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Posts posted by dkurtenbach

  1. 29 minutes ago, AltadenaCraig said:

         Our Troop-level virtual meetings tend toward top-down "presentations" with very little scout interaction even when invited to virtually "raise hands".  Our ASM's, on the other hand, report much more interactive and enjoyable virtual Patrol Meetings.

    Well, what is the difference between the troop level virtual meetings and the patrol level virtual meetings?  Top-down presentations to a larger number of individuals versus small group interactions.  Your observations are right on, and those experiences could help shape post-COVID Scouting, *IF* adult leaders and youth leaders in troops are willing to put an end top-down presentations to the whole troop or any segment of a troop that is not a patrol.  But part of the problem is Scouts BSA doctrine strongly favors presentations and skill training at the troop level or in groups based upon skill level, rather than by patrol.  See https://troopleader.scouting.org/troop-meetings/.

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  2. Bringing a few of these thoughts together and adding a few tweaks:

    • Signup/registration is with a district or other organization covering a geographic area
    • Signup/registration on a quarterly (seasonal) basis
    • Signup/registration by grade or age
    • Each season, Scouts can sign up to join a patrol working on a particular specified program with a set time commitment and schedule, or a "general" program working with one or more counselors on the Scout's own schedule, or both
    • The youth can express preferences for friends to be in the same patrol with, neighborhood or town to meet in, and adult leaders (but may not get all preferences)
    • As with youth sports leagues, the district recruits adult leaders/coaches and assistants willing to lead a patrol or willing to serve as counselors for Scouts on the "general" program  
    • The adult leaders/coaches and assistants who will work with patrols can specify the age and sex of Scouts they are willing to work with and the days/dates they are available for practices, and four weekends during the season they can lead overnight outings (Scouts BSA, Webelos/Arrow of Light) and/or day events (Cub Scouts, Webelos/Arrow of Light)
    • The adult "general" program counselors can specify the age and sex of Scouts they are willing to work with and the particular areas (Cub Scout adventures, merit badges, particular skills) they are willing to counsel
    • Each adult leader/coach and assistant for patrols can select one "canned" patrol program to lead that season from a dozen or so pre-set Scouting patrol programs that will form the patrol's activities for the season (for example - hiking/backpacking, cycling, aquatics, emergency response/first aid, cooking, STEM, service projects, nature/environment, etc.) and includes specific rank requirements, merit badges, or other awards to be completed by that patrol during that season
    • Patrols will generally have two registered adult leaders
    • The season concludes with (1) a district Camporee consisting of competitions between patrols, demonstrations/displays, and fun events, or (2) for patrols in certain specialities, a weekend outdoor adventure that tests their skills
    • Between patrol seasons and general program seasons, a youth will be able to complete all rank requirements from Bobcat to Eagle Scout
    • No unit committees
    • Adult leaders (both patrol and general) commit to extensive in-person and practical training, and certification in certain specialties
    • The district/geographic area is run by Commissioners who are completely in charge of patrol formation, Scout assignment to patrols, adult training, behavioral issues, etc.
    • Funding is by registration fees and fundraising at district level; patrols have budgets based on their specialties
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  3. Friends of Lone Scouts of America - on Facebook - www.facebook.com/lonescoutfriends


    "This page dedicated to the memory of those Lone Scouts who kept their friendships alive through newsletters and magazines. The Lone Indian Fraternity, Boy Scouts of America and scouting history, Information about members and events of the time."

  4. 1 hour ago, Sentinel947 said:

     Lone Scouting is more about individual growth in the context of youth to parent activities.

    I think that is a fair description of BSA's current Lone Scout program as described in the Lone Scout Friend and Counselor Guidebook, https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/boyscouts/pdf/511-420.pdf , which is different from the original Lone Scout program as described by @David CO.  Page 5 of the Guidebook says, "It is preferable for the friend and counselor to be one of the Scout’s own parents, but this individual also could be the Scout’s minister, teacher, neighbor, a friend of the family, an interested Scouting volunteer, and so forth."  And page 6 of the Guidebook discusses the relationship and responsibilities between the Lone Scout and the Friend and Counselor:


    The relationship between a Lone Scout and counselor is a two-way street. When both learn and accept their responsibilities, the result can be tremendously rewarding. The Scout, of course, must understand the need to take age appropriate initiative, and must be immersed in the Scout handbook for their program and age group.  

    The counselor helps the Lone Scout get the most out of Scouting in much the same way pack and troop leaders help their Scouts.  This support includes setting a positive example. It also means getting to know  the Scout well enough to continuously challenge the Scout to reach further and to achieve as much as possible—with just the right level of assistance, guidance, and recognition.  

    Parents who are counselors to their own children may experience the reward of getting to know their children in a different way, from another perspective.


  5. 9 hours ago, RememberSchiff said:

    How to measure success of the BSA... worthy of a topic of its own.

    Well, here's a proposition to start discussion on such a topic:  If Eagle Scout rank was used as a measure of success of the BSA, BSA would be a failure.  Eagle Scout rank is designed to be achievable by any Scout -- no special qualities required.  It could be earned by Scouts as young as 13.  Yet only a small percentage of Scouts follow through, despite the iconic status and value of the award.  

  6. 42 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

    There is somewhere around 74 million kids in the United States today.  At some point a program focused around providing to those 74 million kids needs to ask itself - how many are joining?  

    The world is full of good ideas.  I can rattle off 50 ideas that would make Scouting better.  All those ideas require thousands of hours of peoples' time and lots of money to make them work.  If every idea that gets raised is measured solely on whether it's a good program idea or not we'd be all over the map as a program. 

    Similarly - tone person's good program idea is that it's another person's bad program idea.  @David CO likes Lone Scouts and thinks it's the fix for Scouting.  Others look at it and think it's a bad idea.  How does one evaluate such an idea without some sort of basis to measure it.

    To be honest, I think that's one of the issues the BSA has today - too many knee jerk reactions to different ideas people have without really thinking through if it actually will help build a better program and attract more members.  Soccer Scouts, STEM Scouts?  These are all someone's good, half baked idea.  

    A few thoughts:

    • Quantity (BSA membership) may not be a measure of BSA program quality, but it is a measure of something (or more than one something) about BSA.  Membership is the lifeblood of the Scouting program.  It would be useful to try to pin down the causes of membership decline and figure out if there is something that can be corrected or improved, and at what level.
    • Personally, I think the program is not quite as good as it used to be because BSA has lowered its standards for successful performance -- as documented in the changes to the Guide to Advancement over the years.  That said, we would probably benefit from a freeze on all program changes for at least five years, so that we can work on what I think is our biggest challenge . . . 
    • . . . That challenge being is execution of the program at the unit level.  It is too uneven from unit to unit, and too uneven from year to year within the same unit.  That is critical for three reasons: (1) Every youth who joins Scouting is entitled to a high quality experience and the same level of experience as the highest quality units in the country.  (2) Retention of a youth who is already a member is almost entirely dependent upon whether the youth is having a good experience in the unit program.  (2) As to recruitment, every youth and parent that leaves Scouting because of the unit program means a negative recommendation to relatives and friends now and for the next several years, and it means that when that former Scout grows up and has children, those children will be kept out of Scouting. 
    • There are some structural problems in Scouting that are well known and have an effect on membership.  Those problems can be partially overcome with a lot of work and cooperation among leaders of different units, but it can't be done uniformly because multiple units are involved and leaders are always changing.  Any real and lasting fix must come from BSA National.  Those structural problems are:  (1) The break between the Cub Scout / Webelos / Arrow of Light program and the Boy Scout / Scouts BSA program, which makes it easy for youth to leave Scouting in fifth grade.  (2) The fact that the vast majority of Boy Scout / Scouts BSA members have been and continue to be from Cub Scouts, meaning that troop membership is almost entirely dependent upon how well Cub Scout leaders recruited kindergarteners, first graders, and second graders several years in the past.
    • BSA is going through structural changes right now because of the bankruptcy, and so now is the perfect time to consider structural changes such as the one @David CO has suggested in order to address known problems -- especially ones that involve membership. 
    • Structurally, Scouting is built around groups of youth and adults getting together on a regular basis.  Those group programs require a lot of organization by a lot of adults, and it is well known that many Scouting units, districts, and other organizations within Scouting have difficulty recruiting enough adults.  That may be a problem of execution, not an inherent weakness in the program; but it is real.  To carry out unit activities, summer camps, OA activities, and district and council activities, Scouting units and groups require access to various kinds of large facilities as well as quantities of equipment and supplies for use in those activities.  Those, in turn, require funding. 
    • But suppose that a big chunk (though not all) of the current, existing Scouting program could also be delivered on an individual and family basis without the need for group gatherings, groups of adults to manage the groups of youth, large facilities, and large quantities of equipment and supplies. That Scouting program would not be tied to or limited by group meeting and activity schedules, making it easy for the individual Scout and parents to work it into their schedules.  Why not make such a low-cost, low-resource option available to anyone anywhere (regardless of the availability of units) to reach families that would love Scouting but just can't take on additional scheduled activities or can't provide the adult support expected by the unit?  BSA already has everything needed -- it just needs to open it up.
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  7. 32 minutes ago, David CO said:

    I'm not a lawyer.  From a layman's point of view, it seems to me that the current organizational structure is what has put BSA into litigation and bankruptcy.  BSA is being held responsible for the actions of its leaders because BSA took an active part in the registration and supervision of leaders.  Would that have happened if BSA had used the LSA model of scouting and had no registered leaders?

    It is really broader than just registration and supervision of leaders.  Whether it is sexual abuse or a broken leg from falling while on a hike, a key question is whether the injury occurred at least partly because of the organization.  Did a victim and a perpetrator meet because they were both involved in the organization?  Did a member get injured at an activity that is part of the organization's suggested program?  Did a member involved in an organization activity injure some someone not involved?  Then, if there is some connection to the organization, did the organization have the responsibility to prevent the actions that caused the injury, to protect the person from injury?  Did the organization have policies and procedures in place to avoid the actions that caused the injury?  Did the organization provide proper training to its members before the occurrence?  Did the organization provide proper supervision while the actions were going on?  Did the organization take appropriate action when it learned of the injury to aid the victim and prevent any recurrence?

    So even if we had an LSA organization of the kind you describe, with no registered adults, if an injury is suffered by someone in the course of a youth-only Lone Scouts activity the LSA could be sued along with every parent or guardian of the youth taking part.  And one of the main claims would be that the organization and the parents were negligent in not ensuring control and oversight of the youth by responsible adults and not having rules, policies, and other safeguards to prevent the youth from creating the dangerous situation.

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  8. 49 minutes ago, David CO said:

    You're still thinking the BSA model of Lone Scouting, rather than the LSA program.  LSA had the equivalent of patrols, troops, and positions of responsibility.  The LSA model was more fluid.  The boys created and ran their own patrols.  Very little adult involvement.  LSA had no adult "Friend and Counselor" to the Lone Scout.  Adults would help out, but they had no official positions like SM, ASM, CC, CM, etc..

    @David CO Thanks for the clarification.  In the litigious and risk-averse society of today, I don't know that such an organization could exist as a practical matter.  But it reminds me of my friends and I, half a century ago, hiking all over our small town, nearby pastures, and in the little bit of woods we had, defeating invasions by imaginary hordes, building huts and treehouses, digging tunnels (a la "The Great Escape") in backyards and vacant lots, building campfires, and riding bikes 14 miles on a two-lane highway with semis roaring around us in order to get to an old mine to explore.  

    We were focused on "program."

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  9. With the Lone Scout structure, you would lose the leadership opportunities of Positions of Responsibility and the team-building opportunities of patrols.  But there must be other pros and cons of such a structure.  For example, you wouldn't need the facilities (meeting rooms, group campgrounds), group equipment (trailers, chuck boxes), or a corps of adult volunteer leaders (den leaders, Scoutmasters, unit committees, chartered organization).  And with a parent serving as Friend and Counselor to the Lone Cub Scout or Lone Scout, there would be a lot of flexibility in arranging activities.  

    What else?

  10. 34 minutes ago, MattR said:

    I'm not trying to muffle anyone. If you really want to keep arguing then I won't stop you. But wisdom is focusing on what you can control and being content with the rest. National is way beyond our control. So is starting a new program. Making this forum a welcome campfire so more people participate is within our grasp.

    Give up discussing ideas and opinions simply on grounds of supposed futility?  Yet your statement itself expresses why we do it:  Weariness over the status quo, certainly, but also hope that somehow the potential of the forum can be achieved.  So it is with discussions about BSA and Scouting topics that appear to be beyond our control.  We want to express frustration.  We want to find out if others share our views.  We want to test our views to see if the premises are valid, or if we are missing something.  We want to see if someone can tell us something to help relieve our concerns or offer hope or a different perspective, or even change our minds.  We are here because we are all heavily invested in the program.  We are here because this forum helps us to stay invested in the program.  In the end, expressing our ideas and opinions isn't about whether we can change the program but whether we can (depending on the day or the issue) let off enough steam or stoke our fire enough to continue contributing to the program.  And maybe, just maybe, someday, somehow, the right person will read something here that will cause them to do something that makes a difference.

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  11. 41 minutes ago, MattR said:

    Another way of looking at @skeptic's point: If you're sure the BSA is going to fold then why are you still here?


    3 minutes ago, Eagle94-A1 said:


    @MattR good question. it's because I hope for the best, but am expecting the worse. The situation is like seeing your best friend spiraling out of control because of a drug addiction. You try to do everything to help them out, but it keeps getting worse and worse. I hope and pray that this bankruptcy will be like rehab, gets National clean and sober so they can get on and provide what is needed for our youth.

    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?

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  12. 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.

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  13. 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?

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  14. Just now, CynicalScouter said:




    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.  😁 

  15. 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.  

  16. 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.]

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  17. 10 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

    Many leaders and professionals continue to over think the safe aspect and literally never leave the porch.  They feel very safe doing Scouting as a virtual idea.  Worst idea ever.  Scouting is getting out and trying to do things.  While trying you may in fact fail.  

    This document wreaks of those who have NO CLUE how to run an actual unit or programs that youth want to join.  We need to be inspirational and aspirational, not an organization that is scared of it's own shadow.


    9 hours ago, yknot said:

    No organization today can exist without liability insurance. You can't get liability insurance without infinite safety regulations, waivers, etc. . . . Every youth organization has to be a safety organization today or the doors don't even open.

    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.

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