easily understood "hard objects". Because this is a start-up, and because there are infinitely different fact variations (boy troops with a lot of assets, boy troops with no resources, girl troops with nothing, girl troops comprised largely of members who have brothers in the boy troop and all are close friends, girl troops with a financial backer, etc.), there are and cannot be any standard rules of how to approach things. I believe the best approach is to convent a good meeting with the policymakers at the CO and the Troop leadership. I would not put this into the hands of a broad parent group. Folks like Ranman who have not yet fully sorted-out their personal views on the welcome to girls into our program are good people who might prefer hard rules, but know that we just have to do our best at being open people of good faith in this circumstance. If we are open and approach these decisions with a generous spirit, we will get through this start-up in fine shape. With some exception, Troop equipment is not really expensive. So, this is really a matter of understanding how to manage and respect our assets. We do need to be prepared to approach those who are not yet supporters with a generous spirit. They reasonably want to protect and well-manage Troop property. When they see girl Troops treat these items with respect and girl Troop Committees joining in to maintain funding and provide volunteer service, they will have reason to look favorably on girls in Scouts BSA.
  7. Cburkhardt

    Scouts BSA implementation for girl troops

    Ultimately the capability and advisability of the new girl linked Troops to use existing equipment stores and benefit from the bank accounts that have been built-up by historic and linked boy troops is a matter of sensitivity that can only be properly handled by the CO and unit leadership having appropriate conversations in good faith -- and up front.. If I were in one of those conversations and I was a leader of the all-girl linked Troop, I would want to offer complete and enthusiastic participation on the part of the parents of girls to join in the overall effort to raise, funds, etc. Of course, a number of these parents of girls are also going to be parents of boys, because that is one of the reasons for linking in the first place. If you have expressly anti-girl volunteers in the boy Troop, that is really a different matter that will have to be handled directly. If the CO has made a policy determination that the CO will offer a girl Troop, they actually have the upper hand in guiding the group to a reasonable way to operate. The above comment that it is good to deal with difficult volunteers would be applicable here.
  8. Let’s have some fun. I predict that the November 2022 membership numbers will reflect that Scouts BSA will have net grown boys very slightly compared to year end 2018 — effectively replacing the 65% of Church of JC of LDS Members I think will depart. And, I believe we will have no less than 200,000 girl members. This is because we will no longer be carrying cultural war baggage and the family scouting approach will have been proven to draw membership. Okay folks, what do you think? Don’t just make wild predictions. Have rationale for your views.
  9. Cburkhardt

    Council Annual Report - Interesting Numbers

    What I mean is that the CORs should insist on effective change in the failing council or advocate merging with a nearby council that is well-run. We need to avoid irrational attachments to the status quo if there are better ways to run Scouting. Doing more of the same gets us to membership and financial bankruptcy in those situations. What has been proven to be very difficult is for CORs to expect that they themselves can substantially correct organizational deformities in a consistently failing council. We are volunteers and do not have the time and resources to do that. We do not want to have exhaust ourselves being negative for many years. Even if it means merging OA lodges, re-drawing district lines or even realigning properties, it is better that a slow, fading disintegration. What is important is that we have strong, vibrant units and knowing when to cut bait is critical. A very good way to evaluate the capability of a council right now is to look at how many girl Troops have been formed. This is, absolutely, the membership and program priority of the moment. Even if you are a Scouter that has not yet embraced the concept, you will agree with me that a council that has not successfully acted on this has a fundamental difficulty. These girl units can nearly sell themselves. I am Scoutmaster of one and these are already popular. Any council mumbling an explanation as to why they can’t pull this off is telling you: “We are not able to execute basic things”. If they are saying that by their actions, believe them.
  10. Cburkhardt

    Council Annual Report - Interesting Numbers

    I am really glad to hear that people are making those kinds of changes. That is so much better than insisting on continuing under-powered councils and seeing them go down in membership and financial bankruptcy.
  11. Cburkhardt

    Scouts BSA implementation for girl troops

    The 40+ all girl Troops in our council are almost all linked troops. What we are seeing is that the girl troops are getting access to the equipment as long as there is sufficient supplies to get around. It also depends on whether the girl and boy Troops are camping on the same weekends. The experience is that sharing the program equipment has not been much of an issue in my observation. The girl Troop parents should be obligated to help raise funds for the additional equipment that is necessary. As I noted elsewhere on the Forum, our own Troop is one of the few that are not linked, but we are blessed to have some boy Troops willing to lend us equipment as we ramp up independently. I think we will have everything we need within about a year. Perhaps the more sensitive item would be the use of savings that have been built through the years by boy Troops, which technically belong to the CO. If I were the Scoutmaster or CC of an a linked girl Troop, I would never request to use those funds directly. I would begin building a new account and be happy to benefit from the ability to borrow/use equipment from the boy Troop, and be advantaged by the existing reputational goodwill of the boy Troop.
  12. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    The capital acquisition budget is separate. We are modest there and are going the "minimalist" route. Less than $10K over 2 years for the basics and no trailer. We are an urban Troop with some under-resourced families and are accessing a lot of contributed individual equipment for their Scouts. We are really blessed by having established troops willing to lend us things as we ramp-up and a very generous group of scouters who gather, organize and re-deploy used uniforms and equipment. I hope those reading this who have access to lendable equipment proactively reach-out to these new all-girl Troops and offer help. Most of them are not going to be led by a 30-year Scouter like me and will have no idea how to get the help.
  13. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    Our $40,000 yearly budget includes everything for 40 Scouts. So, the all-in expense to the Troop of a Scout is about $1K/year. Includes all program and recognition, weekend campouts, summer camp, but not the annual special trip. This is less than the cost of a single "travel team" away game where a child and parent fly somewhere. Scouts BSA is truly a bargain in comparison to just about any other youth activity. We can all be very proud of this. Our special annual trip is modest. This year a 4-day camping trip including a day visit to the World Jamboree (will probably charge somethin like $200). Next year a trip to Michigan to another Scout Reservation (Owasippe) to experience their incredible horse program.
  14. There is a very balanced, intelligent article in Bloomberg today. It is, perhaps, the best factual and neutral piece of reporting on Scouts BSA I have seen in months. Just google Scouts and Bloomberg. Highly recommend it.
  15. Cburkhardt

    Council Annual Report - Interesting Numbers

    I will comment as a former council and area president who spent 30 years on the front lines of these issues. Those membership declines are catastrophic and not sustainable. The units in this council should favor moving into a functioning council. Unless there is a one-time disaster that explains this, I'll guarantee that this is a council that either has been issued a "conditional charter" or will soon be issued one. These councils are given a year or two to turn things around or they are merged into better-performing councils. More recently another technique has been to remove the charter of the council, disband the board and transfer assets and performing personnel to other councils as seems logical to the Region. CORs can either allow this kind of performance to continue or take action to stop the bleeding. As this is Central Region I'll assume this is not related to loss of units formerly affiliated with the Church of Christ of LDS. In the Western Region there will be a lot of this situation prior to right-sizing the councils in a businesslike way after December 2019.
  16. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    We used our Webelos II Den to jump-start our all-girl troop. We started with about 6 Webelos girls and had 10 by the end of the year. All crossed-over into our new all-girl troop in February, which now numbers 26. Those 10 Webelos were the ones who provided the basis for our new Troop open house/welcome parties. Through them we gained another 10 girls and have picked up another 6 over the last 2 months based on word of mouth. It is easier to get girls to join the Webelos group, so I urge you do recruit them now. It will make your planned new troop a lot easier to start. One thing I learned is that girls are more likely to bring their friends into a Troop than my experience with boys. Open house -type activity where a prospect girl member sees her friend in a uniform and having fun with peers really works. I would allocate a good amount of recruiting effort to peer-to-peer activity..
  17. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    Our own Troop received about $2,000 cash from two Episcopal Churches to help pay costs of under-resourced Scouts. The volunteers who started the troop absorbed about $5,000 of start-up costs. Starting brand-new Troops is expensive and time-absorbing. Our first year budget is $40,000. There are good reasons why so many new Troops fail in their first five years, but the principal reasons are lack of experienced Scouter involvement and failure to plan. New Troops need to raise more and charge higher dues, which puts them at a recruiting disadvantage with historic troop with well-build financial stability and low dues. Our group is well-staffed and has a good plan. I hope experienced Scouters reading this will step forward and actually assist new Troops now forming. There is no substitute for direct involvement.
  18. 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.
  19. Cburkhardt

    When To Elect SPL in Brand New Units?

    Our all-girl Troop now numbers 26. Up from 19 that we had on Feb. 1 without any recruitment activity. Sometimes girls and families just show up based on word of mouth. We have 3 PL and 3 APL positions so far. We now have a cohort of 5 girls 14, 15 and one 16. None have scouting experience , but there is good leadership potential there. We are going to begin rotating SPL duties between them now and during summer camp (we have 17 going so far). We will have an SPL election the first week of September with the members we currently have, and just before our big recruiting open house at mid-month. I find that the girls are intensely interested in the leadership slots we will have in the fall, as we will expand to other Troop positions at that time (QM, Scribe, etc.).
  20. I think GSUSA is probably trying to get a handle on the number of its youth who are dual registering with the BSA. We’re the results of this survey promised to be compiled in the aggregate only or do you believe this is an effort to develop a marketing list to do “comparative” outreach to the dual-registered families?
  21. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    I think we are going to first do a minimal version of the rolling tool box (especially in cold weather) and the backpack approach when temperate. I cringe getting back into the heavy camping business.
  22. Cburkhardt

    Family Scouting Coming to You!

    At Owasippe the practice during the main season has now spanned many Scouting generations and absolutely has a vibrant life of its own. I think if there are usable facilities available, councils are crazy not to allow people use them during the main season. I go so far as supporting the idea of establishing carefully-managed trailer use in segregated parts of camps. The Memorial-Labor Day approach is a good introduction to our properties for families, but does not let families and younger siblings experience the wonder of a huge closing camp fire, for instance.
  23. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    Another approach being suggested is to go ultra-minimalist. Obtain only backpacking-sized stoves and similar lightweight and compact equipment and entirely forgo the “heavy camping” approach of my youth (patrol boxes, Dutch ovens, trailers, etc.). Sounds interesting, but I am not sure it would work with the youngest scouts.
  24. Cburkhardt

    Family Scouting Coming to You!

    Family camping at our properties is a great idea. A few camps like the iconic Owasippe Scout Reservation in Michigan (the Reservation that serves Scouting for the greater Chicagoland metropolitan area) have dedicated facilities that are run like this for the entire season. That council has been doing it successfully for 55 years. More of this kind of offering will further establish us as the full-family option and will cause Scouts to spend a week with their family in addition to their Troop’s week of traditional camp. At Owasippe the families of Scouters have been simultaneously staying in the family camp during the week a Troop camps with no ill effects. Let’s share these wonderful places with our own family members.
  25. Cburkhardt

    Great Examples of Girl Troop Successes

    Gathering Equipment for New Girl Troops A principal challenge every new all-girl Troop has is to obtain its camping equipment, as well as the other things a troop needs for essential program operations. The list of items needed is extensive, including flags, an extensive first aid kit, tents, cooking equipment and simple materials like rope. For a new 30-girl troop, the equipment needed can easily get in the $7 - $10,000 range. Plus there are the issues of storage and transportation to deal with. And all of this is needed at a time when there are significant start-up expenses such as a website, uniforms and recruitment expenses. The expense load can be a barrier to launch of a successful troop, so what to do? In our district we have an all-girl Troop forming on a linked basis. For that group there is a built-in inventory of equipment available for immediate use, as the all-boy Troop it is linked to is actually over-equipped. The troop has built a significant savings account with a balance over $20,000 and will tap into it to make some supplemental purchases. The all-Girl troop plans to contribute its efforts to further build the account — so there seems to be smooth sailing for them. Another Troop in our district is starting from scratch and is not linked. That Troop is using a number of successful tactics in it start-up phase. 1. First, the troop calculated the actual cost of its annual operation on a per-Scout basis. This included everything. They charge and recover dues to recover that entire cost with the exception of camp outs and summer camp. The point here is to charge sufficient dues so your new Troop actually has sufficient funds to operate without nickel-and-dining parents every week. Or worse, forcing the most dedicated volunteers to pay the balances. 2. Second, the troop established a flat weekend camping fee for its 7 events during the school year to cover all food and program costs — plus a bit extra for the purchase of essential equipment. 3. Next, the Troop sought used camping equipment of every category except for Coleman stoves and tents—which they have decided to borrow from a helpful all-boy Troop and buy new after a fall fundraiser. The used equipment came primarily from a storage unit the BSA District rents to accumulate used equipment from the families of members. They are also going to circulate a list of desired used equipment in the church program of their Chartered Organization. The reason they will buy new tents is because they want the unit pride of having matching tents, and when purchased on sale and simultaneously, tents can be a relative bargain. There are many reasons why it is hard to form a new Troop and equipment acquisition, management and storage Can be a big hurdle. Key to achieving this requires some good planning and honesty with parents on camping and equipment costs. Scouts BSA is “dirt cheap” in comparison to things like sports travel teams, lesson-intensive pursuits and participation in school-sponsored travel activities. The new girl Troop calculated the total annual cost per Scout, including summer camp, weekend camping events and program expenses, to be just under $1,000. That is a bargain in comparison to these other activities. We have noting to apologize for when we are accurate with our expenses and dues. New girl Troops without existing resources and historic bank accounts should not shy away from pricing things accurately. It is the best way to motivate participation in a fundraiser to help acquire equipment as well. Incidentally, the new girl Troop has a few “angles” who subsidize the dues and camping costs of under-resourced families who cannot pay full-freight. What are other good ways new all-girl troops that are not linked can acquire equipment? Are some things best purchased new? Are there some legacy equipment practices that new troops should just avoid from the start? Please share your ideas.
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