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Everything posted by dkurtenbach

  1. There are different priorities at every level of the BSA and every constituency of the BSA. At the National level currently, I would say that its priority is corporate survival. (Not survival of the Scouting program, which can exist at the local level without a national corporate existence.) Corporate survival on a national level is largely a financial issue, but is also a reputational issue: BSA must have a significant, loyal constituency that will not abandon it despite the publication of lurid details of past wrongs committed by Scout leaders. But beyond that, to rebuild, BSA also need
  2. Following @Eagledad's framework, we adults need to understand the issue we are seeing in terms of the Aims, then explain it to the youth leadership in those terms. So, for example: "The adults are concerned that our troop is not doing a particularly good job with the Citizenship Aim. We're not talking about the patriotic aspects of Citizenship, but about people with different backgrounds, different needs, and different skill levels learning how to live together, work together, play together, support each other, and share equally in the work and the responsibility -- to be good citizens
  3. Oh, I don't think it is a matter of trust. Adults value efficiency. Allowing Scouts to try, fail, try again, fail, try again, succeed is inefficient. It is much more efficient to show them how to do it right the first time, and if they don't get it, take over and show them again how to do it right. And another example I saw often at summer camp: It is inefficient for Scouts to just hang out around the campfire talking and joking and whittling when they could be working on merit badges (which is really the point of summer camp to many adult leaders and parents). And patrols are inefficien
  4. I certainly think that the Uniform Method would benefit greatly from a statement of clear, concrete reasons for wearing the Scout uniform. As noted previously, this is what we have now: Personally, I think that numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, and 10 are too vague and aspirational to be useful in explaining to Scouts and parents why we want them to wear uniforms. Number 5 is sometimes useful, but not for most of the occasions (unit meetings) where the uniform will be worn. Number 6 is good, but only on those occasions when Scouts are out in the community in uniform. I would keep num
  5. Well stated. Yes, we should avoid saying or doing things in front of Scouts and parents that detract from BSA's program and policies, including uniform guidelines, even if we personally have reservations about or criticisms of program elements and policies.
  6. @Mrjeffit may be an old topic, but it is a perpetual topic; like a volcano, it goes dormant for a while, but then it erupts. It would have erupted at some point anyway, even if you had not tossed a pebble into the crater.
  7. Uniform expectations are certainly ambiguous in BSA publications and materials: Guide to Awards and Insignia, page 5, https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066/33066_Official_Policy_WEB.pdf (bold emphasis added): "While wearing the uniform is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged. The leaders of Scouting— both volunteer and professional—promote the wearing of the correct complete uniform on all suitable occasions." Guide to Advancement 2019, paragraph, https://www.scouting.org/resources/guide-to-advancement/boards-of-review/#8004 (bold emphasis added): "It
  8. I agree that the real issue is how adults approach Scouting, and I applaud leaders who believe in the power of the correct complete uniform and act on that in a moderate and positive way. But there are eight methods in Scouts BSA that call for our attention, so I don't think you can judge a leader's dedication to Scouting from how he or she handles just one of the Methods. I suspect that very few troops have the skills and resources to "utilize [each Method] to its fullest." Additionally, the circumstances, needs, strengths, and weaknesses of each troop and each leader are different. So le
  9. I think it might be useful at this point to review the purposes of the Uniform Method as set out by BSA in the Guide to Awards and Insignia, page 5, https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33066/33066_Official_Policy_WEB.pdf. I have highlighted in bold each unique statement of purpose of the uniform (selecting what I think is the best statement, where it appears more than once) and added a number in brackets to each distinct purpose: OFFICIAL POLICY The Boy Scouts of America has always been a uniformed body. Its uniforms [1] help to create a sense of belonging. They [2] symbolize
  10. Yep, same old debate. I think we have two much bigger Uniform Method issues. The BSA has somehow managed to produce a "field" uniform that BSA itself says is for indoor and ceremonial use, not really for outdoor activities. Beyond that, BSA is producing Cub Scouts and Scouts BSA members who look like Christmas trees. Both of these developments discourage the use of the Uniform Method where it would be most useful: out in the world, while doing Scouting. If uniforms are just "for showin', not for blowin'," what good are they really?
  11. It is no coincidence that those two Methods are the ones with highly detailed rules and requirements governing a large number and wide variety of separate applications (specific rank and award requirements in the case of Advancement; specific badges, patches, pins, dangly things, loops, sashes, neckerchiefs, hats, belts, and other uniform parts and accessories in the case of Uniform). The more numerous, detailed, and specific the rules are, the more opportunities there are to miss something or get something wrong. The more numerous, detailed, and specific the rules are, the more op
  12. Interesting -- I did not know that. Here, it's a hypothetical, not a proposal. The debate, as I frame it, is: How enthusiastically should Scouters promote the correct and complete uniform in our interactions with other Scouters and with Scouts? The idea of this hypothetical is: How much of the uniform debate is the result of (i) complicated, detailed insignia rules, and/or (ii) the large number of insignia types, and/or (iii) the need to attach them to the uniform?
  13. This is the same uniform debate I've seen on various Scouting discussion forums for the last 25 years. Lots of passion for a few days until the participants are worn out, but no resolution. Maybe redefining the issue might help us pin down the areas where differences arise. What if we took sewn-on, glued-on, pinned-on, and hung-on awards and insignia out of the equation: Suppose that for both Scouts and adults, their council, unit, patrol, rank, and position of responsibility were all indicated by a combination of pre-printed shirt logos, pocket flap color, and neckerchief design; n
  14. Unit Commissioner is a registered position at the District level.
  15. That's something to discuss with your "boss," the District Commissioner. Generally, being Unit Commissioner for one's own unit is discouraged so that the UC can be a neutral and objective friend to the unit. Obviously, you are already invested in the success of this unit, so you may want to consider making the most of that enthusiasm by serving as an adult leader in this unit, but also serving as Unit Commissioner for a different unit. The District Commissioner might appreciate knowing that in addition to the SM there is another experienced and dedicated Scouter in that start-up unit; and h
  16. As a Unit Commissioner, your primary job will be to: (1) Assess the health of the troop on an ongoing basis, using the criteria in the detailed assessment - which are largely the same as the Journey to Excellence objectives. (2) Encourage and assist the troop leaders on an ongoing basis to evaluate how the troop is doing compared to BSA's "best practices" (NOT rules) for troops - which are found in the detailed assessment / JTE objectives and in other written BSA sources such as the Guide to Safe Scouting, the Troop Leader Guidebook, the Scouts BSA Requirements Book, the Guide to Awards and I
  17. @Owls_are_cool, thanks for sharing your efforts and struggles in developing the patrol method in your troop. Of the issues you mention -- variable attendance by Scouts, adult supervision requirements, advancement focused Scouts and parents, and the need for long-term planning -- I think variable attendance may be the most difficult, because it disrupts even the most basic patrol activity. If you have four out of seven patrol members at planning meeting and none of them are going on the upcoming campout, how do they plan the campout menu, getting the groceries, assembling gear, and arranging
  18. Well, as we would say in court, "Asked and answered."
  19. @ParkMan, in answer to your first question, the judge explained what they did wrong: "Discovery is intended to advance the merits, efficiently and economically. It is not intended to create a tortured maze to hinder the other side." In the character of the Scout Oath and Law, the lawyers should comply with their obligations under the rules that govern litigation: "The interrogatory and discovery demands of both sides are clearly relevant and proper, and should be answered, fully, promptly and responsively." Your second question is premised on the notion that when they were engaged in t
  20. The judge has already ruled on their professional conduct. And it is that conduct — in a prominent public forum — that reflects poorly on both of these values- and character-based organizations.
  21. Lawyers are officers of the court, with professional standards, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, local court rules, and civility standards. Compliance with those rules are part of their professional obligation. The judge found their conduct crossed the line and is hitting them hard for it. Beyond that, the lawyers apparently forgot who their clients are and what their clients stand for, risking reputational damage to their clients from their misconduct. That was dumb, not aggressive representation.
  22. It's bad enough that two organizations claiming to build character and promote high ideals are fighting each other in a lawsuit over something as trivial as a program name. But then their lawyers are caught using slimy tactics and are sent to the corner like naughty children. CSE Surbaugh should fire BSA's lawyers, then call the GSUSA CEO and work it out. BSA has bigger fish to fry than this embarrassing mess.
  23. From Law360 Alerts: An Order by the judge in the trademark litigation in the Southern District of New York between the Girl Scouts of the USA and the Boy Scouts of America. The case is in the initial "discovery" stage, in which the parties make requests to each other for documents and answers to written questions (interrogatories). Lawyers sometimes oppose such requests as not relevant to the issues in the lawsuit or as not proper under the rules governing discovery. Apparently the lawyers have not been observing certain points of the Scout Law: Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, and Kind. The
  24. Thanks. I think there are definitely some societal changes at work, of the kind powering "helicopter" parents, but also of the kind powering our Youth Protection imperative. @MattRmentioned the adult desire for "efficiency" -- something Baden-Powell encountered and warned against almost from the beginning of the Scouting Movement. Widely separated patrols, patrols each doing different things at different times, and youth advancing at different speeds are certainly not efficient. And I think parent competitiveness or ambition on behalf of their children is particularly prominent these days;
  25. Well, I'm certainly willing to be convinced. But just so we are clear on the kind of patrol I'm talking about (what I call a Patrol Method patrol, or "real" patrol), here's a description of the patrol experience from the Boy Scout Handbook, Seventh Edition, Third Printing, January 1967, page 93: -------------------- "Patrol Doings. An honest-to-goodness, live-wire patrol does plenty of things on its own. It always has lots of interesting plans underway, whether patrol meetings, hikes, camps, Good Turns, stunts, making tents, fixing up a patrol den. "Patrol meetings
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