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Everything posted by dkurtenbach

  1. The whole Churchill Plan thing is symptomatic of BSA's continuing problems: In the face of an existential crisis, it is asking ordinary business questions about how it can be more efficient and do a better job marketing and recruit more volunteers and continue operations on a tighter budget. That lack of perspective is bad enough given the potential crippling outcome of the bankruptcy. But the bankruptcy is not the existential crisis that BSA faces. The real crisis is the devastating and ongoing loss of youth membership. The number of youth members in Scouting programs affects everything, including BSA's ability to recover from the bankruptcy. And because membership recruitment and retention is exclusively in the hands of units and unit volunteers, the membership crisis can only be solved at the unit level. So, what is BSA doing about that?
  2. Reading the text of the three priorities, it is clear that National retains the delusion that all Scouting flows from the professionals: "Recommendations that help engage and empower more volunteers to deliver and support Scouting locally will move forward, which will be vital to our Movement’s sustainability since financial challenges prevent us from being able to meet demands with professional staff alone." And: "[C]ouncils can focus on bringing Scouting to youth, families and communities with the support of local volunteers." (Emphasis added.) Scouting exists only because individual adult volunteers -- NOT professionals -- form and operate packs, troops, crews, and ships. Those unit volunteers are the ones who recruit youth and families. Those youth and families join those units because they like what those unit volunteers have made possible. And those youth and families stay in Scouting because they like what the unit is giving them under the guidance and approval of those unit volunteers. Those unit volunteers aren't doing it to support the Movement or to support councils or to take the burden off professionals. Many, if not most of those unit volunteers who are building Scouting units, recruiting youth and other adults into Scouting, and guiding and delivering the Scouting program will have only the vaguest idea of what a council is and will have no meaningful encounter with a BSA professional. Scouting begins and ends with units and with the adult volunteers who make those units possible. And because National personnel (and council personnel) don't understand that, they fail.
  3. The NEC [National Executive Committee] also agreed that the following three recommendations will not be considered at this time: Combining Sea Scouting into Exploring, Ending all youth programs at the age of 18, and Sunsetting the Learning for Life curriculum
  4. https://scoutingwire.org/update-moving-some-churchill-recommendations-forward/ Update: Moving Some Churchill Recommendations Forward
  5. I thought these were two interesting recommendations: "Greater reliance on volunteers to offset national staff reductions," followed by "Rotate national volunteers back to local councils or new intermediate organization." So, greater reliance on volunteers at the National level, but NOT the current National volunteers, who should be sent home. Is that right?
  6. That sounds cynical. 😄 And you're probably right. But a Scout is Loyal, so we have an obligation to speak truth to the organization we are loyal to. A Scout is Helpful, so we have an obligation to at least try to help them onto the right path. A Scout is Cheerful, so even in the worst of times we should act with optimism. And a Scout is Thrifty, so spending a few minutes writing comments where there is a one-in-a-million chance they could improve Scouting for millions of youth in the future is an investment worth making. 😁
  7. The survey gives you a 2,000 character comment box for each recommendation that you'd like to comment on. No canned responses.
  8. By using the feedback link in the Scoutingwire article, and writing and submitting comments, you can tell them how you would like to see the proposed changes implemented, or killed.
  9. In the Scoutingwire article, when you click on the feedback links, you are taken to a list of the recommendations. You can click a checkbox for each of the recommendations that you would like to comment on. Then you are taken to a page with the recommendations you selected, and a 2,000 character comment box for each one. So you can really let loose, if you want to. Then you submit, indicate your relationship to Scouting (volunteer, parent, etc.), and your Council.
  10. https://scoutingwire.org/understanding-the-churchill-plan-and-what-it-means-for-scouting/# July 17, 2020 In 2019, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the BSA asked six teams of volunteers and professionals from the local, area, regional and national level – including current or recent youth members and subject-matter experts – to develop plans on how to optimize the BSA for success in key areas based on input provided by more than 1,100 local, area, region and national volunteers and professionals, including: Youth Safety: How do we keep young people safe? Program: Are the BSA programs aligned with today’s young people? Communications and Marketing: How can National Council improve communication with stakeholders? Organizational Structure: Do we have the most effective organizational structure? National Council Effectiveness: Are there changes that would make the National Council more effective? Financial Health: How do we build a solid financial path forward? [Rest of article at link above.]
  11. True. Also true. In our current society, we have to strike a balance between the real purposes of the program and enough self-protection to keep the program going. BSA is in survival mode (maximum protection) now because it didn't do enough in the past to keep kids safe. The balance has tipped in one direction now as a result of being tipped in the other direction in the past. An added complication is that the law (the fulcrum, for purposes of this analogy) has moved in a direction unfavorable to BSA. But wait, there's more. The pandemic has come out of nowhere and changed where that balance will be struck. It has "lightened" the program by normalizing things like backyard "camping" and "earning" merit badges from the sofa. Meaning that Scouting is far easier for Scouts and families to participate in (and far less resource intensive for units and for BSA). Just as with schools and businesses, there will be a strong push to keep many of the "virtual" options. While the sexual abuse litigation and the bankruptcy are merely attacking BSA's finances, Covid-19 is attacking the heart of Scouting itself.
  12. Well, it looks like the youth adolescence expert must not yet have turned 18.
  13. I think two likely standards will be: (1) No debt; (2) summer camps consistently generate an operating surplus.
  14. Looks mostly like administrative tidying up -- much of which should have been done long ago. Innovative? Visionary? Well, they are combining the National Annual Business Meeting and the Top Hands Meeting. 🤪 It is quite a boring document, really. Not Churchillian. But, it is pure BSA. For example: "Create a membership executive position within councils focused on growth and paid on performance." How many hundreds of times has that been tried in councils all across the United States over the last forty years of declining membership? Maybe tens of thousands, if you count District Executives and Field Directors. Survival of the Boy Scouts of America is entirely dependent upon membership growth, but the folks from the National level all the way down to councils and even districts simply can't grasp the notion that they are powerless to do anything about membership growth,** despite more than forty years of contrary evidence. Retaining youth who are already Scouts and attracting youth who are not currently Scouts is entirely dependent upon how well the local moms and dads who are the unit adults execute an active, interesting, challenging Scouting program with a strong outdoor component. If BSA decided to create an executive position within councils focused on inspiring unit adults, then maybe they would be on to something. ** BSA National initiatives, policies, and program changes have caused significant membership losses over the years, however.
  15. To cut way back on the number and styles of uniform parts and insignia that BSA has to produce, distribute, and maintain in inventory, I'd suggest: The same color and style of shirt for all programs. No epaulets, no shoulder loops, only cloth badges/patches with no backing so they are easy to sew on The only insignia allowed are the BSA and Council name strips (lettering only), World Scout badge (without Messenger of Peace ring or other embellishment), unit numeral, den/patrol patch, rank badge, position patch, OA arrow strip All insignia are at least one-third smaller than current badges/patches No official pants / shorts / skirts / skorts; no official belts, socks, or hats No sashes; merit badges one-third smaller than current size, may be sewn on neckerchiefs One Cub Scout neckerchief color for all grade levels Cub Scout adventure pins and belt loops become cloth badges sewn on neckerchiefs Other awards currently worn on uniform may be sewn on neckerchiefs To cut way back on the number of publications that BSA develops, produces, distributes, and maintains, I'd suggest: All publications are electronic, printable on demand The contents of all existing publications are broken down into these collections: Youth member "how to" information for each program; youth leader "how to" information (Scouts BSA, Venturing, Sea Scouting only); adult leader "how to" information for each program Eliminate all duplication and as much inconsistency as possible from each collection Convert what is left so that at least 90 percent of each collection is in the form of (a) checklists, (b) step-by-step instructions, and (c) diagrams or illustrations; with the remaining 10 percent or less limited to text, but with no single block of text containing more than seventy-five words
  16. The need to stock blue shirts and tan shirts in the same sizes, and the need to stock green shirts and tan shirts in the same sizes.
  17. How about using the same color shirt across all programs?
  18. If adults have position patches and youth have rank/award patches that reveal their program, do we need shoulder loops at all?
  19. Suppose that one of the effects of the BSA's current difficulties is a determination that it is too expensive on an ongoing basis for BSA to develop, produce, maintain, and update all of the various versions of BSA uniforms, accessories, insignia/badges/etc., handbooks, other publications, and program supplies and equipment currently in the BSA catalog. You are asked what "stuff" could be eliminated or slimmed down without changing any substantive aspect of the current program (such as rank requirements, adult positions, different programs, etc.). What would you recommend?
  20. The Improved Scouting Program; STEM Scouts; NOVA awards; ATVs at summer camp; a "Tech Center" at summer camp; "Cub World" summer camps; merit badge clinics/universities; "Leadership" as an addition to the Aims of Scouting and the purposes of the Order of the Arrow; Soccer and Scouting; Explorer Clubs; Journey to Excellence; "Scout" as a rank; geocaching; the Summit; uniforms designed for indoor and ceremonial wear only; . . . to name a few. It is not about detracting from the goals of Scouting (although some do). It is about pouring resources into things that don't really matter and ignoring what really does matter.
  21. Another sad reminder that the only way to grow Scouting is organically: strengthening existing units so that they grow and give birth to strong new units that grow. And the only way that happens is through active, high-performing units with strong outdoor programs. Those units attract and retain youth without gimmicks and without flavor-of-the-week activities. If BSA at all levels would stop tinkering with the program content and new faddish programs and focus on improving delivery of the existing program by existing units, membership will grow.
  22. One thing in particular struck me about the video, in a good way: the small number of adults camping and mingling with the youth.
  23. As soon as BSA said, "this is what we're going to do," anything else BSA had say was irrelevant. All that matters is what BSA is going to do, and what it is going to do is next to nothing: a merit badge, a class, a review of names.
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