Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


dkurtenbach last won the day on December 21 2019

dkurtenbach had the most liked content!

Community Reputation

134 Excellent


About dkurtenbach

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Nebraska / Virginia / North Carolina
  • Occupation
  • Interests
    How BSA shoots itself in the foot
  • Biography
    Small town, Star Scout, college, married, law school, Army, kids, big city suburbs, job, Scout leader

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. dkurtenbach

    Setting the tone with a new CSE

    This statement in the article caught my eye: "Unlike his predecessors at the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Mosby’s title is not Chief Scout Executive. That title is reserved for commissioned BSA professionals — that is, full-time employees of the BSA who have undergone the required amount of training." (Emphasis added.) So, are they suggesting he is untrained or under-trained? Or that he's not worthy to bear the "reserved" title of Chief Scout Executive?
  2. dkurtenbach

    Declining an offered position?

    Emphasis added. 1. Trust your gut. You have already identified what is most important to you. 2. That you are looking for a way to gracefully decline seems significant. I'd suggest, "I'm personally committed to [A, B]. Those are the things that I really need to be doing for at least the next couple of years." 3. Their response to whatever you tell them will be that the new position isn't really complicated and won't take much additional time, so you won't have to give anything up. I would suggest saying, "I know me, and to do it right, I would have to sacrifice something that I am already committed to doing. I just can't do that."
  3. dkurtenbach

    Recruiting in Scouts BSA Units

    In my view, the single biggest membership blunder that BSA has made is allowing Boy Scouting/Scouts BSA to develop in a way that makes it almost totally dependent upon crossovers from Cub Scouting. It puts the future of the Scouts BSA almost entirely in the hands of Cub Scout leaders and their ability to recruit kindergarten and first grade families. It allows Webelos and Arrow of Light Den Leaders to heavily influence whether Scouts should cross over to a troop at all. Having to leave one Scouting organization (the Cub Scout pack) and find and join a new Scouting organization (the troop) provides a convenient opportunity for youth to simply not continue with Scouting after Webelos/Arrow of Light. It allows Webelos and Arrow of Light Den Leaders to heavily influence the choice of which troop to cross over to. The expectation that new Scouts BSA members will join at pretty much the same time and same age, together with New Scout Patrols and first-year advancement practices mean that it is awkward for older youth to join when they would be significantly "behind" their age/grade peers. The result is that simply by running our program as expected, we leave a lot of youth un-recruited and we allow many who are already in Cub Scouts to slip through our fingers.
  4. dkurtenbach

    Rumblings of Time Ahead

    When Venturing first kicked off in 1998, the original handbook was pretty much all about the Venturing awards. If you knew nothing else about the program except what was in the handbook, you would have concluded that Venturing, like Boy Scouting, was structured around advancement. But from following and participating in Venturing forums from the beginning, it is pretty clear what happened: Many Venturers, and many of the Venturing crew adults, came from Boy Scout troops and wanted something different from the advancement-focused grind. They wanted fun and adventure without all the bureaucracy. So they grabbed on to Venturing's built-in flexibility and ran with it, largely ignoring the awards program. Some crews -- a minority -- took the awards system seriously. Some crew adults used a "stealth" awards system, tracking youth accomplishments themselves and surprising the youth with Venturing awards they had unknowingly earned. But it wasn't enough. Somewhere around 6-8 years ago BSA was so distressed at the tiny percentage of Venturers actually earning Venturing awards that they completely revamped the Venturing awards system to what it is now, with the goal of increasing its use. I think the problem is that many professionals and adult volunteers raised on advancement-centric Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting just could not understand Venturing. Without awards to mark progress and accomplishments, how could BSA know what Venturing crews were really up to? How could BSA show that the program worked without statistics evidencing achievement?
  5. dkurtenbach

    Setting the tone with a new CSE

    Mr. Mosby's biggest challenge will be to convince America that despite BSA's history of sexual abuse, clumsy response to changing social norms, and old-fashioned program, our country needs Scouts.
  6. dkurtenbach

    Setting the tone with a new CSE

    Wall Street Journal article on Roger Mosby's appointment: https://www.wsj.com/articles/boy-scouts-tap-outsider-ceo-to-navigate-legal-crisis-11577726749 Interesting quote from Mr. Mosby: "In my experience, a successful organization’s values don’t change, but it has to be flexible so it can meet the needs of a changing world.”
  7. I think it makes sense for a Scout holding a PoR to get some training directly relevant to that area, so the first three sort of make sense: Bugler - Bugling, Music MBs; Historian, Scribe - Journalism MB; Librarian - Reading, Scholarship MBs. But I don't really see the relevance of the merit badges suggested for the other jobs, or the relevance of the raw number of merit badges earned to qualifications for holding a PoR.
  8. It is problematic to the extent that Scouts put their own merit badge program before their obligation to their patrol or troop.
  9. Happy holidays, everyone! So, let's consider some aspects of the merit badge program. A Scout works on a merit badges individually; it is not a group or team effort. Any registered Scout can work on merit badges; no rank is necessary. While a unit leader may have a concern about a Scout working on a merit badge, it is the Scout's decision. A Scout must be allowed to work with the counselor of his or her choice, so long as the counselor is registered and has been approved by the council advancement committee. There is no time limit between starting and completing a merit badge, except that all requirements must be completed before the Scout turns 18. Many units, districts, and outside organizations offer merit badge fairs, clinics, or universities in which Scouts can complete many merit badge requirements in a single day, and often for more than one merit badge. Merit badges are standard offerings at council summer camps, and Scouts in attendance can often complete multiple merit badges during the summer camp session. Other than summer camp, Scouts usually work with merit badge counselors in their local area, with meetings at mutually agreeable dates and time. Many unit Scouters also serve as merit badge counselors for Scouts in the troop, sometimes offering merit badge sessions during regular troop meetings. Most merit badges do not include a service requirement. Merit badges do not require a Board of Review. There are currently 137 merit badges; a Scout could earn an average of one per month since joining Scouts BSA and still only complete about 2/3 of the badges available. Upon completing a merit badge, a Scout receives the badge, which can be worn on a merit badge sash as part of his or her uniform. What we have is a system that offers fun, excitement, adventure, knowledge, skills, and the potential for new hobbies and even careers, in more subject areas than most Scouts could ever hope to experience. The system offers the individual Scout almost total control over planning, direction, and timing of his or her work. The system offers a high degree of convenience for Scouts (and the parents who need to get them to merit badge sessions). A Scout using the system doesn't have to participate in any camping or outdoor activities at all unless the Scout wants to work on an outdoor merit badge (or a merit badge being offered at summer camp). A Scout using the system doesn't have to work with, cooperate with, or rely on any other Scouts. A Scout using the system doesn't have to take on any responsibility in the patrol or troop. A Scout using the system doesn't have to bother with ancillary requirements like service hours, Scout spirit, or a Board of Review. And yet the Scout is as much a Scouts BSA member as any Scout in the troop participating in those old-fashioned patrols and that so-last-century rank advancement. A Scout using the system will still receive a lot of badges awarded at Courts of Honor. Mom and dad will still be proud. In other words, we have come up with a system for a Scout's personal growth and achievement that can operate almost entirely independently of the rank advancement process, the patrol system, the troop's youth leadership hierarchy, the troop's adult leadership, and pretty much all of the troop's program. All a Scout has to do is stay registered and meet with the Scoutmaster to get counselors and get blue cards signed. So what we have created with the merit badge program is either No-Responsibility Scouting for the 21st Century (genius!), or a program that undermines patrols, and outdoor adventure, and leadership, and rank advancement, and the other stuff we're trying to accomplish within the troop program.
  10. Yes. And if I could summarize it one word, it would be “patrols.”
  11. What you are saying is that anything that encourages the Scout to develop a lifelong interest in learning belongs in Scouting, and we should support it with our Scouting resources.
  12. So there are boundaries to the Scouting program and what we should support: "the context of the Scouting type activities - merit badges, camping, leadership opportunities, patrol activities." Math problems, maybe not . . . but if there was a Mathematics merit badge, that would be okay?
  13. What you are saying is that anything that helps the Scout to grow belongs in Scouting, and we should support it with our Scouting resources.
  14. There is no question that giving youth significant exposure to real expertise in a variety of subject areas is a very good thing. I agree with @ParkMan's statement that "The more areas you learn about as a kid, the more prepared you are as a citizen." Likewise, meaningful interaction with adults that a youth doesn't really know is also very beneficial. But if everything works the way it should, Scouts who seek to earn Eagle Scout rank will have eight opportunities for studying non-core subjects (elective merit badges) and twenty-one opportunities for meaningful interaction with adults that they don't know. So, a Scout gets to the point where he or she already has their eight elective merit badges for Eagle Scout rank. Presumably all of those badges were in areas of career or hobby (fun) interest or in useful life skills. And presumably all of those badges were counseled by adult experts over enough sessions that there was significant and meaningful interaction with each adult expert (in addition to the meaningful interactions with adult experts in the thirteen required merit badge subjects). So, a Scout gets a lot of value from the twenty-one merit badges needed for Eagle Scout rank. And there is value to the troop and to Scouting generally and to the community in getting a well-rounded Scout. But once we get past that point, what value is there in a Scout pursuing non-advancement merit badges (elective merit badges beyond the eight needed for Eagle Scout rank)? Because the non-advancement merit badge program serves the individual Scout only, and includes many subject areas that have nothing to do with Scouting's core program, neither the troop nor Scouting generally nor the community get any benefit from the non-advancement merit badge program. Couldn't the time and resources devoted to earning non-core non-advancement merit badges be put to better use? Uses that provide value not only to the individual Scout, but to the troop and Scouting generally and the community: service projects or patrol campouts or leadership training? Note to @Navybone: I'm not advocating that Scouts shoot for the minimum number of merit badges; I'm suggesting that more than the minimum number has little added value to the individual Scout and no value to his or her troop or to Scouting generally, or to the community.
  15. No. It is more like asking if more than 20 nights camping is a waste of time and money. But the difference is this: Camping more than 20 nights is still directly relevant to the core Scouts BSA Method of Outdoors, even if it no longer applies to the Scouts BSA Method of Advancement. So, theoretically, that additional camping continues to promote the Aims of Scouts BSA. Some elective merit badges are clearly relevant to Scouts BSA Methods other than Advancement, such as Bird Study or Astronomy being relevant to the Outdoors Method. But some are not -- Pulp and Paper, Automotive Maintenance, and Moviemaking, for example.